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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Potato and Ham Chowder



There's this personality test called Myers Briggs.  It shows you how you relate to the world around you.  Introvert/extrovert.  Do you recharge by having alone time or being with others?  Sensing/intuitive.  Do you do well figuring it out or are you better having everything in black and white?  Thinking/feeling.  Head vs heart.  And, judgment/perceptive.  How do you make decisions?  Do you work on consensus then waffle or do you look at the facts and make a decision and stick to it?  I'm absolutely an extrovert.  A party at our house finishes up and I'm dancing around fully charged because I've spent time with SO many people.  Connie has gone to his corner to plug in and recharge.  Please do not disturb.  When it comes to making decisions I do the normal female thing and talk it through with Connie and sometimes my friends.  He takes that to be the judgment side.  It isn't.  Because once I make a decision it's tough to budge me.  That's exactly what happened here.  I read Rebekah's index of soups and stews and knew immediately what I wanted to make.  No reading of other recipes.  No trolling her blog.  Just THE ONE.  Potato and ham chowder. 

I LOVE soup.  Connie, not so much.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to see the subject for this month's Blogger C.L.U.E. Society.  And, I was equally thrilled to see that my assigned blog was Rebekah's.  Let's start with the Albert Einstein quote on her home page:  "There are two ways to live your life.  One as though nothing is a miracle and the other as if everything is a miracle."  That tells me that Rebekah is one of those glass half full search for the good kind of folks. 

Now, I just had to take a peek at some of her recipes to see what else was there.  To give you some good ideas, you know...  Cinnamon pear muffins.   Six flavor bundt cake.  I know, they sound fabulous.  No clue here when I'll need to make a dessert again but the bundt cake will be in the running.  And, the muffins may just get made next week.  Unfortunately, I've cooked for the last time this week...  We've got three theatre dates, a wine education class with appetizers, a farewell party for one of our favorite chefs, a Super Bowl party and a late night for me at my Columbus office.  Grocery shopping for Connie was easy this week - lunch fixings!  Then, there's the cheeseburger potato bacon soup.  It looks a lot like my beloved cheeseburger soup from Scotty's Brewhouse.  I've never added bacon to that and will do so next time I make it.  But, I stuck to my guns and made the potato and ham chowder.  Here's a link to Rebekah's original recipe:  Potato and ham chowder.

I did make one change to the recipe.  Since I regularly save chicken bones to make my own stock, I used chicken stock instead of water and bouillon.  Saves a bunch of sodium too...

What did we think?  This was super flavorful and creamy.  Because Connie loves cheese, I added a bunch of shredded cheddar before serving the soup.  That did up the score for us!

Here's how you make the soup:

Potato and Ham Chowder

Ingredients:

3 1/2 c potatoes, peeled and diced
1/3 c celery, diced
1/3 c onion, finely diced
3/4 c cooked ham, diced
3 1/4 c chicken stock
1/2 t salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste
5 T butter
5 T all-purpose flour
2 c milk
 
Directions:
 
Add the potatoes, celery, onions, ham and stock to a stockpot.  Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes or until the roux is a very light golden brown.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Once the cream sauce has thickened, pour it into the other mixture.  At this point, you can add herbs to taste.  Or cheese. 


Here are links to the other soups and stews for this month: 

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Irish Seafood Cocktail





New Years Eve.  Our 12th annual seafood fest.  The first year I met Connie we had the New Year's Eve DISCUSSION.  Do you like to go out on NYE?  No, do you?  No.  WHEW!  Yet another way we're compatible.  So, my next question was he wanted for dinner.  I'm asking this of a boy from Boston, you know.  And, did I really expect the response to be anything but seafood?  Nope.  And, it wasn't.  So I went to the local fish market and bought two of everything.  We ate leftover seafood for DAYS.  Over the years I've become much more judicious about my NYE menu.  Now, I try to limit it to four courses.  LOL.  If you want to call that judicious. 

