Grilled bread stuffs

This is what I do with old bread. I hate wasting food and I love grilling. Plus grilled bread is delicious. I had leftover pita bread and some French bread. Both of them were excellent with the leftover ratatouille. Particularly with leftover brie on it.

The other good thing about it is that you’re extending the life of stale bread for at least 3 more days.

Ratatouille on the grill

I’ve done this before and it is delicious but it is such a freaking rigmarole that I actually dread it. Doing it on the grill makes it somewhat easier I think. It is certainly less messy than sautéing everything on the stove. But still, oy. And add to that the taking of pictures incessantly. My neighbors must think I am a lunatic. They were out on their balcony smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and watching me frantically going in and out of my apartment with ingredient after ingredient, flipping, turning, looking, thinking, picture taking. Like they were watching monkey island.

The grilled mushrooms were really good.

But I forgot the squash. Not that I actually noticed it. The monkeys may have.

You can look at a more thoughtful blog about process here.

CSA Ratatouille

I got my CSA produce and there was only one thing to do with it all and that was make ratatouille. I don’t really understand why I go on so much about this dish. It’s not even in my top 25 foods. I’d rather eat just about anything else. For starters it reminds me of college food which I am so over, and was 40 years ago. Then there is the zucchini issue. Who likes zucchini?? 

I dried out the eggplant in my microwave a tip I learned from Cook’s Illustrated and works well if you’re making it on your stove but I realize now that if you’re gonna grill it, that isn’t necessary. I grilled the things that take more time first (love that grill pan), then grilled the zucchini (ugh) and eggplant. I had the sauce going by the time everything was done and I just dumped it all in. 

I did add a splash of lemon for a “bright” note, whatever the hell that means but all TV cooks say it. Why can’t you just say lemony?

It was good. I could have lived without the beans. 


I had lunch last week at Pastiche, a small restaurant on the south side. I had ratatouille. Having spent a lot of time in the south of France, I know ratatouille. I can make a pretty good version of it myself. In my experience, ratatouille is served cold or room temperature. I have always assumed this was done because it’s best made the day before. At Pastiche, however, it was served hot. I much prefer that. 

This was the best ratatouille I’ve ever had. My lawyer, with whom I was dining agreed. Although he had never had it before and as we were walking to the car afterward couldn’t remember what it was we’d had, so I’m not sure his opinion was valid but as lawyer I’m sure he thinks it is. 

Great service too.

Ratatouille Petit Sejour

Eggplant, zucchini, onions, garlic, peppers and mushrooms. Mushrooms are not really in ratatouille but that’s tough, this is my recipe. The thing about most ratatouille is that it’s just a sloppy mess. Dump everything in a pot cook it till it’s cooked and call it ratatouille. But then the eggplant and zucchini are mush and it just tastes like the mess it is. The trick here is to cook everything individually so they retain their various shapes. 

This is the kitchen of my former apartment in France. There were 2 hot plates essentially. I didn’t cook there all that much but if I can make ratatouille there, I could make anything. I made BBQ beef once on a cocked up grill using sticks to make the fire. My vegetarian banker ate 2 sandwiches.

I got the skins off the peppers with this ingenious method of putting aluminum foil (tissue alu) right on the burner. It did not smell as good as you might imagine. I got the skins off the tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water which does not smell.

These lovely mushrooms, called chanterelles, aux etats unis, are called girolles in France. And they are luscious. And cheap, in spring, anyway.

A s each thing cooks you drain it. I saved the juices in a bowl and added them to the sauce, I am not sure if that’s right but I did it and the French Gourmet Society did not arrive and shoot me.

Caramelizing tomato paste with garlic in olive oil and butter creates kind of a messy looking pan of slop but after it’s absorbed all the juices and oil and gets a dark red you add red wine and it becomes glossy and beautiful.

Then I added this tomato stuff, I have never seen anything like it in the US but it tasted like fresh tomatoes. I drank what I didn’t use for lunch one day. Once that’s simmered for a while I pour it over the vegetables and brought all of that to a light simmer for a few minutes. Then you let it come to room temperature and refrigerate it overnight. I have generally been served ratatouille cold. I don’t like that. And it’s not served with pasta. Ditto on not liking it. 

But either way, this is an awesome recipe.

I suppose I should mention that I used oregano and thyme liberally.


Or something like it. The French eat it cold. Generally speaking, although there are billions of recipes, each ingredient is sauteed separately and then added together in the sauce, briefly simmered and then let sit overnight. This way it does not turn into the mush you usually get called ratatouille. This isn’t really ratatouille since there is no zucchini and little eggplant. And it has mushrooms not usually found in ratatouille. Come to think of it, it’s not really ratatouille at all. I ate it with ramen noodles. The more I think of it, the less like ratatouille it gets. None the less it was delicious. Eaten hot.