Monthly Archives: December 2012

Confession: A Mushroom Story

True Story: I am terrible at cream sauces when there is no flour or binder involved.

This will be relevant later.

So, last night I tried my hand at this recipe: Dijon Chicken Linguine with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Toasted Almonds.

Looks tasty, right?

I have realized something about myself – if a recipe calls for, basically, throwing a sauteed chicken breast on top of (name a perfectly fine food), I would rather just omit the meat. I find boneless skinless chicken breasts to be the soulless jellyfish of the meat department, pale and insipid. Leave them off my Caesar salad, leave them off my fettucine alfredo.

Anyway.

I started by sauteeing the chicken and removing them to a plate. At that point an alarm bell went off – “How are they going to be flavorful and awesome if they’re sitting on this plate while the sauce parties in the pan?” (Answer: They pretty much won’t!)

Then I sauteed the mushrooms. The recipe says to add them raw at the end, but the picture appears to feature sauteed mushrooms, so I went for it. I added the wine and reduced.

I poured myself a glass, too. Wine doesn’t keep forever, you know.

I think my problem with cream sauces is that I’m impatient. I lower the heat but apparently don’t wait long enough for the sauce to chill out before adding the cream. APPARENTLY.

Long story short – my sauce broke. There was some cursing. I semi-salvaged it with some of the pasta cooking water.

I returned the chicken to the finished sauce and let it all hang out for a full 10 minutes, hoping that the flavors would penetrate the chicken.

No dice. The sauce was delicious, but the chicken seemed like an afterthought.

So this is the recipe I’m going to make next time:

Dijon Mushroom Linguine, by Windy

1 lb. Linguine
8 oz. mushrooms, your choice

3 TB olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

2 TB flour

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups half and half

3 TB Dijon mustard, preferably whole grain (but I’m not picky)

Salt & Pepper

Cook linguine according to package directions and drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Toast slivered almonds and set aside.

Heat 3 TB olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and garlic, saute until mushrooms are browned and have released their juices. Add 2 TB flour, stir until incorporated (no lumps). Add wine and stir until bubbly. Reduce heat, stir in half and half and mustard, and heat until thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss with linguine. Top individual servings with toasted almonds. If you’re feeling fancy, you can throw some chives on there.

Serves 4.

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The Windy Seal of Approval (bark, bark, bark)

The last time my women’s circle met, one of the ladies sidled up to me and said, “I’m beginning to understand that if there’s some kind of gathering and you make food, it’s going to be good.”

What a compliment!

I’ve been pin-testing quite a few recipes over the last week, so I thought I’d share some of the more successful ventures.

On Thursday I made this Addictive Brussels Sprout Salad, and OH MYYYYY did it live up to its name.

I didn’t have walnuts, so I substituted pecans with no problem. The nuts and cheese give it enough substance so that a big portion would make a nice light lunch. I served it with salmon for dinner.

On Saturday night I made this Pulled Pork Pizza from Tasty Kitchen, which was also a rousing success. Even the children loved it. EVEN THE CHILDREN.

Jason and I wondered if we should saute the onions before throwing them on the pizza, but they were just perfect. The squeeze of lime and the chopped cilantro really made this amazing. Plus, we used the whole package of cotija cheese (probably 1.5 cups) because CHEESE.

And last night I tried Braised White Beans with Leeks. Another hit!

I don’t really do celery – not because I have an objection, just because I refuse to buy a bunch of celery and only use 1 or 2 stalks. I did not have Herbes de Provence, so I used rosemary. And I substituted chicken broth for the vegetable broth, because MEAT.

Tonight I’m going to try my hand at Dijon Chicken Linguine. Wish me luck!

 

 

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WIWW: This is Ridiculous

The highs this week have been dangerously close to eighty degrees. Let’s just say I’ve been putting the “sweat” in “sweater.”

pleated poppy

This is distressing, because dressing for the season and dressing for the weather become almost mutually exclusive. I am somewhat old-school, in that I firmly believe 1) flip-flops should be put away after Halloween, and 2) leggings are not pants. But this week is breaking my resolve with respect to #1. My commitment to #2 shall NEVER BE BROKEN.

Thursday I had my short assistant take my picture. Bless his heart.

Khakis from Dockers, tank from loft, cardigan from J. Crew.

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Monday I went simple. NOT LIKE THAT. Clothes from Loft, necklace from Brooks Brothers. Everything on sale.

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Tuesday I once again kept things easy with a lace tee from Target and navy pants from Loft, and a flower pin made by a crazy Southern lady.

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And today marks four straight workdays in which I avoided nudity:

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Shirt from Loft, brown/gold tweed skirt from Target.

Have a lovely week!

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Galapagos

Apparently I’ve been busy. But here’s the next installment of our travel:

We left Quito and flew to Baltra Island, in the Galapagos. From there we were introduced to our primary mode of transportation in the islands: the Zodiac boat, or panga.

Dock

The Zodiacs shuttled us to and from the ship for all our daytime excursions, and we all became quite accomplished at entering and exiting the boats with a minimum of embarrassment.

Our ship, the Celebrity Xpedition, was outstanding. The food was good, the staff were super-helpful and very nice, and the ship itself was just perfect for the adventures we had. And unlike most cruises I’ve been on, everything (e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g) was included – every excursion, all the food, all the drinks, all the snorkeling gear. They even gave us a CD of pictures taken by the crew at the end of the trip. The only thing we paid for was wi-fi access, which we used sparingly because we were too busy.

Bright and early Monday morning, the adventures began. A typical day included a morning excursion, lunch on the ship, and an afternoon excursion, followed by an evening briefing on the next day’s activities and dinner. This was not a relax-refresh-recharge vacation! Instead, we saw some of the most incredible animals, plants, and scenery on Earth.

Galapagos 1

It was a completely fair trade.

Galapagos 2

I couldn’t pick my favorite excursion. I couldn’t pick my favorite animal (although the sea lions and fur seals are definitely in the top three). Every single day, every single activity, was a learning experience in the best sense of the word.  It was like being in a live-action Discovery Channel, but with free drinks.

I KNOW.

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(My mom, my brother, me, and Jason)

There were 90 passengers on the ship; only 14 continued on to Peru and Machu Picchu. I have to admit, as everyone else was getting on airplanes bound for the US, I got a little homesick. I’d never been away from Tyler for so long, and he managed to get sick right after I left, so I was worried about him.

My homesickness lasted until we pulled up at our hotel in Lima, Peru….. but that’s for the next installment.

 

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