Category Archives: thyme

Last Friday, I found myself with a bell pepper, an eggplant and no ideas for dinner. Using my ingredients as a starting point, I came across recipes for ratatouille, which I could make with ingredients we had on hand plus the addition of a small zucchini and some diced tomatoes. The one time I tried ratatouille, I was not that impressed; but the emotions and drama in the Disney movie were so convincing, I decided that there must be something wintery and comforting about such a dish.

I followed this Epicurious recipe, almost to a T, except that I used diced tomatoes from a can and dried basil instead of fresh. Oh, and I added some garbanzo beans for protein. I served this ratatouille over a bed of couscous.

Ratatouille


  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • a 3/4-pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 small zucchini, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into thin slices
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  •  

    Directions:
    To remove the bitter taste from the eggplant, peel (I like to leave some of the skin on, so you end up with a striped eggplant) and chop your eggplant first, then sprinkle it with salt and set aside in a colander or bowl while you chop the rest of the vegetables. Before cooking the eggplant, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
    In a large skillet cook the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and heat it over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened. Stir in the zucchini and the bell pepper and cook the mixture over the moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook the mixture, stirring occassionaly, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the oregano, the thyme, the coriander, the fennel seeds, the salt, and pepper to taste and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the basil and combine the mixture well. The ratatouille may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated before serving.
    Result: Yum! Very soothing on a cold winter night, I especially liked the softness and tenderness of this meal, especially with the couscous.
    Advertisements

    what a beautiful fish!

    I’ve been reading the book Four Fish (subtitled “The Future of the Last Wild Food”) by Paul Greenberg, which gives a history of salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna and of course details the environmental aspect of eating, fishing and farming all of them. As someone who loves fish and the ocean, I actually find it riveting. It really makes me wish I stayed an extra quarter to get that minor in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. Perhaps that teeny credential would have come in handy now as I contemplate switching careers in the veeery long term future. I just finished reading the section on sea bass, and the author describes the delicate, white, tender flaky meat of sea bass to explain why it’s so popular. Did you know sea bass has many names, which if you live in New York City, you most likely have seen: branzino, loup de mer, bar, spigola. My mouth immediately began to water, and I continued reading as he details the highly complicated human engineering that goes on in the farming of sea bass, as well as the accompanying pollution and disease. He achieved his intent of making me feel guilty for wanting sea bass. But, then in the last few pages of the chapter, he mentioned a new kind of sea bass whose natural biology is conducive to being farmed, and therefore it’s sustainable and not detrimental to the environment —  that sea bass is called Barramundi! Naturally, this would be my next meal.

    I headed over to the Lobster Place, where I knew for sure they must have this Barramundi. Sure enough, they even had Barramundi from the same “farm” in Turner Falls, MA where the author had done his research. I had intended to buy a filet or two, but the whole fish was 1/2 the price (per pound), so I got that instead. The entire fish wouldn’t fit in the pan, so I tried and then Noah succeeded in chopping off the fish heads (sorry to you sensitive readers out there, but this is just how your food gets to the plate).

    Naturally, this is what happens when you are left with two fish heads... right?

    I proceeded then to adapt this recipe for Barramundi. The recipe has you make a sweet potato puree and brussel sprout chips (from each leaf), but I opted for the easier task of simply chopping and roasting them together. I also made the vinaigrette called for in the recipe, but I think the fish tastes great simply just pan fried with salt and pepper. So, I saved the vinaigrette for a future salad. Also, during this adventure, I learned how to beautifully pan fry a whole fish – so easy and so delicious! The skin is so yummy and crisp.

    Pan Fried Barramundi


    2 barramundi fish, cleaned (or 4 5-6 oz filets)
    2 tbsp olive oil
    salt
    pepper
    2 tbsp butter

    Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with pepper. Add a thin layer of  salt to the oil in pan (this is to prevent sticking). Add fish to skillet and cook 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet. Continue to cook fish until edges appear opaque, occasionally basting by spooning juices in skillet over, about 7 minutes (4 mins for filets). Turn fish over. Cook until just opaque in center, about 5 minutes (2 mins for filets). *If using whole fish, it might be a good idea to cover the pan while cooking, just to make sure all the meat gets fully cooked.
    Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussel Sprouts

    1 large sweet potato
    1 1/2 lbs brussel sprouts
    extra virgin olive oil
    balsamic vinegar
    salt + pepper
    dried rosemary
    dried thyme

    Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes. Cut brussel sprouts in halves. Quarter and slice sweet potato into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine vegetables in baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vingegar, salt, pepper, dried rosemary and thyme. Mix to combine. Arrange brussel sprouts with cut side down. Bake in oven for 30-35 mins.


    What a delightful meal! I’ve been getting bored of our usual baked or fried fish recipes, so I tried something new today, and was pleasantly surprised! I found a baked honey mustard salmon breaded with chopped pecans recipe and now have something new to add to our stock of meals. I used 2 tbsp of yellow mustard and 1 of dijon mustard. Also, I think you could substitute other nuts (almonds or walnuts) for the pecans.

    I also made some roasted potatoes (mix the potatoes with olive oil, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and a little balsamic vinegar and bake at 450 for 30 mins, and finally broil for another 5). We also found that the potatoes are really good with a bit of green onion sprinkled on top. And, to finish off the rest of our vegetables, another Mad Hatter Salad. This time, I chopped the cabbage bigger, which made for prettier colors, but created a good salad of unproportional vegetable sizes. The carrots were too finely shredded, the cabbage chunks too big, and the sunflower seeds somehow got lost in the mix.


    For spring break, Noah and I are in Paris (and in a few days will be cycling through Provence)! I made sure that we spent our first morning at le marché de la Bastille (the best and biggest Farmers market in Paris). Paris markets are so much fun – each vendor enthusiastically sells his or her produce, cheese, seafood, meat, wine, etc., shouting at passersby with the utmost cheerfulness. We brought “home” to our teeny Parisian apartment our Farmers market bounty.

    And that evening prepared a meal of lemon-thyme lamb chops (to which Noah added a bit of red wine and butter), sauteed eggplant and white squash, and a salad with mushrooms and tomatoes topped with a lemon vinaigrette.

    The lamb and its accompanying sauce was most excellent. We even used bread to soak it up. Both of us found the tomatoes a bit mushy, and Noah agrees that eggplant in France is better than the states. For some reason, here it’s just so much more flavorful! The best part of our meal was a thirty-year old bottle of Bordeaux red wine which we found in the 3 euro bin at the farmers market. We were wary of drinking such a cheap 30 yr old bottle, but in the end, found it was a rich, earthy and excellent wine.