On Saturday, I did a lot of outside work and, as usual, came inside ravished with hunger. Dave used to shake his head as I’d stand in front of the refrigerator or chef pantry door, waiting for either food to jump into my hands or inspiration to strike. On Saturday, the former didn’t happen but, thank God, inspiration eventually struck.
I’m a huge fan of soups, stews and cassoulets; they are nourishing, healthful, generally easy, keep well and, in the form of soups and stews, relatively quick to prepare. Or can be when the pantry is stocked with basic ingredients. I am not a slave to a recipe nor to tradition, especially when it comes to something like a cassoulet. In colder weather, my aim is to feed myself, or a crowd, with something nourishing, easy and with stick to the ribs intentions. In warmer weather, the fare is somewhat lighter.
On Saturday the pantry yielded fresh bay leaves, white beans (aka cannonelli beans), black beans, home canned tomatoes and the refrigerator gave up carrots and chicken mozzarella sausage.
NOTE: I forgot to mention the paprika, bought in Budapest in July 2010. It adds such a depth of flavor…smokey, rich…sooooo good! This paprika has yet to be opened because I bought a pound of loose paprika and this is back-up for when the loose paprika runs out.
The sausage was browned in a bit of EVOO then the canned beans and tomatoes were added. Next, most of a bag of carrots were sliced and added to the mix using my French enamel Le Creuset 3.5 quart oven. This little enamel oven is a workhorse and I’ve used it on both stove top and oven or, in the case of a lot of my cooking, it starts out on the stove stop and is finished in the oven. Marvelous! My little vintage orange oven, don’t think they make this color now, was found at an antique shop for $12; today I found a different color, same piece, on Amazon for $229.95! I love this stuff but I’m not about to pay full price, that’s crazy.
Anyway, my stew was cooked on the stove top until the carrots were tooth tender and I served it with a big glass of cold milk and home made bread. I forgot to mention, on Friday I made five loaves of bread and gave three of them away. The two small loaves I kept are wonderful and, when toasted, were full flavored, toothsome and the perfect addition to the hearty stew.
Generally, I’m not a fan of leftovers but when they are this delicious, it’s a joy to keep eating. There’s enough for three or four meals…what a blessing…and should take me through Tuesday before worrying about another substantial lunch or supper.
When I cook for a crowd, this is the enamel oven I use. It’s a thrift store find and about 5 or 5.5 quarts and is a knock-off of Le Creuset but still is a workhorse and can be used on stove top and in the oven. Since Dave died, I’ve given away a lot of cookware, having found a few really good pieces are able to take me through just about anything I cook. My cook ware looks a bit rough and has a few dings and nicks but it still works like brand new. What more could I ask?
Blessings ~ home canned food ~ EVOO ~ enameled cookware at great buys ~ full pantry ~