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Ratatouille

Ratatouille (pronounced rah-tah-too-ee) is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice.  Ratatouille is usually served as a side dish, but may also be served as a meal on its own, e.g. as an entree (see the Confit Byaldo vartiation below).  Tomatoes are a key ingredient, with garlic, onions, baby marrow, eggplant, sweet peppers, basil or thyme.  The roughly cut vegetables are pan-fried and then baked, and plated as a stew. There is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille. One method is simply to sauté all of the vegetables together. Some cooks, including Julia Child, insist on a layering approach, where the eggplant and the baby marrows are sautéed separately, while the tomatoes, onion, garlic and sweet peppers are made into a sauce. The ratatouille is then layered in a casserole and baked in the oven.

My personal favourite is a variation of the traditional ratatouille called “Confit Byaldi” which was created by French chef Michel Guérard.  It is the ratatouille recipe they used in the Disney Pixar movie Ratatouille (2007).  It is also known as Remy’s Ratatouille (see more about the movie below). The dish consists of a piperade sauce – a combination of tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, garlic and sugar – topped with thin slices of tomato, eggplant, baby marrow and patty pans. The dish is baked for two hours, cooled and refrigerated overnight for the flavours to develop.  It is served as an entree on individual plates.  The vegetables are fanned out accordion-style and it is finished off with a drizzle of vinaigrette.  This dish is labour intensive, but so worth it!

The movie Ratatouille (2007), from the creators of “Cars”, “The Incredibles”  and Finding Nemo (to name a few), the main character is Remy, a provincial rat.  Remy is not ordinary rat though.  Not only is he literate, he has developed a passion for cooking after watching numerous cooking programs on TV.  Remy’s culinary hero is French chef Auguste Gusteau, author of “Anyone Can Cook” and owner of Gusteau’s, a restaurant in Paris with no less than 5 Michelen Stars!   After running for his life from his family home in rural France, Remy ends up in Gusteau’s very busy restaurant kitchen, where he meets Linguini, a clumsy young man hired as a garbage boy, the film’s other main character.  Remy’s passion for cooking and Linguini’s eagerness to learn sets an hilarious and exciting rat race into motion that turns the culinary world of Paris upside down.  This movie is a must see!

olive oil (for brushing)
450 g aubergine, sliced into 0.5 cm thick slices and quartered
15 ml olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
5 ml crushed garlic
500 g baby marrow, sliced in half lengthwise
3 large tomatoes, cubed
5 ml salt
5 ml dried origanum
freshly ground black pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C and line a baking tray with a Wizbake sheet and set it aside.
  2. Transfer the aubergine to the baking tray and brush each slice with oil on both sides with a silicon brush.
  3. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes on each side until just tender.
  4. Transfer the aubergine to a chopping board and set it aside to cool.
  5.  Stir-fry the onion until cooked.
  6. Steam the baby marrow until crisp tender and add it to the onions.
  7. Chop the aubergine into cubes and transfer it to the saucepan.
  8. Add the tomato to the saucepan and stir-fry for a few more minutes.
  9. Add the salt, origanum and garlic with a 5 ml measuring spoon and add it to the saucepan. Add a few grindings of pepper to the saucepan.
  10. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes.
  11. Transfer the ratatouille to a serving dish and serve it as a vegetable side dish.
Ratatouille5
Ratatouille aka Provencal Vegetable Stew
Ratatouille3
Ratatouille aka confit byaldi
Ratatouille aka confit byaldi from the movie Ratatouille

ratatouillemovie3

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Gluten-free Sweetcorn & Maize Meal Cornbread

A quick bread with a difference! The flavour is excellent and texture tender and moist. Serve as is or with butter or enjoy on the side with any main course or soup or top with savoury topping such as sliced avocado.

125 ml maize meal or polenta
125 ml oat bran (or additional maize meal or polenta)
30 ml cornflour (Maizena)
30 ml sugar
10 ml gluten-free baking powder
2.5 ml salt
1 x 410 g can cream-style sweetcorn
125 ml milk
3 large eggs
15 ml melted butter or vegetable oil (any favourite)

Optional ingredients
10 ml chopped parsley
15 ml chopped onion or spring onion
30 ml finely grated tasty cheese (Parmesan or any favourite)
60 ml chopped cooked bacon

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 º C.
  2. Line a medium size loaf tin (± 22 x 12 x 6 cm) with baking paper and grease with melted butter or cooking spray. Or use a 22 cm ring pan and grease generously with butter.
  3. Place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix evenly. Add the sweetcorn, milk, eggs and butter or oil and stir only until evenly combined.
  4. Spoon into the prepared tin or ring pan.  Bake the ring about 20 minutes or the loaf for about 25 to 30 minutes or until light golden brown and firm and a cake tester comes out clean if inserted.
  5. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before removing carefully. Allow to cool before slicing to serve.
  6. Store refrigerated and toast lightly if preferred when required.

