ratatouille spirals


Ratatouille Spirals

In a weird way, I think this dish is representative of me.  It is a dish that tries to please everyone.  It looks complicated, but is really straight forward.  And you are committed to it, even though it is a bit of a pain in the ass to make.  I saw this recipe in a magazine and knew right away I needed to make it.  I haven’t mastered it yet, because I think the proportions are off a little with both the veggies and/or the size of the pan, but nevertheless, it is still a good dish.  The first time I made it, I followed the recipe and used the anchovies.  The dish got an F.  The kids were coughing and dry heaving, and then my husband, because he still is a child, did the same. So, obviously the anchovies didn’t dissolve, and ruined the dish (for us).  My suggestion to pick around the anchovies got tossed about as fast as the dish did.  How was I ever going to bring back my dish that I was in love with for the strangest reasons?  Thankfully, the opportunity came up when my cooking soul mate called, and we decided to make dinner reservations.  As the night out drew closer, we made the convenient excuse to just get together and cook a meal ourselves.  We met to go food shopping for a menu that was basically nonexistent, with the exception of the spirals I was making.  But at 5:30pm, in the cheese aisle, our menu took shape.  I think that if we didn’t have a clock or a liver, we could have cooked all night.  Ok, so maybe just not a clock…kidding.  So after the cooking marathon, the hour on the clock told us we were tired and the empty bottles of wine signaled the immediacy of going to bed.  However, we had successfully made stuffed jalapeños with Brie, caramelized onion and mushroom ravioli, and of course, I got to make my spirals again.  This time, I substituted fresh basil for the anchovies.  I still didn’t fill the pan with spirals, but what I could fill was my belly and my fridge full of left overs!

zucchini slices

ratatouille spirals  (adapted from Bon Appetit)

3  lbs beefsteak tomatoes, scored with an “X” on the bottoms
3  TB extra virgin olive oil
1  medium onion, diced
2  large garlic cloves, minced
1/2  tsp crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2  cups cubed country bread
2 1/2  lbs medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/8 inch thick strips
2 1/2  lbs small japanese or italian eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/8 inch thick strips
3  roasted bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch strips
20 – 24  fresh basil leaves
1  lb fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 x 2 inch sticks
freshly grated parmesan cheese

get started on the spirals:

scored tomatoes

In a medium pot of boiling water, blanch the tomatoes for 30 seconds.  Drain them and then slip off the skins and halve the tomatoes crosswise.  Coarsely chop the tomatoes, keeping the juices and seeds.
Preheat the oven to 375.  In a large skillet, heat 2 TB of the oil.  Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat for 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and juices and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Cook while stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, toss the bread cubes with the remaining 1 TB of olive oil.  Toast for about 15 minutes, stirring once, until golden.
In a colander, toss the zucchini and eggplant with 2 TB of kosher salt (can be done in separate colanders), and let drain for 15 minutes.  Shake out the excess liquid and pat the slices dry.
Spoon the tomato sauce into a shallow 2 1/2 qt. baking dish and scatter the bread cubes on top.

bread in sauce

On a clean work surface, top each zucchini slice with a slice of eggplant.  Blot dry if necessary.  Place a strip of roasted red pepper and then top with a basil leaf.  Place a stick of mozzarella at one end.  Sprinkle each stack with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and roll up.  Stand the rolls in the baking dish and drizzle with oil.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

assembly line

Cover with parchment paper or foil.  Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender and the ratatouille is bubbling.  Remove the parchment paper halfway through baking.  Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

rolls

note:  this dish serves 8 people

prosciutto parmesan egg muffins


egg muffins

I had another post all lined up, but I got sidetracked this morning.  We woke up blessed by overcast skies and threats of thunderstorms, (wait for it…) so my obligation to work the baseball snack bar went POOF!  So I snuck downstairs while my kids were playing, and looked to see if I had any cinnamon rolls to make, but I didn’t.  We are not the breakfast family.  Cereal and oatmeal are really the only two things in my pantry.  Lately, my kids have been getting bored and have been making themselves peanut butter sandwiches or grabbing a snack bar in the morning.  That doesn’t make me all that happy.  But this morning, I remembered seeing pictures online for eggs made in muffin tins.  I know I can at least win my daughter over with them.  I know the same thing can be made scrambled, but now I have convenient  little snacks, or breakfast on the go for the next couple of days.  I love the fact that you can just plop any old topping in them and you are pretty much guaranteed success (within reason of course.)  They took about 25 minutes from start to finish and with a little salsa and my coffee, I was quite happy.  My daughter devoured three of them.  My son had a peanut butter sandwich.

prosciutto parmesan egg muffins

egg shellsred bell peppers

get started on the egg muffins:

nonstick spray
8  large eggs
1/2  cup low-fat milk
kosher salt
pepper
crushed red pepper
1/3  cup red bell pepper, diced
3  slices prosciutto, sliced thin
1.5 oz. shaved parmesan cheese (about 3-4 TB)

egg mixtureinto the tin

Preheat oven to 350.  Coat muffin tin with nonstick spray.  In a mixing bowl, add eggs, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and stir with a whisk.  Pour mixture equally into muffin tins.  Do not over fill.  Divide red pepper among the twelve cups.  Tear prosciutto into each cup and top with parmesan cheese.  Bake in center of oven for 15 – 20 minutes.   They will deflate after you take them out of the oven.  You can check it with a toothpick to be sure level of doneness.

prosciutto toppingshaved parmesan

egg muffin plate

parmesan cornmeal muffins


bowl of corn muffins

Holla!  I actually baked something that didn’t burn – AND – they didn’t come out like hockey pucks!  Ah, the little successes in life.  I’m so glad it worked out because I love corn muffins.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and decided to try them out.  Normally, I am drawn to the cheddar cheesy versions, but in an effort to be kind to my mid-section, I followed this recipe exactly.  (ok, so I upped the cayenne, but that’s to be expected).  Now having a southern mother, sugar is a no-no in corn muffins.  However, I guessed that one tablespoon wouldn’t do much sweet damage so I allowed it…plus she wasn’t looking.

parmesan corn muffins:  (ripped from Cooking Light September 2012)

1 1/4  cups fat-free buttermilk
1/4  cup olive oil
1  large egg, lightly beaten
1  cup flour
3/4  cup yellow cornmeal
1 TB sugar
2  tsp baking powder
1/4  tsp baking soda
1/4  tsp salt
1/8  tsp ground red pepper (hardly seems worth it – 1/4 tsp ++!)
3  oz grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, (about 3/4 cup), divided
3  TB finely chopped fresh chives, divided if you so choose (read on)
cooking spray

cornmeal batterchives

get started on the batter:

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine the first three ingredients in a pourable measuring cup or bowl.  Combine flour and next six ingredients (thru pepper) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.  And the most important step is to add the milk mixture and stir just until moist.  Put the whisk down!  Stir in about 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and the chives.  (You could save a tablespoon of the chives to sprinkle on top, but then I’d have the green fleck conversation at the table with the kids so I just mixed them all in).  Coat the 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  Spoon batter into muffin cups, only filling each 2/3 full.  Sprinkle muffins with remaining parmesan cheese (and chives if you choose).  Bake at 400 for 13 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out with moist crumbs clinging.  Remove muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.  Serve with hot sauce.  Oh – did I say that out loud?

batter upparmesan corn muffins

note:  this obviously makes 12 muffins…but you knew that already.