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Chef John presents: Ratatouille “confit byaldi”

And now for something completely different: I’ve been cooking a lot more in recent months, and I thought maybe it was time to try writing a bit about it. My goals for these kinds of articles are twofold:

* It was an attempt to make Pad Thai without following any particular recipe. It came out looking like a pile of grayish sludge and tasted like vomit.

First, I want to present the process of exploring new recipes from the perspective of an enthusiast/amateur. I don’t intend to portray myself as an expert (because I am not one), but rather as a hobbyist cook learning on the go. Don’t take my methods as gospel. I tamper with recipes willfully (and I will say why where relevant), and you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment either. Only once have my experiments produced a result so dreadful that I couldn’t eat it.*

Second, I want to provide a window into what a vegetarian diet looks like. I’ve met a lot of people who express confusion over what vegetarian food entails, and it’s my hope that non-vegetarians who happen across these articles may get a better sense of the scope of my home cooking menu. It’s far from limited–I could make a new recipe every week and never run out of new dishes to try.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in to my most recent dish: confit byaldi!

Confit byaldi, served

I’ve made ratatouille (which is essentially a French vegetable stew) many times in the past from the recipe in Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood Cookbook. Hers is a delicious recipe and I highly recommend it, but I was always puzzled by one thing: why did Pixar’s interpretation of the recipe appear to be a weird little stripy stack, rather than the coarsely-chopped stew I was familiar with?

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