Monday 1 November 2010

Eggplant Pate for Boys Birthday

Yesterday we had a family gathering to remember the third birthday of my boys, Alex and Ian. There was lots of food. Most of the recipes are old favourites that have appeared on this blog before, though I did try a gluten free version of vegetarian sausage rolls that I will post about separately. At the end of the post is a recipe for a new pate because dips and spreads are great for sharing.

A birthday demands a birthday cake and I made one for my boys as you can see above. I baked a favourite cake - Jill Dupleix's flourless chocolate cake - and topped it with a chocolate ganache from here. The decoration was a collaborative effort. I intended to make neat lines of yellow and blue sprinkles but Sylvia offered to help and her style was more Jackson Pollock than Modrian. An emergency trip to the supermarket made me rethink the design and buy some orange and white m&ms to make the three.

Other than the cake, I focused on savoury food. We had vegetarian sausage rolls, dips, olives, sundried tomatoes, chips, pumpkin scones. My mum brought a Dutch apple cake and gf chocolate cookies. My sister Fran brought along bread, lamington cake and drinks. My main problem with the food was making the gf pastry for the sausage rolls. Luckily my mum helped when she arrived but it meant that everyone was waiting for them longer than I had intended. Nevertheless, the food went down well.

I wanted to make some Halloween recipes (such as witches fingers or eyeball cupcakes) but decided to keep it simple. I found an easy recipe for bat bites. Little balls of cream cheese rolled in poppy seeds with blue corn chips for the wings and olives for eyes. If I had been more organised to search for blue corn chips I might have made these. When the corn chips were not to be found in my supermarket, it just didn't seem worth the effort.

Instead of making bat balls I just stirred a spoonful of pesto into some cream cheese and served it as a dip. I then concentrated my efforts on making an eggplant pate. I roasted the eggplant and toasted the walnuts and blended it all into a thick paste which took some time. Oh the irony that the cream cheese dip was more popular than the eggplant one.

Ever the intrepid food scientist, I discovered that the eggplant dip paired rather well with the cream cheese one. We had leftover sausage rolls and dips for dinner tonight. I enjoyed the eggplant dip more tonight than I did yesterday. Not sure why. Maybe it was better with dry biscuits and sticks of capsicum. The Flora cookbook that I used suggested serving it as part of a platter and I think I would pay more attention to the accompaniments in future. It is a dark and intense pate, though I think more pepper wouldn't have gone astray. It is a nice change from baba ganoush.

The last couple of years we have sat outside in the sunny backyard at this time of year but this year, it was unseasonably cold and wet. Melbourne had a soggy end to the wettest October in 35 years. After constant rain on Saturday, we set up the food inside. But a bit of rain didn't dampen the occasion. It was great to have my family there and we had a fine afternoon.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Boys Birthday, Number Two
This time two years ago: Chocolate cake for our boys

Eggplant pate
from Café Flora

1 medium eggplant
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ cup walnuts
1 tbsp basil pesto

Cut eggplant into 1.5cm dice and toss with oil and vinegar in a roasting dish. I used two roasting dishes to make sure the eggplant had room to roast rather than clustering too closely together and steaming. Roast for 30-60 minutes until eggplant is soft. Lightly toast the walnuts – I did this in a dry frypan on the stovetop.

Place eggplant, walnuts and pesto in a food processor and blend til smooth. This took me a while and I had to scrape the bowl down a few times. It makes quite a thick pate. Season to taste – I added about ¼ tsp of salt and quite a bit of freshly ground pepper.

On stereo:
Believe: Katherine Jenkins


  1. What a fun party with some delicious food! The pate sounds fantastic and that cake is adorable! So colorful and perfect for a 3 year old's party.

  2. The birthday table looks just gorgeous.
    One of the things wrong with society today is that treats seem to be an everyday thing - observe the giant packages of fizz and chips in any supermarket trolley.
    When I was a child, brightly coloured food was only ever available at birthday parties.

  3. I actually love the Jackson Pollock look of the cake. Honestly, I saw the first photo and went "oooooh, pretty!" But maybe I'm a three year old at heart too :)

  4. Your pate sounds delicious, I have always though eggplant is one of the most versatile vegetables around, but dips and spreads are certainly among my favorite uses

  5. Great cakes! Sylvia's contribution is obviously her piece de resistance :)

  6. The cake is beautiful, I'm so glad you have your family with you on this special day.

  7. Thanks Joanne - am sure my boys would have loved the cake

    Thanks Marshall Stacks - I did lots of sweet treats last year and tried to avoid that this year - agree that treats are too common these days!

    Thanks Hannah - I have a jackson pollock style house so I don't have a problem with his style - but Sylvia and I just don't always have the same idea of how a cake (or a room) should look :-)

    Thanks Jodye - E does not like eggplant so I don't tend to be very adventurous with it - but I can't blame him - it is not my favourite vegetable but when it works it is magnificent

    Thanks Miss T - you should have seen her hands are all her hard work!

    Thanks Nic - it is comforting to have my family remember Alex and Ian with me

  8. That pate sounds lovely! And yes I wish I knew where to find blue corn chips :) Thanks for the links Johanna!

  9. so wonderful that you celebrate their birthdays.... the spread looks AMAZING

  10. Love the cake - it is so cute!

  11. what a fab celebration.
    I love aubergines so I'll definitely be trying your pate. Made a beetroot hummus a few weeks ago which used walnuts and they added a lovely texture. Vegetable or bean spreads are my answer to enjoying a little bread from time to time at the moment. A loaded open top slice instead of a sandwich - half the bread double the taste. yum

  12. A lovely gathering in celebration of the boys. Sylvia's artistic talents are already evident! ;) And the pate sounds great--I have some roasted eggplant puree in the fridge and think this is what it will become!

  13. Some people just don't like the sound of eggplant aka aubergine dip, so it often gets called vegetarian caviar. In the U.K it is often referred to as poor man's caviar.

  14. Thanks Lorraine - blue corn chips seem so easy to buy in America - maybe I should try one of the American shops in Melbourne!

    Thanks Carla and Cakelaw

    Thanks Nic - overloaded open sandwiches sound good to me - but what would Lord Sandwich think :-)

    Thanks Ricki - Sylvia is definitely the artist in residence but wish she would refrain from decorating tv and carpet! Would love to hear if you do the eggplant dip

    Thanks Mangocheeks - I've never quite understood the reference to aubergine dip as caviar but I have never tasted real caviar either!

  15. Everything looks delicious! I very rarely cook with eggplant because I only seem to like it half the time but this dip sounds really good.


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