Friday, January 14, 2011

Cannellini and swiss chard stew with poached egg (R.E.R. part 3)

This morning I was reading yet another lovely post by Jamie and although I am by no means an envious person, one to harbor feelings of jealousy or dissatisfaction,  I have to admit I felt a teeny twinge of longing for what she was so acurately describing. Time.

The words "take my time", "slowly", "savor", "calming" kept ringing in my ears.

I miss time. Hours, even just one hour, to quietly flip through my cookbooks in search of something I feel like making, to sort through my ingredients, to slowly chop, mix, marinate, knead. The total luxury of running out to pick up that missing ingredient and to browse through the aisles of the supermarket for further inspiration. Even just moments - if not an hour - of total silence, in which I can focus only on the food, the flavors, the smells. 

While the abovementioned blogger, who inspires me weekly, fingers through page after page of her cookbooks, I am trying to get tiny chocolate fingerprints out of that cookbook I have had for two years and am using for the first time. While she watches her dough rise like a mother watching her baby sleep, I am frantically rocking my baby trying to get him back to sleep while the butter in the pie crust I waited patiently to roll out till the kids were in bed is melting. While she slowly drizzles ganache I am mopping up the marinade I was holding when my daughter decided to ambush me from behind. Nothing is done in "perfect tandem" in my kitchen: as she glides through her motions, I trip over trucks and slide on beads strewn all over my kitchen floor. Nothing is spooned precisely, at most I shake my wooden spoon threateningly at the kids for scratching each other over a new toy. And it definitely isn't quiet. Constant crying, fighting, calling accompanies every step of my syncopated preparation of a meal.

Two things I must clarify.

1) I think Jamie is a wonderful cook, a fantastic writer and a very sensitive woman. I know she has kids of her own and had her share of mayhem before me and deserves every minute of the time she spends baking, cooking and regaling us with the results.
2) I love my kids with every bone in my body, every beat of my heart. I know there will be a day when they are older and will have their own lives, when I will pine for these moments together. I will miss the dimples in there sticky, chubby fingers, my daughter's hair tousled from wrestling with her brother. The way my son stands between me and the stove, facing my way, puts his arms around my legs and sticks his head forcefully between them (yes, right beneath my crotch) when he wants attention, when his patience waiting for me to stop cooking has run out. But oh, the frustration of never being able to do things the way I want or plan from beginning to end. The luxury of an afternoon all to myself to cook without interruption, to be able to improvise without using stuff I shopped for the previous week end, to be able to take pictures in daylight without a child piggyback-riding on me while I try to keep the camera still.

It will be a few more years, so in the meantime I found this recipe, the kind of meal you can make just throwing a few simple ingredients together (I had them all in the house!) without measuring too carefully or watching the time. Yes, another one of those, but another success with all family members. Healthy, no meat, comforting.

The water gets a little murky after poaching 4 eggs

Thank you Deb for once again giving me a perfect recipe and tutorial! Not only did this yield the darn best bean stew I have ever made, I also got the added bonus of learning to poach an egg, more precisely four! Poaching eggs in my book is the kind of thing that is really easy once you know how to, but quite daunting to learn and master. That is why I am including it as an R.E.R. (ridiculously easy recipe).

2-3 cups cannellini or white beans
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chopped carrots (I used a little more)
1 cup chopped celery
2 chopped shallots
1 minced garlic clove
1 stalk of Swiss chard
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1 or 2 bay leaves

Chop the carrots, celery, garlic and shallots and sauté them in a pot with olive oil for approximately 20 minutes. Add a cup or two of vegetable stock and some salt and let simmer. In the meantime wash and chop up the chard leaves, setting aside the stems for another time. Put them into the pot and cover. When the chard softens add the chopped tomato and after it has cooked for a while add the beans. The brand of beans I buy packages with Tetrapack (which I like prefer to cans) but you can use canned beans or dried beans if you are better than me at planning ahead. Before serving take out the bay leaves. While you let the stew thicken and cool a little, start poaching your eggs. Place them on top and enjoy your meal. We certainly did.


  1. Sometimes I feel like we're living parallel lives...clear across the ocean from one anther! I mean you just described my whole day yesterday...the girls hair...the boys head between the legs while's weird really...

    What's not weird is this delicious looking and sounding stew with that lovely poached egg! Love it!

  2. I love pretty much anything with a poached egg on top, but especially greens. YUM!

  3. Such a comforting looking stew. I love Swiss chard. Need to work on my poached eggs. You did a lovely job. My children are a little older than yours and I haven't read a cookbook cover to cover since 1999! I can totally relate.

  4. I am a huge huge fan of the bean and egg combo. Rich, warm, bean stew with oozy delicious poached egg. This sounds perfect!

  5. This sounds great, I have a very similar recipe that I've bookmarked to try. This would make a great healthy/light dinner.
    *kisses* HH

  6. DD&W &Kelly- Yes, parallel lives! Good to know there is a bunch of us out there trying to stay on top of things, hehe.
    Nudefood, Katie - Beans, greans and poached egg; truly a match made in heaven.
    HH - It was healthy, light and really satisfying. Not a combination you get often...with the satisfaction factor I mean.

  7. Jamie is such a great writer and I remember reading that post too! The recipe looks wonderful and I love the sunny poached egg in the centre :)


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