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John Whiting

eG Foodblog: John Whiting

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I’ve been asked in advance about substitutes. For two weeks working in Banff, Scotland, I shared a house with two French musicians. Having much less to do than they (always my guilty secret on these musical/gastronomic tours), I offered to cook for the three of us. Our kitchen was remarkably well-equipped, so I set about adapting some of my favorite dishes to locally available ingredients. In the case of Cape Cod chowder, this was made easy by a wharf-side fish shop only a short stroll away, and chicken with forty cloves of garlic was satisfyingly authentic with a properly corn-fed free range bird from the local Tesco’s.

Cassoulet presented more of a challenge. Chicken had to substitute for goose or duck, green fatty bacon for pork belly. Even dried haricot beans were unobtainable, only broad butter beans; but these are in fact closer to what was traditional until well into the 19th century. There was plenty of good lean pork, lamb and acceptable sausage. As for the lack of a cassole to bake it in, a large bread bowl from a local shop was almost exactly the same size and shape, thus allowing the requisite expanse of crust. (No goose fat but, as any Jewish mama will tell you, there’s nothing wrong with good chicken schmaltz.)

The result, roundly acclaimed by my Languedoc-conditioned diners, reinforced my suspicion that method can be more crucial than precise ingredients for achieving an acceptable approximation of the authentic. That of course was Julia Child's premise when she set out to write Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She wrote in the intro that it could have been called French cooking from an American Supermarket.

Even the barrier of relative poverty can be surmounted. MFK Fisher, in her autobiographical Long Ago in France, writes admiringly of her skinflint Dijon landlady, Madame Ollangnier. She was notorious in the local markets for buying their cheapest merchandise, however unpromising:

Storekeepers automatically lowered their prices when they saw her coming…Up would come the trapdoor to the cellar, and down Madame would climb…he would pick up a handful of bruised oranges, a coconut with a crack in it, perhaps even some sprouting potatoes…And yet…from that little hole, which would have made an American shudder in disgust, she turned out daily two of the finest meals I have ever eaten.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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I shop, therefore I eat

gallery_28660_2358_59299.jpg

A quarter of parmesan and six ounces of two-year-old gouda. It cost about a fiver and half an hour's conversation.

John

Whereabouts is the cheese shop, in relation to say Martyn's? I live nearby, am forever in the Hill, but for the life of my can't remember seeing this place.

Happy Birthday by the way.

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John

Whereabouts is the cheese shop, in relation to say Martyn's?  I live nearby, am forever in the Hill, but for the life of my can't remember seeing this place.

It's on Fortis Green Road across from Sainsbury and a few doors north from the Odeon.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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The cassoulet: this year’s preparation

The various elements have been prepared separately as follows:

Duck legs: Roasted slowly, covered, in the oven. The fat and juices are separated, the meat is removed from the bones and cut into bite-sized chunks and the bones then go towards making the stock.

Sausages: Roasted slowly in the oven, covered, to at least 70ºC, cut up into 1” lengths and refrigerated. The juices then go into the pressure cooker with the…

Pigs’ feet: Pressure-cooked with at least a cup of stock/water for about two hours. The meat is removed from the bones and refrigerated. Stock and fat are refrigerated.

Pork belly: Slow-cooked on a gas ring with a heat diffuser in a heavy covered casserole/dutch oven, along with a roughly chopped onion and carrot, a few cloves, several cloves of garlic, and a couple of bay leaves. Brown it first, then simmer it in some of the already existing stock, so that the flavors integrate and intensify. This may take a couple of hours, after which the skin with its thick layer of fat is separated and the rest boned (if necessary) and cut into bite-size pieces. Roughly strain the stock. It will be very thick and rich; it can be thinned as necessary for the final assembly. Refrigerate.

Shoulder of mutton: This is the most complex part of the meat preparation, but well worth the effort. It’s based on Richard Olney’s cassoulet recipe in his French Menu Cookbook.

2 onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and cut into short lengths

1 lamb shoulder, with surface fat removed

1/3 bottle of wine

Several cloves of garlic, peeled

Thyme, sage, rosemary, bay leaf to taste

1 can tomatoes with juice

Stock as needed

Brown the meat in a heavy stockpot, starting with some duck fat. Then add the vegetables and cook until they start to go limp. Add everything else, bring to the boil and then cook over a very low heat, barely simmering, for two or three hours. When it’s done and cool enough to handle, the meat will separate readily from the bones. Roughly strain the stock and treat yourself by lunching off the solid bits.

