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Chicken, Apples, and Cream à la Normande

While searching for a savory apple dish to share with you, I came across a recipe for Chicken, Apples, and Cream à la Normande in Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table. The history of this dish is classically French. The Taste of France, by Robert Freson, describes Normandy, a region in northwest France as “one of the great gastronomic regions of France…” Normandy has long been famous for cream, eggs, butter, cheese, and cider. The food of Normandy is rich and satisfying, meant to keep you warm and fueled through a chilly, windblown day of hard work. A dish with the title à la Normande makes a reference to the dairy or delicious apples the region is known for.

In Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, boneless skinless chicken breasts are dredged in flour and browned in butter. An apple, onion, and exactly 8 mushrooms are tossed into the pot with a splash of chicken broth and a couple of tablespoons Calvados (apple brandy from Normandy). Once the alcohol burns off the dish is finished with heavy cream. Dorie’s recipe is lovely. It’s put together and precise. Heavy on the cream, light on the apples. My version is rugged and bold rather than sophisticated and serene. I want to taste the Calvados, to get a hit of brandy, so I added more. Of course one apples wasn’t enough, I had to throw in two. Also, I used a mixture of white button and crimini mushrooms for their earthy flavor. The sage from my garden brought a hint of holiday cheer. Lastly, I used more homemade chicken broth and less cream for a savory gravy rather than a creamy sauce. Use tart apples like Granny Smith or Jonathon for this recipe, so the flavor will stand up amongst all the other ingredients. Chicken, Apples, and Cream à la Normande is perfect for a chilly fall day and a big appetite. Serve it with roast Jerusalem artichokes or mashed potatoes. The dish is delicious the next day, so feel free to make it ahead and re-heat later.

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Storyboard: Apples

Apple Storyboard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Next to tomatoes, apples are a prime example of a fruit that has been bread out of flavor in the industrialized food system. It’s so important to support farmers who tend to apple orchards because they are guardians of unique heirlooms that would otherwise be extinct. Reading Jamie at Home, Cook Your Way to the Good Life, by Jamie Oliver, I learned that there are more than 7,500 varieties of apple across the world! Diversity is good for mother nature, and for keeping our food supply healthy. Enjoying a variety of apples stimulates the senses and makes life more interesting.

Growing

When planting an orchard, think about apples for eating and cooking. Think about when the apples will ripen and choose cultivars that ripen at different times for a nice long growing season. You can also keep apple trees in containers. Apples need to be cross-pollinated from other apple trees that flower at the same time.

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Cook in the Moment: Apples

CookingBoulder

Each week I contribute a column to “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I made homemade apple butter from Liana Krissoff’s Canning For a New Generation. Then, I used the apple butter to make hand pies. Just click on the icon below for the full article.

 

10 Ways Tuesday: Apples

AppleTree (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

 

I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with apples in autumn:

1.  Apple and Walnut Cake

I’m enchanted by the idea of Nigella Lawson’s Apple and Walnut Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess. The combination of bitter walnut and sweet apple seems perfect for autumn. Nigella suggests the cake is even better the next day, as the flavor of walnut oil and rum raisins marinate. Thank you, Nigella. Another comforting recipe from the queen of pleasure.

2.  Grown-up Applesauce

In his book, How to Pick a Peach, Russ Parsons shares a recipe for Applesauce with Bourbon, Sour Cherries and Hazelnuts that is the perfect companion to pork, either grilled or slow-roasted. Soak dried sour cherries in bourbon while you cook diced apples in boiling water. Mash the apples and stir in butter, bourbon soaked cherries, and chopped hazelnuts. Being a grown-up is awesome, no?

3.  Baked Apples

In River Cottage Every Day, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall writes, “A perfect baked apple is one of the truly great desserts.” He uses apples like Golden Delicious and Winesap because baking apples like Granny Smith don’t hold up well to this type of cooking. Dried fruit is soaked in apple brandy, then mixed with butter, lemon zest, cinnamon, and dark brown sugar and stuffed inside the hollowed out apple. After an hour in the oven you’ve got a soft, deliciously-spiced apple begging to be served with vanilla ice cream.

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Ingredient Of The Week: Apples

Ingredient Of The Week: Apples (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

This week at La Domestique is dedicated to apples, the quintessential fruit of fall. Recently, I paid a visit to a local apple orchard and it was such a pleasure to walk amongst the trees, eating cider doughnuts. Each autumn, the owners of Ya Ya Farm and Orchard open up their property to the public on weekends because they believe it’s important to share the beautiful scenery and literal fruits of their labor so people will help them support sustainable food. I had a lovely time wandering the apple orchard and the best part was bringing home plenty of apples and apple cider. It’s important to  visit “pick your own” orchards and farmers markets to support farmers who are stewards of the land, cultivating heirloom apples and avoiding hazardous pesticides.

