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.