NB: Go easy with the salt. Everything will concentrate in the final cooking, including the seasoning.

Beans: Keep it simple. Soak them overnight and check for defective beans and foreign objects (Don’t go overboard; these days the beans themselves will be foreign objects). Cover with water, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer, checking regularly that there is plenty of water.

The cooking time will vary according to how old they are. I’ve had beans from the farm that were done in less than an hour, and others from a supermarket so old that they never did soften. That’s why I don’t like to cook any of the meat along with the beans: when the beans are ready, the meat is likely to be overdone or underdone. I’m not a chef running a kitchen; I don’t have to use my time efficiently, so I’m happy to do jobs one at a time.

Don’t bother to cook the beans in stock. There will be bean water left over, and if it’s stock, then there’s that much flavor that hasn’t gone into the cassoulet. In the final assembly, the flavors will have plenty of time to integrate.

The beans should be close to the point of disintegrating on the tongue, but not quite—a touch of al dente is desirable. They’ll be getting several more hours of slow cooking.

--------------------------------

There’s a final naughty ingredient to be prepared in advance. In a food processor, combine ½ pound of (warm) pork fat with a dozen cloves of garlic. This insidious suggestion comes from Paula Wolfert by way of the Sheres; mixed with the meat stews prior to assembly, it transports the cassoulet ineluctably to the higher realms of Dante’s Paradiso.

Final note: Of course the pressure cooker isn't essential. A heavy stockpot and long cooking will suffice.


Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Vegan Cassoulet

In 2001 I served cassoulet to a mixed table of carnivores and vegetarians. For the latter, I came up with the following, which I wrote down a few days later:

A vegan cassoulet? It sounds about as appealing as a no-alcohol martini. But don’t jump to conclusions. This dish is not for weight-watchers, nor is it a time-saving instant stir-fry. Rather, it calls for a bit of effort and experimentation, whereby you can summon up the smooth opulent multi-flavored richness of a veritable Toulouse cassoulet, with its blending of goose or duck, pork and/or lamb and sausage on a foundation of beans, held together with a liberal infusion of animal fats. This vegan version, together with the real thing, was recently served to a mixed company of vegetarians and carnivores. The latter, attempting to decide which they preferred, kept passing their plates.

Charles Shere has suggested that the “significant variable” in the making of a fine cassoulet might be the shape of the pot in which it is baked. The authentic cassole, the “squashed flower pot” still produced by the Not family in Languedoc, is difficult to obtain without a pilgrimage to Mas-Saintes-Puelle. Fortunately, its proportions and graduated sizes are very similar to old-fashioned pottery mixing bowls – white on the inside, cream on the outside, and decorated only by an exterior molded design. Everyone’s grandmother had a nested set of them and they’re still available in kitchenware shops.

A couple of pounds of dried haricot beans, together with the other ingredients, are enough to fill the largest size mixing bowl, about thirteen inches across at the top. The beans should be soaked overnight and the water discarded, then simmered slowly in fresh unsalted water until easily chewed but not spontaneously breaking up. Over a very low flame this can take up to two hours. After the first hour check them every few minutes; they can turn quickly from al dente to mushy. Drain them, saving the liquid.

An assorted couple of pounds or more of roasted vegetables will provide the requisite richness and variety. (Any sensible variations in selection, quantity or proportion will alter the flavor of the dish but not spoil it.) Longer-cooking vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, swedes, turnips, fennel, celery and onions can be roasted together. They should be peeled if necessary and cut into rough bite-size chunks. The slight variations in cooking times can be accommodated by varying the size; e.g., smaller for carrots, larger for sweet potatoes.

Spread them out in a single layer on a roasting pan, drizzle with enough olive oil to coat lightly, and stir them up with a little salt and pepper. Add a few peeled and split garlic cloves and herbs to taste, such as a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary and a bay leaf or two. Roast in a medium oven, loosely covered with foil so as not to dry out, and finish uncovered to take on a bit of color. This will take an hour or more.

While the first tray is cooking, prepare another of chopped vegetables which require a shorter cooking time, such as sweet peppers, parsnips and aubergines. This tray, also covered until beginning to soften, can be put onto a lower shelf and the two trays reversed occasionally to equalize cooking time.

