Thursday, October 31, 2013


Show of hands, who thought of the Pixar movie of the rat who cooks haute cuisine when you saw the word ratatouille? I had heard of ratatouille (the dish) but it wasn't until I saw Ratatouille (the movie) that I decided I wanted to try cooking it. I love the scene *spoiler alert* where Rémi (the rat) cooks simple ratatouille for the picky food critic who has it out for the restaurant, wins him over and saves everything. Except the restaurant. But don't worry it ends well... you'll just have to watch it if you haven't yet. 

Anyway, ratatouille (the dish) is the focus of this post because I've discovered a new staple in our menu rotation. It is a traditional dish from Provence in the south of France, meant to be made with the bounty of the summer garden. I've made it a couple times recently and it such a good dish, healthy because it's full of vegetables and delicious because it's full of vegetables... and olive oil. And garlic. It's simple, slow-cooked so all the flavours meld into a summery stew of deliciousness. I found a ratatouille recipe in my trusty Joy of Cooking cookbook, and adapted it a bit. Everyone should have a Joy of Cooking. I found mine at Value Village 10 years ago when I was moving away from home, and I still use it regularly. It's covered in duct tape and stains and is definitely well-loved. Let's move on...


For this recipe the quality of the dish is directly related to the freshness and flavour of the ingredients - no hothouse hydrotomatoes here! Get them vine-ripened, or as close to the garden as you can get. 

1 large eggplant (aubergine in French - such a nicer word!)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
2 bell peppers (colour of your choice), diced
2-3 small zucchinis, diced
1/2 tsp dried oregano or small handful of fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Prep and cooking time - 1 hr 15 minutes
First, slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch thick slices and lay on a cloth or paper towel. Salt them well and let them sit 5-10 minutes to get rid of the excess moisture. 

While they are sitting there waiting to be dabbed, heat the olive oil in a heavy pot and sauté the onions and garlic until golden. I always throw in the onions first and wait until they soften before adding the garlic - that way the garlic doesn't burn.

Look at these beauties. The last of my garden tomatoes. I have enjoyed them so much this summer. My dears, you will be missed this winter as I navigate the murky waters of hydroponically grown tomatoes from Mexico...

Dice everything up nice and dicey. When the garlic and onions are golden brown, add the rest of the ingredients (including drained and diced eggplant) to the pot and stir well, adding another glug of olive oil for good measure.

Cook covered over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and continue cooking for 15 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. Salt and pepper to taste.

It makes a delicious/super healthy meal with quinoa (or rice) topped with grilled salmon. *Drool*

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chocolate Loveberries

 *Disclaimer* I know the picture looks like a messy bowl of chocolate covered mystery-lumps, but trust me. It's worth it. 


My husband and I have been doing our annual liver-cleanse diet of no sugar, no processed food, no refined white products (flour, pasta...), no red meat, no alcohol, no recreational drugs (that one was really difficult.. j/k :) ... we feel great when we do it, we have lots of energy and sleep better, and it resets many of our eating habits. It is also a lot of work and I have to skip many of our meal short cuts like pasta and frozen pizza, make meal plans and think ahead - which is harder than it sounds! The really difficult part is no dessert because we both love sweets. And I love to make/bake sweets! I managed to find a couple recipes that satisfied our sweet craving while staying within our diet parameters. My secret weapon: maple syrup. Delicious unrefined sweetness, and you just need a little bit!  Honey works too, but I love me some maple. I came up with this recipe one night when we were craving ice cream. It's just a simple recipe of chocolate whipped cream folded with frozen berries. The berries freeze the cream and the berries thaw just enough to make the flavour really pop. Jamie came up with the name because he knew I made it out of love for a man who loves his chocolate (and was temporarily deprived of it...). We love it with blueberries and raspberries, but I'm sure it would be delish with chopped strawberries, blackberries, maybe even frozen peaches! Feel free to try any combination thereof.

Ingredients: (makes two portions)
Chocolate whipped cream
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tsp of maple syrup
1 heaping tsp cocoa powder

1 1/2 cup frozen fruit, divided in two bowls.

Whip the cream with cocoa and maple syrup. I just do it by hand with a whisk, it takes just a couple minutes and you get a great wrist workout. The great whisk wrist workout I call it.

Portion out the frozen berries into two bowls. You can let them thaw a little if you like a softer, 
less frozen bite. 

                                   Top with 1/2 of the chocolate cream in each bowl. 

Fold it all together, let it sit a few minutes to get that nice frozen texture, and enjoy!