Hi all! So once again it’s late, and I’m jotting down my food related events before trying to get a full night’s sleep. We drove up to college to see Stretch, and to take her furniture to her. I got in a visit to the WONDERFUL Amish and Mennonite Farmer’s Market in Springs, MD. Spent about $35 on veggies for her, and then ended up hauling them HOME with me. The good news, is she’s right behind us, and by the time she gets here, I will have her food all packaged up and in the freezer, ready for her to transport back to school on Tuesday morning.
We were so busy moving furniture around, and helping her set up her little home that I didn’t have time to cook anything! So once I got back to my kitchen, I whipped up two baking pans of beautiful, seasonal ratatouille, and then a large lasagna pan for my potato and squash gratin. Stretch’s roomie is a vegetarian, so all those hints I’ve been giving her on how to cook meat and know when it’s done are going to do NO good for her roommate.
So I made ratatouille, inspired by the Disney movie. Using my mandolin I sliced up the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and red pepper into thin slices and then stacked them, alternating in a bed of herbed tomato puree, chopped onion, and sliced garlic. I used good canned tomatoes to make my puree, and seasoned it liberally with Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Put in the bottom of the pan, then lay in the alternating vegetables, finishing it off with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, and perhaps a bit more salt and pepper. Pop into a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes or so, keeping an eye on it. You want the veggies to be cooked, but not mushy, and to have the tomato sauce bubbling around your veggies. Pull from the oven when done and let it cool. This dish freezes beautifully.
The gratin is even easier. Once again it’s all about my mandolin. In a pan coated with a bit of olive oil, layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice. Then add a layer of squash, also mandolin cut. Top with cheese (I use mozzarella and sharp cheddar) Then repeat until the pan is full. Mash the layers down semi tightly, and add a splash of cream or milk to keep things moist. Cover tightly with foil and pop into that same 375 degree oven for about an hour. I keep my gratin covered because I do not want the thinly sliced squash on the top to burn.
Once these dishes are cool, they freeze beautifully. Just slice the gratin into single servings, and either wrap in plastic wrap or seal in the FoodSaver. The ratatouille takes a little bit gentler handling, but it too can be divided into single servings and frozen for later.
I also used my microwave to blanch whole corn in the husk (4 minutes per ear!) and put up half a dozen ears in individual FoodSaver packages. To reheat, Stretch can just drop the ear (bag and all!) into gently boiling water for a couple of minutes. This will warm the corn without it getting soggy. I may have to grab some more tomorrow and finish them up for her and the roomie before corn season is COMPLETELY over.
In any event, the ratatouille is a delicious side dish to any protein, or if a vegetarian meal is preferred, it can be served over rice or couscous, with maybe a dollop of soft goat cheese on the top. The gratin is homey and hearty and for us, even more comforting than macaroni and cheese. The corn will taste like summertime no matter when it’s eaten.
More importantly, I know my daughter will be eating quality food that is GOOD for her instead of the standard typical college diet of pizza and Subway.
I’m also in the process of moving MG into the bedroom with Stretch (since college girl isn’t here full time any longer) and turning MG’s old room into a creative space for ME! With any luck, tomorrow’s blog post may contain pictures of my new space.
Unless of course, I find a new recipe to cook…