More and more I am starting to look at the Chez Panisse book as more of a set of guidelines than actual Haute cuisine recipes - most of it does not seem particularly Haute Style, especially compared to the more traditional French Haute cuisine I had at La Folie. Of the two restaurants, I already like La Folie more - they are comparable prices, but at least La Folie allows you to mix and match meals for your many course dinner, while Chez Panisse changes their menu every night and it is a fixed menu, removing all choice on your part. At any rate, I created those two things from the book and they definitely produced quantities sufficient for my lunch for the next week at work.
Baked Eggplants and Tomatoes with Bread Crumbs and Basil (my altered variety) - 3.5 stars
- 3 globe eggplants (2 pounds)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 pounds tomatoes
- 2.5 cups bread crumbs
- Grated mozzarella cheese
- Yellow squash (spaceship variety is what I used) - about 2 pounds
Boil the tomatoes for about 15 seconds, then remove skin (loosened by boiling, it's pretty neat), then core, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Peel the eggplants, and cube into squares with sides about 1/2 to 1 inch long. Set the eggplants in a large baking pan, glass preferably, about 9x13 inches at minimum size. Put some water into the bottom so it rises up about 1/8 inch around the eggplants. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 1 hour. Then chop the squashes to make square pieces with 1/2 inch dimensions, and add to the baking pan. Salt and pepper as desired, add the tomatoes now as well, and then sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of the pan. Then add the bread crumbs to make a fine layer on the mozzarella. Put back into the oven uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 35-45 minutes.
Chilled Tomato Soup with Peppers and Cucumbers (Modified from Chez Panisse Red and Yellow Tomato Soup with Peppers, Cucumbers, Onions, and Basil) - 3 stars
-3 pounds ripe tomatoes
-2 green bell peppers
-1 red bell pepper
-White Zinfandel Wine
- Parsley (fresh or dried leaves)
Cut the red tomatoes into 8 pieces (in half, then each piece into four), cut the green bell peppers into squares about 1-inch wide, and cut one of the cucumbers into chunks, and place in a large pot of water on high heat. Boil the vegetables until slightly soft. Meanwhile, dice the last cucumber and cored red bell pepper to squares about 1/4-1/3 of an inch in size. Set these aside. When the vegetables are softened, drain the water and blend, either with a hand blender (what I did) or in a blender, until smooth. Then add the white zinfandel (about 1 cup), and fig balsamic vinegar (about 1/2 cup) and then when cool, add the diced cucumber and red bell pepper. Serve chilled. Garnish with parsley.