arguably the most influential chef in the country, recently wrote about
Ratatouille in the Los Angeles Times.He
wasn’t talking about the 2008 movie of the same name, a fanciful food fable
that won the Oscar that year for best Animated Feature.He was referring to that summer classic that
incorporates so many fresh vegetables your kitchen looks like you’ve robbed a
farm stand.What Chef Keller pointed out
was how adaptable the dish is.It starts
out as a vegetable stew that’s an incomparable side dish or a vegetarian meal
all by itself.
It is quite labor intensive so there’s no point in
making a tiny batch of the stuff. Instead Chef Keller encourages making a
recipe that yields 16 1 cup portions.
This, he points out, gives you the basis for any number of pasta sauces,
a perfect soup base-- even a sandwich spread.
The one thing the dish requires, besides a cornucopia of fresh produce,
is time. The start to finish on the dish
is 4 hours. I’d say that actually errs
on the short side. But a lot of that
time is spent while the ratatouille sits in the oven reducing the liquid away
until you’re left with beautifully tender vegetables in a thick, silken
sauce. So you can sit back and stir
occasionally. All that time is a perfect
opportunity to re-view “Ratatouille”, the movie. If you’re uninitiated to its charms, it’s the
story of an ambitious young chef and, yes, a Rat who cook away in a Parisian
restaurant. And what foodie doesn’t want
to revisit Paris?
bowl of chilled soup can really start a summer meal off right.
Make enough of it, and anytime you
want, there’s a bowl of cool comfort waiting in the fridge.As to today’s side, it’s a terrific way to
have vegetables on hand and at the ready.You do a simple roast of the farm stand’s best, then while
warm douse them with a marinade with just enough garlic and fresh oregano to
give them some lift.I wish I could say
the Cucumber soup was farm stand material. The recipe calls for something from
fairly far away. All the way from a greenhouse in California.
Soup is ideal to have on hand in summer heat.
You can make this soup up, store it in the fridge and then take it out and finish it off for any occasion.
When houseguests first arrive, they’re inevitably exhausted from their
trip and a bit peck-ish. It’s nice to
greet them with a glass this rich, creamy soup and perhaps a tomato sandwich made
with farm stand tomatoes on thin-sliced white bread. This simple welcome will bide them over until
dinner. You can make up a glorious gazpacho, truly
fresh tomato soup or you can put a little French accent on the proceedings with this recipe for Vichyssoise, a completely American invention.