Archives for May 2007

High Water and Wet Cookbooks

This is what happens when you store a large portion of your cookbook collection in the basement and you experience a torrential rain that overflows the ancient storm sewers in the street behind you, pours down the slope in your backyard, cascades through a window well with the healthy-sounding vigor of Niagara Falls and floods into a muddy, messy wading pool.

I’ve hired a crew of water restoration experts (with the help of my insurance company), who watched me trying to rescue the least waterlogged of my books by squeezing them out and putting them in the sun to dry. Big mistake, they told me.

“Every time you flip through the pages of a sewage contaminated book, you’ll just be spreading spores”.

I guess. But this wasn’t, um, raw sewage, but storm water sewage. Isn’t that different? What’s a little mud between friends and books?

You can pretty much guess that I’m little sad about tossing my cookbooks. Looking on the bright side, though, it was just a few shelves’ worth of books that got ruined. And, as grown-ups like to point out after such inconvenient pain-in-the-keister events, nobody got hurt.

On the other hand, my basement is totaled. And as I write this, the sky has darkened and it’s thundering. I’m going to get some buckets ready….


Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food

At the National Chicken Cooking Contest

Me and my chicken

Just a quick update – I’m back from Birmingham, and no richer in dollars. However, T and I are defining the trip as a mini-vacation. The kids spent enough time in the pool for A to require an emergency stop at CVS for eye drops after her eyes became over-chlorinated, and for J to develop a case of swimmer’s ear. Off to the pediatrician we go!

The big winner turned out to be Michelle Anderson of Idaho with her recipe for Thai-Inspired Stuffed Chicken Breast and Slaw.

So, back to the drawing board…

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food

Chicken Tagliata with Fennel-White Bean Salad

Chicken Tagliata

I’ve mentioned that I have a competitive cooking streak. You wouldn’t guess that if you met me though; I’m well behaved and you can take me places. I promise I won’t jump on the table at your favorite restaurant and demand an Iron Chef match with the staff.

The National Chicken Cooking Contest, with a grand prize of $100,000, is taking place Friday, May 4 in Birmingham, with 51 contestants – one from each state. I’ll be there, wearing my red satin sash, representing the state of Missouri.

We’re packing up the Odyssey with my pans and potholders. And the two kids. They’ve never seen me compete at a cook-off, but I don’t have any doubt about what they’re most looking forward to: swimming in the hotel pool.

Tune in next week for the full report!

Chicken Tagliata with Warm Fennel and White Bean Salad
Makes 4 servings

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 1/2 teaspooons kosher salt, divided
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
1 fennel bulb, stems trimmed, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
1/3 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup baby arugula
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese curls

Butterfly each breast: cut 3/4 through center of thicker, long side of each chicken breast and open flat. Pound to an even thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap; place chicken in a large shallow baking dish.

Puree 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, buttermilk, fennel seeds and basil in a blender or mini food processor. Pour over chicken, turning to coat. Cover and marinate at least 15 minutes, and up to 2 hours.

In medium saucepan, mix together remaining lemon juice and olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, garlic, beans, and sliced fennel. Place over medium heat and simmer about 2 minutes, or until fennel is crisp-tender. Remove from heat and gently stir in tomatoes, lemon zest and parsley.

Sprinkle chicken on both sides with the remaining teaspoon salt and pepper. Spray a large non-stick grill pan with cooking spray and place over medium high heat. Cook chicken 3 minutes per side.

Slice chicken into 1/2-inch thick slices. To serve, spread 1/4 cup arugula over each sliced chicken breast. Spoon fennel salad over arugula and top with cheese.

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food