Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Confit Byaldi a.k.a. Ratatouille October 29, 2010

Filed under: dinner,lunch,side dishes — freerangenurse @ 9:49 am

Confit Byaldi

I’ll admit, before I saw the movie, Ratatouille, I had heard of ratatouille, but never had much desire to know what it was.  As Linguine would say, “It sounds like rat…patootie.”  Not very appetizing, but when Remy makes it at the end of the movie, it looks delicious.  Yes, I realize it was a cartoon, but I still wanted a cartoon bite!  I did some research and found out that the chef-spiration for Remy’s cooking came from Thomas Keller.  Mr. Keller is already a favorite of mine because of this recipe, and because I have loved all of the recipes I’ve tried from his Ad Hoc cookbook.  Plus, I’ve always wanted to go to his French Laundry restaurant, until I saw this!  Well, actually, I still want to go, but I guess I’ll have to wait until someone else wants to foot the bill.

While researching Keller and Remy, I found a link to the recipe for Ratatouille’s ratatouille by the man himself.  I made a couple of modifications, but it is still pretty true to the original.  It pairs amazingly well with goat cheese (an idea I gleaned from Smitten Kitchen).  It was hearty enough to be dinner and good enough to be lunch the following day.  I only wish I had made more so it could have been dinner again.  It was that good!

Don’t let all the steps and prep work scare you away.  If you have a mandolin (which doesn’t have to be expensive – mine is from Pampered Chef), it makes pretty quick work of the veggie prep.  My daughter did all the arranging and she is very proud of it.  Sadly, I did not bother to take an after picture, so all I have is an in progress photo.

Confit Byaldi
Thomas Keller’s Confit Byaldi

adapted slightly

For Piperade:

  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 3 San Marzano tomatoes (from can), seeded and coarsely diced, juices reserved
  • 1 sprig of thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 sprig flat leaf parsley, or 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf, his recipe called for half a bayleaf, but seriously?
  • kosher salt

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place pepper halves on a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down.  Roast until the skin loosens, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

Combine oil, garlic, and onion in a medium skillet over low heat until very soft, but not browned, about 8 minutes.  Add tomatoes, their juices, and herbs.  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 bay leaf.  Reserve a tablespoon of mixture and spread the remainder in the bottom of a pie plate.  Set aside.

For Vegetables

  • 1 zucchini (4-5 ounces), sliced into 1/16th inch rounds
  • 1 Japanese eggplant (4-5 ounces), sliced into 1/16 inch rounds
  • 1 yellow squash (4-5 ounces), sliced into 1/16 inch rounds
  • 4 roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16th inch rounds
  • 2 red bell peppers (long, skinny ones), sliced into 1/16th inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Starting in the center of the pie plate, arrange vegetable slices, in an alternating pattern, over piperade so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed.  Once you reach the outside of the pie pan, start working in concentric circles back in, until you fill the dish.  Combine remaining ingredients and drizzle over vegetables.  Set aside.

For Sauce:

  • 1 box Pomi tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp herbs de Provence (or a combination of herbs such as thyme, chervil, basil, etc)

Mix herbs into tomato sauce and pour over prepared vegetables until just covered.  Cover dish with parchment paper (not just aluminum foil – it reacts negatively to tomatoes), then aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife.

Using a spatula, remove a desired amount of the confit byaldi to a plate, top with a dollop of fresh goat cheese and swoon!  I really need to make this again!


Pork Tenderloin with Shallots and Pears October 23, 2010

Filed under: dinner,pork — freerangenurse @ 2:11 pm

Pork Tenderloin with Shallots and Pear Jus

I’ve told you before that I love garlic and that I don’t really like onions, right?  Have I told you that I love their love child, the shallot?  Oh, I looooooooovvvvvveeeee shallots!!!  They are a delicious blend of onion and garlic and although they make me cry when prepping them (what love doesn’t make you cry from time to time), I still can’t get enough.  Imagine, then, my delight when I came across this recipe on epicurious.  It has shallots right in the title, as in, they are a featured component of this dish.  They get top billing!  I made this and let me say, I think it is a delicious fall recipe.

