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Food for Thought: Ratatouille -- it's not just a movie

updated: 11/27/2007 5:16 PM


Wise to the Word: Ratatouille


A traditional French Provençal stewed-vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise. The original Ratatouille Niçoise did not contain eggplant (which would not have been available during the same time period as the other vegetables used). Instead, it used only zucchini (courgettes), tomatoes, green and red peppers (bell peppers), onion, and garlic. The dish known today as ratatouille adds aubergine (eggplant) to that mixture.


Ratatouille recipe


Olive oil

1 onion

1 clove garlic

1 eggplant (aubergine)

1 green bell pepper

2 zucchinis (courgettes) (cucumber also works well)

6 medium tomatoes, ripe (juicy) and peeled

salt and pepper to taste

Herbes de Provence to taste


Put a large casserole on the stove on medium heat. Chop the onions and garlic. When the casserole is hot, add enough olive oil to just cover the bottom. Add the onions and garlic and brown. Chop the green pepper, zucchinis and eggplant. Add to the casserole. Stir from time to time. Peel the tomatoes. Dice them or cut them into quarters, add to the casserole. Five minutes later, check to see if the tomatoes have made enough juice to almost cover the vegetables - if so, perfect. If not, add water as needed (not too much). Add salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence to taste. In general, 1 tbsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper and 1 tbsp of the herbs will suffice. Cover the casserole and let simmer on low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour. --


Quote of Note


"I can't eat something that I've met."


Greenlawn, N.Y., resident Joyce Logan, who had a group of wild turkeys strut through her yard on Thanksgiving morning (she had a store-bought turkey for her family).


Number to Know: 450


Calories in a 16-ounce Starbucks Eggnog Latte with nonfat milk.


Easy Recipe: Cranberry Pot Roast


1 beef roast

1 onion, sliced

1/3 cup Catalina or French salad dressing

1 can jellied cranberry sauce

2 Tbs butter, softened

2 Tbs flour


Trim the fat from the roast and put in the crockpot. Put the onion slices on top of the roast. Mix together the cranberry sauce and dressing and pour over the roast. Cover and cook on low all day, until done. (Or cook half the day on high.) Remove the roast from the crockpot. Mix together the butter and flour and whisk into the gravy. Turn the crockpot on high and cover for 10 minutes or so. Slice the roast in 1/4 slices and serve with the gravy. Note: Instead of an onion, you can use a packet of dried onion soup. If you don't have the dressing, you can skip it. --


Critic's Cupboard: Betty Crocker Sweet Potato Mashed Potatoes


Spatula Sideways: It's minutes to dinner, the potatoes are mashed, the rolls are browning, the turkey is resting and elderly Aunt Edna pops her head in the kitchen and asks, "Where are the sweet potatoes?" It would have to be that kind of emergency to justify serving these instant whipped potatoes. For that is their only redeeming grace -- they are ready in a flash. This hybrid of mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes is less than the sum of its parts. (Speaking of parts, the list of additives is off-putting.) The sweetness seems forced and the texture is almost pasty. -- Saimi Bergmann


Spatula Down: Want to be ridiculed for life? Serve Betty Crocker's instant mashed sweet potatoes to your guests. Oh, they might not mock you to your face. But the second you turn your back, a veritable chorus of simulated barfing will begin. These pale orange potatoes taste like fake mashed potatoes sweetened with Equal. Texture, taste, it's all gross. -- Jennifer Mastroianni


Wine Tips


What happens to wine when you cook with it? Like cooking with any other liquid, some parts of it boil off, leaving the remainder behind as a thicker, more concentrated substance. Since water boils at 212F but alcohol boils at 172F, as soon as the dish crosses that 172 mark, it has progressively less and less alcohol in it. You're left with the flavor of the wine, perhaps with a small amount of sugar (if it was a sweeter wine) and definitely the acidic sharpness. This is why you want to cook with a relatively good wine -- if you start with a nasty wine, you'll end up with "nastiness distilled" being the core flavor of your dish. --


GateHouse News Service

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