This year our menu was to be scallops on a salsa of avocado and mango, lobster bisque, lobster mac and cheese and oyster fritters.  Then I got my assignment for Blogger C.L.U.E. Society.  One of my favorite bloggers - Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva.  Now, Christy and I have never met.  We tried when I was in her neck of the woods a year ago.  But, fate intervened.  She had jury duty.  Major bummer.  You see, not only is she an amazing cook, she's also a cookbook collector like I am.  Someday I will meet her and we'll undoubtedly talk non-stop.  Our topic this month is to be healthy eating.  January and all.  Everyone wants to get over the excess of the holidays.  As I was poking around on Christy's site looking at all the great cocktail recipes and remembering when we'd made several of them, I spied a recipe for a shrimp cocktail.  From an Irish pub cookbook that I also own.  And, it sounded pretty healthy.  Sold.  Our menu expanded to five courses.  And, am I ever glad I did. 

Being from Indianapolis, we have the venerable St. Elmo's Steak House.   It's typically listed as one of the top ten in the U.S.  And, for good reason.  We've been to steakhouses all over the U.S. and have never had one that's as good as St. Elmo's.  But, it's their shrimp cocktail that really gets the press.  It's hotter than blazes.  Made with fresh horseradish that'll make your eyes sweat.  Connie and I both slurp up the sauce while the sweat is dripping down our foreheads.  Oh, so good.  Needless to say, shrimp cocktail is not something we take lightly around our house.  Not when St. Elmo's is a short drive away.  

This one, though, sounded so different.  Irish Seafood Cocktail.  Light and flavorful.  Butter lettuce, cucumber, shrimp, a light cocktail sauce.  I had to try it.  And, was I ever glad I did. It was all I could do to make the cocktail sauce as written (such are the rules with Blogger CLUE) and not put any horseradish in.  I'm glad I didn't.  It was perfect as it was.  This is such a great starter.  In fact, we're having some friends over for munchies and a port tasting in a few weeks.  I do believe this will be on the menu. 

Before we get to the recipe, please let me tell you a bit about Christy.  She's a banker.  Yes, like I used to be.  She lives in Palm Springs.  Yes, I'm jealous.  She has a wonderful sous chef like I do.  She makes fabulous cocktails.  Experience speaking here, she REALLY makes fabulous cocktails.  She collects cookbooks.  But, you knew that.  She's absolutely totally delightful!  Please visit her blog and tell her I said HI!!!  Confessions of a Culinary DIva.

And, one last thing before we get to the recipe.  There are a bunch of great recipes from my other Blogger CLUE friends.  Links are below.

Now, on to the recipe...

Irish Seafood Cocktail

Ingredients:

Serves 4

shredded romaine lettuce or baby lettuce
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded, cut into small batons - about 1/2" long
1 c crabmeat
18 jumbo cooked shrimp
2/3 c mayonnaise
2 T ketchup
1/2 t Cognac
1/4 t Tabasco
lemon slices
sea salt flakes

Directions:

In individual bowls, layer the lettuce, then the cucumber, then the crabmeat, then the shrimp.  Mix the mayo, ketchup, Cognac and Tabasco.  Dollop it on top.  Garnish with lemon slices (I didn't have any...) and sea salt.  Serve ice cold.


adapted from Confessions of a Culinary Diva.  Originally from The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook  
  • Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
  • Kate from Kate's Kitchen
  • Christiane from Taking on Magazines
  • Stacy from Food Lust People Love
  • Lisa from Authentic Suburban Gourmet
  • Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva
  • Azmina from Lawyer Loves Lunch
  • Kim from Liv Life
  • Lea Ann from Cooking on the Ranch
  • Anna from annaDishes
  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Debra from Eliot's Eats
  • Kathy from A Spoonful of Thyme
  • Rebekah from Making Miracles
  • Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook
  • Sue from A Palatable Pastime

