Leek Prosciutto Gratin

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This dish has become one my favorite ways to prepare leeks, well this and grilling,  I don't know if it's the crispy salty Proscuitto, or the ooey gooey gruyere cheese that makes it so irresistible to me. Well, and what wouldn't be good next to a perfectly grilled steak. 

It's really not all that involved but tastes like you spent a lot more time making it than you did.

Here, let me show you.

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Cut the leeks in half, but only up to the root not through it. Simmer the leeks in water in a large skillet until tender. (I added a bay leaf to the simmering water) Drain the leeks and arrange in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Tear the prosciutto into shreds and cover the leeks with them. 

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Bake until the prosciutto is crisp. Yes, it does shrink but don't be tempted to use more, I think it would be wayyyy to salty. 

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Sprinkle over the leeks the cheese and the nuts. I had spicy pepitas so I used them, not the walnuts the recipe calls for. Now, back into the oven

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until the cheese is all melty and bubbly.

It's wonderful alongside some grilled meat, but it's also great on its own for lunch. 

I used only two leeks and pretty much "eyeballed" the rest.  You'll know how much to use if you are using fewer leeks. 

Leek and Prosciutto Gratin

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    6 Medium leeks, white and light green parts, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise but still attached at root end
    ¼ tsp. kosher salt
    3 oz Prosciutto, thinly sliced
    4 oz, shredded gruyere cheese
    ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the butter in the bottom of an 11-by-7-inch gratin dish.

    Arrange the halved leeks in the bottom of a large skillet in one layer, and add water to cover. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the leeks are just tender about 10 minutes.
    Fish the leeks out with tongs and a spider, draining off excess water as you go, and arrange in one layer in the baking dish, rolling to coat in the butter. Season with the salt. Tear the prosciutto into rough shreds, and layer these over the leeks. Bake until the prosciutto is crisp, about 20 minutes.
    Sprinkle over the leeks the cheese, then the walnuts, and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly about 8 to 10 minutes.

    Serve hot.

    Serves 4-6

    Lidia Bastianich

And that's that!


Fried Green Beans, Halloumi & Lemon-Tiganita Fasolakia

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First of all, it's fried, and crispy and crunchy. Second of all, it's fried and cheesy. Third of all, it's fried, lemony and tangy. Try and top that!

What you'll need to make this delicious Greek staple is,

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Green beans, Halloumi cheese, lemon, flour, cornstarch, parsley, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper, soda water, olive oil, and oil for frying. 

According to the notes in the cookbook, the flat Romano beans are ideal for this but the Blue Lake beans will be fine. The batter is also good for young fava beans, the entire pod, and squash blossoms. 

In a large bowl combine the flour, cornstarch salt, and pepper. 

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To the flour mixture, add the parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. Add the soda water and olive oil and whisk until most of the lumps are gone. 

After a quick toss with flour, the beans, cheese, and lemon are dipped into the batter then, 

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into the 360* spa. It's important to fry a mix of them together, don't fry just the beans or cheese or lemon separately. You'll need the lemon essence imparted into the oil. There was a big improvement in the flavor of the beans that were fried with the lemon slices. Also, I noticed the lemons were a bit sweeter after frying, still tangy but a bit sweeter. 

Another reason you should fry a mix of them together is because lemons are so juicy you don't want the water-hot oil reaction, so don't fry them alone, always just one or two with the beans and cheese.

Just for fun Google water-hot oil reaction. I had that happen to me once, and that was one time too many. 

 

Fried Green Beans, Halloumi & Lemon

Ingredients

  • For the batter

    1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup cornstarch 
    1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
    1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
    Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
    2 cups chilled soda water
    2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
    For the beans, cheese and lemon
    4 quarts canola oil
    1 pound tender green beans, trimmed and moistened
    8 lemon slices, about 1/8 inch thick
    1/4 pound halloumi cheese, in 4 slices, each broken in half lengthwise
    1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    Minced flat-leaf parsley for garnish Lemon halves for serving

Directions

  1. For the batter: In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, parsley, lemon zest, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and a pinch of pepper. Mix well with a whisk. Add the soda water and olive oil and whisk just until most of the lumps are gone. Don’t overmix, or you will deflate the batter. Let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. Mix gently before using.

