rainbow ratatouille

this pretty version of ratatouille is called confit byaldi, made famous by that chef of beautiful masterpieces, thomas keller. here, my version, maybe a bit less impressive but still quite edible! thinly sliced vegetables are layered in a spiral pattern over super-easy oven-roasted tomato sauce, and slowly baked. i finished mine with chopped garlic and fresh thyme, both sprinkled on top before baking.

the result is meltingly delicious, and despite it’s complicated appearance, the only skill needed is to slice the vegetables thinly. i bought my plastic mandoline for $29.99 at my local asian grocery 8 years ago. It’s still razor sharp. you can also use a sharp knife or the slicing attachment on your food processor.

i made this up in a large, straight-sided stainless steel pan. this way, i could bake it up, then put it over a flame to reduce the juices, which I found a little too thin for my liking at the end. i finished it with a little vinaigrette made with some of the sauce mixed with olive oil and vinegar, which added a nice acidic hit.

ratatouille is essentially a peasant dish, so don’t be too finicky about the presentation (unless you want to be). i would also think it would be delicious to finish the plate with a bit of gremolata or a drizzle of pistou sauce.  Next time.
we ate this up with some sage/garlic buttered baguette, loaded with some good mozzarella and broiled until crispy, and ate it on a cloudy sunday. and despite the fact it wasn’t baked in a lovely aga, it was pretty perfect!

rainbow ratatouille

rainbow ratatouille

1 recipe oven roasted tomato sauce
1 large green zucchini
1 large yellow summer squash
1 large eggplant
3 tomatoes (i used a mixture of green, orange, and red from the garden)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

make up the sauce, or pull a jar you’ve already made. heat oven to 450f. using a mandoline, thinly slice the zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and use a sharp knife to thinly slice the tomatoes. spoon sauce into a large, straight sided stovetop and oven-safe pan, and arrange the vegetables in concentric circles, making sure they are tightly fitted, and standing up straight, leaving only about 1/8 inch of each slice exposed. sprinkle chopped garlic and thyme over the vegetables, and drizzle with the 2 tbsp. of olive oil. bake for 20 minutes. reduce oven to 350F, and cover pan. bake 1 hour longer, or until vegetables are tender. uncover and bake for 30 minutes more.transfer pan to stovetop and bring to a boil. reduce liquid until it nicely coats the back of a spoon. remove 2 tbsp of the sauce from the ratatouille and place in a small bowl. whisk in oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. to serve, remove nice stacks of the vegetables and arrange in a pasta bowl. drizzle vinaigrette around plate.

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french walnut cake

french carrot cake

quite often, i write the blog while eating what i’ve made. right now is one of those times. cake, coffee, and writing seem to go together just right.

i call this french, because it is loosely based on the lovely and traditional french perigord walnut cake, but with the addition of shredded carrots.

it mixes up in one bowl, and needs no further adornment than a good drizzle of honey at the end.

it’s nice enough for company, but simple enough to make just because you feel like some cake. slice and eat with coffee. enjoying at breakfast time would not be the weirdest idea.

Walnut Cake 2

french walnut cake

1 cup walnuts, ground very fine
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cold coffee
1 large carrot, grated
2/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup honey

heat oven to 350f. butter a 9″ round cake pan, line with parchment, then butter the parchment.

in a medium bowl, stir together the walnuts, flour, baking soda, and salt. in a large bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar. add the coffee, carrot, and melted butter, and whisk to combine. add the dry ingredients, all at once, and mix together quickly with rubber spatula. batter will be runny. scrape into prepared pan. bake for 50 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick. if needed, bake 5-10 minutes more. remove from oven an cool on a rack for 20 minutes.

turn out onto a plate and spread the honey over the top. cool completely, then slice.

makes 8 servings.

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aberfoyle market

Aberfoyle Antique Market
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linen covered directors chair and french flour sack pillow

i was told off just a little this weekend for bringing home another chair. i have a thing for bowls, and chairs.

i’m not sure if the ability to see diamonds in the rough is a blessing or a curse. here’s how I see the top 5 reasons to bring home some old stuff:

  1. (sometimes) you save a bit of money if you buy used things over new (generally speaking. I’m not talking original 17th century handmade french chairs) especially if they need some love.
  2.  you’re giving stuff with good bones a new life and keeping perfectly good things out of the landfill.
  3. no one else will have what you have. your style emerges when you find and buy what speaks to you.
  4. you can make it your own with paint, fabric, or whatever other upcycling talents you have
  5. it’s just fun, don’t you think??
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an old trunk, safari helmet, and washed white tablecloths

aberfoyle, ontario boasts a mighty good antique/jumble sale, held every sunday with some special shows in the spring and fall. i wait all year to wander the hundred or so stalls and find some great things. this weekend i discovered a stall called “White”. french chairs were covered in aged linen, furniture painted white, old trunks and mirrors. pure heaven.

so i brought home a duck-egg blue folding chair  ($20) and (another) white-ware bowl ($14)

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those divine french chairs covered in old centre-seamed linen. le sigh.
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