Friday, October 28, 2011

Oh please say it ain't so!

Really? Snow before Halloween? Really?

Time for all of us to start hunkering down... enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

on the table tonight...

Rustic Mustard Chicken and Pasta
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb bowtie pasta
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 8 oz dried porcini mushrooms (soaked in hot water 15 min.)
  • 2 lb chicken thighs
  • Seasoning
  • flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  •  paprika
  • ground mustard
  • ground thyme
  • 1 can (~15 oz) red/kidney beans
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup stock
  • 2 Tbsp dijon
  • 1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch (in the stock)
  • 1 15 oz can artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup parsely
  • 1/4 cup basil
Begin by preparing all of the fresh ingredients. Mince the onion and garlic finely. Dice the pepper, chop the mushrooms, coarsely chop the artichoke hearts and chop up the fresh herbs.

Now, chop up the chicken into bite-sized chunks, trimming any excess fat. Mix the spices in a bowl and toss the chicken to partially coat it all over. Dredge in flour and sauté in olive oil for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through. Set the cooked chicken aside

If you need additional oil and/or butter in the pan, add it and get it hot again. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes to soften them up a bit, after which, you should add the garlic and artichoke hearts for another 2 minutes.
Finally, add in the mushrooms with a dash of salt, sautéing for 5-10 minutes more, or until the mushrooms finally are just on the verge of caramelizing a bit. Deglaze the pan with wine and all but a tablespoon or so of the stock, scraping any brown bits off of the bottom.

Cook the pasta and drain.

Off to the side, make a slurry of the remaining stock and the cornstarch, stirring well until totally mixed and no clumps remain. Set this aside.
As the liquid simmers, add in both mustards, the cream, and herbs, continuing to simmer for about 5-10 minutes, after which, you should quickly stir in the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce up, let simmer for a minute more, and then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta, chicken, and sauce until the sauce has coated everything well. Lastly, add in the beans, tossing gently.

Top with a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

on my bedside stand...


Very few books have crossed my path that have had the impact of The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli. The setting of this author's first novel is 1960's Vietnam and the story centers around a group of Western journalists covering the war. Sharply realistic, the story chronicles addictions to dangers “Sudden and sublime. Sudden and awful. Everything distilled to its most intense. That’s why we’re all hooked.”  An adventure of tragedy, love and redemption... I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Wikipedia defines:
In Greek mythology, the lotus-eaters, also referred to as the lotophagi or lotophaguses, were a race of people living on an island near North Africa dominated by lotus plants. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were narcotic, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy