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Haricots à la Bretonne


This post is in tribute to Tatiana, who recently lost a brave fight with cancer. I only met her once and if "enchanted" didn't sound so silly in English, it's the word I'd use to describe the thrill of meeting her. She struck me as the very definition of chic, although she'd be the first to laugh if she heard that. She was vivacious, fun and genuinely interested in what others were saying. She was my best friend's mother and I'd send her postcards and notes now and again over the years and she'd pretend she could read my awful, but fancy, handwriting. She was horrified when I told her I loved Charles Boyer in Pepe Le Moko. "That was Jean Gabin!," she said, leaving off the "you idiot" that belonged at the end of the sentence. She loved to travel and was thoughtful enough to buy me a ceramic "baño" sign, correctly thinking I'd like it.

Alain, her son, went through the family photo albums and discovered lots of old shots from her childhood in France with her Russian family. She's so adorable! Stoic when in the photograph alone and coming to life around her loved ones, especially the menfolk.

She's missed by her family and friends and I wish you could have met her.


In going through her recipes and clippings, Alain found this and I'm happy to pass it on. I think with our beans, you can manage a much shorter cooking period. The clove and addition of butter are what make this unique.

Breton Beans

The dried white beans must be from the most recent harvest so a 2-hour soak in cold water is sufficient. Drain the soaking water, recover the soaked beans in cold water, bring them gently to boil, boil for 10 minutes then drain.

Cover them yet again in cold water with a pinch of salt, a medium onion studded with one clove, 2 cloves of garlic, half a carrot and a small bouquet garni (2 parsley sprigs, 1 sprig of thyme, 1/2 a bay leaf). Again bring gently to boil, skim, cover and simmer over very low heat.

Mince a good sized onion, and let it sweat gently in butter until it starts to turn golden. Moisten with a "half glass" of dry white wine and a quarter cup of tomato juice , 2 grated garlic cloves, a little salt and several twists of pepper. Cook together around 15 minutes.

Drain the cooked beans and add them to the pan, and stir. Remove from heat and bind with some butter.

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