Ratatouille

RatatouilleThe other day I spent an entire afternoon in Excel. As a design-loving, visual person, I am no spreadsheet whiz, but I had to work on a schedule for a project. Not that long ago the November 2015 deadline seemed ages away, but now it is much too close. A feeling of panic came on that had nothing to do with completing the job. My brain had fast-forwarded to cozy coats and roasted root vegetables when I am still basking in the bliss of no socks and endless berries.

As summer continues to cruise by at an alarming rate, I am doing my best to soak up all my favorite sunny, warm-weather foods. I have already had my share of tomatoes in salads simply dressed with olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper, but I decided to do something a little more by combining them with my other market finds in ratatouille. Eaten warm straight from the pot or leftovers cold from the fridge, this versatile French classic had me back in the current season.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille
Adapted from Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristin Miglore

Serves 6 to 8

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 bunch basil, tied into a bundle with kitchen twine
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 medium summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice

Place the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let sit for 20 minutes. Remove the eggplant and pat dry with a paper towel.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the eggplant, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggplant and set aside.

Pour the remaining olive oil into the large saucepan and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, basil, red pepper flakes and remaining salt. Sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the summer squash and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook 10 to 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.

Remove the basil before serving and season to taste. Serve warm or cold.

Mixed Berry Shortcake

Mixed Berry Shortcake
I am not one to dress up in theme for a holiday. Just because I don’t don a costume doesn’t mean I am any less enthusiastic, but now as a parent, I feel it’s my duty to have my little guy appropriately decked out. While running errands last week, I made an extra stop to buy a red and white striped t-shirt, so W. will be fun and festive for the 4th.

That patriotism has found its way into my kitchen in the form of mixed berry shortcake. These red, white and blue creations celebrated the good old USA while showcasing the beautiful berries that are in season. I used a combination of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries with these sweet crumbly biscuits and whipped cream.
Mixed Berry Shortcake
Mixed Berry Shortcake
Adapted from Martha Stewart Kids Summer 2002

Serves 6

For berries
4 cups berries (strawberries—hulled & quartered, blueberries, raspberries)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for worksurface
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 large egg

For whipped cream
1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine the berries, lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl. Let them sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment.

For the biscuits, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1 cup heavy cream to form a shaggy dough. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured worksurface and pat into a 6-inch square about 1 inch thick. Use a 2-1/2-inch round cutter to cut out 4 biscuits. Pat the scraps together and cut out 2 additional biscuits. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared sheet pan. Whisk the egg and 1 tablespoon heavy cream and brush the tops of the biscuits.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until warm.

Before serving, whisk 1/2 cup heavy cream in a large chilled bowl until soft peaks form. Cut the biscuits in half. Spoon whipped cream on the bottom halves of the biscuits and top with berries and the remaining biscuit halves.

Chicken Focaccia with Nectarine Thyme Jam

Chicken Focaccia with Nectarine Thyme Jam
I am obsessed with making small batch jams in the summer. Even though I could up the ingredient amounts, so my jams would yield enough to be canned, I prefer having a rotation of homemade spreads during the season in which the fruit & veg was grown. So much for saving them for winter!

I’ve been attempting to eat my weight in stone fruit now that it is at the market. Rather than simply snacking on nectarines, I whipped up a sandwich, chicken focaccia with nectarine thyme jam. The herby jam added sweetness that balanced with the Taleggio and Dijon, and it gave new life to leftover chicken.
Chicken Focaccia with Nectarine Thyme Jam
Chicken Focaccia with Nectarine Thyme Jam

Makes 2 sandwiches

1 pound nectarines (about 4) pitted and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 5×4-inch pieces focaccia halved horizontally
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 ounces roasted chicken, shredded
1 handful arugula
1 ounce Taleggio cheese, sliced

In a large saucepan, combine the nectarines, sugar, lemon juice and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it turns into a thick chunky jam, about 20 minutes. Remove the thyme and let the jam cool.

To make the sandwiches, spread the cut sides of the focaccia with jam and mustard. Arrange the chicken on the bottom sides of the focaccia and top with arugula, Taleggio and the remaining focaccia.

Homemade Bagels

Homemade Bagels
We have an overpopulation of donut shops in our neighborhood. There are no fewer than 3 options in a single block radius to go for a sugary, fried fix. Whenever I head to the gym on early weekend mornings, it is impossible for me to ignore the overwhelmingly tempting scent of fresh donuts that fills the air.

As if we needed another breakfast offering outside our front door, a bagel place opened across the street from a storefront shilling donuts. Inspired by all these a.m. eats, I baked a batch of homemade bagels. I put a lot of time and effort into these from-scratch bites in my attempt to keep up with the competition.
Homemade Bagels
Homemade Bagels
Adapted from The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

Makes 1 dozen small bagels

3-1/2 cups bread flour plus more for worksurface
1 envelope dry active yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more for greasing
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg white for glaze
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt and dried onions for topping

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Stir in the egg and oil. Drizzle in the water mixing to form a shaggy dough. On a lightly floured worksurface, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes.

Place the dough into a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1-1/2 hours.

Punch the dough down and divide it into 12 equal balls. Use your fingers to push a hole into the center of each ball and shape into a ring. Place the bagels on a greased sheet pan. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Boil the bagels for 1-2 minutes turning them over once. Remove them with a slotted spoon and let dry.

Transfer the bagels to an oiled sheet pan. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with toppings. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

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