Tuesday, June 01, 2010

May 25th - P & V's Ratatouille with Cous Cous and Mitchell's Ice Cream

You cannot fully appreciate how shocking this was.  V, my sister, cooked dinner for us on Saturday (posted for Tuesday because of the food-action packed weekend we had! :^D and eating pizza after we landed home that day which I do not fancy posting.).  This is the sister that never cooks and spent years eating ready-made dinners and addicted to Frozen Naan bread from Trader Joe's. Her boyfriend P, on the other hand likes to cook 'from scratch'.  I had suspected something was amiss when she brought homemade sugar cookies home for Christmas.  My world started going all through-the-looking-glass after that.  :^P.

After wandering around downtown with my sisters all day, we thought it would be nicer to eat at O's rather than try to find a place to eat.  I was pretty close to suggesting taking away Burritos since I still had not had one but thought cooking would be more sociable.  O does not cook much either but will if prompted or has a recipe.  Rather, she cooks to sustain her insanely active lifestyle; lots of rice and meat.  V suggested the Ratatouille that P had made once.  It is a simple and classic dish and moreover, something someone else volunteered to make! Holla!

I made the cous cous which, in my fashion, I prefer to simply add boiling water to rather than the stove top method.  That's right! With all the chopping, sauteeing, stewing going on, all I had to do was boil water! Holla twice!

P and V's Ratatouille with Cous Cous
(Fed 6 people with no leftovers except Cous Cous)
2 small-medium (Papaya sized) Eggplants (Aubergines), cubed
2 medium Zucchini, sliced
2 Red Bell Peppers
1 medium Yellow Onion
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs, Fresh Oregano
5-6 fresh Basil Leaves
1 Bay Leaf
1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper (Habanero), minced
2 tins (1 large 28oz) Diced or Whole Tomatoes, preferable Romano
Water (depending on consistency)
1/4 c Olive Oil, approximately
Salt and Pepper
Red Chili Flakes, optional

2.5 c Cous Cous
3 c Water, boiled
1 T Olive Oil
1 t Salt
2 sprigs, Fresh Oregano (optional)

This was based on observation so I will not question why my sister felt she needed to fry the onions in a separate pan.  I am sure she was just following direction.  I would want the fried onion goodness in the same pot and use 1 less dish.  Upto you.

In a fry pan, heat a T of Olive Oil. Fry the Onions until browned.

In a large Pot, heat another T of Olive Oil and fry the Egg Plant, Zucchini and Bell Pepper in that order about a minute apart.  When the Onions are ready add them to the pot.  Add the Garlic but do not add it too far in advance of the Tomatoes or you will burn it.  Add the Herbs.  And add the Tomatoes.  If you have bought whole tomatoes chop them up a bit. or smush them in the pot.  Swirl half a can of water in the Tomato can and ad that too.  You may need to adjust the water as it simmer.  Add the Scotch Bonnet when you are ready.  Remember heat develops with time so if you are fearful, add it towards the end.  1 Scotch Bonnet in such a big pot should be okay. 

Frankly, I was shocked P wanted the Pepper.  He's rather heat adverse but if the recipe calls for it I guess.  My sisters picked on me for years about my pinch here and there and experimenting.  Not for them really.

Anyhoo, cover and simmer on low simmer for 15 - 20 minutes until the Eggplant is cooked through and the flavours have married together.  Serve over Cous Cous or with a Crusty Baguette.

We had two wines that night only one that I seemed to have photographed.  Hmmm, the Las Rocas San Alejandro Garnacha.  Dark berries and spices.  90 Points from the Wine Advocate. Great bargain, well for us, this wine would have been double the price or more in Vancouver.  Decent body, easy to drink paired well with the veggie stew.

After snacking on Brie, Hummous and Olives followed by amazing Ratatouille, we needed some distraction.  Unfortunately, P and V did not bring their Settlers of Catan with them.  They're addicted to the game and it is one of the only board games V will play anymore.  Instead, we decided on a bit of a walk to a local Ice Cream parlour that D and O rave about.  I do not know what we were thinking.  It was flipping freezing outside.  I was more up for the walk than the ice cream but I was curious what place D was willing to compare to Vancouver's Casa Gelato.  It was after 10 pm on Saturday and it was less than 10 degrees Celcius out.  As we turned the corner, I was shocked to see a very large crowd outside.  Well, that was it for me, I thought we'd turn around.  We did not.  O went in to get us a ticket.  They use a butchshop type of ticketing system to serve the crowd.  It is a small store front on the first floor of a 3 storey apartment building.  They have and exterior bull horn to announce the numbers.  I can only assume that the residents are accustomed to the announcement or have double glazed windows :^). 

O grabbed us number 52.  They were on 35.  They were on 35.  The inside of the store is three icecream cases wide and 3 cozy people deep so it was full.  Up until we were placing our order I was not convinced.  I tasted the Pineapple and Coconut and the Toasted Almond.  I landed the Pineapple and Coconut.  They had much more unsual flavours many asian.  P got Avocado and White Pistacio. A got an enormous Chocolate Shake.  The flavour was nice and the texture smooth but it did have some ice crystals which tells me it was not churned enough or it was so cold outside it was refreezing after each bite :^P.  We decided to walk home and it took most of the walk home, shivering to get through my single cone.  My sisters and friends did not have the same issue.

Cost: $$
Location: Noe Valley
Staff: Friendly, quick

Mitchell's Ice Cream

Noe Valley
688 San Jose Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-2300

I may have gone four maples in better Ice Cream temperatures but not stellar frozen treat weather.

Mitchell's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

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