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Ratatouille, polenta & seeing red

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


My Daddy went to the curb market last week & called me while he was there to see if I wanted anything. Twenty-eight minutes later (that's how long we were on the phone discussing the selection) he had me a basket full of goodies from the "clearance" area! I got eggplant, zucchini, red bell pepper, tomatoes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, corn & bananas (the latter three were not from the clearance area). One night I made tempura tofu & veggies, very tasty! A couple of nights ago I decided to try my hand at ratatouille, being that I had all the vegetables here & they needed to be eaten. (We made ratatouille nightly in the restaurant that I did my internship, but it was a quick skillet version.) This was a labor of love & well worth every second! I used Julia Child's recipe which I found online (I just added more eggplant & zucchini than called for, I later read she had increased the amounts in another printing of the same recipe-- my measurements are listed below). I wanted to serve it as a main dish, so I also made polenta to go with it (I added Parmesan to mine, but left some plain for Sean). Next time, there will definitely be a next time, I will leave more juices; seeing as I was serving as a main course & over polenta--more juices would have been good soaked into the polenta.

Sean was working, so when he got home I was excited to see what he thought about it; he loved it, he ate 3 bowls full! I saved a little to try the next day, to see how the flavors melded overnight. I had an appointment yesterday morning & didn't get home until well after lunch & was starving. I went to the refrigerator & pulled out the polenta & started searching for the ratatouille. Frantic, I couldn't find it, I went to the sink & to my horror there was a small container with what appeared to be the remnants of my beloved ratatouille in it. I was on the phone; I told my Mother that I would have to call her back, she quickly hung-up, not wanting to hear my wrath. I called to Sean in his office, indeed, he had mindlessly eaten my precious leftover ratatouille while talking on the phone & not thinking of my request for him to leave it alone. What ensued is not printable! I had to go to him later & apologize for being so angry. It had taken me a couple of hours, or longer, to prepare this dish! He was sorry that he had eaten it & all was well...except I had not gotten to taste my day-old ratatouille...that he informed me in the middle of my screaming "was even better today"! Thank you very much!


















Ratatouille

1 lb. eggplant
1 lb. zucchini
1 t. salt
7 T. olive oil, divided
2 c. thinly sliced onion (I used yellow)
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced into strips
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 lb. firm but ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded & cut into 1/4 in. strips
3 T. minced fresh parsley

Peel eggplant; cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut into 3-inch-long, 1-inch-wide strips. Cut zucchini into same size strips. Place vegetables in large bowl; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain; dry with paper towels.

Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and zucchini to skillet; sauté until light golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plate; reserve.

Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet; heat over medium heat. Add onion and peppers; sauté until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Place tomato strips atop onion-pepper mixture in skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover skillet; cook over low heat until tomatoes begin to juice, about 5 minutes. Uncover; baste vegetables in skillet with juices. Boil until juices are almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer 1/3 of onion-pepper-tomato mixture to 2 1/2-quart pot; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Top with half of eggplant and half of zucchini, then remaining onion-pepper-tomato mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Layer remaining eggplant and zucchini over; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Cover; simmer over low heat 10 minutes. Uncover; tilt pot and baste with accumulated juices. Increase heat to medium; simmer uncovered, basting several times with pan juices until only 2 to 3 tablespoons juices remain in pot, watching closely to avoid scorching, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cool slightly. Cover; chill. Serve at room temperature or rewarm over medium-low heat before serving

I have very much been enjoying corn lately; in different forms, though. A week or so ago I prepared food for a very casual lunch & had some Mexican cornbread muffins left over. A favorite lunch of mine last week was a fried egg, Mexican cornbread & a tomato; very nice combination of flavors & textures. Today, I reheated a piece of polenta & ate it with a fried egg & tomato--again, delicious! I think I may be onto something!

I realized a couple of days ago that this month is Vegan Month of Food or VeganMoFo; it's basically to bring awareness to veganism & vegan food bloggers commit to blogging about vegan food 5 days a week for the entire month of October. I love the concept & even considered making the commitment. However, I just don't have the time; the Airstream is rolling right along (pun intended!) & is requiring much of my time & energy. I am looking forward to reading so many vegan food posts by so many talented cooks & funny bloggers!

Speaking of the Airstream, we received some very positive news last week regarding the location we are trying to get approved to open our all-natural, slow food, organic, mostly vegetarian cafe. As a result, we are working towards obtaining a building permit & finishing out the inside of the 'Stream as quickly as possible. We have set some goals & a timeline & are very excited about all that is happening! It will give me an outlet to cook the food that I am passionate about, healthy food, & also, a kitchen to prep for my personal chef jobs in. Speaking of which, I better head to the kitchen & get busy with some prepping that I need to get done for another job!

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posted by Jamie the Foodie
3:10 PM

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