Ratatouille Toasts with Fried Eggs

Ratatouille is an ideal make-ahead recipe. After all it tastes even better the day after it is cooked.  Combined with eggs on toast, it makes for a hearty brunch that could easily work as a light supper. Or,  a snack, if you must. If you don’t like the bread option, you can also heat it in a skillet until it is hot and then make wells in the vegetable mixture. Just break one egg into each and cover the pan with the lid until they are set (about 10 minutes).  So many possibilities…

Ratatouille Toasts with Fried Eggs (adapted from a recipe by Zoe Nathan found in Food and Wine Magazine)

Ingredients

  • 150mL cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling (about 3/4 of a cup)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into 2cm  dice
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • One 350g  eggplant, seeds cut out and flesh cut into 2 cm dice (about 2 cups
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into 2cm dice (2 cups)
  • 2 large red onions, cut into 2cm  dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2cm dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • eggs  to taste
  • Six 2cm-thick slices of rustic bread, toasted

Method

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, 1 garlic clove and 1/4 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cook the tomatoes over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened, (about 5 minutes). Scrape the tomatoes into a medium saucepan and discard the garlic clove. Wipe out the skillet. Repeat with the eggplant, zucchini, onions and red bell pepper, cooking each vegetable separately in 2 tablespoons of oil with 1 garlic clove, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of salt until just tender and lightly browned, about 7 minutes per vegetable. Add the cooked vegetables to the tomatoes in the saucepan. Add the bay leaf, 1/3 cup of water to the saucepan with the vegetables. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Season the ratatouille with salt and pepper and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat. Crack how many eggs you want into the skillet and fry until the whites are firm and the yolks are runny, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a plate, season with salt and pepper and keep warm.  To serve, spoon the ratatouille onto the toasts and top with the eggs. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and black pepper and serve.

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Fennel, orange and grapefruit salad with mint

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The year was 2013 when I posted a dish by the Hairy Dieters to illustrate on strange food habits. Like, for example, eating over and over again the same dish or ingredient for a whole season.  Over and over again…  The dish in question was orange and fennel salad with harissa dressing (here). Almost 2 years after, another fennel and citrus salad shows up, this time to explain that grapefruit (and avocado) are my food crazes of 2015.  Well, citrus were exceptionally good this year and any excuse was good to have them. Not trying to convert this in a head to head citrus salad competition…. this one is a more sophisticated and chefy, ideal to impress  dinner parties mobile calorie intake units guests. Also, it calls for the best ingredients you can find. There is no harissa to hide in this one. In any case, totally worth the effort.

Fennel, orange and grapefruit salad with mint (adapted from a Matthew Accarrino’s recipe found in Food & Wine Magazine)

Ingredients 

  • 2 red grapefruits
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons small mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Method 

Using a sharp knife, cut the skin and white pith from the grapefruits and oranges. Working over  bowl, cut between the membranes to release the sections into the bowl. Squeeze the membranes to extract the juice. In a small bowl, stir the olive oil with the honey and lemon juice. Add 3 tablespoons of the citrus juice and season with salt. [You most likely won’t need all the juice] In a shallow serving bowl, toss the fennel and citrus sections with the dressing. Garnish with the mint leaves and ground coriander and serve right away.


Gordon Ramsay’s North African eggs

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Your sunday brunch cannot get much better than this – this is a warm, comforting and tasty dish, which while please the toughest crowds. For extra points, the pepper and tomato sauce can be made in advance. Just a technical tip, though. Do not forget to cover the pan while the eggs are poaching.  The steam will set the white on the top of egg leaving the yolk runny and golden, just like you want it.

Gordon Ramsay’s North African eggs (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course) .

Ingredients

  • 2 shallots finely diced (replaced by 2 medium likes finely sliced as one of the guests is allergic)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon of flaked piri-piri (or red chilli finely sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 5 fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
  •  Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced spring onion

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan until is piping hot.  Add  the chopped shallots, season with salt and pepper and let them sweat for 5 minutes. When the onions are soft,  add the sliced peppers and continue to sweat for another 5 minutes more

Add the cumin seeds, garlic and chilli, give it a good stir to coat them in oil. Let them cook for a couple of minutes, and the then add the tomatoes.

Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the mixture has the consistency of a thick sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make 4 wells in the vegetable mixture and break an egg into each. Cover the pan and poach the eggs until set, about 10 minutes. Scatter the surface with the chopped coriander and a good grinding of black pepper. Serve immediately with crusty bread to mop up the juices.


Crushed puy lentils with tahini and cumin

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Stop. Start. But, start with a tradition: a lentil dish on the menu for the first post of the year. Of course it had to be a Yotam Ottolengi’s .  Quick, easy and totally delicious, this is a hearty dish that will warm you to the soul in a cold winter day.

