Tag: food

A Ratatouille Remy Would Be Proud Of!

A Ratatouille Remy Would Be Proud Of!

Ever since I watched Ratatouille, I’ve been planning to try making my own Ratatouille. The movie version just looks so good, and so fancy, that I had to try it. Since we had eggplant ripening on the vine outside, I decided this week was going to be the time!

The important thing (in my opinion) to remember when you’re making this is that there appears to be no set recipe for this! Most recipes for traditional French dishes are very similar. However, this one seems to be more of a comfort food, and every Mom and Grandma has their own version. Some are very “organized” like this one, made with layers. Some are all cut up and mixed together. Some recipes I’ve seen have you roast the vegetables separately first, and then cook them together.

What does that mean? It means you can pretty much do whatever you want. 🙂 If you don’t like eggplant or squash – leave them out. Substitute them. Some recipes called for potatoes. Some didn’t. You can alter this to fit you and your family’s tastebuds. You can also alter the amounts. My recipe makes a small 8″ round dish. There are only two of us, and squash and zucchini aren’t our favorites. I didn’t want to make a huge amount and then end up not eating it. I chose to slice and arrange everything as well. You can just chop them up and dump them in – they’ll still taste good – maybe even better because it will all be mixed together!

Ingredients for Ratatouille

Overall, it’s a healthy, pretty easy dish, though it does require some time.

You need a lot of veggies for this. Again, feel free to swap or leave out things you want to change. You can also put more of the things you like most. But a couple cloves of garlic, an onion, red pepper, a couple of tomatoes, a couple zucchini, a yellow squash, an eggplant, bay leaves, thyme, basil, oregano, and olive oil are what I used in mine. I used fresh thyme because I had it – feel free to use dried instead.

The first thing I did was to slice my onion thinly. I wanted to caramelize them before putting them in, but it’s an optional step. You can just saute them until tender and it will work just fine. If you want to caramelize them, you’re going to put them in a non stick skillet with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and let them cook over low heat for about an hour. (See? This is why I say you may not want to do that.)

Once they are cooked, you’re going to seed and dice your tomatoes. I seeded them over a strainer so that I could add the juice to the skillet. I also diced my red pepper, and minced two cloves of garlic. All this went into the skillet, and I turned the heat up to medium and let it cook for about 5 minutes, until the peppers were starting to get tender.

You’re going to pour this into the bottom of your baking dish. If you decide to just chop things and bake them together, you’d mix in the other ingredients. But in this case, I wanted to use it as a base to help hold the slices of vegetables in place. Does that make sense?

This is probably the hardest step of the whole process. Seriously. The next hardest thing is slicing the squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Mainly because I used a mandolin. You don’t have to. I did it because I like that I put in minimal effort and they come out thin. But I also know that mandolins are sharp. Do not find this out first hand. Just trust me on this. I was at a bridal shower once helping to set up when one of the other bridesmaids was using a mandolin and chatting it up. She ended up in the bathroom holding her finger over her head while others applied pressure, and a few girls had to step out to get fresh air because there was blood.

Don’t worry – in the end, she was fine. It didn’t even require a trip to the urgent care.

But believe me when I say those things are sharp!

Anyhoo… once everything is sliced, the rest is pretty simple. Before you start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make sure there are no cookie sheets stuffed inside to dry. (Yeah, yeah, I know I shouldn’t do that.) Layering everything takes a little time, but it looks pretty awesome. Having the onion mixture in the bottom helps keep everything in place as you layer them in. I alternated the types of vegetables so it would look pretty – zucchini, squash, and eggplant. In the dish I was using, I ended up only needing one of each vegetable (though I bought more). If you use a bigger dish, it may take longer and take more slices. I even had some left over.

Remy's Ratatouille

Drizzle another tablespoon or so of olive oil over the top of the vegetables, and then tuck your bay leaves in. You could put them in the onion mixture as well if you wanted. Sprinkle the top with thyme, basil, and oregano, and then place your parchment paper over the top. Put an oven safe plate or bowl to weigh it down, and pop it in the oven. I put it in for about 1 hour.

After the hour is up, carefully take the paper and bowl off, and bake another 30-45 minutes. The liquid should have reduced a little, and the top will be roasted and deliciously brown.

Once its done, take it out and enjoy! You could serve it with baked potato, rice, or just some nice French bread. Either way, it will be melt in your mouth delicious! The only thing I will say is that you HAVE to make sure that you get some of that onion mixture on the bottom. Don’t forget that part! That was my favorite part, and I thought it was crucial to have with the squash. If you were to just chop all this in similar size pieces and roast it, I think the flavors would mingle a bit more. Still, this was pretty delicious as is!

