Yosemite and Gourmet Fruit and Nut Bars

Panorama Trail... or moreso the foggy frigid, mystical trail!

Panorama Trail... or more so the foggy frigid, mystical trail!

When most people think of camping, they think of two things. Either you are a hard-core back-country aficionado, who packs in and out all of their food, wares, water, and sleeps amongst the rocks and twigs underneath their tent on the floor, hoping the lions, tigers, and bears (oh my! those actually DO live in this state), won’t come along. OR, you cheater camp. As in roll up in your fancy schmancy trailer, with a bathroom, boom-box, grill, stove, and hey, maybe even a jacuzzi. You like to live the high life, even when in the “wilderness”. I get you.

The cake stands alone

In reality though, there is a third group of campers. Those who are enthusiasts about getting to know the outdoors, pack a tent, sleeping bag, cute lil camping stove and kettle, and you know, the rest of the regular stuff: tea, dark chocolate, milk (ok… I will admit it, it was UHT, but Clover no less), ratatouille, Swahilii stew, Belgian beer, Sherry, salami, Manchego, Acme bread… what? This doesn’t sound like your normal wilderness nosh? Obviously… you have not gone on an outdoorsy trip with a food nerd just yet. You will eat better (and it will taste better due to being outside, hungry, cold, and ready for nutritious, deeeelicious goodness). Or, have it your way, you can eat the freeze-dried astro delights if you so choose. I am sticking with my gourmet camping.

Tent and a camper... aka The Brit

So we gouramped. Yes, that’s right, we gouramped – gourmet camped. New words for new times. Anyways, we stayed in a tent, we didn’t shower for 3 days, we slept on the ground with the most splendid invention called a Therm-a-rest, and it was incredible. It rained, a lot, and the sound of rain on  a tent is pretty awesome. We deserved our tasty nibbles, we hiked 16 miles in one day (3,000 ft of elevation gain in 4.5 miles, starting at 5,000 ft)! And with little old me carrying along a cold too. Oi.

The final goods... before we hiked. These plates did not accompany us!

Ah Yosemite. You were amazing. Even in fog, and rain, and a few flicks of sunlight. With that in mind, let’s just say, this fruit and nut goodness was our lifeblood. Its salty. Its sweet, soft, a bit malty, crunchy, and just the right amount of fruit and nuts, with some tasty thin layers of spiced cake here and there. Its way better than any of the granola, energy, or raw bars I have seen around, or eaten, in ages. You should give it a go. Find the bliss in eating gourmet while camping!

Do you have any advice for my next gourmet camping trip? Soon its going to be all hike in and out!

Dried Fruit and Nut Cake

(adapted from Pure Dessert: By Alice Medrich)

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup dried apricots, flame raisins, plums, and figs (roughly chopped into 2 or 3 pieces if large, left alone if not)

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

2 cups dates, pitted

1 cup walnuts

1 cup almonds

1 cup pecans

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan with butter, and lightly flour. I a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Add the sugar, dried fruit, and nuts, and mix well with hands.

In another bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla until light and fluffy. Pour the egg mixture over the fruit and nut mixture, and mix with your hands or a non-metal spoon until all bits are coated with batter. Scrape the batter into the cake tin, and bake until firm, and the bread begins to pull away from the pan and the top is golden and crisp, about 1 hour. Let the cake cool completely in the tin, then turn out, and enjoy! This cake can be kept, if wrapped well, for up to 3 months in the fridge, and at least 6 in the freezer.

Posted in Baking, San Francisco, Travels | 2 Comments

The ideal fall recipe: Tomatillo and Pork Stew

To me, there is nothing better than the fall. If I were in Chicago or London, the leaves would be falling on the ground (rather than whipping past my head down Nob Hill at 30 to 50 mph in the evenings!) there would be a crisp chill in the air, and signs of people tucking into a season of comfort(both in food and living) would be all around. Some of those glories, such as say, bonfires, are not allowed where I live (I understand CA, its to protect the air and forests, but I can still say I do not approve!). Others, such as the nature of farmers markets, and the tasty meals one can produce from their bounties, turn the season to fall in the best possible way: they lend all of their ingredients to braises, stews, roasts, and all that is wonderful in the food world. Comfort food from all over, at its finest.

