July 02, 2008

Rat-patootie, which does not sound delicious...

...but oh my G-A-W-D it IS!

Which is a good thing, since I ended up prepping the damn thing twice.

Yeah, you read that right, twice. That's what I get for multitasking in the kitchen. I was prepping a recipe for next week over at Blake Bakes while I was working on this. And while I sliced and macerated some bananas, I tossed the baking tray with the vegetable medley into the oven to clear some counter space. Then while I put the piperade together here, I preheated the oven for the other recipe. WITHOUT removing my veggie tray. Duh.

'So what's the big deal?' you're thinking, '...it's just sliced vegetables.' Yep. Vegetables sliced a very precise 1/16 of an inch thick. Even with my mandoline, the prep took well over an hour. And while there were a lot of ingredients requiring a ton of preparation, the dish was surprisingly inexpensive. The entire ingredient list cost me a little over $15.00 (partly because the cashier rang my organic zucchinis up as $0.79 pickling cucumbers?!?). Had I not wasted half of the ingredients, that would have come out to about two bucks a serving (assuming you can limit yourself to one serving. Yeah, good luck with that...I couldn't).

So why am I spending two hours slicing vegetables? I've joined Recipes to Rival, the savory answer to the Daring Bakers... a growing group of men and women interested in expanding our skills on the savory side of the kitchen, learning and laughing together along the way. And ratatouille was the inaugural challenge recipe chosen by our founderesses Lori over at Lipsmacking Goodness and Temperance of High on the Hog.

So with my first challenge behind me, what did I learn?

1. Multitasking's not such a good idea, and the oven is not a storage vessel.
2. I'm capable of using my mandoline without losing an appendage.
3. Cooking (and baking) is an exercise in time management.
4. French "vegetable stew" is quite tasty and eminently affordable.

But enough about me... on with the photo-studded recipe:

Remy's Ratatouille or Confit Byaldi
(as published in the New York Times)

For the Piperade:
1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1/2 a bay leaf
Kosher salt to taste

For the Vegetables:
1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
1 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8teaspoon thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For piperade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

3. Heat oven to 275 degrees. Down the center of the piperade coated skillet, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

4. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

5. For the vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

6. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

Bon appetit!

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Jacque said...

Oh man, having to cut vegetables for an hour... twice! I'm glad it turned out to be good.

Great job!

Anonymous said...

Great work slicing! I've made this recipe before and just love it.

Lori said...

Your pictures are beautiful. That first one is so colorful! It looks so good. Sorry to hear about the mishap. I think when summer gets into full swing it will be even cheaper. I can not wait to make it with really fresh vegetables!

Meeta said...

This certainly was worth the cutting. looks and sounds great!

Peabody said...

Looks Summery and tasty. Too bad my hubby is a veggie hater...sigh.

JMom said...

I found out R2R a bit late, but I just loved this recipe that I had to try it. We had it for our July 4th celebration and it was a hit! I'll be posting this recipe on my blog soon even though it's late for the event. Now I'm looking forward for the next recipe.