Ratatouille Is Summer on A Plate!

Summer time is the best time to cook with garden produce; makes the most sense, that’s when they are at their peak of quality and variety. I love to make this dish every year in the late summer particularly when I have most of the vegetables growing in my garden.  Ratatouille is a French dish made of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers and lots of olive oil and basil. To me it tastes more Italian with all those veggies and the olive oil and basil. It’s a great side dish with grilled meats or fish and I love it inside an omelet or alongside a slice of quiche.  And yes, I know there was a kids movie out in 2007 by the same name.  Disney even came out with their own recipe for ratatouille!

Lots of veggie chopping for this delicious dish and then you should stir it carefully as the mixture cooks in a big pan. I like to make it in a wok or paella dish. I have a Teflon paella dish that I use these days; holds a lot and things don’t stick to it.

Tips: The amounts are somewhat fluid; I don’t really measure the veggies; just use an approximate amount. Be sure to cook the eggplant until it is mostly done before proceeding to the next step or your dish will be less than stellar.  You can use red, orange, yellow or green bell peppers and yellow summer squash works just as good as zucchini. I used a huge pale green bell pepper in my photographed version. Just makes sure all your vegetables are fresh and best quality.

 

 

 

 

Ratatouille  by Angela, makes about six servings

Ingredients:

2 medium onions

4 tbsp. olive oil divided

1 large eggplant – cut into rounds and then across into ½ in slices (don’t peel)

1 med zucchini  – cut into 1/3 inch rounds and halved

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 garlic cloves – minced

1 large red or green bell pepper- cut into long slices, can half them

1-2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. brown sugar, optional

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 tsp. sea salt (to taste)

Directions:

Put 3 tbsp. of the oil in a large frying pan; 16 inch or wok works well. Add the eggplant slices and toss the slices around to evenly soak up the oil.  Fry turning occasionally; try to get them at least half done and then add the zucchini half moons.  Keep frying until both are just about done.  Turn out into a big bowl.  Add the rest of the olive oil and when it is hot; add the onion bits. Cook about 5-6 min until softening.  Add garlic and cook a minute.  Add the sliced pepper and cook 5-6 minutes until softening.  Add the diced tomato.  Stir well.  Cook about 5-6 minutes and add the tomato paste and sugar, stir well, add back the zuke/eggplants and  until mixture looks mostly done; maybe 10 min.  Add the basil and salt and cook another couple of minutes. spicy tomato jam 006  Great cold the next day; aging in the fridge melds the flavors together.

Originally posted in  September 2016, minor changes in text.

1774 Grille &Tap Fall Menu

Last week I enjoyed a fantastic meal right here in Hellertown at 1774 Grille & Tap Restaurant.  I had been there a few months ago when I enjoyed a wonderful meal of lamb chops. This time I was treated to a special tasting menu starting with some delightful sea scallops on a silky bed of puréed sweet potatoes. Perfectly pan seared and with some tasty risotto as well as a fried sage leaf and a dab of a cranberry puree. I enjoyed a glass of Washington Hills Riesling wine…. Gorgeous wine with gentle hints of fruit and perfectly balanced. 4EEE558E-17DE-48E4-B004-3F68F7DC7CA3

This was followed by a fillet of sea bass with delightfully crisp skin and flaky, perfectly cooked flesh. It was resting in a delicate mushroom broth and decorated with wilted fresh spinach and green pea sprouts. It normally comes with a rice and barley risotto but due to my gf requirements I had to skip that. I cut it open before taking a photo so you could see the interior of the fillet. My wonderful server gave me a little pitcher of mushroom broth to pou on as needed and I did just that.5F4A6B8D-3D42-4793-AE3F-D613DB72684E

I had a tasting portion of duck breast with more of the sweet potato puree. The duck had a yummy honey ginger sauce which did not overpower the duck. There were spears of crisp tender grilled asparagus to complete the dish. My duck was cooked medium, just right. 049F8F1D-60CF-45CD-97D0-2F7507C2B650

I finished this delightful meal with a couple scoops of homemade ice cream, maple and dark chocolate. The almost bitter chocolate was tamed and complemented by the sweet creamy maple custard. Dinner perfection!CCE4B847-4D6A-4064-99EA-F7BD1B546792

Swiss Chard Taco Thursday….

Vegetarian meals don’t generally thrill me like those made with meat.  That said, I have several delightful vegetarian items I make on occasion.  This is a great meal choice: Swiss chard tacos. My sister made these while I was visiting her.  I was skeptical but found them to be delicious and a great way to use up a lot of the swiss chard!  No meat but you won’t miss it in these flavorful and filling tacos. If you are not familiar with swiss chard it has a rib like celery or fennel and greens too.  It comes in white and green, pink and green/white  or a rainbow chard that can be deep red, orange or bright yellow.  The flavor of chard is rather earthy, goes well with bacon, butternut squash, or garlic and olive oil.

I used Mexican cheese but you can use Monterey Jack as that is what the recipe called for.  The recipe is out of an old Home and Garden magazine. I added some ground cumin too for extra spice. Don’t forget the red wine vinegar, really a great finishing touch.

The white corn tortillas (La Bandarita brand) came from Wegmans; they have one up near Boston.  There are three here near me. Enjoy!

swiss chard taco

Not the prettiest taco but I was in a hurry to devour it!!

Karen’s Swiss Chard Tacos

1 lb Swiss chard

½ tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp. ground cumin

½ a red onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic minced

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 can of black beans, rinsed and well drained

8 tortillas; corn flour

1 cup of Monterey jack cheese or Queso Fresca cheese; grated

1/3 cup sour cream, reduced fat

Directions:

Chop up the chard stems into half inch dice.  Rough chop the rest of the chard and set aside. Heat a large frying pan and add the cumin seeds; cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Add olive oil then chard stems.  Cook 3 minutes until softening.  Add the chard leaves that you have rough chopped, ground cumin, onion, garlic and red pepper.  Cook 3 min, stirring.  Add the red wine vinegar and the black beans.  Stir well, cook 3-4 minutes longer.

Meanwhile; heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lay tortillas out on baking sheet.  Sprinkle grated cheese in the center of each.  Bake 4-5 minutes until cheese melting and tortilla crisp. Watch them closely so they don’t burn. Remove from oven.  Place a generous amount of chard mixture on each tortilla.  Top with a spoonful of sour cream.  Sprinkle cilantro over top if desired.

Notes: I used low fat sour cream.  I do not recommend fat free as it tastes chalky. Mine was made cilantro free but feel free to put it on yours if you like that herb.

Originally posted by me in August 2016. Minor changes made to text.