Remy's Ratatouille

 

 

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires a few more steps. It’s worth the extra effort!

 

Print
Remy's Ratatouille
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 15 mins
 

Inspired by the scene at the end of Ratatouille the movie!

Servings: 2 people
Ingredients
  • 1 medium zuchinni, sliced thin
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced thin
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil you can add more as you need
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Thinly slice a large sweet onion. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook, stirring occaisionally, until onions are golden brown. (About one hour)

  2. As your onions are cooking, seed and dice two tomatoes, mince your garlic, and dice the red bell pepper. When the onions are nearly finished, add the rest of these ingredients and turn the heat up to medium. Saute for five minutes, or until the peppers and tomatoes begin to soften.

  3. Pour the onion mixture into the bottom of your pan, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


  4. Using a knife or mandolin, slice the zucchini, eggplant, and yellow squash into thin rounds. 

  5. Alternating the vegetables, layer them over the onion mixture. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, and sprinkle the herbs over the dish. Tuck the bay leaves between the vegetables, or add before layering squash.

  6. Place a piece of parchment cut to fit your dish over the vegetables, and weigh it down with an oven safe plate or bowl. 

  7. Bake for 1 hour, then remove the parchment and bake another 30-45 minutes, or until some of the liquid has reduced and the dish is brown and roasted.

‘Ohana Grilled Shrimp

‘Ohana Grilled Shrimp

This past weekend, we had friends over for a Moana dinner and a movie party. Like any good party (or at least the ones at our house) there was a lot of fabulous food! We tried to keep with a Polynesian theme for all the dishes, and it was a hit!

We started with an easy salad – my garden isn’t producing lettuce, so we had an easy bagged salad, with homemade croutons and Honey Lime Dressing. The recipe for the dressing actually came from the Polynesian Resort’s ‘Ohana restaurant on my first trip to Disney World with my parents back in high school! When we ate there, we all LOVED the food. My mom took a chance and asked our server for the recipe. We were all thrilled and surprised when the server came back with printouts of all the ones we asked for!

Back to the party – we made the dressing, and we made rice, and we made three different main courses. There was ‘Ohana Shrimp, ‘Ohana Chicken, and Boma Marinated Flank Steak. I will be the first to point out that the steak is not even close to the Polynesian theme. But its DELICIOUS, so we made it anyway. It was the last thing off the grill, after we’d eaten most of the chicken and shrimp, and people said they would just try a bite, but they were stuffed. We also made the Maui Wayfinder Sunrise, which is quite a tasty way to start off the evening, and Bananas Foster Cookies for dessert!

There was only a quarter of it left when I turned around later.

But we aren’t talking about beef. In this blog post, you’re going to find the recipes for the ‘Ohana shrimp. We made this for three reasons: it fit the theme, one of our friends is a vegetarian (pescatarian, I suppose, if you want to get technical), and because it’s just YUMMY.

Ohana Grilled Shrimp

The recipe says to marinate the shrimp for two days. We have made this and barely marinated it, marinated it for a couple hours, and for this particular meal, for the full two days. The taste is awesome, no matter which way you do it. If you want them really spicy, then marinate them for two days. That was the biggest difference I noted. The longer it sits, the more spice it picks up. And for the record, I don’t really eat spicy, but I can handle this, so it’s not going to leave tears running down your face and smoke rolling out your ears.

I recommend putting this in a plastic resealable bag (and then in a bowl. I’ll say it every time.) for easy clean up. You can also pour off a cup or so before you put the shrimp in and save it to baste them with. I frequently make this in a skillet rather than the grill and just pour a little of the marinade in to help make a sauce.

You will need to either make this in a food processor or a bowl and then pour it into the bag. The directions from the original recipe say to whisk it together in a bowl. But I already had the food processor out for the Ohana chicken, so I just pulsed it a few times in that. I’d probably do it again that way, just because it was so easy.

Gather your ingredients. I chose not to use hot garlic chili sauce and regular garlic chili sauce both. Instead, I just used the regular garlic chili sauce and used a little more than originally called for. I have significantly scaled back the amounts of ingredients, because it made a TON of marinade, and unless you’re making several pounds of shrimp, you just don’t need that much.

Anyway, put your garlic chili paste, finely minced ginger, garlic, honey, salt, and pepper in your bowl or food processor. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking well or keeping the food processor going until all the oil has been blended in.

