Posted by: lisetta | December 21, 2009

Snowstorm cassoulet

My footprints were the only ones on the sidewalk early yesterday morning as I walked into the blizzard’s wind towards the subway line on Market. Got down to DC just fine, staying underground to connect to the metro and Pentagon City mall (a last-minute request from my friends in Italy). I caught what turned out to be the last train back into the city before the metro shut down mid-day.

Urban blizzards are beautiful. Was glad to have compelling reasons to go out; am sure that I would have otherwise chosen only to watch it from my window. Our dinner party menu included cheese and crackers, cassoulet, salad with roasted beets, walnuts and goat cheese, chocolate fondue with fruits and gingerbread cookies. Lots of food. All of it delicious. Great conversation too.

Duck confit for the cassoulet - legs roasted 4 hours in a pot of duck fat.

The table, with salads, and DC native in the background.

Gluten-free gingerbread men, dressed for Easter

Making the cassoulet was an all-day affair, with so many moving parts, I’m not even sure I could get them down if I tried. Eric and Rich grabbed the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, a magazine known for its tested recipe and its precise descriptions of cooking techniques. Washington Post calls it “the food geek’s bible”.  What struck me most about the recipe was the variety of meat used. There was bratwurst and salt pork, pork shoulder and duck confit. Carrots, onion, garlic, tomato, chicken broth … lots went into the dish. You could tell. Its flavors were quite sophisticated.

I remember well the first cassoulet I ever ate…it was vegetarian! I recall none of its flavors, only the shopping for seitan ‘sausage’ at the Shadyside Natural Foods market, the one and only store that carried it. It was the only and only time I had ever bought it as well, about 15 years ago. I wonder if the seitan sold today has and improved flavor/texture?

Eric thinks I’m on my way to becoming a militant vegan. Oh dear. I don’t see it.

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