  • Wednesday, December 23, 2015

    Pesto Tomato Pizza and White Bean Dip

    I have yet again another new cookbook.  And, I've not even finished reading the ones I bought a couple of weeks ago.  The new one is courtesy of Jolene Ketzenberger.  She's the owner and editor of EatDrinkIndy.com and used to be the food writer at our local paper.  In years gone by, she did a Christmas cookie contest.  Like most things fun, the Star has discontinued that.  Just another reason I prefer the New York Times these days!  At any rate, Jolene's hubby John persuaded her to put together a last minute cookie contest at a local Brewery.  It's called Bent Rail.  The noise in there was deafening.  But, the food was incredible.  We'll head that way for dinner and make sure we get there and are gone by the time the band starts!!!  Let me note here... I am NOT a baker.  Used to bake 4,000 cookies and deliver plates of them to all of my clients.  No more.  I really avoid baking.  But, because Jolene wanted to do the contest, I entered.  Whiskey shortbread cookies.  They were good but not fabulous.  Nothing I'll make again.  But, since everyone who entered got to choose a cookbook, I was a happy camper.  That and I got to talk with some other foodies.  Carolyn, this is directed at you - time to start your own blog!  Seriously Simple Holidays is the cookbook I chose.  Can't wait to dig into this one.  Just in time for the holidays too.  Chicken paillards with cranberry port sauce.  Doesn't that sound amazing?  I know there will be a dozen recipes that we'll love.



    So, back to the other new cookbooks I bought.  I had to go to the Christmas Tree Shop for bows for the window boxes.  Stop.  I wanted to go.  Needs versus wants.  I'm constantly reminding my clients of the difference...  Bows on window boxes are a want.  So are new cookbooks.  Or, in my case an obsession.  One that Connie happily tolerates because he gets lots of fun food.  The first cookbook I read was Small Plates by Williams Sonoma.  They actually have a lot of very good cookbooks.  This is my 5th or 6th and I've enjoyed all of them.  In addition to a recipe for scallops over a salsa of avocado and mango that's on the menu for New Years Eve, I had my eye on a pesto, tomato and mozzarella pizza.  In the fall we always turn the last of the basil into pesto.  Then, before the cheese is added in, it's frozen.  So, I have about a dozen 1/2 cup containers of frozen almost pesto.  Makes us think of summer when we eat it.  I wanted a meal that was quick, quick, quick.  We'd spent most of Sunday at the office.  Something about our admin being out thanks to her knee being replaced.  But, you've heard that story.  We're still doing double duty.  And, I had cookies to bake.  And, and, and.  Just not a lot of time to cook.  I'd had Connie buy a Boboli crust at the grocery so I was ready.  And, it was the perfect evening.  Nuke the pesto to thaw it.  Stir in some grated parmesan romano.  Schmear it on the crust.  Cut grape tomatoes in half and cover the pesto.  Thinly slice the fresh mozzarella and layer it over the top.  Bake at 450 for 15 minutes and we were good to go.

    What did we think?  There almost weren't leftovers.  This was amazing.  My prep time was about 10 minutes.  Cooking time was 15.  And, we had a dinner that tasted much fancier than that.  Here's what the process looks like:






    Our second recipe from the cookbook was equally successful.  White bean dip.  It's similar to ones we've made before but with bits of crunchy sage and prosciutto, it's just a step ahead of the generic white bean dip...

    White Bean Dip

    Ingredients:

    2 T olive oil
    1 oz prosciutto (I used two ounces,) finely diced
    6 fresh sage leaves, finely minced
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    1 15 1/2 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    1 shallot, finely minced
    2 t lemon juice
    salt and pepper

    Directions:

    Heat 1 t of the olive oil to shimmering in a small skillet.  Add the prosciutto, sage, shallot and garlic.  Saute until the prosciutto and sage are a bit crispy.  In a food processor, whir the beans with the other tablespoon of olive oil and the lemon juice.  Pour the beans into a small bowl and add the sautéed ingredients.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with thinly sliced baguette, pita chips or crackers.

