Monthly Archives: September 2010

Ratatouille

The contents of my CSA share a few weeks ago were screaming to make Ratatouille, a dish that highlights the taste of fresh summer vegetables. I adapted Ginette Mathiot’s Ratatouille recipe from I Know How to Cook.  It was supposed to be slowly simmered for 2 hours, but I was starving so I cooked it at a high simmer for about an hour.  Then I scooped out the cooked vegetable rounds and cooked the remaining liquid on high until it reduced into a dense oily glaze to pour on top of the vegetables.  Since that endeavor I made a baked ratatouille and I prefer the taste of this version.  I was hesitant to post as I still wonder how the taste would be different if I had more dutifully followed Mathiot’s directions to simmer for two hours, but my results were also worth replicating.

My 5 quart pot filled to the brim with fresh veggies

The cooked veggies waiting to be topped with the reduced liquid glaze

Reducing the liquid

Ingredients:

The specific quantities needed depend upon the size of your pan and what you have on hand.  This is what I used to fill a 5qt pot to the brim.

  • 1 1/2 bell peppers
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 1/2 onions
  • 1 1/2 large tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper, basil

Directions:

  1. Slice all the vegetables into 1/4″-1/2″ rounds.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil to a low simmer in a large pot.  Add the crushed garlic cloves and cook a minute or two until fragrant.
  3. Begin adding the vegetable rounds in alternating layers.  I first added all of the cut pepper, then a layer of eggplant rounds, followed by onion, zucchini, and tomatoes.  Repeat layers if you have additional vegetables.  My ingredients and my pan size made one solid layer of each type of vegetable.
  4. Sprinkle the top with salt, pepper, and basil.  Drizzle the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil on top of the vegetables and add 3/4 cup of water to the pot.
  5. Mathiot says to cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.  ***the additional steps detail my variation on her method***
  6. I have an electric turn dial stove, numbered Min-Max with 1-8 listed as the numbers between these two settings.  I began with the burner on “2”, a medium-low simmer.  After 40 minutes of cooking the vegetables covered, I peeked and it looked like there was still a lot of water in there.  I notched the burner to “3”, a medium-high simmer.
  7. At 1 hour and 10 minutes, everything was a nice mushy soft edible texture, but there was still lots of water.  I used a spatula to scoop out the cooked vegetables and place them in a bowl.
  8. I turned the burner to high heat, and boiled the remaining liquid to reduce it.  Twice I tilted the bowl of scooped out vegetables to drain their water back into the pot of liquid I was reducing.  Once the liquid had reduced to a oily glaze, I poured it on top of the cooked vegetables.

Whether a low simmer for 2 hours, or a rushed simmer, the moral of the story is that this recipe is the quintessential simple summer dish that is hard to mess up so long as you begin with nice in season flavorful vegetables: cut, assemble, and leave it to do its thing for an hour or two while you do your thing (read a book, watch tv, clean your house, solve world peace).

The taste of the vegetables is heavenly.  It can hold its own as the main fare if accompanied by pasta, rice or bread and serves as an excellent second fiddle to a meat entree.

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Filed under Main Dish, Side Dish, Uncategorized

D’s Veggie Omelette

D makes breakfast most weekends because he has perfected his techniques for making pancakes, french toast, and omelettes.  It is a science to get the pan to just the right temperature, while the assemblage of ingredients and flipping “just so” at the right moment requires a bit of artistic skill and flair.

He loves preparing omelettes this way as it is the perfect mix of hot and cold.  A trip to Prague years back – where meals would combine hot and cold, sweet and savory all within one dish – inspired him to blend and contrast not just tastes and textures but temperatures in dishes.  This omelette features cooked warm vegetables on the inside, and cold fresh tomatoes on top.

According to D, the key to omelette success is the “Jackson Pollock technique” of slowly dripping eggs into the pan that has been pre-heated on low.  Oh…and use cast iron… and precook the peppers and onions.  To the best of my ability, this recipe recreates how he produces to-die-for omelettes every single time.  It is based on my own observations and his explanation of how he makes the magic happen.

This recipe makes 2 omelettes

Ingredients:

  • 5 Large Eggs
  • Green pepper
  • Onion
  • Feta
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Fresh Tomato
  • Milk
  • Pesto
  • Salt, pepper

Directions:

  1. 1. Chop the pepper and onion.  Cook the pepper and onion in a pan until desired consistency.  Set aside once cooked.
  2. Preheat cast-iron skillet on low to medium low heat.
  3. While the skillet heats, prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Dice the tomato and set aside on paper towels (to soak up excess water).  Thinly slice or grate the cheddar cheese.  Crumble the feta.
  4. Beat the eggs with a dab of milk.  A pyrex 2 cup measuring cup works well to hold the egg mixture.
  5. Once you are sure the pan is good and hot, spray it lightly with canola oil, then slowly drip half the beaten egg mixture into the pan in a circular motion; begin from the outside and work your way in.  Pour slowly -pausing if necessary to let the egg run and settle – before dripping more to fill in the holes to ensure even coverage over the bottom of the pan.
  6. Sprinkle salt and fresh ground pepper on the wet eggs.
  7. Just before the eggs are no longer liquid on top, add the cheese to one half of the omelette.
  8. Once the cheese had started to melt, add the cooked pepper and onion on top of the cheese.
  9. Fold the omelette in half.  Let it set for a minute or so.  D usually folds the omelette, then puts down the toast and pulls the omelette out of the pan once the toast pops.
  10. Spread pesto over the top of the omelette.  Top with the fresh cut diced tomato.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the tomatoes.  Top with feta and serve.
  11. Repeat the process for omelette number two.