Then put your shrimp in the bag and pour over the marinade. I used 25-30 size shrimp, and got them peeled and deveined. You could get shrimp still in the shells, but I wanted to keep the mess to a minimum. That is up to you! I try to seal it with as little air as possible (without making a huge mess), and then put it in the fridge. As I said, the recipe says two days. I say anywhere from 2-4 hours to 2 days, depending on what you want. It’s really convenient to be able to start it the day before a party, because it cooks quickly and you can get things made in advance to alleviate some stress the day of.

Ohana Grilled Shrimp

Then you can either sauté the shrimp in a skillet, or put the shrimp on the grill. I’d recommend a grill basket or skewers if you go the grill route, as it will make life a lot easier.

Either way, the hardest part about this dish is keeping it on the table longer than a few minutes! The pictures I got of these were snapped quick, because they were gone almost as soon as the platter hit the table!

Ohana Shrimp

table rating

Print
'Ohana Grilled Shrimp
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This is slightly altered from the print out our server gave us in the Polynesian resort's 'Ohana Restaurant years ago. 

Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 3/4 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup Minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/4 cup chili garlic sauce (use regular, not hot)
  • 1 cups Honey
  • 1 cups Lemon juice
  • 1/2 quart Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 lbs Peeled and de-veined shrimp 25-30 count really, use whatever size works for you
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except for the oil well. While whisking, pour in the oil slowly. You can also use a food processor.

  2. Place the shrimp in a resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the shrimp, reserving about 3/4 cup for basting, if you like. Marinate the shrimp for 2-4 hours to 2 days, depending on your time.

  3. Once you're shrimp are done marinating, skewer the shrimp. You can cook them loose, but if you are grilling them, skewers will make the process easier.

  4. Heat the grill, and place your shrimp on there, basting as occasionally. Alternately, you can saute them in a non-stick skillet. 

  5. Cook shrimp to an internal temperature of 145ºF, and enjoy!

The Best Dill Pickle Flavored Popcorn Recipe for a Movie Night!

The Best Dill Pickle Flavored Popcorn Recipe for a Movie Night!

There’s a flavored popcorn stand in EPCOT that I’ve heard many people rave about. And apparently flavored popcorn is a big thing in Disneyland and some of the other parks across the world. What a perfect snack! I mean, who doesn’t love the smell of popcorn? (Unless its burnt. No one, except a friend from college, likes that. She used to hunt down the burned popcorn smell and take it off our hands, so I suppose it wasn’t a bad thing in the end, right?)

I’ve got a fun, tasty flavor for you to try this weekend. If you do a family movie night, this is a fun way to up your popcorn game. Keep an eye out, because I’ve been working on a handful of these. This is just the one I finished first. This spice blend is easily kept in a jar and used a little at a time. While I’m writing a recipe designed to flavor a lot of popcorn, you can easily just sprinkle it with a spoon over your personal bowl, and then everyone can have what they like! That way too, if you follow the blog and get the other recipes (they’re coming soon!) you can pass around the bowls and see which ones you like best.

What flavor are we making? Dill Pickle, of course!

If you like pickles, you’ll like this. Now me, I don’t like pickles. I LOVE pickles. Its a problem. I have no problem sitting and eating an entire jar by myself. Whenever someone tells me it isn’t good for me, I wave and hand and remind them I’m eating vegetables. They seem to think this doesn’t count. Whatever.

If you’re like me, then you should make sure there’s a separate bowl for everyone else. Cause there’s no sharing going on here.

Dill Pickle Popcorn

This is really easy. If you have a spice grinder, you can get fancy and grind your own spices. I like to do this because I think they taste fresher longer, but its not necessary. Mixing preground spices works just as well. The hardest thing to find for any of these recipes will probably be the citric acid. Its usually in the canning section of the store, or you can order it online. You don’t need very much – only a 1/4 tsp for the whole recipe! One container will  last you a long time.

Dill Pickle Popcorn Seasoning
This recipe makes quite a bit. Only use what you need – you should get a couple batches of popcorn out of this!

To do this recipe, you measure out your spices (if you’re using any whole spices) into a spice grinder, and pulse them all together. Be careful when you remove the top, because some of the spices, especially those that were already ground, will be a really fine powder. If you get too close to the puff of spice that comes out when you take off the lid, it will go straight up your nose. Ask me how I know. If you don’t have any whole spices, just measure everything into a small bowl and mix well with a spoon. I would recommend using fine grain sea salt or popcorn salt if you go this method, but that’s a personal preference.