    Adapted from Williams Sonoma Small Plates

    As I type this it's Christmas Eve Eve.  Last weekend our oldest son David, his wife Kara and our grandkids, Bradley and Rosie came over to visit.  We started with Mary Poppins at Civic Theatre.  They totally hit it out of the park with that show.  I have to give kudos to a long-time friend of mine, Don Knebel, for what he's doing there.  After a long career as an attorney, he retired to spend time working with the Institute for Civic Literacy at IUPUI.  But, Civic came calling and he answered the call.  This show was so well done.  I've been singing Let's Go Fly a Kite all week!!!  Here's Rosie meeting Mary Poppins:

     
    After Mary Poppins we headed home for ham, mac and cheese and an autumn salad with apples, sugared almonds and blue cheese.  Dessert was a decadent ice cream pie.  With bacon caramel sauce, Heath bars and honey roasted peanuts.  Makes my teeth ache just thinking about it.  But, it was fabulous!
     
    Then, we opened presents.  The hit of the year was toolboxes.  We were a bit hesitant to get the kids their own tool boxes but I do believe Mama has a grand idea.  She's going to go to Lowe's and get some lumber and set it up in the garage so they can practice.  Here's Bradley showing his off and Grampy showing Rosie how everything works:
     

     




    Wednesday, December 9, 2015

    Tartiflette



    With a bunch of busy ladies, there's always bound to be a glitch.  It's not if, it's when.  So, our friend Stacy has been on the receiving end more than once.  And, as Stacy always is, she's been incredibly gracious.  THANK YOU STACY!!!  So, as you may have guessed, Stacy is this month's Blogger C.L.U.E. orphan.  When I found out, I jumped at the opportunity to once again make something from her blog.  The fact that I love her blog is no surprise to anyone, I'm sure.  I've prattled on about her muffins and loads of other yummy dishes. 

    This month our word was celebration.  Now, even though you may not think of this dish as celebratory, I do.  Why?  Well, we've had a bit of challenge in our lives recently.  And, spending an evening home with just my hubby is reason for celebration.  And, this is exactly the kind of comfort food with which we love to celebrate those wonderful evenings home.

    Tartiflette.  Stacy made this in honor of her time in France and in remembrance of those murdered in the terrorist shootings.  She picked such a quintessentially French dish.  And, strangely enough, one I'd never heard of.  Now, we make an amazing dish that's layered potatoes, cabbage, bacon and cheese.  Here's the link to that:   Bacon Cabbage Potato Torte.  This is similar but different.  Brie cheese versus extra sharp cheddar.  Onions versus cabbage.  One layer of potatoes versus three. 

    We got home from yet another wild day at the office.  Seven appointments today.  Six each of the next two days.  Missing our right hand woman who's out for a couple of months getting her knee replaced.  Dealing with major changes to Social Security that'll cause us to have to redo a couple hundred plans.  Dealing with several clients who've been offered early retirements.  Taking over the care of some relatives who have had a rough row to hoe thanks to another relative taking advantage of them.  Yeah, you might say I am looking forward to a nap on Christmas day!!!  Because that will be my only opportunity and it will happen.  I had a list.  Prep for a dinner party on Friday.  Make and freeze chicken green bean casseroles.  Make Giada's Asian chicken salad for lunches tomorrow and Friday.  De-fat then freeze the chicken stock I made on Sunday.  Finish cleaning up the kitchen after Monday's dinner party.  I'd pretty much decided it was a pizza kind of an evening.  Then, I found out Stacy was orphaned.  And, I added to my list.  Tartiflette.  Doesn't the name just make you smile?  Me too.  So, as I was doing everything else, I halved some potatoes and tossed them in boiling water.  Bacon got chunked up and tossed in a big skillet.  Then, the bacon got drained and onions went into the skillet.  Once those were happy, white wine got added.  Then, when the white wine had cooked in, half the onions got pulled out and half the bacon added back in.  The drained and sliced potatoes were added topped with the balance of the onions and the bacon.  Then, on top of that a veritable bounty of brie cheese.  The huge wheel I'd bought for one of the Christmas Eve appetizers.  Enough that both Connie and I looked at all of that cheese and said maybe, just maybe that was over the top.  It was indeed.  But, it was so daggone good that I'd do it again tomorrow.  Then, everything got put in the oven for thirty minutes.  So the cheese could melt into the potatoes and bacon and onion.  So it would get ooey, gooey wonderful!!! 

