Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Click in November

For all those took part in October's Click, I'd like to say - you all did a great job. There were quite a few fantastic entries and we judges had a hard time deciding on the winners. If some of you are wondering what is Click - it's easy - it's a great new photo event created by the brilliant minds Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi. Each month they give you a specific motive or theme and we are supposed to go off and "click" keeping to the given theme.

Last month kicked off the event with the theme "Eggs". I was one of the four judges and we had specific categories in which we were to score. After a bit of brain racking the four of us came up with a few outstanding shots as our final winners.



Sunita was the overall winner in the category Spectra. For me, I loved her shot. It was vibrant and full of life. And I have never found raw eggs look so delicious. LOL

In the category Concept, it was Manisha who bowled the lot with her awesome interpretation of the egg. I loved her use of high key lighting on the shot. Her entire compostion was nicely thought out and brilliantly executed.

Finally, the most drool-worthy picture was Andrew's with his interpretation of an English breakfast. In the category Delish his lovely oozing poached egg most certainly made us judges want more.

I congratulate all the worthy winners and am already looking forward to their next entries.

My own entry was Eggtastic. Being a judge it was not scored on but it gave me a perfect opportunity to practice with the motive.

Jai and Bee have already announced the next theme for Click.
This month’s CLICK theme is an ingredient that transcends cuisines and cultures. Every part of the world has an ingredient made of unleavened dough or starch that has been shaped into interesting strips, cylinders or other shapes and boiled and/or fried. Anything sweet or savoury that fits this description qualifies.

Noodles galore - cooked, uncooked, fresh or dry - send in all your entries by November 20th to clickcapture AT gmail DOT com.

Jai and Bee have asked me once again to sit on the judges panel for this month. I will be in pretty great company as the judges this month are once again quite extraordinary.

Look forward to seeing all your entries and wish each of you best of luck!



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bostini Cream Pie

Daring Bakers October 2007 Challenge

Bostini Cream Pie 01a by MeetaK


I'm back from the warm, sunny and fast paced Dubai. After a lovely 2 week vacation with my parents I come back home to a cold Germany! But it's good to be home and my head is already spinning around with many new ideas and recipes I'd like to present and realize.

Before I left though, I did manage to squeeze in this month's Daring Bakers challenge. It was just too scrumptious not to!

Our lovely hostess this month was Mary of one of my fave blogs Alpineberry. Mary chose a wonderful recipe for us this month. It was straight forward but still challenging enough to tickle our baking fetishes. She chose a Bostini Cream Pie.

A Bostini Cream Pie is a take on the Boston Cream Pie, which basically is a vanilla layer cake filled with cream and topped with chocolate glaze. The Bostini Cream Pie has been adjusted to give you a gorgeous vanilla bean custard cream, topped with an orange chiffon cake and then drizzled with a rich chocolate glaze. Sounds wonderful doesn't it? Now you know why I did not want to miss out on this.

I decided to invite a few friends over for a kind of pre-vacation dinner. I mean if I was going to be making someting so rich and delicious, I might as well share it with friends - right?

As it is the case with each challenge, we were allowed a few modifications. For this challenge the modifications were:
  1. We could replace the large volume of orange juice in the cake recipe and did not have to use orange for the flavoring. The flavor could be substituted with a flavor that we thought complements the other components as long as the chiffon cake was kept "light colored". Nothing "dark" like chocolate or coffee/espresso.
  2. As the serving size was quite large, we were free to half the recipe. However no guarantees were given that the recipes for the chiffon cake and custard would scale down successfully without affecting the final product.
  3. We could make as much or as little glaze as we liked. Scaling is straightforward since it's 1 part chocolate to 1 part butter.
  4. We could play around with the "size" of the dessert.
  5. High altitude modifications were allowed as long as we stayed "true" to the recipe.
  6. Conversion for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc. was also allowed.
  7. Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in our region.


