Tag Archives: legumes

Daring Confit & Cassoulet

Vegetarian Cassoulet
Vegetarian Cassoulet

What the heck is a cassoulet? I had heard the word before, but wasn’t too sure what it was before it became the Daring Cooks’ challenge for January.

Cassoulet is a particular kind of white bean stew that originated in France. It’s become one of those dishes that ignite debates over who made it first, and what recipe is authentic. Sorry to offend, folks, but mine isn’t especially “authentic”, being vegetarian. There is usually a lot of meat involved.

One of the things that you see in many cassoulet recipes is duck confit. One of the requirements of the challenge was to make some kind of confit, and again there were some veggie options. I had to look up what a confit was, exactly, since I’ve always heard it associated with duck. Basically, ‘confit’ is used to describe a few things, in particular a method of preserving food by cooking it in a fat. In the case of meats, they are usually cooked in their own fats. For things like garlic, it is cooked in oil.

I made garlic confit.

Garlic Confit
Garlic Confit

So what exactly does one use garlic confit for? You can use it much the same way you might use a baked garlic – the cooking process mellows out the flavours, and gives it a creamy spreadable texture. This makes it (and the oil it’s cooked and stored in) easy to use in dips, soups, sauces… just about anything. Being a big lover of garlic, I thought this would be a fun thing to try making.

That done, I had to decide how to retain the spirit of a cassoulet without the meat. I opted to make the seitan sausages from last month’s challenge, and use them in the stew. I also added some smoked paprika to add some depth to the flavour.

I’m pretty sure it didn’t taste like a real cassoulet, but it was really good!

Vegetarian Cassoulet - closer
Vegetarian Cassoulet

Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

Recipes after the jump!
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Back to Basics: How to cook dried Chick Peas

Dried Chickpeas

Cooking chick peas (garbanzo beans) from dried is easier than I thought! The trick is in the soaking – you need to soak them for at least 24 hours before cooking. I actually soak them for 2 days, and have such great results that I keep doing it that way.

One thing to keep in mind is that they expand quite a bit – my first try was with 2 cups of dried chick peas, which yielded about 6 cups of cooked chick peas. Yikes! These days, I do 1 cup at a time.

  1. In a large bowl, add 4 cups of cool water to 1 cup of dried chick peas.
  2. Put the bowl in the fridge for at least 24 hours to soak, changing the water every day.
  3. Every once in a while, stir the chick peas around a bit.
  4. To cook, boil a large pot of water. Add the chick peas, and return to the boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes – but test to get the perfect texture!

The “Back to Basics” series is a collection of simple instructions, to be used as a reference for preparing some of the ingredients in the pantry. Mostly, it’s just a way for me to keep track of some of this info because I never remember the simple stuff!

Indian Chickpea Salad

Indian Chickpea Salad

Today’s salad is inspired by Indian spices and flavour combinations. I’m obsessed with my collection of spices, and I was happy to be able to pull out some of my (recently ignored) Indian spices today.

Possibly the most exciting part for me is the amchoor powder. Amchoor is powdered dried mango, and it has a really neat tart flavour. I have to say that I don’t use this one all that often – it’s not that in many recipes that I come across, and I sometimes forget that I have it. Today was very different – this was the first thing I thought of when I decided to make chickpea salad.

It started with me coming across my stash of dried chickpeas. I decided to try cooking them up again, even though I have never been successful at this task. The price of canned legumes keeps going up so I thought I should give it another go. More on that later. Jump to a couple of days later, nicely cooked chickpeas at hand, and me coming up with ideas for my Indian-inspired chickpea salad. Summer salads should be fun, fresh, zesty, and exciting… ding, ding, ding!! I thought of the sour amchoor powder at the back of my spice drawer.

Mixed with other spices, such as cumin, coriander, tumeric and cayenne, I was able to make a very flavourful dressing that wasn’t heavy or creamy. I opted to add in some fresh veggies and fruits to round it out, including some just perfectly ripe apricots for a little more sweet and sour – I would have used mango, but apricots are in season here, and I thought something fresh and local would be best.

Dried Chickpeas

Dried Chickpeas

About the cooking of the chickpeas… in the past, I have failed miserably at cooking up dried legumes. They often came out mushy or mealy and just plain terrible. That said, buying them dried is much cheaper than buying them canned, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to try again.

I started with 2 cups of dried chick peas, soaking them in a LOT of water in the fridge. I read to soak them overnight, but I ended up soaking them for two (only because I didn’t have time to do anything with them right away). I discarded the soaking water each day, and just before cooking. I cooked them in a large pot of boiling water and it only took about 40 minutes (brought to a boil, then simmered). I tested along the way, just to ensure I didn’t overcook them. I should also add that I didn’t add anything to the soaking or cooking water – no salt, flour, baking soda… nothing. They cooked up perfectly. As good as canned, if not better. Two cups of dried chick peas probably yielded 5-6 cups of cooked, and it cost less than a 19oz can of chickpeas, which would only contain about 2.5 cups.

Recipe after the jump!

Continue reading Indian Chickpea Salad