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Filed under Breakfast

Arugula Hazelnut Pesto

Camping in New Hampshire a few weeks back, one of my friends blew my mind by making chard pesto.  From basil my thoughts naturally went to cilantro and parsley, but turning swiss chard into a nutty concoction to be tossed with pasta, smeared on meats and vegetables, and put to use countless other ways was beyond the pale.

Due to this revelation, when my CSA share last week included a bunch of arugula, I knew exactly what its fate would be.  Since making it the other day, this pesto has been paired with plain pasta, my butternut squash knishes, and vegetable omelettes D made, which I will soon be sharing on the blog.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of arugula, washed
  • 1/2 Cup hazelnuts
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • Dash salt
  • 1/2 Cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Toss all the ingredients, save the oil into a food processor.  Pulse.  Slowly add the oil until combined and desired consistency.

Voila!

Note: If you want chunkier bits of arugula, try pulsing the nuts, cheese, and garlic together first before adding the arugula and the rest of it.

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Filed under Sauces & Condiments

Butternut Squash Knishes

Our CSA share from Parker Farm included a huge – bigger than a six month old baby – butternut squash this past week.  One person who weighed theirs clocked it in at 12 plus pounds.  As our first squash of the season it was too good to keep stored for later.  We baked the entire squash, cut into 6 chunks as it was too large to merely cut in half, with the intent of making additional delicious meals out of the leftovers.  In lieu of a pie or a more traditional offering I decided to try my hands at making knish.

This recipe is adapted from Mostly Foodstuffs potato knish post, which includes some excellent pictures of how to form them.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs (1 will be used for an egg wash)
  • 1/2 Cup Canola oil
  • 1/2 Cup Water

Filling:

  • 3 Cups of butternut squash puree (made from baked squashed)
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in food processor.  Beat together 1 egg, oil and water; add to the dry ingredients.  Pulse to combine, scrape down the sides of the food processor if it is not coming together.  Once dough forms into a ball, pulse for 20-30 seconds.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and let rest at room temperature, covered, for at least 1 hour.
  3. While the dough is relaxing, you can prepare the puree, seasoning to taste.
  4. Once dough is ready, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll the dough into a rectangle as thin as possible, roughly 1 foot by 1 1/2 feet.  Don’t stress if there are small holes in the dough as they will be covered when it is rolled up. Distribute the filling in a thick line, 1″ in from the edge, along the long edge of the rectangle.
  5. Pull the 1″ edge of the dough snugly over the filling (the dough should be pliable and readily stretch in your hand).  Lightly seal the seam around the filling with your fingers.  Continue rolling the dough to form a thick rope.
  6. Pinch closed the ends of the rope.  Pinch the rope where you’d like the cut the first knish by lifting the end of the rope up in the air and working your fingers to pinch and squeeze the filling away from this seam.  Twist the dough around a few times until you can feel with your fingers that there is no filling in this twist of dough.  Continue pinching off knishes from the main rope.  If any pinched-off ends open, gently draw the dough over the top and pinch the ends together to re-seal.
  7. Place knishes seam side down on an oiled cookie sheet.  Gently flatten them into hockey pucks leaving at least 1/2″ of space between each knish.
  8. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg mixed with a tablespoon of water).
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

For serving, we first ate them plain.  My husband suggested smearing the top with honey.  I raided the fridge and topped one with my arugula hazelnut pesto and grated parmesan cheese.

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Filed under Appetizer, Bakery, Breakfast

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Due to house-wide shortages, I was forced to come up with an eggplant parm using much less sauce and cheese than I would otherwise (a quarter jar instead of upwards of a whole jar and half a block of mozzarella instead of a whole block).  The results, however, were great and are well worth replicating.  My first batch used both a tomato and eggplant of gargantuan proportions–with a 4 to 5″ diameter–if your supply is not so large, plan to use more tomato and eggplant.

This was so good that when I received more eggplant and more tomatoes in my next CSA pick up I decided to make this recipe again even though I had plenty of sauce and cheese on hand.  It was a great way to use up the two eggplants and a large portion of the five (!) pounds of tomatoes from my CSA bounty.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Large Tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1-2 Eggplants
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Jar Marinara Sauce
  • 8 Ounces Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup Fresh Parmesan Cheese, shredded
  • Olive Oil
  • Breadcrumbs, seasoned
  • Salt, pepper, dried basil

Directions:

  1. Slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/4″ rounds.  Layer the slices, lightly salting each layer as you go, on a plate with paper towel below and above each layer.  Ideally let the slices “sweat” their moisture for an hour or more.
  2. Turn the oven to 350 degrees and coat a cookie sheet in oil.
  3. Fill one shallow bowl with breadcrumbs, season with salt, pepper, basil and anything else good.  Fill a second shallow bowl with an egg mixed with a drizzle of water.
  4. Wipe the eggplant dry, and dip first in the egg and then into the seasoned breadcrumbs. Lay the coated slices on the cookie sheet.
  5. Bake the coated eggplant slices for 15 minutes and then flip and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Coat the bottom of a baking dish with a tablespoon of sauce and a tablespoon of olive oil.
  7. Layer cooked eggplant followed by the slices of tomato, a shake of dried basil, sprinkling of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Repeat until your ingredients are used up.  On the top layer, drizzle the remaining sauce over the top and also drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil.  (My first rendition had a layer of eggplant, slices of tomato, two cheeses, then eggplant, sauce, drizzle of oil and cheeses while my second rendition had 3 layers of eggplant and 3 layers of tomato).
  8. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 30-45 minutes until the cheese is nice and melty.

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Filed under Main Dish, Side Dish