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.

Sunday Market or Feria

Early Sunday morning Joe and I headed out for our daily walk. Joe had several places in mind for us to at least walk by if not visit.  One was the planetarium another the zoo and the third was……..  But instead we got totally side-tracked as we discovered a Sunday Market about five blocks from our apartment.

montevideo-2-4-23The vendors block off the several streets and set up their tents, some even come with what looks like a food truck that opens to show cold cases for cheese, meat and fish.montevideo-2-4-24The first thing that caught my eye was the flowers, but I only picked up one plant and that was thyme.  And it joined my other herb basil on the washing machine in our laundry room.montevideo-2-4-25We figured a tray of 30 large eggs would cost $3.00 and they even had one man selling household products, cleaning, TP, paper towels.  montevideo-2-4-26There were several vendors set up selling cheese, pork, chicken, beef and even fish.montevideo-2-4-27 montevideo-2-4-28The fruits and vegetables looked fresh but we had just gone shopping on Friday and our refrigerator was filled with everything we needed for the week. I have not had the time to check prices but I am sure this Sunday Market is cheaper than Tienda Inglesa.montevideo-2-4-29Grapes run $1.42 per kilo, that is cheap cheap cheap.  They are grown here so maybe that is why they are so inexpensive. Next Sunday these will be on my shopping list.montevideo-2-4-30Everything is marked so you know what you’re spending.montevideo-2-4-31I just could not resist the strawberries, they are one of my favorites.  They were small with a hint of tartness. Just perfect to eat with sugar and cream, and that is just what I did.montevideo-2-4-32$1.60 a kilo for peaches. That works out to about 72 cents a pound.montevideo-2-4-33 montevideo-2-4-34 montevideo-2-4-35 montevideo-2-4-36This stand was selling all different dried herbs and even had nutmeg nuts in this bowl above.  Need to spend some time finding out what these are but I did buy some of the adobo which I knew had red pepper flakes and seeds in it.  I have used it on several things and it does pack a punch.montevideo-2-4-37 montevideo-2-4-38This will be our Sunday morning ritual.  Buying fresh fruits and veggies five blocks from the house.  Now all we need is one of those Old Lady Carts, yes, I am prepared to drag it around. ha ha

Simple Semifredo Ice Cream

I honestly can’t say that I am obsessed with good food, and I do not consider myself an Uber Gourmet or some other sideways fancy title. I am just a cook who loves good food, good ingredients and experimenting with different cuisines.  Ask Joe if I have made the same thing twice ever and he will tell you, Never!  I started this back right after we were married. Our food budget including personal items, cleaning supplies and all food items for most of our weekly meals and it was a whopping $20 per week.  Yes, this was back in the early 70’s and we managed on that budget along with several nights a week eating out as we were both going to college after our full-time day jobs.  We ate a lot of ground hamburg meat, I made meatballs, meatloaf, meat spaghetti sauces all on Saturday morning and froze them for the next week. Joe’s family had certain meals on the same day every week. That will never happen in our home, I get bored with the same old, same old and have this need to change, improvise and make it different almost every time.  Now there are certain recipes made by my Mom that will always remain the same but for everything else it is fair game for me to change it up!!!

So how does this lead into making Semifredo, well…I at one time had hundreds of cookbooks and love watching cooking shows. I have total series of Julia, Jacque, most of the shows Keith Floyd made, to Gok Wan, Ming Tsai, Jamie and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to name just a few. My cookbook collections included Southern Livings annuals, Cooking Light annuals, Betty Crocker, Joy of Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens and so many other I honestly cannot name them. These are books and the chefs that have shaped the cook that I am today.

I just watched Better Homes and Gardens Australia and the one presenter was making Semifredo which is a semi hard Italian ice cream.  It looked interesting so I decided to try it for myself.

I found a very easy recipe by Donna Hay:

Donna Hay Basic Semifreddo

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks extra
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 cups (500ml) single (pouring) cream

METHOD

  1. Place the eggs, extra yolks, vanilla and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and, using a hand-held electric mixer, beat for 6–8 minutes or until thick and pale. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Whisk the cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold through the egg mixture until well combined.
  3. Pour into a 2 litre-capacity metal tin and freeze for 6 hours or overnight. Makes 2 litres.

 This is the base we use in all our semifreddo recipes. You could create your own flavour by folding a range of fruit, spices or syrups through the mixture. Think passionfruit pulp, puréed mango or whole berries such as raspberries or blueberries.

Recipe by Donna Hay.  This is the actual recipe off the internet and Australians spell many words differently that we do in the US.  So don’t comment on the spelling, just try the recipe. It is fabulous.

I made waffles this morning and this was a snack this afternoon.  REALLY SPECIAL.

IMG_2975 We will never be stick thin, I know and accept that fact. Our lives are full, full of peace, happiness, good food, good conversations and a great relationship that has matured and bloomed into a fabulous life.