Most people are smart enough to wait awhile – see the leaves change color, watch jackets appear on racks in stores, wait for the retail world to let them know fall has arrived –  to bring out the slow cooked trifecta of braises, stews, and roasts. Unfortunately, if you are someone like me,  you didn’t get this memo. The realization that not everyone will crave a stew just because its early fall, and will happily suffer through sweating their hiney off all through dinner, does not occur to you as it really should. Thus, you suffer through one hot, sweltering meals. But oh, I made the Brit, and one of my best mates from my years as a Buff, John, do just that, and I must say they were more than happy to chomp away at their meal.

Hey, at least the stew was of Mexican decent – aka no matter when those folks eat it, they would be “rather damp” – so my planning wasn’t completely off the charts. Only a touch. It was worth it though. I found the best pork shoulder possible(thanks Bi Rite!), combined it with my favorite tomatillos from Yerena Farms (they have been mentioned a lot lately, like here, and here), a bit of old school Worchestershire, and some fresh shell beans(we choose cranberry more often than not!), and it makes every least sweltering bite worth it.

So thats it. Being hassled by the Brit is enough, but being hassled by the Brit AND a Boulderite and newly born Italianophile, is too much, so here it is…..

Slow Braised Tomatillo and Pork Stew

Adapted from Tomatillo Pork Braise with Pickled Chilies – Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday)

1 1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder(or 2 lbs with bone), cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes

1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, washed and cut into half and fourths

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bunch coriander (cilantro) chopped, divided in two

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 to 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

3 pickled chilies, found in Mexicatessens

1 to 3 tbsp pickled chili juice

1 cup beer (or chicken stock if you prefer)

3/4 lb fresh shelled beans (we choose cranberry), or 1 can white beans washed

salt and fresh ground pepper

Tortillas and cheese to serve

Place the cubed pork into a bowl, sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper, and mix in the Worcestershire sauce to coat evenly. Set aside. Place the tomatillos in a large heavy bottom stew pot. Scatter the garlic, onions, coriander, and pickled chilies on top. place the pork on top of the vegetables, and cover. Turn on the heat to a medium flame, and wait to hear the tomatillos begin to cook. Pour in the beer or stock and chili juice. When this begins to boil, turn to a medium low heat, covered, and let cook for 2 to 3 hours. Alternatively, you can place all these ingredients in a casserole dish, and place in the oven at 375 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or in a crock pot on low heat for most of the day.

With the last 30 minutes of the cooking time remaining, add the beans, and stir. The tomatillos will have broken down to create a “soup” with the other ingredients. If you prefer a less chunky stew, at the last 30 minutes, remove the pork with a slotted spoon, blend the vegetables, and return the pork to the stew pot, adding the beans as a final step. At the last 5 minutes, add the remaining cilantro, and let simmer for another few minutes. Serve with warm (preferably fresh made that day, from say, Mijita! if you live in San Francisco) and a shredded sharp cheese on top, if desired.

Posted in Cookin, Dinner, San Francisco | 2 Comments

F is for Friday…no wait… French

The Brit and I always agree to disagree about our Friday dinner. His idea of relaxing is going out for (insert cheap and tasty ethnic food genre here) and mine is to cook a tasty meal at home. If we do go out his two top picks are indian and mexican, and mine are mediterranean and french. Who is the foreigner again? I forget…

This past Friday’s meal, however was an exception. We both agreed….to eat at home (gasp!) and to have none other than a Francophile aimed meal, complete with dishes from the south and the north. We had a friend coming to dinner that isn’t a huge fan of meats (don’t worry Marin Sun Farms, 4505 Meats, Fatted Calf, and Drewes Brothers, we still love you to pieces!).

