Cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls awaits you, but before we get there, we have a small diversion to take via Benidorm. Buckle up folks, it’ll be a bumpy ride. Not interested in our holiday stories? Click the LEATHERY OLD SLAPPER just below to be whisked straight to the recipe.
Pfft, like we wanted her to stay anyway, eh? Let’s do this.
I know that technically that’s not the Spanish flag but honestly, saying as I think I heard one sentence of Spanish in the entire holiday, I thought it was fitting to overlay the United Kingdom flag behind it.
Let me start by reminding everyone that these our own views and that your experience may differ. Whilst I’ll play up our snobbiness for the blog, we don’t really think that bad of folk. Hell there were some sights to be seen for sure, but for the most part it was a decent holiday. Before you light your rolled-up copies of That’s Life and march on my doorstep, remember: shut up.
So, why Benidorm? Why, on the Earth full of beautiful places, interesting cultures and wonderful sights, did we settle on five days in a concrete wasteland full of boggle-eyed Brits shouting at waiters for DOS BEE-URS POR FAV-WHORE? Easy. Paul. The problem I have is that I’m very easily led – work hard enough on me and I can be persuaded to do pretty much anything. Anything, just saying. I once drove home behind a bus with an advert for ladies private healthcare on the back and had to be stopped from booking myself in for a full cervical screen and a hysterectomy. Paul takes advantage of my suggestibility an awful lot, which is why I have a Smart car on the drive and a bumhole like the end of an exploding joke cigar. He had seen me slumped in my chair on the plane back from Portugal, working my way through a rum and diazepam on ice, and suggested we go to Benidorm. He’d watched a programme on Channel 5 and thought it would be hilarious. I was too busy seeing individual moments of time fragment before my eyes to argue, and so it was that we’d no sooner landed, got home and fed the cats than he had the flights and hotel booked.
Great! I spent the next three weeks moaning to all and sundry that it wasn’t my idea of a good holiday place, and, as a result, I could barely get excited for it. If I want to see port-coloured Brits wearing full football kits and kicking in the locals, I need only nip down the road and book myself into a hostel in Whitley Bay, possibly the only place in the UK where the beach is more dog shit than sand. Nevertheless, time rolled on, and here it was the night before our flight and I had to pack. Paul had one job – wash our work clothes so we didn’t have to blunder about when we came back. Easy, yes?
No! He did indeed manage to wash them and hell, they even ended up in the tumble drier right on schedule – but he neglected to check the pockets, meaning our debit cards were treated to a full hot wash and tumble. They were wavy, and completely unable to fit inside a cash machine. This meant that for the entire holiday we had to withdraw money via our credit card which, because banks are bastards, ended up costing more (roughly) than the hotel. Pfft. Imagine the kind words that were exchanged between us. Actually, I just look into those protuberant, wobbling, bloodshot eyes (or try to, one is usually swivelling around like Mad Eye Moody sitting on a washing machine) and all is forgiven. I can’t stay angry with that wee face.
Our flight in the morning was an altogether reasonable 9am, but Paul does love to be at the airport in plenty of time, so usually we end up setting off the previous Christmas to ensure we make the ten miles to the airport without incident. I always mock him for this but for once, he was actually right to tip me groaning out of bed, into the shower, wash me under my boobs and get me dressed because – catastrophe – my car had a flat tyre. Although I didn’t admit it at the time, I later confessed that I thought I’d damaged the tyre when I was making the car bump and groove to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun as I drove home the day before. Taking his car was a no no because we were carrying more than a leaflet with us and thus, there wasn’t room.
