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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ratatouille My Way

Great way to use up the last of my eggplants! I've always loved ratatouille, and for some reason, people here (in the north of France) tend to buy it ready made...canned. What an outrage! This side dish is so good the eggplants just melt in your mouth and give the rest a creamy texture, minus the cream! Ok, I admit I tweaked the ingredients. REAL ratatouille has zucchini instead of carrots, but I did with what I had on hand.
1 eggplant, diced, skin on
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 diced bell pepper
1 small can crushed tomatoes
1 diced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp paprika
drizzle of white wine for deglazing
some chicken stock for deglazing
4 tbsp EVOO
handful fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
1 tsp thyme
salt/fresh ground pepper
1. Heat 2 tbsp EVOO in a wok or heavy based frying pan and add the carrots. Stir around 5 minutes, then add the garlic and onions until colored.
2. Add the eggplant and bell pepper and stir until the moisture is absorbed. Deglaze with the 2 other tbsp EVOO and white wine. Add the paprika, thyme, and some salt, then cover and let simmer 10 minutes, stirring and deglazing with chicken stock from time to time.
3. Add the tomatoes and some chicken stock. Cover and let simmer until carrots are tender or 10 more minutes. Stir in the fresh basil. Season to taste.

I served mine with some duck legs and bulgur wheat. So good!

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Eggplant Mozzarella Bruschetta

Another great way to use eggplants when they finally go on sale! What equally inspired me was a potted basil plant also on sale! I know it won't last me long, but at least I'll enjoy every last leaf of it.
I made this as a lunch for 2, but it could easliy be an appetizer for 4 or if cut into pieces, hot hors d'oeuvres for a handful of people!
1 eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
4 large slices lightly toasted Italian bread (I used whole grain)
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
15 leaves fresh basil
some leftover tomato sauce (I didn't have leftover, so I used prepared Panzani tomato sauce)
salt/fresh ground pepper
some EVOO
drizzle of basalmic vinegar
1. Brush some EVOO on some oven paper, place your eggplant slices on the paper, and brush them with EVOO as well. Sprinkle salt and fresh ground pepper over your slices and pop into preheated oven 400°F for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, rub the garlic cloves on the toasted bread. For 4 large slices, this should use up 2 garlic cloves.
3. Spread some tomato sauce onto each slice.
4. When the eggplant is done, line the slices up on the bread, then line up the basil on top.
5. Drizzle a few drops of basalmic vinegar onto each slice, then line up the slices of mozzarella. Grind some pepper over your slices and drizzle a bit of EVOO on everything.
6. Pop back into the oven until the mozzarella is melty and bubbly (mine took 7 minutes)

Serve and enjoy your lovely Italian appetizer. I ended up putting extra basil leaves on top.
This one is a winner!
Eric loved it, too even though it had no meat!

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Italian Eggplant and Mushroom Pasta

Eggplant is expensive..very, so when it's on sale, I grab. I originally was planning to make my famous Stuffed Eggplant, but I hadn't had my pasta fix this week, and I had just made a batch of Italian Sausage, so I decided to throw it all together. How wonderfully delicious! I will definately make this again and again.
Serves 6
1 eggplant, sliced like stiry-fry meat
2 Italian sausages, crumbled, cooked, and drained
2 chopped tomatoes
1 handful fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cube vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream (only if you want)
4 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp basil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
fresh ground pepper
1 box (500g) pasta of your choice.. I chose Linguine, cooked al dente
1. Heat a heavy based frying pan with 2 tbsp EVOO. Sautée the mushrooms until colored, then add the garlic and eggplant. Stir around and add the basil, paprika, and chili powder, and add 2 more tbsp EVOO.
2. When the eggplant gets a bit tender, add the tomatoes, then the wine and the cube bouillon. Bring to a boil and lower the heat and add the cooked crumbled italian sausage as you wait for your pasta to cook.
3. Add water and taste to adjust the seasoning. As the pasta finishes cooking, stir in the heavy cream and fresh ground pepper.
4. Toss your al dente pasta with the prepared eggplant sauce.

Serve with shredded swiss or parmesan, or both..mmmm!