Today you will be seeing a lot of these fantastic treats. Our group as sky-rocketed to over 200 members! So my one word of advice is to eat before you start surfing the blogs today!

Enjoy!



Ingredients
Printable version here.

Bostini Cream Pie 01 by MeetaK


Custard:
180 ml (3/4 cup) whole milk
30g (2 3/4 tablespoons) cornstarch
1 whole egg - beaten
9 egg yolks - beaten
895 g (3 3/4 cups) heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean - you can also use vanilla extract if you do not have a bean on hand
95 g (1/2 cup) + 1 tablespoon sugar

Chiffon Cake:
150 g (1 1/2 cups) cake flour
145 g (3/4 cup) superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
80 ml (1/3 cup) canola oil
3 to 4 (1/3 cup) egg yolks - beaten
180 ml (3/4 cup) fresh orange juice
10 g (1 1/2 tablespoons) grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8(1 cup)large egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter




Method

Bostini Cream Pie 03 by MeetaK


To prepare the custard:

Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl and blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups or ramekin forms. I poured my custard in 6 flat oven-proof dishes. Refrigerate to chill.

To prepare the chiffon cakes:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (325 F). Spray or grease 8 ramekin molds with nonstick cooking spray or oil. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, oven proof wide mugs or even large foil cups.

Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not over-beat.

Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the greased molds nearly to the top with the batter.

Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not over-bake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.

To prepare the glaze:

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.

To assemble:

Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of the custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.



Verdict

Bostini Cream Pie 04 by MeetaK


This was incredibly smooth and rich. The consistency of the cake was wonderfully smooth - just like chiffon. Paired with the thick custard and the rich chocolate sauce the dessert was simply delicious. My guests were simply bowled over by this dessert. It is everything one loves about a dessert - sweet custard with moist cake and a splash of decadent chocolate. Soeren loved the thick creamy custard and wanted extras on the cake. Tom enjoyed the lovely texture of the cake and as for me I loved every bite of the Bostini Cream Pie - custard, cake and chocolate, right down to the last spoonful.

Would I make this again?
I certainly will. I love the way this was quite easy to whip up offering maximum taste. It's the type of dessert that fits perfectly into a fancy dinner party as you can make this a day ahead. For me it was a brilliant way to offer my guests an extravagant finale to a simpler meal. And I am sure in the two weeks I was away they certainly did not forget me and my desserts ;-)

What did I learn from this challenge?
I learned that fancy desserts and cakes do not have to take too long to make. I also learned that it takes a whole lotta eggs to make a sinfully good custard LOL!

Thanks to Mary for this fantastic challenge. It was fun and I was glad that it was easy enough to follow so that I was able to fit it into by busy schedule just before leaving to Dubai.

You'll find a list of all the scrumptious recipes I created since I joined the awesome group here. Have a browse through and dare to give some a try!

Now I am back and look forward to spoiling you all with a lot of great new recipes, ideas and photographs. And also stay tuned for my tales and stories about Dubai.

For more Bostini Cream Pies surf on through the wonderful list of talented Daring Bakers located on the blogroll.


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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Friday, October 12, 2007

Click: Eggtastic!

Egg (03) by MeetaK


The brilliant new photography event Click created by the sexiest pair in the blogeshpere, Jai and Bee requires us to "click" shots of eggs this month.

Not an easy motive to photograph and therefore nicely challenging.


As I am one of the judges for this first event, my photo will not be a part of the interesting entries already submitted, however I did not want to miss working with the topic.

As I normally do, I start to think about the composition of my shot a few days in advance. The colors I would like to use, how I would like to set it up and even what props I would like to use. For this theme I wanted to keep it clean and pure, where the actual color comes from the eggs itself.

