26 October 2013


You cant go wrong with Jennifer McLagan: This is her cassoulet, and the verdict tonight was that it soars above others. Of course, with a book entitled Fat, what could go wrong?

Jennifer's recipe for duck confit, while not pictured, is flawless and important. That process began days ago, leading to pork skin and then the skinned duck confit layered upon Great Northern beans, having been cooked with thyme, parsley, cloves, and leeks (a subsitution in the recipe for onions):

Atop that was lamb and pork belly, and another layer of beans. The beans are actually a mix of the aforementioned beans with cooked tomatoes, all of which forms another layer (which is actually less wet than the photo suggests). The beans are studded with andouille sausage:

Baked for three hours with bread crumbs and chopped duck confit skin (another modification: I thought that the skin would slowly render into the crust, and it works!), it becomes this:

I served this with kale stewed in chicken stock. As it is so rich, this was preceeded by fermented beets, raw fennel, and a mixture of olives. 

We ate this with the kale, garnished with parsley and Tierenteyn mustard. The mustard and parsley pulls it all together. 

With such a rich meal, a following salad course of endives and watercress in lime, olive oil, and pistachio oil made way for Miss Fat's fabulous apple cake with whipped cream and a fantastic walnut topping.

23 October 2013

chanterelles with pasta

Some beautiful chanterelles from the market (most likely the last of the season)...

 With shallots, simmered (covered) with some chicken stock (for about twenty minutes), then with crème fraîche, salt, and peper added, and simmered uncovered until the sauce reduces.

This I served with fresh pasta that I managed to roll out thinner than usual.

Tastes like heaven, feels like fall, as the season quickly fades into interminable Chicago winter.

22 October 2013

fermented beets

I've made fermented beets before, and last time I made them I used shredded beets; the catch being that they felt like a condiment when shredded and fermented. Wanting more of a pickle, this time I peeled and then chopped the beets in chunks (two-and-a-half pounds) and mixed then with 2½ tbsp salt, 1 tbsp caraway seeds and a dozen or so lightly crushed (maybe more bruised?) juniper berries.

I packed these into a crock (above, in green), added just enough water to cover and weighed them down so that the beets were submerged in brine.

Fourteen days later they were tender yet crisp and had a nice zing to them. They are delicious, and have turned a deep purple color (the jar behind is clear but packed with beets and brine after fermentation).

01 October 2013

black-eyed peas

Fresh black-eyed pea tacos: shelled the peas, boiled them for twenty minutes, then cooked them with bacon, coriander, chiles de árbol, and cumin. So delicious.