Produce a plate of small temptations

Last updated 08:10 26/02/2013

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The name "brownie" seems to encompass quite a range of products - from dense and fudgy to light and cakey, and everyone seems to have a different preference.

Simon was particularly pleased with this one as it is dense and moist, but still has a fine, cakey texture - and it's suitable for those on gluten-free diets. (Tapioca and rice flours and even guar gum can be found in some larger supermarkets, but if not try a healthfood store.) BROWNIES

For an 18x28cm brownie slab:

100g butter

90-100g dark chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar

3 large (size 7) eggs

2 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup rice flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp guar gum

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Cut the butter into 3-4 pieces and place in a medium-sized pot along with the chopped chocolate. Heat over a medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has just melted.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the sugar, then break in the eggs and add the vanilla essence and stir until smooth and evenly combined.

Sift in flours, cocoa powder, guar gum, baking soda and salt then stir until well combined. Fold in the walnuts, if using.

Line an 18x28cm brownie pan with baking paper, then pour in the brownie mixture.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer poked in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling on a rack.

Cut as desired, then dust with icing sugar before serving. EGGPLANT AND FETA ROLLS

With their smooth, shiny and purplish-black skins eggplants (or aubergines if you prefer) sometimes seem more like sculpture than food. Sadly, not everyone has the fondest memories of eggplant dishes.

In the past, eggplant had to be salted and rinsed to get rid of a rather bitter flavour, but fortunately with the modern varieties grown now, this is no longer necessary. Grilled as below and drizzled with some olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar they make a fantastic side dish, or, try these delicious rolls as a starter or even vegetarian main.

It's hard to give exact quantities for this recipe since everything can be varied to suit your own tastes, mood etc. If you are making these rolls as a starter, look for smaller eggplants (about 6cm thick), or cut the wider strips from larger eggplants in half lengthways once cooked - if you want to serve them as a main course, use bigger eggplants cut a little thicker.

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For 10-12 rolls (5-6 servings):

2 small-medium (about 400g total) eggplants

3-4 Tbsp olive oil (plain, basil or garlic-infused)

1 medium red pepper*

1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

100-150g feta

about 2 Tbsp chopped basil (or 10-12 basil leaves)

salt and pepper to taste

*If you are short of time, you can use bottled, char-grilled red pepper instead.

Cut the eggplant/s lengthways into thin (about 7mm) slices. Lightly brush both sides of each slice with oil.

Place slices in a preheated contact grill (you may have to do this in several batches) and cook for 4-5 minutes on a high heat. OR Arrange the slices on a non-stick sprayed baking sheet and place them under a preheated grill (5-7cm from the heat) and cook for about 3-4 minutes before turning and cooking a further 3 minutes. Set the cooked eggplant aside until cool enough to handle.

While the eggplant cools, prepare the remaining ingredients. If using a fresh pepper, cut the flesh from the core in flattish slices, brush these with any remaining oil and cook like the eggplant, then cut into 10-12 strips (you need the same number of strips as you have slices of eggplant).

Cut the feta into the same number of fingers or slices too.

To assemble the rolls, lay a strip of eggplant on a board and brush lightly with balsamic vinegar. Lay a strip of red pepper and a piece of feta across one end, add a little chopped basil (or a basil leaf) then sprinkle with salt and pepper and roll up.

Arrange on a serving plate, drizzle with a little extra oil if desired and serve.

- Taranaki Daily News

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