The next thing I needed to decide on was if I wanted to handle the theme with raw or cooked eggs. The decision fell on raw eggs and I also decided to use only the egg yolk in my final shot. The first few pictures I shot were of the egg yolk on a white plate with the shell in the background. I was not happy with the shots. On a last whim I decided to put the yolk back into the shell and EUREKA! I had the composition I wanted. It almost looks like the cracked shell is cradling the egg yolk.

I used the eggs in the background to give a depth of field to the entire shot. The ones I took with only the main motive made the egg and yolk look slightly lost in the white space.

The equipment: I used a Nikon D 70s with a Nikkor 18-70mm lens. The tripod I used was a Bilora tripod, which allows me to turn the camera in a complete 360 degrees rotation.

I used natural lighting with the entire set up placed next to the window where the light came in from the right. I used a piece of white styropor board to bounce the light back on the motive from the left.

Once the shot was taken I used Photoshop to adjust the tone levels and contrast. As it was a grey day the light was rather dull, which shows in the photo. The whites are not pure but have a blue/grey tone. I am not really the type of person that likes to "photoshop" the pictures to give a totally different result as the original shot, so I did not tamper too much with the tones to keep it as natural and as close to the original as possible.

I still like the end result very much.

Click is on through till October 20th, so you have till then to send in your eggtastic photos to Jai and Bee at: clickcapture AT gmail DOT com. Look forward to all your entries!

Good luck!

I'll be taking a short break from blogging, as I'm heading to the warmer Dubai to visit my parents. I will be taking off for Dubai a little later tonight. If I get the opportunity I will most certainly give you all an update. See ya soon!





All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Vegetable Polenta Gratin with Manchego

Veg Polenta Gratin (01) by MeetaK

Just like asparagus epitomizes Spring in terms of food, for me the pumpkin portrays the perfect Fall vegetable.

Our Farmer's Market looks just as colorful as it did back earlier this year, offering a wonderful variety of delicious fresh vegetables available throughout Fall.


Another great new stall at our Farmer's Market is a cheese stall, offering an interesting variety of cheeses from all over Europe. The cheeses sold here come from organic farmers and believe me this is going to be a stall where I'll be leaving loads of money behind, I already know that!

We really love cheese - even Soeren has developed a wonderful palate for sharp Brie, Camemberts and other such delicacies. There are times when our dinner will consist of two or three different breads with a platter of cheeses and a large bunch of grapes. Each one of us gets a knife and a wooden board and we literally hoard the cheese and fresh bread down, gulping a few juicy grapes for the sweet contrast.

I also enjoy experimenting with cheeses in my cooking. Making a tart or pasta dish with a Gruyère will taste entirely different the next time with, say a Pecorino or an Appenzellar.

This weekend I decided on using a wonderfully aromatic Manchego from Spain, which had aged for about 4 months.

Veg Polenta Gratin (02) by MeetaK



Manchego Cheese

Manchego is probably Spain's most famous cheese. Produced in La Mancha, this cheese is made only from the whole milk of Manchega sheep. The rich, semi-firm product is aged in natural caves for a minimum of 3 - 6 months. It is a semi-firm cheese with a rich golden color. It comes in a 10 inch diameter wheel, 5 inches thick with a herringbone design on the rind.

Flavorwise, the Manchego ranges from mild to sharp, depending on how long it is aged. Manchego is available in three different states of maturity: Fresh (fresco), 3-6 months old (curado), or matured for one year (viejo).

The taste of the Manchego cheese is very distinctive, slightly salty but not too strong. It is creamy with a slight piquancy, and with the characteristic aftertaste of sheep’s milk.

I find Manchego a fantastic cheese to simply nibble on as it is, but it is also perfect for gratins and bakes. The piquant flavor adds a kick to the dish. My own dish using fresh vegetables like pumpkin, chanterelle mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchini, combined with a nutty polenta, was sensational with the distinctive aroma this cheese offers.

You will find more detailed information about the Manchego cheese, it's heritage and nutrition facts on the official Manchego cheese website.




Ingredients
Printable version here.

