We especially love the transition to autumn. At no time is our harvest basket more lush and colorful. Vegetables, fruit, herbs, all field fresh from our own garden. We really enjoy helping ourselves to whatever we feel like. We would not want to miss this feeling of harvesting the fruits and vegetables we have grown, nurtured and cared for ourselves. The taste of the produce is more intense and we have gained a whole different connection to our food. Working in the garden is so grounding and rewarding that we never feel it as a burden, but as an enormous enrichment. Looking out into the garden, or even into our already well-stocked pantry, simply makes us happy.
We are also incredibly grateful for the great village community. We don’t have our own chickens yet, even though we’ve been making plans for two years. Until that time comes, we enjoy freshly laid, colorful eggs from the neighborhood. We are also allowed to help ourselves to the large blackberry hedge in our neighbors’ garden every year. In exchange, we give homemade jam, a jar of honey or a bouquet from our flower garden.
Appreciating our food, using it wisely, and supporting local growers is also at the heart of Le Creuset‘s new Farm Fresh campaign. Cooking with fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients is especially fun in the cast-iron cookware. The sturdy roasters are made from high-quality materials, including 85% recycled iron and steel. The special quality, durability and performance creates companions for life. We swear by cast iron for many years and love working with it in our kitchen.
We’ve never made better fried potatoes, and our cast-iron pans also make the first pancake a success. By the way, Le Creuset’s ovenproof pans are perfect for one of our breakfast favorites: fluffy oven-baked pancakes with a little yogurt, thyme, and fresh blackberries. We’re happy to share the recipe with you!
We’d also like to share a second favorite recipe this season: braised eggplant in a sweet and sour tomato sauce.
There is no vegetable we have been so happy about this year as eggplant. In fact, we had success with them for the first time. So far, our harvest, whether in the greenhouse or outdoors, was not worth mentioning. We almost admitted defeat and accepted the fact that the fruits are not as comfortable here in the rough north as they are in their original sunny and warm homeland. This year we made a very last attempt and tried two new varieties, “Zora” and “De Barbentane”. Once again, the garden has taught us that, on the one hand, no two years are the same and, on the other, you need a lot of patience and not to give up. We hope that we have now discovered great varieties for our region and that the abundant harvest was not just pure coincidence and luck.
In the Le Creuset casserole, the eggplants can be roasted perfectly, without sticking. The tomato sauce is then prepared in the same pot. It is one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits. So it is worth preparing a larger quantity directly.
Preheat the oven including a high cast-iron pan to 220° C top/bottom heat.
Place the eggs, milk, flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and beat well with a hand mixer.
When the oven reaches its temperature, remove the pan and melt the butter in it. Pour the batter into the pan, swirl to spread and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the pancake is browned and has risen up the sides.
Meanwhile, stir the yogurt until creamy and pick the thyme leaves from the stems.
Dust the finished pancake with icing sugar, top with yogurt and blackberries, and garnish with the thyme and maple syrup.
Cut the eggplants into rough pieces, salt them and let them sit in a large bowl for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, pour boiling water over the tomatoes, peel, quarter and remove the core.
Drain the water released from the eggplants and fry the pieces of eggplant in olive oil until browned on all sides. Here it is important for the taste that the eggplants get proper color and thus roast aromas.
Finely chop the onion, garlic and dates. Heat some olive oil in a casserole or large pan and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent.
Add the tomatoes and dates and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Add the eggplant to the tomatoes and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the eggplants are soft and the sauce has reduced.
Meanwhile, add enough olive oil to a small saucepan to cover the bottom. Heat the oil, fry the sage leaves in it and then drain them on a paper towel. Be careful not to let the oil get too hot so that the leaves don't burn.
Roughly chop the hazelnuts and roast them with the pine nuts in a pan without oil.
Season the tomato sauce with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Spread the hazelnuts, pine nuts and sage leaves over the braised eggplant and serve with freshly baked sourdough bread.