February 11, 2007


I finally got around to making cream puffs last night. I used Thomas Keller's recipe for the Pâtes à Choux. The dough came together rather easily, although it was a novel process for me. The tough part was piping the dough onto a baking pan, I ended up with more dough on my hands than on the pan. I'll have to dig up some instructions for using a piping bag.

I wanted a custard filling (Keller used ice cream), so I made up a batch of pot de crème, put one of them into a piping bag, and injected it into the cream puffs. I topped them with chocolate ganache.

I also made my largest batch of chicken stock this weekend, I wanted to use up all of the leftover chicken in the fridge, and ended up with at least 6 qt of stock.

February 05, 2007

Superbowl Sunday

We had a bit of an impromptu get-together for the Superbowl last Sunday. While my cassoulet was cooking, Emily and I tried to go the palace of fine arts to take some pictures. We figured it wouldn't be very crowded during the game. It turned out that a record-breaking ship was coming into port and there was no parking to be found in the area. So we returned home and joined Dan and Carmen to watch a bit of the game.

Carmen was making a turkey meatloaf in her slow cooker, so I brought down the cassoulet and made some mashed potatoes to round out the meal.

Perhaps not a proper cassoulet, this was inspired by the classic french recipe and made from ingredients that I had on hand.
1 lb dried barlotti beans.
2 sprigs thyme
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion, large dice
1 smoked ham hock, cut in 2" thick chunks
a couple of strips of bacon, diced
a bit of duck confit (I used two winglets)
1 litre of duck broth
a bit of parmesan rind (optional)
Rinse the beans and pick out any sketchy ones.

In a dutch oven on medium heat, cook the bacon in a little bit of oil, until crispy. Brown the cut edges of the ham hock. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or so to soften them up and brown them a little. Add the broth, thyme, parmesan, and beans and simmer for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally. Add water or broth as necessary to cover. About an hour or so into the simmering, add the duck confit.

Once the ham is falling apart and the beans are done, fish out the ham hock and duck, chop up the meat. Fish out the parmesan rind and thyme and discard.

At this point one should strain the beans and layer half the beans, the meat, and the rest of the beans and enough of the liquid to cover. I just stirred in the chopped up meat. I also cooked a bockwurst and hot dog in a bit of duck fat and cut it into 1" thick slices, but forgot to add it. (I remembered later, but Carmen doesn't eat veal.)

Put the dutch oven, uncovered in a 250 degree oven for a 3-6 hours. Every hour or so, gently break the crust that forms with a wooden spoon, so that wet beans come to the top. Add liquid as necessary. Leave a crust on top when it's time to serve. Bring the pot to the table and break the crust at the table.

At any point during the slow cooking, you can cool the pot and refrigerate it overnight. Bring it up to room temperature and cook it once again in the oven until it heats through and a crust is formed.

Oh and the stew/soup is quite tasty before the oven stage, so feel free to cut it short if you're in a hurry. (You can probably use roast or raw chicken in place of the duck and substitute chicken broth for duck if it's not available to you.)