Ratatouille’s Ratatouille

November 21, 2011

So I saw this beautiful recipe on smitten kitchen http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/07/rat-a-too-ee-for-you-ee/ and fell in love. Whenever I used to make ratatouille, it always looked like lumps of grey vegetables which I couldn’t serve to my friends. But this recipe is so easy and so pretty!

Ingredients:

2 cans of diced tomatoes

1 zuchinni

1 summer squash

1 onion

1 eggplant

2 cloves garlic

1 red or orange bell pepper

Sprinkle dried oregano

Sprinkle dried basil

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F

2. Mince the onion,and garlic cloves. Mix the onions and garlic with the two cans of diced tomatoes in the baking pan.

3. Add the oregano, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper to the tomato onion mixture. This mixture is going to be a “saucy” part of the ratatouille, so make sure to season it well.

4. Cut the eggplant length wise. Using a mandolin, thinly slice the eggplant, squash, and zucchini. Thinly slice the bell pepper.

5. Layer the sliced vegetables over the sauce. I like to put the vegetables in order eggplant-squash-zuchinni-pepper, but anything goes. It should look something like this:

6. Keep layering until the whole pan is covered.

7. Sprinkle the other tbsp of olive oil over the vegetable. Also add season the vegetable with a little salt and pepper.

8. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the inside of the baking pan. Cover the ratatouille.

9. Bake for 45-55 minutes. The tomato sauce should be bubbling around the sliced vegetables. The vegetable should look cooked, but not mushy.

I suggest serving this dish with quinoa, but couscous or crusty bread works as well. Now you can impress your friends with this pretty dish!

Now listening to: Flightless bird, American Mouth – Iron and Wine

I get a craving for Babka every Sunday. Our neighborhood bakery sells loaves of babka on Sundays for over $11, which I’m really not ready to shell out. Since I had the afternoon free, I figured I will try baking my own. I found the recipe on a the purple foodie: http://purplefoodie.com/chocolate-cinnamon-babka/
The recipe was surprisingly much easier than I expected as well!

(This recipe made two loaves of bread)
Ingredients:

Bread:
2 tbsp
3/4 cup lukewarm milk + 3 tbsp milk
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

Filling:
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4th cup butter

1. Put the butter out in of the fridge, until it softens in room temperature.
2. Heat the milk in the microwave for 40 seconds. Mix the yeast and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth.
4. Add the egg yolks one by one, mixing about 30 seconds between yolks.
5. Add the vanilla, and keep mixing until fluffy.
6. Add the flour and salt. Mix until everything is well incorporated. The mix should still be very dry.


7. Mix in the yeast and milk mixture and mix/knead. My dough still turned out dry, so adding approximately 3 tbsp of additional milk helped.
8. Knead the dough for another 2-3 minutes. When the dough can be formed into a ball, the dough is ready.


9. Cover the bowl with saran wrap, and let it rise for 2 hours. I found it best to keep it somewhere sunny in the house.
10. For the filling, mix the butter, chocolate, and cinnamon. Heat it in a saucepan with low heat, stirring constantly so that the chocolate does not burn. The filling is done when the butter is melted.
11.  Once the dough has risen to twice the size, knead the dough for a few seconds. On a flour surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness.
12. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the rolled out dough.


13. Roll the dough and pinch all the seams so that the chocolate filling does not ooze out.


14. Roll the log so that it’s about 24 inches long. Cut the log in the middle and pinch the seam.
15. In order to create the twist, cut the log lengthwise, but keep the top end attached. Twist the two pieces together, and pinch the end together.


16. Cover the doughs with plastic wrap and let sit for another 2 hours.
17. Heat the oven to 350°F and bake the bread 15-20 minutes.
18. Let the bread cool, since the chocolate gets very hot, but enjoy!

Happy Sunday!

Now Listening to: Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac

Homemade Croutons

May 9, 2011

Yes, I am on a homemade kick. And yes, I am also on a salad kick. Putting that together with the stale bread I found in my bread drawer, making croutons made sense. I like to make my croutons in the oven toaster since it doesn’t require pre-heating, but I’m sure it would work in the oven too. Just make sure the oven is pre-heated.

