welcome to 2013

first sunrise of the year

Here’s to a bright and better new year! As we often do, we stayed in and had all the Traditional Foods of the season.


First, on New Year’s Eve, there was the chips and dip course. This year I made a variation of the America’s Test Kitchen caramelized onion dip, and it was pretty good, although still a bit too sweet. We ate more vegetables with it than usual, since I ended up with vast quantities of crudites after a catered event last weekend.

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kicking off the new year

winter sunwhitecaps

The past few days have all been surprisingly full of pork and sunshine – both very good things.

On Friday we went for a walk out at Washington Park near Anacortes. The sun was out but the wind was howling across the water and through the trees on the headland. It was fresh and deeply invigorating. We went home and made steamed bao, stewed kale and a pork roast marinated and braised with hoisin sauce, loads of garlic, scallion and ginger.

pork and greens and bao

Chinese-style pork

steamed bao


The pork was remarkably flavorful all the way through. We sliced it thinly and made little sandwiches with the pork and kale on sliced bao, with the sauce from the pork as a dipping jus. I may have eaten too much of this.

New Year’s Eve was Neapolitan-style pizza with friends, featuring spicy coppa and bits of leftover Christmas ham. We drank many bottles of Prosecco, Cava and homemade cider. I made onion dip and it turned out really, really well. A good time was had by all.


New Year’s Day is when we make cassoulet. I did a simple one, based on the version we learned at Duckfest. White beans, brined overnight then cooked with onion, bay, garlic and epices rabelais. Toulouse sausage from the Paris Grocery in Seattle, and a package of duck confit from our co-op. I got a great crust on it this year (still no breadcrumbs, mind you). A salad of baby arugula and a bottle of St Cosme made for a perfect, low-key evening.

Our fridge still seems to have a lot of pork in it.

Happy 2011!

ridiculously scenicbubbly

We celebrated the end of 2010 our usual way, with oysters and potato chips and onion dip and Good Luck Noodles and bubbly, then rang in the new year with cassoulet, followed by a serious need to lay off the carbohydrates for a while. Here’s to the new year – may it be a good one!

down the oyster road


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cassoulet 2009


As of last year, I decided that cassoulet would be my New Year’s Day tradition, beans being good luck and all. Cassoulet 2008 was thrown together with leftover pork roast and andouille sausage – it was very tasty, but I wanted to experiment a bit. I found a good-looking formula for cassoulet on Kate Hill’s blog, and followed the instructions loosely.


I was going to use duck confit this year, I swear, but the co-op sold out of the stuff, then closed early on New Year’s Eve. We made do with sausage and a small slice of uncured ham. I didn’t have any ham hocks or bacon to flavor the broth, either, so I used some of our good roasted turkey stock from Thanksgiving. The final result wasn’t particularly meaty (or fatty), but the beans had a wonderful deep flavor – they soaked up every bit of broth I gave them. I didn’t use any breadcrumbs for the top, but the crust turned out fabulous. Continue reading

cassoulet for New Year's Day

cassoulet and salad

I was only recently introduced to the idea of eating beans on New Year’s Day for good luck and prosperity. I’ve always figured I’ve gotten my good luck from our noodles the night before – but on the other hand, you can’t have too much good luck. So this year I decided to try my hand at a cassoulet.

white beans

I know that there’s a lot of argument over what makes the “true” cassoulet. I read the recipes in Mastering The Art of French Cooking and The Cooking of Southwest France, and I read David Lebovitz’s post on Camp Cassoulet in Gascony.  Doing it the “official” way, with confit and pork fat and God knows what, certainly sounds exciting. But you know, the only people I was trying to impress were J and myself, and I just wanted it to taste good. So I did it all in one day, skipped the confit, and came up with something I was really pleased with. My one concession to working ahead was to have a pork roast for dinner a few days previous, so we could use the leftover meat.

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