Showing posts with label tarragon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tarragon. Show all posts

Friday, September 1, 2017

Gratin of Cod Irish Style

We got to our market very early this past week, and most of the fish hadn't been put into the case. But they had some very nice local, never-frozen cod, and this is Massachusetts, where the gilded Sacred Cod hangs in the House of Representatives chamber the State House in Boston, so that's what we went with.

So what's Irish about this? I have, at last inventory, at least eight handsomely illustrated Irish cookbooks. One of them is Darina Allen's A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School, published in 1997. In case you've never heard of Darina Allen, she has been called "the Julia Child of Ireland," and she's the owner and head chef of the above-named cooking school, which just happens to be in County Cork. I'm saving my pennies to take a class there. But as it happens, she was at the Skibbereen Farmers Market a few weeks ago, so of course I introduced myself. I managed not to gush. (Sorry, no photos--I didn't wish to appear too much of a groupie.)

The fact that she was there, at a market nearly two hours from her home base, on a summer Saturday, is a tribute to the market. (I believe she was buying cheese.)

I found this recipe in her book. Of course I tweaked a few things, but luckily I had the ingredients on hand, including Kerrygold Irish cheese, and this is delightfully quick and simple to make and lets the fish speak for itself. (BTW, My husband approved with the first bite.)

As ever, I cut this recipe in half for the two of us, although I kept the original amount of sauce because, well, I like sauce. I also added the tarragon to the recipe, because I thought the tart taste would go well with the Dijon mustard, and I happened to have a bunch of fresh tarragon on hand.

And if anyone can explain to me how you divide a large fish fillet into similar-sized pieces that will cook evenly, I will be eternally grateful. At least in this recipe the sauce kind of insulates the fish pieces, so none were overcooked.

Gratin of Cod

Ingredients: (Note: original amounts given)

6 pieces of cod fillet (total 36 oz, 

   cut into 6 pieces)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups grated aged Irish Cheddar cheese
1 Tblsp Dijon mustard
4 Tblsp heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold all the fish pieces in one layer.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Arrange the pieces in the dish in a single layer.

Grate the cheese. Mix it with the mustard and cream and tarragon and spread over the fish on both sides. (It can be prepared to this point and refrigerated.)

Ingredients, mixed

Ready for the oven
Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. The top should be golden and bubbly.

Thank you, Darina--it was delicious. We'll be making it again. (And hope to see you again soon!)

Right now I'm between books: Cruel Winter (County Cork #5) was published last March (the sixth book in the series, Many a Twist, will appear in January 2018), and A Late Frost (Orchard Mystery #11) will come out in November. Which does not mean I am slacking off! I'll be launching the new Victorian Village series in June 2018, and I'm already writing the second in that series (no cover yet). I'll try to keep you up to date!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Chicken Julia - #recipe @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: A few years ago, Mr. Right and I spent a month in my France for my mumbledy-mumbledy birthday. For me, it was a dream come true. For him, it started out as something he agreed to because it was my dream—and ended up as possibly his favorite trip ever, for a man who’s traveled much of the world.

It was the people (seriously!), the art, the history, the landscape, and the food. The food, the food, the food. When we returned home, we set about transforming ourselves from decent home cooks to good ones. That Christmas, he bought me an armful of Julia Child cookbooks and videos, while I bought him a raft of kitchen accessories.

One of our go-to recipes we simply call “Chicken Julia,” based on a recipe in Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking. The sauce is incredibly simple, and so rich and flavorful--the perfect illustration of the importance of a simple technique like deglazing the pan and using the juices as the base for the sauce.

I'm honestly not sure I'd ever used fresh tarragon before we first made this recipe; now, I keep a pot growing on the back porch during good weather and do my best to nurture it inside through the Montana winter. In fact, I've kept the current pot going over two seasons--last fall, it had gotten quite leggy so I cut it back and dried the leaves, then forgot it in the laundry room. A couple of weeks later, I discovered that it had sent up new green shoots. Looks like it will keep going this year, too, making my 99 cent annual quite the bargain. (That's it in the terra cotta pot.)

Even if you can't grow your own tarragon, do try to find some fresh stuff at least once when you make this recipe. I can pretty much guarantee it will become a staple in your house, too!

Chicken Julia

2 boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup dry white wine or French vermouth
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon

Place the chicken breasts in plastic wrap and flatten with a mallet or the flat of a large chef’s knife to about ½ inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a large saute pan, add the oil, and heat. Saute the chicken breasts, about one minute a side, until thy are springy to the touch; be sure they are done but not overcooked—Julia says the juices should run clear or yellow with no pink. Remove the chicken; the sauce won’t take long to cook, but keeping them in a warm oven is a nice touch.

Deglaze the pan with the wine or vermouth. Add the shallots, stock, and vermouth, and cook two to three minutes, stirring, to make a sauce. Plate the chicken and divide the sauce, pouring it over the chicken.

Serves two. Bon appetit!  

From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 8, 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pork Tenderloin with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce

A few years ago my daughter introduced me to pulled pork, which quickly became a staple in our household. And we’ve always eaten pork chops, with or without bones. But somehow I missed the tenderloin phenomenon (despite a wealth of delicious recipes presented here on MLK)—which is kind of like the pork chop with all the outsides removed. It’s small, so it cooks quickly, and it’s a good size for two people.

