Quick Recipes and Easy

Celebrating Sunday-Night Dinner: How To Make A Noteworthy Cassoulet

It is five o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, give or take a chime or two. The wind whips the shutters of an ancient house. Raindrops as hard as falling meteorites slam the roof.

“Always try to find the sunny side of life,” sings an adorable and unstoppable grandmotherly ancient dame with monumental moxie and a deep “joie de vivre.”

“Look for the sunny side of life!” she chirps as she pours hot, buttered popcorn into a hand-woven basket that has been lined with a folksy French country napkin.

Ah, the soul-nurturing rhythm of a Sunday-night supper, reminiscent of a bygone era when families gathered for meaningful and restorative pauses.

Tonight the dining-room table is pre-set with a smart and witty balance of rustic and elegant. The menu is a mixed-green salad with pecan-toasted goat-cheese medallions, crunchy blades of red-and-white cabbage and tangy grapefruit vinaigrette. The meaty aromas that fill the house originate in the oven, where an authentic cassoulet bakes alongside a luscious cheese flan with a whisper of dill weed and a liberal dash of “Herbes de Provence.”

Soon, they will all be ensconced around the massive communal dining-room table and the enchanting flavor profiles of the felicitous meal she has lovingly made. One would reckon she had slaved over the stove all day, but she has timeless secrets for crafting exquisite meals in a heartbeat.

After dinner, she slips back into the kitchen once again. From a hanging iron rack with intricate grape clusters and rustic black iron hooks, she reaches for her cherished copper crepe pan.

Apple-crisp crepes with luxurious spirals of apples, black walnuts, creamy maple mousse, cinnamon, sugar and some secret ingredients will be the sweet finale to this timeless gathering of family that, at least for tonight, are nestled warm and cozy around a cracking and popping fire that sends chimney smoke swirling through the January raindrops.

How to make a noteworthy French cassoulet

A cassoulet is a tasty, earthy combination of meat, sausage, onions, tomatoes and white beans that are cooked in a rich broth. Perhaps there are as many different variations as there are cooks who prepare this fabulous dish. Cassoulet, a right freezer-friendly dish, is an annual wintertime tradition in my kitchen. This year I’m going to attempt to cut out some of the stout, without sacrificing the flavor.

If you are a savvy menu planner, you can coordinate a week’s worth of dinners to contribute to the edible components of a tasty cassoulet. You simply need a game plot. Here is one such strategy:

1. Save up freezer bags of cubed leftover roasted lamb, roasted pork tenderloin or other favorite cooked meats.

2. Soak a pound or two of dried white beans overnight in water to cover.

3. Thaw frozen cooked meats overnight in refrigerator.

4. Cook beans with plenty of excellent seasoning and enough fresh water to cover.

5. Roast sliced onions, leeks and celery in the oven with chopped tomato, garlic and seasonings. Add a splash of wine, stock and perhaps a drizzle of truffle oil.

6. Roast kielbasa sausage (use turkey sausage if you are cutting the stout) in the oven.

7. After all ingredients are cooked, layer them in a deep casserole dish and top with crusty French bread crumbs spiked with garlic oil. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours till hot and bubbly. You’ll end up with about 12 servings, give or take a bite or two.

(c) Kathi Dameron Kathi Dameron and Associates January 2007

This article was originally published Jan 17, 2007 in the Entertaining with Kathi newspaper column under the title : Fix a quick, simple dish to warm the soul in the Northeast Chronicle, a Gannett publication / Tallahassee, Florida.

This is the shortened version that appeared in the newspaper. The complete version of this food and entertaining vignette, including music, recipes and content-rich advertising suggestions are available from Kathi Dameron and Associates.

Kathi Dameron is a freelance writer and the owner of Kathi Dameron & Associates, a writing boutique that does creative, content-rich writing and blogging assignments. She can be reached at 850-422-3599 or at mailto:askkathidameron@aol.com askkathidameron@aol.com

Tags: low stout recipes, cookbook, gourmet, restaurants food, food people, Fruits And Vegetables, dairy free recipes, simple recipes, my recipes, Flavors

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