Yields 1 loaf or 12 – 16 slices

Notes

  • Oat bran is considered acceptable as gluten free by most who are gluten intolerant. For coeliacs or if you suspect that you are intolerant of oatmeal, use additional maize meal or polenta.
  • The loaf is good as is but adding optional ingredients adds interesting flavours and variations.
  • The loaf may be sliced and frozen and toasted from frozen when required.

Gluten free parsley and parmesan cornbread

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Danish Health Loaf

This is an incredible loaf of bread which will change your life!  This bread has no raising agent and uses whole grains, nuts and seeds!  It is high in protein and incredibly high in fibre. It is gluten-free and vegan. The Danes are excellent bread makers and their breads are moist, dense, chewy and filling.  A single slice is almost like a meal in itself – a whole other level of bread making and eating! Use the ingredients as given in the recipe or adjust by using the variations but replace ingredients in the same proportion and with a similar ingredient for best results.

250 ml sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds or mixed seeds
125 ml flax seeds or sesame or partly poppy seeds
± 60 g/125 ml hazelnuts or almonds or mixed raw nuts
375 ml rolled oats
15 ml chia seeds *
60 ml psyllium seed husks or 45 ml psyllium husk powder
5 ml salt
15 ml maple syrup or honey or a little stevia
45 g butter, melted or coconut oil
375 ml water at room temperature

  1. Select a medium size loaf tin (± 22 x 10 x 6 cm) and grease with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Measure out all the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix well and add to the loaf tin.
  3. Place the maple syrup, oil and water into a measuring jug and mix well.
  4. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until all is completely moistened and a stiff dough forms – sticky and too thick to stir. If necessary to make the dough come together and become manageable, add one or two extra tablespoons of water.
  5. Smooth the top with the back of a wet spoon.
  6. Cover the pan and let the dough sit on the counter for at least 2 hours (or all day or overnight) to allow the liquid to become completely absorbed.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180°C when ready to bake. Place the loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Turn out the firm bread and place it onto a baking tray or onto the overturned loaf tin to bake for another 20 minutes – the bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped.
  9. Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important!).  Store the bread in a sealed container for up to five days.
  10. The bread freezes very well – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!

Yields 1 small loaf or 16 slices

* For more info on chia seeds and the difference between chai and chia, read my post Know Your Chai From Your Chia.

Notes

  • Oats are inherently gluten-free, but if you have a severe sensitivity to gluten, make sure to purchase certified gluten-free oats.
  • Nuts may be replaced by other nuts or even mixed nuts and fruit (nuts and cranberries) or additional seeds.
  • There is no substitutes for the psyllium husks or powder.
  • The chia seeds may be omitted.
  • Whole flax seeds may be replaced by ground flax seed but you will have to add more water for ground flax seed is highly absorbent.
  • Whole flax seeds can be replaced with sesame seeds.

DanishBread2
 Acknowledgement: Original recipe and photo from Sarah B’s blog – http://mynewroots.org

 

 

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Gluten-free Mock bread

The lightest and quickest option for gluten free breads yet! Delicious with sweet toppings such as syrup or jam or or savoury toppings, instead of English Muffins or served with curries or soup.The original name was “Oopsies” – it was discovered by mistake.  The mixture can also be spooned over warm cottage pie and baked until golden and firm.

3 large eggs, separated
100 g cottage cheese, cream cheese or ricotta cheese
pinch salt
30 ml Gluten-free flour (any favourite)
2,5 ml baking powder
30 ml water

Topping (optional but good!)
Any typical such as poppyseeds, garlic and herb seasoning and rosemary sprigs, onion seeds

  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper and grease with butter or spray with non-stick spray or line the Wizbake sheets – no greasing required!
  2. Preheat the oven to 160º C.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff.  Beat or process the cheese, egg yolks, flour, salt and water and fold into the egg white.
  4. Place about 1/3 cup of the mixture onto the lined tins and shape into ovals or rounds with the back of a spoon.
  5. Leave as is or sprinkle with topping if preferred.
  6. Bake about 15 – 20 minutes or until golden and firm.
  7. Serve warm or cool a short while and serve fresh for best results.

Variation
The gluten-free flour can be substituted with cake flour if preferred.

 

Mock Breads