Wednesday, March 25, 2015

From France With Love - Ratatouille

Do you remember the singular dialogue between the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey and her butler Carson when being presented with a new, strangely decorated dish at dinner:
"Carson, is this what I'm afraid it is?"
And after trying the dish: “I wish it would have been what I thought it was."
So far the irreparable Lady Violett Crawley on food styling and mental delusion at the table.
For me, a beautiful presentation of food is definitely important because eating is a multisensory experience and we all are "eating with our eyes" as well.
It's about creating expectation and not disappointing it, of course.
Reading the papers some days ago, I stumbled about an article discussing a new movement called
"We Want Plates".
The movement defines itself as "Crusading against food being served on bits of wood and roof tiles.
Chips in little buckets, peas in flowerpots and jam-jar drinks can do one too"
And dam right they are.
I was LOL looking at the incredible pictures frustrated foodies made of their meals presented in every imaginable accessory but not on a plate.
If you want to know more about it and join the fun go to:
Of course there are certain plates that are difficult to present.
The one I'm going to post today, the wonderful French Ratatouille, is one of them.
Ratatouille is one of the typical plates of Provence, a region in the south of France that celebrates its fantastic veggies and herbs by elaborating stunning classics like Ratatouille.
The secret lies in its simplicity, no artificial flavors added, all natural and superb.
As a bonus it is really easy to prepare, suitable for health and fitness fans, vegetarians and vegans and the subtle flavors blend together perfectly.
It can be eaten on its own or as a side dish for grilled chicken,fish, meat and works great with pasta.
Here we go.

You need:
 1\2 cup of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red capsicum, seeds removed and cut into strips
1 yellow capsicum, seeds removed and cut into strips
1 large eggplant (about 250g), cut into small cubes
1 large zucchini ( about 250g), cut into small cubes
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 large ripe tomatoes ( about 400g), peeled and seeds removed, cut into large cubes
1 Bouquet garni ( 8 sprigs parsely,2 sprigs fresh thyme and one bay leaf, tied together with cooking twine)
2 spoonful of coarsely chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, heat half of the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the capsicum.
 Remove from pot and drain over kitchen paper.
Add a bit more olive oil to the pot and sauté eggplant and zucchini.
Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is  translucent.

Then add the bouquet garni and tomatoes, bring to a boil,  cover the pan with a tight lid and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

 Just looking at the gorgeous colors is a pleasure.

Serve sprinkled with fresh basil.
(Ratatouille can be served as well cold, delicious on a hot summer day with grilled meat or fish.) 
Serves 6 as a side dish or 4 as a light dinner or main course.




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Coming Back With Delightful Cheese Mushroom Muffins

Dear all,
although blogging and being in touch with you my friends and fellow bloggers brings me plenty of joy and happiness I needed to take some time off toget healthy again and come back with refreshing new ideas and creativity.
This was a long and unexpected break from blogging but now I'm back, my health is improving and I feel renewed with energy.
Your words of encouragement touched my heart and were truly inspiring.
It was amazing to hear that many of you went through  similar experiences and came out feeling even stronger and more confident than before. Thank you so much for your support!
But of course, my absence didn't mean that I wasn't experimenting with new recipes.
One of these experiments came from rethinking muffins in my kitchen lab.
The results are these yummylicious cheese and mushroom muffins.
Many of our friends found them quiet addicitive, they are great when you are inviting on a budget and unbelievable easy to prepare.
 You need:
 2 cups of self raising flour
2 cups of grated cheese (Pick your favorite tasty cheese, my choice was Grana Padano)
1 1/2 cup of milk
2 eggs
1 cup of roughly chopped mushrooms
1 cup of roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 cup of finley chopped onions (optional)
1 spoonful of soft butter, unsalted
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180 C.

Melt butter in a skillet and saute onions until translucent.

Add mushrooms and saute until soft.

Stir in chopped parsley, set aside.

Beat eggs in a mixing bowl until color changes to a pale yellow.

Sit flour into a large bowl.

Make a well in the flour and add all remaining ingredients.

Mix well until combined.
Fill a greased 12 hole muffin case

and bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Et Voila.

Mmh, so good with a bit of sour cream
Serves 12 p.

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