The summer has come to an end, but there is still a plethora of amazing fruit and vegetables on its final leg at the market, including heirloom tomatoes. As one might of guessed, I had quite a few tasty veg kicking around from the last market shop: some string beans, waxy petite fingerlings, heirloom tomatoes, I could go on(since I tend to have an obsession with purchasing too many goods at the market). I swung my the grocery store, picked some delightful olives, some cheese, a nice crusty loaf of levain, and some tuna. You might or might not know where this is going now, but if you do, it was heaven. A deconstructed salad nicoise, and a delicious one at that. The freshly grilled, medium rare tuna was the definitely prize holder of the evening! Well… that and the Tart Tartin, but that is for another day.

Deconstructed Salad Nicoise

Adapted from Food and Wine, August 2009

Green Bean and Heirloom Tomato Salad

1/2 lb green bean, trimmed

1/2 lb heirloom tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/8 cup olive oil

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1 tsp chopped tarragon

1/2 tbsp chopped chives

1/4 tsp thyme leaves

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and add the green beans to blanch. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, so they still retain their color and crispness. Drain, reserving the water in a bowl, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the Dijon, vinegar, and slowly add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the beans, tomatoes tarragon, chives, and thyme. Toss well.

Grilled Nicoise Tuna Steaks

1 lb Grilling/Good Quality Grade Tuna, cut into 2 to 4 steaks, about 1 inch thick

1/4 cup white wine

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tbsp crushed fennel seeds

1 shallot, finely diced

1 tsp oil, to season grill pan

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Mix all ingredients, except salt, pepper, and tuna in a bowl. To prepare tuna, wash fish, and pat dry. Place in a bowl, cover with marinate. If you want to plan with your meal do this when you place the potatoes into the oven. Marinate for 30 minutes, turning once half way though. Oil with olive oil and heat a grill pan over medium to high heat. Oiling your grill pan lightly, or your meat, or both, as well as cooking at a high heat, is the key to the fish not sticking. Shake your fish free of some of the marinate, and season with salt and pepper. When the pan begins to smoke, place the fish seasoned side down, season top side.

Do not touch the fish now until it is ready to turn. Do not turn down the heat. Allow the fish to cook until the “cooked” opaque color has gone 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up your fish, about 4 minutes. Flip, and do not touch again.

Stretch your hand out wide. Feel the skin between your thumb and index finger. The way this feels is how medium meat will feel to the touch. Poke your tuna, and compare its softness to this piece of your hand. If you like your fish medium, remove when the opaque color just covers the side of the fish entirely, about 2 to 3 minutes from flipping.

Remove the tuna. Allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve.

Roasted Fingerling and Baby Potatoes

2 lbs baby potatoes, chopped fairly large

2 tbsp olive oil

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Place the green bean water back in a pot, add the potatoes, and bring to the boil. Cook the potatoes for 5 to ten minutes, until slightly soft. Drain the potatoes (this next step is key!) cover, and shake the pototoes to “rough” them up a bit. Place a roasting pan with 2 tbsp olive oil spread on it in the oven, at 450F, until the oil begins to lightly smoke. Remove, and (being careful!) place the potatoes onto the hot oil. Working quickly, salt and pepper potatoes, toss to coat, and return to oven. Roast until they begin to really crisp, 30 to 40 minutes. Flip, and roast an additional 10 minutes.

Serve all elements together with quality crusty bread, a selection of cheese, nicoise olives, and (if preferred) boiled eggs.

Posted in Cookin, Dinner, San Francisco | 2 Comments

A Simple Summer Stew

This past weekend was very different from those over my last few weeks. It was sunny. It was unbelievably unplanned. It was, for the most part, calm, included my trip to the market for the first time in a month. And, oh yea, it was hot! Scorching! Sizzling! Add to that the Folsom Street Festival occurring blocks away from me, laden with men and women laden in all sorts of leather, chaps, chains, leashes, stilettos, platforms, and anything kinky, and it makes for, well, a more than out of the ordinary Sunday afternoon. Thus when Tuesday rolled around, the heat still blistering, and it was time to cook up some of the bounty I collected, I was at a loss. I wanted to make like the domesticated member of the couples I saw all weekend and just sit and not do any work. Ha.