Soak a handful of sun-dried tomatoes in freshly boiled water for a few minutes until soft. Drain, saving the water, and chop coarsely.

Then prepare the stock. In a large saucepan heat a pint or so of the bean water and sun dried tomato water, together with a can of tomatoes or a small bottle of tomato concentrate, a generous quantity of mashed roasted garlic, and a hearty glug of olive oil. Bring to the boil and break up the solid bits with a potato masher. Boil vigorously for a couple of minutes to emulsify.

Mix all the cooked vegetables together, except the beans. Put a layer of beans into the pot, then all the roasted vegetables, and finish off with the rest of the beans. Add the hot stock carefully, allowing it to settle as you pour. Top up if necessary with more of the bean cooking water, stopping when the level is about a half-inch below the surface of the beans.

Finally, cover the top with a good layer of bread crumbs. (Crusts from a loaf of Poilane sourdough were designed by God for this very purpose.) Drizzle with olive oil; it may be possible to use too much, but I doubt it.

Bake the pot in a hot oven until the crust is brown and crisp. (The ingredients are already cooked, so you are only combining their flavors.)

If you are a person who thinks ahead, all this will have been accomplished at least a day before you intend to eat it. Unlike warmed-over ideas, art or romance, reheated cassoulet of whatever description gets better and better.

___________

You can add a handful of pitted olives; this gets further away from “authenticity”, but what’s authentic about an invented dish? You can even mix a hearty red wine with the cooking stock, never a feature of traditional cassoulet recipes. Carnivores may use chicken stock and add chunks of various cooked meats.

But all such variations will bring the dish closer to other existing recipes. There’s a certain shrewdness in John Cage’s observation that he didn’t care for improvisation because it was too predictable.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Okay, now you are killing me with the vegan cassoulet. :shock::wink:


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Continuing to heartily enjoy this blog ...

I'm curious about the beans to use for cassoulet, especially because I have a kind of love/hate relationship with dried beans. I want to like them more, because they're so healthy and thrifty (not to mention fun to cook--I'm another pressure cooker fan). But alas, there are a lot of varieties of dried legume that I just don't care for. I do like chick peas and lentils a whole lot, and black beans some of the time. But in particular the small white beans that I've seen recommended in a number of cassoulet recipes just don't do a whole lot for me. Perhaps in a cassoulet, drenched with all those lucious fats, they'd finally turn me on. But I confess one of the many reasons I've been hesitant to experiment with making cassoulet on my own is that I'd hate to put in all that work and all those fine ingredients only to discover that the beans still don't do it for me.

I've seen both here and in the Cassoulet thread mention of various other types of beans, including ones deemed more traditional. I'm looking forward to any more opinions and tips you might want to offer on the matter.

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I've seen both here and in the Cassoulet thread mention of various other types of beans, including ones deemed more traditional. I'm looking forward to any more opinions and tips you might want to offer on the matter.

The only tip I can offer is to find a bean you like and stick with it. The customary cassoulet bean was a broan bean rather like a lima, until the haricot was brought to France via Spain in the 16th century from the New World (new to whom?). These days the lingot is favored, such as the canolini from Italy. The ones I'm using this year I bought in October in Rome at the Organic Fair beside the Tiber next to the Ponte Sant'Angelo, but we didn't go there especially for that purpose. :biggrin:

When a dish has so many conflicting traditions, there's no point in not making it with whatever beans you prefer.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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TOMORROW’S MENU

Pain grillée avec tomatade

Celerie-rave rémoulade

Cassoulet

Terrine des fruits avec coulis de framboise

Birthday cake (White Christmas cake)

Coffee - Co-operative Quebradon, Huilia, Columbia, Dark Roast (Monmouth Coffee Company)

Chocolate brandy cake

[recipes to follow]

-----------------------------------------

DRINKS

Kir

Domaine Tempier Bandol, Cuvée speciale la Tourtine 1988

Leopold Sommer Gewürztraminer Eiswein 1993

Chateau Fontpinot Grande Champagne, Premier Cru du Cognac, Tres Vielle reserve du Chateau

l'Eau Normale de Londres

-----------------

Kir is customarily made with Bourgogne Aligoté and crème de cassis. It was a traditional drink revived by Canon Kir, the Mayor of Beaune, as a rescue operation during a year when the vin blanc ordinaire was virtually undrinkable. That gives me the right not to be too fussy about which white wine I use.

