Ratatouille Season

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's that time of year when the farmers' markets are bursting with vegetables, and in particular the ingredients for ratatouille. I made my first ratatouille of the year last night. I always make the recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (the first volume). Julia cooks each of the vegetables individually, so that they maintain their integrity. I usually up the garlic clove count by a clove or two, sometimes I add some fresh basil, but otherwise I take Julia's word as gospel. Here's what the queen of French cuisine has to say about ratatouille:
Ratatouille perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence and is certainly one of the greatn Mediterranean dishes. As it is strongly flavored it is bes twhen it accompanies lain roast or broiled beef or lamb, pot-au-feu (boiled beef), or plain roast, broiled or sauteed chicken. Equally good hot or cold, it also makes a fine acoompaniement to cold meats, or may be served as a cold hors d'oeuvre.

A really good ratatouille is not one of the quicker dishes to make, as each element is cooled separately before it si arranged in the casserole to partake of a brief communal simmer. This recipe is the only we know of which produces a ratatouille in wihc each vegetable retains its own shape and character. Happily a ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it si to be served, and it seems to gain flavor when reheated.

God, I love Julia. I love everything about her and I especially love the brief introductions she has penned for all her recipes. She;s so right on the money. I came back from parking my car after cooking the ratatouille, and my whole damn building smelled like a kitchen in the south f France. I would include the recipe itself here, but I honestly think you should own Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If for some reason you don't have a copy, go out and buy one now.

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