Luncheon Recipes 2013

OK, so the world didn't end on December 20, 2012. So you STILL gotta eat.  And if the offerings for 2013 don't float your boat, go to the beginning of the beguine, which is Luncheon Recipes 2012 (and beyond).

Ratatouille Provencal

I first learned how to prepare ratatouille from the French Chef Cooks series featuring Julia Child on PBS. A rustic preparation of summer-ripe vegetables in a light tomato sauce, it has a simplicity and sophistication that makes people sit up and take notice (and eat!). Julia has her own advice about the proportions of vegetables (equal weight of zucchini, onions and eggplant, twice the weight of tomatoes and other ingredients) but my motto is to buy the most of what is freshest and most modestly priced, and the ratios will take care of themselves. She also goes into a preliminary salting step, a sautéing step, an assembling step, and a baking step.

Sacre bleu! You could starve to death with all this prep! Just cook it, throw it all together and eat it. If I want a break from the kitchen, I grill the vegetables instead of sautéing them in olive oil. This makes the dish a stellar summer casserole, and you can add meat (like Italian sausage), cooked pasta, and/or flavorful cheese to please the palate.

So here’s my “instant gratification” version of a classic showstopper. Feel free to use your favorite veggies in any combination that suits you. Unless you have diners who cannot manage large pieces of vegetables, don’t sweat the cutting. If you plan to grill, you’ll need something substantial enough to stay on a skewer. In any event, the vegetables are to retain their identity to the diner – so don’t overcook or dice unless you audience requires it.

Ratatouille freezes well (OK, maybe the veggies WON’T retain their individual identities, but they will make for a tasty casserole). This justifies making a large batch. Pasta and cheese don’t take so kindly to freezing. But you knew that, right?

  • Eggplant – cut in rustic-sized cubes (unpeeled unless you don’t do eggplant skin)
  • Zucchini – sliced into coins (not too thin – unpeeled)
  • Red or Green Peppers cut in large portions
  • Sweet onions cut in large portions (or whatever your preference or what’s on sale)
  • Any other Vegetable you like
  • Your favorite Italian tomato sauce* (doctored with sun-dried tomatoes as noted below)
  • Your favorite olive oil vinaigrette dressing (homemade or store-bought)
  • Extra olive oil (for sautéing the veggies and/or cooking any raw meat you may use)
  • Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning
  • Any meat; try some tofu meat like Italian Sausage Tofurkey to be vegan-friendly
  • Italian type cheese or feta if you want
  • Cooked pasta like fuseli, etc (if you need to stretch the budget)


*Tomato sauce. One of the most disappointing things about tomato sauce is that it gets watered down by the ingredients it is to sauce. Solve this problem by making a super-sauce. Get two jars/bottles of your favorite sauce and throw in 4 ounces of sun-dried tomatoes (julienned or diced). Simmer your sauce for two hours at very low heat allowing the tomatoes to absorb the extra liquid until your sauce looks like tomato paste. You’ll probably have half the original quantity. This stuff freezes beautifully, so you can make a lot, put it in several dated labeled pouches and grab one or two anytime you need to sauce a dish. If you have not frozen some sauce in preparation for your ratatouille, just assemble it before beginning any other prep. It probably will be “done enough” by the time you have finished cooking the veggies.

To prepare your veggies, wash and cut as indicated. If grilling, skewer the eggplant, and the zucchini, maybe the onions if they’ll “skewer”. Since each vegetable has its own cooking time, put only one type of vegetable on a skewer. Baste liberally with vinaigrette. Cook each skewer until the veggie is softened; you may have to finish them in the microwave. For the peppers and tomatoes, just put them in the bottom of a grill pan lined with foil, and pour some vinaigrette over it. If you are sautéing, then you can put the vinaigrette in towards the end of the cooking stage. When everything is cooked according to its required time, dump it in a BIG bowl. You can prepare veggies the day before and refrigerate.

While your veggies are cooking (or just prior to serving), prepare your pasta, and/or cheese, and/or meat (precook as needed). Mix all ingredients together, including the tomato sauce. Some like a saucy ratatouille, some like a more austere saucing – you’re the cook, so please yourself. Add more salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, or vinaigrette to taste. Ratatouille served in the summer is best served at room temperature. Winter ratatouille can be heated in the oven, for that extra comfort factor. IF you have leftovers, they’ll refrigerate nicely (or freeze).

As Julia says, "Bon Appetite!


