Ooey Gooey Ratatouille

Hey there stargazers and daydreamers,

I have a legitimate excuse this time. I was in Ireland. For part of the time that has elapsed since the last entry. To make up for my lack of posts, I am going to entertain you today AND tomorrow! So, I attempted to create ratatouille. I used a skeleton of a recipe from a vegetarian cookbook boasting meals in thirty minutes or less that also have no fat. Recipes like this, I ordinarily do not trust, however, it was surprisingly the only recipe I had from all my cookbooks (bouche bée!). Yet my taste testers gave it a four out of five star rating, which I take credit for because I doctored the recipe.

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, washed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large-ish tomato, sliced
2 medium zucchinis, cut into thin slices
3 large garlic cloves
4 tbsp hazelnut oil (or olive, grapeseed)
1 (28-ounce) can herbed crushed tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp oregano
2 bay leaves
salt n’ peppa to taste
fresh basil, optional

Heat half of the oil in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until 75% translucent. Add zucchini, salt and pepper. Stir, cover and cook for 3-5 minutes. Transfer the somewhat-to-mostly cooked vegetables to a bowl.ImageImage

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Add the remaining oil the the skillet (you will notice I used a pot – BIG MISTAKE). Add eggplant and sauté while stirring carefully so you don’t ruin the fragile and elegant eggplant slices. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaves and half of the crushed tomatoes. Cook for five to ten minutes, stirring semi-frequently so nothing burns.

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Place the eggplant & tomato mixture into a separate bowl. Add the remaining tomatoes and oregano to the pot for about two minutes.

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Layer the tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Then decoratively layer the eggplant, followed by the zucchini and onion. Repeat until you are out of ingredients! Arrange the sliced tomato on top and bake, covered, at 350 C for approximately 30 minutes, or until it is bubbly. Remove the lid and bake another 10 minutes. Garnish with basil et voila! I forgot to photograph the finished product, so this is the pre-bake. It could have been more beautiful. Hopefully the taste made up for the lack of visual enchantment.

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Fiesta Siesta

Greetings, fellow humans. Today I am sharing a vegetarian dish that is an attempted copy of a mexican eggs benny that I had at The Nook in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which I definitely recommend should you find yourself in Manitoba.

I made only enough for one, because it is only dear Hector and I here and he does not care for Mexican cuisine all that much, so the following list of ingredients is for the solitary diner:

-half an avocado
-a biscuit-size slice of polenta
-chunky salsa (I like medium or spicy)
-one egg
-two tomato slices
-half a pepper
-lemon juice (I prefer fresh), approximately 1 tbsp
-small clove of garlic
-salt and pepper
-chili powder, optional
-field greens, optional

Avocado halfI began by mashing together in a small bowl the half avocado, lemon juice (a firm squeeze’s worth from half a fresh lemon), garlic and a sprinkle of chili powder for a makeshift guacamole. I shall call this version ‘lemomole’.
Lemomole It was so delicate and fresh tasting. It inspired me to revisit Pablo Neruda’s “A Lemon”, which is a favorite poem of my sister. Here is an excerpt:

We open
the halves
of a miracle,
and a clotting of acids
brims
into the starry
divisions:
creation’s
original juices,
irreducible, changeless,
alive:
so the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.

Cutting the lemon
the knife
leaves a little cathedral:
alcoves unguessed by the eye
that open acidulous glass
to the light; topazes
riding the droplets,
altars,
aromatic facades.

A LemonAfter staring into the lemon half for who knows how long, I sliced the pepper lengthwise.
Cut peppers, tomatoThen I put a little oil into a skillet and set it on a medium heat. When it was hot, I added the polenta.
PolentaAfter about two minutes, I flipped the polenta and cracked the egg into the opposite side of the skillet.
Polenta and egg againThen I let them cook and sizzle. I feel like this is something you should just know how to do. Frying eggs and cornmash should be a no-brainer, which is how I felt when making this meal. Like a zombie. Inspired by poetry.

I added the peppers to the pan on a whim after flipping the egg. I wasn’t really sure where I was going with the peppers, to be honest, so I just threw a little salt and pepper on them and let them fry for a bit.
Fried everythingI then transferred the polenta onto a bed of field greens and stacked tomato, then egg, salsa, lemomole and a quarter of a tomato slice (why not?). I added the fried peppers to the side of the plate and presto magic, a meal.
Final, side viewFinal from aboveIt was okay. I think this would have been far tastier on a bed of lime and chili marinated roasted potatoes, onions and peppers. The salsa and lemomole truly made this dish. In fact, I might just have to praise the lemon and say that it alone brought life to this dish. It was both a party and a nap, because some bites were incredible and others were boring. Hence, this dinner was a fiesta siesta. What can I say, hasta los gatos quieren zapatos.
p.s. – I don’t know Spanish.