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cassoulet – a foray into french cooking

December 9, 2008

I just finished reading The sharper your knife, the less you cry by Kathleen Flinn.  This summer I read The Saucier’s Apprentice by Bob Spitz.  Both are books by people who attend French cooking schools. 

And now I’ve picked up Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia again.  I abandoned it a few months ago, but I am giving it another go.  I think books about French food is another blog post.  Maybe I’ll write it one night when we are eating beans out of a can over the sink for dinner.

So I had French cooking on the mind.  In that, I was thinking:  I can never cook French food.  Even the simplest French cooking is not easy. 

But it is snowing hard here, I’ve already shovelled the walks twice, and it is -14 degrees.  The  idea of a winter stew is very alluring.  Laura Calder with French Food at Home on Food Network always looks so stylish and makes it looks so easy.  Wednesday Chef is on my blog feeder, and I printed off a recipe for Quick Cassoulet last week.  It is French!  And it looks manageable for people like me!  All the stars aligned for a French meal tonight.

The quick part refers to canned beans, and the lack of duck meat and fat.  And the canned chicken broth.    I guess that makes it not an entirely proper French cassoulet, but what do I know?   There is a heated discussion on Chowhound about what to serve with the cassoulet (consensus:  RIEN), but I served warm flaky buns to mop up the saucey goodness.  I think this is why French food makes me nervous.  There seems to be a lot of protocol and rules about what makes for proper French food.   For me, screwing up seems like a definite option.

cassoulet

But onto the Cassoulet:  it was hearty, garlicky and stock full of bone-sticking stuff like beans, turkey and garlic sausage – a perfect winter meal.  We opened up a bottle of French red to drink with it (Chateau Rauzan Despagne, a Bordeaux) and all was well in our home tonight.

Bon appetit, mes amies.

ps:  Sorry about the hideous experiment in bright green theme.  It gave me a headache and now we are back to calming blue-grey colours.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2008 8:03 pm

    There is a place here in Calgary that makes a fantastic Cassoulet. Of course, I’ve never been to France, so what do I know!
    PS Do you like watching Laura Calder? I find her rather irritating myself.

  2. December 10, 2008 7:19 am

    My plane once made an emergency landing in Paris. That’s as close to France as I have gotten.

    Laura Calder is very prim and proper. I like Ricardo and the Main guy…and of course Jamie O. It seems like Food Network has an ongoing loop of Anna Olsen shows on…every time I turn on the channel – there she is.

  3. December 10, 2008 1:27 pm

    Here in France cassoulet is easy – you open the can and heat it in the oven! If you are ambitious you put a few bread crumbs and a sprinkle of Parmesan. And now I know what to serve it with!

    I love what you say about screwing up French food. Really hits the nail on the head for me. Being a small country, I find that France many times just has one way of doing things. And if you don’t do it that way, you get strange looks. Not that I could possibly care after all these years.

  4. December 12, 2008 10:33 am

    Most French food is much too daunting for me, so I’ve never tried cooking it at home.

    You’re right, Laura Calder does make it look easy and very chic. I like watching her though… mostly because I enjoy her love of butter. I’m on the hunt for a good piping bag so I can attempt her Choux Pastry recipe and make cream puffs.

    The repetition of Anna Olsen is getting annoying. I used to watch Sugar all the time, but now she is on too much to handle.

  5. December 14, 2008 5:18 am

    Funny, I had trouble getting through Julie and Julia too. Not sure exactly why. I have the same thing with French food. I love the idea, but I always shy away from execution. It is usually a lot of work.

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