Well, sitting around led to looking through cookbooks and magazines, as I thought…mmmm tomatoes (currently my absolute fave thing to get at the market, they will never be this good again until next year, so eat up chaps!) I found my calling. I needed some simplicity in my life, to balance out my weekend, and the market tomato and bean stew I found in a stored Food & Wine, August 2009, was exactly it. Although it may sound simple, with thyme as the only herb (from my “garden” where turtle doves try to take my seeds…little….sneaky… whippersnappers) and tomatoes being its other flavor enhancement, it was, well…perfect.

My Yerena Farms family, with Sylvia at the forefront, struck again, by sending me home with heirloom shell beans(I think they were Cargamanto), that are from a variety of bean which grows everywhere in her village at home in Mexico. Apparently, passersby just pick their veg on their way home for cooking. As my own addition, I added a few slightly spicy peppers (they looked a bit like romano, but smaller and thinner… NO not Ray Romano!) and onions. Paired with my favorite bread at the moment, Pinkie’s. It was a really a local meal, and a very satisfying one to share with a vegetarian friend that by no means wanted any of the meat in our neighborhood. Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

Give it a try! What would you add to your fresh and simple summer bean stew if it were not peppers and onions like me? Or would you go sans fiddling? I am so horrible at that… at least when it comes to cooking! I am a fiddler and a poker.

Fresh Shell Bean, Pepper, and Tomato Stew

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine, Best New Chefs, July 2010

1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh shell beans (flageolet, cranberry, heirloom, etc.)

2 to 3 cups vegetable stock

2 garlic cloves, quartered

2 sprigs thyme, plus 1/2 tsp thyme leaves

Pinch of baking soda

1 small onion, diced

2 to 4 Romano Peppers, sliced

1 to 1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, diced(if you can, get dry-farmed!)

1 to 2 tbsp butter

1/2 tbsp olive oil


In a soup or stew pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the diced onions and peppers, and until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in the shell beans, garlic, thyme sprigs, stock, and baking soda. Bring to the boil, turn down heat, and simmer until beans are soft, about 30 minutes.

Drain the beans reserving 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the cooking liquid in the pot. discard the garlic and thyme sprigs. Add bean mixture and tomatoes back into the stew pot and simmer until the tomatoes begin to soften and release their juices, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the butter, thyme leaves, and salt to taste. Serve hot with warm crusty bread (Walnut bread works quite well! Thanks Pinkie’s – best Walnut Levain ever!)

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Unlikely Place for Pizza: Story Deli and The Old Truman Brewery

Upon my last trip to London – a place I lived, attended school, and roamed for an entire year, without one visit stateside – I was stumped. I knew of my favorite neighborhoods, old man pubs(which ARE the best kind), restaurants, clubs, bakeries, shops… I could go on but you get the point. I knew where it all was. Especially in relation to the East End and anything on the South Bank, near Borough, my practically religious stomping ground for food and adventure. I was, though, baffled. Taken aback. Surprised. There was an old brewery where I used to roam, near Spitalfields? How did I miss this? Was it still functioning? Come on history buff, show yourself!

Well… there was one (thank you for reminding me to dig deeper Rona!) and boy, was I mistaken. Amongst the glorious shops, enclaves, beigel bakeries, Vintage closets, bric-a-brac centers, Indian eateries, Banksy pieces,  and fashion industry gurus, there was a brewery. Hell, the brewery housed them all! The Old Truman Brewery, that is. These days it also houses another place that is now very fond to my heart. Story Deli. No… it is not just a Deli.

Story Deli, which I wish I had frequented more, but on my lowly student budget was not manageable until I started to come around as a visitor, is so much more than a typical deli. It’s not really a deli at all, but a pizzeria, with some of the best thin crust pies, baked goods, and other tasty treats around! We went for the pizza, but we got a touch of history, tasty drink, and simple but perfect atmosphere in the mix. Story Deli is housed, as I mentioned, within the Old Truman Brewery, and boast floor to ceiling windows, old wooden floors, tables, and furniture, and various vintage intricacies for your viewing pleasure, and if you so fancy, purchasing pleasure. We, however, had our eyes on the summer veg and prosciutto pie, and it more than met its expectations.

