Maryline Damour’s Ratatouille | Kitchen Vignettes for PBS
Maryline Damour started gardening a few years ago after moving to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn, NY. A longtime interior designer and city dweller, she says she had hardly ever owned a factory before, let alone grown a vegetable. But you would never know when walking through its lush garden. Its basil is the largest […]

Maryline Damour started gardening a few years ago after moving to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn, NY. A longtime interior designer and city dweller, she says she had hardly ever owned a factory before, let alone grown a vegetable. But you would never know when walking through its lush garden. Its basil is the largest and healthiest I have ever seen and its raised beds are filled with a thriving assortment of vegetables and flowers. As a designer, Maryline brings an artistic touch to every detail of her garden. As she puts it, "vegetable gardens are great if you can involve all the senses", and thus from the aroma of the herbs to the sound of gravel as you walk through the space to the unique garden fence with its eye-catching diagonal angles. , all your senses are for a treat! Spending an afternoon with Maryline, it is immediately evident that she is one of those people who brings style and beauty to everything she touches.

As someone passionate about soil health, as soon as I saw how productive Maryline's plants are, I wondered what she was feeding her soil. His secret is… mushroom dirt! In other words, the soil from a local mushroom farm after being used to grow mushrooms. Each year, along with other neighboring gardeners, Maryline divides a truckload of precious mushroom dirt and after years of adding it to her raised beds, her garden soil is now a deep black and teeming with germs. healthy and nutrient-dense plants love.

Although Maryline's job typically involves interior design, she tells me that since COVID, she has received a sudden wave of requests from clients looking for exterior design in the form of new garden space. As a result, she has recently gained a reputation as a sought-after garden designer. As she says in the video, she sees the growing interest in gardening as a sign that people want to become more independent and connect to the source of their food. Gardening is, after all, a deep source of comfort, joy, and delicious, healthy foods, three things we could all use a little more in these uncertain times.

Maryline's ratatouille is a proud celebration of late summer bounty, featuring zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and fresh local herbs. It's a hearty meal made with vegetables of French origin, perhaps better known to Americans because of the 2007 Disney movie of the same name. It really is a dish worth knowing better. It's simple to make, the ingredients are all fresh and locally available at this time of year, and it can be served on its own or as an accompaniment to a meat dish, omelet, couscous or simply of a slice of toast. Maryline's secrets are a little touch of low sodium tamari for an extra umami while cooking, freshly torn basil leaves added before serving, and a hint of fine aged balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Maryline's ratatouille is a proud celebration of late summer bounty, featuring zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and fresh local herbs. Learn more about this recipe in this Publishing kitchen thumbnails.

    Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • A handful of fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon of dry thyme)
  • Salt and red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium zucchini, cubed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped (sweet or hot, depending on your preference)
  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (or a liter of cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium tamari sauce (optional)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth or water
  • Optional garnish: fresh basil leaves and balsamic vinegar

    directions

  1. In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the diced onion in olive oil for a few minutes until softened. Add the minced garlic, the thyme leaves, a few pinches of salt and the red pepper flakes to your taste. Cook for a few more minutes until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the chopped zucchini and cook for about 3 minutes. Add with the chopped pepper and cook for about 3 minutes. Then add the chopped eggplant and chopped tomatoes, cook for 3 minutes between each addition and add a little salt so that each new vegetable is well seasoned.
  3. Once all the vegetables are simmering in the pot, add a little vegetable broth and tomato sauce if using it. Add just enough to create some sauce around the vegetables. Ratatouille is a stew, it doesn't have to be a dry dish.
  4. Taste the ratatouille and add more salt and red pepper flakes if needed. To add an earthy umami flavor, add a few touches of low sodium tamari if you like. Add a little more water or vegetable broth as needed.
  5. Ratatouille is ready when the vegetables are cooked through but retain their shape. As an optional garnish, add a splash of fine aged balsamic vinegar and freshly torn basil leaves just before serving.

Aube Giroux is a food writer, award-winning James Beard documentary filmmaker and organic gardening enthusiast and home cook, who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen thumbnails.



Whether you regularly whip up Michelin-worthy meals at the drop of a hat or your cooking skills are best described as “fine, ” you can always benefit from the helpful little tricks of others. Here, 14 of our friends’, families’ and coworkers’ most-used cooking tips.

There’s a time and a place to whip out that complicated coq au vin recipe you’ve been dying to try. A dinner party isn’t that time. With a new recipe, you’ll likely be chained to the kitchen the whole time, plus, when you’re trying something for the first time, there’s always the possibility that it could go horribly wrong. When cooking for a group, we always err on the side of tried-and-true crowd-pleasers.

