Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ARROZ CON POLLO (Chicken with Rice)

Ever since the Spanish artist Domingo Zapata taught me how to make paella last summer, I have been perfecting an Arroz con Pollo recipe based on the same techniques. This week, I finally reached perfection, and I can now share this delicious recipe with you. The result is much like the Meili Farm chorizo I used in it: a bit spicy but not mouth-burning, neither fatty nor dry. It was a crowd-pleaser. Just ask photographer Carola Lott, who helped devour the dish once she had taken this picture for you.



1 chicken, cut in serving parts (4 thighs, 4 legs, and 2 breast halves, each cut in half)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour

4 chorizo sausages

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bell peppers—one red and one yellow, both seeded and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
3 cups long-grain white rice
Saffron (Marona’s carries Vigo brand—one package is perfect)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
5 cups chicken broth, warm
1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Salt and pepper the chicken and then dredge (coat) them in flour. In a heavy, ovenproof casserole with lid, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Fry the chorizo over medium heat until it is crispy and renders its fat. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Cut into slices. Place the chicken in the pan (in the chorizo fat), skin side down, and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a separate pot, heat the chicken broth.

Place a paella pan on medium-high heat. Make a “sofrito” by first adding the rest of the olive oil, and then the chopped onion, minced garlic, and bell peppers. Fry all of this for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes with their liquid and continue to fry gently. Next add 3 cups of rice, stirring in well so that all of the rice is coated with the sofrito. Add a mixture of garlic, saffron, paprika, chopped fresh parsley and a pinch of salt. Add warm chicken stock to the mixture in the pan and bring the liquid to a boil. Season with coarse salt. Cover the pan with a lid, turn down the heat and simmer for 5–10 minutes.

Add the chicken and slices of chorizo (and olives, if using) to the dish, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes. After checking that there is enough liquid (if it looks like it is getting dry, add more stock or water at this point), place the pan uncovered in the preheated oven, and allowed the rice to absorb all of the liquid and flavorings while the chicken cooks through, about 40–50 minutes.


I truly enjoyed this rich and colorful dish. To accompany it, I choose the Carbernet Franc from Millbrook Winery which I had tasted some time ago and was seduced by its fine texture, its bouquet of violets and red berries. Notes of pepper, spices and aromatic herbs perfectly accompany this flavorful dish

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

String Bean Stew

A tasty dish my family enjoys on a cold winter eve. Serve with a nice warm baguette and it is a meal. Sometimes I add leftover meatloaf or meatballs to make it a more substantial meal. The French beans (Haricots Verts) pictured here are the best.
·       2 lbs of fresh green beans (tips cut and strings removed)
·       1 lb of baby yukon gold potatoes (peeled and sliced)
·       2 shallots or one small onion thinly sliced
·       2 cups of vegetable stock
·       ½ cup of lardons (small pieces of slab bacon with much if the fat trimmed off)
·       2 cans of stewed tomatoes ( I use Del Monte, two of the Italian Style and one of the Original Recipe)
·       2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and cook onion for 2-3 minutes or until onion is tender but not brown. Add the lardons and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add the beans and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the juice from the cans of stewed tomatoes. Use a food processor to mash up the tomatoes and add them to the stew.   Add the vegetable stock, bring to boil. Add the sliced potatoes. Simmer over low heat, stirring from time to time for 50 minutes or until beans and potatoes are cooked (add water if necessary).

Gerard’s Wine Suggestions

The mild acidity of the tomato and the smokiness of the bacon mixed with the fresh sensation of the green vegetable all meld into a savory cocktail of country side flavors. .  Avec ce plat bien campagnard ou la douceur acide de la tomate et le fumé du lard Without hesitaion I recomend  a simple red Cote du Rhône. Generally based on Grenache to which a bit of Mourvedre, Carignan ou Cinsault may be added, the Cotes du Rhône offer an aromatic palette and freshness that is unique - .and all for a price varying from  $10 et $12 a bottle at your local wine merchant. The best producers are: Chapoutier,  JL Colombo, and Guigal.   

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chocolate Tart

There is nothing more Valentine’ Day than chocolate. For me there is no better dessert than this chocolate tart. I have frequently made it with the Pillsbury pie crust and it has been much appreciated, but it is so very much better with this shortbread crust.  For special occasions I make it the way Francois Payard, the famous pastry chef recommends, as this recipe was inspired by his.

Pie Crust (makes enough for two 9½ pies. Use one and freeze the other.

·       1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar
·       1¾ cups all-purpose flour
·       Pinch of salt
·       9 tablespoons of unsalted butter (softened)
·       1 large egg

Sift together the sugar, flour and salt into a bowl.
Place the butter in a food processor and mix until smooth (about 15 seconds).Scatter flour mixture over butter, add the egg and process until the dough forms a mass. Turn the dough onto the counter and divide in two. Shape each half in a disc form and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate the dough you will use for the pie for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Freeze the other for up to one month.
Remove dough from the fridge at let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Butter the bottom of a fluted 9½ inch tart pan with removable bottom.
Dust the work surface and the dough with flour. With a floured rolling pin roll out the dough and gently place over the tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and roll the pin over the top to cut off the excess dough with fluted the edges of the pan. Prick the bottom of the tart all over with a fork. Chill the tart shell for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly butter aluminum foil large enough to line the pie shell. Line the pie shell butter side down and fill with pie weights or dried beans to keep the aluminum foil in place. Place the pie pan n the oven. After 15 minutes remove the foil and weights and continue baking for 10 minutes more or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Filling

8 oz of chocolate (I use ½ Ghirardelli semi sweet and ½ Ghirardelli milk chocolate)
¾ cup of heavy cream
½ cup of whole milk
I large egg beaten
One prebaked 9½ inch pie shell (see above)

Preheat oven to 325F
Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.
Combine cream and milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Pour mixture over the chocolate Allow to stand for 20 seconds as it melts the chocolate then whisk until the chocolate is completely cooled (about 10 minutes). Whisk the egg into the chocolate. Pour the filling into the tart shell. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are set and the center is still soft. Allow to cool on a wire rack and serve warm. If you want to be decadent you can serve with your favorite ice cream, but it does not need it!

Gerard’s Wine Suggestion:
For me the best choice of wine to go with chocolate is Banyuls, a fortified wine from Languedoc Roussillon, France. Le village of Banyuls is on the Mediterranean, at the Spanish border. Made from 50% Grenache Noir, Cinsault et de Syrah, le Banyuls is a smooth, fruity, slightly sweet red wine with notes of coffee. It is an ideal accompaniment to chocolate. Chez Arlington Wine at $21.99.  For this kess adventurous and Port or Madeira will work also. 


February 2nd is “La Chandeleur”, a day when Southern France celebrates “Candlemas” a traditional candle lit procession started in 492 commemorating the day Christ was presented to the church at the age of 40 days.  To encourage the many pilgrims to Rome, Pope Gelasius rewarded them with pancakes, giving rise to this tradition. In the farming world, February 2 also symbolizes the end of winter and the return to farm work. The blessed candles were kept by the superstitious peasants to protect future crops. Over time, the pancakes also became a testimony of allegiance to their lords or farmers, who offered them each year.
However it started, the tradition of eating a meal of crêpes is always fun. The French traditionally make sarrasin (buckwheat) crêpes to fill with savory stuffing for the main course and sugared crêpes with fruit, chocolate or jams for dessert. Then I found this recipe which is neutral and can be used for either. My family loves it. (It is much easier to succeed with a special Crêpe pan). 

Enough for 2-3 people – I usually double it for my family of 4-5. 

¾ cup of all purpose flour (sifted)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup of milk
1/3 cup of water
½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 200F.
Resift the flour with the dry ingredients (salt, baking powder, sugar)
Beat the eggs and add the milk, water and vanilla, mix well.
Combine all the ingredients with a few swift strokes, (Lumps will work themselves out)
Heat a flat round pan, grease it with a few drops of butter. Add a ladle of batter, tipping the pan to allow it to spread. Cook over moderate heat. When brown underneath, flip to cook the other side. When done place on an ovenproof dish and keep warm in the oven. Pile new cr
êpes on top.

For the main course you can fill the center of the cr
êpe with any warm precooked meat or vegetables
in a cream sauce (ham, chicken, mushrooms, etc) and roll them up. For dessert, I like to place sugar, lemon,
Nutella and a selection of jams on the table and let each one roll their own.