Layers (French Fridays with Dorie: Seafood Pot au Feu)

Complexity is a concept that has filled up every nook and cranny of my thoughts these days. Even the simple things are multifaceted and if you start to look, you will see the layers that have been pieced together to make up the whole.

Few things are as simple as they seem, no?

That certainly holds true for people.

Each of us comes with a past and a vault of experience unique to that person.

The person that was stationed overseas in a war - forever carrying with him the realities of a time that he still isn't sure how to process.

The mother that was born in another country and immigrated as a child. Trying to hold on to the memories of the past while building a future in her new home.

The neighbor with who has driven bus for decades, while owning their own business. Each time you talk to them, you are struck by the number of connections they have made with people in their lifetime.

Heck, look at something as simple as a cooking group. You buy a book and cook recipes, right? Not so much... You learn new techniques. You face foods that you never thought you would ever, ever eat. You make friends. You grow. Simple is not so simple anymore, is it?

And that's a good thing. Except for when it isn't.

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is also all about the layers - layers of flavor that is.

I mostly followed the recipe this week - although allowances were made to accommodate my need to clean out the pantry and freezer. (It's a never ending process...)

Chicken stock (a carton of pho base that was hanging out in the cabinet) was simmered gently with a few aromatics (bay leaf, ginger, lemon grass - also hanging out). Soon some baby potatoes joined the mix, followed by leeks, scallions and carrots. A whole boatload of mushrooms followed suit.

That packet of mussels hanging out in the freezer? Bingo. Two lone pieces of ahi tuna also taking up freezer space? Those went in too. Mussels and snap peas went in at the very end.

To serve, I placed a large scoopful of rice at the bottom of a shallow bowl and ladled the soup over. I was a little skeptical about serving this for dinner on an unseasonably warm spring day (I can't believe those words just came out of my mouth - warm day, that is...), but it worked. The soup wasn't too heavy for the weather, but substantial enough to make a meal.

I also enjoyed the pace of this soup - there were no mad dashes to get a whole group of ingredients prepped to go in at one time. There was plenty of time to prep between steps and tend to other household tasks as well (emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, having a glass of wine).

I am still a little confounded on how this can possibly be the next to the last recipe that to be completed in Around My French Table. Actually, this was the last recipe that I hadn't ever made before from AMFT (I"ve made the chicken in a pot before - although, never posted it, so we'll pretend its the first time).

In other news... Runner Girl comes home next week - she's made it through three years of college already. When did that happen? The Dude's son graduates from college on Saturday. I start classes again next week. Oh yeah, we're still trying to sell a house and all that.

In unrelated other news - somehow, I managed to finish up two books over the last week: Madame Grand and Mrs. Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I thought both books were pretty good and worth the read (even though there were pieces of both that I thought could have been better developed. but I get it...)

See, I told you that nothing was simple :-)

Peace out.


This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie.


  1. Hi Cher, I never thought of this soup as having many layers, but it does. I really liked it. Looking forward to catching up with you too - can't believe I'll soon be in NYC!

  2. I'm reading The NIghtingale now---if only I wouldn't fall asleep after less than a chapter maybe I'd finish it (no reflection on the book, I just read at bedtime :)). Your reflections of our group are spot on---can't believe we're nearly finished! Love your subtle twists to this recipe---sounds like a delicious version!
    P.S. Nick gets home tonight :)

  3. Great description of the soup!

    And, it's so true - I was talking to a co-worker the other day who asked If I knew so-and-so were getting a divorce. I said no - how is that possible? They were high school sweethearts, they've been together forever, and they have 2 girls. I thought they were the perfect little happy family. To which she replied, "But you don't know that, do you?"

  4. It's a little weird, the feeling of joy I feel when I get to use up things from my freezer. And it's a little wonderful that I've found a community of people who share such weirdnesses:-)

  5. I was just reading a fairly new preface to Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" by his grandson, and he called any period of time that you carry with you all of your life: like Hemingway's time in Paris, war time, or being part of FFWD,... "a Moveable Feast." It will always be with us.

  6. This was the perfect recipe for cleaning out the freezer and fridge. I too liked the pace of this's nice not to feel rushed between steps.

  7. I love what Diane just wrote about FFWD…"A Moveable Feast”! It will always be with us!
    Your Pot au Feu looks wonderful, nice that you could use up some of your pantry and freezer items. I really need to clean out mine. I just went through one of my cupboards, and threw out a bunch of stuff that was past date! How did that happen? So glad this dish was enjoyed by your family!
    It was well received here, too!! Have a wonderful weekend, Cher!!

  8. I really need to clean out my freezer and pantry! I love that you used this recipe to use up some things. It's definitely a great one for substitutions. It's so hard to believe we're almost done with the book.

  9. Now that this is ending I need someone to tell me what to cook for dinner,
    and I don't mean my hubby. Your soup looks good, I liked the method
    but not the flavors. I think it was the ginger and snap peas that got me. Have a great weekend.

  10. Good luck cleaning out that freezer. I was the recipient of much food when one of my dear friends moved out of state. I can't believe that I only found this group one year ago. I will enjoy finishing the book by myself, sniff.

  11. I too enjoyed the pace of this soup, I loved that everything was not rushed.

  12. I loved this post, Cher! I loved the whole cleaning out your freezer thing (and agree about the pace of this recipe!), and I also enjoyed thinking about complexity and how things may not be as simple as they seem. I can hardly believe the group is almost done!

  13. I was surprised how light and spring-appropriate this was. I love when I have most of the ingredients around, especially when I take something from my seemingly-bottomless freezer (dare I admit that to be honest, that should plural -- freezerS). If I never go shopping again, I'm not sure the freezers would be empty when I eventually move.
    You are so right. Joining FFWD is not the simple act it seemed when we started. It has unexpectedly enriched my life in so many ways that don't even involve cooking.


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