Bibliophiles' Lunch

Sisters share paleo recipes, books, and DIY

1 Comment

Cassoulet D’Artagnan


For Christmas Eve I made a classic Cassoulet using the kit sold by D’Artagnan which includes everything you need to make it except the onions, herbs and water.

3 lbs haricot Tarbais (I may use 2 lbs next time, as this is a lot of beans)
12 oz ventreche (French version of pancetta)
10 cloves garlic (I used 3)
2 medium onions, peeled and cut in half
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 bouquet garni (5 parsley sprigs, 3 celery leaves, 1 sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf, 10 peppercorns wrapped in cheesecloth and tied) or as I did–1 Tbs dried bouquet garni
6 duck leg confit
6-1/2 oz duck and veal demi-glace, dissolved in 3-1/2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 packages duck and armagnac sausage
1 lb French garlic sausage, sliced
1/4 cup duck fat
(I skipped the 5 cloves that the onions should be studded with and the 1 Tbs of tomato paste as I didn’t have these things on hand)

To make the beans less difficult to digest, soak them for 24 hours at room temperature, changing the water several times. The soaking allows the beans to begin to sprout, a process in which they inactivate some of the toxic lectins that protect the bean from being eaten by pests before they sprout.

Once the beans have been soaked, drain them and put into a heavy pot or two (I don’t have one pot big enough for this much cassoulet), add the whole ventreche, garlic, carrot, bouquet garni and onion studded with cloves. Add water to cover by about three inches. Simmer for 1 hour.

Drain the beans, discard the onion and bouquet garni, but leave the carrot and garlic with the beans and season with 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Cut the ventreche into 1/2″ dice.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Brown the duck and armagnac sausages on all sides in a frying pan and cut into thirds.

Grease a large pot or casserole with duck fat (or use two large pots, as I do). Place half the bean mixture into the pot. Add the diced ventreche, duck and armagnac sausages, confit duck legs, and French garlic sausage slices, drizzle with some of the duck fat and cover with the remaining beans.

Mix the demi-glace and water and pour over the beans. I ended up using quite a bit more water to make sure that the beans were covered enough so as not to dry out in the oven (maybe I used too much water as the beans are supposed to make a crust on top of the Cassoulet, and this didn’t happen). Drizzle with the remaining duck fat.

I brought the pot to the boil on the stove top then covered and placed in the oven. Bake at 325 F until hot and bubbling about 2-1/2 hours. Check from time to time that the beans are not drying out and add water if necessary.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 F, remove the cover from the pot, and bake an additional 45 minutes until the top is browned.

Serve immediately, as Cassoulet should be eaten hot.

I love Cassoulet, even if it is hard to digest the beans. It is a wonderful Gascon dish from the southwest of France, and D’Artagnan makes it very easy to make with their wonderful kit of delicious, high quality products–all natural meats with no fillers, additives or preservatives, using traditional recipes and techniques. The kit comes with the,default,pg.html


Leave a comment

Potage Alenois (Watercress Soup)


I had meant to try this soup for years and the stars finally aligned this holiday season–I had good watercress and I remembered to try the recipe (from The Soups of France, by Lois Anne Rothert, p 38) simultaneously. Of course I had to significantly alter the recipe for my dietary restrictions. The original recipe calls for watercress, butter, shallots, potatoes, water, salt, milk, sour cream, and parsley or chervil.

Here is my (very different) nondairy version:

2 bunches watercress, large stems removed
2 – 3 Tbs olive oil or other fat of choice
2 leeks, white and pale green parts chopped
4 – 6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt

Coarsely chop the watercress leaves. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over low heat. Simmer the leeks until softened. Add the watercress, broth; add additional water to cover if needed. Simmer until the leeks and watercress are soft (15 – 20 minutes). Using a handheld blender blend a bit so that there are still some chunks left in the soup. Add salt to taste.

