Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Abondance and Minestrone weekend

So I'm a little behind these days. Call it doldrums of the deep dark Republican winter. Actually I still haven't worked out exactly how George W. Bush qualifies as a Republican since he's got pretty much the whole reckless spending mentality the Republicans have always historically deplored.

But I digress.

It's about the cheese. Cheese can make us happy. Cheese could save the world. Especially Abondance.

Ah... Abondance -- that grassy, yummy, nutty stuff (top right) We had a bit of mimolette and the shards of Comte left over -- Comte, take me away!

We're not the only ones who are Comte fans.

Here's Hallgerthr, using her Jedi mind tricks on us.

These aren't the cheeses you're looking for.

Defending the cheese against the onslaught of the Rebel Alliance.

We will slay you with our kittie Rays of Cuteness. Then ALL THE ABONDANCE WILL BE OURS....HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Or we will nap.

(Gratuitous paw picture -- because it's cute.)

In case you're wondering what breakfast is like in our house, here's the typical picture.

There's me, trying to log onto the computer. There's lovely soft French-style scrambled eggs, lovingly made for me by Eric. There's bacon -- no nitrates, free range, organic fed -- and there's Attack of the Fuzzy.


Anyway, moving on.

Over the weekend, we made minestrone. Minestrone.

Now let me mention here that I'm not big on minestrone. Most of the ones I've had taste like lightly flavored dishwater and vegetables. Yeah, I'm not big on vegetables either. I suppose that's left over from the years in the great desert southwest where the freshest vegetables to be had were cactus pads. (Okay, yes, I know, nopalitos can be very tasty, but my point is, this is not my ideal in terms of leafy greens.)

This weekend though we made a Cuisine Minestrone -- and as is often the case with Cuisine recipes, it rocked.

Now, I guess I should add the disclaimer that we substantially changed the recipe. Why, you may inquire? Because I'm so reading impaired that even when handed a grocery list, I forget to get certain ingredients.

Anyway, it all worked out, so damn the torpedoes, I'm posting what we made.


1 cup cranberry beans (or kidney or cannellini)

2 Tbsps Olive oil
2 oz. diced pancetta or bacon

2 cups diced yellow onion
3 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut to 1-inch pieces
1 cup celery diced
1 cup carrots sliced
1 cup fennel sliced
1 cup zucchini diced
1 cup russet potatoes peeled and diced

6 cups beef broth
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (yes, I used canned because it's not the season for tomatoes)
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup orzo
1 2 oz. Parmesan rind
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley

2 cups red Swiss chard, stalk removed and chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes

To rehydrate the cranberry beans, place them in a small pot with 1 tsp of salt and enough water to come 2 inches higher than the beans. Bring to a boil and then turn off heat. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes.

In a large pot, saute the pancetta or bacon in the olive oil over a medium heat til crisp. Add onions and garlic and cook 2 minutes.

Add each vegetable seaprately so they saute before adding next vegetable. Once all the veggies are in, let them steam for another 10 minutes in their own juices.

Add the broth tomatoes and red wine. Stir well and add the cranberry beans with their liquid. Add in the orzo, the Parmesan rind and herbs. Simmer over a medium heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours over a medium heat until the beans are soft. Add another cup of broth if needed.

Add the Swiss chard and stir til wilted. Remove the Parmesan chunks and discard then serve.

So along with dinner we had some of this French merlot given to me by my boss for Christmas. It was actually quite yummy -- a vin de pays from Vaucluse, which is southern Rhone. The producer is Michel Arnaud of Domaine la Milliere, which makes a highly regarded Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

A glass of wine certainly helps take the edge off the State of our Union. Pour me another.

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