Sunday, July 19, 2009

The 3 Winners.

Dear Readers,

A while back, perhaps about three weeks ago, I was in a little bit of a cooking funk. Nothing I seemed to produce was worthy of neither photograph nor paragraph. With a small smile and a little nudge I managed to prod my husband into more and more dining out ventures, and I suppose it is also true that for that spell he was eating quite a bit of cereal. As the days went by my beautiful vegetables turned from freshness, and I let them slip through my fingers and fall, rotten and whole, straight into the compost.

The three recipes up for your vote were each significant into bringing delight back into the process of cooking. And I think you all deserve to have each of them. However, before I reveal all the "secret" ingredients I want to tell you a little secret, if I may.

When I cook for myself, I might as well not cook at all. The endeavor usually ends poorly. This idea is mysterious to me, but it is a reinforced truth. Food ought to be prepared with someone else in mind whenever possible. Food ought to be cooked and shared with love. Always. Whether it be a decadent chocolate cake or a lunchtime pb&j - I've learned that if you make it with love, then you'll fall in love with the process of making it.

With LOVE,


P.S. I would also like to recommend some Edith Piaf for the Ratatouille-making, and be sure to note that you cannot rush delicious Ratatouille. Be patient, go slow, and enjoy yourself. That, and this dish is (even more) pure bliss with a poached egg.

Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille
(yes, it's a Molly Wizenberg recipe, but it is NOT on her website. Buy her book!)

1 lb. eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1 in. thick rounds
olive oil
1 lb. zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise, & sliced into 1/2 in. thick half-moons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 lg. red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
4 lg. cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400F.

Arrange the eggplant rounds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour 2 tbsp olive oil in a small bowl, and brush onto the eggplant. Flip the slices and brush the second sides as well, taking care that each has a thin coating of oil. Bake for 30 min, flipping the slices halfway through, until soft and lightly browned on each side. Remove from the oven and cool. Cut into rough 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

Warm 2 tbsp olive oil over med-high heat in a large, deep skillet. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 10 to 12 mins. Remove from the pan, taking care to leave behind any excess oil, and set it aside. If there is no oil left in the pan, add about 1 tbsp; if there is still some remaining, proceed to the next step. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and zucchini, stir to incorporate, and cook until everything is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. Taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Discard the bay leaf, and stir in the basil.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with additional salt for sprinkling.

Note: Ratatouille is even better on the second day or the third (although John and I ate it immediately, this is probably true... oh well) If you can, plan to make it ahead of time, so that the flavors have time to meld and ripen. Also, be sure to have some crusty bread on hand for sopping up the slurry at the bottom of the bowl.

  • Don't worry, I didn't forget desert, but I must give credit where credit is due - John's birthday cake is HERE. If you want to give yourself an added treat, read the story. This may be one of the best cakes in the world. If you don't believe me, ask John.
  • As for the parfait, dearest voters, stay tuned :)


Donn said...

Perfect. I've been looking for zucchini recipes to tackle these monsters coming up. This will be fantastic when the eggplants are ready.

How big do you like your zucchini? That's my new marketing slogan; it'll look great on a t-shirt.

Have you read any M.F.K. Fischer? I think you'd love her.

A.Kelley said...


Amazing marketing slogan - I would love to see more photos of what you've got going on over on your farm. John and I, as you know, produced about 3 okra this summer which we kind of feel proud of, if you can believe it.

I've heard Fischer is awesome, thank you for the recommendation! I am still eager for your tomatoes! Keep me posted!

Donn said...

We made this recipe last night...unbelievably delicious.

We also shared it with a couple carnivores, and it was a huge hit.


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