Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ratatouille - the recipe, not the movie!

Yes, it's a recipe for ratatouille (rat-at-too-ee), inspired from watching the movie. (You should go watch it, it's really good!) In the movie, ratatouille was described as provincial - peasant food - but being a gourmet restaurant it looked better in the cartoon than how it is usually presented:

Basically, a ratatouille is a toamato-based vegetable stew, which explains the provincial description as peasants couldn't usually afford meat. I also suspect that every French provincial household has their own version of ratatouille, so feel free to change the ingredients as you see fit! Except for the tomatoes. Gotta have tomatoes. And the bacon. The bacon was there for flavour. Now, this recipe can easily be a throw-everything-in-one-pot and boil kind of stew, but if you have a little extra time, you might want to roast some of the veggies first (like in this recipe) for a richer flavour.

Noel and May's Ratatouille
1 carrot }
1 eggplant } cut into 1-inch chunks
1 zucchini }
1 pound mushrooms }
1 onion, sliced
2 rashers of bacon, sliced
2 cans of fresh chopped tomatoes
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp sweet basil
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp sugar
A dutch oven/roasting pan

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
2. On medium heat, brown bacon with a little oil until cooked crisp. Drain bacon and reserve for later.
3. Brown onions in remaining fat, making sure to scrape bottom of pan for bacon bits. Season with herbs and spices.
3. Turn off heat, add garlic, zucchini, carrots and eggplant and mix well to coat everything with fat
4. Put the whole pan, uncovered, into the middle rack of the oven and bake for 35 min.
5. Put in mushrooms and tomatoes, mixing in sugar as well.
6. Return to oven, covered, for 30 min.
7. Top with bacon and enjoy! Makes approx 4-6 servings.

Before you start roasting the zucchini and eggplant, you might want to take some of the bitterness off by putting both ingredients in a colander, mixing in 1 tsp of salt and letting rest after putting a plate on top of the mix to apply pressure. Leave bowl or container at the bottom of the colander to collect the drained bitter water.


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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Chinese Duck Salad

Sometimes, I just get tired of cooking and so I assemble a salad instead. This Chinese duck salad is made with roast duck - although you can (and should, probably, since you'd be on a budget) use some leftover roast chicken instead. The secret is in the dressing though, which works well with both chicken and duck.

Chinese Duck (or Chicken) Salad

1 serve of salad greens
1 roast duck breast, sliced - chicken works fine too.

3-4 spring onions, white parts only
1 inch ginger
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chinese rice wine
1/2 tsp sugar

1. Make the marinade by mincing the spring onions and ginger into a fine paste. Mix the sugar and liquids after and leave in fridge for at least an hour.
2. Assemble greens and duck in a bowl and mix well with 1/2 tbsp of dressing. Enjoy!


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