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Josie Adriaansen is well known in the Murrays Bay area, where she has lived with her husband Adrian for almost three decades. As well as being the office manager for a small to medium North Shore company, she is also a driving force behind the Murrays Bay Residents Association. Earlier this year the association brought back the Murrays Bay Birdman Festival which was a huge success and Josie played a big part in that event. She says her interests include 'wining and dining' with friends and family, hiking, biking, swimming, going for beach walks and being involved with community events and cultural arts festivals. Josie and Adrian share three wonderful adult children – Reeco, Melanie and Tim. Josie also makes a mean Italian Eggplant Casserole. She shared this favourite recipe with us in early June.
AIDAN BENNETT: What is your recipe and where did it originate from?
JOSIE ADRIAANSEN: A modified version of Italian Eggplant Casserole which originates from the 1981 edition of The New Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook.
AB: What’s the secret to making this recipe work?
JA: Prepare all the ingredients beforehand and contrary to what the recipe says I shallow-fry the eggplant while everything else is cooking so you don’t have to stand around waiting for it after you have cooked everything else. I also add chili flakes and extra tomato paste to add a bit of spice.
AB: Why did you choose this recipe?
JA: My family consists of vegan’s, vegetarians and omnivores and this dish provides great nutrition for them all. It has been our family favourite as they grew up.
AB: What do you love about cooking and baking?
JA: We always enjoy our dinner sitting around the dinner table and not in front of TV so it is important to try and be creative through experimenting with different recipes and hopefully produce something edible for everyone to enjoy.
AB: Self taught, or did you have a cooking mentor?
JA: A bit of both really. When I arrived in New Zealand many years ago I was taken on managing one of Foodtown’s cafeterias where I had to cook lunches and hot meals for all the staff. How I got this job is a different story altogether as I did know very little about cooking. However all the staff were very keen on helping me make it work so I received advise from the butchers, bakers and everyone else visiting the cafeteria who thought I needed advise.
AB: What’s the biggest disaster you’ve had in the kitchen?
JA: After checking this with the family they all came up with the same answer, toasting garlic bread in the oven as on numerous occasions I start talking to people and happen to forget about it until the smell of something burning alerts us to the blackened charcoal in the oven.
AB: What’s your favourite cuisine?
JA: Japanese and Turkish.
AB: What foodie spots do you and Adrian enjoy visiting locally?
JA: Taksim, Bella Bambina, Ramen Takara.
AB: If you could dine anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
JA: Floating somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea enjoying lobster and a fine wine at the Captains table on a luxury cruise liner!!
Josie’s Italian Eggplant Casserole
3 tablespoons of oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 green pepper
470g can tomatoes (I used Italian)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp mixed herbs
½ tsp chili flakes
2/3 cup of water
125g can tomato paste
300g can four bean mix
300g can red kidney beans
300g can of lentils
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Oil for shallow frying eggplant (I use a spray can of olive oil)
1 or 2 eggplants depending on size
125g mozzarella cheese
1 tsp paprika
Slice zucchini and chop other vegetables ready for cooking. Slice eggplant(s) into 1cm rounds and put these aside for shallow frying. Shallow-fry them on both sides while cooking other ingredients.
Cook vegetables over a low heat until peppers are tender, approx. 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook a further 1 minute.
Add undrained mashed tomatoes, oregano, mixed herbs, water and tomato paste, stir until combined; bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for a further 3 minutes.
Add rinsed and well-drained four bean mix and red kidney beans, salt, pepper and parsley, stirring uncovered until beans are heated through.
Put into a large ovenproof dish and overlap with shallow-fried eggplant, Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and paprika.
Bake in moderate oven 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serves 6 to 8 people.
Channel Magazine: Issue 78 July 2017