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Fricasse'e de Poulet/Old Fashioned Chicken Fricasse'e

In the past fifteen years due to the presence of the internet and the fact that I've moved twice, I've pared my cookbook collection from over one hundred volumes to about fifteen.  Of those fifteen volumes, I actually ever use two.  One is a 1969 copy of The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook with its stained up quaint looking red gingham cover and collection of comfort foods whose ingredients call for modern day No No ingredients such as real butter and whole milk and sour cream and the criminal of all, heavy cream.  The other cookbook is The Cook's Encyclopedia of French Cooking by Carole Clements and Elizabeth Wolfe - Cohen.  In spite of it's hefty title, it's a slim volume of everyday French recipes using everyday fresh ingredients.  It's my cooking Bible.  From it, I've learned to understand the conceptual framework of what makes superior food...fresh ingredients, quality meats, quality herbs and spices, a process that becomes a lifelong blueprint. And, the simple premise that if one does that, the taste of those things sings to the palate.  One is satisfied and sated with smaller quantity of food, smaller portions suffice and the French eat everything yet stay thin.  Truly this works, this simple concept of less is more.  This recipe is from my French Bible.
Fricasse'e de Poulet/Old Fashioned Chicken Fricassee
Serves 4 - 6
2.5 - 3 lbs. chicken pieces
4 T butter (1/2 stick)
2 T vegetable oil
4T flour
1.5 C dry white wine
3 C chicken stock
bouquet garni or herbes de provence or use a mixture of fresh or dried tarragon, basil, oregano, bay leaf and marjoram
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 pkg button m
Mushrooms either white or my favorite Baby Bellas
1 large onion cut into wedges
1/2 C water
2 tsp sugar
1/2 C heavy cream
salt and pepper
Wash and dry chicken.  Melt half the butter with the oil in a large heavy flameproof casserole or cast iron pot over medium heat.  Add half the chicken pieces cook, turning once, 10 minutes until golden.  Transfer to plate.  Cook the rest of pieces.
Return chicken to pan.  Sprinkle with flour, turning pieces to coat.  Cook over low heat for about four minutes, turning occasionally.
Pour in the wine; add the chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Push chicken pieces to one side and scrape bottom of pan, stirring until well blended.
Bring the liquid to a boil, add herbs/spices and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer over medium heat for 25-30 minutes until the chicken is tender and juices run clear when thickest part of chicken is pierced with a knife. 
Meanwhile, in frying pan melt remaining butter over medium heat, add mushrooms and lemon juice and cook 3-4 minutes until mushrooms are golden. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl, add onions. water and sugar to pan, swirling to dissolve sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes until just tender.  Pour the onions and any cooking juices into the bowl with the mushrooms.
After chicken is cooked, remove it to a deep serving dish and cover with foil.  Add onions, mushrooms to chicken. Add any cooking juice from cooking the vegetables to the pan used to cook chicken.   Bring to a boil. and boil, stirring constantly until the sauce is reduced by half. 
Whisk cream into sauce and cook for two minutes   Add mushrooms and onions, cook 2 minutes more. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Cottage Pie/Shepherd's Pie

 A Shephherd's Pie is traditionally made with minced lamb.  It becomes a Cottage Pie when made with minced/ground beef.  Here in Florida, minced lamb is now running between $7.99 and $8.99 per pound and is always previously frozen.  Hence the Cottage Pie version.  When I make it, I add one or 2 Knorr Lamb Cubes.  I buy the lamb cubes when we are in the UK where they cost 1.50 pound sterling which today converts to $2.51 USD.  You can order them from Amazon BUT they  cost $7.49 PLUS $3.99 shipping.  Many Americans do not eat lamb so the Cottage Pie version is probably the winner here.  Here ishow I make mine:

 What I Used:

1.5 lbs ground beef

1 lamb  cube (substitute 3/4 cup beef broth or 3/4 cup water plus 1 beef cube)

3/4 Cup water

3 largish carrots peeled and sliced into thin coins

1 med. onion diced finely

2 cloves garlic finely diced

4-5 potatoes, peeled

1T worcestershire sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup catsup

1 big glug of whatever red wine you have hanging around (or's your choice)

1/2 C milk or cream

1/2 stick butter

salt and pepper

1beaten egg

1 1/2 C shredded cheddar  cheese

olive oil



Add a bit of olive oil to big fry pan

Cook carrots about ten minutes or until slightly limp

Add onion cook until translucent

Add garlic

Add minceed beef, cook until slightly browned

Drain grease

Add wine, catsup, beef stock, salt and pepper and worcestershire sauce.  Simmer until reduced by half.

Meanwhile, peel and  boil potatoes.  When soft, mash with butter, cream, salt and pepper.  Stir in the beaten egg.

Pour meat mixture into buttered/sprayed casserole dish.  Top with mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees30 -45 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.


