Just a little note

September 18, 2008

If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve slowed down quite a bit here at A Beautiful Mosaic.  I’ve decided to become very active in a political campaign and as a result, I won’t be blogging here as much.  I plan to participate in the September and October Daring Bakers Challenges and perhaps a few other entries here and there.  I promise I’ll be back in full force after November 4th!


Chicken Cassoulet

September 9, 2008

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 The recent onslaught of hurricanes and tropical storms have left its mark all along the Gulf Coast and Eastern seaboard.  Dark skies and heavy rains make for a perfect day for a cassoulet, a French stew made of white beans, vegetables, and meat.  Just add a salad and some crusty bread, and you have yourself the perfect meal to chase away gray skies.

Chicken Cassoulet with Panko Topping (adapted from Martha Stewart)

5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
19 oz. cannellini beans
3 C. chicken stock
3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into B-inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 dried bay leaf
1 tsp. coarse salt 
1+ 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 C. panko breadcrumbs

Marinate the chicken: In a bowl large enough to hold chicken thighs, combine 2 garlic cloves, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and vinegar. Add chicken; toss to coat. Cover; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in upper third.  In a large stockpot bring chicken stock with carrots, celery, onion, remaining 3 garlic cloves, bay leaf, sage, and remaining teaspoon thyme to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low until vegetables are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  In the last 5 minutes, add the drained beans.

Transfer bean mixture to a colander set over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid; let cool slightly. Puree half the mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. With the motor running, pour in about 1 cup reserved cooking liquid until thick and smooth. Return to pot with remaining bean mixture. Add the salt; stir to combine.

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Brush an 8-by-2 1/2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon the oil. Remove chicken from marinade, and arrange in a single layer in prepared dish. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Remove dish from oven; pour bean mixture over chicken.  Combine the remaining olive olive with the breadcrumb, then sprinkle over the bean mixture.   Set dish on a baking sheet; return to oven, and bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown and beans are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; serve hot.

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The fresh herbs is the key to making this bean stew so savory and delicious.  The kids love to dip bread into the bean mixture and so do we.

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This is the last in my three part series on figs, and I saved the best for last.  I modified this from a recipe I found in the September issue of Bon Appetit,which featured recipes from famous and not so famous restaurants.  This recipe comes from Fahrenheit in Cleveland, although I did alter this recipe significantly.  The sweetness of the figs and the smokey prosciutto are topped with the peppery arugula.  It’s like a delicious salad on top of pizza dough.

I dedicate this recipe to all the arugula-eaters in America 😉


Fig, Arugula and Prosciutto Pizza
(makes 2 medium pizzas)

pizza dough
1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese
4-6 thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into strips
2 C. quartered fresh figs
4 C. lightly packed baby arugula
extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Pizza Dough (from Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking)

serves 4 (2 medium pizzas)

3 1/3 C. unbleached bread flour

1/4 tsp. instant yeast

2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 C. lukewarm water

Mix flour, yeast and salt together in a large mixing bowl.  Add the water and mix until until blended.  Cover and let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes to allow yeast to hydrate.  Knead dough for 5 – 10 minutes until fairly smooth.  Cut into 2 pieces and shape each piece of dough into a tight ball.  Place each ball onto a floured tray.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise about 5-6 hours.   

You might want to spray cooking spray on the underside of the plastic wrap – it will stick!

Place pizza stone in 2nd highest rack and preheat oven to its highest setting (mine is 550° F).  Flour the work surface and flatten out your fully risen dough ball with your hand and press into a disk. 

Pull out the sides (or you can try to get fancy like the pizzerias and use your raised fist to stretch out the dough).  

Place pizza on parchment paper (or lightly floured pizza peel if you have one). 

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Place 1/2 of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses on each pizza. Slide pizza still on the paper on to the hot stone.  Bake for about 6-8 minutes, being careful to not overbake.  Scatter 1/2 of the figs, 1/2 of the prosciutto over the hot pizza.  Scatter 1/2 the arugula on top and drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top of the pizza to taste.  Repeat to make other other pizza with remaining ingredients.