Tag Archives: French

Chicken with Morels and Creme Fraiche

Seasoned to Taste - Chicken with Morels

I think I will always see morels as tiny brains. But instead of grossing me out like they did as a child, they now represent for me something with a deep, earthy flavor and folds that hold all the creamy sauce you toss them in.

I also associate morels with the French movie “Amelie.” One of the characters mentions “hare and morels” … I’ve always wondered what exactly that meant.

This dish is one I look forward to making at a dinner party. Simple and elegant for the lowly chicken breast. Morels and creme fraiche are expensive, so this deserves a special occasion.

From Ina Garten.

Chicken with Morels and Creme Fraiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 package dried morels, soaked for 30 minutes in 3 cups very hot water
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1⁄4 cup melted butter
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped shallots (1 large)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) creme fraiche
  • 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Lift the morels carefully from the hot water in order to leave any grit behind in the liquid. Rinse a few times to be sure all the grittiness is gone. Discard the liquid and dry the morels lightly with paper towels. Set aside.

Seasoned to Taste - Chicken with Morels

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dredge them in flour and shake off the excess. Heat half the butter in a large saute pan and cook the chicken in 2 batches over medium-low heat until browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to an ovenproof casserole dish.

Add the rest of the butter to the pan along with the shallots, drained morels, and garlic. Saute over medium heat for 2 minutes, tossing and stirring constantly. Pour the wine into the pan and reduce the liquid by half over high heat, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the creme fraiche, cream (if using), lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3⁄4 teaspoon pepper. Boil until the mixture starts to thicken, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake for 12 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through. To make ahead, refrigerate the chicken and sauce in the casserole and reheat slowly on top of the stove.

Served with rosemary Parmesan polenta.

Seasoned to Taste - Chicken with Morels

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

 

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Herbed Baked Eggs

I remember when summer was boring. Those weeks in between camps, left in an air-conditioned house while the parents are at work, flipping back and forth between day-time talk shows, soap operas and Whimbledon. Sometimes I would ride my bike up to the public pool, or visit a friend for more lazy hours spent passively watching TV and peeling the skin from our sunburns. I miss it!

The days are so long when you’re young, and now I can’t blink before summer is almost over. The June Bugs have arrived here in The South – heavy, bobbing beetles that look like a woman’s sparkly broach. A sign that school will start in a month.

As I scramble to catch up amid a flurry of professional and personal obligations, quick and easy dinners have been my staple. Inspired by my friend Seton, I recently made Grant and myself a simple French cafe dinner of herb-baked eggs and toasted baguette. This recipe couldn’t be simpler – make for yourself or a dinner party – and it is quite elegant.

Just be careful not to overcook your eggs, as I did – this dish is full of wonderful flavors, but you want the yolks plenty runny. Play it safe.

Herbed Baked Eggs

Ingredients (serves 2 – but easy to multiply)

  • 4 large eggs, cracked into small bowls
  • 2 T heavy cream (or milk)
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh basil (optional)
  • 2 T grated Parm-Reg cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Toasted baguette slices, for serving

Preheat broiler.

In individual gratin dishes or small oven-safe bowls, pour 1 T heavy cream and 1/2 T butter, each. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the herbs, garlic, cheese and season with S&P.

When broiler is hot, place gratin dishes on baking sheet and put under broiler until butter is melted, 3 min. Remove from oven and immediately pour 2 eggs into each dish, being careful not to break the yolks. Sprinkle evenly with herb-cheese mixture. Place back under broiler until egg whites are just set – 3-4 min, depending on your broiler. Watch them carefully!

Remove and serve hot or warm, along with your baguette for mopping up the juices.

The edges become browned and nutty from the cheese, and the herbs are just right. I always add more basil and salt and pepper over the top. You can really use whatever herbs are in your garden or fridge.

I will be making this again soon, so I can remedy my overcooked eggs – every second counts!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Easy French Apple Tart

Here follows the response to my craving for something apple-y. This simplified version of a French apple tart is so easy, you can do it if friends unexpectedly stop by for dessert.