    Here's the link to the recipe on Stacy's blog:  Tartiflette.  While you're there, please take a look around.  Stacy really has some of the best food around.  I ALWAYS find something I love on her blog.  But, I do think this one takes the cake!  Thanks Stacy!!!











    Here are the dishes from my other Blogger CLUE friends:



    Tuesday, December 8, 2015

    Henri's TasTee Dressing Clone



    Some things are just plain meant to be.  This month for Blogger C.L.U.E. Society I was assigned A Palatable Pastime.  Unlike a lot of the bloggers in the group, I've not been well acquainted with Sue's blog.  So, it was a lot of fun to get to stalk her and figure out what'd go best with CELEBRATE!  Yes, the theme of our December posts is celebrate.  That left out SO many fabulous posts.   Baked Apple French Toast, Mediterranean Chickpea Salad (sounds healthy!) Candied Walnut and Grape Salad, Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs...  Yes, several of these will find their way to our table when we're once again home often enough to really cook.  For now, we're into the easiest things we can figure out that don't involve calling Donatos...

    We've had pretty much the perfect storm at the office.  First and foremost, our right hand assistant, Teresa is out thanks to a knee replacement.  That's about 24 hours a week that we've had to take back.  Into a week that stretches to seven days of work anyway.  Then, there's the fact that Social Security changed the rules of the road and I'm having to work my way back through a couple hundred plans.  Add in the fact that we've taken over the care for my aunt and uncle (ages 85 and 97.)  And, several dinner parties.  Including the entire Girls Night Out crew and their hubbys or significant others.  And, Christmas Eve for my family.  And, about 26 hours of continuing education that needs to be done by year end.  And, and, and.  I'm overwhelmed.  So, quite honestly, the idea of a major celebratory dinner was out of the question.  I was looking for something that was easy, a bit decadent, a bit festive and that would be wonderful while we decorate for Christmas.  Smoked salmon dip.  Perfect.  But, I didn't quit reading.  Then, I found homemade Henri's TasTee Dressing.  Did that ever bring back memories. 

    Way back in the mid 70's I was a management trainee at Lincoln National Bank in Fort Wayne, IN.  Every year there was a gift exchange and pitch-in.  Marcie, the president's assistant, brought a dip that I absolutely swooned over.  I still have the recipe card where I wrote the recipe.  And, I still make it for parties when I can.  Oh, you know, here's the gift I got at that exchange.  It's sitting on the shelf right above the computer monitor where I'm typing this post.  The little blue and white china box. 



    And, it still makes me smile to think of the good times I had back there.  Now, what I've not said is that Marcie's Dip calls for Henri's TasTee Dressing.  We can't always find it.  Needless to say I'm one unhappy camper when I can't find my Henri's.  Now, I don't have to.  I have Sue's re-creation.  Oh, yes. 

    So, I made the dressing but I used it as a salad dressing since I didn't have the Buddig Chipped Beef to make the dip.  You see, I'd bought all the ingredients for the smoked salmon dip.  Now, typically I'd give you a link to the recipe on the blog but I can't find it again...  I've looked thru Sue's index and it's not listed that I can see...  So, thank goodness I printed it out!!!

    Henri's TasTee Dressing Clone Ingredients

    1 c sugar
    1 T celery seed
    1 t salt
    1/4 t ground white pepper
    1/4 c onion powder
    1 1/2 t dry mustard
    1 t turmeric
    1/4 c vinegar
    1-2 c mayonnaise

    Whisk it all together.  This makes a fabulous coleslaw dressing.  Or, salad dressing.  Or smoosh it with 8 oz of cream cheese, a bag of Buddig chipped beef (finely diced,) some pickle relish and a bit of mustard and you've got a great dip!

