I’m not sure exactly when my mom first started making ratatouille, that rustic French stew of eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers. Maybe it was after she took a trip to Paris, leaving me and my sister at home with our dad whose culinary expertise at that time was limited to tamale pieand mac n’ cheese with hot dogs and black olives (I’m actually getting hungry thinking about these meals). Or, maybe it was a recipe she got from one of the Time Life Foods of the World cook books lining the shelf in our kitchen. All I know is that at some point during my childhood, ratatouille became a regular in the meal rotation. While I didn’t love it at first (because what child in their right mind loves eggplant?!) I grew to love it because of what it represented: autumn, rainy days and my mom’s home cooking. Also, it’s really delicious. So that scene in the Pixar movie “Ratatouille”where the food critique takes one bite of the “fancy-pants” layered ratatouille and in an instant, is transported back to his childhood where his mom serves him her version of the dish -one of the best scenes in any movie, animated or not – had particular resonance for me. I mean I didn’t cry or anything. Okay, maybe I had something in my eyes that caused them to water and perhaps at the same time I found myself involuntarily emitting sob like sounds, but that’s totally normal when watching Pixar movies. Am I right?
Now as an adult, ratatouille has been a go to dish of mine for years. So far, my kids seem to like it too. Perhaps when they’re adults they’ll eat it and think fondly back to the simple eggplant stew that I, their father, made for them. Here’s the list of ingredients and watch the video below for how I do it.
1-2 lbs of eggplant
1-2 lbs of zucchini
2 red bell peppers
5-8 cloves of garlic
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
Matt is long gone, but the memory of this meal remains strong. We wanted to take Matt to a Michelin star restaurant so we headed straight to Bay Ridge Brooklyn, of course, to one of our new favorite spots, Tanoreen. You might remember that back in November, I took Shefali there for her birthday. Since then, we vowed to return but with a larger group of people so we could further explore the numerous dishes on the menu. So, with Matt’s visit as an excuse, we got a great group of eaters to join us. In no particular order, the participating eaters were: Matt, Alex and Leo, Maria and Ahmad (my Tokyo eating buddy , Minori (of tonkatsu fame), Shefali and me. I’d say we did a pretty decent job. You be the judge.
Fortunately, he wasn’t. Phew! Atef the maître d totally punked me. Oh, good times at Tanoreen.
Here’s the actual receipt. To channel John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”
This is when I was presented with that $20 fee for taking photos of the food! WTF?!
Shef and Minori share a tête a tête.
Because it was Matt’s birthday – his NYC birthday, anyway (we won’t be able to celebrate with him in CA)
Why were all these waiters gathered at our table?
Shef and Minori (post eating).Probably the most flattering photo ever taken of these two.
we shared the sh*t out of this lamb shank.
Chicken fetti be done!
Leo looking sharp as usual.
Minori and Matt debate the merits of spreadsheets.
Ahmad contemplates eating more.
It’s go time at our table.
Maria contemplates the entrees.
When I asked the waiter if the lamb shank would be big enough to share among eight people he said, “It’s pretty big.” He was wrong. It was enormous. And it was so tender and delicious.
Palestinian Shephard’s pie
This dish is like the well heeled cousin to halal chicken and rice from a street cart in midtown. Don’t get me wrong, I’d eat both versions in a New York minute.
Roaste brussel sprouts served with tahini and yogurt were simply divine. Seriously. I think God made them.
Puree of roasted red pepper.
Tanoreen flat bread with sumac and other spices baked on. So good.
Located on a quiet corner in Bay Ridge Brooklyn is Tanoreen
And we’re back and with a recipe to boot! It has been a while. I know. Right now winter is quickly descending upon us in the northern hemisphere and for those of us who live in areas like NYC that means, winter jackets, hats, gloves and lots of roasted root vegetables, soups and if you’re me, heavy meaty stew type dishes. Well here’s a dish that will take you back to summer with it’s light vibrant flavors and fresh ingredients. Also, I shot this video a few months ago when it was summer. All good things taken time. Isn’t that what they say? So really, it’s not so much a seasonal dish so much as a delicious one. If you can get eggplant, you can make baigan burtha. This is Shefali’s take on it. By the way, this is also Shef’s you-food debut as a contributing cook – she’s been seen as a contributing eater several times. So, I hope you enjoy the full video and the recipe.