I went hunting for recipes (I do that a lot), and as usual didn’t find one that was quite right. So I improvised—again. (My husband hates that. If he likes a dish, he wants a recipe, and he’s not happy when I tell him I made it up.) I did need a bit of guidance on timing, because overcooked pork tastes and chews kind of like an eraser. Don’t worry—you can cook pork to just past pink without worrying about trichinosis or whatever. If you’re worried, used a meat thermometer (but ignore the old cookbooks that tell you to cook it to 165 degrees, because by then it’s too late. The USDA recommends 145 degrees these days.)

Pork Tenderloin with Tarragon-Mustard Sauce
Ingredients: The Pork

one 1-1/2 pound pork tenderloin

1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup whole-grain mustard (brands differ—some are coarser than others, so use your favorite)
2 Tblsp olive oil

Dry the pork tenderloin and season with salt and pepper. Whisk together the mustard and olive oil. Using your hands (latex gloves in the kitchen are wonderful!) rub the mixture all over the pork. Let it sit until the pork reaches room temperature, about half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the pork on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Place it in the oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes (if you have a thermometer, test the internal temperature). Remove it from the oven, set it aside, and cover it loosely with aluminum foil.

Ingredients: The Sauce

4 Tblsp unsalted butter
3 Tblsp minced shallot
1/2 cup chicken broth
2-3 Tblsp Dijon mustard
1 cup heavy cream
2-3 Tblsp chopped fresh tarragon
   (or use dried if you can’t find fresh,
   but reduce the amount)

In a saute pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook slowly until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Whisk in the mustard and the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tarragon and taste for seasoning, adding salt and/or pepper as needed. 

To serve, slice the pork tenderloin into pieces (you can choose how thick you want it), place on a warm plate, and spoon the sauce over it. (Don’t feel guilty about all that heavy cream—the pork itself has very little fat.)

I'm between books right now. I'm working on four series (and one from each should appear in 2018), including one that's entirely new. I'm plotting/researching/writing all of them at once (it's sooo easy to get sidetracked on Google!), but you've all seen the only cover I have for any of them at the moment (A Late Frost, Orchard Mystery #11, coming November 2017).

So I'll give you a treat that I discovered while hunting for something else entirely. This is an image from a trade journal from 1889: it's my great-great-grandfather Silas A. Barton. (I have only one photograph of him, but I recognized him immediately when I opened the page.)

But there's more! My research on municipal electrification (for a coming book) revealed the interesting fact that the company for which Silas was treasurer and manager founded the gas and electric company in my current home town--and I've been writing checks to great-great-grandpa's company ever since I moved here. Small world, isn't it?

Have you readers found happy surprises when you weren't even looking? Writers, has a chance discovery changed the course of one of your books?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tarragon Chicken

by Sheila Connolly

This is one of my favorite quick and simple dishes that looks fancier than it is.  It is derived from a recipe by my idol, Julia Child, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking (did I mention I have three copies?  One is falling apart, but the others are too clean to use—go figure).  For years it was my go-to company meal, because it didn't require too much attention, so I could socialize with my friends instead of worrying about cooking.

Before I jump in, a word about chickens.  Recently I watched an old (black and white!) episode of Julia Child on my local PBS station WGBH, where the show originated.  Julia reduced a whole chicken to pieces, and declared that it would serve eight.  My, how times have changed!  Does your market offer only monster chickens?  Or chicken breasts that weight well over a pound each, even minus the wings?  You will notice that here I cook only two breasts, which is more than enough meat to feed three of us, with some left over for the cats and for a nice chicken salad sandwich the next day.

For this recipe Julia specified a 3-pound bird.  Around here that's a large Cornish Game Hen (which is really a small chicken, folks).  It doesn't matter for this recipe—use whatever you have, as long as  it all fits in your covered casserole dish. Dark meat, white meat, or a mix—all fine.


1 chicken, cut into serving pieces
2 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp cooking oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh or dried tarragon

Pat dry your chicken pieces and sprinkle all sides with salt, pepper, and tarragon (use lots!).  Melt the butter and oil together in your casserole and sauté the chicken pieces until they are lightly browned.  Remove and set aside.

1 large onion, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced (you will notice the ones here are not orange—I happened to have some pretty ones on hand, so I used yellow and red ones)
Salt and pepper
Fresh or dried tarragon

Add another tablespoon or two of butter (if needed) to the pan and sauté the sliced onion and carrots slowly without browning (about five minutes).  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and tarragon.

Return the chicken pieces to the casserole and cover.  Cook over low heat (if you cook it too fast it toughens) until the chicken is cooked through. (I usually just poke the breast pieces.  If they have stopped jiggling and stiffened, they're cooked but still juicy.) This should take no more than half an hour, although the timing will depend on how many pieces of chicken you have in your casserole.  You could also put the whole thing in a preheated 325 degree oven for the same amount of time.)

When the chicken is cooked, take the chicken pieces out of the pan and set aside, keeping them warm.  Add a cup of chicken stock to the vegetables in the pan and scrape up the tasty stuff on the bottom.  If you want to thicken the sauce, take 2 Tablespoons of dry sherry and mix in one Tablespoon of cornstarch, and dribble it into the sauce, stirring steadily, until you reach the consistency you want. 

Add some more tarragon and a tablespoon of butter, stir one last time, and there you are!  Serve with white rice.

Bon appetit!