    In a large, heavy pot, heat the canola oil until it registers 360°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Put the beans, lemon slices, and cheese in a colander set over a bowl. Toss with the 1/2 cup flour, then shake off the excess. Working in small batches, dip a few of the beans, lemon slices, and cheese in the batter. Lift them out, letting the excess batter drip back. Fry until the lemon and the cheese start to brown (the beans will not brown much), about 2 minutes, agitating them frequently in the oil with tongs or a wire-mesh skimmer. Lift them out with tongs or a skimmer onto a tray lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remainder.

    Transfer the fried beans, lemons, and cheese to a platter and garnish with a light sprinkle of parsley. Serve hot with the lemon halves.

    Kokkari: Comtemporary Greek Flavors Cookbook

And that's that!


Ratatouille Confit Byaldi

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Piperade sauce,  perfectly cooked vegetables, and a herbal vinaigrette. 

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I don't think I could prepare these vegetables any other way and enjoy them as much.

Let's start with the Piperade sauce. You'll need 

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Olive oil, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, parsley sprigs. The recipe calls for different colors of peppers. I used all red, they were on sale.  

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I was tempted to use some of the jarred roasted red bell peppers I have in the cupboard but I'm glad I didn't. These little blackened bits add a lot of flavor. 

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After the onion and garlic are cooked until the onions soften but not brown, add the tomatoes, their juices, and the herbs. After this cooks down a bit add the peppers, salt, and pepper and cook until the peppers soften. Take out the herbs. 
My tomatoes weren't very juicy so I had to add a splash of water. Also, don't do what I did and forget to set aside some of the sauce for the vinaigrette. 

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Speaking of which, for the vinaigrette, you'll need olive oil, garlic and I added a pinch of fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. 

Now let's get the vegetables ready. 

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The vegetables needed are tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini.  I wasn't going to run all over town looking for Japanese eggplant so I bought the one and only eggplant Smith's had. It was a nice one too. 

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I used the spiralizer for the squash. The one I have slices, peels, and cores. All I had to do was slice down one side of the "slinky" and I had nice even pieces. Easy Peasy

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I used the mandoline for the tomatoes and eggplant. Since the eggplant was so big I had to cut the slices in half and that worked just fine. 

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Spread the piperade in the bottom of an 8" square baking dish and arrange alternating slices of the vegetables over it and sprinkle the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Cover tightly with foil and bake

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Hot out of the oven and it's as delicious as it looks. 

What would I do differently next time you ask?
I would peel the tomatoes for the ratatouille as well as the piperade, and I would peel alternating strips off of the eggplant. 
Have you tried peeling a tomato with a potato peeler? It works a charm, you don't have to go through the boiling water routine. 

I'm posting the original recipe but I'm also including the other recipe I mainly followed from the blog Just As Delish

I strongly encourage you to read through both recipes. The main idea is there, just some little differences. 

Thomas Keller's Ratatouille Confit Byaldi

Ingredients

  • Piperade

    • 1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
    • 1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
    • 1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
    • 5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, divided
    • 1/2 c. finely diced yellow onion
    • 3 tomatoes (about 12 oz.), peeled, seeded and finely diced, juices reserved
    • 1 sprig fresh thyme
    • 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
    • 1/2 bay leaf

    Ratatouille

    • 1 zucchini (4 to 5 oz.) sliced in 1/16-in. rounds
    • 1 Japanese eggplant (4 to 5 oz.), sliced into 1/16-in. rounds
    • 1 yellow squash (4 to 5 oz. ), sliced into 1/16-in. rounds
    • 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-in. rounds
    • 1/8 tsp. dried thyme leaves
    • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Directions

    Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the peppers cut side down on a foil-lined sheet. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.
    Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juices, fresh thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes. Do not brown.
    Add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt and discard herbs. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

    Reduce the heat in the oven to 275 degrees.

