Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rainbow Cassoulet for a Bright Easter Lunch

Spring is here! The good and the bad are showing themselves everywhere. Yesterday I was a little annoyed to find my veggies covered over with aphids. This made me overly excited to see a ladybug nymph and then a lady bug- until my baby was eating the ladybug (and was subsequently very confused why he no longer crawled). Bleck! However one very delightful part about spring gardening remains that no mosquitoes are out yet. How I hate those little bastards! (One even found me in England, in the winter).

But when it comes to Spring, the best part is the delicious food that is starting to emerge fresh everywhere. I just had my first garden salad of the season last week! But my absolute favorite is asparagus. Those crispy pencil stalks that must be tended so carefully for two to three years. I vow that one day I will have a bed of them! Those bouquets, all too often wrapped in that "made in Peru" band. You know the one that we so easily throw away without thought that it has traveled three thousand and five hundred plus miles to get to us? Here is a sobering look at what agriculture without water looks like, alongside some very innovative water saving methods. Why, oh why, do we grow water hungry plants in the desert, or for that matter insist on over populating areas with very little water? Maybe there is hope for asparagus yet.

I, for one, was so hopeful that the local asparagus would arrive in time for Easter, but it didn't quite make it. I was so eager, that I had to give in at the market. My coop friends at Fisher's Produce, will, however, have a bit this month. I couldn't quite do the price of the not so local fresh organic so I made a hard settle for the frozen organic.

Easter lunch was so egg-citing. We wish you could have been there!
(L)Cali with her Easter dress. Cris and Connor. (Bottom Right) Calyn hunting eggs in the rain with Evan
And because it was Easter, there were several splurge foods making our total a little more than usual. But this was still just over $4 per person!

Asparagus with hollandaise sauce

  • 2 lb of asparagus $10 (coop price for fresh, frozen was considerably less)
  • 1/4 cup of butter $1.12
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice $0.10
  • 2 egg yolks $0.34
  • pinch of sea salt
If there is fine dining in heaven, I am certain that it includes hollandaise sauce! It is the grown up excuse to eat butter- butter that has been made tangy and velvety and that stays on your spoon. (Note, this should be the last thing prepared in your meal because it works best hot, and is rather hard to reheat)
First steam your asparagus.

Separate out your egg yolks. Add the lemon juice to the whisked egg yolks.

Then separately melt your butter. Put the melted butter on the stove on lowest heat and whisk all of the ingredients together until they make a thick cream. Drizzle over your asparague.

Sweet brussel sprouts with bacon

  • 4 pieces of bacon $2
  • 1 lbs of baby brussel sprouts $6
  • 1-2 TBSP of honey $0.44
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar $0.17

Cut the bacon into bite sized pieces. Add baby brussel sprouts and honey and rice vinegar. Cook until bacon is crispy, about 10 min sauteeing continuously.

Rainbow Cassoulet

  • 1/3 cup of corn starch $1.60
  • 3 TBSP of bacon lard (from the bacon package above
  • 6 cups of (homemade) broth
  • 1 lamb shank  (ours was around 1.5 lbs) $10.50
  • 12 oz great northern beans $1.10
  • 8-10 medium rainbow carrots $2
  • 2 potatoes $0.50
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves $0.30
  • 2 bay leaves
  • herb bundle of 2 sprigs of rosemary, 5 sprigs of oregano, 2 sprigs of thyme (from my garden)

This soup became a cassoulet of sorts, a traditional French soup that is often made with white beans and goose or other dark oily meats in a stone pot (which I do not own).

First mix the corn starch and bacon lard over low heat stirring continuously.

Add the cubed meat and the spices. Lightly brown and coat the meat. Slowly while stirring add the vegetable broth.

If you can find them, the rainbow carrots really make this dish unique and flavorful. Each variety has it's own unique taste and almost made it look like little bits of mixed Easter eggs floating in the soup. We had purple, yellow, orange. We are hoping to grow some in our garden this year. Here is a seed source. Slice the carrots into thin circles and dice the potatoes. Stir occasionally simmering for 45 min to an hour until carrots and potatoes are tender.

Serves 8. Menu Total $36.17
$4.52 per person
A great addition is hot cross buns. This year we tried a more wholesome one from another blogger, but it needs some work. I'll let you know when I've perfected it!

What are your Easter traditions? What's for lunch?

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