Monday, January 13, 2014

Herbed creamed chicken and zucchini

From Richard Olney's Simple French Food. Very fast, very easy. Lacking fresh marjoram, try just about anything else -- dried tarragon worked for me.

And do heed his instructions about the fairly high heat for the zucchini. You want them to take on a nice little browning and stay firm, not just give off all their moisture and become soggy.

2-3 zucchini or yellow squash, or a mixture, sliced in julienne
1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in strips
fresh herbs to taste -- marjoram, thyme, tarragon, etc.
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream

Melt the first Tbsp butter over medium-high heat in a heavy pan. Add the zucchini and cook and stir for 6 minutes, until the vegetables are barely colored and still a little crisp. Sprinkle with herbs, stir briefly, and transfer to a bowl.

Melt another Tbsp butter in the pan. Salt and pepper the chicken strips, toss them into the pan all at once and cook and stir them briefly until they are done, taking care not to overcook them and make them tough. Three minutes or so a side will do.

When ready to serve, return the squash to the pan and toss everything gently. Pour in the cream, stir, and heat through. Serve with plain rice or a pilaf.

Your wine of choice? Something fresh, dry, and bracing would be nice, I think. What about a summertime rose, an Oregon pinot gris, or the white wine that, it seems to me, no one thinks about? -- an inexpensive white Bordeaux. If you have ever encountered a bottle at your local grocery store whose label says not only Bordeaux but Entre-deux-mers -- it's a large subsection of Bordeaux known for its everyday good white wines -- you are on the right track.

So long as we are cooking from an (American-) French cookbook and (possibly) drinking a French wine,  shall we go on a little virtual field trip, while the zucchini browns and the chicken and cream warm together? I like the world of French, or at least vaguely culturally-French-themed, blogs. One leads to another. They usually include pictures of blue skies, sunflowers, bright porcelain, billowing curtains on shady patios, green seas and gold beaches, and delicious flaky or juicy or buttery food. And Paris. And there are always pictures of chic French women looking bien dans sa peau, literally comfortable in their skin, i.e., calm, confident and pleased with themselves. It's a fine phrase (it's a fine idea) but not as good as the one I'm really dying to use: I want to be able to toss off, casually, the expression that some thingummy is "un autre chaudière de poisson," a different kettle of fish. I got it from a distinctly un-cook book by an English lady, called The Pageant of Georgian England.

Anyway, we wanted to go on a virtual field trip. Here is a sampling of French blogs, each one of which leads to another. Amusez-vous.

Garance Doré -- fashion and photography
Le Petit Cabinet de Curiosités -- interiors, antiques
A boire et à manger -- food and wine and the French outdoors
Paris Daily Photo -- just what it says, written by a native Parisian in English
Chez Loulou  --  an expatriate photographs, again, Paris

... and one side trip -- try Vixen Vintage. The girl is very young, lives in Washington, has well over five thousand followers, wears vintage clothes, and refuses to get sunburned. Very impressive.

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