Tag: yum

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!

Louis’ Favorite Chicken Gumbo – Princess and the Frog Inspired Dinner!

Louis’ Favorite Chicken Gumbo – Princess and the Frog Inspired Dinner!

After watching The Princess and the Frog the other night, I had the urge to try to make something more like what Tiana would cook in her restaurant. I ruled out beignets (at least this time) because I didn’t have the time, and while I love a good pastry, I don’t need to eat a million of them. So instead, we decided on chicken and sausage gumbo.

This version I created from several recipes I’ve found online and in cookbooks. If I had to tell you one specific recipe it was adapted from, I’d say probably Emeril’s – but it was more than just one! I bought file powder months ago with the intention of making gumbo, so the research had already been in the works. This evening just seemed to be the ideal time to try it!

I went out with my list of ingredients and picked up the few things I needed. Mostly it was the andouille sausage and peppers. I like red bell peppers better than green, so I almost never have those on hand. But I was warned in the past by friends that red wouldn’t taste the same in the “trinity” of onions, celery, and peppers, so I wanted to make sure I bought the right thing!

Now, before we get into making this, I must give you one disclaimer – I have no connections to Louisiana (outside of a few friends) and I’ve never been there. So I fully admit that this may not be “true” Louisiana gumbo – its just my take on the dish. I’ve tried to do it justice.

Onto the process – the first thing you want to do is chop up all the vegetables and pull out all the spices. I had plans to take lovely pictures of all the ingredients all lined up, but I made this and had to empty the spice cabinet to find a couple things and it kind of looked like my kitchen exploded. So I didn’t. I’m sorry.

Once you have all of that together, you are going to pull out a big stock pot and put it over medium-high heat. I also like to put the chicken stock into another pot on the stove to heat – putting hot liquid in the pot really helps, rather than cold. It isn’t mandatory, but I would encourage you to try it!

The first part of this recipe is getting the roux made and to the proper color. A roux is simply a mixture of flour and fat that you whisk together and cook to get the flour taste out, and toasty flavor in. Depending on how long you cook it, and the color it turns, the flavor can be mild or seriously nutty. Its other purpose, and probably the biggest purpose, is to thicken whatever you’re putting it in.

For this recipe, I used bacon drippings that I had in the fridge. Not exactly low-cal, but its BACON. How can this possibly be wrong? Anyway, you’re going to put a whole cup of it (I didn’t have quite enough, so I added a little butter – bacon and butter. Yum.) in your pan and let it melt. When it is completely melted, you’re going to whisk in a cup of flour. You want it smooth, and you’re going to continue to whisk it until your roux turns a nice chocolate brown. At first you’ll think that it will NEVER change color. But once it starts, it goes fast! When you are doing this part, don’t answer the phone or wander away from the pot. The second you do it will turn black, and that’s not a good thing. If it gets black flakes in it, its burnt, and you’ll have to throw it all out and start over. No one wants that!

Once that’s done, you can ditch the whisk and use a wooden spoon. Grab your diced veggies, because now you need to add your “trinity” – the green pepper, onion, and celery. Let it cook for a few minutes (about 5) stirring it often. Then dump in the sliced andouille. At this point, it should smell pretty good. Next, add your spices.

I will caution you about one thing – I marked the cayenne pepper as optional. I am a total wuss when it comes to hot things. I’ve gotten better since I got married because my husband likes spicier dishes. But I haven’t got a lot of heat tolerance. I would recommend holding the cayenne until the end, when it has had a chance to cook and you can taste it. I forgot that creole seasoning has cayenne in it already. So when I added everything in mine, I realized it was a teeny bit more spicy than I intended. It was still good, and I could eat it, but I figured I’d warn you.

Either way, stir in the spices before you add the liquid, because it lets them get a little bit of heat on them and can toast a bit. Just stir them in for about a minute, and pour in 3 quarts of chicken broth, the sugar, and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir this until the mixture is smooth and there aren’t any lumps.

Add the chicken, which you’ve cut into 1-2 inch pieces, and stir. You can use breast or thighs. Many people recommend thighs, but to me it is a personal preference. I don’t really like dark meat, so I chose to use breasts. It worked just fine. Once you stir those in, put it on a low simmer and let it cook for about 45 minutes.

At the end, taste it, add your vinegar and a couple extra teaspoons of file powder, and the cayenne (if you want it), and let it cook a few minutes more.

Then just serve this over white rice, and enjoy! If you try the recipe, I’d love to hear what you think!

*Please be aware that this post contains affiliate links. By clicking on any of these links and purchasing the product, I receive a small commission from the company.

