A mandoline has been on my “list of kitchen equipment I need” for a while now, but I’ve never found a design that I liked, at a price that I thought reflected how much use and value I would get out of it.
I haven’t yet found the silver bullet, but a pared-back design and an affordable price led me to purchase one with a Kyocera ceramic blade (and I have a soft spot for Japanese goods). I wouldn't expect it to stand up to the rigours of a commercial kitchen, but it will do for now.
I once spotted a gorgeous photo of an oven baked ratatouille with fine slivers of the vegetables arranged in multi-coloured arcs across the top. I scoured the internet for that photo and that recipe but couldn’t find it again. Wasting too much time on this fruitless search and not enough time on making dinner, I resorted to working from a hazy image in my mind.
Being somewhat deconstructed, I made the sauce separately. A whole bunch of other ingredients were sautéed together in a pan and simmered briefly and gently with a tin of tomatoes before being transferred into the base of a glazed pottery oven dish — one of my favourite souvenirs from our travels in provincial France.
Thin slices of the vegetables were arranged over the top, covered with a baking-paper cartouche, and popped in the oven to cook slowly.
My husband and I really enjoyed this oven-baked ratatouille, it had a depth of flavour and was visually appealing. After two or three offerings, our toddler agreed with us too.