Tag Archives: Tomato

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

I have never been a fan of ratatouille. Maybe I’ve only had bad ratatouille. Until my George Brown College cooking class when my teacher opened my eyes to what good ratatouille could taste like, I avoided it like the plague. Before then, my encounter with ratatouille had not been a favourable one. I might have had mushy ratatouille as a side dish at restaurants but I don’t quite recall how I have come to block this dish from my culinary memory.

Coincidentally, while I was prepping to write this blog post, I came across a ratatouille recipe from Anthony Bourdain’s cookbook and he shared my own sentiments about ratatouille. He mentioned that he couldn’t stand that “ratatouille is traditionally sort of sludgy.” I couldn’t agree more. Because you cook all the vegetables together without taking into consideration of each vegetable’s cooking time, the dish ends up being one big mushy vegetable stew. Bourdain’s recipe requires you to cook each vegetable separately and then mix in the seasonings afterwards. This prevents the vegetables from over cooking.

Mushy vegetables stewed together in one big pot was what I knew to be ratatouille until my George Brown culinary teacher introduced me to a new way of cooking it. He separated the vegetables like Bourdain’s recipe but he kicked it up a notch by roasting the vegetables. I couldn’t believe my tastebuds when I had the ratatouille tasting in my class after he prepared it. Wow!

Ratatouille has now become my all-time favourite vegetable dish. This Memorable Dish is not difficult to make. It’s just a bit more time consuming because you have to roast each vegetable separately. However, it’s a great dish to make ahead of time even overnight. All you have to do is reheat it in the oven until it’s warmed through. It tastes best at room temperature. If you have a phobia of ratatouille, please give this dish a try because it will change what your mind and taste buds think of traditional ratatouille.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Serving Size: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 Red Peppers
  • 2 Green Peppers
  • 1 Eggplant
  • 2 green Zucchinis
  • 2 yellow Zucchinis
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 Onion (medium)
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • Few sprigs of fresh Thyme
  • Basil (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 cup Stock (chicken or vegetable)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F and line roasting pan with foil.
  2. Cut all vegetables in 3/4 inch cubes.
  3. In a bowl, toss each vegetable separately with olive oil and salt & pepper.
  4. Roast each type of vegetable separately until they are done. (Red and green peppers together, then eggplant, and then green and yellow zucchinis.) It’ll take approximately 20 minutes for each type of vegetable depending on your oven. Check and toss vegetables around with a spatula if needed.
  5. Mix the tomatoes and onions together to roast. When roasting the tomatoes and onions, cook them when they are 3/4 done (approx. 10-15 min.) Then toss in the chopped garlic and thyme sprigs and continue roasting until done.
  6. Put all the cooked vegetables into one large bowl and set aside.
  7. In a small saucepan, bring chicken/vegetable stock to a simmer and then add tomato paste and bring them to a boil.
  8. Pour the tomato paste mixture and basil (if using) and gently mix with the vegetables so they don’t break apart.
  9. Eat at room temperature.

Notes

Note #1: I didn’t have basil on hand when I made this recipe. Instead, I used flat-leaf parsley. Of course the flavour is different but using parsley gives the dish a more refreshing taste.

Note #2: To save time, you could roast the vegetables in different pans and put them in the oven at the same time. However, you’ll have to adjust the cooking time because the vegetables on the top rack will take longer to roast.

http://www.memorabledishes.com/ratatouille/

Baked Pork Chop Rice – Hong Kong Style (焗豬扒飯)

Baked Pork Chop Rice

Baked Pork Chop Rice is a much enjoyed and popular dish at Hong Kong-Western style cafés. Until recently, I didn’t know what sauce the cafés used for their baked pork chop rice. Somehow I never questioned where the smooth and pasty tomato sauce that adheres to the top of the pork chops came from. It could be béchamel sauce with tomato paste mixed in? The tomato sauce definitely doesn’t taste like the familiar tomato sauce that goes on top of Italian meatballs. I thought about it for a bit but never gave it much more thought.

Somehow when I was perusing down the canned soup aisle…eureka—canned tomato soup! Yes, food thoughts pop into my head when I least expect it. How could I not have figured this out? Based on the taste, texture and colour, they must use canned tomato soup as their sauce! Don’t quote me on it, the cafés might very well make their sauce from scratch and use their special secret ingredients. But I figure to make this Memorable Dish at home, it’s a great and easy alternative to use canned tomato soup.