Simply layer apple slices on a sheet of pastry, dot with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Then you bake, brush with preserves and slice! It’s a pretty elegant semi-homemade sweet.

Easy French Apple Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry, rolled out to 10×10-inch square
  • 2-3 apples (Granny Smith or Pink Lady are good), peeled, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • Half stick unsalted butter, diced, chilled
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. apricot preserves mixed with 2 T water

Preheat oven to 400 and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay pastry on sheet, then layer with overlapping apple slices. Sprinkle sugar over, then a pinch of cinnamon. Dot with butter. Bake 35-45 min. until the apples are caramelized in spots (their sugary juices will leak out and burn, just to warn you!). If the pastry puffs up in one area, as mine did, just poke it with a knife.

Heat preserves with water in a small saucepan until melted, then brush over the entire tart.

When done, loosen pastry away from the sheet and cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wasn’t that easy? Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

This classic French dish is traditionally made with a whole chicken and lots and lots of time. But my friends at Cook’s Illustrated created a streamlined version that is my new favorite chicken dish.

You start by brining the chicken, ensuring that it is well seasoned and juicy (you will thank me). Then you roast a ton of  garlic with shallots. Next, you sear the chicken and then add it to the garlic mixture along with some fresh herbs.

The result is a wildly flavorful dish, with crispy-skinned chicken that is juicy and tender, and a rich and creamy sauce full of buttery garlic cloves and caramelized shallots. I mean, you could eat a whole loaf of bread just sopping up the juices. That good! The wine does something brilliant and the fresh herbs … ahhhh.

Don’t worry about being overpowered by the garlic. The roasting method, and later simmering, removes the hot bite and renders it soft and smooth and sweet. You’ll love it.

I’ve adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated, making it even easier for the home cook.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • One 3.5-4 pound chicken, butchered (or, as I did, buy two split chicken breasts, 4 drumsticks and 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs – cheaper than a whole organic chicken at Whole Foods and you don’t have to cut up a whole bird!)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 medium heads of garlic, outer paper skins removed, cloves separated but unpeeled
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 3/4 c. dry white wine
  • 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 400. Dissolve 1/4 c. salt in 2 quarts of water (8 c.) in large container. Submerge chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate 30 min. Remove chicken from brine, rinse, pat dry. Season both sides with pepper.

While the chicken brines, roast the garlic. My herb garden is growing like crazy so I was happy to snip some thyme and rosemary for this dish.

Combine garlic, shallots, 2 tsp EVOO, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a pie plate. Cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 min., shaking the pan once halfway through. Uncover, stir and continue to roast, uncovered until browned and fully tender, 10 min. more, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and increase oven temp to 450. The smell of the roasting garlic and shallots is intoxicating!

Heat remaining 1 tsp EVOO in large oven-safe skillet over medium-high. Brown chicken, skin side down, until golden, 5 min. Flip and brown the second side (do in batches if you are slim on room). Transfer to large plate and pour off the fat from the skillet. Off the heat, add the wine, chicken broth, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf to skillet, scraping up any browned bits. Set skillet over medium heat, add garlic mixture and return the chicken, skin side up, nestling on top of the garlic cloves. Place skillet in oven and roast until cooked through, 160-165 degrees. Remove from oven.

If your chicken isn’t nicely toasted on top, you can quickly broil it at this point, but I found that my chicken got TOO dark, so use your judgment. Next time, I won’t broil.

Cook’s Illustrated asks you then to go through a whole additional process of straining the juices, but I say just pour everything over the chicken when you serve.

Squeeze out the soft garlic cloves and spread them on a crusty baguette as you eat – it’s simply wonderful.

A wonderful dish to entertain with, as I probably will next time!

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Scallops gratineed with wine, garlic, herbs

I don’t do dinner parties very often, so sometimes it’s nice to create one for  two people, as if you were feeding a crowd. Make it complete with flowers on the table, candles, themed music, wine and entertainment.

All things French recently got under my skin. I wanted a French meal with French wine and to watch a French film. Describing this to a co-worker over drinks one night, he asked, “Are you a Francophile?” After I figured out what that meant, I said no, I am not obsessed with the French. I simply like cooking with butter.