Domaine Tempier Bandol is a favorite of Kermit Lynch, who made it the favored accompaniment to a cassoulet among the Chez Panisse crowd. This is one of their best. We were served it as a rarity at a Wine Society Dinner in Hesdin; the next day I discovered that their local outlet had a dozen bottles on offer as a bin end at half price.

The cognac was a gift from Edouard Cointreau when a press group I was with stayed at the chateau. We had a taste from their tiny barrel of pre-phylloxera cognac, of which there is a miniscule portion in this bottle. I’m sipping it as I write. Not bad. :cool:


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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TOMORROW’S MENU

John, the menu looks just TERRIFIC. Understated gluttony: that to me is real class. Hope you and your lucky friends have a great day. We'll certainly be with you and Mary in spirit - and dammit, I hope there's still a dribble of that Domaine de Tempier Bandol 1988 rattling around next time we meet...what a perfect wine to accompany the cassoulet. Don't drink too much of that l'eau normale de Londres!

Just as an aside, after your tip about the availability of Mirabel Osler's 'The Elusive Truffle' for 1p on Amazon.co.uk, I ordered it - at, what, 12.30am Friday, the post above will confirm - that is yesterday morning. It has already arrived today, and all for the princely, quite unbelievable sum, including postage and packing, of £2.76. What a delicious, delightful bargain this is, a veritable rich and bubbling cassoulet of words!

Marc

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Just as an aside, after your tip about the availability of Mirabel Osler's 'The Elusive Truffle' for 1p on Amazon.co.uk, I ordered it - at, what, 12.30am Friday, the post above will confirm - that is yesterday morning. It has already arrived today, and all for the princely, quite unbelievable sum, including postage and packing, of £2.76. What a delicious, delightful bargain this is, a veritable rich and bubbling cassoulet of words!

You were just in time! When I checked later, the price had gone up almost 100% to the outrageous sum of 99p!

I emailed Mirabel the URL of my write-up and she replied, sadly, that without a car or a travelling companion, the French D-roads are no longer accessible to her. What a grand lady she is! To have written such a food classic when her reputation lay in garden history! If any of our readers share a passion for gardens as well as food, check her out. Her Secret Gardens of France is a vicarious journey to be treasured.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Tomatade

A few years ago, when Mary & I were visiting our dear friends the Ricchiardis in Torino, Constantino took me to a cheap Saturday market in a somewhat disreputable part of town, the sort of place where the flies hold a convention and you don’t ask the butcher when he washed his hands. I browsed around, mentally converting lire to pounds and then double-checking my figures—they were giving the stuff away! I came away from a shabby little stall with two kilos of sun-dried tomatoes for a sum which would have bought me a decorative little gift packet at Fortnum & Mason’s. (Although you could buy them in Piemonte, they didn’t figure prominently in the cuisine.) Fearing that they would go moldy long before I got through them, I packed them into a snap-seal plastic bag and tucked them away in the freezer.

Some months later, when making up Lulu Peyraud’s tapenade (Richard Olney, Lulu’s Provençal Kitchen), I had a sudden inspiration. How about a sun-dried tomato tapenade, partially substituting them for the olives? After fiddling with the proportions and the method, I came up with the following, which more or less follows Lulu’s original in other respects. Tapenade comes from the Provençal word for capers, so I’ve called this concoction tomatade. Why not?

8 oz sun-dried tomatoes and black olives, roughly half-and-half

2 anchovies or 4 fillets

1 ½-2 tablespoons capers

1-3 cloves pressed garlic

pinch of cayenne

1 teaspoon finely chopped basil leaves

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Pour boiling water over the tomatoes to just cover; leave for a few moments and then drain. (The longer you leave them, the softer they’ll be, but the more flavor will be drawn out. I like to get them just soft enough so they won’t take forever to absorb the oil.) When cool enough to handle, chop them roughly. Reduce to a rough paste in a food processor along with the other ingredients, except for the olive oil. Add the oil a little at a time, checking the consistency as you go. It should be homogeneous and spreadable, but not sloppy.

