In another lifetime, I might have gone to Gobelins, an animation school in Paris. They produce such clever, beautiful films. Here’s one called Rhapsodie pour un pot-au-feu, which I will share with you as a celebration of stew season…
This particular stew is a little spicy. It has collards, pink beans, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes. It’s saucy and flavorful, seasoned with sage, smoked paprika, and cumin. If you can’t find pink beans, you could use red, pinto, or roman. I made the little crackers with masa harina, and they’re yummy, too. They have a little kick, because they contain cayenne. I fried half in olive oil on top of the stove, and I baked half in olive oil in the oven. The baked ones came out very crispy and quite hard – perfect for dipping in soup, although a little too hard to eat on their own – like rusks, I guess. The fried ones are nice as a snack, though – crispy outside, soft inside.
Here’s Jimmy Smith with Come on Baby, from Home Cookin.
MASA HARINA CRACKERS
1 1/2 cups masa harina
1 t oregano
1/4 t cayenne (or to taste)
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
3 T olive oil
water (about 1 1/2 cups)
Mix the masa harina, salt, oregano, cayenne, baking powder and pepper in a big bowl. Add the olive oil and about 1 cup of water. Mix well. Add enough water to make a workable dough. It might seem very crumbly, but if you knead it for a minute or two, it should come together for you.
Form the dough into ropes about 1 inch thick, and with a sharp knife cut off disks about 1/4 inch thick.
Preheat the oven to 425. Generously coat a large cooking sheet with a layer of olive oil. Spread the masa discs in a single layer. Brush the top with olive oil.
Bake for about 1/2 an hour, till they’re lightly brown on both sides, turning from time to time.
Top of the stove method…
Warm about 1/3 inch of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When it sizzles a crumb, drop the crackers in, as many as you can comfortably fit, and fry on both sides till golden. Let drain on paper towels or a cooling rack.
2 T olive oil
1 large potato – scrubbed and cut in 1/3 in dice
1 large carrot – diced
1 jalapeno pepper – seeds and veins removed – minced
1 large clove garlic – minced
1 cup cooked collards (I boiled mine about 1/2 hour in salted water) chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
3 or 4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 sage leaves
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t cumin
pinch each, allspice, coriander, ginger and mustard powder
1 T butter
salt and plenty of pepper
In a large stew pot, warm the olive oil. Add the potato, and cook, stirring till it starts to soften – five minutes, maybe. Then add the jalapeno and carrot, and cook another five minutes. Add the garlic, sage, and collards, and cook a few minutes.
Add a splash of white wine to loosen all the good flavorful bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Mix well. Add the spices and about 3 cups of water – enough to cover everything. (I used the collard-cooking water.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes, carrot and collard are just as soft as you like them. 15 – 20 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, and cook another 5 or 10 minutes till they’re softened and starting to break down. Add the butter, balsamic, and plenty of salt and pepper.
Serve with masa harina crackers and grated sharp cheddar.