What a to-do! I’m sure folks out there more manly or competent than us wouldn’t have spent ten minutes looking at the jack in the boot of the car, wondering whether 6am was too early to wake a neighbour to come and be butch for us or discussing whether to chance a ride to the airport with a flat tyre. In the end, we caved and ordered a taxi. We were told it would be here within ten minutes – it actually took forty, and the unshaven, brutish oik of a driver didn’t so much as apologise. We did spend the entire car ride nodding politely at his stream of racist comments. Paul had to hold me back when he started banging on about the work standards of immigants (sic) – I looked around at his filthy taxi, stinking of smoke as it did despite the no smoking sign, looked at the footwell full of litter and the clock which showed we were thirty minutes behind schedule, and all I wanted to do was to say that if this was the benchmark upon which to compare work ethics, well, the quicker Krzysztof arrived here in the back of a lorry the better.
We didn’t tip.
Newcastle Airport remains a disappointment. It has a few shops but I mean, come on, which joker thought Sports Direct was a good idea? There’s also a kebab house, a Greggs and a poky WH Smith for good measure. I nipped in there to buy some chewing gum and was asked to show my boarding card. For a packet of chewing gum. I think he knew from how loudly I rolled my eyes that it wasn’t going to happen. We went to the only place that wasn’t full of stags and hens – so, so many hens shrieking and cackling – indeed, the only place that looked halfway decent. We ended up paying over £16 for two coffees and two bowls of yoghurt and muesli. I mean, get fucked.
Oh and to top it off, Paul was upset by some braying skidmark in a cheap suit who, when asked to move out of the way as he was blocking the entrance, told him to fuck off. Pfft! Because we’re British and hate direct confrontation, it was only later when I was able to respond in kind – we were stood behind him waiting to pay for our breakfast when I loudly wondered out loud if ‘when your nose hair gets to such an extensive level, do you not consider a combover’. The guy knew we were talking about him because he touched his nose as he left. Let’s hope he develops a complex and ends up old, alone and covered in matted nosehair.
I hate airports – it just feels like everything is designed to piss you off in some way. Security is a ballache – a necessary one, absolutely, but for goodness sake crack a smile, tell a joke, lighten the mood a little – if you’re going to be groping my cock to see if I’m carrying on an extra 20ml of Tom Ford at least be gracious about it. You go into shops and it’s the same shite for sale as everywhere else, only with fake reductions on it, and everyone gets in your way. You get corralled into tiny ‘gates’ where there’s enough seating for the five people on your full flight and then when they call you to the plane, they don’t let you board, preferring instead to keep you penned together at the bottom of a flight of stairs, sweating and collectively tutting away. I know you can pay extra to get into the airport lounges but Newcastle’s lounge is an absolute joke – if you like piss-weak flat prosecco and scrapping over lukewarm Costco muffins with a Grouponed-gaggle of hens, maybe it’s for you. Frankly, I’d be more relaxed if I board the plane freefalling from 35,000ft in the air.
Perhaps I’m just being grumpy. But see, I had two other concerns. Firstly, we were flying Ryanair, and it was just at the time when they had started announcing flight cancellations and all sorts of problems with the schedules. The relief when I glanced outside our gate window and saw they had actually sent a plane rather than a cardboard cut-out to fool us was immeasurable. But the fact that the plane was there at all created another worry – we’d never flown Ryanair but have heard all sorts of horror stories about how they gouge you at every opportunity. I was that ready to be shafted that I’d lubed myself up in the toilets and soaked my boarding pass in amyl nitrates. To top it off, they charge you to sit together – actually actively go out of their way to pull you apart to force you to pay more – and so, out of protest, Paul had ignored this, meaning we weren’t sitting together for the flight out!
Great! I’m not scared of flying but I do like to have Paul next to me so that, if the plane was plummeting towards the earth in a ball of fire and wrenching metal, I could push him in front of me to act as a crude take on an airbag, even if that airbag is full of air that smells of pure, concentrated death. We had speedy boarding so we were the first to be released from the holding pen and we took our seats.