Veg Polenta Gratin (05) by MeetaK


1.2 kg mixed vegetables - I used:
Hokkaido pumpkin - peeled and sliced
chanterelle mushrooms - washed and larger ones cut in half
zucchini - sliced
red bell peppers - cut in strips
2-3 garlic cloves - thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 ripe tomatoes - sliced
100 g Manchego cheese - grated
300 ml vegetable stock
300 ml milk
50 g Polenta
1 tablespoon rosemary - finely chopped
2 eggs - lightly beaten



Method

Veg Polenta Gratin (04) by MeetaK


In a large pan heat the olive oil and sauté all the vegetables (except for the tomatoes) individually until slightly browned. It is important to sauté each vegetable type individually as each one requires a different amount of time for them to be cooked. The vegetables should be crunchy and not mushy.

For the polenta bring the milk and the stock to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Mix in the polenta and rosemary, then reduce the heat and simmer for approx. seven minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and allow to coll slightly. Whisk in the grated cheese and eggs to the cooled polenta. Generously salt and pepper.

Heat up the oven to 180 degrees C. Coat an oven-proof dish with some olive oil. Layer the vegetables, tomaotes and polenta in the form, taking care that the polenta covers the vegetables.

Bake the gratin for 35-40 minutes.

Enjoy with fresh garlic bread.

More Ingredients:
On the right sidebar you will find the section "The Know-Hows of Food", where you can refer back to for to several types of vegetables, fruits, spices and other types of groceries and gourmet food. You will also find several cooking and baking methods under the index "How Tos". So, if you are looking for food facts, selecting or storing tips this is the perfect section for you to refer back to.



Verdict

Veg Polenta Gratin (03) by MeetaK


Wonderfully aromatic and colorfully fresh. This is a perfect dish for misty, moist, cooler Fall days. Soothing to the core and so healthy. Soeren ravished two platefuls, to my pleasure and Tom who normally says polenta and pumpkin are not his things, was pleasantly surprised that polenta and pumpkin can taste so good.

More Vegetarian Cheesy Dishes:
Baked Potato with Ricotta and Chanterelle Mushrooms
Cheese Quesadillas with Two Salsas
Calzone's Super Veg Cheese Sandwich
Palak Paneer
Chiles Rellenos
Aubergine Bake
Cheese Spaetzle from the Allgaeu

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Home: Pumpkin Bouquet

Pumpkin Bouquet by MeetaK (02)

It lies on hand that October is all about pumpkins. I am sure many of you have pumpkins on your minds too. Thinking about different faces or designs your Jack o' Lanterns might have this Halloween. This is certainly a fun month in the year.

I wanted to welcome October elegantly though. Although I have a few ideas of what scary faces my pumpkins will put on at the end of the month, I was keen on doing something a little different with the mini pumpkins my mother-in-law gave me.

As she grows these in her garden I got a generous load of them. Initially they were placed in and around the house - arranged in different ways. All rather boring I kept thinking.

Finally my brain experienced the light bulb effect and I was excited to quickly realize my ideas. So, Soeren and I went for one of our walks in the woods and collected chestnuts, acorns and acorn leaves, berries, hibiscus, flowers and anything else we thought might look good in the arrangement.

I went to the florist on the way home and bought a nice orange/peach colored rose and some floral foam.

Pumpkin Bouquet by MeetaK (05)


We got home and spent a good hour designing our centerpiece of the month. It was quite easy once everything was sorted out.

You'll need:
Colored leaves, chestnuts, acorns, berries, physallis, flowers - basically anything a long walk in the woods will give you.
A rose - the color of the rose should match the Fall colors of the bouquet
Floral foam
Wired wood picks
Greening pins
Floral glue
A small plate or tea saucer
Knife
Scissors

Pumpkin Bouquet by MeetaK (06)


How to:
Simply cut the top of the pumpkin and remove the flesh and seeds. As mini pumpkins are not edible throw this away. Cut a small piece of the floral foam so that it fits snugly into the pumpkin. Using the wood picks, greening pins and glue arrange your flowers, leaves, nuts and berries into the foam to give a nice voluptuous arrangement.

