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Friday, February 22, 2008

Vegetarian Cassoulet?

I love my Gourmet Magazine! From random issues dating back to 1968 to the one I cracked open last night (March 2008); I always find a comment, recipe, or article that I enjoy. With Ruth Reichl as editor in chief the magazine has broken out of its stuffy beginnings and entered the new century.

Enough waxing poetic. This month is dedicated to rustic French cuisine with a cover photograph of three profiteroles filled with ice cream and an active shot of melted chocolate syrup oozing down. There is a fabulous menu that I want to make in its entirety.
"Spiced Orange Wine
Onion Tart with mustard and fennel
Provencal Fish Soup with Saffron Rouille
Rack of Lamb with swiss chard
Roasted Red Peppers
Roasted Garlic Souffle
Meyer Lemon Cake with Lavender Cream"
I can't think of a better way to say Vie Va La France! than with this menu.

Now I was on a roll and my eyes fell on an article about a bread making technique from Richard Bertinet a master baker from Brittany (historical home of our dog Buzz The Brittany Lightyear). This is a sweet brioche like dough that is very wet and thanks to www.gourmet.com there is a video of his kneading technique.

Wow! after purging myself of my magazines (see previous entries and pictures) I have a reason to horde another batch- Until my respect for Gourmet plummeted when I saw three disturbing recipes.
A Crustless Quiche- "Getting rid of the crust for this clever play on quiche Lorraine is a win-win." How cute is that! And lazy to boot! You might as well just make a Frittata and be done with it in 1/2 the time!!

Mussels and Fries with Mustard Mayonnaise- " While there's no substitute for eating a bowl of mussels on France's Atlantic coast, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to re-create this briny, aromatic dish at home." With one 15-16 oz. package of frozen french fries (cooked according to package instructions- keep warm in oven if necessary.) as the first ingredient. Nothing like a soggy institutional fry go eat with those briny bi-valves.

And the piece de resistance?
Vegetarian Cassoulet!! What were they thinking? I feel the French Revolution all over again! A rustic dish that takes 1 1/4 hour to make and serves 4-6? Julia, Louisette, Simone where are you? I leaped up and grabbed my Mastering the Art of of French Cooking volume one, page 399 and found not necessarily the definitive recipe but a recipe and its variations that embraced the true essence of the dish WITH MEAT. Another part of the cassoulet mystique that was missing from the vegetarian version (ugh) was the bread crumb cracking and basting to form a seasoned crust. The Veggies have you wielding a potato masher to smash the beans and the "Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs."

Now I will have to put on my critical cap and instead of being lulled into a food orgasm with Gourmet I'll have to have an inner dialogue with every recipe and notation. There is no reason to keep the magazines in their virginal entirety I will now slash and cut only the recipes I want.
Ahh- such is life!

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