Ingredients:
Stale bread (I used 1/4 french bread, and 1 ciabatta roll)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
Salt
Pepper

1. Cut the stale bread to crouton sized pieces. I tend to like mine bigger, mainly because it’s a pain to cut up stale bread.
2. Lay out the bread pieces on a pan, and pour olive oil over it.
3. Shake the basil, oregano, salt and pepper over the pan.
4. Turn the bread pieces to incorporate and thoroughly mix the seasonings and olive oil.
5. Bake the crouton at 350°F for 10 minutes. Turn the bread pieces mid way.
6. Let cool.

I found that the croutons really goes well with the Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette that I made last week! (shameless plug for another recipe)

Now Listening to: Landslide-Fleetwood Mac

Homemade Butter

May 8, 2011

When I first heard that homemade butter can be easily made with just heavy cream, salt, and a jar, I thought it was a joke. Today, I am here to prove that it’s not a joke, and making homemade butter is super easy. I’m sure  you can get kids to help out too!

Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt (optional)

1. Pour the heavy cream in a jar that will hold twice the liquid amount of the heavy cream. (The cream needs to get air)


2. Shake the jar for a total 15-20 minutes. At first it won’t feel like anything, after about 5 minutes, it will become one big clump of whip cream. Don’t give up! Shake for another 10 minutes, and the butter will separate from butter milk. Once you hear the liquid shaking in the jar, the butter is done.
3. Pour out the liquid, that is buttermilk that can be used for pancakes and such later.
4. Wash the butter with cold water. I suggest using a strainer for this. Since I didn’t have a strainer, I used a tea ball and washed the butter in batches. 5. When the water runs clear, the butter is clean. You don’t want any excess buttermilk around because that will spoil the butter faster.
Try to cut all the water off the butter, and put the butter in a container.

6. At this point, you can add a pinch of salt to flavor it- the butter also lasts longer with salt.

And that’s it! My breakfasts are going to be much happier with homemade butter!

Now Listening to: Alabama Rain – Wild Asparagus

As spring turns to summer, we start looking for more cool, refreshing recipes. And I don’t think anything can be more refreshing than crisp cucumbers. My mom taught me this recipe, and it’s easy to make, and my summer favorite.

Ingredients:
2 Chicken Breasts
2-4 Cucumbers
1 cup Sake (Rice Wine)
4 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
Salt

1. Slice cucumbers using a cooking mandolin.
2. Soak the cucumbers with salt for 5-10 minutes.
3. Rinse the salt off, and dry the cucumber by wringing it in a paper towel.
4. Poach the chicken breast in 1 cup water and 1 cup sake. Do not throw the liquid away!
5. Wait and let the chicken breast cool.
6. Shred the chicken.
7. Make the dressing with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and 2 tbsp of the cooking broth.
8. Serve the chicken on a bed of sliced cucumber, and pour the dressing over it.

Now Listening To: Kick Drum Heart- The Avett Brothers

Swedish Brownies

May 2, 2011

A friend of mine brought us delicious almond cake the other day, which reminded me of this recipe. So not to confuse anyone, a Swedish brownie does not have any chocolate in it, but it has the dense cake-y consistency of a brownie. These are delicious almond goodness!

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp almond extract
Chopped/slivered Almonds (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F
2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs
3. Add the oil, flour, sugar and almond extract, and mix until all the clumps of flour are gone.
4. Pour the mix in a well-greased 9x9in pan.
5. Sprinkle the chopped almond on top for garnish.
6. Bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes.

Yum!

Now Listening to: Turning Tables- Adele

I have a new obsession: radishes in my salad. I know it’s kind of weird, but I love how fresh and crunchy it tastes! So, to give my salad even more life, I made a really simple maple-balsamic vinaigrette. I took a recipe from EatingWell, and made a few very small changes. Hope you enjoy! The original recipe: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/maple_balsamic_vinaigrette.html

So it requires a few simple ingredients:

Ingredients:
4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
4 tbsp Dijon Mustard

4 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp Maple Syrup (get the real stuff, not the fake kind)
Sprinkle of ground pepper

All you have to do is mix the ingredients together with a whisk! Happy spring salad making!

Now Listening to: Be My Thrill- The Weepies

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