Julia Child immediately came to mind and I picked her version of scallops Provencale – gratineed with white wine, garlic and fresh herbs. I’m usually wary of shellfish cooked with cheese, but I must say this turned out perfectly splendid.

Grant got a really nice French white wine and red wine, and tuned Pandora to something you would hear in a French cafe.

Before preparing the scallops, I finished up this bizarre yeast-cake that is supposed to be like the one Amelie makes in her movie. I’ve never made a cake with yeast, I’m assuming this is a French tradition. Anyway, you essentially fold the dough over butter and sugar a bunch of times, then top it with sliced fruit (I used apples tossed with lemon juice and orange zest), and more sugar and butter.

Then you bake it and everything caramelizes and oozes together.

I must say I didn’t fancy this cake, which is why I’m not going to bother you with the recipe.  The texture seemed wrong – I just didn’t get it. But the fruit was tasty.

Certainly, the star of the show was the scallop dish, as described below (note: Julia writes her ingredients as they appear in the cooking method, so notice the multiple times butter is listed):

Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provencale

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. minced yellow onions
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 1/2 T minced shallots
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lb. washed scallops (we used the small guys)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c. flour in a dish
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2/3 c. dry white wine plus 3 T water
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1/4 c. Swiss cheese, grated
  • 2 T butter cut into pieces

Cook onions slowly in butter in small saucepan for 5 min, until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir in shallots and garlic, cook 1 min. Set aside.

Dry scallops and cut into 1/4 inch slices, if you don’t have the small ones. Small ones can be whole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour and shake off excess.

Saute scallops quickly in large pan, heated with 2 T butter and 1 T oil for 2 min, to brown. Work in batches, if needed.

Pour wine and water into pan with all the scallops, de-glazing with a wooden spoon. Add herbs and cooked onion mixture. Cover and let simmer for 5 min., then uncover and boil down sauce for 1 min. Check for seasoning.

Simmering away

Spoon scallops and sauce into a baking pan (or individual ramekins), sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter.

Ready for the broiler

Run under moderate broiler 3-4 min, until heated through and cheese is lightly browned.

We served the scallops hot and bubbling, with some toasted French baguette and more French wine.

I complained that my scallops were a little tough, but Grant said I was crazy. One thing I WAS crazy about was this sauce! Oh my, Julia, you know how to make a great sauce. Bread is absolutely necessary to sop up all that flavor.

We finished up supper and then settled down to watch “Amelie,” of which I finished a little over half before drifting off to sleep. A satisfactory end to Frenchie day.

Enjoy your dinner parties for two (or one), friends! xoxo

Quick, easy Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is one of those classic French dishes that I imagine would transport me to Paris, with Julia Child on my arm. We’d have a leisurely day picking out a nice plump bird, slab of smoky bacon and a hearty red wine, then spend the next 10 hours cooking it all together.

When I’m not jet-setting with my fantasies, I’m in a warm Southern kitchen with a checkered tea apron around my waist, seeing what my wooden spoon will cook up next. This streamlined Coq au Vin lacks the all-day cooking richness that the classic dish enjoys, but it still hits all the right flavor notes. Think bacon, onions and red wine all bubbling away in your skillet. The smell is wonderful and I enjoyed the festive purple color. A nice weeknight dinner – maybe I’ll tackle Julia on a Sunday.

Bon Appetit’s Quick & Easy Coq au Vin

Ingredients:

  • 4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 8 ounces large crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, halved (Note: I omitted)
  • 8 large shallots, peeled, halved through root end
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine (such as Syrah)
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
  • 4 teaspoons all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 300°F. Sauté bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl.
Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Add to drippings in skillet. Sauté until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side; transfer to pie dish (reserve skillet). Place in oven to keep warm.
Add mushrooms and shallots to skillet; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; toss 10 seconds. Add wine, 1 1/4 cups broth, bacon, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Boil 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place flour in small cup. Add 1/4 cup broth, stirring until smooth.
Add flour mixture to sauce. Cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange chicken on platter; stir juices from pie dish into sauce and spoon over chicken. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.
Enjoy, Frenchies! xoxo