Tag Archives: stew

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

The transition from fall to summer is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.

Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!

Ratatouille 2

This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).

Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.

This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.

I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.

RECIPE:

Ratatouille 2

Ratatouille

½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.

*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Soups/Stews/Curries

Indian Curry: Butter Chicken

0401010 105-2

Unlike some parts of the country, here in Pittsburgh we are still waiting for spring. Which means I can squeeze in one more post for a warm, hearty, great-for-cold-weather Indian curry.

If you poll my children, all five of them will list this curry in their top three favorite foods, with several of them ranking it right at the top. It is also the recipe that I am most often asked to share. Unfortunately, the ingredient list is a little bit intimidating and some friends never end up making it for themselves. Hopefully a little explanation will make this recipe not seem so intimidating.

There are a few spices and ingredients in this recipe that cannot usually be found in regular grocery stores. Some of the spices below I can get in my local store, some I buy from Penzey’s (which we have locally in Pittsburgh, but they also have an online store) and some at a local Indian grocery store.

Kasoori methi is an herb that is also known by the name fenugreek. Kasoori Methi (sometimes spelled kasuri methi) is the leaves of the plant, while “fenugreek” often refers to the ground seeds of the plant, but I have also seen leaves labeled “fenugreek”. I prefer the flavor of the leaves, which I have only found at an Indian market (online Indian stores sell them as well).

The Tandoori paste I also buy at the Indian store. Tandoori pastes vary a lot in color, depending on brand, from a bright orange-red to a very deep red. I don’t really have a preference. They all taste pretty similar. Just be sure to buy tandoori paste and not a tandoori marinade, which will be thinner and usually have a dairy component. The jar shown above is pretty large (26 oz) and will make several batches. I marinate the chicken in the Tandoori paste in Ziploc bags; a few hours at least, overnight for the best flavor. Since our family really loves this curry, I freeze extra bags with the chicken and Tandoori paste for using another day. I prepare as many bags as the jar of paste will make. I usually make double batches of this curry, and the large jar shown above will make 3-4 double batches. Buy a smaller jar if you don’t want quite that much!

100110 031-1 The batch of Butter Chicken in the above photo was made with a Tandoori paste that was orange-red in color, while the one below was made with the Tandoori paste shown above, which has a very deep red hue.

0401010 105-2

Once you have your ingredients, it really is easy to prepare: tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilies and the spices are blended together in a blender or food processor-no chopping necessary! Add to a pot with a little butter, cream and tomato sauce and you have your curry base. To make it extra flavorful, the chicken is marinated in tandoori paste (I like to do this the day before, or even weeks before, and leave it in the freezer until I am ready to make the curry). Over the years I have found that it is easiest to marinate whole boneless chicken breasts (I really dislike chopping raw chicken), bake them and then coarsely chop them with a metal spatula right in the baking pan. The cooked chicken is then stirred into the curry sauce and simmered for 10-15 minutes, or as long as it takes you to finish baking your Naan bread.

View Tandoori Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken can be eaten over rice, or on its own with Naan.

0401010 087-1

Tomorrow I will share my Naan recipe, which Little J loves to help me make.

100110 009-1

RECIPE:

0401010 105-2

Butter Chicken

4-6 chicken breasts, diced*(see note on alternate chicken prep)
¼ cup Tandoori paste
1 (15oz) can whole or diced tomatoes
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
2-3 Tbs diced green chilies (about ½ can)
1 ¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp fresh ginger (or ½ tsp ground)
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves)
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne); add more for a spicier curry
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
2 cups heavy cream

Combine chicken, tandoori paste and 2 Tbs water in a Ziploc bag. Marinate several hours or overnight.

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, chilies and spices in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth.

Melt butter in a large pot. Add blended tomato mixture, tomato sauce and cream. Bring to gentle boil; simmer 20 minutes.

While sauce is simmering: Spread chicken in a single layer on a shallow rimmed baking sheet. Bake chicken at 350°F for 20 minutes. Stir chicken and any sauce in the pan into sauce mixture on the stove. Cook for 10-15 minutes longer.

Serve over rice and/or with Naan bread.

*Alternate chicken prep: do not cut chicken; use chicken tenderloins or whole breasts. Mix with tandoori paste and water (if using high water content chicken, skip the water). Roast until cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Use a metal spatula to cut chicken into chunks on the baking sheet. Then stir into the curry.

TO FREEZE: Prepare chicken as above; freeze raw, marinated chicken in a Ziploc bag. Blend sauce ingredients as directed above; place in Ziploc bag. Add melted butter, tomato sauce and cream to sauce bag. Freeze.

