I'm reading a book called “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg. In the book, which is part memoir, part cookbook, she tells stories and shares recipes inspired or evoked by an experience. Ms. Wizenberg is a masterful story teller and I will write more about the book later but in one early chapter she notes that she learned many things from her dad including the value of cleaning up the kitchen as you go while cooking. She says “When you’re cooking, if you have time – any time at all – to stop to wash a few dishes or wipe the counter, do it. It’ll mean less mess in the end, which means more time to enjoy your food, your company, your day, all of it.”
I made a note of this.
I made several notes…..my copy of this book is a little tattered and nicely annotated...just the way I like a good book. I think this is why I'm having a hard time adjusting to e-books. I like my hand-written notes....they make me feel connected to the pages I've read.
It was my turn to cook on Wednesday and I was completely smitten by the recipe for ratatouille on page 124, a go-to dish the author often made while living in
. Vegetables were abundant in the street
markets of France France and she
would shop a greengrocer “under a myrtle green awning” on rue Oberkampf in . I have no idea
where this is but hopefully the awning will help me locate it when I visit. Paris
Anyway, the easy access to fresh vegetables offered the perfect excuse to (frequently) make this stew of eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, thyme and bay leaf. Other versions of this recipe call for herbs deGrowing up, the native Oklahoman used to eat leftover ratatouille over
but this version uses thyme, bay
leaf and basil. It also calls for
pre-baking rather than sautéing the eggplant to give it the aubergine a more
tender, less spongy consistency. Provence
Roasted Eggplant RatatouilleFrom: A Homemade Life
Ingredients1 lb. eggplant, sliced in 1” rounds
1 lb. zucchini, sliced into ½” half-moons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ cup fresh chopped basil
Bake for 30 minutes at 400° or until nicely browned, turning halfway through. Cut the rounds into 1” pieces and set aside.
Remove from the pan.
Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes.
Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and zucchini, stir to incorporate and cook until all ingredients are tender, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Ms. Wizenberg’s note: “Ratatouille is even better on the second or third day. If you can, plan to make it ahead of time so the flavors have time to meld and ripen.”
parsnip mashed potatoes, a delicious salad, a wonderful bottle of red wind and, for dessert, the creamiest chocolate pudding served in charming vintage tea cups.