We attended a wonderful pop-up restaurant over the weekend, right in our own kitchen! Local chef Camille Le Caër hosted a fundraiser for the Hauptman-Woodward Research Institute here in Buffalo, and everyone who attended the Zoom call created a savory ratatouille and sweet dessert crêpes. Such fun!
About Chef Camille Le Caër:
Chef Camille is an executive pastry chef. “My first kitchen experience,” says Chef, “was at the Michelin-starred Ritz Palace when I was 14 years old. The head chef at the time, Michel Roth, sharpened my view of excellence and professionalism in the art of food. In 2011, I graduated from Dinard Cullinary School, (Brittanny, France) and from 2011 to 2013 I was an apprentice while attending the CFA Ploufragan, in Brittany, and the Paris Pastry School, in Ceproc, where I continued to practice and improve my skills in pastry. After three years in the Paris pastry world, I received an opportunity to work in New York City as an Executive Pastry Chef, learning and enjoying the cuisine and customs of a new country.” Chef met his wife in NYC, and decided to move to WNY (she hails from Lockport) to raise their family, which is definitely our gain! He began his Buffalo journey as the Head pastry chef at Giancarlo’s Sicilian Steakhouse in Williamsville, and at Ristorante Lombardo’s, winning local “Best Of” awards for his skill. In 2018, he moved onto Hertel Avenue with his own café: “Pastries by Camille.” The café was a booming business until Covid-19 created a state-wide shut down. During that time, Chef had time to rethink his priorities. He decided not to reopen the café, despite collective community grief that his shop was closing, in order to spend more time with his family. Chef has big things planned for Buffalo, though, so stay tuned!
Back to the recipe:
A beautiful produce box arrived on our doorstep on Friday afternoon, filled with everything we needed to make the ratatouille. Thanks, Produce Peddlers! Bonus: a terrific bottle of red wine was also delivered from Winkler & Samuels. We got everything prepped and measured ahead of time, and signed on to the Zoom class at 7pm sharp.
Fun people, great food, and beautiful wine.
Here’s the recipe, directly from Chef Le Caër, himself. Please note: This recipe originally calls for 2 tsp kosher salt, instead of 1 tsp. It also called for 3/4C olive oil, instead of 1/2C olive oil. Kitchen 2.0 altered the amounts to make the nutrition stats match K2.0 standards.
- 1 large eggplant, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
- ½ C olive oil, divided
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 large onion, halved, sliced ½ inch thick
- 1 large red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, divided
- black pepper
- 1 C torn basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- Toss eggplant, zucchini, and 1 tsp kosher salt into a colander. Let sit for 30 minutes to weep water from vegetables. Pat dry with paper towels afterwards.
- Heat ⅛C olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add half of eggplant and zucchini and cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables begin to take on color; about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with ⅛C olive oil and remaining eggplant/zucchini.
- Tie thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine. Heat remaining ¼C oil in Dutch oven, and cook onion, bell pepper, garlic and thyme, stirring occasionally, until onion is beginning to brown and is softened; 8-10 minutes. Add ½ of tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften; about 5 minutes.
- Stir in zucchini and eggplant, then top with remaining pint of tomatoes. DO NOT STIR. Season with salt (if desired) and pepper. Transfer pot to hot oven and roast until all vegetables are softened and tomatoes have begun to burst; 15-20 minutes.
- Remove thyme bundle. Transfer to a serving platter and top with fresh basil.