Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ratatouille

More zucchini magic!

Ratatouille



Here's an easy busy week day family style way of making this classic French dish without loosing the bold flavors.

Ingredients:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion (your choice), roughly chopped
2 red bell peppers, or 1 red and 1 yellow for color
2-3 garlic cloves, depending on size and flavor you want, minced
2 medium zucchinis or 1 large, cubed 
1 regular box of medium sized mushrooms, halved 
1 medium eggplant, cubed the same size as the zucchini (peeling the eggplant is optional) 
1 25 oz. jar of organic marinara sauce (I prefer to use jarred sauces over canned tomatoes 
     when possible)
1 cup low-sodium organic vegetable stock (or organic low-sodium chicken stock)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon marjoram, dried (or fresh if you have some)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup red wine

Method:
Peel and cut eggplant (peeling is optional), cube, and lightly salt. Place in paper towel lined colander to draw bitters. Heat a stock pot over medium heat (I used a heavy cast iron pot for this recipe). Sprinkle in extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat the bottom and sauté onions and bell peppers until almost tender, then add zucchini and mushrooms and sauté until a few more minutes (the zucchini does not have to be tender -- I just like them to have brown edges here and there). Add garlic and sauté a few more minutes. Pat down the eggplant and add to the pot. Add the marinara sauce and remaining ingredients. Simmer about 30 minutes, uncovered, or until the eggplant and zucchini are tender but somewhat firm (not mushy). Remove bay leaves before serving.

I served the ratatouille with gluten-free pappardelle, for some of us. And for the others who like bread, some nice rustic whole grain . . . 




Monday, July 21, 2014

Rogue Island, Flavors of Rhode Island


Rogue Island


Located in downtown Providence in the historic and architecturally interesting Arcade.

Lots of great local food and drinks. 

We shared appetizers. 
The Charcuterie Board and the Berkshire Bourbon Pork Sliders were excellent. 
And the Warm House Made Pretzel Bits with Mustard Dip, well, wow!

My daughter loved the flavorful House Made Pappardelle with Clams.
She also loved the Shirley Temple made with local Yacht Club ginger ale.

And craft beer.


Casual, rustic atmosphere. 

We were there early in the evening and it was quiet until we left.


Can't wait to go again!

For another virtual visit of the Rogue Island, click here: http://rogueislandgroup.com
But I strongly suggest you visit in person!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fresh Summer Zucchini Frittata

This is a lovely frittata with a beautiful presentation. 


These open zucchini flowers that I cut from my garden this morning were used in the frittata.


After washing the flowers, I gently shook off the water, pinched out the stamen, split the petals, and laid them on a towel to dry while preparing the other ingredients.


After mixing eggs with whole milk, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper, I sautéed two small diced zucchinis for a few minutes (in a non-stick pan) with a small minced shallot in a little extra virgin olive oil.

I gently poured the egg mixture into the pan with the sautéed zucchini and shallot, trying not to disturb them, and topped the mixture with the pretty zucchini flower petals.


I covered the pan with foil, finished cooking on medium/low-medium heat until done (firm in the middle), and slid the finished frittata onto a glass serving plate. We enjoyed the frittata with some Vermont bacon. Or some nice crusty toast rubbed with a garlic bulb and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil would be a nice side.


I followed the recipe in my Extra Virgin cookbook, but it can also be found here: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/debi-mazar-and-gabriele-corcos/frittata-with-zucchini.html

~ * ~

For a lactose-free and milk protein-free version for me: I used organic vanilla soy milk (I think soy milk with vanilla tastes more like milk) in place of whole milk and Go Veggie casein- and lactose-free (and non-GMO) Grated Parmesan Style Topping. As much as I dislike using processed food, this is one of only a few cheese substitutes I'll use. When using Go Veggie, I use a little less than the portion called for since the flavor can be overwhelming. And, of course, the frittata would taste fine without cheese or cheese substitute.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Baked Beet Chips With Guacamole

Here's a great snack idea from the Extra Virgin cookbook or show. I first saw this on their cooking show, also called Extra Virgin, and it sounded so good and easy I wanted to make it for my family. Plus, I was impressed that they made this for their daughter's birthday party -- beet chips for kids!


I chose yellow beets because I thought they'd look more like potato chips, which would make my family more open to trying them. Plus I think their flavor is more mild (less "dirt" like as they say!) and sweeter than red beets.




I used three beets, rather than the amount called for in the recipe, because it was just the four of us. I adjusted the extra virgin olive oil amount accordingly. After the first batch, I found that there was too much extra virgin olive oil to achieve full crispness so I wiped some off the beets before cooking the next batch. Next time, I'd use only enough oil to lightly coat the beets. It also took some adjustments in oven temp and cooking time to get the right amount of crispness (everyone's oven is different!), but worth it. Their were some burnt spots, but tasted fine. They are tricky to make, but now that I know what I'm doing I'll be more successful. I have to say, though, the beets honestly tasted really good raw!


The recipe for this delicious healthful beet snack can be found in their Extra Virgin cookbook or here: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/debi-mazar-and-gabriele-corcos/guacamole-and-baked-beet-chips.html

Guacamole
I used my own guacamole recipe, which is simple. I vary my recipe often, but this time I made it with two avocados smashed with one small garlic clove, minced, and one small shallot, minced, a pinch of sea salt and a little freshly ground pepper. 

Sometimes I add cilantro or parsley to my guacamole. I like to use only a small amount of garlic so it doesn't overwhelm the avocado flavor. Sometimes I don't use garlic. And sometimes I like to add a few chopped organic grape tomatoes. I love to use a small shallot because it's mild and, again, it doesn't overwhelm the avocado flavor.