Louis' Favorite Chicken Gumbo

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires advance prepping and the grill. Its worth the wait though!
Louis' Favorite Chicken Gumbo
Print
Louis' Favorite Chicken Gumbo
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
2 hr 15 mins
 
This recipe is adapted from several I've seen, including Emeril's. It was inspired after watching Princess and the Frog!
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Movie Dishes
Servings: 6 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 c bacon fat/oil/butter
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1" chunks (you can use thighs if you like.)
  • 3 qt chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 heaping tsp creole seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp gumbo file powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put your butter or bacon fat into a heavy stockpot. When it has melted, whisk in your flour until it is smooth. Over medium to medium high heat, continue to whisk this roux until it is a chocolate brown color.
  2. Add your onion, celery, and pepper to the mix and turn down the heat to medium low. Cook the mixture for around 5 minutes.
  3. Add your sliced sausage to the pot and cook for a few minutes. Next add all the spices (except the 1/2 tsp cayenne) and stir them for a minute or two to heat up and toast a bit.
  4. Add the chicken stock, stirring constantly until most of the lumps are gone.
  5. Let the mixture simmer on the stove for around 45 minutes. Near the end, add the vinegar, and the extra 1/2 tsp cayenne (if desired). At this point you will also add another 2 tsp of file powder, if you taste the gumbo and decide it needs a little more flavor.
  6. Pour over rice and enjoy!
Pepper Pot Pork Chops

Pepper Pot Pork Chops

This afternoon I decided it was time to try another grill recipe. Since I found two lovely butterfly pork chops at the store the other day, I went on the hunt for a recipe on my list of recipes to attempt – and came across Pepper Pot Pork from Boma! So far, all the things I’ve made from Animal Kingdom restaurant recipes have been awesome. Pepper Pot Pork was not a disappointment!

The original recipe calls for a pork roast and its cooked differently. There are also some differences in the seasonings. But this recipe was really delicious and perfect for the grill on a warm spring evening. (Though it was pretty hot today – we’re quickly working at skipping spring and heading straight for summer!)

The first thing you need to do is pull out a bowl or (my preference) a resealable gallon baggie, and mix up the marinade. This part is easy. Just dump all the ingredients into the bag and then add the pork chops. You can mix it separately in a bowl and pour it in, but this works just fine. I made sure I massaged the pork chops a bit to distribute all the spices and make sure they were covered, but that’s as much fussing as you need to to.

Once its in the marinade, put it in the fridge and leave it for anywhere from 2-4 hours. I recommend putting that baggie down in a bowl, just in case, but its up to you. I only needed the bag to leak once to make me err on the side of caution. No one wants to clean marinade and meat juice from the fridge. Seriously.

So you’ve got a couple hours to kill. Read a book, watch a movie, do something productive. Take a nap. Whatever. When the time’s up, you’ll need to prep your grill, as well as your sauce.

The sauce is also pretty easy – don’t let me list of ingredients throw you off. Just dice your onions and peppers, put your olive oil in the pan and saute them until they begin to get a little tender – anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Once that’s done, you just add all the rest of the ingredients. Make sure all the spices are well mixed in, and let it come to the boil. Once it does, turn the temperature down to medium low and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. Don’t let this reduce too much – you’ll run out of sauce!

Once its has simmered, you’re going to make a cornstarch slurry – a tablespoon of cornstarch in a couple tablespoons of water or cold stock. Mix it until its smooth, and then pour in about half. Make sure you mix it as you pour it into the pan. At this point, you can add more cornstarch for a thicker sauce, or leave it as is. The thickness is all personal preference! Once you have your cornstarch mixed in, cook about two more minutes and then remove from the heat.

While your sauce is cooking, you’re going to grill the pork chops. I made this with butterflied pork chops and they worked beautifully. There are only two in this recipe, but if you need more, just adjust the amounts as you need to. Its pretty easy to double or even triple it, and it should work out just fine.

I serve this with rice made with vegetable stock, because if I can use flavor instead of water, why not? There is a lot of flavor going on here, so you don’t need seasoned rice. (Though if you want to, do what makes you happy!)

I’m enjoying the grilling part of these recipes because my husband is the grill master (so he’s in charge of cooking that part) and because there is one less dish for me to wash when its all over. Priorities, right? 😉 But whether it is grilled or cooked on the stove top, the flavors are fantastic!

This recipe does differ from the original, which you can see at AllEars.Net if you like. All the same, its a really tasty recipe. I hope you try it, and if you do, I’d love to hear what you think!

Disney Pepper Pot Pork Chops

quick rating

Print
Pepper Pot Pork Chop
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
4 hr 50 mins
 
Adapted from the Pepper Pot Pork recipe from Disney's Boma.
Course: Main Dish
Servings: 2 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 1.5 pound butterfly pork chops
  • 1/2 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
Sauce
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 1 c vegetable stock (you can just substitute 2 c chicken stock)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 diced bell pepper (I prefer yellow or red, but any color is fine)
  • 1/2 diced sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (Hold until the end, then mix with 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp water)
Instructions
Pork Chops
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a gallon resealable baggie. Add pork chops and massage marinade in, making sure that spices and sugar are well mixed.
  2. Place in refrigerator for 2-4 hours. When the time is up, you'll cook the pork chops on a grill, or saute in a pan. Either way, you'll want to cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
  3. Take off heat and allow the pork chops to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Sauce
  1. Dice onions and peppers together, and saute in a non stick skillet in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook these for around 5-10 minutes, until they begin to soften.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients for the sauce, except the cornstarch slurry. Allow to come to a boil, turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the cornstarch slurry, stirring in until you reach the consistency you like. Start with half the mixture, and add more as you need.
  4. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, then remove from heat. Serve with pork and enjoy.