As we sat on our sustainable cardboard bench chairs(that house much of the cutlery and tableware for the restaurant, talk about smart!), watching the people go by, enjoying a glass of well-rounded vino, we saw pie and entrée after pie and entrée come along to its hungry audience. Then, ours arrived. What could have been a cheese laden catastrophe, was a masterful tasty delicate dish, with fresh zucchini, peas, fava beans, asparagus, and lightly toasted prosciutto strewn about it’s perfectly blistered, wood-fired crust. Add to that fresh ground pepper, pine nuts, parmesan, and a few light dollops of mascarpone, and you have yourself one great Saturday, seasonal meal. The fact that Story has been doing sustainable, local, and organic for years, and really was the first on its path to do so, is an extra bonus that makes eating, and lingering here such a delight. I cannot wait to revisit you Story. You give my hometown pies, Chicago, a run for its money.

Posted in London, Reviews, Thoughts - Memories - Pish Posh | Leave a comment

There is STILL Courgette. Everywhere: Courgette Carbonara

What can I say. I have no excuse. Its been a month. A month of pure mayhem! Visitors. Plans outside of work. Weddings. Traveling. Cooking. Running. Keeping up with people. But most importantly, its been a month of courgettes.

Zucchini. Squash. Those forever repopulating “fruits” of the vine, that have been occupying counterspace, pots, pans, fridges, and the best markets near you! They are green, yellow, pale, bright, small, large, oblong, round, cylinder, saucers, and oval-shaped. They are, in one word, deeeelicious. But how, may you ask, do you know you have good ones? Well for me, the signifier is if they still possess those little, teensy, weensy, prickly hairs that accompany them when growing, and stick around for a short time after freshly being picked.

THAT is really fresh zucchini. There is one thing that takes the cake from that mini-cup cake though. It’s the prize winner of the show: baby zucchini with the zucchini flower still attached. These little treasures, if you are lucky enough to stumble across them(or if you grow them in your yard! you are a gem!) are something worthy of more than just a simple steam, or side treat, not that they aren’t good then as well. They deserve to be front and center to their counterparts. Best roasted whole (but removing the little stamen, which can be quite bitter if forgotten about) with their larger relatives, they make the best quick, tasty, “man I have the best farmers’ market and love summer” meal you could ask for. Yerena Farms, I owe you for always having a box of these lovelies left for the Brit and I to buy, and Mr. Oliver, your seasonal sense is impeccable. Thus, Zucchini Carbonara with Whole Roasted Baby Courgette was born, and consumed, happily, on a surprisingly chilly, Monday summer’s night.

What is your favorite use of Courgette? Have you had the luxury of finding the little whole guys?

Courgette Carbonara with Whole Roasted Baby Courgette

(modified from Jamie Oliver’s Zucchini Carbonara, in Jamie at Home)

Serves 2

2 tbsp olive oil

16 Baby Courgette with Flower attached

2 Medium Courgette, cut into 1 inch strips, about the same size as the pasta

1 small Onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 to 5 strips high quality bacon(depending on how much you love bacon) chopped

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

2 egg yolks, preferably free range

1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh grated parmesan

1/4 milk

1 1/2 cups dried fusilli or penne

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Open each Courgette flower bud carefully, and with kitchen shears, snip out the small pollen stem(stamen) inside the flower; discard. Place baby courgette in a medium-sized roasting dish, sprinkle 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper on top. Toss to coat squash and place in oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until beginning to golden.

To make the sauce, place 2 egg yolks, milk, and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese in a bowl. Mix well.

Place pasta in boiling water and cook to almost al-dente (as directed by your pasta type).

