Tag: garlic

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!

 

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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.

Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl

Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl

This post may contain affiliate links, and purchases made by using these links will provide me a small commission that will go toward the maintenance of this site.

We were watching Mulan the other night, and the scene at the beginning where Mulan is making her first appearance as Ping came onto the screen. Yao is calmed by Chien-Po, who picks him up and chants something that sounds like a string of nonsense, but a few words are recognizable. The only one I really heard, however, was “tofu.”

Did I mention I was hungry when I started watching this?

I lived for the first two years of college on tofu and bad cafeteria pizza. While I don’t eat pizza much anymore, tofu has stuck with me. Add to it that one of my roommates through college was Japanese-American and from Hawaii… we ate a lot of tofu. One of the things I liked was Ma Po Tofu. But I didn’t have any mix, and short of ordering it online, there’s nowhere here to buy it.

So I decided, as I watched Mulan, that I could take the same basic concept and create my own dish. Thus, Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl was born!

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can easily substitute veggie meat in this rather than including the ground meat. Regardless of your food preferences, I would recommend two things for certain – serve this with plain white rice, and make sure you use extra stock. You can add cornstarch or arrowroot powder to the sauce to thicken it if you want, but if you let this reduce too much, it will be REALLY salty. The soy sauce and black bean sauce are pretty salty on their own – reduced down they can be too much.

First, chop all the veggies. Don’t be like me and pull things out and try to prep as you go. It usually slows things down and something might burn. I’m getting better about prepping first, and I have to tell you it really makes things easier. When you’re chopping your onions and peppers, I would recommend a pretty fine dice. Then again, I am one of those weird people who doesn’t like huge chunks of veg in my dish. If you don’t have a problem with that, you can just rough chop them. Whatever makes you happy. It may change how long they need to saute and soften a bit, but you can judge that. I trust you.

Once everything is prepped, heat your olive oil in a big non stick pan. It is better to have too big a pan than not big enough. After you get the tofu in and you try to stir it around, you don’t want to have to worry about flipping it all over the stove. Not that I’ve done that or anything.

Chien Po Tofu Bowl Onions and Peppers

Once you’ve got the oil heated, dump in your onions, peppers, and garlic. Continue to saute these for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and softened a bit. After it hits that point, add in your ground meat and brown it off. When it is cooked through, drain off any excess fat.

Next add your sauces, broth, and seasonings. Don’t add any extra salt! You don’t need it. Trust me. After you have everything in, make sure everything is well combined and the broth is simmering. Let it cook for a few minutes. While its doing its thing, drain your tofu and cut it into small cubes. You can do big ones if you like, but when I did it the first time, I found the big ones had a tendency to end up a little torn if you weren’t paying attention when stirring them in.

Put your tofu in the pan and gently stir it into the sauce. You want to make sure its coated in sauce. Let it simmer for a few more minutes. You don’t need to cook the tofu, but you want to give it a chance to absorb some of the sauce flavors and warm up.

Chien-Po's Tofu Bowl

Once its done turn off the heat, and get your bowls of white rice ready. Serve some of the tofu mixture right over top. If you don’t own a rice cooker, I highly recommend them. I always manage to screw up rice made in a regular saucepan. Its either not done all the way through, or its stuck to the bottom of the pan. With the rice cooker, I don’t have those issues, and its relatively inexpensive. As a bonus, the one I bought also comes with a steaming tray that fits over the top.

 

 

Chien Po's Tofu Bowl

 

quick rating

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Chien-Po's Tofu Bowl
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground pork, turkey, or beef
  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu (usually 12-16 oz), drained and cubed
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp black bean garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 c chicken or beef broth, or veg stock
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp sweet thai chili garlic sauce
Instructions
  1. Chop and mince all ingredients. Heat olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onions, peppers, and garlic.

  2. Saute until onions become soft and translucent, around 7-10 minutes. If it looks like it needs more liquid, add a few tablespoons of broth to the pan.

