Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Fare Part 2-Ratatouille Bruschetta and Plate to Pixel

It has never happened.  I have not had the urge to post two recipes on one Friday.  Until now.  It has been that crazy kind of day.  The kind you have and afterwards, you sit down and are grateful that it has ended.  Well, it's almost over but I'm not asleep yet.  I did buy a car.   And, I did make something yummy for dinner.  And, well, it was sort of an accident.

I had a ton of vegetables.  Which I love and the mister kind of loves.  So, I decided to make ratatouille.  Not the Disney movie kind but the French kind.  Actually, it's almost a stew and it originated  in Nice but it also worked well in my kitchen this evening.  I used the recipe at the end of this post. 

Ratatouille is not difficult except that it involves a lot of chopping.  I enjoy chopping especially at the end of a long day.  I can tune out and relax and well...chop.  A little olive oil.  Loads of vegetables.  Some thyme, salt, pepper.  Easy.  Unfortunately, the photo isn't too pretty but you get the idea.

Speaking of pretty, I am working on this.  I ordered Plate to Pixel-Digital Food Photography & Styling.   It's all about food and photos and making things look as delicious as they taste.  Obviously, I need some work here. You saw the picture, right?  So, I am hoping to read and practice and practice some more!  

The book is written and created by Helene Dujardin, the creator of the blog Tartelette and I am planning on studying it cover to cover!  So, someday, my photos will make you want to cook something!

Anyway, back to dinner.  After I made the ratatouille, I had the strong feeling that the mister would say something like...That sure is a lot of vegetables!  So, instead of serving it alone, I took the ratatouille and used it to make bruschetta.  Usually, bruschetta is made as an appetizer.  It comes from Italy-just like me in a kind of round about way!  



I had a going-stale loaf of homemade Italian bread which I sliced super thin.  Rubbed it with some garlic, drizzled it with some olive oil and toasted it a bit.  Then, when it came out of the oven, I topped each slice with some ratatouille and some shredded Gruyere cheese and stuck it back under the broiler for a few seconds.  It became a great side dish for our roasted pork and the veggies were eaten and everyone was happy. 

So, if you need to use up tons of veggies, make ratatouille.  If you are afraid your kiddos or mister might not like plain veggies in a French-like stew, put them on toast and melt some cheese on top.  If you take pretty crappy photos, order Helene's new book.  See?  I have answers for a lot this evening.  Now, I am off to bed, so I can get up early for the farmer's market in the morning.  Happy Week-End!

Ratatouille

Ingredients 

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups small diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups medium diced eggplant,  skin on
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup diced green bell peppers
1 cup diced red bell peppers
1 cup diced zucchini squash
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Set a large 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and lightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the eggplant and thyme to the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the green and red peppers, zucchini  and squash and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes. Stir well to blend and serve either hot or at room temperature. 

And, if you are finishing it my way:
Slice some Italian bread.  Rub it with garlic and drizzle with olive oil.  Toast it.  Top with the ratatouille and some shredded cheese.  Stick it under the broiler for a few minutes...WHILE you watch it!  Cheese melts quickly.  And, enjoy!

Friday Fare: A Squash Recipe and a Great Seasonal Cookbook

We are back with the intention of staying in town for a bit.  And, our kitchen counter looks like this.  Between the CSA box and the road side stands, the fruits and veggies available right now are abundant.  Being in the kitchen is exciting and I can't seem to stay home long enough to cook.  But, that all changes today!!  

So, I made some simple salmon burgers last night for dinner and topped them with fresh red lettuce and tomatoes and even the mister had to admit, they were pretty darn good!  But, it was what I made to go with them that I want to share with you.....

The recipe for Sweet and Creamy Summer Squash Casserole came from this cookbook and was written by Holly Herrick, a Charleston resident.  Anything that you top with cheese, automatically gets an A+ in our house.  So, if your counter top resembles mine, full of fresh veggies, cook something delicious and start with this recipe.  It's simple and ready quickly!

Sweet and Creamy Summer Squash Casserole

Ingredients

5 yellow summer squash, scrubbed and tips removed
1 tbs salt
1 tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 tbs white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup grated Swiss Cheese
(I used Gruyere because that's what I had on hand)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Grate the squash with a medium-size grater over a large bowl.  Toss with 1 tbs of salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Squeeze out excess water in batches by forming balls between your hands and squeezing.  Discard excess fluid and set aside drained squash.   

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the squash and continue to saute until just tender and most of the juices have reduced, another 5 minutes or so.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the wine and increase heat to medium-high.  Cook for 2 minutes, or until the wine has reduced to almost nothing, stirring constantly.  Add the cream and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook another 5 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by three-quarters.  Stir in chives. 

Preheat broiler to high.  Pour the squash mixture into a 4-quart gratin or baking dish.  Allow to cool slightly and then sprinkle with the cheeses.  Cook in the middle of the oven until heated through and bubbling on top, about 20 minutes; serve warm.  This works as a great side dish for roasted chicken or pork, (or salmon burgers!) or as a meal with a green salad.  Enjoy!!

Sweet and Creamy Summer Squash Casserole
Southern Farmers Market Cookbook
By Holly Herrick

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