TO PREPARE AFTER FREEZING: Thaw chicken and sauce. Bake chicken in a shallow pan at 350°F for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring sauce to gentle boil; simmer 20 minutes. Add cooked chicken to sauce and cook 10-15 minutes longer. Serve over rice and/or with Naan bread.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Main Dishes, Soups/Stews/Curries

Comfort Food on a Snowed-In Day: Beef Bourguignon and 100% Whole Wheat Bread

We woke up this morning to a beautiful world of winter white! The kids’ only complaint: that it happened on a Saturday. FEB 6, 2010 018-1

FEB 6, 2010 020-1

After spending several hours digging our driveway out from the storm (no snow-blowers here), I was ready to warm up the house (and me) with some good old-fashioned comfort food. Beef Bourguignon and some Whole Wheat Bread were just what I needed. This had to wait, of course, until I was done helping kids in and out of snow clothes half-a-dozen times during the day (and mopping up puddles of melted snow). And making lots and lots of hot cocoa!

DSC02253-1

I know you are thinking that this is just a glorified beef stew, but it is so much more! This Beef Bourguignon is packed with flavor, and is thick and hearty, just begging for a slice of bread to mop up all of the leftover goodness in the bottom of your bowl.

DSC02163-1 And did I mention bacon?

Some of the heartiness (and tons of flavor) in this stew comes from first cooking some (okay, a lot) of chopped bacon in your stock pot. Remove the cooked bacon (to be added back later, of course), drain most of the bacon grease, leaving a couple of tablespoons in the bottom of the pot to brown your beef cubes in. I used some leftover roast beef from a few nights ago. Brown it up nicely in those bacon drippings and then add some mushrooms and onions.

DSC02149-1

I like to remove most of the alcohol from the red wine, so I add it first, and then reduce it almost dry before adding in the rest of the liquids.

DSC02152-1

Stir in some broth, tomato paste and seasonings and let it simmer for an hour or two to get your beef nice and tender.

DSC02158-1

Add carrots, potatoes and celery and continue cooking until those vegetables are tender. Add some cherry tomatoes just before serving. They will soften perfectly just from the heat of the stew. Adding them too early will turn them to mush, and you’ll just have floating tomato skins in your bowl.

Waiting (patiently? not-so-patiently?) for mom to snap a few pictures before serving dinner!

DSC02243-1 After a long day of fun in the snow, a good hearty bowl of stew sure hits the spot!

FEB 6, 2010 009-1

RECIPES:

DSC02253-1

Beef Bourguignon

1/2 pkg (8 oz) bacon, chopped
3 lb beef roast, cubed
1 pkg (8 oz) whole mushrooms
1 ½ cups red wine
4 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs tapioca
1 cup pearl onions, or 1 onion, diced
2 potatoes, peeled & diced
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Cook bacon in a large pot. Remove from pan when cooked. Drain most of the grease, leaving about 2 Tbs in the pot. Brown the beef cubes in the bacon drippings. Add mushrooms (quartered if they are large) and chopped onion (if you are using pearl onions, wait and add them with the potatoes later). Cook for about 5 minutes, or until onions and mushrooms just begin to brown.

Add the wine and let wine reduce for 10-15 minutes, or until almost completely evaporated. Add cooked bacon, beef broth, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, pepper, salt, tapioca and pearl onions. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1- 1 ½ hours.

Stir in potatoes, carrots and celery. Add additional water if stew is too thick. Cook until vegetables are tender. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary. Add tomatoes 5 minutes before serving. Remove bay leaf.

Serve with Parmesan cheese and hot bread.

DSC02163-1

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Yield: 3 medium loaves (or 2 large) or 3 dozen rolls

2 ½ cups warm water
2 eggs
1 Tbs molasses
4 Tbs honey
¼ cup olive oil
5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat gluten
¼ cup dry milk
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs instant yeast ***
1 ½ – 2 cups additional whole wheat flour

Mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients. Mix in enough additional flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Knead 5-6 minutes.

Divide dough into 3 greased medium-sized loaf pans (or 2 large). Brush with additional oil, cover and let rise until doubled in size.

Bake at 350 °F for 35-40 minutes. Remove from pans; cool.

TO MAKE ROLLS: Shape into desired shapes. Place on greased pans; brush with oil, cover and let rise until doubled in size. For a shiny roll: brush with slightly beaten egg white just before baking. Bake at 375 °F for 15 minutes.

***Note: If using instant yeast, the dough only needs to rise once (in the pans). If using regular yeast, allow dough to rise before putting in pans, then rise again in pans before baking.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Breads, Main Dishes, Soups/Stews/Curries