Tender chicken with ‘sauce chasseur’

I am very excited, and honored, to be doing this guest post for Karen. Her work is so worthwhile. I am a French mom living in LA,  writing my FrenchFoodieBaby blog about my journey in educating my son’s taste buds and teaching him to be a healthy eater.

Here is one of Pablo’s favorite recipes when he was 12 months old. Adults can eat this dish too – it’s that tasty!

Tender Chicken with Sauce “Chasseur”

 

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 + 10 minutes

Serving to babies: 12 months and up in small quantities, pureed as appropriate. For babies who are already chewing, the mushrooms make a good finger food.

 Note that you can use the sauce with any poultry dish; for toddlers, you could also serve it with a morsels of chicken, or a even a whole roasted chicken.

 

4 pieces of skinless chicken (either breast or thigh)

1 lb mushrooms, washed and sliced

6 tbsp of butter

4 shallots, peeled and minced

2 heaping tbsp flour

1/2 cup white wine (or white grape juice, or juice from canned mushrooms, if you want to go alcohol-free)

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 tbsp of tomato concentrate

1 bouquet garni (in a piece of hollow celery rib, put some thyme, parsley, sage, 1 or 2 bay leaves, cover with another piece of celery rib and tie with kitchen tie.)

Salt & pepper

5-6 sprigs of fresh chervil (if you can find it, I’ve had a hard time finding it in LA), stem removed, minced

5-6 sprigs of fresh tarragon, stem removed, minced

 

Cut the chicken in strips and set aside.

 

For the sauce:

In a saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the mushrooms. Add in the shallots, and cook for a few minutes.

Sprinkle flour, stir and let it get a bit of color.

Stir in the wine and broth. Add the tomato concentrate, bouquet garni, salt & pepper.

Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer over medium low for about 15 minutes.

 

At this point, you can keep warm, covered, on very low heat, while you cook the chicken.

 

In a frying pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the chicken strips until cooked. Salt & pepper to taste.

 

Before serving the sauce, remove the bouquet garni, and incorporate the minced chervil and tarragon.

 

Pour sauce over the meat and serve immediately!

Easter in France: ‘Lamb cakes’, edible bird’s nests, and Easter pâté

Easter is France’s second biggest family holiday after Christmas (the French don’t have the equivalent of Thanksgiving, instead celebrating le Toussaint (All Saints Day) at the end of October).  Easter is much anticipated because schoolchildren have two weeks of holiday at this time of year (often spent with their grandparents, another French tradition). Everyone gathers on Easter weekend for the highlight: the family meal.

So, what’s being served? Champagne and ‘amuse-bouches’ are often eaten first at the aperitif, while everyone gathers before sitting down at the table.

As it’s springtime, asparagus is often served as a first course, perhaps with fresh chives. As eggs are often a theme, the usual vinaigrette might be thickened with just a bit of hard-boiled egg yolk–a subtle may to make the normally light dressing a little richer.

A special Easter pâté might also be served; the traditional recipe is a square loaf of pâté baked with eggs inside, wrapped in puff pastry–which has a fun look when sliced.

Lamb is typically served as the main course (another traditional dish is chevreau (baby goat), with broad beans as the traditional side dish.

Salad and cheese are the third course. Typically, at a festive meal, there will be at least four cheeses to choose from: a blue cheese (like St Augur or Roquefort), a goat’s cheese (often with an ash-ripened covering), a semi-firm, drier cow’s milk cheese (like tomme, the classic from the French alps), and a softer, richer option (Camembert or Brie).

Dessert is varied, but there is often a pound cake rich in eggs. The French also often make an edible ‘Easter nest’, which is simultaneously a decoration and dessert–shaped in puff pastry in the form of a nest, and stuffed with edible chocolate eggs. A hit with the kids, it goes without saying.

Each region will have its specialties too: the ‘lamala‘ (baby lamb) cake from Alsace, made in a special pottery cake mold only used at this time of year (it’s designed to stand up and look like a lamb, which it actually sort of does), or the ‘fouace’ bread (a sweet brioche somewhat like challah) from the south-west of France.

Eating a meal like this usually takes a few hours; the French eat slowly, pausing between courses, telling stories, enjoying one another’s company. It took me a while to get used to when I first met my husband, but now I enjoy these long, leisurely meals at the table. By eating small portions, and eating slowly, the French enjoy each of the tastes on offer without feeling (or being) stuffed. The art of slow food, something I had to learn (but am glad I did).

Happy Easter/Passover, and Bon Appétit!

Music in the Kitchen: The slow/happy mix

How to turn the kitchen into a happy place? One of the ideas we tried while living in France was to play music–originally a collection of songs I called our “Slow/Happy Mix”. As I explained in French Kids Eat Everything, it worked wonders!

