Monday, October 18, 2010

Rachael Ray's Week in a Day: Ratatouillle

Well this is a new try for me - I don't usually cook RR recipes - not that there is anything wrong with them, but as I general rule they use more "processed" foods than I usually use.  But when I saw this new concept on the Cooking Channel - cook once, eat for a week, I wanted to check it out.  Interestingly enough, it wasn't "cook a pot of beans use them in recipes all week" like I envisioned.  Instead it was "take a couple of hours and cook for the week."

Since the recipes aren't completely dependent on each other I chose to try two from different shows. I made Ratatouille with Poached Eggs and Garlic Croutons and Crab Cake Mac and Cheese.  I only made two because 5 recipe would feed the two of us for 2-3 weeks!  And I made half of each and by the looks of them I will get 3-4 servings from the ratatouille and 4-6 servings of the mac n' cheese.  Besides, I only plan two meals at a time and we frequently change out minds ;)

SO here is how I did it:  I had both recipes open up on the computer.  I got out all the ingredients for both plus all the tools I would need.  I looked at the things on each that would take the longest and began with that. I started the croutons then I diced the eggplant and set it to drain then started the pasta.  Then I chopped all the veggies for each.

I decided to then finish the mac and cheese and get it in the fridge, which I did, then finish the ratatouille.  It could have easily been done the opposite way since the ratatouille simmers on the stove for 30 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes of ratatouille cooking I cleaned up my mess and all told the two meals took between 1.5 - 2 hours.  Below is the ratatouille recipe the way I made it and on Wednesday I will share the mac and cheese recipe.

Ok, not to get too wordy but I didn't want to leave you without telling you - this is one of the best things we have eaten for a while!  The flavor was full and rich, the yellow from the egg drizzled amongst the veggies for a perfect pairing and the garlicky crouton added another dimension that I would have not thought of.

Ratatouille with Poached Eggs and Garlic Croutons (Adapted from Rachael Ray Week in a Day)

  • 1.2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, 2 cloves finely chopped, 1 thinly sliced
  • 4 (1-inch) thick round slices baguette
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt
  • 3/4 pounds eggplant, 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 red bell peppers
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  firm, small zucchini, 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium onion, 1/2-inch dice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes for sweeter stew, or diced fire roasted tomatoes, for smokier stew
  • 2 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 extra-large or jumbo eggs
  • A handful fresh basil leaves, torn
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in small pot over low heat, then add the 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Let the garlic bubble for 2 minutes. In a medium bowl add the bread, and sorinkle with 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and the parmesan cheese. Drizzle the garlic butter over the bread mixture and arrange the croutons on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and evenly brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Croutons may be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days in a cool place.

Salt the eggplant and drain it in a colander for30 minutes to remove the bitterness from the eggplant.

Meanwhile, blacken the skins of the red peppers over open flame on the stove or under a hot boiler. If broiling, leave the oven ajar to allow the steam to escape. Put the blackened peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel, seed and dice the peppers.

While peppers cool, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 1 Textra-virgin olive oil. Add the eggplant, zucchini, remaining sliced garlic, onions, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, then cover the pot and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Crush the tomatoes by hand and add them to the pot. Stir in the red peppers and 1/4 tomato-can of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes to concentrate the flavors. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal.

To serve, bring the ratatouille back to a simmer over medium heat, covered, then uncover and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Make 4 nests or wells in the ratatouille and crack an egg into each nest. Cover the pot and cook the eggs to desired doneness, about 2 to 5 minutes. Scoop the ratatouille and eggs into shallow bowls and top with croutons and torn basil.

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