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Pork Fajita Plate

Mmm I miss my Mexicans! That's seriously what Europe needs more of.
Eric requested me to make this for company this weekend in the light of celebrating his birthday, so I knew I had to make it perfect. We're missing the tortillas (I know, sacriledge) but it's too hard to find quality ones here on a regular basis. When I see them, I buy, but I'm not trying to spend 4€ for 8 corn tortillas, especially when I know I'll probably eat 4 and Eric will probably eat all 8! This recipe comes from what I think I remember, but is in no way "the official fajita" recipe.. it just came to mind this way, and tasted right.
Serves 6-7.. but I don't know we haven't finished the leftovers yet.
2 lbs pork, sliced stir fry style
1 diced jalapeño (or not, for spice)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lemon
some cerveza
2-3 bell peppers, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 bunch green onions, half sliced lengthwise, half chopped
4 tbsp EVOO
1. The night before, mix all the spices together with the chopped jalapenõ, lemon juice, and drizzled beer and rub it all over your sliced pork (or whatever meat you desire, actually). Place in fridge or let marinate for 2 hours.
2. The day of, heat 2 tbsp EVOO in a heavy based pan and cook the meat. Add the sliced green onions and half the chopped cilantro. Stir around so all the pieces brown, then cover and let simmer approximately 30 minutes or while you chop your veggies and do the rest.
3. In another skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp, oil and add the bell beppers and onions, stirring. After about 3 minutes, add the tomatoes. The vegetables should be to your desired crunchiness.
4. Check and adjust the seasoning in your meat.

Serve with warmed tortillas, mexirice, and black beans.. and top with sour cream, chopped green onions, and cilantro with a wedge of lemon or lime.

Oh wow.. Mexigasm!!

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Cauliflower and Mixed Veggie Soup

I'm in a cauliflower phase.. what a fabulous vegetable. Raw, crisp, tender, or mush, it is always extremely satisfying and comforting.
1/2 head fresh cauliflower cut into florets (I had already eaten the other half raw the previous day as an appetizer)
1 zucchini, diced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 handful frozen peas
1 mini can of corn (or half a can)
2 cubes bouillon
4 cups water
1/4 cup beer (I always drizzle some out for the homies)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 handful shredded cheese (I used swiss, but use cheddar!)
leftover cooked chicken in pieces or whatever.. or bacon.. or meatless
some EVOO or butter
1. Brown the onions until soft, then add the cauliflower and stir arounnd a bit.
2. Add the curry, chili powder, and everything else except the cheese and cream. Bring to a boil and let simmer until cauliflower is tender to your liking. I like mine to have a little bite, so 20 minutes was fine.
3. Stir in the cream and cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add more water if it is too thick.

Serve hot and melt with it. Now that's comfort food! This would actually be perfect for the crockpot..adding the cream and cheese at the end, of course.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Double Chocolate Melt

This dessert is to die for.. when carried out correctly. I had this at Audrey's.. the one who gave me the risotto recipe. It was awesome, so I wanted to make it myself for guests this weekend. I have a kitchen scale because I don't trust my judgement with baking.
Serves 4-6
3 eggs
100 g milk chocolate (with hazelnuts)
50 g flour + 1 tbsp for powdering
75 g powdered sugar
95 g butter
6 tablets white chocolate
1. Preheat the oven to 500°F
2. Whisk together the eggs, flour, and sugar.
3. On the stovetop, gently melt the milk chocolate and the butter. Pour it into the bowl with the eggs, flour, and sugar and let chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
4. Butter and flour your individual cake molds.
5. Fill the molds half way with the chocolate mixture. Place 1 or 2 squares of white chocolate into the molds, and cover with the rest of the mixture.
6. Cook in the oven for 7 minutes.

Serve warm and melty!
Since I can't follow directions to the letter, I left mine in a few minutes too long and they were not melty gooey on the inside...but still great. Next time I will be more careful about the 7 minutes!

Audrey's were prettier and she served it in a trio with other desserts.. better presentation!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Belgian Welsh

Whaa? Cheddar and Beer? Omg YES!!
This is a typical Northern France-Southern Belgium dish I recently discovered and immediately fell in love with.
Serves 2-3
enough dry bread slices to fit the bottom of your oven dish
2-3 large slices of ham (enough to cover the bread)
1 lb cheddar
1 beer (I used a belgian blond beer)
1 tsp mustard
some fresh ground pepper

1. If your bread is fresh, toast it. I used whole wheat hallygrain. Place at the bottom of your oven dish.
2. Cover the bread with ham.
3. Cut your block of cheddar into cubes and melt it gently in a sauce pan. It shouldn't be stringy but creamy.
4. Stir in the mustard, pepper, and beer and whisk until even.
5. Pour over bread and ham. It should cover all of it.
6. Put into oven at 400°F for 10 minutes.
Serve with a salad.... and beer of course. It is actually served with fries too, but that's just too much for us.. well, me anyway.

This is total bar food.. We love it!

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