It was too good to be true. For weeks and weeks, Saskatoon was experiencing above average temperatures. Like we barely had snow for Christmas, and just 10 days ago I was out for dinner, wearing my cute boots and a leather jacket that wasn't a parka. It was surreal, friends. But the hammer has come down hard over the past few days, locking us in a deep freeze that really isn't super fun. You know, stuff like skin will freeze in a few minutes, and it's pretty much requisite to plug in your car, so you know, you can drive it the next day. Heck this morning, it was just a few degrees away from -50 degrees Celsius, with the wind chill. For my American friends, that's about -52.6 F. Hella cold, y'all. To answer your question, on days like today I wonder why I live here too. Really need to think about renting that villa in the south of France. Or that condo in New Mexico. Or that tree house in Belize.
So when temps really dip (that's putting it mildly, no?) I like all things comfort. Like my electric blanket that was a God-send gift a couple of Christmases back, and my favourite stretched-out sweater that's not remotely sexy, but super cozy. Required footwear comes in the form of chunky hand-knit slippers. Only the cats see me in my attire and they don't judge, well maybe just behind my back. The tea pot has a constant brew inside, and right now I love this spicy chai blend, complete with chili peppers and chunks of chocolate. Yummers. All I seriously do lately is cozy up under a blankie with a brew and a cat and watch tele. How do you say hibernation?
Okay, so when I'm not hibernating, I'm eating food that will bring comfort to the soul and the belly. Yummy, simple food, that doesn't require a lot of effort or ingredients, because basically when it's this cold I only go to and fro work; a well-stocked larder can be a saving grace. A few months back I spied this recipe over on Julie's site, and I knew it would come in handy at some point over Winter's duration. It's sausages and beans, baked with tomatoes and olive oil. Balsamic vinegar added for drama and fresh thyme for flourish. Cassoulet is traditionally a slow-cooked bean stew, with several steps and a long ingredient list. Good if you have the time and inclination. I'm a little short on both lately, so this quick version pretty much rocks my bean-loving world. And the leftovers are even better the next day or two. To speed things up even more you can use any canned white beans, like kidney or navy. I'm all about cooking my own beans lately, because
To get started, place some cherry tomatoes on the bottom of your favourite baking dish. Top with cloves of garlic and fresh sausage. I used locally made Chorizo, but you can use Italian too. Whatever you have on hand.
Don't forget the balsamic and olive oil drizzle. Thyme for flourish! Onion for fun!
Bake until sausages are crispy and the tomatoes have burst their little skins. Stir in your cooked beans and more tomatoes.
20 minutes later, you have your very own ridiculously delicious cassoulet. Sounds all fancy and French, but it's basically beans and sausages. If you are down with that like I am, then we were meant to be friends. Speaking of friends, I need to make some new ones, especially if they have a villa in the south of France and are willing to rent it out to a nice girl who likes to cook. I even do my own dishes.
Sausage and White Bean Cassoulet
2 pints of cherry tomatoes
4-6 hot Italian sausages OR Chorizo sausages
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 onion, cut into wedges
extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
few sprigs fresh thyme OR rosemary
3 cups cooked white navy beans or white kidney beans OR 1 19 oz can (540ml) of white beans, rinsed and drained well
chicken broth or white wine(optional)
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 *F.
Scatter tomatoes over bottom of dish (reserve about 1/2 cup to add later). Add garlic, onion and sausages over top. Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil. Toss on thyme and sprinkle with S & P. Bake about 25-30 minutes, for sausages to be golden and tomatoes start to burst. Remove from oven and stir in beans and reserved 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes. If you'd like a bit more sauce with your beans, add a glug or white wine or chicken stock. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes longer or until beans are cooked through. Serve with bread and butter for dunking; green salad on the side. Makes enough for 4. Recipe adapted from Dinner with Julie via Pam Anderson and the Merry Gourmet