In The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, Rachel Saunders writes

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This Past Week at La Domestique: Kale

Kale (c)2011 LaDomestique.com


This past week at La Domestique was dedicated to kale. Farmers market stands are overflowing with this grand leafy green. Cooler temperatures and autumn frosts only enhance kale’s sweet minerality. I love cooking with kale because it’s sturdy and flavorful- perfect for autumn soups and stews. Here at La Domestique we explored several different varieties of kale, including Red Russian, Cavolo Nero, and Curly kale.


In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap:


 Monday:  Introducing kale as ingredient of the week.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with kale in autumn.

Wednesday:  Cook in the moment with a recipe for Ribollita, a Tuscan vegetable soup in which kale plays a starring role.

Thursday:  The story behind kale: varieties, growing, storing, cooking, and flavor pairing.

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Autumn Salad with kale, purple cauliflower & wheat berries

I think it’s only fitting to celebrate the first day of fall with a warm autumn salad. Walking through the farmers market, I’ve been inspired by color, like forest green kale and the jewel tones of purple cauliflower. My salads are transitioning from bright and fresh to warm and nourishing. I need sustenance. I need comfort. I’m ready to return to the kitchen, to spend time at the stove developing flavor in fall produce with slow cooking techniques: braising, roasting, and sweating the vegetables. Wheat berries are a favorite of mine. I love the texture. Wheat berries are pleasantly chewy and never mushy. They do take a long time to cook, but this can be done a day or two ahead of time. It’s important to soak wheat berries in water at least overnight if not 24 hours. I promise they are worth it.

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Storyboard: Kale

Kale Storyboard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Kale leaves add color, texture, and a sweet minerality to hearty autumnal dishes. Full of vitamin C and other nutrients, Kale is nourishing and satisfying. I encourage you to seek out this sturdy green at local farmers markets, where you’re sure to find a variety of colors and leaf textures. It’s easy to get in a rut, eating the same old greens. Trying kale is a great opportunity to wake up your palate.

Growing

Kale is a grand addition to the home garden, its long green and ultra-violet blue leaves displayed proudly from a thick, strong stem. This member of the cabbage family is easy to grow. The cut and come again leaves are more delicious and sweet after a frosty autumn night. Kale requires a moist soil, but tolerates a wide range of conditions with ease. Sow in spring, as they require a long growing period to reach maturity. You’ll be able to harvest from late summer through winter.

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Cook in the Moment: Ribollita

Each week I contribute a column to “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I shared a recipe for Ribollita, a hearty Tuscan soup featuring a type of kale called cavolo nero. Here is the original article:

This week, La Domestiqueis devoted to kale, a large, leafy green that comes into season just as the summer squash and tomatoes taper off. Several varieties of kale are available in the grocery store and farmers’ market. The leaves can be black and deeply wrinkled, green with a stiff and curly shape, or feathered with a red vein. One of my favorites is Cavolo Nero, also called Tuscan kale, Lacinato, or dinosaur kale.

According to Lidia Bastianich, the queen of Italian cuisine, Cavolo Nero is the traditional green used in Tuscan Ribollita, a hearty vegetable soup thickened with day-old bread. In Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, she describes the flavor of Cavolo Nero as “an earthy, mouth-filling flavor, as if cabbage, broccoli, chicory, and spinach were all packed into one leaf.” Ribollita is Italian for “reboiled,” which makes sense considering Ribollita was originally peasant food, invented to stretch leftover minestrone. The soup was so delicious and satisfying that Ribollita eventually morphed into a dish in its own right.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Kale

Kale (c)2011 LaDomestique.com


I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with kale in Autumn:

 

1.  Kale & Grains

Amongst inspiring photographs and personal stories in the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, you’ll find a nourishing recipe for Pearl Barley with Kale and Butternut Squash. The barley is sautéed with caramelized onions, carrots, celery, chile, and garlic, then the pan is deglazed with Guiness. Beef stock is added, then the mixture is simmered until the barley is tender. In the end the grains are tossed with roasted butternut squash and cooked kale. What a rich and warming dish for autumn!

2.  Kale Chips

Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn is a beautifully written book on how to cook for boys, and raise them into self-sufficient men. Lucinda aims to bring families together for meals, while covering the basics of setting up and running an efficient kitchen. One of her lessons, “Start them young on cooked greens,” includes a fun and easy recipe for kale chips. Simply toss pieces of Tuscan kale with olive oil, salt, and pepper then bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes (until crisp).

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About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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