Can’t Go Wrong with Chicken & Tarragon April 16, 2010

Filed under: Meals — sotsil @ 6:25 pm
Tags: ,

Ever tasted chicken with tarragon, cream and wine and blended with shallots?  This recipe is a keeper.  The taste was heavenly and I liked the fact that dried tarragon and canned mushrooms can be used.

chicken tarragon

This is a dish that can be your main meal and served with either rice, soft rolls or mashed potatoes.  You can pick up the sauce right off the plate with your roll or spoon it over your mashed potatoes.


I got this recipe from Canadian House and Home (H&H) Magazine (

Food editor Claire Tansey was kind enough to share it.  She says it’s one dish that magazine readers “can’t get enough of.”  Her recipe did not have mushrooms, but I added them anyway.

Creamy Tarragon Chicken



* 2 tbsp olive oil

* 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken supremes (mine were chicken breasts which I sliced into bite-size pieces so they would cook sooner.  I imagine chicken bones would enhance the flavor of this dish).

* 3 large shallots, sliced

* salt and pepper, to taste

* 1 small clove garlic, minced (I used 3-4 cloves – can’t stay away from fresh garlic!)

*  1/2 cup dry white wine

* 1 cup chicken broth

*1/2 cup 35% cream

*  1 tsp Dijon mustard (I used American mustard)

* 1 tbsp butter at room temperature

*  1 tbsp all-purpose flour

*  1 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon




1.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Heat oil in a large, wide skillet over medium high heat.  Pat chicken dry with paper towel; season with salt and pepper.  Add chicken to skillet skin-side down and cook 3-5 minutes, or until deep golden.  Flip and cook another 2 minutes.  Transfer to large baking pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.  (Note:  if you’re slicing your chicken into pieces, reduce cooking and baking time).


2.  To make tarragon sauce: add shallots and garlic to skillet, reduce heat to medium and cook 4 minutes, or until shallots have softened.  Add wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half.  Add chicken broth, bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes.  Strain, reserving liquids and discarding solids.  Return liquids to skillet or a small pot, bring to boil and whisk in cream and Dijon.


3.  Mash butter and flour together in a small bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of hot chicken broth mixture and stir until combined (it will be very thick).  Add entire mixture back to hot chicken broth and stir until combined.


4.  Add chopped tarragon and season with more salt and pepper.  Spoon sauce over chicken to serve.  Serve with additional mustard, if desired.


Serves 6 people. 


Claire Tansey presented uncut chicken pieces and they looked appetizing, although I could tell from the picture that the sauce was almost gone.  My chicken pieces were chopped and I made sure there was a lot of sauce over the chicken (as in the picture above).  I figured, it would be nice to “mop off” the sauce with a soft texture well-baked roll (similar to Parker House rolls).  This sauce would also be a nice topping over mashed potatoes, with shallots and mushrooms dripping on the side.


Tarragon Trivia

Tarragon is also called dragon’s wort.  There are 2 kinds of tarragon used in cooking:  French and Russian.  The French variety is stronger in taste and is one of the 4 fine herbs used commonly in French cuisine:  complements fish, chicken, egg and lasagna dishes.  It is used also to make desserts – like Slovenia’s potica, a kind of nut bread with walnuts, eggs, cinnamon, lemon.




Pasta Bowties with Capers and Sun-Dried Tomatoes April 9, 2010

Two years ago I went home to visit my father who was ill with colon cancer (he has since passed away).  I was hesitant to stay with him and my stepmother because I did not want to invade their privacy, but my father insisted that I stay at his house. I’m glad he insisted because I had some of the best homemade meals cooked by my stepmother.


I loved everything she cooked, just the way I loved everything my own mother cooked.  When I left, my notebook must have been filled with a dozen recipes, including how to pickle green mangoes.  Did you know that raw mangoes soaked in vinegar, sugar and spices make great appetizers?


There was one dish that I liked especially – elbow pasta which she mixed in with capers, sun-dried tomatoes and basil.  You can make this dish with any kind of pasta.  The first time I made it I used penne, and other times I used macaroni or fusilli.  Last week when I made it again, I tried bowties.


