Ratatouille

February 6, 2008 at 9:39 am | Posted in veggie side | 10 Comments

It’s time again for Dinner Club! This month is being hosted by my dear friend, Angela. She has cleverly chosen a French food theme. Think Paris, amore, love…Valentine’s Day.

I am bringing the famous French dish, Ratatouille (confit byaldi). Honestly, I didn’t even know what Ratatouille was until seeing Pixar’s latest film, Ratatouille.

movie-picture-ratatouille.jpg

I know my presentation does not begin to hold a candle to the animators at Pixar, but I am very pleased with the results. Despite all of the steps, I would make this again. My Cuisinart Food Processor made quick work of evenly slicing all of the veggies. Plus, it tastes really good and is full of yummy veggies!

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Ratatouille
FOR PIPERADE
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 a bay leaf
  • Kosher salt

    FOR VEGETABLES

    • 1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
    • 1 Japanese eggplant*, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
    • 1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
    • 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
    • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1/8teaspoon thyme leaves
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    *I couldn’t find a japanese eggplant, so I just used a regular one. The trick to this dish looking good is to make sure all of your veggies are sliced about the same size.

    FOR VINAIGRETTE

    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    1. For piperade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

    2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Pour piperade into a food processor and process until smooth. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

    3. For vegetables, heat oven to 275 degrees. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

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    4. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

    ratatouille-baked-small.jpg

    5. For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

    6. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

    Yield: 4 servings (I doubled this recipe)

    This recipe has been adapted from Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Yountville, CA.

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    Want more ideas from Pixar’s Ratatouille? Here’s my take on Potato Leek Soup.

    going green: canvas bags

    July 3, 2008 at 4:25 pm | Posted in going green | 11 Comments
    Tags: ,

    It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally made the switch from paper and plastic to Re-usable Canvas Bags.

    I got my first four canvas bags from Pixar. My hubby had done some work for them, so we had the privilege of seeing Ratatouille in the Pixar theater. After the movie, Pixar treated us to goodie bags filled with Ratatouille items. Probably the thing I was most excited about was the goodie bags themselves, they were canvas bags, perfect for shopping. (I think this speaks volumes about Pixar as a company, have you seen Wall-E, by the way? It’s EXCELLENT).

    Here was the problem with the bags. I had no system. They pretty much sat in my house unused. Okay, my hubby was good about putting one in his car and using it. But that was about it.

    Then last year I bought three canvas bags from Trader Joes. I used them for a bit. But again, had no system for them. They would be in the house or in my car. I’d forget to bring them in. They were just off of my radar.

    Finally my dear friend Mary gave me a canvas bag from Whole Foods. Ah-ha! The heavens opened up and I found my system. Here’s how I remember to bring my canvas bags to the store:

    1. All of the bags get stored in the Whole Foods bag in the trunk of my car.

    2. When I am ready to do some shopping, I guesstimate how many bags I’ll need and bring those in. I’ve found most places gives me a 5 cent rebate per bag. At Trader Joes we fill out tickets that are entered into a weekly drawing for a $25 gift card, my hubby even won once!

    3. At home I unpack my groceries and immediately take my bags to the front door and hang them on the door knob.

    4. The next time I walk to my car, my bags are right there waiting for me to put back into the car. And so the cycle continues.

    So, what do you do to remember to bring your re-usable canvas bags into the store with you?

    child’s play creme brulee

    November 19, 2007 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Dessert | 1 Comment
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    My kids have been playing Remy in the backyard, mixing up weeds, dirt, and the fallen oranges from the tree. “This is how Remy cooks”, I overheard my son saying the other day. Trying to turn this play into something real and bring oranges into my son’s diet (white eater), I picked up a bag of tangerines today at the store. I wasn’t quite sure what we’d do with them, but I figured an idea would present itself…and it did.

    As my son and daughter were breaking open the fallen oranges and squeezing out their juice, I got out my big bag of tangerines and asked if they wanted to make something. The tangerines were the perfect fruit. Because of their small size and thin skin, my kids were easily able to cut these in half with a butter knife. I handed my son a citrus juicer and had my kids alternate between cutting and juicing our tangerines.

    After a quick search for orange creme brulee, I found a recipe that could be adapted to my ingredients at home. Here’s what I used:
    Child’s Play Creme Brulee
    5 eggs
    1 egg yolk
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup half and half
    1/2 t tangerine juice (freshly squeezed)
    1/2 t vanilla extract
    1/4 t tangerine zest

    Whisk ingredients in a bowl until they are all added. Pour creme mixture into a double boiler and whisk until slightly thickened. Pour creme into 6 individual ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish and pour water in the baking dish, until the water line comes up the outside of the ramekins, half way. Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the custard is set. At this point, refrigerate until ready to serve. Place a light layer of sugar on top of the custard and caramelize with a torch or broiler. Serve immediately.I missed the heavy cream and egg yolk base I’m used to in this classic dessert. But my kids think it’s great. The tangerine taste definitely comes through, and my kids were able to do most of the mixing and measuring by themselves (with supervision). Plus, my I-only-eat-white son got to handle, cut, juice, taste and then enjoy tangerines. This is really something (he won’t even drink orange juice).Next day report…no sugar on top, just the custard, straight out of the fridge, So Good!

    Potato Leek Soup

    November 16, 2007 at 12:09 am | Posted in Family Meals | Leave a comment
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    I admit that Remy didn’t sneak into my kitchen and make this soup, but a little Pixar magic never hurts! In Pixar’s latest film, Ratatouille, Remy (the rat) makes soup (Potato Leek), gets noticed by the hapless Linguine, and goes on to impress Paris’ toughest food critic.

    This recipe is from Chef Robert Irvine when he visited Pixar and created dishes inspired by Finding Nemo, Cars, and Ratatouille. I followed the chef’s recipe but used just 4 leeks instead of 8 and opted for half-and-half rather that the heavy cream.

    My kids reaction with their first taste, “yummm”. Serve with Mary’s Dinner Rolls.

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