Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Do you ever notice how much television shows can inspire our food cravings? If I watch Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives I will crave burgers, and pizza, and well...greasy delights. I want to cook simple Italian in a bubbly, boistering manner when I watch Giada. I completely avoid Paula Dean all together now because nothing good comes from 8 sticks of butter that I want to dose my dishes with for dinner. Well, maybe good, rich flavor, but I am thinking long-term heart attacks here people. Guess it goes to show that we truly are products of our environment, inspired by all that surrounds us.

It's not just food network that seems to seep into my daily menu agendas however. Movies have just as much influence, and who can resist watching "Julie and Julia" over and over until our heartburn kicks in? Meryl Streep it utterly brilliant in this film, and I melt everytime she speaks of food.

So what dish will I share with you today? Why, Coq au Vin of course! Journey with me to Paris, as I take an adapted Julia recipe alongside her advice, and create a wonderful, Parisian, and decadent dish to satisfy even the hungriest American.

Coq au Vin


~1/2 lb bacon slices
~20 pearl onions, peeled
~3 lbs chicken thighs and legs, excess fat trimmed, skin ON
~6 garlic cloves, peeled
~Salt and pepper to taste
~2 cups chicken stock (swanson is gluten free,check labels!)
~2 cups red wine (pinot noir or burgundy)
~2 bay leaves
~Several fresh thyme sprigs
~Several fresh parsley sprigs
~1/2 lb button mushrooms,roughly chopped
~2 Tbsp butter
~Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Blanch the bacon to remove a bit of saltiness. This is an important step because if looked over, you will have a very salty dish. A wonderful tipbit tip from Julia Child. Just drop the bacon into a saucepan of cold water, covered by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, and drain. Rinse in cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Cut the bacon into 1 inch by 1/4 inch pieces.

Brown the bacon on medium high heat in a dutch oven or a deep pan big enough to hold the chicken for about 10 minutes.

Remove the cooked bacon, set aside. Keep the bacon fat in the pan. Working in batches if necessary, add onions (to easily remove peels, boil onions for 5 minutes and they shed their outer layer in no time flat) and chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken well, on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. Halfway through the browning, add the garlic and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. (Note: it is best to add salt while cooking, not just at the very end. It brings out the flavor of the chicken.)

Spoon off any excess fat. Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs. I used Pinot Noir, although most recipes emphasize Burgundy. Why you may ask? I have recently developed an affinity for Pinots and I think you should cook with wine you enjoy drinking alongside your pots, pans, and preparations.

Add your bacon back into the pot. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove chicken and onions to a separate platter. Remove the bay leaves, herb sprigs, garlic, and discard.

Add your mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to high. Boil quickly and reduce the liquid by three fourths until it becomes thick and saucy. Then, lower the heat, and stir in the butter. Return the chicken and onions to the pan to reheat and coat with sauce. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with parsley, because it just makes it look so darn pretty, and serve.

This could easily feed six people. Or, you can enjoy it leftover the next day which I think almost tasted better! I served mine over gluten free noodles, but potatoes would be quite delightful as well.

In a nod to Mrs. Julia Child,

**Adapted from Julia Child, and Simply Recipes

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Pressing Matter

Lunch time can roll around with resounding doldrums at times, especially if you bring it with you or eat at home. I personally prefer to indluge at home, in the comfort of my own kitchen, where I know EXACTLY what I am eating. Going out to lunch weighes heavily on both my wallet and waist, so I try to keep it at a minimum.
That said, what do we usually reach for at home when making lunch? Turkey and cheese, pb&j, maybe the leftovers? Not here. I like to eat just like I would if I were ordering at a deli, but without the added calories and cash. Most of us make dinner the only meal we put effort and attention into to, and leave lunch to the hair netted business cafeteria ladies or the butter smothered special of the day somewhere close to work. So, why then would you trek home for lunch when you have a delicious meal at the cafe on the corner? Because you can make it at home, and better!

Impress with your Panini Press.

If you do not have one of these little wonders, I highly suggest you put that cash you would have spent at lunch away and purchase one soon. The possibilites are endless and enjoyable. I have been experimenting with different combinations over the last couple months and have some favorites for any thirsting palette.

My experimentation also included testing which gluten free bread held up best in the press. Frozen white or brown rice breads, tapioca breads, Udi's few options, and a couple other brands I have recently come across at Whole Foods. Although I love the taste of the frozen brown rice, fruit juice sweetened bread for toast, Udi's whole grain or sandwich bread held up best under the press pressure.

Here are some of my favorite panini possibilities that I came up with recently! Just pile high on the bread and press away. You can brush EVOO or butter on the outsides of the bread to get that panini grill tattoo that is sure to impress your significant other.

Sicily Panini
Fresh Basil
Roasted Red Peppers
Salt and pepper
**I put fresh rosemary sprigs on outside of bread and pressed them in!

Loaded Grilled Cheese
Dill Weed (pressed into outside of bread)
Sliced Tomatoes
Dijon Mustard

Pesto Chicken Panini
Pesto (spread evenly on both slices)
Chopped Chicken
Carmelized Onion

Twisted Turkey Panini
Smoked Turkey
Thinly Sliced Green Apple

Tuna Teaser
Canned tuna, drained
Chopped Artichokes
Black Olive Pesto
Squeeze of a Lemon

Savory Salmon Panini
Smoked Salmon, flaked
Dijon Mustard
Cream Cheese
Thinly Sliced Red Onion
Chopped Capers
Baby Spinach

Tom the Turkey Panini
(my basic deli delicasy)
Honey Roasted Turkey
Sliced Tomato
Yellow Mustard
Salt and pepper

I have many more, so please ask if you want some more lunch time panini ideas, and PLEASE SHARE YOURS!