This comfort food is enjoyed by many Hong Kongers. Eating out in Hong Kong is the norm because everyone is super busy and food is readily available everywhere. Some cafés deep-fry their pork chops but this homemade version is pan-fried. At the restaurants, they usually use egg fried rice as the base. If it’s too much hassle, just use plain steamed rice. Our kids really enjoyed this Memorable Dish at our home Hong Kong-Western style café! I just have to make a Yinyeung (Hong Kong style coffee and tea) to go with it next time 😉

Baked Pork Chop Rice

Baked Pork Chop Rice – Hong Kong Style (焗豬扒飯)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces of Pork Loin
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp Chinese Cooking Wine (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp White Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • Vegetable Oil (enough to cover your pan 1/4 inch deep)
  • 2 cloves minced Garlic
  • 1 small Onion, diced
  • 1 can of Tomato soup
  • 1-2 cups of frozen Peas, Carrots, Corn (thawed)
  • 5 cups cooked Egg Fried Rice or Plain Rice
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated

Preparation

  1. Use a meat tenderizer or the back of a cleaver to tenderize the pork chops.
  2. Marinate pork chops with soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, cooking wine and white pepper for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F before frying pork chops.
  4. Lightly flour both sides of the pork chops.
  5. Heat oil and fry pork chops on each side until brown. Set aside.
  6. Drain all the oil except for 1 tablespoon left in the pan.
  7. Sauté onions for a few minutes then add the garlic.
  8. Pour the can of tomato soup into the onions and use a bit of water to rinse out the rest of the soup in the can.
  9. Mix the vegetables into the sauce and turn off heat.
  10. In a glass or ceramic dish, put rice at the bottom, then the pork chops and then top with the tomato sauce.
  11. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 to 30 minutes depending on how thick your pork chops are.
  12. If your cheese is not brown enough, you can put it under the broiler for a few minutes.

Notes

Make sure the oil is hot before frying pork chops. To test if the oil is hot enough, sprinkle a little flour in it. If it sizzles, then it’s hot enough.

http://www.memorabledishes.com/baked-pork-chop-rice/

Tomatoes Stuffed With Ham Salad

Tomatoes Stuffed With Ham Salad

Even though I spent the first eight years of my life in Hong Kong, my childhood Memorable Dishes could easily have come from a child in North America. The British influences in Hong Kong have added a plethora of interesting dishes to the Hong Kong people. Because of my mom’s adventurous nature in the culinary world, my childhood dishes were made up of both Chinese and Western dishes.

One of my most fondest memories was our weekend potluck parties with friends and family. These weekend gatherings consisted of lots of yummy food coupled with mahjong games for the adults. The kids were left to their own devices while the adults played mahjong. I don’t know why we had so much fun playing even though Hong Kong apartments were fairly small.

When we got hungry from playing, we would grab these stuffed tomatoes and pop them into our mouths. Well, maybe not pop them but took a couple of big bites. At that time, neither cherry nor cocktail tomatoes were available in Hong Kong so my mom used the smallest tomatoes she could find to make these delicious snacks.

I just found out from my mom that she used butter in this recipe. No wonder why they tasted so good! I am recreating this dish using small vine-ripened cocktail tomatoes. Feel free to use cherry tomatoes if you want them to be more bite-sized.

Tomatoes Stuffed With Ham Salad

Tomatoes Stuffed With Ham Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 Cocktail Tomatoes (ripe but firm)
  • 1 cup diced Ham
  • 3 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp of melted Butter (Use if you want to keep it the old school way. Omit if you are more health conscious 🙂
  • A few dashes of White Pepper
  • Parsley for garnish (optional)

Preparation

  1. Cut the top of the tomatoes big enough to scoop out the seeds. Scoop and discard the seeds.
  2. Cut a bit off the bottom of the tomatoes so that the tomatoes can stand up.
  3. Turn the hollowed out tomatoes open-side down so you can drain the extra juice out.
  4. Mix ham, mayonnaise, butter (if using).
  5. Fill tomatoes with ham mixture.
  6. Garnish with parsley if using.

Notes

Note #1: If you can’t find cocktail tomatoes and end up using bigger tomatoes, you can cut bigger tomatoes in half instead.

Note #2: You can prep this a few hours ahead and leave it in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, scoop the ham mixture into the tomatoes.

http://www.memorabledishes.com/tomatoes-stuffed-with-ham-salad/

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