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Ratatouille as he'll be coming around the mountain

Remy's ratatouille ©Cookaroo

My brother is coming to visit for a week starting this Saturday. And between my sister and I, we're thinking of ways to spoil him rotten. We're thinking of meals to take him out to, where we could entertain him. Paintball? Bowling? Rides? 

You see, he's barely 16 (in fact he'll turn 16 in May) and just finished his exams for the 10th and is truly a handful. At least that's what my father keeps saying. The truth is, he's really not that bad, even for a teenager. He reads, he watches TV, he plays the Wii and does all the average business that a teenager would.

Expect he hates shaving. Or cutting his hair. In fact when I spoke to Papa in the morning - I was given three instructions
1. Get the boys to tell him how important shaving is and make him shave regularly 
2. Make sure he cuts his hair and does not look like a Golliwog
3. Don't give him any bacon.

The last instruction threw me off a little. Considering a couple of minutes before, I had just spoken to Ditto who wanted a thin-crust pizza and a black and white cake for lunch, soon after he lands.  And the pizza, he said, can it have bacon? I told him, in my elder sisterly way, that bacon is breakfast food, so maybe he call have it for breakfast the next day, but I'd make him a pepperoni and veggie pizza. 

Oh alright he said, can you teach me how to make bacon at home? I told him I wasn't a butcher, so that would be quite impossible. Why can't you learn, he asked me. Because, I said, I am not sure if I would slice something that thin. Useless, he called me.

That was the end of the bacon conversation. But with my father, I had to know what his reasons were. Oh he's a glutton, my father said. And he loves bacon and he's growing too fat. Make sure he eats some vegetables. 

So much for the bacon pizza.

The truth is Ditto an experimental eater. Or rather he'll try everything at least once. He's not squeamish about eating exotic meats or vegetables. I remember last year when I was in Chennai, at dinner one night, he tried emu meat croquettes, another night he was happy to try some shark fin. He's all gung-ho about zucchinis and olives and loves his pesto. 

I am excited about next week, I am sure he'll be demanding, plus he said he'd like to learn to bake a few things.
Meanwhile, the recipe I'm posting today is one which I made for my sister. We're both aubergine lovers and so on the one night she stayed over a couple of weeks ago, this was for dinner. Plus the movie Ratatouille was on TV the day before and I was feeling inspired.

I've made a lot of ratatouilles in my life and not one has tasted like the other. I'm always mixing up flavours, upping and downing the vegetables and trying to figure out my favourite. Yes the process seems a little longer, but you can omit the saffron sauce and make a vinaigrette instead. Or leave it out entirely. You can serve it on a bed or rice or with couscous. We ate it with a baguette.

It turned out to be pretty darn good. 

The other side©Cookaroo

Remy's Ratatouille
(Or at least what I think it could be)


For the tomato sauce
4 large tomatoes chopped
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 cup of tomato puree
Handful of basil
Paprika, salt and pepper to taste

For the ratatouille
1 small round aubergine
1 small zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 big onion
2 garlic cloves crushed
Fresh basil
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Saffron sauce
1/2 onion chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
100 ml cream
1/2 tsp olive oil
6 strands of saffron, dissolved in hot milk
Salt to taste

For serving
Goat cheese
Fresh basil leaves

For the tomato sauce:
1. Heat a small saucepan and add olive oil and garlic till you can smell the garlic. Add the chopped tomatoes and the puree and let it cook till the tomatoes are pulpy and saucy.
2. Add salt, pepper, paprika and tear in some basil leaves. Let it sit.

For the ratatouille:
1.Preheat the oven to 190 C
2. Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers. Peel the onion.
3. Using a mandolin slicer or a sharp knife cut the eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onions into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.
4. Pour the tomato sauce into the bottom of your baking dish. Add some olive oil to it.
5. Arrange the vegetables in concentric circles, alternating as they go- I did the following. Eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, zucchini and so on.
6. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the vegetables and season well with salt and pepper. Tear some basil leaves over it.
7. Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
For the saffron sauce
1. Dissolve the strands of saffron in hot milk and keep it aside.
2. Add the chopped onions and garlic to the olive oil and saute. Pour in cream. Let it bubble. Add the saffron milk mixture and salt and pepper.
For serving
Put a dab of goat's cheese on your serving of ratatouille and top with basil leaves. Serves with crusty french bread and the saffron sauce.

Note: Ratatouille keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge. In fact I feel it tastes best the next day. 

A plateful of cartoon©Cookaroo

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  1. Love that saffron sauce....ratatouille looks extremely delectable...