Leave a comment

Maple Shortbread Cookies–sort of


I rarely make sweets, desserts, cookies, etc. but was inspired by the season to try to make a paleo shortbread. Sarah Ballantyne has a recipe for Maple Shortbread Cookies that look delicious on p358 of The Paleo Approach Cookbook. It only calls for 4 ingredients: maple sugar, palm shortening, arrowroot powder, and coconut flour. Of course I didn’t have 3 out of the 4 ingredients so I improvised as follows:

1 cup arrowroot flour (is this the same as powder?)
2/3 cup coconut flour
1 cup red palm oil (this is pumpkin colored and makes a much darker cookie than Ballantyne did)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the ingredients together in a food processor and scoop by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Bake until golden brown at 300F–it took me about 30 – 35 minutes. Timing depends on cookie size, of course.

I figured that maple syrup would completely change the batter as it is a liquid. I don’t have enough experience making shortbread to know exactly what changes resulted, but I think the shortbread was less short than in Ballantyne’s pictures. My cookies are a pretty color but don’t look traditional as they are pumpkin colored. The cookies are nice when warm but a bit hard when completely cool. Is this a result of overcooking or using liquid in the batter? They might be good chopped up and used as a topping for a fruit crumble–but I won’t find out with this batch as we ate it all up.


Leave a comment

Soupe de Cepes Correzienne (Wild Mushroom Soup)


I began with the Wild Mushroom Soup recipe from The Soups of France by Lois Anne Rothert, my favorite soup recipe book. The original recipe calls for 16 oz fresh cepes. Since that isn’t so easy to accomplish, I generally reconstitute two to three little packages of dried mushrooms–porcini (Italian for cepe) or any other dried varieties–or I use whatever fresh mushrooms appeal to me at the supermarket. This time I used a package of white button mushrooms and a package of baby bella mushrooms.  Here is my version of the recipe:

16 oz package white button mushrooms, sliced
16 oz package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 leeks sliced white and pale green parts only
3 Tbs rendered bacon fat (or fat of your choice)
2 cloves garlic
1-1/2 quarts chicken broth
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup coconut milk (homemade or canned, unsweetened)

Clean the mushrooms and slice. Slice the leeks. Melt the fat and saute the leeks for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cover stirring from time to time. When the mushrooms have rendered their liquid, softened and shrunk a bit add the garlic, broth, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Using a stick blender puree the soup until it is the consistency you like–I like pieces of mushroom still in my soup so I don’t puree much. Add the coconut milk.

Voila! A simple soup that is tasty and satisfying.

Leave a comment

Brandade de morue (Scalloped Salt Cod in cauliflower sauce)


I looked at several salt cod recipes and decided that since I don’t use flour or night shade vegetables these days nor any dairy I’d better look at paleo recipes. Sarah Ballantyne has Scalloped Hake and Oysters on p 248 of The Paleo Approach Cookbook and I used this method for my salt cod. However, I hadn’t made any plantain crackers so I skipped them and increased the bacon bits as topping.

1 lb salt cod
1/2 cauliflower cut into florets
2 cups chicken broth
2 T coconut oil
1 shallot, finely diced
Pinch saffron
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
4 – 6 oz bacon, sauteed and crumbled

Soak a 1 lb package of salt cod in several changes of water for 24 hours.

Cauliflower sauce from The Paleo Approach Cookbook p 248: Saute the diced shallot in the coconut oil until tender. Add the saffron, wine, chicken broth, cauliflower, lemon zest, and garlic and simmer until the cauliflower is soft. Puree the cauliflower mixture.

Cut the salt cod into bite sized pieces and spread evenly in the bottom of a gratin dish. Pour the cauliflower mixture over the cod and sprinkle the bacon bits over the dish. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.

The cauliflower sauce with bacon bits makes for a nice alternative to a cream sauce and melted cheese or bread crumbs on top for those of us who can’t eat these things.  It was a hit–it is all eaten up between three of us.  Salt cod can be very delicate and tender when soaked and cooked gently.  Served with green beans and kohlrabi remoulade.