Thursday, July 21, 2011

Family Dinner

 Fresh Ingredients for Ratatouille

The visitors are slowly beginning to arrive.  My friend Anne warned me about it.  She has had a steady stream of visitors since I meet her back in December (and I've been secretly jealous).  I want people to come visit me and see where I live (just don't all come at once please, it might get a little crowded).  Oh course visiting me right now means staying in a hotel and then just meeting me for lunches, dinners and a little Paris sight seeing; I don't have a guest room.  But if you're willing to buy the plane ticket, find a reasonable hotel or apartment to crash in, I'd be very happy to have you over for dinner.  

It's starting with my cousins, which is great.  Romain has not got much of a chance to meet my extended family.  And considering my immediate family is so large....meeting all the extended family at once would be completely overwhelming.  He still forgets a brother or two when trying to name all my siblings (mainly Jeff, lol).  First my cousin Angie on my Dad's side visited.  She was here for a few days during a bit of a European tour with her girlfriend.  We had nice dinner at Le Petit Canard and a nice lunch a few days later at my favorite place Le Cafe du Commerce.

Last week Angie's younger brother Brad and his wife Corrine arrived in France for a visit.  They are staying a bit longer so I invited them over for dinner and we'll check out some restaurants a little later in their stay.
Thankfully neither of them are picky eaters, so I went all out planning a nice dinner including some good traditional French apero for them to try.  Rillettes de porc, saucisson with noisette (hazelnuts), fresh baguette cereals, and Rice and Buckwheat crackers for Corinne who is allergic to Gluten ( I can accommodate!).

I was going to make a simple Ratatouille and Seared Tuna steaks.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get the Tuna at my local fish shop, so I took some Cod instead. When I got home from my shopping, I decided to get a little fancy with my Ratatouille and dress it up a little.  I took some of my small circle rings ( that I have used for anything from making small tarts to English Muffins)  I covered one side in foil to make them like small dishes and started layering my veggies inside. I wanted to make a Ratatouille timbale of sorts.   It worked out pretty well and was delicious with the lightly fried Cod in a lemon and butter sauce.  We followed that with 3 types of cheese and of course dessert: Chocolate Cherry Clafloutis!  

Here is how you can recreate my Individual Ratatouille:  

Makes enough for 6

1 small Zucchini
4 medium Tomatoes
1 medium Onion
1 small Eggplant
6 TBSP White wine
Olive Oil
Small branches of fresh Thyme, Rosemary and Basil, chopped finely
Salt and Pepper
Medium sized Ramekins, small round oven safe dishes, something about 3-4 inches across.  Having a bottom is key to keep the wine in around the veggies.

Preheat oven to 425 F

Slice Zucchini, Onion, and Eggplant all in thin slices (almost transparent when held up to light). Slice the Tomatoes slightly thicker. Oil the bottoms of each baking dish.  Layer the veggies one at a time in the dish alternating layers, sprinkle a little the chopped herbs in between each layer.  Stack the veggies as high as you can without worrying about them falling out of dish, they will shrink down in the over.  Top each dish with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a drizzle of Olive oil, and a small sprig of Thyme.  Pour a generous tablespoon of white wine into each dish.  Bake for 30 mins or till veggies are soft when pierced with a fork or knife.  Serve in the dish or place a plate over top and invert to remove. 

 First layer down: Zucchini

 They look good enough to eat already!

 Now they are definitely ready!

 Goes great with a nice piece of fish

Myself, Romain and my cousins were very pleased with the meal. I love the fresh taste of all the veggies together.  I may try this technique again but may with some different veggies and maybe some cheese next time too!   Bon Appetit!

* I know proper Ratatouille usually has Red Pepper in it.  I like Red Pepper, but it doesn't really like me, so I usually make mine without the Red Pepper.

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