You do hours of prep work on an intricate dish, only to be totally disappointed once you taste the terminal product. Bummer. Instead of putting in all that effort only to be disappointed, taste while you cook. That way, you’ll realize sooner that the dish isn’t tasting how you’d like it to, and you can make all kinds of last-ditch efforts to save it. This doesn’t just work for bad-to-OK meals. Tasting midway through and realizing how perfect a dash of cayenne or a squirt of lemon juice would be can take a great dinner to legendary status.

Plating pasta means tossing some onto a plate and finishing it with a nice dollop of sauce right on the middle, right ? Wrong. Here’s how to take your carbs to the next level : On the stove there should be two pans, one with pasta and one with sauce. Cook the pasta to al dente and transfer it into the sauce. Then, add a little bit of pasta water ( literally just the starchy water the pasta has been cooking in ), which will help the sauce cling to the pasta while also keeping it the right consistency. Perfection.

In the pursuit of the perfect steak, you have to be OK with your kitchen getting a little smoky. That’s because, to get the mouthwatering sear we’re all after, the meat has to be dry and the pan should be pretty damn close to smoking hot. Trust us, it’s worth a few seconds of a blaring alarm.

Most foods are ruined by too much salt. Steak is different. When it comes to seasoning your meat ( before you cook it ), more is more. Use a generous amount of coarse Kosher salt—more than you think you need. Since most cuts of steak are pretty thick, even though you’re using a lot of salt, it’s still only covering the surface.

This one isn’t too complicated. Whether you’re making avocado toast, pizza, fried rice or a burger, the addition of a fried egg on top will not hurt your feelings. Trust us.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but we’ve definitely found ourselves in a situation where we assumed we knew all of the ingredients that went into chocolate chip cookies only to find out that we had about half the required amount of brown sugar. Ugh. to avoid a mid-cooking grocery-store trip, read the recipe from front to back—carefully—before you start.

Prepping grains in mass quantities is less about taste than convenience. Rice, quinoa and even oatmeal last about a week in the fridge after being cooked. When we’re prepping any one of those, we double up our measurements and store the leftovers, which are then impossibly easy to use up throughout the week. Too tired to make dinner ? Heat up some leftover rice from the fridge and toss an egg on top ( remember ? ). Couldn’t be simpler.

So you fried up a pound of bacon for an indulgent ( read : delicious ) déjeuner. Great, just make sure you don’t throw out the grease in the pan. Instead, save it in the refrigerator or freezer ( it technically lasts for up to a year, but should be used sooner than that to take full advantage of its flavor ). Then, anytime you’re cooking something you typically prepare in oil, try cooking it in the bacon grease instead. You’ll never want to eat Brussels sprouts the old way again.

You’ve probably heard that whenever a dish is lacking a little something-something, the best thing to do is toss in some salt. But, we have it on good authority that salt isn’t always the answer. When you’re tasting a dish at the end and you think it needs a little oomph, often it just needs a splash of acid ( like lemon juice ) to round out the flavor.

You know the difference between a paring knife and a fillet knife, but do you know how to take care of them ? Or, more importantly, how to use them ? A set of good knives can be the difference between a stressful cooking experience and a great one. First, practice your knife skills. Look up tutorials on YouTube and practice chopping, slicing and julienne-ing. It’s amazing what you can do with your cook time when your prep time is shortened with solid knife skills. Then, once you’ve got your skills down pat, learn how to take care of your set. No one ever achieved kitchen greatness with a dull chef’s knife.

The key to tender, flavorful barbecue and roasts ? Cooking it on a low temperature for a long time. The same doesn’t go for roasting veggies. For crispy, perfectly cooked butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and more, remember the magic number : 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Any lower, and you risk pulling a pan of blah carrots out of the oven. It might seem high, but to get the nice roasted flavor, you need high heat. And while we’re on the subject, stop crowding your veggies in the pan, which will also make them soggy.

You know how just about every cookie recipe suggests that you chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, but oftentimes you don’t listen because you just want cookies now ? ! ( Same. ) Unfortunately, this step actually does make a difference. In addition to limiting how much the dough spreads while baking, chilling your dough intensifies the flavors and produces that perfect chewy, crispy matière we know and love.

It won’t do your breath any favors, but never ( ever ) scrimp on garlic. In fact, we typically double the amount a recipe calls for. Apologies to anyone who was planning on kissing us.

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