Browsing the archives for the daring cooks tag.

Hearty Winter Stew (The French Way) – Daring Cooks Jan 2011


In this post I’m participating in (of course) The Daring Kitchen, and also in Social Parade.

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.

Oh. My. Goodness. This challenge? Was challenging. I mean that in the best possible way too. At first it was a little overwhelming to even read the recipe. Me, who makes all kinds of crazy meals and desserts, I was totally intimidated by the concept of a stew that takes 3 days to make. That’s not even days of prep either. It’s involving!

Anyhoo, I’ll start with the recipe itself and then attack you will three days worth of French stew making photos, which ended up being about eleventy billion.

There were a whole lot of substitutions allowed thankfully! Some items I wanted but couldn’t get (like duck for some reason) and other items I just super didn’t want to get (like duck fat).

Cassoulet via The Daring Kitchen

5 cups dried Great Northern beans
2 huge pork hocks (original recipe calls for pork belly)
1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
1 pound bacon (original recipe calls for pork rind)
1 bouquet garni (tie together two sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme and one bay leaf)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup Becel/butter (original recipe calls for duck fat)
12 small pork sausages
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
8 confit chicken legs (original recipe calls for duck legs)

First, you’ll need to make the confit.

Chicken Confit

4 whole chicken legs (leg and thigh)
sea salt, for the overnight (at least 6-8 hours) dry rub
2 cups Becel/butter
a healthy pinch or grind of black pepper
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove

Making the confit is pretty easy. The first day all you do is rub down the chicken legs with a generous amount of sea salt and pop them in the fridge overnight.


One the second day, preheat your oven to 375, melt the butter in a saucepan. Then season the chicken legs with black pepper and put them in a casserole dish. Add the thyme, rosemary and garlic with the chicken legs and pour the melted butter over them. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and cook for about an hour. Till the bone easily slips out.


Now let it cool, as is, and then pop it in the fridge overnight.

Day one of the actual Cassoulet is painfully simple. Just soak your beans.

Day two, you drain the beans, and put them in a large pot. The quartered onion, herb bouquet and pork hocks all go in with this too. Cover with water and simmer for 1/2 hour. Season with salt and pepper and then simmer for another 1/2 hour.


Let this cool for about 20 minutes and toss the onion and herbs. Take out the pork hocks and take off the meat. Strain the beans and keep the water.

Now, saute the sausages in the butter till they’re well browned. Then drain them on paper towels. Now, in the same pan, brown the onions, garlic and meat.


Once that’s browned….ok follow me here because I had to read this again and again to be sure I was reading it right. There are even photos to go along with this that clearly illustrate what comes next. Ready?

So the meat from the pork hocks and the onions and garlic? You put that in the blender. Yeah, I know! You put it in the blender and make a really super gross looking goo out of it. My husband was in loooove with the smell of it browning and even had a little nibble of the meat and of course reacted with ‘What? The blender?!’


Why is this perfectly delicious snack pulverized? So it can be poured between each layer of this crazy stew, sillyhead!

But wait! It gets even better! Now, you line your dish with, wait for it…bacon. Yes, pork rind is listed in the original recipe but not only is bacon a suitable sub, it was used by one of the hosts this month!


All that’s left really is layering and cooking. This is what I did; beans, puree, sausages, puree, more beans, more puree, chicken confit, more puree and finally even more beans. Cover with the bean liquid before putting in the oven, but make sure you save a cup of the liquid in the fridge.


This is cooked for an hour at 350, then the temp is lowered to 250 for another hour. Then it’s cooled and put in the fridge overnight (notice a trend here).

Now the next day, cook it again at 350 for an hour. Then, break the crust that forms on the top and pour in the liquid you saved. Lower the temp to 250 like the day before, and cook for another 15 minutes.

Voila! Easy peasy, right? 😉

This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge seems about as easy! Wish me luck!

 Smart and Trendy Moms


Last Daring Cook Challenge for 2010 – Eggs Benedict


In this post, I’m participating in Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, Tuesday Night Supper Club, Hearth ‘n Soul, and of course, The Daring Cooks.

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

I have watched Julie and Julia about 1000 times lately, so I was all over poaching a egg! I really wanted to do it, and since I live in the woods now, it’s not hard to find farm fresh eggs! I decided to go with Eggs Benedict for the whole Julie and Julia butter references.

I have been peaking in at the Daring Kitchen message boards, as I always do, and I found that mostly out of necessity a lot of my fellow Daring Cooks had made their own English muffins. Naturally, I had to jump on this bandwagon! The very first blogger, Audax Artifex, to post their finished creation often comments here – how lucky! He included a recipe for English muffins based on Alton Brown’s recipe.

English Muffins – from Alton Brown
1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk (skim milk powder)
1 cup very hot water (you can use 1 cup of very hot evaporated milk instead of the powdered milk and very hot water) <– that’s what I did

1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
Non-stick vegetable spray


Mix your really hot evaporated milk (or your really hot water and milk powder), with 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, butter until the sugar and the salt are dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Separately, combine the yeast and 1/8 tbsp sugar in 1/3 cup of warm water. Let it sit until the yeast has dissolved, then add to the milk mixture.

Add the sifted flour and and mix (it says with a wooden spoon), then cover the bowl and let it rest in a warm spot for 15-30 minutes until a few small bubbles form on the top of the batter and it becomes very sticky and thick.


Preheat your griddle to 300, add the leftover 1/2 tsp salt and mix till totally combined. Now the recipe says to put 3″ metal rings onto the griddle and coat them with vegetable spray (4″ for the giant ones). My metal ring is 2.5″, and while I read on Daring Bakers that a tuna can is the perfect size for the huge ones, I went with minis! 1/4 cup of batter per muffin for about 5 minutes each side and they’re so cute!!

Split with a fork to get that nook and cranny goodness!

Now that that’s out of the way, it was time for the Hollandaise sauce and poach the eggs! I had never made Hollandaise sauce before, but I’ve wanted to do forever.

Eggs Benedict w/ Hollandaise Sauce – from Alton Brown
4 eggs
2 English muffins
4 slices of Canadian bacon/back bacon
Chives, for garnish
Splash of vinegar (for poaching)

3 large egg yolks
1 tsp water
1/4 tsp sugar
12 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.

2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.

3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.

4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.


5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.

6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).

7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water.


8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.

9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to my small saucepan (about 3 cups of water/720 ml of water), but you may need more if you’re using a larger pan with more water.

10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.

11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the Canadian/back bacon and toast your English muffin.

12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy!

That was so fun. We discovered that wee one #1 loves my homemade English muffins with butter and wee one #2 loves them with jam. Our littlest one was snacking on her plain. 🙂

I am so hyped for this month’s Daring Baker challenge. Stay tuned!