Monday, September 28, 2009

Julia pulled through!

Whew. It's been a while since I've posted. Eek. Life got a little crazy and my lack of posting has mostly been due to a lack of any type of creative cooking. Last week was the culmination of the craziness and I hosted a dinner party for a mini family reunion. Now. Seeing as though the guests were either family or close to it, I shouldn't have been nervous. But these are also people I don't cook for much (or ever), so this was my moment to show what I've got! I decided to go with someone who, rumor has it, I can trust. Julia. I pulled out my new 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' and perused it for a recipe that sounded decadent taste wise but straight forward preparation wise. Success! I selected Supremes de Volaille a Blanc to start, and wound up making the variation Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons. In English, I made chicken breasts with mushroom and cream. Oh la la! It was delightful! The only problem I had was that it took a lot longer to cook the chicken breast than it said in the recipe...I foresaw this problem though, as the chicken breasts available are gigantic compared to the size they used to be, and the ones I had purchased seemed especially large. And I made a recipe and a half. But besides the added cooking time, the recipe was straightforward and so rewarding. I served the chicken with garlic mashed potatoes (prepared with the leftover cream from the chicken) and asparagus that I parboiled and then sauted with garlic and lemon. It all came together quite nicely!

As a side note, most of the ingredients used in the dish were purchased from Frank's at Pike Place Market. Fresh, local, high quality ingredients at a great that's hard to beat! You can't make great food without good ingredients.

The recipe for the chicken is as follows (and don't forget, it's from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. I highly recommend you buy the book if you don't own it!)

Surpemes de Volaiile aux Champignons: Serves 4

4 chicken breasts
1/2 tsp lemon juice
5 T butter
1 T minced shallot
1/4 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
1/8 tsp salt

For the sauce:
1/4 cup brown stock or beef bouillon
1/4 cup port, Madeira or dry white vermouth
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and Pepper
2 Tb fresh lightly minced parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Over moderate heat, melt the butter in a
casserole (about 10 inches in diameter, both stove top and oven proof) until foaming. Stir in the minced shallots and saute a moment without browning. Stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle with salt. Roll the chicken breasts in the butter mixture and cover the casserole. Place in hot oven and cook until chicken breasts are springy to the touch and cooked through. Remove from casserole and cover while making the sauce.

To make the sauce: Pour the stock or bouillon and wine into the casserole with the cooking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


As I have mentioned before, I am participating in a CSA this summer. That stands for "Community Supported Agriculture" and essentially means that I paid a farm (Driftless Organics, to be specific) this spring so that every other week, from June well into fall, they would box up some veggies for me to enjoy. The vegetables are delicious, it is hard to keep up with them, and the whole effort is a great exercise in remembering that vegetables grow in the ground and depend on the weather. The carrots look arthritic, the tomatoes got blight and died after just one round of picking, and the arugula just keeps coming - every vegetable (and melon) that I've received, however, has tasted absolutely divine.... and then came the romanesco.
In the lovely newsletter that we (my friend Lara and I - we share the veggie boxes and it's STILL hard to keep up!) receive with each box, there is a nice note from the farmers, a helpful glossary of sorts to explain what's in the box, and a few relevant recipes. Here's an excerpt of what the romanesco description says this week: "Broccoli's good, but Romanesco is stunning. I've actually had people say they couldn't eat it because it's too beautiful. This Italian heirloom cooks up and tastes more like cauliflower than broccoli. I like to steam it whole in water with lemon juice or broth & then serve it quartered." Have a look for yourself - beautiful, right?!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dad Saw a BEAR!

Dear lovely readers of our blog. I want you to be the first to know that our father saw a bear this evening, on his drive home from work. He is actually retired, but in his retirement, he is working as a state park ranger in Maine. (Where we are from, though we primarily blog about Minnesota and Washington). And on his drive home from being a park ranger, he saw a bear. It should be noted that he no longer finds any surprise or excitement at all in seeing a moose while driving home (except of course in the moments where he tries to avoid hitting them with his car).... but the bear? He notified me over gmail, and used capital letters to describe it. Quite like I have done here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Minnesota State Fair

Having grown up in Maine, I moved to Minnesota with the general understanding that fairs were kind of small county events, with lots of farm animals and some cotton candy circulating. Thankfully, I have come to know better. In Minnesota, as with many midwestern states, the fair is a very very big deal. I generally go at least twice a year, and eat as much food as possible while I am there. This year, though I only went once, it was all I hoped it would be and more - as usual! I have some fair-going rules, and one of them is that I only go with people that will split every food order with me. In this way, I get to try tons of food, avoid feeling sick, and it all costs half as much.

On Tuesday evening, my friend Kate (who is a tried and true fair companion) joined me on a Minnesota State Fair adventure. We shared an order of each of the following:
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Cheese Curds
- Swedish Egg Coffee
- Corn Dog
- Lemonade
- Hush Puppies
- Mini Donuts

Most years I also eat a Scotch Egg (a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage, dipped in bread crumbs, deep fried, and presented on a stick), but
we ran out of steam before we made it to that vendor. We also were serious about finding the Funnel Cake Fries (new this year!), but the stand had closed by the time we located it. We skipped the chocolate covered bacon (it's apparently kind of gross), Martha's cookies (a bucket of 'em costs $14), and all the deep fried candy bars (melty and delicious, but we filled up before we got over to that corner). I usually make a stop at Custard's Last Stand, mostly out of appreciation for the vendor name, but a gi
rl can only eat so much food in one evening. The twittersphere was all abuzz regarding the smoked salmon on a stick, but I wasn't coordinated enough to seek out that vendor, either. So many things to eat, so little time! It's no wonder that some people make a habit of going 4 or 5 times a year!

Somewhere along the way we stumbled upon some live music: Rock It Science was to
tally rocking out, and we stuck around long enough to see them perform Total Eclipse of the Heart - followed closely by Sweet Child of Mine.

As you may have noticed, we didn't spend time in the animal barns... and the reason for that is simple: a few weeks ago I visited Kate in Milwaukee, and we went to the Wisconsin State Fair. In addition to enjoying such culinary delights as Cream Puffs
(made by the Wisconsin Bakers Association) and Loaded Baked Potatoes (made by the Wisconson Potato Association), we visited tons of animal barns AND we won a trivia game. I love fair season.