  3. Add your ground meat and brown off the meat. Drain off any excess fat.

  4. Add in all the spices and sauces, and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add in the tofu and gently stir into the mixture.

  5. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the tofu is warm and well coated in the sauce. 

  6. Serve over rice. 

chien-po tofu bowl

‘Ohana Grilled Chicken

‘Ohana Grilled Chicken

This is the last of the recipes I’m posting from the Moana dinner and movie party – but don’t think its the “least” of them! This is a great recipe, and is one of the ones given to my mom when we asked on our first trip ever.

We’ve made this MANY times over the years since then, and I must admit that there is one drawback to this recipe – it really has to be grilled. I’ve tried to bake it, saute it and everything in between, and it just doesn’t taste as good unless you grill it. Somehow, it needs that extra boost to be all it can be.

With that being said, don’t skip the recipe! Just save it for a nice day and a hot grill. The chicken (or you could do pork) will need to marinate for two to three days, and I do strongly suggest you actually follow that for this one. It needs to soak in and really do its work. The chicken will be tender and moist if you give it time!

Ohana Grilled Chicken

The recipe itself is super simple. First, you need to use a blender or food processor. A whisk won’t cut it here, because you’d be whisking for days. So pull out the food processor and then gather your ingredients. You’re going to dump the garlic, malt vinegar, lemon juice, Tabasco, salt, pepper, and brown sugar all together. Put the lid on, and measure out your olive oil into a container with a pour spout. Then slowly drizzle it in as you run the food processor. You want the mixture to form an emulsification (hence the reason you need the food processor). Don’t panic when this comes out! It is not a thin marinade – it will come out pretty thick. This is good, because it really sticks to the chicken well.

Now, put your chicken in a bowl or a resealable bag (in a bowl), and pour about half the marinade in with it. Seal the bag, getting as much air as you can out without making a mess. Then leave it in the fridge for 2-3 days. The leftover marinade needs to go into a container and then into the fridge. You’re going to use this to baste the chicken as you grill it later.

Once your 2-3 days have passed, fire up the grill and get the chicken cooking. As it cooks, baste it liberally with the reserved marinade. Once it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, pull it off the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

In the restaurant, they serve the chicken with dipping sauce. I don’t have the copy of the peanut sauce – somewhere in the last move it was lost! But I’m going back to ‘Ohana in a few months.  While I’m there, I’ll get that recipe and post it! Until then, I’d suggest using the one found at AllEars.net. I’m pretty sure its the same one.

The pictures for this really don’t do it justice, but when the chicken was taken off the grill, I didn’t get to the camera before the guests got to the chicken…. so the photos were taken quickly with what I could rescue briefly!

Ohana Grilled Chicken

I hope you try this, and if you do, please let me know how it goes! Have you had this before? Been to Ohana? What did you think?

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires advance prepping and the grill. Its worth the wait though!
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'Ohana Grilled Chicken
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Given to me over 10 years ago at Ohana, its as good now as it was then!

Servings: 8 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c malt vinegar
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 3 dashes Tabasco
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1 c olive oil
Instructions
  1. Put all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, into a food processor.

  2. Slowly pour the olive oil into the processor as it is running, forming a thick emulsification.

  3. Put the chicken into a resealable plastic bag or container. Pour half of the marinade over the chicken. Save the rest in a container.

  4. Let chicken marinate for 2 to 3 days. 

  5. When ready to cook, heat grill and grill chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the saved marinade and baste the chicken frequently while grilling.

  6. Remove chicken from heat when done and let rest for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Ohana Grilled Chicken

‘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

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'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 145ÂşF, and enjoy!

Boma Marinated Flank Steak

Boma Marinated Flank Steak

This recipe is AWESOME. It is the Durbin Marinated Flank Steak from Walt Disney World’s Boma restaurant, though I’ve adapted the recipe found on AllEars.net and in my Disney cookbooks. If you can, I definitely would try it! And I must apologize, because this recipe was previously posted on my website, but after updating earlier this week, I realized that I lost three recipes! So this is actually a repost, and I am sorry for the inconvenience! Either way, it is still delicious, and you should still try it!

I mean, my husband ate three plates full, and it totally sold him on my new blogging endeavor. Seriously. If that isn’t a pretty good endorsement, I don’t know what else might be!

The prep work for this is pretty easy. You don’t have to measure everything out into bowls or on a plate like I did here. I just though it looked prettier than the disaster that it would be to take a photo of my spice cabinet.  Someday I’ll get around to fixing that.

Most of these spices aren’t too strange. But if you’re like me, cardamom isn’t something you always keep in the cabinet. I’ve only recently decided I like this spice (after years of professing to hate it), at least when mixed with other things, and I nearly left it out when I saw the price tag at the store. But its worth it. Really. Just go buy the bottle, and I promise I’ve got more recipes that call for cardamom, so you won’t feel like you’ve paid so much for just this one thing.

Though once you taste it, you’ll make it again. We’re already planning to have it at our Moana dinner and movie night, even though its not strictly matching the theme. Its just too tasty to not have!

Anyway, start out by prepping things. Pull out a bowl and a gallon sized resealable baggie. You can just put this in the bowl if you want, but I have a tendency to make big messes, so I like to put it in the baggie. Then the bowl. Because sometimes baggies leak. Ask me how I know.

I chopped the garlic and ginger and got those ready because that’s really the only thing that takes any time. And a tip – use a spoon to peel the ginger. Just scrape the skin off – its so thin it doesn’t take much effort.

Once you have that chopped up, put it in a small mixing bowl. Measure in all the dry spices, and then your liquids. Mix it up well with a whisk. Normally I’d tell you to dump it all in the bag and mush it around. But this does have quite a lot of spices in it, so I find that whisking does seem to help distribute everything.

Put your flank steak in the baggie and then pour the liquid over it. Massage things in a bit, and get as much air as you can out (without spilling!) and seal the bag. Stick it in the bowl, and put everything in the fridge. I left mine for only about 4 hours. I’d recommend overnight. It was AWESOME at 4 hours. But I think that it would be even better and a little more tender if it was left longer.

Once you’re ready to cook, go out and start the grill. Or have the designated grill master do it. In my house, that’s my husband’s domain, so he was in charge. It only takes about 10 ish minutes on each side, depending on how done you want the flank steak to be.

Once you bring it in off the grill, let it sit for 10 minutes (really it should be like 15 , but who can wait that long?). Don’t do anything with it until that time is up. It makes a difference in how juicy it is. Honest. Then, slice it thinly across the grain and try not to eat the whole thing alone.

If you try this, and I think you should, please let me know what you think!

Disney Boma Marinated Flank Steak

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Boma's Durbin Marinated Flank Steak
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This recipe is adapted from the Durbin Marinated Flank Steak recipe found online at All Ears.net, and the recipe found in _____________.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African, Disney Dishes
Servings: 2 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 -1.5 pound flank steak
  • 1/4 c neutral oil (canola, safflower, vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 c malt vinegar
  • 1/4 balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 T teriyaki sauce
  • 2 T ground cardamom
  • 2 T crushed red pepper
  • 1.5 T dried thyme
  • 1.5 T turmeric
  • 1.5 T ground coriander
  • 1/4 c minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 c minced fresh garlic
Instructions
  1. Whisk all the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.
  2. Put the flank steak into a large gallon baggie, and pour in the marinade. Get as much air out of the bag as possible and massage it a little.
  3. Put the marinating steak into a shallow dish where it can lie flat, and marinade for at least 5 hours, up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat a grill to around 375 degrees. Put the steak on and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side for medium well. Adjust your time to suit the desired level of doneness.
  5. Let rest 10 minutes, and then slice thinly, being sure to go against the grain.
  6. Devour!