Pork Tenderloin With Shallots and Pear Jus

adapted from Epicurious

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground (coarse) black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin
  • 6-8 large shallots, cut in half, peeled
  • 2 bosc or anjou pears, quartered, cored
  • 4 teaspoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup pear nectar (not juice, okay)

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.  Mix oil, garlic, salt, pepper and chopped thyme in a small bowl.  Dry the pork loin thoroughly, with paper towels.  Rub the loin, pears and shallots with the oil mixture to coat all sides well.

Heat a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the pork and shallots.  Brown on all sides, turning, about seven minutes total.  Transfer the shallots to a platter.  Transfer the pork to a baking sheet (do not clean the skillet, you’ll want, no you’ll NEED all those yummy brown bits on the bottom).  Roast the pork until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F, this takes about 10 minutes.

While your pork is finishing up in the oven, add the pears to the dirty seasoned skillet and cook over medium-high heat until they are brown on the cut side, turning them once or twice, about four minutes.  Transfer the pears to sit next to the shallots on the platter (wait!  Don’t clean that skillet, yet!!!)

Mix butter and flour in a small cup.  Add broth, pear nectar, and butter mixture to the skillet that you haven’t washed and boil until the sauce thickens, scraping up all those delicious, delectable, delightful brown bits you’ve been itching to wash off (shame on you, by the way).  This should take about 7 minutes.  Add the pears and shallots to the sauce.

By now, hopefully, you’ve taken your pork loin out of the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes, wrapped in foil.  You do know meat needs a break after cooking and before you slice into it with a knife, right?  We have to let those juices have a chance to move back into the meat.  If you cut it, the juice will just run out and you’ll be stuck with dry meat and I don’t want that for you!  As I was saying, after you let the meat rest, slice it and arrange it on a plate or platter, surround it with the pears and shallots and spoon some sauce over it.  Serve with a green veggie (I love sauteed spinach) and a starch (I chose mashed potatoes).  Enjoy!!!


Bringing Britain Back October 17, 2010

Filed under: cake,dessert — freerangenurse @ 12:28 pm

Coffee Walnut Cake

I have a dear friend, Emma, who just celebrated a milestone birthday this past week. I won’t say which milestone, because I’d still like for us to still be friends, but I’ll just say that it ended in a zero. Emma is from jolly old England and darn proud of it. I would dare say she’s almost as proud as Texans are about being from Texas! I offered to bake her the cake flavour (Queen’s English spelling, just for Emma) of her choosing and she chose coffee walnut cake. I scoured the internet and found a recipe courtesy of BBC. The only modifications I made was making the cake four layers and using all-purpose flour instead of self-rising and using granulated sugar in place of castor sugar.  I am happy to say the cake made her homesick, which means I did something right.  It was even a hit with her mum and other family members who still live in England.

When I first heard Emma mention a coffee flavored cake, I have to say, I wasn’t excited.  I like coffee, but I thought the cake would be overwhelmingly coffee flavored.  I’m glad to say, it is the perfect amount of coffee flavor.  The icing, a buttercream (which ordinarily I don’t like due to the overly sugary taste) was well balanced with the bitter espresso.  Adding that little bit of brewed espresso also seemed to make the buttercream lighter and creamier, but still stable enough for piping.  I highly recommend this cake, it just might be one of my new favorites!

note:  you will need a scale for this one.  I haven’t measured out the ingredient yet, but I promise to bake it again and take note of standard measurements.

Coffee Walnut Cake
(adapted from BBC)

yields a four layer 8-inch round cake

  • 450 grams/1 pound unsalted butter, softened (plus extra for greasing the pans)
  • 450 grams/1 pound of granulated sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 100 ml/3 1/2 ounces strong espresso coffee, cooled to room temperature
  • 450 grams/ 1 pound all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150 grams/ 5 ounces chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour four 8-inch cake rounds.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and pale, about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.