Crushed puy lentils with tahini and cumin (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 200g puy lentils
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 medium tomatoes,  cut into 1cm dice
  • 25g coriander leaves, chopped
  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ½ small red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

Cook the lentils according to the instructions on the packet,until completely cooked. Then drain and set aside.

Put the butter and oil in a large frying pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cumin, and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, 20g of coriander and the cooked lentils. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes,

Add the tahini, lemon juice, 70ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, stirring, for a few minutes more, until hot and thickened. Roughly mash the lentils with a potato masher, so that some are broken up and you get a thick, porridge consistency. Serve warm with the hard-boiled eggs alongside.


Chickpeas and feta cheese patties

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Super healthy, gluten-free and  protein packed. Also very tasty… The perfect thing  to have on stand by for a weekday meal or a snack.

Chickpeas and feta cheese patties (adapted from Mafalda Pinto Leite’s blog)

 Ingredients

  • 100g feta cheese
  • ½ grated onion (optional)
  • 1 small courgette grated
  • 2 small carrots peeled and grated
  • ½ teaspoon cumins, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon (or lume) zest
  • 2 400g chickpeas tin, drained and washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

To serve

  • leafy salad
  • plain yoghurt

Method

Put the cheese, cumin, lemon zest, chickpeas, and the grated onion, carrots and courgette in a mixer. Mix until you have a coarse consistent puree, still with some chunks.

Make small patties with your hands.  Put in the fridge and let them cool until cooking time.

To fry, heat the olive oil until pipping hot and drop in a couple of  patties. Be careful not to add too many, otherwise they will boil. Sauté about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brow.

Serve with a leafy salad and plain yoghurt.


Fennel with radishes and sumac

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A memory of the Summer that has never been…  Very easy to do, bold flavours and can be prepared in advance. What’s not to like..?

Fennel with radishes and sumac (Adapted from The Guardian’s The 10 best salad drawer recipes)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 small fennel bulb, about 200g
  • 200g radishes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Seeds of ¼ pomegranate (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of sumac
  • Salt

Method

1 Have ready a bowl of water with 1 tbsp of lemon juice in it. Finely slice the fennel using a mandoline and place in the acidulated water until just ready to serve, to prevent it discolouring.

2 Finely slice the radishes and place in a bowl. Whisk the oil and remaining lemon juice together. Drain the fennel and mix with the radishes. Drizzle over the dressing and toss gently. Strew the salad over a large serving platter and scatter with the pomegranate seeds, if using. Finish with a dusting of sumac and a little salt then serve straight away.


Aubergine, potato, tomato

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Some dishes I chose because they read well and/or have a good combination of flavours. Others, because the story they have attached to it. This is one I picked after reading Yotam’s editorial. It just explained so well what brunch should be about: “It’s a long meal that takes up a large chunk of the middle of the day, a proper celebration of food, but without the fanfare and worries that come with a full-blown dinner party“. Never better said… Every now and again, we get together for brunch, who tends to end up into a several hours long marathons, usually ending when the host runs out of bubbly. Or coffee. Or both…. Happy memories – and hopefully many more to come.

As usual, it was a  super dish. A bit laborious, but nevertheless worthwhile the effort. This was served with (fried/baked) eggs to order. Still feel a bit insecure to venture into poached eggs, as the original recipe called for.

Aubergine, potato, tomato (adapted from  Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tomatoes cut into 1cm dices
  • 1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp hot savoury chilli sauce (Yotam recommends Sriracha, I used piri piri)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 aubergines, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 250ml olive oil
  • About 300ml sunflower oil
  • 600g  waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 3mm-thick slices
  • 80g tahini paste
  • 2½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tbsp coriander, chopped

(1 onion was omitted for humanitarian reasons. A. is extremely allergic to them)

Method

Put the peeled, diced tomatoes in a colander for half an hour to drain. Transfer to a medium bowl and add  vinegar, parsley, hot sauce  and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Mix gently and set aside.

Mix the aubergine with a teaspoon and a half of salt, place in a colander and set over a bowl for half an hour, to drain off any excess liquid. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and pat dry.

In a 26cm sauté pan, put 200mL of olive oil and as much sunflower oil as you need to bring it 1cm up the sides of the pan. Place on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the aubergine in batches and fry for three to four minutes, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and repeat with the rest of the aubergine. Remove the left over oil and wipe down the pan.

Bring a medium pan of water to a boil, add the potatoes and cook for three minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside to dry. Add two tablespoons of fresh olive oil to the skillet and place on a medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and fry for 10 minutes with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a crack of black pepper, until cooked through and golden brown; turn them over from time to time. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Put the tahini, 60mL of water, a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice, the garlic and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to a thick, pourable consistency. Spoon half the sauce over the potatoes and spread the aubergine on top. Follow this with the remaining tahini, then the tomatoes. Poach the eggs just before you are ready to serve and lay them on top of the tomatoes, along with a drizzle of the remaining oil, a sprinkle  with sumac and coriander, and the last of the lemon juice. Bring to the table in the pan.