The anchovies may be preserved in olive oil or canned, either with olive oil or salt. If the latter, rinse under running water and remove any salt crystals. Likewise the capers, which may be bottled either in vinegar or salt. How much salt you add to the recipe, if any, will be determined by the saltiness of these two ingredients.

Cayenne and garlic to taste. Don’t be shy—some rough Provençal types are really macho about it! Use the best olive oil, of course; it’s a prominent part of the flavor.

Note: This mixture will improve for at least a week, but it probably won’t be around that long. It needn’t be refrigerated if the weather is cool. The blanched sun-dried tomatoes will continue to soak up the olive oil for several days, so don’t hesitate to stir in more if the mixture becomes dry.

PROCESSING NOTE: Food processor blades start to get dull very quickly. New blades may chop almost as fine as a blender, but old blades will only chop roughly. For some tasks this is an advantage. If you want versatility, keep your old blade and buy a new one, reserving it for very fine, almost liquidized mixtures. And keep it out of the accidental reach of fingers!

PS: This time I bought semi-dried tomatoes from the Fresh Olive Company in the Borough Market. Moistly packed in olive oil, they didn’t need soaking.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Celerie-rave remoulade

Richard Olney wrote the recipe I used to follow, but Alice Waters’ version with mayonnaise in her Vegetable Cookbook is more luxurious. And when did I ever eschew luxury?! This is my even more self-indulgent version:

1 celeriac (celery root)

Juice plus zest of ½ lemon

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

½ cup aïoli (garlic mayonnaise)

½ cup crème fraiche or sour cream

Chopped parsley

Peel the celeriac and cut into julienne. (The shredding disc in a food processor produces the most easily chewable dimension.) Put it in a *big* bowl—the mixing is messy. In a separate bowl, mix the mustard, the lemon and part of the mayonnaise and cream. Stir it into the celeriac, adding more mayonnaise and cream as you go to get the consistency you want. A celeriac root can vary so much in size that precise measures are misleading. This is one of those happy recipes to which you can always add more as you go along.

Aïoli

I make it unashamedly in a blender, using the whole egg:

1 egg

¼ tsp mustard powder

1 tbl lemon juice

1 cup olive oil

Several garlic cloves

Salt and pepper

Start with the first three ingredients and slowly dribble in the oil. When about 2/3 of it has been emulsified, it will thicken to the point where the textbooks tell you to keep stopping and scraping down the sides of the jar. This takes forever. My method is to *carefully* insert a disposable wooden chopstick down the side of the jar while the motor is running and rotate it slowly back and forth around the entire outer edge while you dribble in the oil. The blender should be positioned where you can see straight down into it, so that you can see whether the pool of oil in the center is being drawn in.

WARNING: if you were to drop the chopstick, you could damage the blender. I’ve been doing this for twenty years and the worst I’ve produced is an occasional woodchip in the mayonnaise.

Crush the garlic and stir it into the mayonnaise after you’ve transferred it to a container. Season carefully—the amount of garlic you’ve added will affect the apparent saltiness.

Put the rémoulade in a bowl and top with the parsley.


Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Cassoulet final assembly

The moment of truth has arrived! The meats, fat and stock are assembled and warming up from their storage in the fridge.

gallery_903_2358_5948.jpg

The various stocks will be combined and heated. A large head of garlic will be peeled and pulverized in the blender with melted pig fat and some of the hot stock. The dry bread will be made into crumbs

I’m using the largest cassole from the nest I bought from Mssr. Not. (I call them my Not Pots.) The saga of their acquisition is here.

The bottom of largest pot is lined with the pork skin.

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The meats are combined in one large bowl

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A layer of beans goes in the bottom over the skins, then a layer of meat, then of beans, then of meat and a final smooth layer of beans. It’s sprikled with the bread crumbs and liberally drizzled with the duck fat.

gallery_903_2358_75274.jpg

Into a gas mark 3 oven (not preheated; it could crack the pot). And then three hours of waiting, with periodic breaking up of the crust. Tomorrow when it’s reheated it will get another layer of bread crumbs and duck fat and allowed to set to a deep golden brown.

----------------

This is likely to be my last communication until Monday. Our guests might be insulted if I were to leave the table periodically to post photos and provide a running commentary. Big Brother this ain’t! :biggrin:


Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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I just wanted to add my best wishes for your birthday celebration tomorrow, John.

