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Day Two: Poulet de Bresse

Every trip to France always becomes a holy pilgrimage looking for the perfect croissant and pain au chocolat to start the day. I often hear people stateside whine on about how there are no good ones left, or that the croissant were fabricated elsewhere and only baked on premises. I say hogwash, I find them every trip and completely relish in the ancient alchemy of decadently crispy, buttery croissant still warm from the morning bake off. You know the kind, the ones that make a definite crunch when you break a piece off, sending golden shards of flaky pastry flying into the air.

Lucky France subsidizes boulangeries so every village has at least one, but I will concede, not every one is great. We accidently stumbled into Thierry and Elisabeth Cochard’s boulangerie while searching for the rumored vegetable market in Nolay early one morning.  After circling the town several times in vain, we ran into the boulangerie to ask for directions. Elisabeth laughed and said the town’s farmers were lazy and they would never be there on time or ever for that matter. While she talked, I became transfixed by the sweet smell of baking baguettes, chaussons aux pomme and pain au chocolat.  Rows and rows of perfectly cooked breads stared at me as I tried in vain to concentrate on her answers. We succumbed to a shameless amount of pastries before returning to Puligny Montrachet empty handed….

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Roast Chicken, the perfect food for red and white wine

Classics can be phenomenal when done right. A simple roast chicken dish could be the best thing you ever eat. ~ Joe Bastianich, noted restaurateur and tv star

Recently I had the good fortune to preview two new releases from Four Graces Winery in Dundee, Oregon. I was asked to pair a dish with whichever of the two I prefered. I opened both the 2015 Chardonnay ‘Gran Moraine’ and the 2014 Pinot Noir ‘Lindsay’s Reserve’ and poured a glass, well maybe two. I took a long sip of each and reflected on taste. I wondered what would go well with each wine. Then I thought, could there be a single dish that actually works perfectly well for both? This could solve the age old dilemma we sometimes face when inviting opinionated friends over who only like red or white wine. Then it struck me like an errant lightning bolt, the answer is as easy as roast chicken….

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Saturday Family Lunch: 01 Grateful for Gratins

My only New Year’s resolution this year is to document what we eat “en famille” for the next 52 weekends and produce a short weekly post about it. Consider it part writing/photo assignment, part chronicle, and part a serious interest in recording my family’s diet. “En famille” suggests a nostalgic look into old France where families still gather together to share a weekly meal, usually held on Sunday afternoons. Occasionally extended families would get together in restaurants, but usually it is held at a family member’s home. These meals are leisurely affairs, often lasting several hours withCoq au Vin recipe

lots of great conversation, bonding and comforting home cooked food. It is a time to relax, reconnect and reset the clock for the week ahead. It is an important tradition we keep even living thousands of miles away in the Pacific Northwest.

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Chaga Ramen

Chaga is one of the weirdest mushrooms you may ever see. A fungal parasite found on birch trees, Chaga is a hardened, blackened, crusty formation that looks like a bursting tumor. – Paul Stamets, Fungi Perfecti founder and president

I was nodding at my computer yesterday afternoon like I do most days around two. The obvious result of too many hours staring at a screen. I walked into our large, communal kitchen to grab a cup of coffee and stretch my legs. I bumped into John, our leader and the force behind Foods in Season, and started talking food as we so often do. He offered a cup of chaga he was brewing and proceeded to tell me about some braised chicken he prepared the night before.  He marinated them in chaga tea overnight and it gave a very pleasant pheasant-like taste. I was intrigued. I only heard of chaga mushrooms and was familiar with their healthy beneficial qualities. No one ever talked about using them in a culinary sense….

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Cooking is Love

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From the December 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine

pas·sion: a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

sci·ence: systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.

I have been involved in quite a few heated discussions surrounding food in my life. I have successfully argued and disproved the myth of Catherine di Medici; whether Italian truffles are better/worse than Perigord truffles and even who has better rib tips, Hecky’s in Evanston or Lem’s on 75th street in Chicago. I am very passionate and deeply opinionated about subjects I hold dear. Controversy is not something I shy from. Nor am I troubled by my penchant for digging my heels in and relentlessly fighting till I turn blue in the face, maybe even purple. I am decidedly stubborn. Strangely I have noticed this seems to be a recurring trait of people with French blood cursing through their veins. Recently I was involved in an internet flare up on a favorite food writing board. The conversation heatedly broke into two opposing camps, the romantics and the scientists, with each side passionately arguing their points.  Perhaps more accurately for my overly literal friends hellbent on reducing life to a series of experiments and cold numbers, one side argued scientifically. The debate centered around the question, is cooking an act of love or a scientific process.

Cooking is like love — it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

– Harriet Van Horne

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Homemade Chicken Stock

Making chicken stock at home is extremely easy to do and very cost-effective. It is the perfect by-product of roasting a chicken. Here’s the basic premise: Put chicken bones and vegetables into a stockpot, cover with cold water then simmer away. It really is as simple as that.

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Simple Roast Chicken

The Quest: A Simple, Perfectly Roasted Chicken. A humble, seemingly easy dish that unfortunately is as elusive as a unicorn or a five-leaf clover. I mean, how hard should it be to roast the perfect chicken? Let’s analyze what makes it perfect and figure out how to easily do it every single time.

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Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is as synonymous with French culture as hamburgers are with American. It’s a dish I grew up eating quite a bit and still find very soul-satisfying and comforting when I’m longing for my mother and France. The sauce is packed with flavor and begs for a starchy vehicle to soak it up. Classically boiled or mashed potatoes are served but I think a creamy spätzle, potato gratin or noodle work better. It’s important to let the raw chicken marinate overnight and let the wine and aromatics fully penetrate. Like all great stews, flavors continue to develop as they sit so resist the urge to eat it immediately. I let mine sit for a day or two. The obvious wine choice is a pinot noir with bright acidity. Birds and Burgs as my friend Peter often says….

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Mères Lyonnaises: The Female Superstar Chefs

Mères Lyonnaises: The Female Superstar Chefs

I have written and rewritten this post so many times I am starting to see cross eyed.  What started a simple post celebrating a classic French dish, Volaille Demi Deuil, or Chicken in Half Mourning has become an ever expanding education into an important and often untold chapter in the annals of great cooking.

This post is dedicated to all the great women Chefs and cooks, especially my mother, that I have been fortunate to share the ranges with.  This story belongs to them, it’s their story….

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