Ratatouille

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Ratatouille My Way
 
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR PERFECT RATATOUILLE;
  • I do not use spices. Fresh seasonal vegetables are so flavorful that you don’t want to mask the flavors in any way.
  •  Fry the vegetables separately since they all cook at different rates.
  • Try to keep the size of the pieces uniform (except for the onions which can be diced smaller).
  • Do not overcook.
  • Make it the day before so that the flavors can meld beautifully.
 
These amounts are VERY approximate. Work with the quantities that you have available.
 

 

RATATOUILLE MY WAY
 
  1. Chop and fry a nice sweet medium sized onion until lightly browned and soft in olive oil.
  1. 2 medium zucchinis (about a 1 ½ to 2 pounds) or use the small ones and then you only have to slice them. Cut the medium ones lengthwise into four pieces and then in nice bite size chunks (about an inch). Fry in olive oil until brown but not quite cooked.
  2. Same amount of eggplant. Peel if the skin seems tough, otherwise leave it on. Cut into same size as the zucchini and fry in olive oil until brown but not quite cooked.
  3. Now if you like bell peppers, then add one cubed the same size as the zucchini and eggplant and fry them until they are cooked and slightly brown. 
  4. Use a can of tomatoes either diced or whole. If the tomatoes are whole, then cut them into pieces. Strain out the liquid and fry the tomatoes on high in olive oil. Yes, I do fry the tomatoes but you don’t have to. I just think it gives them a sweeter, more caramelized flavor.
  5. Mix all the vegetables together, add salt if necessary and simmer together for 10 minutes stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Add the tomato juice if it needs liquid. Sometimes I add sugar if the flavor is too acidic.
  6. Finely mince or use a garlic press and stir in 2 large cloves of garlic. Then turn off the ratatouille and let it sit until it is cool enough to refrigerate.
  7. Always serve it the next day if you can. Taste if for seasoning and add a splash of really good olive oil if you like. Then serve it at room temperature, or reheated.
 [/recipe]

 

 

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Fried Eggplant

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eggplant in basket

Fried EGGPLANT 

 

This is my version of eggplant parmesan that I adapted from the traditional style where you cover the breaded, fried eggplant with tomato sauce. I always love to eat some of the freshly fried eggplant so crispy and delicious before baking it when it all softens up. So this is the unbaked, crispy version:

 

  1. Use any quantity of peeled, globe eggplant which is 4-5 inches in diameter and cut into ¼ inch slices.
  2. Dip the eggplant slices first into an egg that has been beaten.
  3. Then dip the eggplant slices into seasoned breadcrumbs. You can use dried bread and make your own breadcrumbs or use unseasoned ready-made breadcrumbs and season them yourselves. I use a combination of Italian seasoning, extra basil and a pinch of fenugreek (optional). I also add salt. I don’t use a lot of seasoning here. For one cup of breadcrumbs I would use 1 tsp of Italian seasoning and ½ tsp of basil.
  4. At this point you can store the breaded eggplant slices in the fridge to fry later or fry them right away but they must be eaten right after they are cooked. 
  5. Fry the slices in olive oil over medium high to high heat watching carefully and turning them over frequently so they don’t burn. Add more oil when needed. They should be golden brown and very soft in the inside. They take about 10 minutes to cook. Drain them on paper towels and put them in an hot oven to keep warm. If they get soggy then refry them.
  6. These wonderful treats can be served as an appetizer alone or with some tomato sauce on the side for dipping. I made a great sauce out of my cherry tomatoes. I cut the tomatoes in half, sprinkled them with sea salt and baked them in a 400° oven (convection on if you have one) for 10-15 minutes until the bottoms were starting to blacken. I then let them cool and put them through a food mill and this made a wonderfully rich sweet tomato sauce. Garnish the top with shaved or grated parmesan cheese.

 

 

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Eggplant Carpaccio

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The next recipe is an adaptation of a very popular appetizer served at my cousin’s wonderful restaurant in Tel Aviv called RUSTICO. The recipe is called Eggplant Carpaccio but it is not raw eggplant. Again, this is a recipe to play around with according to your preference. It is a very simple dish to prepare and an instant hit.

 

carpaccio

 

Eggplant Carpaccio

 

  1. 1-3 medium eggplant. Quantity does not matter.
  2.  Poke a couple holes in your eggplants and throw them on a very hot grill (400°-500° Cover the grill and walk away. After a few minutes check on the eggplant. If it is beginning to burn then turn. Continue with this process until the eggplant is slightly charred and well cooked. It should be mushy feeling when touched. Remove carefully and set aside.
  3. At this point you can cool them and thrown them in the fridge until you want to make this appetizer. Or, cool them and then peel off the skin right away. 
  4. Put the eggplant pulp in a food processor with a tsp. olive oil and salt to taste, and pulse a few times until an even consistence and quite smooth but not so much to be soupy. It still has to have a distinctive eggplant texture. 
  5. The quantities of the following garnishes are up to your taste preferences and how much eggplant you have prepared. Spread the eggplant very thinly over a large serving plate, or individual appetizer plates if you want to this as a first course. 
  6. Sprinkle the eggplant evenly with the following:

