You are what you eat?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ratatouille (Confit Byaldi by Thomas Keller)

So in my quest to find delicious but healthy food I recalled the animated movie Ratatouille and the dish that Thomas Keller created for it. Although we had just watched the movie weeks ago, despite a thorough search we couldn't find our copy of the DVD but a little investigating on the internet turned up a lot of people with the same intent. Cooking food ala Remy the rat. I'm re-posting Chef Keller's recipe that I got on from Origamifreak   and although I didn't follow the ingredients to a "T",  I did use the cooking instructions as a time guide. My cook follows the recipe.

Confit Byaldi

  • Prep Time: 1 hrs 30 mins
  • Total Time: 4 hrs
  • Servings: 4

About This Recipe

"Remy's Ratatouille, from the movie, (by Thomas Keller, via NYT 6/13/07)"



    • 1/2 red peppers, seeds and ribs removed
    • 1/2 yellow peppers, seeds and ribs removed
    • 1/2 orange bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup yellow onions, finely diced
    • 3 tomatoes, peeled seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved ( about 12 ounces total weight)
    • 1 sprig thyme
    • 1 sprig flat leaf parsley
    • 1/2 bay leaves
    • kosher salt


    • 1 zucchini, sliced in 1/16-inch rounds ( 4 to 5 ounces)
    • 1 Japanese eggplants, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds ( 4 to 5 ounces)
    • 1 yellow squash, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds ( 4 to 5 ounces)
    • 4 roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper


    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • assorted fresh herbs ( thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
    • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. For piperade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.
  2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.
  3. For vegetables, heat oven to 275 degrees. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that only 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.
  4. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.).
  5. For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  6. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned (about 5 minutes on low). Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.
plated ratatouille on Kimberly's nice plate  

 I made the piperade sauce the night before because I wanted the flavors to meld more. I basically doubled the recipe by using whole roasted skin removed red, yellow, and orange bell peppers cut into 1/4 inch squares. A whole sweet onion also diced into 1/4 inch squares. 11 cloves of roasted garlic minced finely. A 28 oz can of Cento brand Chef's cut tomatoes (drained, liquid saved) . 5 sprigs of fresh thyme, 5 of fresh oregano, a whole bay leaf, and seat salt and black pepper to taste. I cooked the onions on a  low heat until they were tender with no "bite" about 20 minutes and added the minced roasted garlic and continued on low for another 5-8 minutes. I then added the the cento tomatoes (the chef's cut are seedless), the thyme, oregano, and bay leaf and raised the temp to medium until they returned to a simmer and the lowered the heat again and let it go for about another 10 minutes and then added the diced roasted peppers. with about half of the reserved tomato liquid and cooked it until the peppers were tender and most of the liquid had evaporated.
Day two of the cook: preheat the oven to 275 degrees. I mandolined the zucchini (two small)and the yellow squash (three small) but ending up having to hand cut the eggplant (two chinese eggplants) and two red bell peppers all about an 1/8 of an inch thick. I spread the 3/4 of the piperade in the bottom of an 8.5 x 12.5 inch casserole dish and then layed the veggies alternating into the pan overlapping with a 1/4 inch or so exposed of each. (I'll do less next time. I ended up with a second 10 x 10 inch casserole dish).
I drizzled a mixture of about a dozenfinely minced cloves of roasted garlic, two teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme leaves, fresh ground black pepper,  kosher salt and 5 tablespoons of olive oil over the dish and then tightly covered it with tin foil and put it in the 275 deg oven for 2 hours before removing the foil and letting it go another 1/ hour uncovered.
Before serving I warmed it in a 350 deg oven for 10 minutes and then under the broiler on low for another 5 minutes. I made the balsamic vinaigrette but failed to reserve any piperade for it so I made it with: EV olive oil, balsamic vinegar, yet more roasted garlic, fresh thyme, oregano, basil leaves, fresh pepper, kosher salt ( I also added red wine vinegar because the balsamic on it's own was too sweet and the vinaigrette needed more acidity). served with a chiffonade of fresh basil, and the balsamic vinaigrette. Pretty good. Of course the next one will be better.
Yeah I forgot the vinaigrette drizzle...

Monday, January 9, 2012

New year, new leaf? Well lots of new leaves!

Okay then. The holidays are done and so are the ridiculously massive cooking projects... well at least until the next one! They have a diet/fitness incentive program at work and that was the impetus I needed to get off my butt or get my butt off of me actually. So the carb/calorie counting begins anew with the new year. I was never one to watch what I ate when I tried to lose weight but rather I would watch how much I ate. Now I'm gonna do both. But that doesn't mean I've lost my sense of taste. Take this picture of the topping on the salad we just had. It's got a huge pile of baby spinach topped with sliced strawberries, Valdosta pecans w/craisins, goat cheese, and there was also some fried shallots sprinkled on top after the dressing. The dressing I made from a 1/2 cup of Fischer and Wieser Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, a cup of balsamic vinegar, about 5 large minced cloves of roasted garlic, two tablespoons of minced shallot, about a 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper and a 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme (normally I would have added about a 1/2 cup of Country Style Dijon mustard too but sadly we were out...). I like a tasty salad a rich non-creamy soup, vegetables in general so I think I'm gonna do alright sticking with my new direction in eating so hopefully soon you'll be seeing a lot less of me...  when you see me! I'll try to post pics and recipes of the especially tasty "diet" foods I prepare. Healthy New Year 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Osechi Ryori 2012

fresh shitakes
 Seems like every year I swear I'm giving up cooking Osechi Ryori or traditional Japanese New Year's food. There's soooo much work involved! I guess it would be easier if I didn't have such a high standard to try to achieve. My mom was an amazing cook and would be up for days cooking wonderful New Year's dishes and all by herself! Well, I caved and went ahead and made some dishes and with the help of my wife, daughter, brother, and nephew it was another tasty New Year!

  deep fried mochi

chicken, miso, and fresh shitake Ozoni soup poured over the deep fried mochi. Lucky New Year's soup!

Buta No Kakuni
 my mom always made a dish called nishime which I have to admit was one of my least favorites because of the too subtle for my taste flavor. It's basically simmered root vegetables stew. So, I decided to kick it up a notch by combining another traditional J-nese dish called Buta No Kakuni (which is a sake simmered pork belly) with an umami nishime. The pork has been cooked twice for a total of about 5 hours.


 In the nishime there is : Araimo (small taro), fresh shitake, bamboo points, lotus roots, carrots, daikon, gobo (burdock root), and kombu (kelp) and the buta no kakuni was added at the end.

Kinpira gobo
one of my favorite dishes is kinpira gobo which is match-sticked burdock root, carrots,  kombu, and crushed red chile, stir fried and then simmered in shoyu, sake', and sugar and finally topped with roasted sesame seeds.


Nishime and Kinpira Gobo

 So, once again the osechi cook was on and it turned out pretty good. There was cucmber, crab, wakame salad, sashimi, tons of sushi, tempura (including some teriyaki marinated prime New York steak), green beans with sesame dressing, octopus with miso dressing, oh! and a monster pile of chicken maze gohan, well there were several more dishes and a few we forgot (again this year!) to put out but all in all. I think it was a Happy New Year meal for family and friends! Hope yours rocked too!