What a wonderful feast, and thank you so much for sharing your photos and recipes with us as well! Everything sounds delicious and between your blog and Paula Wolfert's book how can I not make my first cassoulet this year? Thank you also for sharing your dried tomato tapenade recipe; sounds like a great starter.


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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John, all of the best today, tomorrow, and some more tomorrows. However many you'd like.

A great blog. Thanks.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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John, enjoy your birthday dinner, and may you live to a healthy 120!


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Sabras in Willesden Green..

Most (outside of Golders Green) Indian restaurants are not certified Kosher. The density (both senses) of observant jews in London doesn't justify the expense. Nothing like New York.

Where is this restaurant in Willesden Green? I have never seen it.

And here I am in south west France, where I could eat a different cassoulet every day of the week for several months, lusting, lusting after an onion bhaji and a plate of simmering dhal......

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John, a very happy birthday to you...and many more to come. That cassoulet looks delicious. Thanks for sharing the preparations with us.


Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Happy birthday John!

I am assigning your blog as required reading for my husband as he has just asked me how I would like him to expand his cooking reperatoire. He loves cooking food layer by layer, so this recipe is PERFECT for him. I get to sit back and coach him with a glass of wine in my hand. Meanwhile, I'd better start training for the half marathon in anticipation of all those luscious calories!

We celebrated with a six year old boy who shares your birthday, but alas no cassoulet for the parents or kiddies--delivery pizza only.

I hope you have a year of outstanding vintage.

Zuke


"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

--Mae West

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Comfort Food

Even the most sophisticated and demanding of gourmets is likely to have a comfort food, the psychological equivalent of the maternal breast. As a child, mine was peanut butter. As proof of the minimal effect that so-called maturity has on one’s basic needs, I have only progressed as far as peanut sauce. Mine is shamelessly adapted from Hugh Carpenter’s Pacific Flavors and takes fusion to new depths (or heights, if you’re in yogic headstand).

These are my ingredients:

gallery_28660_2358_11504.jpg

peanuts

Chinese chili sauce

soya sauce

balsamic vinegar

sesame oil

hoi sin sauce

a few cherry tomatoes

garlic

fresh ginger

fresh coriander

Throw a handful of peanuts into a blender and roughly pulverize.

Add a generous dollop of each of the five bottled sauces—the proportion is entirely a personal decision.

Roughly chop a couple of garlic cloves and add.

Grate in a generous amount of fresh ginger.

Add lots of fresh coriander. (I keep it bunched up in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer and slice off what I need.)

Blend at high speed. If the mixture doesn’t circulate in the blender, add another cherry tomato or two.

Empty the mixture into a bowl, cover and microwave for a minute. It needn’t be cooked, only heated. For lunch most days I do a quick pressure-cooked vegetable stew or shredded stir fry and add the sauce on top, stirring it in.

gallery_28660_2358_29968.jpg

I only make enough sauce for one meal—if I made it in larger quantities, I would come downstairs in the middle of the night and finish it off.

-----------------------

For grating, I use the indispensible Microplane. Originally invented as a woodworking took (hence its name), it consists of a series of tiny razor-sharp blades, all (except the third) pointing in the same direction

gallery_28660_2358_51422.jpg

There are several degrees of coarseness. Reading from the right, the finest is perfect for nutmegs, working quickly and without clogging. The next is ideal for fresh ginger; peeling is unnecessary, as most of the skin folds back as you grate and is easily disposed of. The third, a two-way grater, works quickly and well with hard cheeses. And finally, there’s a thin slicer, which requires particular care.

In fact, any of them can easily add human flesh to your recipe. There’s a TV out-take of Rick Stein demonstrating their use and looking at the camera as he warns of the need for special care. Suddenly he yells and sticks his finger in his mouth. :laugh:


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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The crust inspectors are waiting with baited breath to inspect pictures of the finished cooked cassoulet. How can you keep us in such suspense?

Did you stir in the crust 5 or 7 times? Inquiring minds need to know...

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John, 1 day late, but I still want to wish you a very happy birthday.. your guests are so lucky to have you cook such a dinner for them!

I'm making celery remoulade tonight in your honour (thought about doing the cassoulet too, but voted in favor of the celery.. just kidding.. even with your detailed instructions, cassoulet still scares me!) :biggrin:

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