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Tag Archives: Ratatouille

62 degrees

A couple of weeks ago at Baumé Restaurant we installed a new Menu box that is located to the left of the entrance door. In that box we display the tasting menu options and the list of ingredients being currently used, a list that changes constantly with the farmer’s market’s offerings. If you read the list, you might be surprised to see a 62-degree egg. Why 62 degrees? Is it a cold or a warm dish? Which temperature scale are we talking about? Those are the questions that most of our clients ask, and that I am past due answering in this blog.

62 degrees (Celsius) is known as the temperature at which the egg white is cooked. The egg yolk does not start the cooking process until it reaches 68 degrees. So, by cooking the egg at 62 degrees, we keep the egg yolk liquid, nice and warm, and cook the egg white to a creamy, soft texture that melts in your mouth.

If you think that this recipe is only available to us thanks to modern cuisine and the tinkering of  foodies/chemists, you may be surprised to learn that this cooking technique has been used for more 1500 years in Japan and is called “onsen tamago”. Onsen tamago are eggs, slow cooked in hot springs, that were and still are served with local condiments. Sometimes natural resources are a great source for cooking inspiration!

We use the silky and smooth egg as a base for multiple variations such as an artichoke cream and prosciutto, ratatouille, etc. Bon appétit!

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I am sure you have heard of this traditional dish from Provence at least once. You might have found it on the menu of a French restaurant here in the Bay Area, tried it during a trip to South East France, or just seen it on screen – even prepared by a mouse!

Ratatouille comes from Nice -the full name of the dish is “Ratatouille Niçoise”.  It is an Occitan dish and is traditionally prepared with eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. The vegetables are combined either at the end or the beginning of the recipe as its name lets us predict – tatouiller in old French means toss together. Now, there is still a debate as to which vegetables are included in the traditional recipe and how to combine them. Some add bell pepper, some others are even more daring with carrots or even mushrooms. Some dice the vegetables, others cut them in thin slices. As for the cooking process, there is still a fiery debate between advocates of separate cooking of each vegetable then mixing and those who like cooking all the vegetables at once. Even the cooking method (pan frying, baking etc.) is left to individual interpretation.

My personal preference goes to simplicity. In all the different versions we favor at Baumé, I limit the number of ingredients to the most traditional ones and play with cooking techniques. In the one seen below, I only use tomatoes, zucchinis and eggplants, and I complement the charbroiled baby vegetables with a candied tomatoes sauce.

At home, using a flameproof casserole,  you can pan fry (separately) coarsely chopped onions, eggplants, zucchinis then toss them together with herbs and add peeled tomatoes as in the recipe below :

Ingredients :

1 large yellow onion

3 mediumItalian eggplants

4 medium green zucchinis

2 medium yellow zucchini squash

2 bell peppers

6 medium sized tomatoes (peeled)

1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley

4 sprigs of fresh thyme,

4 garlic cloves (chopped)

4 bay leaves

olive oil, salt pepper.

Steps :

1. Slice the onion,

2. Chop the rest of the vegetables into 1/2 inch dice.

3. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a flameproof casserole over medium heat and start with frying the onions with the garlic. Stir them for about 5 minutes then remove them from the casserole and reserve.

4. Repeat the same process with the eggplants, the zucchinis and the bell pepper.

5. Toss all the vegetables together, then add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, salt pepper and let them simmer for 45 minutes to one hour.

This recipe can be reheated a few times, it gets better and better each time. Enjoy!

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