“The journey is part of the experience – an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.” -Anthony Bourdain
My lovesEucalyptus and alstroemeria from the sweetest floral shopI love this quote for so many reasons, but the overall message Mr. Bourdain is conveying to his audience is that we must enjoy the journey, for it often is the most beautiful part of life. This can be especially true in cooking when most of the time we are scrambling to reach our end goal of eating. I was fortunate enough to take a cooking class recently at The Pantry, and we spent three hours learning how to make a crispy spatchcocked whole chicken with sage, chicken fat croutons, and arugula plus drool-worthy sides and sweet corn biscuits with huckleberry compote and whipped mascarpone. The final 45 minutes of the class were spent devouring the fruits of our labor and learning more tips and methods from our teacher, Jay Guerrero. My favorite part of the class was not the eating, although it was delicious, but rather the three hours spent deboning a chicken, marinating olives for our summer squash salad, and simmering foraged huckleberries, sugar, and whole peppercorns for our lovely dessert.
Fuel from Fuel CoffeePlants and plants and more plants at Tallulah’s
To celebrate the end of summer, I want to share a simple but time-consuming recipe that is well worth it. Make this recipe for your meatless Monday meal, your vegan friends, or your dearest loved ones, because we can all stand to eat more veggies. Melissa Clark from the New York Times states “The French have a genius for cooking with vegetables. Even the humblest onion is transformed into something glorious in the hands of a Gallic cook. Ratatouille, one of the jewels of Provençal cooking, is a fine example of that tradition.” Serve with crusty garlic bread or grilled branzino for a beautiful ode to late summer vegetables. Bon Appétit!
- 4garlic cloves
- 2medium white onions
- 3medium zucchini
- 2medium eggplant
- 3sweet red peppers, such as bell peppers, red cubanelle or any other sweet variety
- 3sprigs fresh rosemary
- 6sprigs fresh thyme
- 1cup olive oil, more as needed
- 2large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes
- 2small bay leaves, ripped in half
- 1 ½teaspoons fine sea salt, more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare the vegetables: Smash and peel 3 garlic cloves, reserving the 4th. Halve onions through their roots, and slice halves into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Slice zucchini into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes or spears. Seed peppers, and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
- Spread each vegetable on a separate rimmed baking sheet (use extra sheets as necessary). Add the 3 cloves of smashed garlic to the onion pan. Add 1 sprig rosemary and 2 sprigs thyme to each of the pepper, eggplant and zucchini pans. Sprinkle salt lightly over vegetables. Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil on each of the pans.
- Place all the pans in the oven (or work in batches if they don’t fit at once). Cook until vegetables are very tender and lightly browned at the edges. This will take about 35 to 40 minutes for the peppers (their skins should shrivel), 40 to 45 minutes for the eggplant and zucchini (the eggplant should crisp slightly and the zucchini should be well cooked, so let them go 3 to 5 minutes longer than you normally might), and 60 to 65 minutes for the onions. Don’t worry about the vegetables being pretty; they will meld into the ratatouille. Shake or stir the pans every 15 to 20 minutes or so, especially the onions.
- In the meantime, prepare the tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add tomatoes and blanch until the skins split, about 10 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer the tomatoes to a bowl filled with ice water.
- Using a paring knife, peel the cooled tomatoes (the skins should slip right off). Halve tomatoes across their equators. Set a sieve over a bowl. Working over the bowl, use your fingers to seed the tomatoes, letting the seeds catch in the sieve and the juice run into the bowl. Discard seeds but save juices. Dice tomatoes and add to the reserved juices in bowl.
- Finely grate or mince remaining garlic clove. Add garlic to tomatoes along with bay leaves and a large pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Once vegetables are done cooking, combine them on one baking sheet or a large shallow baking dish and add ingredients from tomato bowl. Toss well. Vegetables will be stacked, and that’s O.K. Cover generously with olive oil, using remaining ¼ cup oil or more, and sprinkle with salt. Everything should have a good coat of oil, but should not be drowning in it. Cook at least 1 hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are very tender and imbued with juices and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve warm, or let cool.