Many readers have written in asking about some of the songs we play. They keep changing, but here are a few favourites we keep coming back to, again and again. Enjoy! :)

 

Contemporary – a bit jazzy

Je veux – Zaz

Belle demoiselle – Christophe Mae

Tout va de travers – Juliette Katz

Tout le monde – Juliette Katz

 

Contemporary 

These songs are mostly in the classic parlé-chanté (speaking-singing) style. The singer’s voice has a small melodic range, and the lyrics are clever and full of emotion — sometimes intense, sometimes playful. 

La liste – Rose

Quelqu’un m’a dit – Carla Bruni

T’es beau – Pauline Cross

Partons vite – Kaolin

La maigrelette – Amelie les Crayons

Je suis pas d’ici – Thomas Dutronc

La foule – Martha Wainwright (OK, she’s Canadian, not French – but I love this song! ;) )

Sympathique – Pink Martini

Ça ira – Joyce Jonathan

Duet Tacet – La Patère Rose

 

Classics

Your grandparents might have listened to these, but they have stood the test of time!

La Mer – Charles Trénet

C’est Si Bon – Yves Montand

La vie en rose – Edith Piaf

La bohème – Charles Aznavour

Champs Elysées – Joe Dassin

 

Enjoy! :)

Sneak preview from my new book: Party Pasta!

I’m so excited to post this recipe – the first ‘sneak preview’ recipe from my new book (Getting to Yum), which will be out on May 6th! My ‘test families’ have been working hard: tasting, testing, suggesting improvements. They LOVED this recipe, and I hope you do too. I’d love your comments–from you and especially your kids!

The recipes are designed to be simple, fast and easy to make–but to have a ‘twist’, introducing your family to new tastes, as a means of expanding their palates. This recipe combines the perennial favorite–pasta–with something unusual: anchovies.

Now, don’t be alarmed. Some of my test families were a bit hesitant, but they all loved this recipe! Trust me, this is a flavor combination worth trying! The anchovies add a salty flavor that really livens up the broccoli, balanced by the fresh taste of lemon. Plus anchovies, like other small cold-water fish, are incredibly nutritious.

I often serve this at informal dinner parties (hence the name); it’s delicious enough for adults, but easy enough for kids (particularly those who are still learning to like their greens – they can focus on the pasta while nibbling the occasional bit of greenery or fish).

Anchovies are considered relatively safe to eat by the US government, because they are lower down the food chain, so don’t concentrate toxins to the same extent as other fish (like mercury—which is found in other types of fish that children and pregnant women should avoid).

Equipment: 1 medium cooking pot, 1 large cooking pot

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 2 adults and 2 children

 

2 cups broccoli florets (about ½ of a head of broccoli), cut into bite-size pieces

About 5 anchovies (double if you really like anchovies) – Note: Anchovies are preserved in brine, and then canned with oil (my preference) or salt (too salty for my taste). If you do use those packed in salt, rinse them well first. 

3 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 tbsp)

¼ cup breadcrumbs

¼ cup grated parmesan (fresh is best! But I often used the pre-grated kind)

Pasta for 4 (I like penne or farfalle best with this recipe) – about 8 ounces

Optional: garlic, 1 tsp pepperoncini (spicy red pepper flakes – for the more adventurous eaters in the family!)

Timesaving tip: Set two pots of water on the stove to boil. While these are heating up, chop the broccoli into small florets. By this time, the water should be boiling: add the broccoli to one and the pasta to the other, and reduce heat to simmer. Set your timer or check your watch for the pasta!

Heat oil in a frying pan (optional: at this stage, add garlic and fry until lightly golden, then remove garlic and set aside). Add anchovies, and a ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook on high heat for 3 minutes, until anchovies are so soft that they melt. Reduce to very low heat and cook until liquid has reduced into a sauce (about 3 more minutes).

Drain pasta when ready, then toss pasta with anchovy sauce. Drain broccoli, and add lemon juice, toss lightly, then add to the pasta. Serve topped with parmesan and breadcrumbs (adding optional pepperoncini if desired).  

Bon Appétit! And please DO let me know what you think. Your comments might even make it into the cookbook! ;)

Note: if making this in advance, do not toss the lemon juice with the broccoli (because anything acidic will make the broccoli turn brown). Keep the broccoli and lemon juice separate; toss together and then add to pasta just before serving.

 

Win free copies of Getting to Yum & French Kids Eat Everything!

Getting to Yum French Kids Eat Everything On Sale

I’m very excited to be announcing three FREE BOOK giveaways!!!

1. Facebook Sweepstakes: Ten lucky winners will receive a copy of my new book (Getting to Yum) PLUS a copy of French Kids Eat Everything. Hurry — contest closes soon! (Open to US residents only)

2. GoodReads Book Giveaway: Win 1 of 25 copies of French Kids Eat Everything!! (Canadian and US residents only)

3. And another GoodReads Book Giveaway: Win 1 of 25 copies of my new book, Getting to Yum!! (Canadian and US residents only)

(Apologies to fans in other parts of the world!)