Congrats to the gorgeous, hot, incredibly talented, sharp-witted, sharper-tongued, buffed and toned Nenette for naming my beloved little post and a BIG thank you to all of my readers who contributed names. There were so many good ones...in fact, I am thinking of scrapping ITAC altogether and just going for a food and cooking blog:
Wickedly Delish Wednesdays
Totally Food Porn Thursdays
Feed Me Fridays
Smack a Bitch Up With My Recipe Saturdays
And my personal favorite...
"I'M GIVING YOU MY FUCKING RECIPES FOR FREE SO I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO ENTICE YOU WITH A FANCY TITLE Sunday"
Wouldn't that be an awesome blog? Yeah - I agree.
But for now, dreams of dethroning Julia Child AND Julie Powell will have to wait because there's this thing I have called a job (you know - what someone actually pays me to do), plus managing my Google Reader is apparently another full time job (27 unread posts as of Saturday morning), as is keeping up with Twitter, plus 7 goats, 1 donkey, 2 cats, a car that hates me...you get the picture.
Back to Feed Me Fridays.
So the other day, my neighbor shows up bearing this:
I mean, the vase was mine but the flowers were all Iris as was basket brimming over with tomatoes, eggplant, yellow squash, eggplant, zucchini, chard, bell pepper, and assorted herbs (including basil, parsley, thyme and sage) and I was like: OMG - I flipping LOVE small town life!!! I mean, does this shit happen ANYWHERE ELSE??
So of course, I already had a bunch of tomatoes and I was like...gee...this is clearly a sign that I need to make some tomato sauce and I will clearly have to (hello Sunday afternoon project) but the rest of the veggies and herbs screamed out one simple world. RATATOUILLE.
So yeah...how much do I love ratatouille? Um...oodles. I love ratatouille oodles and oodles and here was basket full of garden fresh ratatouille just shouting out to me: Cook Me! Eat Me! Feed Me To Your Friends! Write About Me For Your Blog! So, when eggplant talks, you listen.
As it turns out, I had some folks over for dinner last night and it proved the perfect opportunity to turn that basket of produce into this:
And I wish you all could taste this glorious food porn I am serving up because OMG it was utterly D.Lish. Yum. Wow. Swoon. And the amazing thing, with the exception of the red onion and the garlic, everything in that bowl came from Iris's garden so it was fresh and pure and clean and OMG...excuse me while I pause to grab the leftovers out of the fridge and eat them for breakfast.
Mmmmm. That was tasty. Now back to blogging.
So here's the thing. I didn't really follow a recipe last night. I just kind of grabbed what was in the basket and chopped and tossed and seasoned until it felt right and that's how I cook a lot of times, unless I am intentionally trying to test a recipe in which case I measure specific quantities but recipe testing is truly a big flipping pain in the ass and so I try to avoid it unless necessary. Which means,
So the ratatouille recipe I am sharing today comes from Stephen Schmidt, food writer, food historian, author of Master Recipes, and on the faculty at The New School which is where I met him when I enrolled in his Intro to Cooking Class back in 1995. This ratatouille was one of the first things I ever learned how to cook and it's fairly simple to fix. Mainly a lot of chopping. Also, please note that this recipe is obviously scaled for a massive size dinner party (or someone who likes A LOT of eggplant) and I think you can probably cut it in half or thirds to get a slightly more manageable amount.
12 to 18 servings
three 1-pound eggplants
six 4-ounce zucchini, well scrubbed
three 4-ounce yellow squash, well scrubbed
3 green bell peppers
3 red bell peppers
9 plum tomatoes
3 large-medium onions
5 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
5 large bay leaves, broken in 3 to 4 pieces each
about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
about 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
20 large basil leaves, finely shredded
1/2 to 3/4 cup minced parsley
Cut the eggplants 1-inch cubes. Cut the stems off the squash, divide in half lengthwise, and slice the halves on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Turn the eggplant into one colander and the squash into another and sprinkle generously with salt. Let the vegetables stand over a bowl (or in the sink) for 30 to 60 minutes, then rinse with cold water. A handful at a time, squeeze the eggplant firmly to extract the juice. Blot the eggplant dry with paper towels and do the same to the squash. Divide both vegetables between two large roasting pans.
Cut the tops and bottoms off the peppers, make a slit down the pepper bodies, and open the bodies out flat. Shave out the ribs and seeds, then cut the pepper bodies, along with the tops and bottoms, into 3/4-inch squares. Add to the roasting pans with the eggplant and squash.
Cut the cores off the tomatoes, cut lengthwise in quarters, scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds, and toss the tomato wedges into the roasting pans.
Peel the onions, slice lengthwise, and add to the roasting pans. Sprinkle on the garlic, thyme, and bay leaves, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and mix thoroughly with a spoon or with your hands.
Roast the vegetables at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, then stir up with a large spoon. Roast 20 minutes longer, add the basil, and stir up again. Cook the vegetables another 5 to 10 minutes, or until thoroughly tender and lightly browned. Remove the ratatouille from the oven and taste, adding additional olive oil, salt, and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle with parsley and either serve at once, hot, or let stand a bit and serve warm or at room temperature.
I also totally baked blackberry pie last night. With blackberries freshly picked from my neighbor's blackberry bushes. But that's totally next week's post.
And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...