Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a fancy (and hard name to say) French provincial stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice.

This vegetable stew is tasty and substantial, and carefully  seasoned just before it finishes cooking brings out the flavours.

Ingredients for 8 servings:

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced or crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 cups sliced zucchini
  • 1-2 green peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2-3 cups diced eggplant
  • 1/4 cup light Olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped and peeled tomatoes, substitute canned for fresh in the winter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried basil or oregano
  • salt, pepper and sugar
  • chopped parsley

Take a large frying pan and fry the onions and garlic in oil until just coloured very slightly.

Add the zucchini and peppers. Cook over a moderate heat, turning the vegetables,  from time to time, for about 5-10 minutes.

Remove vegetables from the pan and brown the eggplant in the second measure of oil. Add the partly cooked vegetables, along with the tomatoes.

Cover pan with a lid, after adding basil or oregano. Cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes, then season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

**I add a dash of black sauce for a little bit of heat

**If serving hot, thicken with a little cornflour paste

**Quantities of vegetables may vary, and zucchini, peppers or eggplant can be left out (not all of them though :))

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Now I love Ratatouille as a side dish with grilled or poached chicken…last nights supper below.

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And it makes a super delicious breakfast with a poached egg – that’s my breakfast sorted for tomorrow!

Super tasty with a grilled sausage, poached fish, or room temperature as a salad. Give it a try especially now when eggplants are so inexpensive – $.99 cents at my local green grocer this weekend.

If you enjoyed this eggplant dish try Eggplant Parmesan – another favourite!

Happy healthy cooking xx

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Fresh Fish with Chargrilled Eggplant & Zucchini and a Red Pepper Dressing

Fresh Fish with Chargrilled Eggplant & Zucchini and a Red Pepper Dressing

I’m not really a big fish eater which means I don’t spend much time thinking about cooking it either, much to my husband’s disappointment.

We have a local Fish & Chip store which makes great fresh snapper and chips; not greasy, not too much, just right. Perhaps once a fortnight we might have this as a Friday night escape from cooking for me? and I count this as my ‘fish night’.

So when my company ‘team building offsite’ was announced and the rumours starting flying about at work that it was at the local Seafood cooking school; I would be fibbing if I did not say I had to fake my enthusiasm 🙂

We had walked through the Seafood Market which houses the cooking school some months earlier and the smell of thousands of fish did nothing for me! I had never had a hankering to spend the day in a seafood cooking school!

With some trepidation of what was to come I joined my work colleagues on the bus and headed to the event; I guess it was a day out of the office at the very least -right?

It turns out I had nothing too much to be concerned about as we filed into a classroom and took our seats. The chef took his place at the cooking benchin front of us, with large mirros behind him so we could all see the cooking bench and his very quick  movements as his knife flew across the vegetables with deft skills.

Wwe were to make a quick and easy entrĂ©e and main fish dish apparently and would do this in groups later on.  He spent the session interacting with us all with such enthusiasm and passion for the subject matter, sharing funny stories and cooking techniques, I nearly forgot we were about to handle prawns and fresh fish!

Anyway the main fish meal was so quick and easy to put together, and delicious! I wanted to share it with you as a weekday option for a family dinner. I’ll add the entrĂ©e  later on today.

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 4 x 160gram portions of fresh fish – fillets
  • 10 black, fitted Kalamata olives
  • 10 green olives, whole
  • 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1 red capsicum, thinly diced
  • 60ml lemon infused olive oil ( plain olive oil will work if you don’t have the infused kind)
  • 40ml white wine vinegar
  • 90grams feta cheese
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh bread to serve

Firstly prepare the fish by cutting into similar sized medallions, and then set aside in a dish with a splash of olive oil. Season with salt & pepper.

Put the Kalamata and green olives in a sautĂ© pan or oven-proof dish. Splash with a little olive oil and sear them quickly before putting into s hot oven to roast.

Coat the thinly sliced eggplant and zucchini with a little olive oil, and season with salt & pepper. Chargrill on a medium hot grill and until branded, and coloured!

Whilst the vegetables are grilling, add a splash of olive oil to a pan on a medium heat; then add the fish medallions.

Red Pepper Dressing

Take the red pepper previously prepared, lemon infused olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Season with salt & pepper. So easy!

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Layer the plate with the chargrilled eggplant and zucchini and fresh fish; crumble the feta cheese over. Drizzle with the red pepper dressing and garnish with the roasted olives and a sprinkling a chopped parsley. Squeeze some lemon juice over the dish and serve with fresh crusty bread!

