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Expat wanderer

AdventureMan Cooks a Florida Bouillabaisse

One of AdventureMan’s retirement dreams was to have time to cook. There have been two times in our lives together when he has had the time – one, when our son was born and he learned Chinese cooking so he could stir-fry while I held the squalling baby (he had colic, and squalled from about four in the afternoon to eleven at night. Do you know how long every single minute is when you are holding an inconsolable baby?)

The second time was when he retired from the military, and spent several months at home, keeping house, taking our son to visit colleges, and serving up some of the most fantastic meals we have ever eaten. (I was working; it was a total role reversal. Kind of fun to shake things up, do things differently in a relationship now and then. 🙂 )

So when he started thumbing through cook books, I started grinning to myself. This man is very talented, and while I am very good at ‘survival cooking’, i.e. getting a meal on the table that will nourish and quell hunger pains, AdventureMan takes cooking to an art form.

First we had to make a trip to the grocery store for some basics. When you set up housekeeping after a (yet another) move, you are missing some of the most basic things – like cayenne pepper, or garlic.

Then – oh heaven! – we visited Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market, heaven on earth for this little old Alaska girl.

Fresh, fresh seafood, and people who know how to cut it. The prices are good. As we entered, a drama began, a woman buying a lot of (something) picked a fight, first with the man serving her and then with the cashier. We were there about half an hour, and during this time, she complained, loudly and vigorously, to anyone who would listen. I think she wanted her purchase comped.

AdventureMan bought what he needed, got it cut mostly how he needed it, and also got a fish head and tail for making stock – a great big grouper! He said as he cooked it up, the head and mouth were sticking out of the pot like “Help me! Help me!” but I wouldn’t know because I was upstairs minding my own business while he worked his magic on the Florida fish bouillabaisse. 🙂

Soon, tantalizing odors drifted upstairs, rich, complex odors, with a hint of sherry . . . it was divine. I had to pop down to let him know how much I was appreciating his efforts.

“Do you think it’s a little too thick?” he asked.

“I think it’s like a fish stew; I think thick is OK. You can add a little more liquid if it seems to need it,” I added, but actually, he is doing just fine without any input from me.

Finally, it was time to eat. AdventureMan dished the concoction into some shellfish soup bowls I found many years ago at that exotic resource store, TJ Maxx (LOL) and dinner was served.

Total YUMMMMMM. Bravo, AdventureMan, Bravo! I am having a lot of fun with your retirement! 🙂

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Biography, Cooking, Experiment, Florida, Food, Pensacola, Relationships, Shopping | 12 Comments

Slow Cooker Cassoulet

When I first saw this recipe on allrecipes.com I thought “this isn’t right! Where’s all the fat?” Cassoulets we have eaten in the high plateau central southwest part of France had duck in them, and goose fat, and some mutton, maybe a little pork. They have elaborate rituals, where you boil it in a large enamel pot for hours, then bake it, pulling it out now and then to break and stir in the crust that forms, baking again, breaking the crust, for hours. Cassoulet is a ritual, not just a dish.

But I saved the recipe, because our son and daughter-in-law have gotten us intrigued with slow cooker cooking, and this week, I gave it a try:

The hardest part of this recipe is finding cannelini beans. After I finally found dried beans (at the Four Winds International Grocery at 9th and Creighton) I actually found canned cannelini at WalMart. (I know! Whoda thunk?) I wanted to go ahead and try it with the dried beans, so I soaked them overnight, cooked them, and then went ahead with the following recipe:

Cassoulet Slow Cooker

• 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks
• 1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
• 2 large cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 pound turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch slices
• 1/3 cup dry white wine

Directions

Place the chicken into the bottom of a slow cooker.

Stir together the onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, cannellini beans, and turkey kielbasa in a large bowl. Pour the mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker, and pour the wine over all the ingredients.

Cover, set the cooker to Low, and cook until the chicken is very tender and the cassoulet is thickened, 5 to 6 hours.

This recipe perfumed the house with rich aromas. We could hardly wait to eat. Such simple ingredients, so easy to fix! Toward the end, I had to add a little more wine and I also added about a teaspoon of Herbes de Provence. If you live in Kuwait or Qatar, or don’t use alcohol in your cooking, you can substitute chicken broth for the wine, or an unsweet grape juice, or one of the non-alcoholic wines available in some supermarkets.

Here’s how it looked close up, shortly before serving. 🙂 Hope you try it, hope you like it. 🙂

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Local Lore | 2 Comments