Cassoulet of Anger and Acceptance

Lots of emotion went into this dish.

Anger (This weather is pissing me right off.)

Hope (Something comfort food-y would give The Finger to this snow!)

Dejection (But said snow has made it impossible to drive to the store.)

Acceptance (Maybe I’m stuck, but there must be odds and ends around here that’ll do.)

That’s really the four-stage story behind this cassoulet — the product of snow and laziness.

Looking around the general kitchen area, I spied with my little eye:
lamb shoulder cubes
1 beef shin bone
Rancho Gordo flageolet beans
World Spice Merchants‘ Herbes de Provence (with lavender)
…and enough tomatoes, onions, garlic and beef stock to fill in the blanks

And that was it. I called it cassoulet, though I make no claims to authenticity.

——————————

Hard to believe that in just a few months we’ll go from this…

to this…

Spring can’t get here fast enough. I’ll even leave behind my precious cassoulet for it.

recipe after the jump

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They call me “Tater Soup”

Potage Parmentier

I found myself at home mid-week trying to sleep off a sinus infection, but got bored with all of that lying about after a while. (This development is disturbing to me, since I used to be quite happy lazing the day away, watching trashy TV and napping. When did I turn into my dad, needing a project to keep me happy and productive?!) So I did what I always do; I escaped to the kitchen. Still groggy and hungover-ish from Nyquil, I wasn’t up for a full-blown meal, but a simple soup was something I could handle and Potage Parmentier fit the bill perfectly. It’s the easiest thing in the world to make and any additions to the potato and leek base amount to a “why not?” soup.

Should I add celery root? Why not?
How about some apple? Why not?
Maybe a whole head of roasted garlic? Hell, yeah! I mean…why not?

potato & leek soup with celery root, apple & roasted garlic

The soup left me with a small batch of potato and apple peels, which I hated to see go to waste, so I munched on the apple peels while the soup simmered, and turned the potato peels into a nutrient-filled version of fries…simply stir fried in a little bit of olive oil until golden brown, then tossed with salt & pepper.

Waste not, want not.

They’re really amazing drizzled with truffle oil, or better yet, melted truffle butter. But this time I just ate them plain, with a glass of iced tea. Perfection.

Potato peel fries, close-up

The boys were very supportive of my earlier decision to nap extensively, but couldn’t agree to end the day in a productive manner.

Rufus & Otis, doing what they do best.

Better late than never

I’m a week behind, so let’s hear it for Halloween pictures! We should celebrate with leftover candy (assuming it’s lasted this long).

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Rufus begged to wear his Halloween costume to the last farmers’ market of the season. How could we refuse? All I cared about was getting a few veggies and a nice chuck roast for beef bourguignon. As you can see, we both left happy.

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I combined the classic recipe from Julia Child with a couple of Anthony Bourdain’s modifications and tweaked a bit more based on ingredients we had at hand. To say this was the best beef stew I’ve had would be an understatement; I’m sure it was the overdose of demi-glace that did it, but that doesn’t demystify things at all.

recipe and more Ru pics after the jump

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Clafoutis! Clafoutis!

When I saw these babies at the farmers’ market yesterday, I scooped up a bunch for the clafoutis I’ve been craving since Spring first came to town. Clafoutis is just about the simplest dessert you can make, which is a real godsend for someone with my limited baking skills; it’s just a pancake-like batter poured over some type of fruit and baked until the top is brown and puffed and the inside is moist and firmly custardy. The traditional Limousin way of making a cherry clafoutis (it’s such a fun word to say, I’m going to repeat it over and over in this post for the sheer pleasure of saying it in my head — clafoutis, clafoutis) is to leave in the pits; now, I may not be the most traditional cook, but I am a pretty lazy one, so let’s just say my arm didn’t take too much twisting to leave them in. And honestly, spitting the pits is good summertime fun, like doing the same with watermelon seeds.

So I washed and stemmed the cherries and put them in a round baking dish roughly the size of a pie plate…


Do you know how difficult it was not to eat these straight? Gah.

And then I mostly followed Julia Child’s recipe for Clafoutis à la Bourdalone (cherry clafoutis with almonds) because hey, who doesn’t like almonds? Not me, that’s who. But if you don’t like them, I promise not to invite you over when I make this again, ok?

But I have a feeling you’d love this anyway.


See? CLAFOUTIS!

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Clafoutis! Clafoutis!”

Mmmmmoules

Moules frites is a classic for good reason:

mussels + wine + butter + cream + parsley + shallots + garlic + fries = delicious

No picture of the frites, sorry. The mussels were the star of the show.

Cocoa van

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I’ve been kicking around the idea of making a coq au vin for a while now. But it’s a two-day process, according to the Les Halles Cookbook, and I just never remembered to start it a full day before I planned to serve it. But finally, this weekend, I got my act together.

Do you have the Les Halles Cookbook? No? Quel dommage! It was one of the better Christmas presents I got two years ago. Not only do you have Anthony Bourdain guiding you through recipes with his no-bullshit banter, but the recipes themselves are wonderful. And the design is gorgeous. I mean, really, a lot of thought was put into this book from start to finish. The butcher paper cover (hardcover ed.), the plain, serviceable, but elegant fonts, and the pictures announce exactly what you’ll get when you start reading — a no-nonsense approach to cooking some damned fine no-nonsense food.

diptych.jpg

So I started with the easy part — marinating the chicken and vegetables in red wine overnight. Even though I was warned right there in the recipe that this dish would start off pretty nasty, I didn’t think what 24 hours in red wine would really do to a whole chicken, and found myself unprepared for the horror that emerged from the fridge 24 hours later:

the-horror.jpg

You know, I’ve been a carnivore all my life, but until today, I’ve never once thought of my food as a corpse. I may submit that photo to David Fincher for consideration in his next opening credits.

Soldiering on, I browned the wine-bloated chicken corpse in butter and olive oil, and the promised alchemy soon took place; it really did result in something magical, considering the — ahem — humble beginnings. But when a recipe calls for an artery-clogging amount of butter and 1/4 lb. of bacon, magic is bound to happen.

All in all, it was good. Satisfying. Tasty, even. And I got a real feeling of accomplishment just from seeing it through to the end. But it isn’t something I’ll be making again soon — while good enough for a Sunday lunch, it just didn’t seem to be worth the effort.

Sigh.

Oh, if you ever decide to make this, take his advice and clean as you go along. It’s something I do anyway, but you’ll appreciate tackling the dishes before they grow into a mountain in the sink.