Cooking with a Friend: Cassoulet and Kale Chips
"I don't like artichokes," J. said while we were menu planning. "I can't stand the mayonnaise," she said, making a disgusted face. "We don't have to eat them with mayo!" I replied. It was at this point that J. fessed up that she had never eaten actually eaten an artichoke, having eschewed them because of the default condiment. I made a mental note to buy them at the market, and attempt to show her the way of the non-mayo artichoke.
A month into cooking together, we are falling into a happy pattern of preparing meals. There's a lot less discussion about where to find a measuring cup or which pan to use, and a lot more social catching up and chit-chatting about the week's events.
This week, we didn't have time to cook over the weekend so did most of our cooking on Monday night. We kept our menu slightly abbreviated so that we weren't overextended ourselves on a work night, and the menu came together nicely.
We had decided to cook a cassoulet recipe from Cooking Light magazine that looked decent. While it's not completely authentic, I was very happy with how this lightened up version turned out. In a departure from our usual plan to cook everything together on one night, I actually prepped and cooked the cassoulet over the weekend. And thank goodness I did —while our cooking time on Monday night took a slim 2.5 hours, making the cassoulet required about 4 hours of cooking time on Sunday.
A friend brought me a bite of homemade kale chips a couple weeks ago, and they were a revelation. I tossed the dry kale with olive oil and Maldon salt and baked them in the oven to create a chip-like snack that I think I could eat in one sitting. J. was pleased with them too, and I think they will be on our menu on a regular basis.
Despite our attempt to slim down the menu, we will still be freezing some items from the week. Half of the cassoulet went into the freezer (along with a nice-sized container of duck fat), as did a small amount of rice. J. took home her half of the dishes, though I didn't allow her to take any artichokes—I left her with a promise of prepping them for her later in the week so that she can (hopefully) learn to love them as much as I do.
Final Menu, Week 4
- Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken
- Cooking Light Cassoulet
- Sauteed broccolini
- Kale chips
- Brown Rice
- Steamed artichokes
Cost: $34 each.
About the author: Jennifer Maiser writes about locally and sustainably grown food. She is the founder and editor of the Eat Local Challenge website and writes at Life Begins at 30, her personal weblog.