On the plate or tea saucer, fix a few colored leaves using the floral glue. Make sure the leaves cover the plate nicely. Place the pumpkin bouquet in the middle of the plate. Finally glue a few nuts onto the leaves and fill any gaps with green moss or leaves.

A day or so later a good friend of mine came over to visit us and she was so enamored by the creation that she requested me to make a few for her birthday party a few days later. I was delighted to and as she only needed three the arrangements were ready in no time.

This time I went for a peach colored rose and added a few green leaves from the roses to the arrangement. I sprayed the nuts with a bit of hairspray to give them a glossy shine. I also integrated the top of the pumpkin into the arrangement.

Pumpkin Bouquet by MeetaK (07)


This month the lovely Sandi of Whistlestop Cafe is hosting Centerpiece of the Month and I would love to send her one of these little Pumpkin Bouquets to brighten her October.

More ideas for Autumn decoration:
Fall decoration around the home
Cut above the rest - carving ideas for Halloween pumpkins


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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Friday, October 05, 2007

Banana Brioche Pudding with Baileys Caramel Cream

Banana Brioche Pudding (05) by MeetaK


I've been going bananas this week! Literally - trying to make sure I have all my deadlines, to dos and tasks completed before I take off for Dubai next week. Although I am not working anymore, I seem to be busier than I was when I had a job! LOL!

All this does not stop me from spoiling my men with quick, yummy desserts though.


Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know my panache for taking regular, common ingredients from my pantry and converting them into interesting and surprisingly good desserts. This time it was no different. I had bought bananas with the determination of making something with them for this months Jihva For Ingredients being hosted by my dear blog friend Mandira of Ahaar. Her chosen ingredient was of course the Banana.

To be honest I do not often cook with bananas. We simply munch on them pure and should they become too dark they eventually wander into the blender, where they are pureed to make a milkshake. So, as the days went by and my beautiful bananas went from yellow to speckled to brown I decided to be creative - or at least try. Being a bank holiday all the shops were closed so I had to rely on my pantry, fridge and booze cabinet for inspiration.

We all know that bananas are healthy, but I decided to go ahead a research it just a bit more and was surprised to find a few things I was unaware of.

Bananas

Banana (01) by MeetaK


Bananas are wonderfully sweet with firm and creamy flesh. They come ready packed in their own yellow wrapping. Bananas are true energy booster and contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that is known to make you feel happy and improve your mood. So if you are felling low - nothing like munching on a ripe banana.

The banana plant grows 10 to 26 feet in height and belongs to the Musaceae family. These fruits grow in clusters of 50 to 150, with individual fruits grouped in bunches, known as "hands," of 10 to 25 bananas.

Bananas come in hundreds of edible varieties that fall under two distinct species: the sweet banana and the plantain banana. Sweet bananas vary in size and color.

Many of us are accustomed to thinking that sweet bananas have yellow skins however, they can also feature red, pink, purple and black tones when ripe. Their flavor and texture range with some varieties being sweet while others have starchier characteristics.

Plantain bananas are usually cooked and considered more like a vegetable due to their starchier qualities; they have a higher beta-carotene concentration than most sweet bananas.

Bananas are a good source of both potassium and vitamin B6. They not only help to maintain bowel health, but are also good energy-boosting snacks. f you watch closely during tennis tournaments, you’ll notice many tennis players eating a banana during short breaks. This is because the banana with its combination of carbohydrates and vitamin B6 provides energy that boosts for at least another 90 minutes.

As bananas ripen, their starch is converted into sugar. Bananas help to maintain blood sugar levels and it is also a fruit which is easily digested.

