My Grandmother’s Bohemienne Eggplant

Another Provençal classic we used to enjoy spending summer vacation at my grandmother’s. This dish is similar to the more widely known ratatouille, but simpler in its combination of ingredients, neither using zucchini nor bell peppers. Sometimes also known as ‘poor man’s ratatouille’, simple in its preparation, it is best prepared in an enameled cast iron pot with a cover, which evenly conducts the heat and is well suited for slow cooking.

We used to serve this accompanied by long grain Camargue rice. Here I served it using the other vegetables I received in our weekly share from the local farm in Chicago, which included delicious fresh greens and small red potatoes. When my boyfriend had his first taste, he exclaimed: “such a delicate flavor!”
Try it out!

2 small to medium eggplants
2 large or 6 small tomatoes
1 small long onion or large shallot
1garlic clove
3 tbsp Olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt
Enameled cast iron pot with cover
Preheat oven to 350F

Peel and chop the onion finely.

Place the olive oil in the bottom of an enameled cast iron pot. Place on the stove over medium heat.

Add the onions and turn the heat down to low to slowly melt them till translucent.

Chop the tomatoes in small cubes.

Add the tomatoes, a little salt and continue cooking slowly.

Cut the eggplants in small stripes and cubes.

Add the eggplant to the melted onion and tomatoes.

Peel and crush the garlic to chop it finely.

Add garlic to the cooking mixture, and a little more generous salt.

Add about 1/4 cup of water and cover the pot.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for about one hour.

Once the Bohemienne is cooked, spoon out immediately on plates accompanied by rice or potatoes if serving hot. This is also delicious cold.

Here, served with the beautiful farm greens and sautéed cubed potatoes. Enjoy!


Chilled Asparagus Soup with fresh Basil

Chilled soups are always refreshing in summer. This recipe is a non-dairy creamy soup, basically puréed with almond milk. It is particularly popular with friends who have dairy restrictions in their diet, or people who simply enjoy a lighter version of creamy soups.

20130630-115840.jpg The chilled asparagus tend to have a more delicate flavor when mixed with potatoes which act as the binding agent in the soup. If you wish to enhance the asparagus taste of the soup, add a little cumin (optional).

20130630-115930.jpg Ingredients:
2 lbs asparagus
1 large shallot
2-3 small potatoes
1/2 jalapeño pepper
2 garlic cloves
1.5 oz fresh basil
1/4-1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
2 cups water
2 cups almond milk
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon rind for decoration

20130630-145516.jpg Remove the seeds and white/silver lining of the inside of the jalapeño pepper

20130630-145651.jpg Cut the jalapeño in strips and dice finely.

20130630-150113.jpg Peel, crush and chop the garlic finely. Peel the shallot preserving the roots to hold it while chopping. Slice it horizontally, almost reaching the roots, then vertically like an onion, and finally, chop it vertically again but in a perpendicular direction.

20130630-150230.jpg Heat about 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pot and add the chopped jalapeño, garlic and shallot. Lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes. You might add the cumin at this time if using.

20130630-150343.jpgWash, peel, and slice the potatoes. Cut them in sticks and dice them in small even pieces so they cook faster and evenly.

20130630-152557.jpgAdd potatoes to the pot and continue cooking on low heat.

20130630-152644.jpgIf the ends of the asparagus are thick and woody, it is best to snap the ends off between your fingers rather than cutting them with a knife. By snapping them, they naturally break off at the point where the tender part of the asparagus meets the woody part. Discard the woody parts.

20130630-153925.jpgThen, trim the tips by slicing them individually at a diagonal to preserve a naturally elongated design.

20130630-154010.jpg Cut the asparagus stems in about 1-inch pieces, add them to the pot along with 2 cups of water and moderate salt. Bring to a oil, lower the heat and simmer about for 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus stems are cooked.

20130630-155308.jpg Separately, bring a small pot of generously salted water to a boil and plunge the asparagus tips for a few minutes until they begin to be tender yet slightly firm to the touch.

20130630-190438.jpgRemove the asparagus tips from the boiling water and place them immediately in an ice bath. This will stop the cooking and preserve their bright green color.

20130630-190515.jpgDrain them as soon as they are cool and reserve.

20130630-191527.jpgOnce the asparagus stems and potatoes are cooked, place in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

20130630-191608.jpgProcess until smooth and let cool a few minutes.

20130630-191647.jpgAdd the basil leaves at this time and process further until the leaves are incorporated into small pieces into the soup.

20130630-191728.jpgAdd the almond milk one cup at a time and process to blend perfectly.

20130630-191800.jpgPour into a bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

20130630-191842.jpg Meanwhile, cut a long piece of lemon rind with a small pairing knife.

20130630-192342.jpgRemove the extra pith (white part) that might be left attached to the rind.

20130630-192422.jpgCut thin strips (‘julienne’) and reserve.

20130630-192459.jpgSet up the lemon rind and asparagus tips to serve.

20130630-192602.jpg When pulling the chilled asparagus soup from the refrigerator, check for seasoning, add salt and cumin if necessary, and some finely ground black pepper. Place a ladle a of chilled asparagus soup in individual bowls or cups, decorate with the asparagus tips and lemon rind strips.

20130630-192643.jpgChilled asparagus soup, here served with a grilled fig. Enjoy!