Me: G’wan, make me something to eat.
You: Er, such as?
Me: Anything you like. Give it your best shot.
Me: Yeah. Have you got a favourite killer dish?
You: Maybe, well, yeah, I guess I do.
Me: Well make me that then.
You: (looking skeptical) Umm, ok…
Me: Oh and take a picture.
You: A picture?
Me: Yeah, of you with the food.
You: Ah, g’way outta that.
Me: And put the words Cully & Sully somewhere in the picture.
You: Huh? (thinking this had better be good)
Me: …it could be worth €12,000.
You: Jaysus, where’s me camera?!! (and off you run…)
Yes, it’s quite the proposition.
Submit a photograph of yourself with your best kitchen offering and you might just win a fully paid up place on the renowned (and, let’s face it, not remotely cheap) three month cookery course at Ballymaloe.
You don’t even have to be a good cook, though being enthusiastic about your food and your dish would obviously be a good starting position (I mean, you want to go to Ballymaloe, don’t you?). Anybody in Ireland can enter and the public gets to vote for two of the finalists, while Cully & Sully will pick a third.
So… off with you now – make your way over here and get your name into that pot of chefs-to-be.
Roasted Aubergine Soup
When I think Cully & Sully, I think soup.
Of course, they make things other than soup, but on those occasions where I haven’t been organised enough to bring lunch to work, I’ll often look for Cully & Sully tomato and basil soup to fill my lunchtime belly.
If, on the other hand, I have been organised, then I might just have some of my own roasted aubergine soup instead.
The recipe is adapted slightly from one in the fabulous Green’s Cookbook. I’ve swapped basil for fennel and made it even more substantial with puy lentils. There’s an added bite from some cayenne pepper too. Might be one for Cully & Sully to add to their range…
- 2 medium aubergines (about 800g)
- olive oil for coating vegetables and frying
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium red peppers (about 350g), halved and seeded
- 1 large red onion (about 200g), halved but not peeled
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes (about 250g)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 0.5 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 100g puy lentils (optional), rinsed and drained
- 1l vegetable stock or water
- 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tblsp lemon juice or to taste
- natural yoghurt to serve (optional)
- basil leaves to serve (optional)
- bread toasted with a little olive oil and parmesan to serve (optional)
You’ll also need:
- One or more baking trays for roasting the vegetables and a blender (hand held or otherwise) or food processor to blend the soup.
- Preheat the oven to 200C
- Wipe the aubergines, halve them, brush all over with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper and place in the oven on a baking tray.
- Brush both sides of the halved peppers, the cut sides of the onion and the tomatoes (left whole) with olive oil and place in the oven on a baking tray after the aubergine has baked for about 20 minutes.
- Bake for about another 20 minutes or until the aubergine is soft and starting to collapse and the skins of the other vegetables are loose and wrinkled.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, then peel the onion, remove as much of the pepper’s skin as you can and chop all of the vegetables into large chunks.
- Place a large, heavy saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add about 2 tblsp olive oil, garlic, thyme and fennel and cook gently for a few minutes.
- Add the puy lentils (if using), stir briefly, then add the roasted vegetables, stock or water, cayenne and about 1.5tsp salt (or less if your stock is salted). Stir to mix, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes. The lentils should be tender.
- Allow the soup to cool slightly, then purée briefly using a blender or food processor. Return to the pot and add lemon juice to taste and additional salt and black pepper if you think it needs it. The soup will be quite thick, so thin with just-boiled water if you prefer a thinner consistency.
- Serve garnished with a dollop of natural yoghurt and some torn basil leaves. Some parmesan toasts would go nicely too.
- I quite fancy the idea of adding some mushrooms (shiitake, say) for some extra depth of flavour.
- Soup for 4-6