Ratatouille inspired Eggplant and PattyPan Stew.

We're settling into something resembling a routine.  A very loose routine.  It's wonderful.  I'm enjoying it all.  It's great sweating each and every toxin out of my body (that probably some urban myth b.s. but it sounds like a great idea), wandering to the farmer's market, sleeping until 8 a.m. and staying up late.
The heat this summer, although wonderful - don't get me wrong, has kept me out of the kitchen a little more than I was expecting.

I have these wonderful fresh veggies to cook with but all I really want to eat are these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes with some homemade mayo.  Who would want to eat anything else?  What else even matters. However when you get something that looks as beautiful as this...

Well, you just have to cook it.
I could have stuffed it.  Lots of recipes out there for that.  Thought about it... ugh, too much work and it didn't look like it could feed us - ie. no leftovers.   Essential anytime of year but especially in the summer when it's hot.  I decided on a beautiful ratatouille.  Yes.  Ratatouille.  Rustic.  Simple.  So comforting.  Highlighting the summer veggies beautifully.  Problem.  Tomatoes.  I don't have any home canned tomatoes left.  I'm empty.  Broke.  Flat out.  They won't be ready to can for another month.  So what's a girl to do?
I cave in and off I go to buy canned tomatoes.  They're organic and everything else that's supposed to make me feel ok about buying that stuff.  So problem solved.  Wait... Next problem... I bought the wrong kind of tomatoes.  These are crushed tomatoes not diced.  Ahhhhh!  And I go off on my inner tirade:  This project is so doomed.  Why am I rushing through these things all the time.  Why can't I just have canned more damn tomatoes last year... etc.

I collect myself and decide to continue with an altered plan.  Stew.  Not ratatouille but stew.  It's not the same.  But as it turns out, it's actually just as good.

Ratatouille inspired Eggplant and PattyPan Stew adapted from 'The Silver Palate Cookbook'
serves 6

1 medium/lg eggplant in 1 - 1 1/2 inch chunks (I did not peel mine)
3 - 4 cups sliced pattypan (about 1/4 inch thick or so)
1/2 cup onion, diced
4 - 5 tbsp olive oil or grease of choice (I use lard when I can get it) - you might need a little more depending on the eggplant.
500 ml can crushed or diced tomatoes
4 cups sausage meat, cooked and diced or thinly sliced (I used honey garlic for this one)
2 veggie bouillion cubes
1/2 cup diced fresh herbs with a strong presence of basil
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
pepper or pepper sauce to taste

Heat a large heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat.
Add in the oil or grease.
Throw in the eggplant, pattypan and onion.  Cook together for about 10 - 12 minutes adding a little more oil/grease if necessary and cook together (stirring regularly) for another 10 minutes or so - turn the heat down a little if it's just too hot.
Throw in the rest of the ingredients adding just a little water if it looks too thick.
Cook together over low heat for another 40 minutes or so - the eggplant and the patty pan should be almost disintegrating.
Check the tastes and adjust if necessary.

NOTE:  You could also throw everything into a slow cooker once the onion, eggplant and pattypan have been browned.  Leave in the slow cooker on low for the day.

Tuna Casserole.

Sometimes you get a message or a card or an email or whatever and it just kinda sets you off.  It's tipped you into something surprising or taking you somewhere that you weren't expecting.  Two such things happened to me this weekend.
The first thing was started by me texting my BFF on her birthday.  It's a big birthday.  It's not fifty but it's not thirty.  It's a big one and this culture has made these 'big' birthdays even bigger.  We've got expectations.  Needless to say my BFF took 3 month old and G with her to Halifax for what was supposed to be a wonderful, relaxing, birthday getaway and from the sounds of it has resulted in an inconsolable, screaming baby fest and a distracted G and a miserable BFF.  I've been texting her all weekend to make sure that she is ok.  I've been completely distracted with concern.  I suspect that the 3 month old is teething (Hello!  What! - Way too early but there are already one of two peaking through) and is therefor in complete misery.  It's just a suspicion.  Sometimes travelling with very small ones just sucks.  There it is.
The second thing was getting a message from my sister who lives very far away in Calgary.  She couldn't sleep last night and was watching a movie.  She kept thinking about how much fun we would have laughing at the goofy movie (I think it was Moonstruck - Yup!) together.  And then she missed me and decided to write me and tell me about it.
And there it is two people that I care about who are at other ends of the country and we're missing each other a lot and can't get together.  KT and I will be able to get together, hopefully over a couple of martini's and some yummy food, as soon as she gets back and settled.  It will help her being back in her own space.
My sister is another matter entirely.  We don't see each other for years at a time.  It bites.  Having family that far away just bites.  My brother is in Calgary too (damn oil companies) and so I have neices and nephews growing up and I'm not a part of their lives.  It bites.  My kids have cousins that they essentially don't know.  They have Aunties and Uncles who don't know them.  It bites.
I spent a lot of time this weekend wishing that I could be with people who need me and who I'm missing... and maybe feeling a little sorry for myself too - I'll admit it.  I'm not going to begin to venture into the whole debate around firearms here because I'm thinking that if you've read anything at all on this blog you could pretty much guess where I would land on that one.  However, I will say that there are a lot of friends and families in Aurora who said goodbye to friends or family and will now be missing them endlessly.  They are now very far away.  And so I sit back and appreciate the fact that I can still call, skype or email.  I feel thankful that our time apart is not permanent but we are still here together on this planet loving each other.  My heart breaks for those who tragically will not be able to bridge the distance between them and their loved one anymore.

In the midst of all of this my heart needed some comfort food.  This is as close as it's going to get around here anymore.  No store bought mayo.  No store bought soup.  Straight forward ingredients and  canned tuna from a reputable source (ie.  please check out whether the brand you buy is conscious here).  It's more time consuming sure but the taste....

Tuna Casserole put together after years of fiddling by me.
serves 6 - 8

1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups mushroom, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups broccoli, broken into coarse florets
4 cups greens, coarsely chopped
1/2 cups Herbs, finely chopped (I use a mix from my garden - parsley, chive, oregano, mint, dill)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper sauce (optional)
1/2 - 3/4 cup Mayo (see here for recipe)
1 lg batch cream of mushroom soup replacer (got my recipe here - you can make this a day ahead)
1/2 - 3/4 cream/milk
2 cans tuna or salmon (keep the liquid)
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded or grated
6 cups cooked pasta (I usually use penne or something like it)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a large baking dish - I use one that is at least 9x13 but even a little bigger will do well.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.  Add in about 3 tbsp of oil and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes then add in the broccoli.  Cook together for about 7 minutes turning the heat down a little if necessary.  Stir regularly so that the food doesn't stick or burn.  Add in the mushroom and the greens.  Feel free to add a little more oil if it gets too dry.  Cook together for another 5 minutes.
Add in the herbs, salt and pepper sauce.  Stir well.
Add in the Mayo, mushroom soup replacer and milk.  Stir well.
Add in the tuna or salmon with the liquid.  Stir well and turn the heat down if necessary - if it's bubbling too much.
Add in 1 cup of the cheddar and the cooked pasta.  Stir everything well.
Add a little more milk if it's not quite liquid enough.
Pour everything into the baking dish.  Cover with the rest of the cheddar.  Feel free to add any other desirables to the top as well.
Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until the top is turning golden brown and the sides are bubbling.
Remove from the oven and cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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