Today’s Recipe: Ratatouille

This morning we woke to 40 degree weather with a wind of around 18 mph.  A good day for a warm and hearty stew recipe. I had all the ingredients for a wonderful Ratatouille so that is what I have made.

If you like zucchini and eggplant you will love this recipe. The cutting up of the veggies takes the most time, the cooking time is super fast and you end up with a very hearty meal.

Ratatouille

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 large red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 large green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into sticks
  • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 zucchini, cut into long sticks
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped including leaves
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (use better quality)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Parsley chopped for garnish

Use part of the olive oil to sauté the beef with the dry herbs. Set meat aside on a plate when almost cooked.  In the same pot add the balance of the olive oil and sauté the onions, celery and peppers for 2 minutes, add the balance of the veggies and cook just a few minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point you may need to add 1/4 cup of water but the veggies will release more of their own juices making more sauce. Add the ground beef and stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Check the tenderness of the veggies, they should hold their shape but be tender.  This is the time to make adjustments to the seasoning, adding salt or pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a grating of Parmesan cheese.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

This tastes even better the next day.  You can serve over a baked potato or rice to make a more filling meal.

This recipe is from Sandy Hill who we met in South Miami years ago.  We have lost contact over the years but this recipe has lasted the test of time.  Of course I have made several additions to make it my own but the basic recipe is the same as when Sandy had Joe and I over for dinner back in the late 70’s.

Creamy Potato and Leek Soup

Each week when I go to the feria (Thursday Street Market) I am looking for what fresh and wonderful things they have for sale. Then I make my decision on what I will be serving during the next week.  This week they had the most beautiful leeks so I had to have them.  I paired them up with some good-looking potatoes and some pancetta and decided on Potato and Leek Soup.

Here is my recipe:

Creamy Potato and Leek Soup

  • 2 T of Olive oil
  • 4 slices of bacon or smoked pancetta – cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary chopped fine (use fresh if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon adobo (here it is spice mix with several herbs and spices combined)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Add everything except the bacon to a good-sized pot, cook, allowing the spices to fragrance the kitchen do not burn. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy.  Set aside a small quantity of this for a garnish.

  • 4-6 good-sized leeks (trim green stalks and clean well to remove any grit)
  • 4 or 5 large potatoes cut into cubes (I do not remove the peel – more roughage)
  • 8-10 cups of stock chicken or vegetable (I used two bouillon cubes from Knorr)
  • Pepper to taste
  • fresh thyme sprigs (extra for the garnish)

Add the veggies to the spice mixture and sauté for just a few minutes, not to brown just for more flavor.  Add your stock and cook for 30 minutes.  Check to see if the potatoes are cooked.  If not cooked through, give them another 10 minutes.  Remove 3 ladles of the mixture to a plate and set aside.  Using an immersion blender blend the remainder until it is smooth and creamy.  Most recipes call for cream I think it tastes great without using it.  After the soup has cooled a bit add back the potato mixture you set aside.  Taste for seasoning and adjust according to your palate. When serving sprinkle the top with crispy pancetta and some fresh thyme.

Enjoy!

Being raised in the US our custom was to have our main meal of the day at dinner time, after work.  These were large heavy meals but our friend Eva suggested moving our main real to lunch making the dinner meal lighter. So that meal now consists of a bowl of hearty soup.  That is why I make so many different soup recipes.