Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Feeling French

For last week's Weekend Cooking/July in Paris post I talked about my memories of food in France. This week my French food odyssey continues, but this time I am sharing about one of my favourite foods and a new recipe I am trying tonight. I have just found a classic French recipe that I am thinking about trying for dinner one night next week so there could well be another French inspired Weekend Cooking next week as well.

First off, one of my favourite meals ever is ratatouille and cous cous, and it is one of my favourite things to cook particularly in winter on a cold night. Not only is it easy, it is tasty, and I think it is pretty healthy too, given that in effect ratatouille is basically a vegetable stew.

When I make ratatouille, I tend to use a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, an onion diced up, a red and a green capsicum (peppers), eggplant (aubergine) and zucchini (can't remember what they are called in other countries), plus a couple of cans of tomato. I cook the garlic and the onion for a couple of minutes, and then pile all of the other veggies into the pot, put in the tomatoes and some tomato paste and just let it cook down for around 20-30 minutes or so and then add some herbs. Occasionally I might throw in a chili or a splash of Tabasco but for the most part I just use the veggies and whatever herbs I have at hand.

Tonight we are having it with cous cous which is really yummy when it get soaked with the juices and with lamb steaks, but I will be more than happy to just have the vegetables and cous cous when I am eating the leftovers.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about going to the Good Food and Wine Show and seeing Manu Fiedel making Tarte Tatin. It is one of those dishes that I have never actually tried to eat, let alone to make, but it just looks so yummy - almost like a more elegant version of apple pie! I found a recipe and bought the apples a couple of weeks ago, but never got around to making it, but tonight I am going to try it, having bought fresh apples! Here's the recipe that I found for Tarte Tatin on (which tends to be my go to website when looking for inspiration).

Tarte Tatin
  • 6 golden delicious or royal gala apples
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 200g vanilla sugar
  • 30g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 250g puff pastry*
  • Thick cream or ice-cream, to serve
  1. Peel and core the apples and cut into quarters. Place in a large bowl and toss in the lemon juice and 100g vanilla sugar.
  2. Place remaining sugar and 2 tablespoons water in an oven-proof frying pan or 25cm tarte Tatin pan over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Increase heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes until the sugar caramelises and is a light-golden brown. Add the apple, cut-side up and dot with the butter. Keeping the heat very low, cook for a further 5-6 minutes to partially cook the apple. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  4. Roll out pastry and cut into a circle slightly larger than the pan. Place the pastry over the apple, tucking any excess underneath. Place the pan on a baking tray to catch any juices that may bubble over and bake in the oven for 35 minutes until the pastry is cooked and golden. Remove from oven and allow to rest in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully turn the tart upside down onto a large plate. Serve with cream or ice-cream.

It would be a remiss of me to talk about ratatouille without posting at least one clip from Ratatouille! If you can get past the idea of rats in the kitchen, this is such a fun movie!


  1. All those weekend cooking posts are bad for my waist. Your tarte sounds so good. Icecream or cream is just the icing on the cake. Yum!

  2. Great sounding recipe. I also loved the movie.

  3. Aw, ratatouille with couscous!!! *drewl* Love your French Cooking Odyssee ;)

  4. I love Ratatouille the movie and the dish. Yummmmmm. And the Tarte Tatin sounds yummy too. Oh I'm so happy that I have all the right vegetables to make ratatouille this week. Heaven.

  5. My MIL used to make ratatouille every Friday! I don't like eggplant but I make something similiar with just zuccini (I bet there's a name for that too but I don't know it. :)

    The Tarte Tatin sounds really easy and delicious...let us know how it turns out.

  6. Half tempted by some of the other challenges! lol
    like the french and support your local library one.

  7. I wish we could come over and try your delicious sounding dessert!

  8. I'm not very good in the kitchen but your ratatouille sounds easy to make and delicious. I will definitely try making a batch. My boyfriend usually runs from my cooking, but hopefully he will like this. I love your cooking posts and I will check back for more of them! I also wanted to invite you to my Ultimate Purple Passion GIVEAWAY that I am currently having on my blog.

  9. I have been craving ratatouille all week!!

  10. I'll make the ratatouille if I get to watch Ratatouille again with my kids! :)

  11. I love Ratatouille! Both the dish, and the movie (though I was referring to the movie). Remy is so darn cute!

    I have a definite passion for French haute cuisine, so the movie was right up my alley. Plus, I think it's so amazing what they can do with cartoons these days!

    Hope your recipe turned out nicely! I'm thinking of joining the weekend cooking meme. Ron and I made lobsters for the first time the other night and the photographs we took of the experience were so great!

  12. Allie, join! You don't have to post every week and it can be anything food related! I have never made lobster ever! Don't mind eating them though, when I am feeling very rich!

    Whoops, just realised that I forgot to put the description of the meme in this week.

    Michele, sounds fair enough.

    JoAnn, sometimes I get a craving for it too. I think it is the whole full of vegetables thing which makes me want it.

    Firepages, it is pretty easy. Hope you have a go. Purple Passion giveaway. I love purple, so will be over to check it out.

    Kim, it does sound good doesn't it. In the end I had a caramel disaster so it turned into apple pie instead, but that was pretty good. Will try again once I figure out what I did wrong.

    Marshalslion, I found once I started joining challenges that I couldn't stop!

    Miri, I still cant think of the other name for zucchini. Will have look it up. **off to Wikipedia** Courgettes! Not sure I should have read the Wikipedia entry though. Never knew I was eating "an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower".

    Beth, I hope you enjoy your ratatouille. I am taking leftovers to work for lunch today.

    gnoegnoe, it is one of my favourite food treats.

    Margot, it's a fun movie isn't it.

    Rikki, when I saw the chef make it, he served it with sour cream instead of cream or icecream which was interesting.

  13. I don't think I have ever really eaten anything French, though the descriptions and recipes sound mouth watering! I admire your cooking skills, it seems I am stuck in blandville sometimes!



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