Monday mornings can be so blah, and this one in particular was particularly dreadful. Something about the rain, the cold, and the end of an awesome weekend really made me want to stay in bed this morning. Today I understood how non-morning people must feel, because I didn't really come into my own until about noon or so.
So when I got home from work today I decided to get some real cooking done to shake off the blahs (and resist the urge to put on some slippers and drink tea on the couch).
I am absolutely in love with a good ratatouille. Actually I guess I have to strike that. My ratatouille is the only ratatouille I have ever had, so I should say that I am in love with my own ratatouille. I don't follow a recipe, and I'm sure that what I have created is some sort of mutant ratatouille that would never pass as the real thing. That being said, its pretty awesome. And I don't usually say that about my own creations.
Before I go on with the recipe, please let me say that I think you should alter, change or throw out anything that doesn't feel right to you. Nothing about this recipe needs to be done for it to turn out "right" so add and take away where you see fit.
Chop up lots of eggplant. About one large eggplant should be right - I used about 10-15 of the small Thai eggplants
Chop half an onion
Mince two cloves of garlic
Add a generous amount of olive oil to a wok
Add the garlic
When the garlic begins to dance, add the onion
When the smells in your kitchen make you feel that you have died and gone to heaven, add the eggplant
You may need to add more olive oil. Or you may not.
Let the eggplant soften a bit
Add about two 16oz cans of diced/stewed tomatoes (if you've got fresh tomatoes, use them!)
Add basil (fresh basil puts this dish over the top. It is fantastic. I didn't have any, so settled for a generous sprinkling of dry basil).
Let the flavors marry and mingle
As I was cooking and smelling and enjoying and listening to the Buena Vista Social Club, I decided the only thing missing was a glass of wine. So I poured myself a glass of my finest vino. My finest vino happens to be two-buck chuck from Trader Joe's. I'm no wine connoisseur, but I think its pretty amazing.
I started drinking my glass of wine, and decided the ratatouille needed some too. I added a generous splash of cooking sherry.
After letting some of the alcohol cook off, and after the dish looked fully cohesive, I turned off the burner. Here, my friends, is where the magic begins.
The ratatouille is nothing without goat cheese. Chevre. I'm not kidding. If I don't have massive quantities of chevre, I don't even make this dish. Its that important.
Put some ratatouille, some french bread*, some chevre in a bowl. Eat with your fingers. Yes, your fingers. Use the bread to scoop up the ratatouille and the chevre. Die and go to heaven. Repeat.
I haven't had this much fun eating dinner by myself in a long time.
*Tonight was extra special. Since the weather was so dreary, I decided to forgo a trip to the grocery store for french bread and make some myself. I looked up the simple recipe for white bread in my betty crocker cookbook and threw it together. I forgot how easy it is to make fresh bread. It takes time, but not too much. While the bread is rising you can be busy doing lots of other things. I was making turkey broth (I'll post about that later).
Baking bread can even work if you realize after you've started that you don't have all the ingredients. My bread called for 2.5 cups of milk. I didn't have any milk, so I used a cup of half and half, a cup of egg nog, and a half cup of water. It made the bread a bit denser, but still delicious.
Happy Cooking friends!! What is your favorite recipe?
In case you ever wonder what my kitchen is like, here is a small glimpse. This is how I cook, always. The dog sits at my feet. I tell myself its because she loves me, but that can't quite be true. She lays on the couch next to me because she loves me, she lays at my feet when I'm cooking because she's a crafty little devil who hopes to catch food scraps.