Meanwhile, in a saute pan place bacon over medium heat and cook until browned and beginning to crisp. Discard (or keep) as much bacon fat in pan as desired, and add the onion, garlic, thyme, courgette, and salt and pepper to taste to the pan. Be sure to add more pepper than normal, for this dish fares quite well from it.  Cook until well softened, and onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. When the pasta is ready, drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Place the pasta water, and pasta, in the saute pan with the courgette mixture, stir well, and turn off the heat. (This is the tricky part, for you do not want to cook our egg yolks to then get scrambled eggs!) Slowly add the sauce mixture to the courgette and pasta mixture, and stir well. Add the rest of the cheese, and any additional pepper as you see fit to the dish.

Remove the roast courgette from the oven, plate the pasta mixture, and scatter the roasted squash on top. Enjoy!

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My summer lover: Ratatouille

So. I have a confession to make. For the past few years, I’ve had a bit of a crush. Well. I guess I should say its a pretty major crush. It started all in England, near the dairy aisle. This handsome little devil was calling my name in silence from across the linoleum walkway. Beckoning me, with his glossy sheen, his complex but simple attire, and his ability to share his warmth with anyone he came into contact with. I mean, wow! I just had to have him. So I tarted myself up a bit, and took him home with me, to keep him forever part of my dreams, and my love has grown for him ever since.

The key to his sauciness is the tastiest, most flavorful, and juicy… tomatoes you can find. What? You didn’t expect me to say tomatoes? Did I not mention my new-found best friend is none other than the french classic, ratatouille? That sinister, delectable, unbeatable little Mister from Provence. Whoops!

This version, to me at least, is the best version I’ve had (and I sample ratatouille basically everywhere I can!). It’s perfect for someone like me, who gets a wee bit too giddy at the summer markets, with the piles of brilliant violet varieties of aubergine, the stacks of zucchini as fresh as the little hairs that only stick around when being seen close to picking time, and the crispest new crops of fire engine red peppers. Take that overflowing basket of goodies home, unload, add a dash of some Herbs de Provence, and you are well on your way.

But, let’s get back to the time we first met. I thought my first found friend, a winter based Ratatouille, with swede(rutabaga), turnips (do NOT grimace if you have never tried them!), and the all important roasted tomatoes. But then, a love of chocolate – we can discuss this another time – brought me to know Joanne Harris, and her a-mazing cookbook collection, The French Kitchen, and The French Market, both of which highlight, real, simple, incredible french cuisine, and my copies happily reside in my kitchen, with tender love splatters and page folds displayed proudly. For a summer stew, this cannot be beat, and as courgette (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), tomatoes (tomaaaaaaaato), red bell pepper, are more than a-plenty at the market, this should grace ALL of your menus, pronto!

So thank you Waitrose for bringing him into my life, and thank you Joanne Harris for livening, and enlightening my understanding of Ratatouille.


(adapted from Joanne Harris and Fran Warde’s My French Kitchen)

4 tbsp olive oil

-2 medium onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 red bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped

2 medium-sized aubergines (or 6 smallish, or 2 long Japanese), roughly chopped

4 courgette, chopped

2 lbs ripe, juicy tomatoes, cut in 4ths, or 3 14 oz. cans san marzano tomatoes

1 bunch of each: oregano, marjoram, parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 tbsp fennel seeds

or if cannot find fresh herbs – sub 2 tbsp “Herbs de Provence”

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large pot(preferably a dutch oven) heat 3 tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat. When ready, add the onions and garlic, and cook until starting to soften and color, around 5 minutes. Add the peppers, aubergine, and courgette, stir, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until all of the vegetables have started to color.

Next, add the tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups warm water, oregano, marjoram, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer, around a medium to low flame. Simmer for 1 to 2 hrs, stirring occasionally, until flavors have had a chance to melt. When finished, stir in the remaining olive oil for flavor. As with many stews, ratatouille tastes even better the next day, and freezes superbly, so make the full batch to have extras.

Tip: The longer is stews the better, and it tastes amazing reheated next day with all that extra flavor mesh time. Also, I have heard some qualms with the texture of stewed aubergine. If that’s you out there, cut into thickish slices, and roast in the oven until golden and crispy, with a soft interior. Then simply cut and add to your awaiting ratatouille. Texture problem, solved.

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