Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ratatouille Soup + Mushroom Olive Polenta

When I was in HS I worked at a pizza shop which served a ratatouille pizza. That thing was gross, and so I thought I hated ratatouille. When we were invited to a friends house for dinner recently, they served ratatouille - and I was really nervous but committed to wolfing it down no matter what. Well, I'm very glad to have been re-introduced to it as an adult because I really don't hate ratatouille at all!

I was pleased to find a ratatouille recipe in our new pressure cooker cookbook by Lorna Sass. This is our first cooking experience with the cookbook. Well, we have been using it to look up cooking times for beans and things previously, but these are the first 2 actual recipes. I started out making the Mushroom Olive Polenta. I actually used 1 cup of corn meal instead of corn grits for this, because I didn't have any corn grits. As such I reduced the water to 3.5 cups, but it still came out nicely. I pre-mixed a little of the water at a time with the corn meal to form a thick paste so there wouldn't be so many lumps. That made it easier to prevent lumps I think. This is my 2nd experience making corn meal polenta, the first was quite lumpy but still yummy. The polenta is really yummy, though I did put more olives than were called for so it is on the salty side. Be warned, if you use a large qty of olives, reduce the salt.

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The recipe only called for 3 minutes at high pressure. I was certain would take longer than 3 mins so I put it to 6. Well, everything got cooked, but the zuchini got a little overdone so next time I'll trust the cooking time and go with it. The eggplant came out meltingly tender though. Overall I liked the recipe, but I felt the tomato flavor was too strong for me, so next time I will reduce the tomato - or use another brand of canned tomato. Also instead of diced onion I'd like to try just slicing the onion into little half moon shapes. That's how our friend cut the onions and I liked that. As for the eggplant, I'm going to try 1/2 inch strips about 3 inches long as is called for in Julia Child's recipe which is what our friend made. Perhaps I should saute the zuchini separately since zuchini cooks super quickly and I'd like to have the freedom to cut the zuchini differently, and add in some parsley. However, that's making the recipe harder, isn't it, and the point is this recipe is really easy to put together.

Pressure cooking eggplant is really the way to go because I find it difficult to cook evenly and it seems like it takes forever on the stovetop. I love my plug in pressure cooker. I'm hoping this cookbook speeds up my kitchen experiences, because I need all the help I can get. I am the slowest chopper/slicer ever so cooking always takes me longer than Jon by a long shot.

We have another recipe coming up from Lorna Sass' pressure cooker cookbook and perhaps if that goes well you will know if you should invest in this cookbook. When you page through the cookbook, you do get a little worried because the recipes look really HEALTHY, which immediately starts you wondering if they have any flavor and whether you will you crave them. So far, so good - more later.