It`s difficult to explain my love for Oranges….I love them in every form possible…their sweet juicy fleshy fruit, the juice from the oranges, the fragrant zest and even its peel!!! As a little girl, it was a pleasure to open the sweet orange peel, and see perfect fleshy oranges tightly packed, preserved in their little casings, and enjoy its juiciness in every bite. Oranges are a great source of Vitamin C which is an excellent anti0xidant for the human body. I remember seeing baskets of Oranges sold in trains when they stop at Nagpur, India. Everytime we would buy a basket and start peeling away orange skins. I remember my sister and me used to dunk the orange slices in salt before the tastes mingled in our senses – the sweetness from the ripe oranges and the saltiness bursting through. Now when I see the navel oranges here, I miss the humble “Santra” Orange that we used to have in my childhood. But the stories of those days keep the kids enraptured through these story telling sessions…
I made a huge batch of the Candied Orange Peel last week to use for my Eggless Christmas Cake and also as a reserve for salads and soups. I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did!
1 cup sugar.
1 cup water.
A shallow tray with 1/3 cup sugar.
The first step for making these candied goodies, is to peel the orange with your fingers or a peeler. When you peel oranges with your fingers, they come off with the whitish pith inside. This part is a little bitter so it has to be pre-treated before making candied orange peel.
Collect all the orange peels and pop them in to a shallow saucepan. Pour about 2 cups of water and let it sit on a medium flame for about 6 minutes or so. Discard the water and refill the saucepan with more fresh water.
Pop it over the stove for another ten minutes or so and discard the water once again. This helps remove most of the bitterness from the orange peel.
Add equal quantities of water and sugar in a container and place over a medium flame in the stove.
When the sugar has melted and little bubbles start to form in the sugar solution, add the pre-cooked orange peels and let them simmer in the simple syrup for about 30 minutes or until you see that the orange peel has cooked well and is slowly getting transparent.
Prep up a shallow tray with 1/3 cup sugar and spread it in to a thin layer.
Remove the orange peels and drop them on to the sugar crystals and roll them in to the sugar to coat them well.
When this Disney Pixar movie was released I was astounded at the very thought that was the centre of the entire movie – Remy`s burning passion for cooking inspired by his Chef Gusteau and his astounding sense of smell. He always cooked with his sense of smell and that was something very magical and endearing about it. The expression of the famous food critic Anton Ego when has a bite of the Ratatouille whipped up by Remy is one of extreme happiness as he is immediately reminded of his mom`s cooking. The movie ends on a happy note with the food critic Anton Ego funding a new bistro run by Remy the rat and some more of his friends. The climax of the movie is by far my favourite, where Remy patiently slices all the vegetables in the mandoline, splatters sauce on the base of the dish and arranges all the sliced veggies in the baking dish. I had never noticed that she does cover the dish with parchment paper which is what the recipe calls for. The movie has been outlined with such tremendous detail and capture new details every time I watch the movie!
Since I day I watched the movie, I had been wanting to taste the original version of this dish and I must push that dream to a little later until I can visit my dream destination – the City of Love – Paris. This weekend I found myself with all the ingredients I wanted except of course the eggplants. I still decided to go with my heart and made it yesterday for my family and they loved it. Every bite was filled with the bite of the crunchy veggies baked in the aromatic tomato sauce and pillows of cheese ravioli! Bon Appetite!!!
FOR TOMATO SAUCE:
5 Medium Tomatoes.
1 Garlic Pod.
1 Medium Onion.
1 Small Carrot.
1 Tsp Salt.
1 Tsp Brown Sugar.
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar.
1 Tsp Dried/ Fresh Basil.
For the Ratatoiuille Base Sauce:
1 Tsp Oregano.
2 Tsp Parsley.
1 Bay Leaf.
2-3 Cups of the Prepared Tomato Sauce.
For the Vegetable Layer:
1 Zucchini sliced in to thin circles.
1 Yellow Squash sliced in to thin circles.
1 Japanese Eggplant sliced in to thin circles.
1 Carrot Sliced into thin circles.
1 Red/Yellow/Green Peppers for colour. ( I did not have them so my version was made without them.)
Salt & Pepper to season the veggies.
Arrange all the sliced veggies on a large tray and season them with salt and pepper.
Take the first six ingredients and make a slightly chunky basic tomato sauce. Add your favourite herbs – Basil / Oregano etc.
Simmer the chunky tomato sauce over a medium flame for about 20 minutes until some of the water evaporates and it becomes slightly “saucy”!!!
In another wok, add 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and then pop in the herbs listed under “Tomato Base” – bay leaf, parsley and some oregano. When they fry in the oil, add t he garlic and the onions. Allow to brown only slightly and then add your prepared “Ratatouille Base Sauce”. Give it a quick stir and let them all come together.
Take a shallow baking dish and firstly add a layer of the prepared Ratatouille Sauce.Spread them around the base of the dish.
Arrange the sliced veggies atop the sauce concentrically alternating each of them with the other . This does give it a dash of colour and symmetry! You might be left with a few more of the sliced veggies, but that’s fine.
Make sure that the slices peek out from the sauce and they are not dunked in it completely.
Season one last time with a twist of your pepper mill and sprinkle a few drops of balsamic vinegar over the top.
Preheat the oven to 375F in the mean time.
Before placing the Ratatouille inside the oven, many recipes call for lining the inside of the dish with parchment paper but I didnt have any.
I went ahead and popped it in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until the veggies are well cooked but not limp. They should not be allowed to brown.
I served my Ratatouille as a side for Cheese Ravioli in Tomato Sauce.