Taking Even More Liberties With Cassoulet February 27, 2013

Filed Under: Cassoulet seasoning - Sue Fuirst @ 9:33 pm
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Basics Fuirst is so cutting edge! This Wednesday’s dining section had an article entitled Taking Liberties with Cassoulet.  Did you see it? The author, David Tanis, maintains that the French take Cassoulet very seriously and referred to the cold weather favorite as “an extremely particular kind of baked-bean dish, one accompanied by a lot of lore, legend and strong opinion. Once you have decided whose recipe to trust, there is work ahead of you. To make a proper Cassoulet is a labor of love (several days’ worth, in fact).”

I’ve been making my wonderful Cassoulet-style stew using Basics Fuirst Cassoulet Seasoning for years. Plus, it only takes about an hour.  Of course, I’m not French, so I don’t have to adhere to the French food rules.  Follow along and feel free to take even more liberties.  And before winter ends make a comforting and delicious chicken, sausage and bean stew and call it Mock Cassoulet!



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ lbs boneless chicken thighs
  • ½ lb French-style garlic sausage or kielbasa, sliced into ½” half-moons
  • 3 large carrots, sliced into 1” rounds
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Basics Fuirst Cassoulet Seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf, optional
  • 2 19 oz cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, optional



Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add chicken thighs and cook on all sides.  Transfer chicken to a plate.  Add the sausage to the pot and cook until brown. Transfer sausage to the plate with the chicken.


Drain most of the oil from pan. Add carrots, onion and garlic and cook over medium heat and cook until vegetables are soft.


Return chicken and sausage to the pot with the vegetables.  Pour in chicken broth, wine, Basics Fuirst Cassoulet Seasoning and bay leaf. Partially cover pot and lower heat.  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add white beans and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.


Ladle into bowls and serve with a rustic bread. Serves 6-8.


More snow heading east, oh my! February 22, 2013

Filed Under: Chili seasoning - Sue Fuirst @ 10:29 pm
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Snow in the mid-west and more snow heading east!  All I can say is SOUP!  Here’s an easy and quick one for the weekend ahead.  Add salad and a loaf of bread for a delicious lunch or dinner.  If you choose to cook it Sunday then make it Oscar-worthy and put on a gown and tux.

Black Bean Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed with a garlic press

1 small green pepper, diced

1 heaping tablespoon Basics Fuirst Chili Seasoning

2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock



Heat olive oil in a large saucepan pan set over a low to medium flame.  Add onions to pan and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes.  Next stir in garlic and peppers and sauté for 5 more minutes.  Add Basics Fuirst Chili Seasoning and stir.  Let cook for 5 more minutes or until peppers are no longer crisp. Add black beans cover with water or stock.  Simmer for 30 mins or so.  With an immersion blender puree half of the soup.  This can also be done with a conventional blender or the soup can be mashed with a potato masher. Thin soup with additional water or stock if necessary.


Garnish with sour cream, chopped avocado, chopped onions, peppers…

Did you see yesterday’s NYTimes? February 15, 2013

Filed Under: rosemary roasting blend - Sue Fuirst @ 7:00 am
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So it seems that Basics Fuirst Spice Blends is right on trend.  Yesterday, the Dining Section of the NYTimes just did a cover article on ready-to-go dinner kits.  Although I don’t provide the fresh ingredients as some of the other companies do, I do provide the measured spices and recipes for putting your own dinner on the table.  Allowing you the flexibility to choose your own produce, protein and perishables.  I fact, teaching you to make your own dinner has been a goal of Basics Fuirst since I first began teaching cooking many years ago.

What to make for dinner is always the question.  Basics Fuirst Spice Blends answers the question for you.  As a friend recently told me, what she likes about my blog is that it allows her to “See what Sue’s cooking” and build on my ideas.    I provide you with user friendly recipes, family friendly flavors and you are always welcome to shoot me and email or give me a call if you need clarification or answers. So, here’s an idea for tonight:


Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

4 chicken breast cutlets or 2 breast split and butterflied into 4 pieces

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 oz box of white mushrooms, sliced

4 plum tomatoes, diced

½ cup chicken stock

¼ cup white wine

1 heaping teaspoon Basics Fuirst Rosemary Roasting Blend

Kosher salt and pepper

Set large fry pan or sauté pan over medium heat.  When hot add oil to pan and place cutlets in pan.  Do not crowd or overlap the chicken.  Cook a few minutes per side, turn when lightly brown.  When sautéed on both sides, remove to platter and season with Kosher salt and pepper.

Place shallots and garlic in pan and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté until beginning to brown, stirring often.  Add tomatoes and stir to release their liquid.  Stir in Basics Fuirst Rosemary Roasting Blend.  Pour wine and stock into pan and stir to scrape up bits   Boil to reduce and sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.  Sauteed zucchini, a salad or rice all make nice side dishes.





My T Fine and bread pudding on a snowy weekend February 8, 2013

Filed Under: food chatter - Sue Fuirst @ 7:08 pm
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I had a completely different blog post set for today, but a big snowfall puts me in the mind for warm baked goods.  Something with a bit of a goo factor.  My first plan was to prepare a box of My-T-Fine chocolate pudding – a childhood favorite and still my mother’s go-to dessert.  I keep a box of shelf stable whole milk around for emergencies such as this one.  Next, I started the yeast dough for a batch of cinnamon rolls.  This is a treat I’ve never made from scratch and I’m excited to have the weekend to experiment.  I think my family is more excited.  But, as my friends all know, my chosen dessert for a winter time indulgence is bread pudding.  I picked up a challah and lots of eggs this morning just in case the need arises.  Attached is the recipe just in case anyone else needs the comfort.

Banana and Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 loaf challah, cut into 1” cubes

3 cups heavy cream or half & half (whole milk works too in a pinch)

1 Tb vanilla

6 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

2 ripe bananas, cut into ½ inch quarters

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place challah, chocolate chips and bananas in a large bowl.  Mix gently.

With an electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs until foamy.  Add sugar and mix until thicker and pale yellow.   Slowly pour in cream and vanilla.  Beat to combine. This is your custard.  Pour the custard into the bowl with the challah. Let sit for 15 minutes so bread can absorb liquid.

Pour into a greased 9×12 pyrex.

Bake for 40 minutes until custard is set.  Serve warm or at room temperature.