Add the espresso to the mixture and stir well.  Add the flour, baking powder and walnuts and stir well to completely combine.

Spoon the cake mixture into the four prepared cake pans, making sure to evenly distribute the batter between the four pans.  The batter will be very thick.

Bake in a single layer in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden brown.  You may need to bake in batches of two at a time.

Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Prepare coffee frosting, recipe follows.

Coffee Butter Cream Frosting

  • 250 grams/9 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 400 grams/14 ounces powdered (confectioners) sugar, sifted
  • 100ml/3 1/2 ounces espresso coffee, cooled to room temperature

Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, add the sugar in gradually (one cup at a time), beating until fully incorporated and fluffy, before adding more.  Once all of the sugar is incorporated, add the coffee and beat until fully incorporated.  Icing may separate a little, but will become smooth again with continued beating.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake board/cake stand and cover with an even layer of frosting, coming just to the edges of the cake, not covering the sides of the cake.  Place another layer of cake, then icing until all of the cake and icing is used.  Top with 1 1/2 cups toasted, chopped walnuts.  For added decoration, and to make the cake shown here, prepare an extra half batch of frosting to use for piping a border around the cake.  Enjoy!


Cheddar Dill Scones October 15, 2010

Filed under: bread — freerangenurse @ 8:44 pm

Gougeres and scones

Who doesn’t love Ina Garten?  I know I do.  I have three of her cookbooks and haven’t been disappointed in a recipe, yet.  Today I made her recipe for cheddar dill scones.  I am making tomato soup today with some grilled shrimp and thought the scones would be a lovely way to bring it all together.  It just so happens that I’m invited to a seafood boil tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll be setting aside some scone dough to bake up for tomorrow along with the sangria (recipe link here) and an English Coffee and Walnut Cake for the birthday girl (recipe to come).

I loved the scones (what’s not to love if there are three sticks of butter in the recipe), but I did make one modification and would make another if I had it to do over.  Ina’s recipe calls for a petite dice of the cheddar.  I would shred the cheese next time for a less lumpy/more incorporated cheese scone.  I also decreased the amount of dill, quite frankly because one cup of dill seemed excessive.  I think I made the right choice for my taste.

Cheddar Dill Scones

adapted from Ina Garten

  • 4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 sticks (3/4 cup) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 cup cold, heavy cream, plus extra for brushing scones
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or small diced
  • 1/3 cup minced dill weed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the 4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk together to combine.  Add the butter and cut it into the flour, using a pastry cutter, until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.  Add the eggs to the cream and stir to combine, then add it to the flour mixture, combine just until blended.  Toss the cheddar and dill with the reserved tablespoon of flour and then add it to the dough, mixing just until incorporated.  You want your butter to remain as cold as possible, so don’t over-mix.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it just until it comes fully together.  Roll the dough, using a floured rolling pin until it is about 1/2 inch thick.  Using a small round biscuit cutter, begin cutting out rounds of dough.  After you cut as many rounds as you can, gather up your scraps and quickly combine them into a ball.  Place the ball of dough in the refrigerator before rolling it out again to cut more rounds, preventing your butter from melting.  Repeat this process until you have used all your dough.  At this point, you can set some of the rounds on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, to freeze for later use.  Once they are frozen, toss them into a freezer bag for storage.

If you are planning to bake the scones for immediate consumption, spread the scones apart, allowing at least two inches between scones, on a cookie sheet.  Brush the tops of the scones with heavy cream.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are lightly golden.  Enjoy your delicious scones!


Coming Soon: October 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 1:41 pm

Hi there!! I know I’ve been a naughty blogger. I up and disappeared on you, but I promise to post again, soon. I do have more recipes to share, but I will probably start posting just the recipe along with a picture or two of the completed dish. I look forward to sharing with you.


The (not currently so) Free Range Nurse.