cassole/cassoulet

cassouletIf you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know that cassoulet ranks as something of a minor obsession of mine. Named for its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round earthenware pot characterized by slanting sides, this rich, slow-cooked, casserole of meat and beans has its origins in Languedoc. Especially the towns of Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Castelnaudary, which each claim ownership of the dish and invoke minor variations on what is essentially a peasant stew assembled out of leftovers: Toulouse substitutes a local garlicky saucisson, while Castelnaudary trades duck confit for the more traditional mutton, and in Carcassonne, as I learned onboard le bateau yesterday, duck gets replaced with partridge. In the end it’s six of one: all are made with white beans, confit, sausage, and additional meats. And all soothe the soul on a cold winter’s evening like good comfort food is supposed to do. The only hitch yesterday was the weather. A heavy stew isn’t quite as inviting when the thermometer inches up into the 80’s. Not that I let that stop me.cassole

love at first bite

Fat-free, cholesterol-free, vegan-friendly, nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and kosher-certified, I’m officially obsessed with these 50-calorie bags of freeze-dried FruitziO from Crispy Green. A sophisticated freeze-drying process wicks the water out of fresh fruit, leaving behind a fruity essence sealed in a light and crispy chip that’s as addictive as narcotics. If you’ve never tried crispy mangoes, be warned – you have no idea what you’re missing. My only gripe is that they’re not organic. Still, next time I’m stuck flying coach I’m stuffing my bag full of crispy kiwi. And cantaloupe. And Asian pear.

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