My stepmother told me that she hardly makes pasta because my father wasn’t particularly fond of it.  So when I visited she said it would give her a good excuse to stop catering to the whims of my father. I remember those days when we’d beg my mother for spaghetti.  She always hesitated but gave in anyway, because she herself was craving it.  When the spaghetti was served, my father flinched, not making an effort to conceal his frown. I asked him why he had such a reaction to spaghetti.  I still couldn’t get over what he said.  "They look like a pile of worms."  Then he gave me that look as if to say, "why do you ask a question the answer of which is so obvious"?


Oh golly, what a way to spoil one’s appetite.  Dad was such a party-pooper sometimes.  His food preferences were the law.  He adored Chinese food (the best food in the world, he’d say).  When we’d go to a French restaurant back home, he’d say, "you go and enjoy yourselves.  Me?  I’d rather eat at home."


For all of my dad’s quirky tastes in food, I loved him dearly.  Fact is, I miss eating at his table.  And he could be right – Chinese food is hard to beat.  But once in awhile, Italian food is just as tempting!


My step mother’s recipe for pasta with capers and sun-dried tomatoes:

Half a box of elbow macaroni (or any kind of pasta you want – for this recipe I used bowties)

1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (preferably the ones bottled in oil), cut into thin strips

1/2 cup of capers

salt and pepper

2 tbsp of basil pesto

a dash of extra virgin olive oil and raspberry vinegar

a dash of oregano


Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Run cold water over it and set it aside to completely drain.  Put drained pasta into large bowl and sprinkle oil and vinegar over it.  Add remaining ingredients.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Keep tasting as you’re mixing, until you’re satisfied that the taste "bites".  Refrigerate for a couple of hours so the ingredients have time to blend.  Serve with a green salad and garlic bread.


Maybe a chilled glass of sangria with that?


pasta bow ties with capers


Love Spinach? How about this So-Simple Spinach Recipe? Budget Meal # 8 April 5, 2010

Filed under: Budget Meals,Meals — sotsil @ 1:55 pm

And it is really so simple!

I buy spinach regularly, mostly to add to my favorite soup which also has green beans.  I feel clean after eating spinach – it’s like having your inside pipes cleared of all debris and grease.  One day I bought a bag of spinach and absent-mindedly shoved it into my shopping cart.  It was only when I was about to throw the bag away did I notice this tiny box at the back of the bag.  It said, "So Simple Spinach."  It had only four ingredients, and that already includes the bag of spinach.  The spinach is a product of the United States and it was by a company called Fresco (or Frisco?).


I made the dish.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, this recipe merits a score of 10 for nutritious and a score of 9.5 for delicious (usually anything nutritious in my book is NOT delicious).



I’m copying the recipe straight from the bag of spinach.  To make your so-simple spinach dish, you’ll need:



1 – 10 oz bag of spinach, rinsed once.  Do not dry, but do remove the long stems.

1 tbsp olive oil (I’d make it 2 tbsp)

1 medium size onion, finely chopped

1 – 8 oz store bought tomato bruschetta (about a 227-gram bottle).



Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté onion until soft.  Turn heat to low, add the bruschetta and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Add rinsed wet spinach and mix, until spinach shrinks in size.  The recipe says to cover the pan after adding the spinach for 3 minutes until wilted.  I did, but the spinach did not wilt.  The next time I make it, I would leave it uncovered, stirring it with the bruschetta.  The recipe also says it is great as a side dish with lamb or as an omelette filling.  Personally, I love spinach with white rice.


It was a large bag of spinach but there were no leftovers.  It was excellent.  That feeling of having clean pipes filled me…again.


How can anyone not love spinach?  I hear many kids don’t like it.  That’s probably because they never watched Popeye cartoons on TV – like I did!


Total cost:

bag of spinach:  1.60 (if it’s on sale, you can get it for 99 cents)

1 tomato:  20 cents

Bruschetta:  2.75

olive oil:  c’mon, you’re not going to ask me to cost this item, are you?