Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Luscious and Luxrious


Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
Ovid

The start of five days off and plans for nothing but pure luxurious relaxation. Even though it's still warm, the hints of fall are in the air. This means cooking some longer meals with what's available from the farmer's markets as the inspiration. Here's a couple of shots of things I'm seeing a good deal of. I love ratatouille and love polenta, what could be more luscious then a dish with them together?

Ratatouille with Polenta

1 lb of yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb zucchini, chopped
1 lb yellow squash, chopped
Bell peppers, seeds removed, chopped into 1/2 inch square pieces:
--1 lb green bell peppers
--1/2 lb red bell peppers
--1/2 lb yellow bell peppers
1 lb eggplant, 1/2 inch cubes
1 lb fresh ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
3/4 cup vegetable stock (or thin tomato juice)
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded Parmsean


1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2 Using a large oven-proof pan over medium high heat, saute onions in olive oil until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and reduce heat to low.

3 While the onions and garlic are cooking over low heat, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a another frying pan over high heat. As soon as oil starts to smoke, quickly add enough zucchini cubes all at once to cover the bottom of the pan. Keep on cooking over high heat, stirring, until zucchini is lightly browned on all sides. Remove zucchini cubes, and add them to pan with the onions.

4 Repeat process until all of the zucchini cubes have been cooked. Do the same with the yellow squash. Make sure to add a little olive oil between each new batch. Continue with the bell peppers, then the eggplant cubes, adding the browned vegetables to the onion pan as soon as they are cooked.

5 When all the vegetables (except the tomatoes) are browned and in the pan with the onions, increase the heat to high and stir, making sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add salt to taste, thyme, bay leaf, and rosemary, the vegetable stock, and stir well. Place in oven for one hour.

6 Boil water in a saucepan on stove. Remove stems from tomatoes, and crisscross the bottoms with a knife. Plunge into boiling water for a minute or two, until skin starts to fall away. Rinse in cold water and remove skin. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise, remove seeds, chop coarsely, set aside.

7 After the vegetables have been in the oven for an hour, remove from oven, drain vegetables in a colander set over a bowl. Clean browned bits (if any) off bottom of pan with a paper towel. Return any liquid to the pan and reduce to a thick glaze over medium high heat. Keep on adding juices to the pan as they run out of the vegetables into the bowl.

8 When all the juices have been reduced, return vegetables to the heavy pan. At this point the ratatouille should be moist and shiny, with very little liquid. Turn heat off. Add the chopped tomatoes and cover.

Polenta

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for grilling or sauteing if desired
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large, oven-safe saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and salt and sweat until the onions begin to turn translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn.

Turn the heat up to high, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once you have added all of the cornmeal, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every
10 minutes to prevent lumps. Once the mixture is creamy, remove from the oven and add the butter, salt, and pepper. Once they are incorporated, gradually add the Parmesan.

Pour the polenta into 9 by 13-inch cake pan lined with parchment paper or greased with butter. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

Once set, turn the polenta out onto a cutting board and cut slices. Brush each side with olive oil and saute in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, or grill.

Serve slices topped with ratatouille and sprinkled with cheese.


To go with the relaxation, Mozart,"Concert for Clarinet, 2nd Movement":


No comments:

Beauty Is...

  "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." -Anonymous  I went outside tonight and found the waning moon in a glow surrou...