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Entree/ Pork/ Sandwiches

Cassoulet Toast

Not the time consuming two day project of a traditional cassoulet.

What is a cassoulet you say? Well if you like white beans then let me tell you about this cassoulet. No it isn’t a casserole it’s a slow cooked dish (maybe casserole would be a stretch) that contains meats like bacon, pork sausage, ham, pork skin, duck and can have goose or mutton.

Making a traditional (French) cassoulet would take you a couple of days at least. By the time you make your duck confit and prep everything and then cook for hours the next day, you have invested a lot of time into what you might think is just beans and ham. The first time I we made this (or Paul/Scott made it) we did the confit one day and we used dried beans and not canned beans. It gets stirred during the day while cooking so the crusty top layer gets pushed to the bottom. If you want to see their results look here.

I won’t go into more details in making the tradition version because this Cassoulet Toast is easy. I first saw the recipe at David Lebovitz’s site and was one he had made from Susan Spungen’s book The Open Kitchen. Susan is a cook, food stylist, recipe developer and author. I started following her on Instagram because of her food pictures and now I own her book and can’t wait to try some of her recipes.

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Entree/ Game/ Pork

A Very Good Cassoulet

This was fantastic and so good on a cold winter night.

I was hoping to try this in France last Spring but there were so many other things to try and I had already made this a couple of times so it didn’t bother me that it wasn’t on my list of “tried things” while there.

Did you grow up (or still do) eating white beans in a bowl with a big chunk of corn bread on the side (please don’t say sweet cornbread) with maybe some chow chow to add to your beans. We did and they were the best beans you could possibly hope for at the time. A few years ago, my dad showed my husband how he had started making beans. He would soak the beans over night and then he would put the beans in a pot (he used a pressure cooker) with a couple of country style ribs (or backbone depending on where you live) and a ham hock.

Then along came Cassoulet (new to me). A word I had heard but never paid much attention to. I had never had the dish before our French Country Feast a few years ago. It was fantastic. A cassoulet is a stew made with white beans, sausage, duck confit, sometimes lamb, ham hocks and ham bone. Now, how could that not be an out of this world dish.

This recipe may take hours in the making but it will well be worth it in the end. I would either serve my mother’s cornbread recipe or a crusty French bread with this. There are so many recipes on the Internet for cassoulet and methods of making it. I would suggest reading a few before trying this recipe. In the end though, how can you mess up beans and a bunch of different kinds of meat. The end results will be great, no matter what you put in it.

BLAST FROM THE PASTFried Eggplant Chips with Honey Drizzle was an appetizer we had in Seville, Spain. Very delicious. I was excited to see that 2,600 people have looked at this recipe. Back in March I had 1,600 views — WOW. I really get excited when I think how many people just happen to find a recipe of mine through a google search.

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Blood Orange and Mango Salad

There’s nothing prettier than an orange salad made with a blood orange.

Can’t say I’ve ever been a big OJ fan. (I love the orange but just not in juice form.) I use to drink OJ when I bought it for the kids when they were little but I would have much rather had a glass of grapefruit juice. Have you ever had a grapefruit mimosa instead of one made with OJ. Once you have, you will never go back.

Did you ever get oranges in your Christmas stocking. I remember getting them, don’t know how often, or why I remember that but maybe that was a way of filling up the stocking; who knows.

Some of the most delicious oranges I have tasted were in Madrid. I’m not sure what they were called but they were candied. I attempted to make these after returning from that trip and the first time they turned out great (Second time I think I burned them.). These Candied Orange Quarters were the best thing I ever tasted. Ya know those little sugared orange slices you get in a bag for $1, well those are my husband’s favorite candy, but the candied ones were 1,000 times better than those and he loved them.

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Entree/ Sandwiches

English Muffin BLT Sandwich

BLT with a Twist on a homemade English muffin.

(I had second knee replacement done on Monday, 1st. and before that I was busy trying to get some things made while I’m recouping on the couch/bed. Hope you enjoy the things coming up in the next few weeks. See below for what’s coming.)

I love making bread and I have made everything from naan to French bread, but have never made an English muffin. So, when I was thinking about making this sandwich, I thought, why not make the English muffins from scratch.  I think they were a success and hope you will try them soon.

The days of pbj’s and grilled cheeses have long been gone from our house and we don’t often eat sandwiches unless of course they are pulled pork sandwiches, which I do have to repeat, for the gazillionth time, my husband makes the best.

I do on occasion have to omit that I crave a bologna sandwich with either mustard or mayo and a pile of potato chips crushed into the sandwich (that is the way my sister likes to make a sandwich — and it does add a nice crunch) or a liver cheese or brunsweigher sandwich on white bread and mustard. I know those are probably two of the worst kinds of lunch meat and bread available to mankind but what can I say, I like them AND it isn’t a sandwich that I would eat often. Just don’t tell me I can never have one.

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Appetizers/ Entree/ Game/ HotApp

Duck Confit

So you say, “what is duck confit” and what are you going to do with it.

I tried to anticipate what we might be eating and tried a few French recipes. I’m sure I will be taking a lot of food pictures and I will post some of our favorite places and meals when we return.

In just a few more hours and we will be boarding our plane for France. A week in Paris and a week in Provence I’m sure the trip is going to be wonderful with breathtaking scenery, new experiences and lots of wonderful food. I am sure that we will be seeing duck confit on all the menus; so I decided to make it before our trip then I can compare my version to theirs.