When nutritional figures are put together, the banana is considered to be among the healthiest of fruits. The plantain, when cooked, rates slightly higher on the nutritional scale in vitamins and minerals but similar to the banana in protein and fiber content.

Bananas can be eaten freely, within limits. A banana weighing 100 g contains about 62 calories.

Selecting & Storing

As bananas are generally picked off the tree while they are still green, it is not unusual to see green bananas in the stores. Selecting bananas should be based on when you want to consume them. Bananas with more green coloration will take longer to ripen than those more yellow in hue and/or with brown spots.

Bananas should be firm, but not too hard, bright in appearance, and free from bruises or other injuries. Their stems and tips should be intact. The size of the banana does not affect its quality, so simply choose the size that best meets your needs.

Although bananas look resistant, they are actually very fragile. Care should be taken in their storage. Ripen bananas at room temperature not in the refrigerator. This interrupts the ripening process to such an extent that it will not be able to resume even if the bananas are returned to room temperature. Bananas should not be subjected to overly hot or cold temperatures.

Once ripe can be then be placed in the refrigerator. While their peel may darken, the flesh will not be affected. For maximum flavor when consuming refrigerated bananas, remove them from the refrigerator and allow them to come back to room temperature.

Bananas can also be frozen and will keep for about 2 months. Either purée them before freezing or simply remove the peel and wrap the bananas in plastic wrap. To prevent discoloration, add some lemon juice before freezing.

More banana information:
Medicinal Uses of Bananas
Banana on Wkipedia


Ingredients
Printable version here.

Banana Brioche Pudding (07) by MeetaK


8 - 10 slices of brioche (substitute with toast bread slices) - cut into cubes
1 vanilla bean
250g Crème Fraiche
300 ml milk
6 eggs
130g sugar
4 cl Bailey's with Caramel
2-3 bananas - sliced
Butter
3-4 tablespoons almond slivers




Method

Banana Brioche Pudding (04) by MeetaK


Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lay out the brioche cubes on a baking tray and gently brown them crisp and golden. Scrape out the vanilla bean and mix into a saucepan with the crème fraiche and milk. Place on a medium heat and bring to a boil.

In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and Bailey's until smooth and creamy. Gently add the milk to the egg mixture, whisking all the time so that the eggs do not curdle. Set aside.

Butter an oven-proof dish or smaller ramekins and lay the bottom out with the toasted brioche cubes. Spread out the banana slices over the top and gently pour in the Bailey's cream mixture so that the brioche cubes and bananas are completely covered.

Sprinkle the almond slivers and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve warm, drizzling more Bailey's cream over the top or even some rich chocolate sauce.



Verdict

Banana Brioche Pudding (06) by MeetaK


Soothing, comforting, warming and downright good. My take on the ole bread and butter pudding really put a smile on my men's faces. Nothing like digging into a delicious homemade, warm, sweet dessert when the weather is cold and chippy outside. The Bailey's Caramel cream added a slightly decadent falvoring to the pudding.

It's a pretty filling dessert so a word of advice serve this after a light meal. That way you can enjoy an extra portion

I thank Mandira for being so kind and accepting my late entry. ;-)


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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

La Ratatouille

Cooking School: Ratatouille Provençal

Ratatouille (06) by MeetaK


As the much talked about new Pixar movie Ratatouille (Rat-a-too-ee) finally opens here in Germany officially tomorrow, we were able to be a part of the sneak preview shown on Sunday. I had ordered tickets weeks in advance and we were lucky enough to be a part of a few who got to watch it prior to it's opening.

I know we are late! I am sure half of the world has already seen it. But we had to wait until it was translated into German you see. This was Soeren's second real movie theater movie. It's such a pleasure to watch him getting all excited. I too became a kid and shared his enthusiasm and anticipation for the film.


