I’m always on the look out for recipes in new places and I found a great selection in a novel called ‘the Legend of Liz and Joe’ by John Murray.  We read the book in my readers/writers group and we all agreed that the book was slightly strange (the writer has been compared to Flann O’Brien), but that the recipes sounded amazing.  The Joe of the title runs a vegetarian gourmet guest house (with strange admittance policies), and the writer gives a wonderful account of the food he serves.

His menu for a South American banquet includes this Nicaraguan aubergine casserole, which is pretty simple (although it involves a lot of washing up!), but certainly lives up the gourmet billing. In future I would add a little more than the ‘discreet’ amount of allspice as I couldn’t really taste it, but I loved it with the organic red leicester cheese I used, as I was short of queso!  I used a mix of aubergines (eggplant) and courgettes (zucchini) as that’s what I had in, and served the casserole on a bed of millet grain, which was a delicious combination.

Cacerola de Berenjana by John Murray

‘Nicaraguan aubergine casserole. Fried aubergines soaked in an incendiary and very rich sauce and covered with cheese. For the sauce green peppers, onion and garlic are fried together, an incontinent quantity of diluted tomato puree added, together with chilli peppers and a discreet dash of that top-heavy vandal of a spice, allspice. Place aubergines and sauce in alternating layers in a casserole, top with a copious blanket of pungent queso, then bake it till it sizzles, rasps and sings at you.’

the green peppers, onions and garlic

the aubergines layered with the sauce

the finished product as it came out of the oven, rasping and singing

the cacerola served with millet grain