    So, with many thanks to Sue, I can now recreate one of my favorite dips whenever I want!!!  Here's a list of my friends from Blogger C.L.U.E. Society who also have some fabulous celebratory recipes!



    Sunday, November 22, 2015

    Scotch Dinner

    We are blessed with some of the most wonderful friends.  And, once in a while we get to celebrate something really fun with some of them.  Like Mark's retirement.  Time for Scotch and dinner. 






    And, you can see our furry kids really wanted to join us.  But, they know better than to come in a room where humans are eating...





    Dinner was to be pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon and served with a bourbon glaze, sweet potatoes and cauliflower gratin.  Except that Connie and I didn't communicate well.  He thought I had a pork tenderloin thawed so he put the ones from the grocery into the freezer.  Then, thanks to a big project at our office that HAD to be finished, he got to the house well after we'd started the other dishes.  There was simply no time for thawing pork tenderloins.  Thank goodness for buying and freezing chicken thighs.  Those are easy to thaw.  Not quite as easy to wrap with bacon, but easier to thaw :-)  Since we were celebrating Mark's retirement with a really nice bottle of Scotch, my intent was to use Scotch (our regular brand, not the really good stuff) in the glaze.  The recipe below reflects the way I actually made the dish.  Which turned out to be a fabulous dish in spite of the substitution.  And, in spite of the fact that the bacon simply wouldn't stay on the chicken...

    I wanted to do something with cranberries and apples for the sweet potatoes.  A hunt through recipes I've saved didn't bring up anything I wanted to make.  But, there was a recipe on food.com that I could use as inspiration.  The cauliflower gratin was a recipe that I'd clipped from a magazine and tucked into an envelope of recipes to try soon.  Eons ago.  I have NO clue which magazine it came from.  I do wish they'd identify their recipes at the end of each because I really try hard to give credit as credit is due...  I'm assuming the bacon wrapped pork tenderloin/chicken is from Midwest Living.  It's credited to Chef Beth Murphy, Old Town Ale House. 

    Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs with Scotch Glaze



    Ingredients:

    4 chicken thighs (I'd recommend removing the skin)
    8 strips thick cut bacon
    1/2 c dark brown sugar
    1 t Chinese five spice powder
    1/2 c Scotch (we use Dewar's)

    Directions:

    Preheat your oven to 350. Par cook the bacon in an oven proof skillet just until it starts to brown.  Leave the bacon fat in the skillet.  Wrap the chicken thighs with the bacon and secure it with tooth picks.  Mix the brown sugar and Chinese five spice.  Pat the chicken thighs with the brown sugar mix.  Saute in the bacon fat until the bacon is browned.  Remove the skillet to the oven until the chicken is cooked through.

    adapted from Chef Beth Murphy


    Cauliflower Gratin with Almond Crust




    Ingredients:

    1/4 c butter
    1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    2 T flour
    2 t chopped fresh thyme
    1/2 t salt
    1/2 c whipping cream
    1 c grated Gruyere cheese
    2/3 c panko
    1/4 c sliced almonds
    1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

    Directions:

    In a large skillet, melt the butter.  Add the cauliflower and onion.  Saute for about 8 minutes, then add the garlic.  Stir in the flour, thyme and salt.  Then, once the cauliflower is thoroughly coated with the flour, pour the mix into a greased casserole.  Drizzle it with the cream.  Then, top it with the Gruyere, followed by the panko, then the almonds then the Parmesan.  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.


    Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with Cranberry Relish




    Ingredients:

    1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced about 1/8" thick
    2 apples, sliced about 18" thick (I didn't peel them)
    1 12 oz package cranberries
    1/2 c dark brown sugar
    1/4 c orange juice concentrate
    1/4 c Scotch
    1 t Chinese five spice powder
    1/4 c butter
    1/2 c chopped pecans

    Directions:

    In a medium saucepan, par cook the sweet potato until it is slightly softened but not mushy.  Ours took 5-8 minutes.  Drain the sweet potato.  In a casserole, layer the sweet potatoes and the apples.  I used three layers of each.  In a medium saucepan, mix the cranberries, brown sugar, OJ, Scotch and five spice powder.  Cook over medium heat until the cranberries pop.  Stir in the butter.  Once that's melted in, pour the relish over the sweet potatoes.  Top with the chopped pecans.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. 

    adapted from Food.com

    Chicken Grand-mere Francine



    Somehow our schedule has gotten REALLY busy.  Seems busier than normal.  In the span of eleven days we've had a wine dinner, two trips to the theatre, a football game, a party, dinner with a friend, sushi with the crew from Chef Joseph's, dinner with two different couples and a birthday party.  Yes, that's right, something planned ten days out of eleven.  That meant that actually getting home and being able to fix dinner was a good thing.  I was exhausted from a crazy workload at the office and some big projects at the house.  So, I wanted to fix something easy.  Usually nothing from Weekend in a French Kitchen qualifies as easy AND has an ingredient list that's on hand.  My friends had been raving about Chicken Grand-mere Francine.  I either had everything or a close substitution.  Chicken it was.

    Now, first let me tell you about the yard...  We never dreamed when we moved in that the yard would basically be a layer of sod over fill.  We tried to plant a couple of the starts we'd brought along and had to chisel out holes.  It was miserable.  Two of the areas where we wanted to plant had some pretty good slopes.  That meant we could have retaining walls built and topsoil tilled in.  One's shaded by a locust and a pear.  Pear trees don't have a terribly long life span so we don't know how long that one will last.  The locust is a bully.  The roots are upending our driveway and the sidewalk to the front porch.  And, they're right on the surface.  Plus, it's a filthy tree.  There's always some detritus from it.  But, it's huge and having it taken down would be really expensive.  So, replacing it will just have to wait.  Given all that we decided to work with the trees we have.  The guys put some big boulders in to match the one that was already there.  Then, they lined the rest of the bed with stones.  We proceeded to put almost all of our hosta in.  And, the Solomon's Seal, epimedium, astilbe, columbine and meadow rue.  We'll want to fill in with more of everything next spring.  But, for now it looks great.  The other part of the shade garden will be hellebore, heuchera and some daylilies in the partial shade.  The sun garden has two tiers.  I've put in rhubarb and red sorrel.  Space has been left for more rhubarb plants along with kale and Swiss chard.  Then, we've got bee balm, Echinacea, rudebeckia, lilies, iris, daylilies, Siberian iris, horseradish, daisies, peonies and loads of other sun plants.  Here's how everything looked and looks. 







    Back to chicken.  We didn't have celery root.  It's always a challenge to find at the grocery and we didn't want to start the hunt.  So, we decided to leave it out.  I had red potatoes and not Yukon Gold.  They'd work just fine.  No Cipollino onions so a large onion cut into chunks would have to work. So, the dish began.  First, you sauté the skin side of the chicken until it's golden brown.  We prefer thighs so that's what I used.  You remove the chicken to a plate and pour off all but two tablespoons of the fat.  Then, you add butter, onions, shallots, garlic and thyme.  Now, the recipe called for something I'd never done.  You separate but do not peel the garlic cloves.  Ok, I'd try it.  After everything gets a little browned, you add the potatoes and bacon.  Cover the pan and cook for ten minutes, stirring a few times.  Then, the chicken goes back in along with some chicken broth.  The whole shebang goes in the oven for 25 minutes.  You proceed to either putter in the kitchen and drool or sit in the living room reading the paper and drooling.  Yes, it smells that good.  And, it tastes as good as it smells!  When we post dishes for Weekend in a French Kitchen, we don't include the recipe.  But, you'll be able to tell a LOT from the photos!