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French food writer Robert Courtine once said, “A woman cooks for love of her man, a chef for himself, for his pride.” His remark points to the essential strength of home cooking. It is designed to please the people one cares about most. This is a sound recommendation for a recipe. Like this one for Little Verrines of Fresh Ratatouille, devised by a home cook for her family.
You will also need:
1. Ten 1/2-cup size clear glasses: A ‘verrine’ is composed of several different ingredients layered in a clear glass. Verrines may be sweet or savoury. This one is savoury and has 3 layers.
2. A rimmed baking sheet.
3. A small, heavy-bottomed frying pan.
4. A food processor or blender.
5. Three bowls—one for each ingredient layer in the verrine.
6. A mortar and pestle or the flat side of a broad knife blade to crush the coriander seeds and peppercorns.
A note about timing:
The three layers of ingredients for the verrines may each be mixed separately and refrigerated several hours in advance. If the verrines aren’t made very far in advance, allow at least 30 minutes for the vegetables to marinate in the refrigerator before making the verrines. Assemble the verrines right before serving.
Making the eggplant layer:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, rub a little olive oil over their cut surfaces, place them cut side down on the baking sheet and roast them until they are tender, for perhaps 30-40 minutes. When done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.
2. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, scrape out their roasted flesh with a spoon into a bowl. Discard the empty shells.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the frying pan, add the eggplant flesh and cook it over medium heat for a minute, stirring it about with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the thyme and a few grinds of pepper and salt and cook a few minutes more to combine the flavours. Then, remove it from the heat and set the eggplant aside to cool a few minutes.
4. When the eggplant has cooled a bit, place it in the food processor with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and the 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard. Process until the mixture is smooth. Transfer it to a bowl and add 1/3 of the green onions. Cover the eggplant mixture and refrigerate it.
Making the zucchini layer:
1. Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan over medium heat for a minute or two until they pop and become fragrant. Then remove them from the heat and crush them coarsely with a mortar and pestle or on the side of a broad knife blade. Coarsely crush the pink peppercorns in the same way.
2. Cut the zucchini in small cubes and place them in a bowl. Mix the little cubes with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the toasted, crushed coriander seeds and crushed pink peppercorns.
3. Stir in 1/3 of the green onions. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the marinated zucchini.
Making the tomato layer:
1. Cut the tomatoes in small pieces. Place them in the third bowl and mix them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the chopped fresh cilantro (coriander), the last 1/3 of the green onions, and several grinds of black pepper and salt. Cover and refrigerate the tomato mixture.
Assembling the verrines:
1. Spoon into each glass: first, a layer of eggplant; second, a layer of zucchini; and last (on top), a layer of marinated tomato.
2. Place two rounds of bread at the side of each verrine. A twig of dried thyme looks pretty arranged on top.
An Acknowledgement: Little Verrines of Fresh ‘Ratatouille’ is adapted from a recipe for ‘Fresh Ratatouille-Inspired Verrines’ on the food blog “Papillotes”. The author of the blog is an example of a cook whose recipes are shaped by a thoughtful consideration of her family and their tastes. She is, as well, a photographer, whose pictures are well worth a visit to “Papillotes”.
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Nancy is the Coupon Clipping Cook, which means she not only has an astounding number of recipes to share with us (her TK recipe box is busting at the seams!) but she's also got loads of money-saving tips in her blog (she worked at a grocery store for a number of years, so she knows her stuff). She has some pretty amazing creations, like Roasted Garlic Potato Soup and Nutty Coconut Chicken. Go check them out!
Heather is a Texas native and the blogger behind Heather's Dish. She's mom to Weston, wife to Nate, and they live in Little Rock, Arkansas with their two "stubborn and saucy" dogs Bunker and Keira. In her blog, she shares her photographs, random musings (serious and silly alike), and all kinds of scrumptious recipes---and not just evil variations of her favorite mac and cheese. Her enviable TK recipe box is a testament to that. Go see for yourself!