Sunday Supper Refrigerator Clean Out

What I found:

4 frozen bone in, skin on chicken thighs

1 really  ripe tomato

1 pkg shredded carrots

1/2 bottle Trader Joe's white wine

1 large shallot

3 really big cloves of garlic

1 pkg Simply Potatoes shredded fresh potatoes

What I did:

Browned chicken on both sides in 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil

Removed chicken to plate, poured off all grease but about 3Ts

Sauteed shallot 3  mins.; added diced tomatoes, garlic and carrot, sauteed 5 mins

Added chicken back to pan, added the wine, salt, pepper, boquet garni (tarragon, parsley, savory) and bay leaf

Brought to a quick boil, turned to low, covered and simmered gently.

Added 1T oil, 1 T butter to large non-stick fry pan, added shredded potatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper

Cooked on medium high heat flattened like a pancake; browned on both sides.

Removed chicken, bay leaf and boquet garni.

Mixed 2 tsp cornstarch with water, thickened chicken sauce; added chicken back to pot and cooked ten minutes more.

Served over the  shredded potatoes.


Leek and Potato Soup


 It rained almost all day yesterday. It was darkish and sort of dreary. So, even though the temperature hovered around ninety degrees, it felt like a soup kind of day.  I had been to the Mexican vegetable stall the day before and could not resist buying 3 beautiful leeks.  I had one huge Russet potato and two shallots in the veggie bin and one getting stale Hoagie Roll taking up residence in the refrigerator.  It was a no brainer.

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup


3 leeks, split, cleaned and finely sliced (see video below)

1 huge or four medium potatoes cubed small

3 shallots diced

3 cloves garlic finely  minced

1 qt/4 cups chicken stock



celery salt

a kiss of dried tarragon

1 cup heavy cream

1 stick butter divided

home-made croutons

2 finely sliced scallions


Sautee shallots, leeks and garlic in half the butter in soup pot

add chicken stock and cubed potatoes

simmer for 45  mins or until potatoes are soft

There are several ways you can proceed at this point:

You can set a sieve over a bowl, strain  the broth into the bowl, transfer vegetable to another bowl and mash them with a potato masher (extra dirty dishes, extra work).

You can try mashing them right in the broth (lots of work, you can't really see what's going on in the broth)

You can transfer vegetables to a blender or food processor to puree (more to wash)

Or, you can be lazy like me  and just shove an immersion blender into the whole mess and zip, it's pureed.


Next add your cream and remaining butter, cook gently over low to medium heat until piping hot.

Meanwhile drizzle bread chunks with olive  oil and brown at 400 degrees.

Slice 2 scallions paper thin.

Top individual portions with croutons and scallions.

This recipe will serve 6 as a starter or 4 as a main course accompanied by a salad and rustic boule'.



What's Wrong With This Picture?

There is so much that I can write lately, but I don't. I feel somewhat overwhelmed. We have been living in this trailer since December. It's a very nice travel trailer. But that's what it is and it might be all of about 400 sq feet. We have a gorgeous home over on the other coast all staged and sitting empty just waiting for a buyer. We just about have a home here and seem to be in a holding pattern waiting for final closing document preparations. So we have a total of about seven thousand square feet of houses, but we're in 400 square feet of trailer. What's wrong with this picture?

Here's another wrong thing. Last week we went out and bought a new refrigerator. It's a 29 cubic foot Samsung stainless steel French door model.

We also got these

They are Samsung also and each have the steam cycle. They are very snazzy and the color is called Tango Red. Isn't Tango Red just the most fantastic name for a washer and dryer color?  Now, we own these already having plunked down almost 5K for the refrigerator, the washer and dryer and the pedestals. They're just sitting in a warehouse waiting for us the get they keys to the new house. I love love love these appliances. If I were into having sex with inanimate objects, there would be an orgy going on. But no...this morning we schlepped over to the laundromat and put our undies in washers and dryers that who knows what kind of other undies and unmentionables have had dumped into them. It cost us about eight dollars. But hey, that's a mere bagatelle compared to what we shelled out for the Tango Red pair. What's wrong with THIS picture?

To quote the dearly departed infommercial icon Billy Mays, "But wait, there's more!" My daughter and her sons ages 9 and almost 8 will soon be homeless and are coming to live with us in the house we do not have yet. I cannot even begin to discuss this one yet because it is so stressful and if I think much about it, I'm afraid I'll get the screaming meemies and never be able to stop.

Ohhhh and I almost forgot. We received the unpleasant news that we must pay the sellers $2000K in homeowners association arrearage for unpaid dues. The house is four years old and he hasn't paid dues for the last three years. We get to pay the dues plus the attorney fees or the house will not have a free and clear title. I really am beginning to hate this 38 year old idiot who paid 644K for a house and defaulted on 600K of it. What the hell was he thinking? And why the hell didn't he ever clean the oven in 4 years? The damn thing is self-cleaning.

So, how's your life these days?