Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

I am a grocery basket judge.  By this I mean that I like to look in people’s grocery baskets in the checkout line and imagine their lives.  I also feel frightfully superior when my basket trumps theirs. I am not exactly proud of this, just trying to honestly present my actions.  On the days when my basket is bulging with eggs, cheeses, fresh pastas, vegetables and wine, I feel confident that my basket says “Hello, I am a domestic, health conscience person who has many people to cook for, and you?,”  where as on the days that it consists of yogurt, Nutella, and cereal it says, “Hi. I am lame and just eat by myself without even taking time to cook. Got a problem with that?”  Because I usually want to appear as the former, sometimes I think I buy things just because I like how they look, then I find myself having to quickly eat 5 leeks and an entire bag of fresh spinach before it goes bad.

Yesterday I decided I wanted to make ratatouille, but it was mostly because I love how the basket looks packed with beautiful vegetables and ratatouille is the highest concentration of vegetables (the pretty ones, that is) in one spot.   Plus it is impossibly easy to make and delicious.  I have asked around and there isn’t really a set ratatouille recipe, so feel free to just add more/ less of anything according to taste.  Also, make sure to not look like a slob when you go to buy all these beautiful vegetables, because your basket can only speak so loud. (That’s right, now that I have stopped going to the grocery store in my running tights, my supermarket image is complete!)


-Here are all the vegetables I used: 1 eggplant, 2 zucchini, 3 shallots, 2 red peppers, one bunch of garlic (which was much smaller by the time I actually got to the garlic part), and a bunch of tomatoes.  Basically the end goal is to get them all simmering in a pot, so imagine that and it will help you decide exactly how many you want.  The amount that this makes would be a main dish for 3, side dish for 5-6.

-Peel the eggplant, onion, and zucchini. Wash the rest.  Cut all the vegetables into small chunks about 1 cm thick.  I quartered the cherry tomatoes and diced the onions and garlic.

-Toss them with 5 TBS olive oil and some salt and pepper.

-Pour into a big pot or deep skillet. Add about 1 cup of water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft, about an hour and half.  If you feel like it is getting too mushy, taste and decide.

-Can be eaten hot or cold, though I like it best hot, with a sprinkling on Parmesan cheese and big hunks of fresh baguette.

Note on the tomatoes: I used cherry tomatoes because they were on sale. I think you could also use regular or peeled whole canned tomatoes.


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In the family where I babysit, Tuesday night is crêpe night, without exception. On other nights, the girls have to eat one thing “that has grown” but on Tuesdays, Nutella replaces vegetables.  My first day nannying happened to be a Tuesday, so I was very quickly thrust into the world of crêpe making,  which resulting in one crêpe being launched behind the stove.  But after 8 months and approximately 700 crêpes, I now feel pretty confident in my crêpe making abilities. I think that French women are born with the crêpe recipe memorized, or perhaps they learn it in preschool, but whatever the case, there seems to be a fairy generic recipe, or more aptly, a serious of ratios, that they all know.   I present the recipe a I have been learned it, reading it each week from the fridge where one of the girls wrote it in loopy French cursive with a drawing of me surrounded by piles of crêpes, one of which is flying through the air towards the stove.  This is the recipe broken down to the simplest ratio as decided by the egg. To give you an idea,  when I make it for myself and the girls I multiply it by 4, thus 500 grams flour, which is enough to feed me and three kids for dinner, dessert, and then them again for breakfast the next day.

Mix (which for me means supervise the total war that breaks out among 3 sisters who all feel that life will end if they don’t get to add the eggs):

125 grams flour ~ 1 egg~ dash salt~ 1/4 TBS oil (not olive — vegetable or sunflower)

Add slowly: 1/4 liter milk,  stirring till there are no clumps (For extra light and tasty crêpes, substitute beer for part of the milk.)

Heat a crêpe skillet over medium/ medium high heat. Wipe with an oiled paper towel and use a ladle to pour batter in pan, turning it so the whole pan is evenly coated with a thin layer of batter. Let cook until sides pull away slightly then loosen edges with a knife.  Use a spatula, or be brave and toss the crêpe to cook the other side.  Wipe again with a little oil in between each, unless your crêpe skillet is really good and nonstick.

I usually make  a pile to spread dessert stuff on then at the end make the savory crêpes, which you want to actually assemble over the heat to melt the cheese.  Here are some of my favorite crêpe combos:

-The classic: ham and emmenthal (or swiss) cheese

-Soft goat cheese and sundried tomato

-Soft goat cheese with honey and walnuts

-Nutella with bananas and almonds

-Cane sugar with lemon juice

Bon appétit!

NOTE:  When I made these at home over Christmas, I found that due to the different gluten content in American flour, I needed more milk to make the batter thin enough.

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