To celebrate the grand event I made some original ratatouille. Ratatouille is a luxurious, rich and flavorful. The dish is a traditional French dish originating from the Provence region. Spiced with aromatic herbs cooking this dish leaves the aroma lingering all throughout the house. However, one is often served this great nutritious dish swimming in a liquidy bath with over-cooked vegetables.

It's not surprising therefore that many people have come to believe that ratatouille is some kind of a soup!

The name is comprised of two components:
  • rata is slang from the French Army meaning "chunky stew"
  • touiller, "to stir"
Think of ratatouille as is more of a concept dish than a specific recipe. It can take on a number of forms and is open to interpretation and experimentation. Let your tastes and preferences inspire you to create your own signature version of ratatouille!

The basic components that define the ratatouille are:
  • tomatoes (the main ingredient)
  • zucchini
  • eggplant
  • garlic
  • onions
  • herbs
These ingredients are traditionally sauteed in olive oil and can be served over rice or potatoes, preferably with a crusty French bread.

When preparing ratatouille keep in mind that the order of cooking is important, so keep the vegetables separate when preparing them. If cooking it for the first time, eat it hot as the main course; then have it again later as a cold hors-d'oeuvre. In the summer time, it's great as a cold main-course dish. It keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

Enjoy with a nice glass of red wine.




Ingredients
Printable version here.

Ratatouille (03) by MeetaK


4 Zucchini - cubed
2 Aubergines - cubed
4 ripe Tomatoes - seeds removed and cut into small pieces
3 small green peppers - cut into bite size squares
1 medium red pepper - cut into bite size squares
1 medium to large onion - sliced
2 cloves Garlic - finely chopped
Flat Parsley - chopped
Basil - chopped
Salt
Pepper from the mill
Olive oil


Method

In a frying pan, sauté the onion, garlic and peppers in olive oil over a brisk heat, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper as you go along. When the peppers are 3/4 cooked - they should be nice and crunchy - remove from pan and keep warm.

Sauté the aubergines until they are cooked through and nice and golden. Set aside with the peppers. Sauté the zucchini, adding the tomatoes and parsley as they start to become golden, and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Return the peppers and aubergines to the pan, mix all the vegetables thoroughly. Add the basil.

If required, add a little water and then reduce. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish parsley and basil leaves.


Verdict

Ratatouille (02) by MeetaK


Aromatic, creamy and full of flavor. We served it with some lovely rustic French baguette as in our opinion everything else simply takes away from the full bodied flavor of the ratatouille. Each forkful of exquisite vegetables was a pure delight.

Hope you enjoy it!

Find out more about the Cooking School series.

For more great ratatouille recipes, I'd like to recommend:
Ratatouille Tart with Warm Goat Cheese - What's For Lunch, Honey?
Dad's Ratatouille Recipe - Simply Recipes
Ratatouille Wanna-Be - Kalyn's Kitchen
Ratatouile Bruchetta - Avenue Food
Ratatouille with Cochiglie Rigate - Saffron Trail
Indian Inspired Ratatouille - Mahanandi
Oven Roasted Ratatouille - Confessions of a Cardamon Addict


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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Monday, October 01, 2007

Just CLICK it!



Pictures speak a thousand words. A phrase I find so true. Imagine a world without colors, expressions and temperament. Imagine seeing something and not being able to capture that particular moment. Imagine a food blog without luscious photos that make your mouth water. It's hard isn't it?

When I started this food blog my photos were rather mediocre and although I do not think they are professional by any means now, I do believe I have improved my skills quite a bit. I owe it to many people who have inspired me and helped me along the way.

That is why I am so glad to announce a wonderful photography event created by my favorite blogging pair Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi.

Click is all about fun. What's so unique about this event is that it is based on a theme. It's like a working group to help improve your skills, techniques and ideas. You will find out more about the event here.

To kick off the event, this months theme is Eggs.

I am also honored to be one of the very first co-judges, sharing the panel with the gorgeous Jaden of Steam Kitchen. Look forward to seeing your creative shots!