Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Classy Olé!

It's birthday week, Chez Crankycrumb, and we might even stretch it out to birthday month.
I had an eye-opening discovery this week, much like the time Cranky and I shopped for our own Christmas presents secretly. It was amazing to learn what spouses would buy for themselves, even though we think we're so clever at shopping for each other.
This week, Cranky wanted to cook and eat some favorite foods. It was his gift to himself.
I am thrilled, astounded, and a grateful recipient of his astronomical culinary prowess. Even more stunned by his choice of gift to himself: having freedom to cook what he wants. (Am I that bossy in the kitchen? I will say no, I'm not.)
So far, his meals have all been very wintry and homely. Just what you'd expect this time of year, I guess, but still, what a surprise.
His first foray was a faux cassoulet. Faux, only because it wasn't a repository for vast haunches of animal.
This was cooked with a Toulouse sausage, a confit duck leg, and a little duck fat. Flageolet beans, of course, and nice seasonings. (Turkey broth, bean-cooking liquid also. A roasted tomato from the garden. And superb bread crumbs.)
The great thing about this cassoulet is that it wasn't a bowl of library paste. You know how sometimes you end up with tasty but pick-axeable sludge?
Cranky managed to keep it loose, and we loved it that way.
The other day I read a story in the NYTimes about food chemistry, and Harold McGee commented that a touch of sugar helps beans maintain their integrity during the cooking process. So Cranky dumped in a glass of sweet rosé wine.
He is brilliant.
Happy Birthday, Cranky. Comin' up.


pea said...

i lurv cassoulet. especially when it doesnt take you down for an extended post prandial dip. i hope birthday week/ month is full of cheer!

Zoomie said...

Happy Birthday to Cranky, and many more! That cassoulet (love the "classy ole'" by the way!) looks absolutely delicious!

Kalyn said...

I definitely vote for birthday month!

Happy birthday to Cranky (and lucky CC to have a live-in cook!)

cookiecrumb said...

Pea: Oh, Cranky had a nap. Hee.
Thanks for your good wishes.

Zoomie: I am such a whore for someone who gets my linguistic tricks. Thank you.
We can't wait to eat the leftovers. And B-day is Saturday. :)
BTW, seasoning your food with someone's sausage -- as you did with your fish -- what a treat!

Kalyn: We were just sitting here deciding that, yes, month it will be.
Oh, I am lucky. Cranky says thanky.

dancingmorganmouse said...

I'd give my first born for a cassoulet (if I had a first born) but I'm inspired to try Cranky's faux version, love the rose idea.
Happy birthday to Cranky too btw.

Anita (Married... with dinner) said...

Wait, who doesn't get your linguistic tricks? I thought that was the whole point of the blog? (well, that and the food, I guess) :D

Happy birthday to Cranky! And I don't see nothing faux about the cassoulet, myself. I missed making our usual NY day pot of it this year... might have to fix that soon.

Rev. Biggles said...

Flageolet beans? Isn't that redundant?

Happy Birthday Crankmeister!

kudzu said...

My first cassoulet was one of those two-day productions, and I made the mistake of having to trasport a huge Chilean pottery dish full of very hot food in my lap to a friend's NY Eve party! (Thank God for then-thick copies of the NY Times to protect said lap.) Cranky's version sounds appealing in its lighter heft, well worth trying. Add my b'day wishes to everyone's every day until Saturday....

kudzu said...

PS Forgot to say that my lap was in the back seat of a cab that hit every pot hole on the Upper West Side en route.

cookiecrumb said...

Morgan: You probably don't want a cassoulet if you're suffering from heat rash. I prescribe a cucumber salad.
Cranky thanks you.

Anita: Really? Wow, then maybe I'll ratchet up the word tricks. It IS fun. Merci.
Sorry you missed your NY cassoulet; we still have fond memories of last year's!
Birthday month, oy!

Biggles: Zing! You got me.
Schlitz for the meister, eh?

Kudzu: When we first started making cassoulet, we decided we needed to buy a HUGE Copco enameled pot (they no longer make them; just tea kettles). Finally we learned to scale down. I can just imagine traveling with that thing in my lap. :(

The Italian Dish said...

Hee hee. My hat's off to Cranky for the rose. Brilliant.

Sweet Bird said...

Man that cooks?

That's hawt.

Anna Haight said...

Happy Birthday to Cranky! Great fun to stretch out the celebration!

dancingmorganmouse said...

way ahead of you with the cukes!

Rev. Biggles said...

Hmmm, Schlitz? Good idea! I'll have to go to bev mo and make a special order. Yesh.


cookiecrumb said...

Italian Dish: The recipes call for white wine anyway. A little extra fructose turned out to be a good thing.

Sweet Bird: Yeah, he cooks. Not "chefs," which would be precious and so not hawt.

Anna: Thanks. I admit, it was me who initiated "birthday month," for me. He's just now getting a whole month of his own, poor lad.

Morgan: Goody! Can't wait for my summer.

Biggles: Burpz.

Brittany said...

I'm thinking we should trade husbands.
Just for a little while.

Barbara said...

Happy birthday Cranky.

cookiecrumb said...

Barbara: Thank you, dear. We're still happying.

Brittany: Ooh! That might be fun. Will there be privileges?