Monday, July 24, 2023


In the hot days of summer, ratatouille is the perfect vehicle for all those bountiful farm fresh vegetables – eggplant, yellow and green squash, onions, peppers, garlic, as well as tomatoes. Oooh, don’t forget the mushrooms…This does require a fair amount of stovetop cooking, but you can do it in advance and serve it cold, which is absolutely sensational!

Jump to Sue’s Ratatouille

I have a distinct way of making ratatouille, which I think brings out the best in all the vegetables. I use two different pans. First, I get the chopped onions softening in a largish (8 quart) stockpot, while I sauté each kind of vegetable separately in a nonstick pan. As they're finished, I add them to the onions. I add a hit of garlic and as little oil as possible (maybe 1 1/2 teaspoons) to each vegetable and I season as I go.

To minimize the amount of oil, here's a trick. I add oil to the pan, toss in each vegetable and cook them on medium high for 2 minutes. THEN I cover the pan, turn it down to medium low and leave it for another two minutes. That builds up a bit of steam, which softens the vegetables without having to add more oil. I continue sautéing and adding garlic and plenty of seasoning to each batch, which then goes into the stockpot with the softened onions.

I like using a combination of canned AND fresh tomatoes. I add the canned ones when the onions are softened. I throw the fresh tomatoes into the sauté pan last to pick up all the yummy flavors of the other vegetables. Lastly, everything gets simmered together.

I admit there’s a lot of chopping in this recipe. But I love surrounding myself with a pile of vegetables, a sharp knife and a cutting board. What could be more fun? 









Tomato Note: I never hesitate to open a can of tomatoes, even if I'm using just a little bit. I like to freeze the remainder in smallish amounts, so I have them on hand. Here, I used some diced tomatoes I had in the freezer, plus fresh ones. I like the juiciness of the fresh ones and the more concentrated flavor of the canned ones. But use any combination you wish. If you're using all fresh, though, add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste when you add the chopped tomatoes.

Sue's Ratatouille (makes a boatload)

3 onions, chopped
olive oil for sautéing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
4 Japanese eggplant, peeled and cut into half inch dice
2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash, halved lengthwise, then sliced (If they’re huge, quarter lengthwise, then slice)
8 to 12 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow, red or orange pepper, chopped
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, peeled, center core removed, pressed or grated
3 big tomatoes, (juicy beefsteak are good), chopped - about 4 cups chopped
a huge handful of parsley, finely chopped

Add onions to a 6 to 8 quart stockpot with a spoonful of oil. Season liberally with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. (From here on in, I’ll just say “season with salt and pepper”.) Cook on medium high heat until you hear a sizzle. Cover and turn down heat to low. Cook for at least 10 minutes, until the onions are completely soft, stirring occasionally.

Stir in canned tomatoes and simmer on low heat while you attend to the other vegetables.

Add a spoonful of oil to large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes on medium high heat. Stir in a little garlic. Cover and cook on medium low for 2 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the eggplant is mostly softened. Add to stockpot with onions. (This is the one vegetable that may require more oil.)

Continue with each vegetable - the zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms and peppers. Add oil to the sauté pan, add each vegetable (separately) with seasoning, cook on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Then add garlic, cover and cook on medium low heat for 2 minutes. Cook each vegetable in turn until they’re happily softened and add each batch to the stockpot.

Add chopped tomatoes to sauté pan. Bring to a simmer and stir well to get all the flavor from the pan. Carefully add tomatoes to stockpot. Stir in parsley. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve immediately or at room temperature. Or refrigerate overnight and serve cold, which is outstanding!



Sunday, July 16, 2023

Frozen Yogurt Bark Isn't Just For Babies


I first became familiar with yogurt bark through a baby I know. It’s a cool treat for all those baby-led weaning kids, but it’s great for anyone else too!

It’s basically a spread-out bed of yogurt topped with fruit and anything else you can think of and then frozen. For babies? Use just fruit. For non-babies? The sky’s the limit! The biggest challenge is to find a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer, but once you’ve done that, it’s smooth sailing.

Jump to Non-Baby Frozen Yogurt Bark

I started with 2 cups of 5% Greek yogurt. The first time you make it, PLEASE don’t use non-fat yogurt. Experience it being really good, before you strip away the flavor and rich feel that the 5% yogurt gives it. (My baby friend actually uses 10% Greek yogurt, which I couldn’t bring myself to do…) Also – and don't do this for babies - I stirred in some honey AND drizzled more over the final product just before freezing.

It’s fun to gather all the ingredients to put on top. 

Use whatever appeals to you, but make the pieces smallish, so they can fit nicely on whatever shapes you cut it into. I used sliced strawberries and blueberries. And I cut delicious pieces of dried mango (chili-covered mango from Trader’s Joe’s) into small diamonds (and a few triangles). Plus I was lucky enough to have some granola in the freezer, so I sprinkled that over at the end.

The amounts are just suggestions. Put as much on top of the yogurt as you think looks good. (If it looks good, it will certainly taste great!) I almost disastrously forgot the best thing that I was going to use - chocolate-covered pretzels! But, luckily, I remembered just before I put the bark into the freezer. I don’t think you can tell that they were an afterthought…

Enjoy. And remember no honey for babies under a year old, and, also, they can’t have all the fun stuff that makes the yogurt bark really heavenly…

Note: If you warm the honey just a bit, it makes it a breeze to stir into the yogurt. Pour it into a small glass bowl and microwave for 20 seconds or so. Never microwave the plastic honey bear!

Non-Baby Frozen Yogurt Bark

2 cups Fage Greek Yogurt - 5% fat
2 tbls. honey (warmed, see note above)
6 sliced strawberries
3/4 cup blueberries
6 small chocolate pretzels, broken into pieces
1/3 cup granola
A tbl. or so of honey to drizzle over the top.

Line a 9” x 13” baking sheet with waxed paper. 

Mix the yogurt with 2 tablespoons of honey. Spread evenly in lined baking sheet. 

Place remaining ingredients on the yogurt in the order given, pressing down slightly. Freeze overnight (or at least 6 hours). 

Place entire sheet of frozen bark (still on waxed paper) on cutting board. Using a long chef’s knife, cut into squares and place on serving dish in one layer. Serve when slightly softened in about 5 minutes. 

Place unserved yogurt bark back in the freezer until ready to use.