    • Toasted pine nuts
    • Finely chopped scallion or red onion
    • Finely chopped parsley
    • Sea salt
    • Zatar (Middle Eastern spice blend of sumac, thyme and sesame seed which is available at Wegmans)
    • A drizzle of high grade olive oil

         7. Serve with pita or crackers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eggplant with Miso Sauce

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eggplant in basket

 

Eggplant with Miso Sauce

 

2 medium Japanese eggplant: the long thin eggplant

½ cup Sake

2 Tbs. mirin

½ tsp sugar

3 Tbs. light soy Miso or any Miso will work.

1 Tsp. toasted sesame seeds

¼ tsp sesame oil

 

  1. Slice the eggplant into ½ slices and fry in olive oil until brown and cooked through. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, Bring the Sake, mirin, and sugar to a boil and boil for 5 minutes until the liquid is reduced.
  3. Turn off the heat and add the miso a spoon at a time, incorporating well. Miso should not be brought to a boil. The mixture should be  slightly thickish.
  4. Add the sesame seeds and sesame oil. Taste and add more sugar or sesame oil according to your taste preference.
  5. The sauce can be made ahead and heated in the microwave (not boiled). Serve drizzled on the eggplant.

 

 

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Bread and Butter Pickles

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I took the bread and butter pickle recipe from Recipe Girl and made a few adjustments.

 

They were good to eat a few hours later.

pickles 1

bread and butter pickles, adapted from Recipe Girl

Yield: About 4 cups of pickles

Prep Time: 20 min + marinating time

Cook Time: 5 min

Ingredients:

 (2-3 pounds) sliced (1/4-1/2 inch) unpeeled and washed cucumbers
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher or pickling salt
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup light brown sugar (packed)
2  teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

Directions:

1. Dissolve salt and cold water in large bowl and add sliced cucumbers. Let sit for an hour or two. Move cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return cucumbers to bowl. Add onion to the bowl.

2. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add cucumber and onion mixture and bring back to boil. Pour into canning jars and let sit on the counter for a few hours.  Cover and refrigerate . Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

 

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Garlic Dill Pickles

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Bolstered by my success with the bread and butter pickles, I searched online for a dill pickle recipe and found one on Epicurious which I adapted only slightly.

 pickles 1

Fast Favorite Garlic Dill Pickles, adapted

Epicurious  | © 2001 by Eleanor Topp and Margaret Howard

Makes 4 pint (500 mL) jars or 2 quart jars

Often called kosher-style dill pickles, these are quick to make. Use either small whole cucumbers or cut larger ones into quarters or slices. For an additional interesting flavor, tuck a small dried hot red pepper into each jar.

ingredients

·         8-10 small pickling cucumbers or sliced larger pickles (about 3pounds/1.5kg)

·         2 cups (500 mL) white vinegar

·         1 cups (500 mL) water

·         2 tablespoons (25 mL) pickling salt

·         4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds (20 mL)

·         4 small cloves garlic or slice several large garlic cloves and add to each jar

preparation

1. If using larger pickles slice into ¼-1/2 inch slices or for medium sized, cut into quarters lengthwise

2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

3.  Add cucumbers and bring back to boil

4.. Place 1 or two sprigs of fresh dill and  1 or more  cloves of garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers.

 

I do not process the cucumbers so they need to be kept in the fridge and eaten within a few weeks.  It will take a few days before they are at their peak of flavor.

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Goat Cheese Pesto and Sundried Tomato Terrine

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This appetizer is my creation:  a pesto, sundried tomato and goat cheese terrine.  It is very easy to make and everyone wants the recipe.  Exact quantities aren’t that important.  I always have a jar of sundried tomatoes in the fridge and pesto in the freezer.  And since I often also have goat cheese on hand I can make this up easily.  It does need a day or so to set but could come together right away in a pinch.  

 

GOAT CHEESE PESTO AND SUNDRIED TOMATO TERRINE

Ingredients

·         ½ cup sundried tomatoes

·         4 oz. cream cheese

·         5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

·         2.5 ounces pesto (66 grams)

·         3 ounces goat cheese

Preparation

1.    Line a small loaf pan (6"x3") with plastic wrap

2.    Mix together sundried tomatoes and cream cheese in food processor until well incorporated.

3.    Fill lit into the bottom of the plastic lined terrine, making sure it is evenly distributed into the loaf plan and making sure it is pushed into the corners. Smooth the top and stick into the fridge for a few hours or into the freezer for 30 minutes or until firmed up enough to take another layer.

4.    Smooth the room temperature goat cheese over the tomato layer.  Soften the goat cheese in the microwave for a few seconds if it isn’t spreading easily.  Put the terrine back into the fridge or freezer to firm up.

5.     Mix together the pesto and 3 ounces of goat cheese  in the food processor until fully incorporated and spread evenly over the firm goat cheese layer.

6.    Fold the plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate over night until firm. 

7.    Unmold carefully onto a platter and serve with crackers.

Note:  you can make this replacing the goat cheese entirely with cream cheese or vice versa.

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