Sunday, June 6, 2010

We're parents!

Yes, the BFF and I have a baby in our garden!  A tiny little pepper.  We are so proud.  Everything else is coming along, but I am worried that our garden does not get enough sunlight.  We shall see.  At any rate, we've registered the little fellow at Stone Brothers & Byrd in downtown Durham.  Maybe we need a support group?
We planted eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette) and tomatoes (tomates) because I want to make ratatouille this summer using my own vegetables, if possible.  Once again, we shall see.
The tomatoes on my deck are growing.

The oregano is thriving.
As is the rosemary.
So even if I have to buy my vegetables from the farmers' market, I will make ratatouille eventually.

This dish, one of Chef Érick's specialties, uses basically the same ingredients as ratatouille, but has a different taste since the vegetables are cooked separately.  If there are leftovers, however, and they are refrigerated, the flavors will mix and become more ratatouille-like.

A tian is a red clay baking dish of Provence.  They are perfect for baking in the oven.  I own one, a gift from the kitchen in Arles.   I brought it home from my sabbatical in my carry-on bag.  I was taking no chances on breaking it.
Le Tian Provençal de Légumes d'Été -- Mixed Summer Vegetables Provençal

2 fat eggplant
3 zucchini
4 tomatoes
1 bell pepper (color of choice)
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
Coarse sea salt
Thyme or herbes de Provence
1/2 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. grated cheese (Swiss, Emmental, or Gruyère)

Cut the eggplant in rounds and salt liberally.  Set aside to sweat for an hour.  Cut the zucchini in rounds, the tomatoes likewise, set aside.  Mince the onions and chop the bell pepper in small pieces, set aside.

Pour olive oil in a large frying pan, heat and lightly fry the minced onions and bell peppers, simply melting them down, reducing them, to a smooth caramelized mixture.  Remove with a slotted spoon and layer on the bottom of an oven-proof dish (tian).  Next fry the zucchini rounds, a minute per side, in the oil.  Drain on paper towels.

Rinse the eggplant rounds of their excess salt, tap them dry and then fry them a minute on each side and drain on paper towels.

Crush and chop the garlic.

To assemble the tian:  Place the onion and pepper mixture on the bottom, make a layer of eggplant, then tomato slices, a bit of the chopped garlic, crumbled bay leaf, a little salt and thyme and then a layer of zucchini.  Continue layering until you've used all the vegetables and the tian is full.  Sprinkle the top with cheese and place in the oven for 30 minutes at 375F/180C.  Be sure there is enough liquid in the dish to prevent drying in the oven.  Add a little water, if necessary.

Bon appétit, légumes d'été and our new baby!

No comments: