Tag Archives: coriander

Harissa-Spiced Cassoulet

L1040015If anyone had told my younger self that I would go through menopause in my late thirties, I probably would have shrugged and went on with my life.   Back then, I thought menopause would merely be a ceasing of menstruation and maybe a year of hot flashes.  However, I’m learning that the experience of menopause is a heck of a lot more than that, and it’s a really difficult transition.  Just the other day I was so frustrated and disheartened that I thought to myself, Why aren’t there menopause support groups the way that there are AA meetings?  The thought kind of made me laugh, but then I soberly wondered if any actually exist.
L1040007It wasn’t until recently that I came to the conclusion that all of my ailments were due to my hormones being out of whack due to menopause.  It’s pretty amazing how much control our hormones have over how our body functions; they control everything!  They’re like the lobbyists of the U.S. political system.  (Ok, I won’t get political…but isn’t that a good analogy?!)

I am trying to remain patient and maintain some sense of normalcy with this transitional phase of my life, but it has been a struggle the last few months as my symptoms become more acute.  Yoga definitely helps.  And I’ve started training for the half-marathon that I will be running in April.  Every little thing helps.  I just hope that I am one of the more fortunate women for whom menopause lasts two years instead of ten.  Gulp.
L1040004This was my first time making a cassoulet.  I came across this recipe in Food & Wine, where a Minneapolis chef was sharing riffs-on-casserole recipes.  If you haven’t ever made one, they are as easy as a casserole, and even more delicious.  And this particular cassoulet is perfect for hunkering down on a cold winter’s night.  It’s almost March, people!
L1040013Harissa-Spiced Cassoulet
Adapted from Food & Wine

Yield:  10-12 servings

1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced, plus 2 large carrots, cut into 2 1/2-inch lengths
14 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Four 6-ounce chicken sausages, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
3 turnips, peeled and cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 ounces rustic peasant bread, crusts removed, bread cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered. Add the onion, celery and diced carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning 
to soften, about 8 minutes.  Add the beans and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. In a small skillet, toast the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds over moderate heat, shaking the pan, until fragrant and the mustard seeds begin to pop, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer 
to a spice grinder and let cool. Add the smoked paprika and crushed red pepper and grind the harissa blend into a powder.
  3. Wipe out the casserole and heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in it. Add the sausages and cook over moderate heat, until lightly browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Do not wipe out the casserole.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes, turnips and large carrots to the casserole. Season with salt and black pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 minutes.  Add the harissa spice blend and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the bean mixture and the chicken broth and bring just to a simmer.  Cover and bake the 
cassoulet for about 1 hour, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the oven and uncover the cassoulet.  Mix in the sausages.
  6. Preheat the broiler. In a bowl, toss the bread, parsley, lemon zest and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the bread over the cassoulet and broil until golden and crisp. Let the cassoulet stand for 10 minutes before serving.





Veal Meatballs with Mustard Greens

DSC_4869I was chosen for jury duty this week.  I feel like you can bring up jury duty to almost any New Yorker and they will tell you their story of having to serve on a jury.  I’m kind of surprised that it’s taken 11 years for me to do my time on a jury, although I’ve been called up numerous times over the years.

Since the case is not yet over, I can’t say anything about it other than that it is a criminal trial—one that I have to travel 4 hours round-trip to get to every day.  It’s kind of ironic that I’m complaining about having to travel, when the reason for the traveling is to decide the fate of another human being’s life.  Ohhhhhh, my privileged life.

And that is exactly what I have been trying to focus on this week as I sit in a courtroom day after day listening to stories of how numerous crimes were committed.  I am trying not to focus on the awful things I am hearing each day when I step into that courtroom, but rather on how beautiful my life is:  how fortunate I have been throughout my life, the opportunities that have come my way, the never-ending support from friends and family, and the love.  It really does make a difference in the outcome of one’s life.
DSC_4859As the days progressed this week, I felt the need to connect.  I wanted to call my friends and family on my lunch hour and express how much I value them and how important they are to me.  Our daily reality is just that; it belongs to no one else.  At some point, I stopped complaining about the long commute to the courthouse each day.  Instead, I am choosing to find meaning in this experience.

Meatballs.  Who doesn’t love a good meatball??  Except for, well, maybe vegetarians.  But I bet they eat their fair share of soy and seitan meatballs.  Gross.  Sorry vegetarians.  I have to confess that meatballs are yet another item that I had never made before.   I think it was simply another intimidation situation.   But I love the fact that these meatballs were my first.  They are juicy and full of flavor—exactly the way any good meatball should taste.  And the mustard greens are the perfect bitter complement to the sweetness of the meatballs.  Of course, you can toss them into a plate of pasta if this recipe isn’t hearty enough on its own.  But this dish definitely doesn’t need a starch to accompany it.  My only suggestion is to speak like Tony Soprano when you take your first bite.
DSC_4868Veal Meatballs with Mustard Greens
Adapted from Food and Wine

Yield:  4 servings

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chipotle or other smoked chile powder
1 pound ground veal
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound mustard greens, thick stems discarded and leaves chopped
1/3 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1.  In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering.
2.  Add the minced onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown, 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the minced garlic, the fennel seeds, mustard powder crushed red pepper, coriander and chile powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes; let cool.
4.  In a large bowl, mix the cooled onion mixture with the veal, bread crumbs, cream, egg and salt.
5.  Form into 11/2-inch meatballs and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
6.  In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering.  Add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat, turning until browned all over, 5 minutes.
7.  Gently push the meatballs to one side of the skillet.  Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan, then add the mustard greens and stock.
8.  Cover and cook over moderate heat until the greens are wilted, 4 minutes.  Spoon the meatballs and greens into bowls and serve.