Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Step by step real Ratatouille

Yesterday I prepared this ratatouille for my husband and his colleagues to share at work. There is a group of French guys and they always have lunch together with a different person cooking every day. Since I am  at home with little or nothing to do, I thought it would be nice if I cooked for them and I chose a French recipe. Because that's the best way to know if your French cuisine is good or not: have your food tasted by the natives :)

Ratatouille is a meal from the sun baked South of France and contains several vegetables but usually tomatoes, peppers, zuchinni, egg plant. The secret to a good ratatouille is of course in the ingredients and if you listen to the great chefs, in the layering of the vegetables and cooking them separately. Personally I prefer to mix them earlier then the cook book says and leaving a little more sauce (some say to drain it completely but I just think you loose flavour). So you see, perfection is in the eye of the beholder.

And behold! the veggies I used. I cooked for about 6 people so the exact quantities are not so important when you cook for a large number. I took a large eggplant, two big zuchinni, some of the ugliest tomatoes I could find at the grocer's (these are the best) and more (twisted) peppers of the kapia variety than you can see here (because I just love the taste). And of course as many onions as I could cut through the tears.

I started by heating olive oil in a big wok and proceeded to cutting the onions (and crying my pregnant heart out, no fingers  were lost). Next, I started chopping the peppers. Tip: try to cut all the vegetables about the same size, let's say 1cm x 1cm. It will look better and the texture will feel nicer too. (Check out my photo collage :) ).
 When the onions were only half way done (try not to burn the meal), I threw in the peppers. I like them well done. A little later on I added some wine to the mix. Diced the zuchinni and eggplant and added to the pot when the onions were translucid. Perfect! Normally, you don't need to add water because the vegetables give a lot of their own. If you have potatoes, carrots, olives at hand, add those as well.

And now you wait with a glass of wine, thinking about the lavender in Provence. Or the port of Cassis with it's boats and colourful houses. A promenade in the old town of Nice... Ahh.

Let's get back to our ratatouille which has been cooking for about 20 minutes or the time for the sauce to reduce (leave as much sauce as you prefer, you can also strain it). Since the vegetables are cook, we'll sprinkle abundantly with Herbes de Provence, some drops of green Tabasco for a bit of a punch  and voila!

This is one of those dishes which gets better the day after so today I am making the stuffed chicken the guys will have in their plates for lunch. (the chicken bits in the picture are from my husbands heavy protein diet). I'll share the stuffed chicken recipe with you, next time.

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