Dining with Dr. Doohen

Good FoodSomewhere, Dr. John Doohen is having the last laugh — probably with a French inflection.

Prior to Sunday, using the word casserole at Brome Hill likely would have meant this was on the menu for supper. The exception would have been the four years in the early 2000s when the blog moved to Minnesota, where the natives called this tater tot concoction a hotdish.

Doohen, who died in 2012 at age 76, taught French at Morningside College for more than 30 years.But I had no aptitude for French and may have been the worst student he ever taught. Had this not been the case, it might not have taken me another 25 years to discover the wonder of a cassoulet.

I should have paid more attention and tried a bit harder.

Unfortunately, I am a French scholar in the way that Pepe LePew is a French linguist. What little I know about French food was stolen from Julia Child’s The Joy of Cooking.

But awhile back, I took on the joy of buying most of the groceries consumed at Brome Hill. And that duty has evolved into finding recipes and cooking dinner two or three times a week. My goals are simple: Fix meals that are somewhat healthy, relatively inexpensive and at least look good enough to get teenagers to try them. Slow-cooker meals are preferred because who doesn’t like to throw everything into one pot, leave for the day and come home to dinner that is ready to serve?

So, my quest led to this, which I fixed on Sunday and served up for the first time Monday night. All I can say is: Oh, my.

This effort has not been teen tested (one wasn’t home for dinner and the other one has been ill.) And without my knowing it, Janet improvised and put Gouda cheese rind into the pot, something she learned from Rachel Ray. Close observation of the photo above also will show that we threw leftover green pepper strips into the pot. And we used real sausage.

But darn. This was some good stuff. And it makes a huge pot of food. We’ll be eating the leftovers all week. It’s virtually guaranteed this German will be fixing thyme-scented white bean cassoulet again.

And that’s the news from Brome Hill, where French cuisine no longer automatically means fried spuds from McDonald’s.

Bon ap·pé·tit, Dr. Doohen, wherever you are.