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Shabbat aubergines? They were stuffed - and so was I

Novice chef Louise Scodie attempts to prepare a vegetarian Friday night for eight brave friends

    I can't cook. I've never peeled, chopped or baked. I did however once set fire to my microwave.

    What better way then to make an idiot of myself in the name of journalism than to cook a vegetarian Friday night dinner for me and eight of my closest chums?

    I set aside two days for cooking, panicking and swearing. Here is what happened.

    Thursday

    I decided to make Evelyn Rose's mushroom soup, stuffed aubergines, glazed carrots and roast potatoes and my friend Naomi's apple crumble.

    The crumble nearly hits a wall when I realise I have to peel and core the fruit. Help! I search YouTube for an instructional video and find some Japanese bloke doing frightening things to an apple with a samurai sword. I opt for a small knife instead.

    Next up, the roast potatoes. I give my long-suffering mother marks out of 10 for hers every Friday night. Now I'm getting a taste of my own medicine. Sorry, Ma. Three kilos of potatoes are staring at me, waiting to be peeled. Is it too early open the wine?

    Friday afternoon

    Why did I decide to make stuffed aubergines? These wicked vegetables need to be cooked until soft before they can be stuffed. This takes hours. Not that Evelyn Rose tells you that. Old Evie would have you believe that all you need to do is toss them around for a bit. Not so. It takes me hours of frying and confusion to soften the stupid aubergines. I could have learned to speak Mandarin Chinese in the time it takes.

    There is also an incident with some garlic that will not crush. Fed up, I toss the clove in whole. My friends can play Russian roulette with it later.

    After three torturous hours, it is back to the roasties and the vat of oil in which Evie wants me to drown them. Every item on my menu is full of fat, sugar and more fat - even the carrots. If I ate like this all of the time, I'd have hips the size of Australia.

    Friday evening

    Thanks to the stupid aubergines, I only just have time to get dolled up and make the soup before the troops arrive. The recipe calls for mace. Mace? Like you spray at muggers? I bung in some mixed herbs and hope for the best. The soup is a mixture of milk, mushrooms and onions. It genuinely looks like cat sick. I have a moment of panic as I realise that I am actually asking my friends to eat this. At this point they all arrive at once. Like the aubergines, am I stuffed?

    Shabbat dinner

    Everybody brings a bottle and we drink all of them. This helps my friends to eat my food and can be the only reason they give me very generous scores out of 10. The soup gets a seven, although curiously nobody wanted seconds. The aubergines score an admirable eight, but I think that was for effort. My roasties top the bill - 10 out of 10! I've peaked too early; I can never do them again. The crumble also managed a 10. Another winner. I am amazed.

    My verdict? Cooking is hard work. Aubergines are evil.

The Jewish Chronicle

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