Thanks to everyone who shared my adventures. I am going to miss walking to the patisserie and the panadería every morning to get my fresh bread, and I am going to miss writing my blog and reading your comments, but for now the baguettes and the Vegemite, like my blog, are finished.
1. Hug my children
2. Make appointment at hairdressers, am I really that grey?
3. Go shopping for new jeans, the ones I have been wearing seem to be shrinking with each wash. Perhaps it’s because I can’t work out how to use French washing machines properly
4. Buy lettuce and carrots
5. Join the gym
6. Find the local chapter for BA, I’ll let you work that one out, shouldn’t be too hard….
7. Sit on my balcony and watch the sun go down over the Indian Ocean
8. Love Australia, the best place on earth to live!
Cassoulet, the ultimate in French comfort food, is essentially a humble stew of beans and meat made by French peasants with whatever ingredients were at hand. Today the basic cassoulet consists of white beans, pork, Toulouse sausages and duck confit, all cooked together for a very long time. Debate rages in cassoulet circles as to whether bread crumbs are added as a topping, as a cassoulet newbie I went with the breadcrumbs and personally I say “Le breadcrumbs? Mais oui!”
As you have probably gathered by now, it is cold, and it is wet here at the moment, so I thought I would venture once more into the world of French fare in order to warm the heart if not the body!
(A word of warning before I continue, the following contains graphic pictures of duck fat, lots of duck fat!)
Step 1 Sauté roughly chopped vegetables (don’t you love recipes that say roughly chopped, as opposed to finely diced) in duck fat.
Step 5 Refrigerate overnight, next day remove from fridge and be amazed at the amount of fat that has solidified on top. Remove fat. (Who remembers eating bread and dripping as a child? Duck fat on baguette, delicious! Yes, I know the fat police will come and get me, but it was worth it)
Step 7 Add dried breadcrumbs and finely chopped garlic ( a bit more garlic, why not!) to top and return to oven. Cook on slow heat for another two hours until a crusty top has formed.
Quote from A History of Cassoulet (www.dartagnan.com) “Don’t hesitate to cut open the upper crust to check if the cassoulet is drying out too much inside as it cooks. If so, add some liquid, like stock or demi-glace. The idea is to form a crusty top on the cassoulet, while maintaining a moist center, so breaking the film that forms as the beans cook is a good thing. Some cookbooks claim that it must be broken seven times to get the perfect cassoulet”
I didn’t do any breaking, but thank goodness it was still moist inside.
Step 8 Cassoulet is served with mustard and cornichons. Pour wine, serve and enjoy!
Everyone knows Marie Antoinette’s famous response to the French peasants’ plea for bread
“Let them eat cake”
But how many of you are aware of a lesser known quote by Marie Therese, wife of the Sun King, Louis XIV. When the peasants complained they did not have enough money to buy candles, she reportedly replied “Let them have chandeliers”
Or was it that when Louis was busy transforming Versailles from a 17th century hunting lodge into a sumptuous palace for his wife and 6 children, MT said ” You know darling you can never have too much gold or too many chandeliers” I can never remember!
Of course neither quotes may be true, but the truth is that the Palace if Versailles is decorated with enough gold and chandeliers to appease the most opulent and decadent of tastes, from the outside of the palace to the mirror room. It was here that the Treaty of Versailles was signed to mark the end of WWI
I can’t believe I didn’t take one photo of a painting of men in curly wigs riding horses to show you, but I loved the richly decorated boudoirs, the one below being Marie Theres’s bedroom where she gave birth in full public view.
A cold and rainy day at the end of winter is not the time to appreciate the splendor of Versailles, the pools were mostly empty, the fountains still, and the stone urns still snug in their winter blankets. Even the statues looked decidedly chilly.