Thoughts? Awful. Listen, Ryanair is very much ‘what it says it is’, but for goodness sake, there’s not even a seat pocket in front of you to put your stuff in, meaning you have to balance your iPad, phone, headphones, water and headphones on your lap. By the end of the flight I was a grade four juggler. Actually, that’s a fib, but I was technically deaf. I’ve never been on such a loud flight. There were no groups of stags or hens – thank God – but everyone was speaking at about twenty decibels more than necessary. I tried listening to a podcast but it’s difficult to concentrate on Sheila Dillon when you’re sat in the middle of a People’s Postcode Lottery advert. People who, rather than get up and walk down the aisle to talk to a family member, preferred to yell down the plane like they were hijacking the flight.
Oh and christ almighty, the coughing. It was like being on a last-chance flight to Lourdes. At one point I was actually thankful for the lack of seat pockets because they’d be full of blackened lung. I hoped for a small fire just to get the oxygen masks to deploy and give their lungs a break. We’re not talking delicately coughing into a tissue here like Satine in Moulin Rouge, but rather, huge rasping barks where you can hear the air-sacs ripping. Half of the time there wasn’t so much as a hand in front of their mouths, meaning the air in that cabin was probably 80% lungbutter particles. I couldn’t bear it and I could sense from the shade of Paul’s ears a few rows in front that he felt the same. Folks, if smoking means you can’t get through a three hour flight without sounding like you’ve just escaped a house fire, give it up! For goodness sake!
Aside from the volume and coughing, the flight passed smoothly – it was canny of Ryanair to make sure we didn’t get a moment’s rest by coming onto the intercom every five minutes to sell us sandwiches, drinks, duty free, scratchcards, perfumes, a 15 minute turn in the cockpit and the odds on the plane having enough jet fuel to land safely. They should have came round with a trolley full of Strepsils, they’d have turned enough profit to pay John Travolta to fly all of those cancelled flights.
We landed safely, if somewhat abruptly, and cleared passport control in mere moments, which was lovely. I was still hoping that someone had slipped a kilo of coke up my arse at this point and we’d be sent home but no, no such luck. We had arrived – for better or for worse. Let’s leave it there and do the recipe though, eh?
This makes about twelve rolls, more if you’re stingy, and make for a nice little tapas style dinner!
to make cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls, you’ll need:
- two aubergines, as big and thick and as phallic as you dare – if you’re not worried about the neighbours seeing them tumble out of your car, they’re not big enough
- 200g of ricotta (two HEA)
- 80g of soft goat cheese (two HEA)
- 25g of breadcrumbs (just use ready made, 4.5 syns – or you could clit about with your healthy extra but zzz)
- 200g of wilted spinach
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
- salt and pepper
In total then, if this makes 12 rolls, you can have three rolls for 2.5 syns and a HEA. You’ll need a griddle pan for the best looking rolls, an Optigrill, or hell, even a frying pan will do it but you’ll not get the fancy griddle marks.
to make cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls, you should:
- thinly slice your aubergine, lay them out flat and rub salt into each slice – leave for thirty minutes to pull some of the bitterness out of the slices
- pop your oven onto 180 degrees
- meanwhile, wilt your spinach – not a euphemism, don’t give yourself a strum in the kitchen – once it’s wilted, chop it fine
- want a tip? put your spinach on a plate and put a plate on top and squeeze – it’ll get all the water out
- mix the spinach, ricotta, goat cheese, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper into a bowl
- when you’re ready to cook, take each slice, pat it down to get rid of the water, and brush each slice with the oil – you only need a little bit of oil per slice so don’t go mad here, I did make the tablespoon last!
- time to grill your slices:
- if using an Optigrill, whack the heat sensor up to red and let it get up to temperature – I sprayed the plates a couple of times with spray oil (not Fryshite) – when up to temperature, lay your slices on and cook them until the griddle marks are nice and clear – done!
- if using the griddle pan or frying pan, same as above – get it out, cook for a few minutes, remembering to turn and take off the heat when the marks appear
- take each slice, put a teaspoon of the filling at one end, and then roll up
- pop them all into an ovenproof dish and whack it in the oven for fifteen minutes
Easy! Looking for more ideas for quick dinners? Here’s a random collection of buttons that’ll see you right!