A little note for people like me who don’t cook fish often enough to be an expert: Here’s how to tell if fish is done: use a fork and prick into the thickest portion of the fish at a 45-degree angle. The gently twist the fork and  pull up some of the fish. Undercooked fish resists flaking and is translucent.

You can rustle up this fish dinner in less than 25 minutes which is perfect for a weekday meal. Its healthy, and tasty so ticks plenty of boxes. Do give it a go and let me know how the family enjoyed it.

Happy fishing xx

 

Eggplant Parmesan

I discovered eggplant last year, and when it is not so ridiculously priced ($5.00 each!) I make sure to pick one up with my fruit & vegetable shopping. I have found them to be a vegetable that I can use to ‘make something quick and tasty from nothing’ if you know what I mean?

Eggplants, or ‘Aubergines’ if you feel like being fancy and French! are considered a fruit – and is related to the tomato and the potato. It is used in many different cuisines, including curries and one of my favourites chutney.  I made a very tasty chutney last year:  Chutney Anyone? So Easy & So Delish!

Eggplant is often stewed and I have made my version of the French ratatouille which is diced onions, tomatoes courgettes, capsicums with garlic, marjoram and basil all piled into a pan and cooked! Very simple and really good with a poach egg on top for a quick and easy breakfast.

This recipe does take a little prep time, however is well worth it. It makes a nice side dish to a steak, or grilled chicken breast and is equally happy being the centre of attention – the main course for a happy vegetarian 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into circles about 1cm thick
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup Italian or whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 cups chunky marinara sauce
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c
  2. Pour milk into a shallow bowl and bread crumbs onto a plate. Dip each slice of eggplant in the milk, moistening each side. Then press on to bread crumbs making sure both sides are thoroughly coated. Place slices on a baking sheeted tray and bake until tender: about 25 minutes.
  3. Spoon some marinara sauce, about 1/4 cup, onto the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices and cover with more sauce. Sprinkle some mozzarella over the sauce, then repeat the layering until your’ve reached the end of your eggplant slices. Top the slices with the last of the sauce and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let the eggplant set for about 10 minutes before serving.

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If you are feeling adventurous try my Ratatouille dish out. Delicious vegetables that will please any palate!

Happy cooking xx

 

Chutney Anyone? So Easy & So Delish!

We took a short road trip to the Hobsonville Point Farmers Market a few months ago after hearing about it from friends. So worth the drive – great selection of organically grown fruit & veg, lovely home made cheeses, relishes and breads.  You can try all the products before you buy…and trust me, you will definitely find something yummy to buy!

One of the ‘must have’ purchases was a jar of Eggplant Kasundi. Now I don’t know about  you but I have never really done much with eggplants. I have looked at them in the supermarket & often thought they seem over priced, and then that has put me off even trying to do something with them 🙂

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But this Eggplant Kasundi was absolutely delicious! And at $9.00 for a 250ml jar had to replicated in my kitchen for the most obvious of all reasons $$$$

I searched the internet for recipes and in the end decided to make a mash up of a couple of different ideas and taste as I went. Kasundi is an Indian Spiced Tomato Chutney but not really a ‘hot’ spice so delicious on a cheese platter or with a BBQ’d sausage!

Here’s what I ended up with:

1 eggplant, cut into 1.5cm thick pieces – Heat a pan over a high heat with about 2 tablespoons of oil. (the eggplant absorbs the oil so make the pan hot and keep the stuff moving in the pan) – cook half the eggplant, stirring for 5 minutes or until golden. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant, reheating the pan between batches.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan, and cook 1 medium diced onion for a few minutes until soft. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1  teaspoon ground coriander, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground chilly or chilli flakes. Continue cooking for a further 2 minutes. Add 1 x 400g can crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons of vinegar. Add the eggplant 🙂 Simmer for 10-15 minutes until reduced to a thick chutney consistency. Season to  taste with salt and pepper.

I got 6 x 250g jars of Eggplant Kasundi from this mix so it actually went quite far.

ps…sterlise your jars by washing and rinsing them in hot water, and then popping in a  heated oven until ready to use them. Screw the lid down nice & tight, and you will know you are sorted when the centre of the lid is depressed (not sad, but just dented inwards!)

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Homemade Eggplant Kasundi

Give this a go..I always thought making relish and chutney’s was tricky but it is really easy. Oh, and I bought the cute little jars from the Warehouse for $1 each.

Happy ‘preserving ‘ xx