Dill Pickle Popcorn

I cheated for this, and popped a bag of microwave buttered popcorn because I didn’t want to get out the popcorn popper (I have the kind you put on the stove and crank.). If you’re going this route, you won’t get 5 quarts of popcorn. I used about two heaping teaspoons of powder, sprinkled it into the bag, and then poured the popcorn into a bowl. You can add as much or as little as you like. If you aren’t sure you’ll like it, I’d start with one teaspoon, toss the popcorn, and then taste. You can add more from there if you like.

 

Its got a lovely dill pickle flavor and a nice pungent sour note that isn’t too strong. Before you know it, you’ll be staring at the bottom of an empty bowl and hunting down the next bag of popcorn!

What other popcorn flavors would you love to see?

 Dill Pickle Popcorn

snack rating

Dill Pickle Popcorn
Print
Dill Pickle Popcorn
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 
This recipe is adapted from one found at Food and Wine's website.
Course: Snack
Servings: 4 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp light mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dill seed
  • 1/2 tsp citric acid
Instructions
  1. Mix all spices together in a bowl, or put all spices into a spice grinder and pulse to a powder.
  2. Sprinkle over popcorn sprayed lightly with cooking spray or tossed with butter. If using microwave popcorn, just open bag, close, and shake.
  3. Enjoy!
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Dill Honey Mustard

Dill Honey Mustard

You may be wondering why I’m putting a recipe for homemade mustard up here. You’re probably thinking, “Its not related to Disney, and I can pick up a bottle for so much cheaper at the store.” Let me put your mind at ease.

The mustard isn’t tied to Disney by itself. That’s true. It is, however, going to get used in several recipes I have planned. And seriously, if you like mustard like I do, making your own is the next step. All those fancy little pots of mustard with different additives – champagne, honey, cider, etc – will have nothing on what you can make yourself.

And its SO EASY.

No, really. It takes next to no effort. Just a little patience.

You have to get whole grain mustard seeds – which are available in the spice aisle, or at specialty stores like the Spice and Tea Exchange here in Williamsburg. I’ve also ordered from World Spice Merchants. They’re both good. You only need a couple tablespoons to start out, so don’t buy a ton. (Or do – if you’re like me, you’ll need them eventually.) You also need some apple cider vinegar, dried dill, dried mustard powder, and some local honey. (I’m all about buying local – and it usually tastes better than the cheap stuff at the store which may not be all real honey in the first place)

That’s it.

Measure out two tablespoons of each kind of mustard seed. I put mine in a mason jar, but anything with a lid will work. You’re going to pour about 1/4 cup of vinegar over the seeds. Close the jar. Leave it out on the counter to soak 24 hours. You can let it go up to 48, but it doesn’t make too much difference. I only did  it because I got sidetracked.

So a day later, you’re going to put that mustard seed and vinegar mixture into a food processor, blender, or smoothie machine. Add about 2 teaspoons of dill, a 2 teaspoons of the dried mustard, and a tablespoon or two of honey. How much honey will depend on how sweet you like your mustard. You want more bite? Add a little less.

dill honey mustard
I left mine with a lot of mostly whole grains. You can leave them even more intact, or go really smooth.

Now, this part really depends on your taste preferences. If you want lots of whole mustard seeds, you can blend only a few pulses. If you want smoother, blend longer. When it has a consistency you like, pour it into a jar and close it. You can taste if you want, but you’ll be disappointed. The mustard really needs to sit in the jar for about a week before you eat it. It needs that long to let the flavors hang out and make beautiful music together. I didn’t believe it either the first time I made this stuff, but it really, really makes the difference.

After a week, feel free to use it on whatever you like. I love this stuff – the only mustard I love more is Hot Pepper Mustard, which I’ll post a recipe for later on. Just make sure to keep some of this mustard around. You’re going to need it for some of the recipes I’m planning!

The recipe will make one small jar, but if you need more, you can easily scale this up to make any amount you like. Just remember that it isn’t canned or sealed, so it has to stay refrigerated.

Dill Honey Mustard

snack rating

dill honey mustard
Print
Dill Honey Mustard - Cooking with Character
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
1 d 10 mins
 
Course: Condiment
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp dark mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp light mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 2 tsp dried ground mustard
Instructions
  1. Measure out mustard seeds into a mason jar or other container with lid. Cover with vinegar and let soak for at least 24 hours.
  2. Pour mustard seeds and vinegar into a blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to desired texture.
  3. Pour into a jar, close, and let sit in refrigerator for at least one week.