Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Baked Tarragon Chicken Breasts

This would go nicely with the polenta (below). It's flavorful, and goes together really quickly. I find with the smaller chicken breasts here in Taiwan that the cooking time is a bit shorter than the original recipe calls for (30 instead of 35 minutes). This recipe is easily doubled or halved – just use a pan that will hold the chicken snugly in a single layer.

From Maryana Vollstedt's What's for Dinner?:
Baked Tarragon Chicken Breasts (serves 4 to 6)

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

In a lightly oiled baking dish (8"x11" or so), place
6 boned and skinned chicken breast halves

In a small saucepan (for stovetop) or small bowl (for microwave) melt
2 tablespoons butter

Whisk in
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons dry white wine (or vermouth)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dry tarragon, crumbled
1/2 tablespoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Pour over chicken. Bake, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink in the middle, about 30 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

Buying info:
Walason's has dried tarragon, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and vermouth (in the green bottle that says "Martini"). The vermouth is a great substitute for any recipe that calls for dry white wine, and while it's not much cheaper (at least here) than a bottle of sauvignon blanc, it is shelf-stable, so you can always have some on hand.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Polenta, quick and easy

I'm still working out how I'm going to organize my recipes here – I want to archive by subject, not date – but I might as well start posting so I have something to work with. This is one of my favorites, a microwave polenta recipe that takes less time to cook than a pot of rice and only requires one stirring (stove-top polenta has to be stirred for half an hour). For the uninitiated, polenta can be described as a cornmeal mush, but it's much better than it sounds. Serve it as a side to chicken or pork, or top it, like pasta, with something saucy; it easily takes the place of mashed potatoes, and can be seasoned to suit your entree (different cheeses, some herbs, lots of pepper - whatever). It was originally an American Indian dish, borrowed by the Italians, who now claim it as their own.

I buy a nice coarse cornmeal at Walason's bakery supply here in Kaohsiung. Dollar's carries it in their bulk foods bins; Taisuco used to sell it in bags, but I haven't seen it there in a long time. Any cornmeal will work, but the local stuff is preferable to the finer cornbread-style grind that you can get in the states – better texture.

This is from Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet:
Soft Polenta (serves 3 or 4)

2-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon sea salt (less if using table salt)

in an 8-cup glass measure or med. glass bowl. Cook on high for 5 min. Stir, cover loosely w/paper towel, and cook 5 minutes longer.

Remove from oven, uncover, and stir in
2 tablespoons butter
a pinch of fresh-ground pepper
2-3 tablespoons cheese (fresh-grated parmesan, goat cheese, sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack) or additional butter

Let stand 3 minutes; serve hot.

Please note: microwave recipes do not always double or halve easily. If you want this in a larger or smaller portion, please say so in a comment and I will provide.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Coming soon...

Everything you want to know about cooking (well, my cooking, anyway) in southern Taiwan.

This should be fun.