7.01.2008

Veggie week.

Toasted just before burnt.

I know what y'all are thinking. Hey, what happened to the cooking on this blog? There sure is a lot of eating out and whatnot, but the cooking side has been sadly light.

Well, that's true. I don't know why that is. Lazy, I guess. But! In preparation for my parents' visit to town, and the subsequent overeating that was inevitable, I turned to vegetables for a week. Here are a couple of things I made. Cooking!

I found a recipe for pisto manchego a while back and wanted to give it a shot. It was described as a "Spanish Ratatoullie," which sounded kind of neat. It involves a lot of vegetables.

Pile o' vegetables.

Here's the recipe. I got it from Serious Eats. And they got it from Food and Wine!

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 head garlic, top third sliced off
  • 1 eggplant, about 1 pound, pierced several times with a fork
  • 1 medium red onion, unpeeled
  • 2 pounds tomatoes (or one carton cherry tomatoes and one can diced with juice)
  • 3 peppers, red or green
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • Large pinch red pepper flakes

1. Using either a large grill, grill pan, a 500°F oven, or a broiler, grill/roast the eggplant, peppers, and unpeeled onion, turning occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until soft and charred. 10 minutes in, add the zucchini and tomatoes.

2. Transfer the vegetables to a rimmed baking sheet as they finish cooking, picking over as they cool to remove charred skins. Core and seed the peppers and cut into a medium dice. Halve the eggplant, remove the seeds, and dice. Peel and thinly slice the onion. Dice the zucchini. Slip the garlic cloves from their skins and trim any charred parts, then chop. Roughly chop the tomatoes, and seed if using whole tomatoes.

Slimy yet satisfying?

3. In a large (at least 12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the eggplant and onion. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, then add the remaining vegetables and spices, plus any juices from the baking sheet, strained.

The health factor almost disgusted me.

Bring to a boil then simmer until the vegetables are all tender and the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper (it will certainly need a lot of seasoning).

Egg: crowning glory!

4. Fry as many eggs as eaters, cooking without flipping until the whites are just
set. Divide the vegetables into ramekins or small bowls, and top with the fried egg.

It turned out really well. Despite my aversion to zucchini, it really appealed to my tastes. The roasted vegetables really married well together, and the spices brought out just enough flavor make the whole thing delicious. And I'm convinced that a fried egg will make everything better, I'll report back after I've tried one over chocolate ice cream. Though next time I may poach it instead of frying it. Anyway.

So in keeping with my "no meat til parents' visit" I also prepared one of my very favorite things in the world: tomato soup.

Raw tomatoes!

I love tomato soup in a way that can only be quantified by puppies. I love tomato soup 23 puppies worth. And we're talking cute puppies, people. Not Chinese Crested puppies.

I started my tomato soup love with Campbell's, but I soon realized that a much tastier, more homemade soup could be had with an acceptable sacrifice of effort. I got the recipe from eggs on sunday - it begins with whole, canned tomatoes.

Not-quite-roasted-enough tomatoes!

And other stuff:

2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes, packed in juice (preferably organic)
1 1/2 tbsp dark brown sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup minced shallots
1 tbsp tomato paste
pinch ground allspice
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade stock if you have it)
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus a tiny bit more for garnish
2 tbsp brandy or sherry

Open the cans of whole tomatoes and drain them in a colander, catching the juice in a large bowl — set the bowl with the juice aside. Using your hands, squeeze the tomatoes gently to remove any excess juice and place the tomatoes in another bowl. Reserve 3 cups of the tomato juice you caught when draining the tomatoes and set aside.

Place the drained tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet and sprinkle them evenly with the brown sugar. Roast for about 30 minutes, until they’re starting to color.

Meanwhile, heat the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan until it starts to foam, then add the shallot, tomato paste, and allspice. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot softens, about 7 minutes. Add the flour and stir until it’s blended in, then gradually whisk in the chicken stock/broth. Next, add the reserved 3 cups tomato juice and the roasted tomatoes. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let this mixture simmer about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Break out your stick blender and puree the daylights out of your soup. If you're not in possession of one of these babies, puree the soup in batches using a food processor or blender. Return to pot. Add the cream and heat over low heat until hot, then turn off the heat and stir in the brandy or sherry. Taste and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.

This soup is mind-blowingly delicious. I'm not exaggerating at all.

Rendering them delightful.

Less delicious are brussels sprouts. I'd never had them, and had received a promising recipe from my grandmother. I decided to try them out. I mean, it started with bacon. How could it go wrong?

Steamy!

It's a Barefoot Contessa Recipe:

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces Italian pancetta or bacon, 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts (2 containers), trimmed and cut in 1/2
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 3/4 cups Chicken Stock

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan and add the pancetta. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is golden brown and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the Brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper to the fat in the pan and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the raisins and chicken stock. Lower the heat and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. If the skillet becomes too dry, add a little chicken stock or water. Return the pancetta to the pan, heat through, season to taste, and serve.

Yes, they looked good. Taste is another story.

I concluded that, since the recipe was pretty solid, I must not like brussels sprouts. At all. As in, I'm pretty much giving up on them until someone serves them in a sexier presentation than baconned. Good luck.

Balanced meal. Balance of tasty and not tasty.

Despite the brussels sprouts fail, the meal was still satisfying because of that awesome, amazing soup.

And anyone who points out how vegetarian this post is not will get quietly dagger-glared. This is as veggie as I go.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

It all looks delightful,very yummy ;actually the Brussels sprouts looks ravishing:some of us with more discerning palates (ha ha ) would probably love those sprouts cooked that way.But all this culinary pulchritude is really not vegetarian:eggs,bacon, meat broth!!