Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ratatouille's Ratatouille


There are only a handful of movies that truly inspire us to action. For me Kung Fu Panda was one- I've posted my simple noodle soup that it inspired but there is much more to the movie than food. Much much more. To a slightly lesser degree, Ratatouille is another movie that has more substance than the usual crop of entertainment. A beautiful story with an equally beautiful message.

I've been wanting to try the signature dish that Remy created, the one that humbled Anton Ego. So I went straight to the source- here. It is one of the most delicious dishes I've had.



Try it. After all, 'Anyone can cook!' :)

Ratatouille's Ratatouille
Recipe, reproduced verbatim:

FOR PIPERADE

1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1/2 a bay leaf
Kosher salt

FOR VEGETABLES
1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds 1 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds 1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 2 teaspoons olive oil 1/8teaspoon thyme leaves Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR VINAIGRETTE

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

1. For piperade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

3. For vegetables, heat oven to 275 degrees. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

4. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

5. For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

6. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rasagullas in Mixed Fruit Juice


I was speaking to a person recently about my pets and he said "I'm a cleanliness freak and I really object to having animals in the house." I'll come out and admit that I have a temper, but I rarely see red like I did when he said that. It's incomprehensible to me how people can have such horrid attitudes about animals.

Some people sound like they suffer animals' existence on earth, as if they didn't have a right to be here, like humans 'own' the globe. There's a particular high born caste in India, the orthodox members of which would never touch a dog or a cat even if you paid them to. I've seen grown men and women back away in disgust. It's appalling.

To me, its a gross deficiency of compassion and understanding. It is almost unforgivable.

Though a spicy dish would have been more appropriate with this heated censure, I chose to go with a sweet one instead. A tribute to all the gorgeous and amazing fellow creatures we share our world with. So there!

Rasagullas in Mixed Fruit Juice]

Traditionally rasagullas are allowed to soak in a simple syrup, but fruits impart their own subtle flavor and really heighten this dish.

1/2 liter milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Assorted fruits (apples, grapes, passion fruit, pineapple, sweet lime)
Sugar, to taste

Place the milk in a pan and allow it to come to a boil. Pout in the leamon juice and remove from heat. Stir it around a bit so that the milk solids separate from the whey. Strain out the cheese, wash with some cold water and place in a plate. Add the flour and start kneading the cheese dough till it becomes a soft mass. Rill into small balls. Place the sugar and water in a pan and when it comes to a boil, gently drop the cheese balls into it. Simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Every five minutes, add a few tsps of water. Do not allow the syrup to thicken.

Meanwhile, place the fruits in a juicer and strain the juice into a bowl. Add a bit of sugar to lightly sweeten the juice. Add a few strands of saffron. Remove the rasagullas and place them in the juice. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Passion Fruit Millet Polenta


I've been a bit distracted of late- a nasty bout of sinus and a riveting sci-fi book series kept me from cooking, browsing, commenting.... :(

I have a sweet tooth. Ok, maybe more than one. It's a weird craving- after every meal, even if I've stuffed myself I need a morsel of sweetness to 'seal the deal' (sometimes I talk like a gangster).

I'm kinda tired of making cakes and tarts...and I'm actually kinda tired of seeing the same stuff over and over again online. I'm looking for options now. Actually, I do have a few low-fat sweet options that I can fall back on, some are ridiculously simple- but more on that in a different post. This one here is a nice little bite that I whipped up a while ago- healthy stuff- millet, fruit pulp and just a bit of sugar.

Passion Fruit Millet Polenta

1 cup cooked foxtail millet
4 tsp sugar
½ cup passion fruit
1/3 cup mango pulp

To cook the millet, place it in a vessel with water in the ratio 1 : 4 (millet : water). With medium heat, it cooks pretty fast, between 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the cooked millet in a non stick pan with the other ingredients and stir on low to remove moisture- maybe 3 or 4 minutes. Spoon the mixture into muffin cups, smooth the tops and place circles of wax paper on the top of each. Refrigerate overnight. Turn it over onto a serving plate and gently tap to release the polenta. You could also slightly brown both sides in a frying pan with a little butter before serving.