Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October Supper Club - Starts with (Letter)

Supper clubs tend to evolve the way they do things over time. For this month, rather than have the whole group try to wrangle out a theme, we decided that whoever was hosting would pick. Looking over our list of ideas, K picked the "starts with (letter)" theme.

For some reason, this one I had a horrible time thinking of something to make. I was given my dish by a friend outside the group while I was communicating my despair over IM. "Too busy to think" seems to have been the tone of the whole weekend for more than one of us, and this was not our most successful dinner; the standard phrase "this is our best one yet" did not get used as it often does (and usually, it's deserved). They can't all be home runs. On the up side, member HK, who has missed a few lately, joined us for this Sunday, and we all had a good time catching up.
  • KS - Slow-cooker beef stew
  • PC - Cucumber casserole
  • HK - Kugel
  • RS (me) - Ratatouille
I used the recipe from Patrica Wells' Bistro Cooking (Ratatouilla Francoise Rigord), being a bit intimidated by Julia Child. The only problem I had with this one is her assumption that you have an infinite number of stainless steel skillets--with lids--and stove burners; otherwise, it's a snap.

6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
5 medium onions (about 1 pound), coarsely chopped
Bouquet garni: 12 parsley stems, 8 peppercorns, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp fennel seed, and 1 bay leaf tied in a double thickness of cheesecloth
3 large red bell peppers (about 1 pound), cored, seeded, and cubed
2-3 small eggplant (about 1 pound), cubed
2-3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), cubed
5 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and cut into eighths
1 lemon
A handful of finely minced fresh parsley
  1. In a large, heavy, nonreactive skillet (LHNRS) heat 2 Tbsp of oil over ML heat.Add the onions and bouquet garni and stir to coat with the oil. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and light golden, 20 minutes. Do not allow them to burn.
  2. Add the bell peppers, stirring gently to mix, and continue to cook until the mixture is very soft, about 30 more minutes.
  3. In another LHNRS, heat 2 Tbsp of oil over ML heat. Add the eggplant and stir to coat. Cook, covered, until soft, stirring from time to time to keep the eggplant from sticking to the pan, about 20 minutes.
  4. In another LHNRS, heat 2 Tbsp of oil over ML heat. Add the zucchini and stir to coat. Cook, covered, until soft, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the eggplant to the onion and bell pepper mixture. Cook, covered, over low heat for another 15 minutes.
  6. Gently spoon all of the vegetables into a colander set over a nonreactive saucepan or skillet to collect the liquid. Spoon the vegetables into a large bowl. Place the pan of liquid over high heat and reduce until thick and syrupy, 5-10 minutes. Pour over vegetables and stir to blend. Season wiht salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.
  7. To serve, remove the ratatouille from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving. Adjust the seasoning. Squeeze half the lemon over the top and sprinkle with parsley.

Yields 12-16 servings

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