I tried to anticipate what we might be eating while there and tried a few French recipes before going. I’m sure I will be taking a lot of food pictures while there an

Duck confit is a French dish made with the leg/thigh of the duck and it is prepared in a century-old process that consists of salt curing the duck legs and then poaching slowly submerged in its own fat for hours.

The duck legs are rubbed with garlic, herbs (thyme) and salt (I love using thyme because my herb garden is full of it), then refrigerated 36-48 hours. After rinsing off the salt and herbs the meat is slowly poached for 6-8 hours and the meat and fat are removed from the bone. After the meat has cooled it can be put into a container and submerged in the fat.  A sealed jar of duck confit can be refrigerated for up to six months or longer. You need to top the meat in the jar with at least 1″ of fat.

One weekend when we were in Austin visiting our kids, my son was chopping up some duck legs that he had confitted (if that is a word). Anyway, my grandson, Milo, who was only two at the time stood on his chair, watching his dad cook and ate a whole pile of chopped duck legs.

My duck legs were not easily found; I looked all over Houston for duck legs and finally found them at Central market (by phone) but at $6.99 lb. So, what I love most about the internet is that after searching just a little while, no driving, traffic, or gas involved, I found the duck legs at Maple Leaf Farms at $2.99 for 12 oz. leg/thigh. So I ordered six. Why not order more than I needed since I had to pay shipping anyway and on top of that I found a promo code for $5.00 off. So I ordered 6 legs for $25 and that included shipping. I search for promo codes on EVERYTHING I order off the internet. Usually one can be found for a percentage off, free shipping or at least $5.00 off. In this case I got $5.00 off so, what a deal; now I don’t have to drive into Houston. So if you need a promo code, just Google promo code for…. (whatever) and you may have to look through a couple of sites before you find one that works.

I did find whole duck at this Asian market in Houston ,BUT, the frozen and fresh ducks had their heads and feet still on and I just couldn’t bring myself to buying them; they kind of gave me the heebe geebies to look at them. I know I have eaten tripe, lamb fries, tongue and different organ meats that most people wouldn’t think of eating but there was just something about seeing the head and legs/feet still on the duck all curled up in the package made me shiver just to think of it.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Duck Crepe with Port Wine Cherry Sauce

A Delicious appetizer we had at Galatoires in New Orleans.

I knew when I tasted this dish I would soon be trying my own version at home. (Picture is of the crepe we had that night.)

Back in September on our Mother/daughter trip to New Orleans we had some of the most wonderful food I have ever tasted. Dinner our first night there was at Galatoires and since we were celebrating our birthday weekend (we celebrated every night), we chose this landmark restaurant as our first meal in The Big Easy. We shared this crepe and also tried their sweetbreads which were melt in your mouth delicious.

I’ve had duck before and probably quite often growing up. My dad would go duck hunting and my mother would bake the duck in the oven and all I remember is this dry bumpy skin that didn’t taste that good and occasionally finding a buckshot in your mouth that didn’t belong there. Then my parents started making creole duck which was kind of stewed and would fall off the bone in this spicy sauce and we would serve it with wild rice.

A whole new world of eating duck opened up to me when my son Paul introduced me to duck rillettes, duck pate, and duck confit. I have made duck confit before for a cassoulet recipe we did one Thanksgiving and also made the duck confit for this recipe. We used this Duck Crepe with Port Wine Cherry Sauce as part of our New Orleans FEAST meal that we did the day after Thanksgiving. (Every year we pick a different theme or country and everyone cooks — this recipe was my contribution.)

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Chicken and White Bean Chili

Not your traditional chili. The chicken and white beans are wonderful in this fall favorite.

I love any recipe with white beans listed in the ingredients.  Not to sound like Forrest Gump, but I like white bean hummus, white beans with cornbread, cassoulet (we made a wonderful one the year we did French country dinner theme), Italian Chopped Salad (Giadas’ recipe with white beans), and white bean bruschetta.

Ugly chicken — yes, but it holds a wonderful soup.

There’s a story behind this ugly chicken. As you all know by now, I work at Williams Sonoma part time. We use to sell this Staub chicken. I think it was originally priced at $200 (or close to it). Well, seems like they just sat there looking ugly and I started referring to it as the “ugly chicken”. Just look at her, sitting there with her eyes shut like she’s embarrassed for someone to look at her. 🙂

We have these two customers that come in the store often and they were in the store during one of our big summer sales. I was showing them the Staub chicken and said “this chicken is so ugly, she’s cute” and explained how well the chicken roaster was suppose to cook either on top of the stove or in the oven. On the underside of the lid there are these little bumps that allow condensation to build up and then the moisture drips down on whatever you are cooking to make it tender and juicy. It really works.

Well, they each bought one and by the time they were on sale at our rock bottom price, and with my discount, I paid like $30 for my ugly chicken. I have to say that the ugly chicken cooks wonderfully and I use mine on top of the stove instead of the oven because I like to look at her. We did use it in the oven for our cassoulet  and then served right from the chicken. It was a nice presentation for the dish.


That is a killer bread on the plate with the soup. You just mix some mayo with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garlic and basil, spread it on the bread and broil it until hot and bubbly.

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