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?
It’s that time of year when everyone comes out with their end-of-year lists. I haven’t been at this long enough to choose last year’s 10 Best Cookbooks. But I’d have a lot of competition out there if I did. Everyone you’ve ever heard of and never heard of has a list. Since there are still 15 shopping days til Christmas, here are some of my ‘best of the best’ lists. And an intriguing Worst list that got my attention.