My lovely brand new imac is all hooked up. I can't take any new photos though, because the memory card I got for my also lovely and brand new (and blue!) splendid Christmas present camera is The Wrong One, as the very verbal camera itself informed me, when I installed it. Ooops. While I wait for the replacement card, and nurse a New Year's headache (not caused by any reveling, purely random), I decided to try making something soothing in my nice old beanpot. You've seen it before, but it's been a while. So you're seeing it again. Not as pretty as the new blue camera, but a sweet pot.
I thought it would be good for the panade, which is based on a Paula Wolfert recipe from some years back-( I forget which book), which called for a "deep earthenware casserole." Narrow and deep it is, compared to the average baking dish. And it has homely qualities suitable to the panade.
Some baked bean purists believe that it is detrimental to the development of an heirloom beanpot to cook anything else in it. They theorize (I'm not making this up, but I can't cite a sourse- maybe John Thorne?) that the pot makes better beans the longer it has been in use as a beanpot, rather like those special Chinese clay teapots which you are supposed to use with only one kind of tea, because they absorb the flavors of the fine teas, and send 'em right back atcha.
As I get older, and my cupboards get more crowded, I subscribe more and more to the theory propounded by Alton Brown, to wit: An object which has only one use has to be pretty damn special indeed. So even though I have one of those teapots, I make any kind of tea I like in it, assuming that any echoes of teas past will just make things a bit more interesting. I don't, you know, simmer sardines in it or anything too off-track. Likewise, I figure that anything a person might eat with beans won't ruin the beanpot either.
Considering all the holiday eating around here, it's amazing that I'm hungry at all. But after all the delicious holiday goodies, sweet and rich, I was hankering for something warm and plain. I cannot claim that it is particularly healthy- it is basically something between a thick bread and cheese soup and a silky savory bread pudding. It's not like I was eating a strict green salad, or something improving of that sort, to make up for recent indulgences. But it is plain and sturdy and hit the spot with me and my sore head.
Also, in its favor-unlike many a Paula Wolfert spectacular, this one does not require special ingredients, or a million steps. It does, however take a bit of time. But that's okay, because my other plans for the day involve sitting around and reading. So, for supper, this is what I made, in my 2 qt beanpot:
If you want to make it you will need:
2 small leeks
an onion, chopped
5 sliced garlic cloves
fresh lemon juice
1 quart of 1 inch cubes of dried crusty bread, dry them in a warm oven if they are not a bit stale
a 5 oz. package of baby arugula and a head of romaine lettuce, shredded- about 5 cups altogether, you can substitute another combo of greens, but remove any tough stalks
2 cups of milk, heated to almost boiling in the microwave, or otherwise
1/4 lb finely grated gruyere
Preheat oven to 250F. Heat some olive oil in a heavy big pot, and cook the leeks, onions, and garlic until they are well wilted, over a medium heat. Add the greens, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, cover, and cook over a very low heat for 30-45 minutes. Squeeze some lemon juice over all. Oil a 2 qt, deep baking dish. Put a third of the bread in, then 1/2 of the greens, another third of the bread, the rest of the greens, and the last of the bread. Heat the milk, and pour it slowly over all. Spread the cheese on top, cover with a pot lid, foil or both, and cook for 2 hours. Remove cover, turn oven up high, and cook for 15 more minutes. Let it sit 20 minutes before serving, and it will set nicely, plus, your lips won't be melted off.
After this, you will be wanting a piece of fruit, I suspect. I was given a great big fancy pear from someone's nice gift box, so I'm having that. Happy New Year!