Normandy is a region known for several things: cows and amazing farm-fresh butter and cream, beautiful cliff-lined coasts, the D-day beaches, Camembert, Livarot, Neufchâtel and Pont l’Evêque cheese, and of course, all things apple: Calvados (an apple Brandy made in the sub-region of the same name), hard cider and Pommeau (an apple liqueur), to name a few. Imagine a recipe that combines several of these gems into one succulent dish and you’ve got the Poulet Vallée d’Auge, which just means chicken from Vallée d’Auge, a small sub-region in Lower Normandy. It’s just as rich as you might expect, but the tart and sweet apples cut right through all of that richness, bringing balance and amazing sweet and savory notes.
This was my absolute favorite thing to sneak bites of when I worked at the catering company. It was also one of the few dishes that I was fully in charge of making, from start to finish. The soba noodles had to be cooked, bell peppers blanched, vegetables julienned just-so… I remember making vats of vinaigrette, chopping heads and heads of iceberg lettuce, being extremely concentrated while slicing my blanched peppers and constantly worrying about ripping my hands open with the ultra-sharp mandolin. And yet the first time I recreated this salad at home it was pure, nostalgic pleasure. It brought back both good and bad memories (17 hour work days!), but mostly it was delicious and just as good as I remembered. Plus, when you’re only making enough for two people, it comes together really quickly! Continue reading
I wasn’t sure how excited I was about the end of summer. Transitions from dresses and sandals to tights and boots, from fresh salads to soups, from endless days to waking up in the dark and coming home to the dark. Then I went grocery shopping and picked up the season’s first Brussel’s sprouts and sunchokes. Then I got the latest Bon Appétit and bookmarked about five fall recipes that I knew I had to try. And this caramel chicken was the first on my list! Continue reading
Getting Jé to eat any other part of a chicken but the breast is always a difficult task. A couple of weeks ago (just after my second week of school, actually) I was grocery shopping alone and saw some very cheap chicken thighs at the store. Even though I knew I’d get a less than enthusiastic response from him about my purchase, I carried on and knew exactly what I wanted to make. My Mom had emailed me a recipe for braised chicken thighs in a creamy paprika sauce a few days before and it caught my eye. That week in school, we’d learned how to do the “poulet cocotte grand-mère,” which was an exercise in making home-made stock from the natural juices and transforming into an out of this world sauce base. So, I took the general idea of the recipe and melded it with what I’d learned days before and this dish was born. Continue reading
After a trip to Germany and Alsace a couple of years ago, I was hooked on many things food. Sausage, giant pints of beer, strudels and onion soup, and all kinds of baked dishes involving lots of heavy cream and spaetzle. One of my all-time favorite things, however, was so incredibly simply and yet powerfully satisfying. Schnitzel. Which actually just means cutlet. I guess the weiner schnitzel that is most commonly found is veal, unless otherwise specified (this is what they told me in Alsace, anyway!). I’m not a big fan of veal, but I do love chicken. A chicken schnitzel was definitely in order. It took me a couple of years, but I finally got around to making it and I wasn’t disappointed.
Yes, I’m still obsessed with peanuts. After chicken satay and peanut butter oatmeal sandwich cookies, my most recent use for my favorite “condiment” was an Asian-inspired dish that came together in no time. I don’t have a wok, but if you do, I bet this will be even better. You could obviously sub in whatever fresh veggies you have on hand, but I think shaved carrots and broccoli went especially well with the salty, nutty sauce. If you can’t find Asian fish sauce, you could use soy sauce with no worries. Have fun with this one! Continue reading
Nothing says summer like a hot, smoky grill. The ritual of lighting the charcoal, waiting patiently for it to be just hot enough while sipping on a light and breezy cocktail, whipping up a quick side dish and sitting outside in your bare feet. And of course, the marinating. Everything, and I mean everything, that you will ever make on a grill will be 20 times better with a good marinade. Although I am a steak purist (no A1, no sauce, only a bit of sea salt and maybe some fresh rosemary), letting that piece of red meat absorb a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper is an essential part of it becoming flavorful and tender. Ground beef should also get fancified before being cook on the barby: I tend to mix it with soy sauce and horseradish at least, making for moist and delicious burgers.
While I prefer my red meat simple, letting the intense flavors shine through, my chicken must be bombarded with spices and herbs and citrus if I am to enjoy it. There are just so many possibilities! I think the very first grilled chicken I made when winter finally turned to spring last year, our first time ever as homeowners, a new BBQ and a green backyard, was a take on teriyaki. I remember randomly mixing up honey, soy sauce, sugar and a bit of cayenne pepper, slathering it on my chicken and placing it in the fridge, hoping for the best. What resulted was the beginning of my love affair with marinades. I was incredibly proud of the sweet and spicy, tender and moist chicken that I’d just thrown together, and vowed to never not marinate my chicken again! Continue reading