I stored my sourdough bread recipes (including the recipe for the starter) on the page for 2012 Luncheon Recipes.   Sourdough isn't just for bread, however. 

Sourdough Pancakes and Waffles

Original recipe at:

Try making this recipe for sourdough waffles or pancakes or my version below on Thanksgiving morning.  Your diners will be more than content to wait for you to leisurely prepare dinner after they've eaten more than they should of these breakfast goodies.

The recipe I used at King Arthur Flour called for making what's known as a "sponge" out of the starter the night before.  But you can wing it on breakfast morning without advanced preparations (especially if you just do pancakes).  Waffles may benefit from the extra time the "sponge" has to feed overnight by rising extra high even under the pressure of a waffle iron. But it's not necessary with a pancake - and you can add any kind of enhancements you like, such as nuts, sliced bananas (yum), or other fruits.  Don't overlook spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, or whatever your tastebuds suggest.  Syrups or frozen fruit (sweetened or unsweetened, but thawed) can be offered as toppings.   Then there's always ice cream.  But I digress...

Here's how to make the "sponge" if you want waffles.  Just don't ask me why they call it a "sponge".


  • 2 cups unbleached flour (you can use half whole wheat and half white flour)
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 2  cups buttermilk (or squeeze a little lemon juice into your milk and let it sit 1/2 hour)
  • 1 cup sourdough starter unfed
for pancakes, just use starter that has had at least 2 hours to feed on it's regular formula.  Using a well-fed starter, combine all the sponge ingredients.   Then add them to the batter below:


  • all of the sponge
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon and/or vanilla, and/or 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
  • for waffles add 1/4 cup oil or melted butter/margarine
  • for pancakes with sliced fruit or nuts prepare the ingredients but do NOT add them to the batter
With your batter assembled, you are ready to cook the meal of your choice.   If you are adding fruits or nuts to your pancakes, pour each pancake into a greased pan, then sprinkle the toppings on the uncooked side.  Cook the pancake as usual.

Friendship Bread and its Beginnings

Friendship bread is best made with a starter given to you by a friend!  :)  If you have such a starter, try using it with my  Apple Friendship Bread Recipe.  I suppose it could work well in a pancake or waffle recipe (see above).

If you don't have a friendship starter, you can make your own to give to your friends. Be sure to give them a copy of your recipe. There are many variations on the friendship bread or friendship cake recipe.  Most of them use more oil or perhaps more sugar than mine does - let your own priorities be your guide.  I used EggBeaters too instead of real eggs.  I suppose one could use Splenda or other sugar substitutes.  Nuts, raisins, blueberries - all fair game for flavoring.  But if you like my recipe and want to share it, here's a compact version of my Apple Friendship Bread recipe.  It has instructions for the care and feeding of the starter as well as directions for baking the bread.  Attach the recipe to
starter container when you give it away (be sure to tell the recipient what day the starter is on in the feeding schedule). The recipe can be folded down to recipe box size for storage.  Let the baking can begin in earnest!

I actually began own friendship starter from my sourdough starter.  I'd originally wanted to make sourdough bread, however, I soon had more starter than I could bake up.  Most of my friends did not make their own bread so giving it away was not a viable proposition.  I decided to try to modify my sourdough starter into a friendship starter so I could share it in a way that might be appreciated.  I "transformed" a batch by simply feeding my sourdough starter as if it was a friendship starter.  By day 10 I deemed it "close enough" to bake with.  The result was a reasonably good friendship bread and the extra starter could be given to anyone who had a few cups of flour and reasonable baking skills.  
If you know you'll never be baking bread with your starter, you can just make your own friendship starter from this Friendship Bread Starter Recipe at  I use half the sugar called for in the recipe and I feed my starter skim milk (made from a powder); it doesn't exhibit any signs of being underfed for these two shortcuts.  Just remember when storing the starter at room temperature you should not seal it up; it needs some oxygen to promote the digestive process that makes the starter "work".  And the gaseous byproducts of that digestion will have somewhere to go without causing the container to blow its top if you don't seal the container.  Do cover the container lightly to keep out dust and unwanted bacteria. 

When I make this friendship bread, I think of the friends who gave me starters and recipes as tokens of their affection over the years.  Friendship starter is also called Herman (and used to make Herman cake - or bread).   

Dianne Battle,
Dec 10, 2013, 8:49 AM
Dianne Battle,
Dec 10, 2013, 8:51 AM
Dianne Battle,
Dec 10, 2013, 8:49 AM