Dinner tonight came together really easily. We had some Daube in the freezer, a beef stew from Southern France, from a dinner several weeks ago when I made a double batch of the stew. I thawed that in the refrigerator and it only needed to be reheated tonight. The littlest chef and her Daddy made baked potatoes while I was on my way home from work. And I steamed some frozen mixed vegetables with a little butter & thyme. Voila! A deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie was born!
About a year ago, I started frequenting a discount grocery store in our area that tailors its inventory to its Latin American and Afro-Carribean clientele. This store carries a really interesting selection of produce and seasonings for international cooking, and it is always an education for me to browse there.
The most remarkable of my discoveries at this store has been the fresh chickpeas. I think it is very safe to say that I’ve never met a chickpea I don’t like. If you’d asked me, I would have told you that my chickpea world seemed pretty complete. My chickpeas either came dried, and I cooked them myself, or canned, in which case they had been previously dried and cooked. Fresh chickpeas are so different from dried chickpeas that I have a hard time considering them the same product. This contrast is probably analogous to the contrast between a green pea fresh from its pod and a dried split pea.
When we traveled in Provence several years ago, we bought herbes de provence with the Label Rouge designation. The Label Rouge program is used by the French Ministry of Agriculture to designate products that have met extremely high standards of quality. We enjoyed these herbs with roasted chicken and potatoes, and a family favorite meal was born! Now, when we want to be transported back to Provence and that gentler pace of life, I roast a chicken with some potatoes, carrots, and serve them with either steamed green veggies or a green salad with a lemon-dijon vinaigrette.