    Down the center of the skillet arrange a strip of alternating slices of zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash and Roma tomatoes, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap the vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled.
    Mix 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoons olive oil in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the vegetables.
    Cover pan with foil and seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more.

    For the final topping combine the reserved tablespoon of sauce with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Drizzle around plate. Serve hot.

And that's that!


Zucchini Tian, Julia Child's Tian de Courgettes au Riz

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Shredded zucchini with rice in a velvety sauce

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You could just cook the shredded zucchini, onions, and garlic in some cream and it would be great but I really liked it baked with rice

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All you need is some zucchini, onion, garlic, rice, flour, Parmesan cheese and milk that missed the photo shoot. 

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The zucchini gets grated, salted and drained and the rice gets a quick par-boil and set aside. 

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In a large frying pan, cook the onions then add the zucchini and garlic. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for a few minutes before adding the heated milk. Stir, stir, mix, mix. until smooth and creamy. 

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As if it wasn't good enough already, here's where you add in some grated Parmesan cheese. Here is where I couldn't help but add a few scrapings of fresh nutmeg, just a bit. It was a great addition to the sauce. 

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In the casserole ready for a final sprinkling of Parmesan cheese then into the oven. 

Marvelous

Julia Child's Tian de Courgettes au Riz (Zucchini Tian)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds zucchini (up to 2 1/2 pounds)
    1/2 cup plain, raw, untreated white rice
    1 cup minced onions
    3 tablespoons olive oil (up to 4 tablespoons)
    2 large cloves garlic, mashed or finely minced
    2 tablespoons flour
    2 1/2 cups warm liquid: zucchini juices plus milk, heated in a pan (watch this closely so that it doesn't curdle)
    2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (save 2 tablespoons for later)
    1 pinch Salt and pepper
    2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Shave the stem and the tip off each zucchini (or other summer squash), scrub the vegetable thoroughly but not harshly with a brush under cold running water to remove any clinging sand or dirt. If vegetables are large, halve or quarter them. If seeds are large and at all tough, and surrounding flesh is coarse rather than moist and crisp, which is more often the case with yellow squashes and striped green cocozelles than with zucchini, cut out and discard the cores.

    Rub the squash against the coarse side of a grater, and place grated flesh in a colander set over a bowl.For each 1 pound (2 cups) of grated squash, toss with 1 teaspoon of salt, mixing thoroughly. Let the squash drain 3 or 4 minutes, or until you are ready to proceed.

    Just before cooking, squeeze a handful dry and taste. If by any chance the squash is too salty, rinse in a large bowl of cold water, taste again; rinse and drain again if necessary. Then squeeze gently by handfuls, letting juices run back into bowl. Dry on paper towels. Zucchini will not be fluffy; it is still dampish, but the excess liquid is out. The pale-green, slightly saline juice drained and squeezed out of the zucchini has a certain faint flavor that can find its uses in vegetable soups, canned soups, or vegetable sauces.

    While the shredded zucchini is draining (reserve the juices,) drop the rice into boiling salted water, bring rapidly back to the boil, and boil exactly 5 minutes; drain and set aside.

    In a large (11-inch) frying pan, cook the onions slowly in the oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned.

    Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic. Toss and turn for 5 to 6 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender.

    Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.

    Gradually stir in the 2 1/2 cups warm liquid (zucchini juices plus milk, heated gently in a pan -- don't let it get so hot that the milk curdles!). Make sure the flour is well blended and smooth.

    Return over moderately high heat and bring to the simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat again, stir in the blanched rice and all but 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Taste very carefully for seasoning.

    Turn into a heavily buttered 6- to 8-cup, flameproof baking and serving dish about 1 1/2 inches deep, strew remaining cheese on top, and dribble the olive oil over the cheese.

    About half an hour before serving, bring to simmer on top of stove (you can skip this step if your baking dish isn’t flameproof), then set in upper third of a preheated 435-degree F oven until tian is bubbling and top has browned nicely. The rice should absorb all the liquid

And that's that!