Category Archives: STEW RECIPES



Yesterday morning Mr. C. reminded me that we had 2 small salmon fillets in our freezer that were not only looking lonely, but fast becoming past their prime. (Aren’t we all!) So never being one to ignore such a gentle yet sinfully correct hint, I decided to figure out a way to prepare the salmon in a new and exciting way. And not coincidentally, use up a few other aging ingredients (half a red pepper, fresh dill, open container of chicken stock) before they too became unredeemable.

Before Mr. Cs suggestion that the salmon was fast becoming an endangered species, I had already planned to fix some kind of soup for dinner. We had been gone several evenings in a row, and what I really yearned for (and truly needed) was a simple home cooked dinner and an early intimate rendezvous with my pillow.

So I decided to stick with my original plan to make soup for dinner. I had eaten smoked salmon chowder before, but had found it a bit rich. And the last thing I wanted last evening was an over the top rich dinner. So I started with a standard creamy chowder base and added poached salmon pieces right at the end. I knew I had to be careful not to make the soup part so flavorful that the delicate taste of the salmon would be overpowered. I wanted the base soup to enhance the flavor of the salmon, not detract from it.

So this is my take on a quick and easy to prepare fresh salmon chowder. I hope you enjoy it. And don’t forget the oyster crackers. They are just so darned cute, and crunchy to boot!

  • 3 slices lean, thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 T. butter
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • ½ c. chopped celery
  • ½ c. chopped red pepper
  • ½ c. shredded carrot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 lg. Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ tsp. finely chopped fresh dill or ½ tsp. dried dill weed + more for garnish
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 c. half-and-half
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 1¾ to 2 c. fully cooked salmon chunks (left-over salmon is perfect in this chowder)
  • oyster crackers, opt.

In a large covered soup pot, fry diced bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Add butter to the pan (don’t remove bacon fat) and add the onion, celery, red pepper, and carrot. Cook just until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the chicken broth, potato, salt, pepper, and dill; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potato is fork tender. Stir in the corn and the half-and-half that has been whisked together with the cornstarch. Slowly bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Add the salmon chunks and reserved bacon and simmer until heated through. Adjust seasonings.


Serve garnished with fresh dill. (Oyster crackers on the side are delightful.)



In an effort to reduce the amount of meat, fat, and dairy products in our daily diet, while at the same time increasing the number of beans we consume, I decided to work up a vegetarian chili recipe.

I prepared this chili last night for dinner and both of us thought it was wonderful. The saucy part was very flavorful. The corn actually provided a bit of a crunch and the olives had enough of a different texture as to create a lovely mouth feel. (Not to mention a wonderful taste). Then of course the crisp and pungent bite from the red onion added just before serving – marvelous. And nary a morsel of meat, sprinkling of cheese, or dollop of sour cream to be seen or needed. This chili and a nice piece of cornbread (made with canola oil, not butter) and you have a lunch or dinner that anyone watching their cholesterol would be happy to eat on a regular basis. And did I mention it was really easy to prepare?

So give this recipe a try. Just don’t forget to stock up on “beano” when you purchase the ingredients for this dish. And if you don’t know what “beano” is, suffice it to say you have lived a charmed life!

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (28-oz.) chopped tomatoes (Italian preferably)
  • 1 can (6-oz.) tomato paste (again – Italian preferably)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (15-oz) cannellini, kidney, or chili beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15-oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15-oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15-oz) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1-2 cans black olives, drained and halved (I use about a can and a half and munch on the rest later)
  • chopped red onion, opt.

Heat olive oil in a large covered soup pot. Add the carrot, onion, and celery and sauté until the onion is transparent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, water, mustard, chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, cloves, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir periodically. Add the beans, corn, and olives and simmer covered for another 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serve garnished with chopped red onion.



Something you should know about me is that I am a wuss, at least when it comes to really hot (as in spicy) food. I can’t, for example, go into an Indian or Thai restaurant and order a dish with 5 stars. Yikes, I might end up in a hospital if I ever went that far. But a nice polite 2 stars is quite alright with me. You see, I have this old fashioned belief that a person should actually be able to taste the ingredients in a dish, not just consume a mouth full of fire. (I know, how “yesterday” is that?)

But seriously, when you add too much “hot” to a dish, you might as well be eating Kibbles and Bits for all the actual ingredients matter. And I have listened to people order incredible dishes that feature prawns or lobster for example, pay an arm and a leg for the privilege, and then tell their waiter they want a 4.5 or 5 star spice level. Now if they told me they could actually taste either of those two costly ingredients, I would stand right up and yell “liar, liar, pants on fire” at them, even in the most prestigious of restaurants! (I have my standards to uphold, after all.)

So when I tell you that this dish is amazing in the fact that it is spicy, but all of the ingredients are featured players and that this dish is not the least bit too spicy, I want you to trust me. This is one of the dishes I firmly believe God sent us to prove that chilies were at the top of his list when he thought of how best to flavor food. And really, isn’t flavor what it’s all about? Granted, there are those who merely eat to stay alive. But most of us stay alive to eat! What better reason, after all? Oh well, there might be better reasons, but this a cooking blog, after all! I’m not advocating storge (look it up), I’m touting good flavorful food!

So whatever you do, give this recipe a try. It’s low in fat, and a complete meal unto itself. And like I said, the flavor is simply amazing! I mean really, would I share it with you if it weren’t amazing? People, you know me better than that!

  • 2 (15-oz.) cans drained and rinsed hominy or ½ c. dried white corn posole (hominy)*  
  • 20 dried chiles de arbol, stems and seeds removed and cut up with a scissors
  • 2 dried ancho chiles or 1 guajillo chili (or a combination), stems and seeds removed and cut up with a scissors
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 6 cloves garlic finely chopped, divided
  • kosher salt
  • 1½  lbs. boneless pork chops or pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. corn or vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped (save a small amount to use as a garnish)
  • 8 c. water
  • 8 tsp. Knorr Caldo de Pollo (chicken flavor bouillon- located in the ethnic food section of most grocery stores – yellow label, green lid) or regular chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 T. dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 2 avocados, diced, opt.
  • radish slices, opt.
  • lime wedges, opt.
  • warm flour or corn tortillas, opt.

*Use canned hominy if in a hurry, but taste and texture are just not as good as when you start with dried posole.

If using dried hominy, place it in a non-reactive container and cover with water; soak overnight. Next day, boil in salted water for approximately 2-2½ hours or until tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, place the de-seeded and chopped chilies in a bowl and cover with the boiling water; soak until soft, about 30 minutes. When soft, carefully pour the chilies and soaking liquid into a blender or food processor. Add 1/3 of the chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon salt; blend until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pushing the sauce through with a rubber spatula; discard the solids. Set aside. (This sauce is very hot (as in spicy), so even the fumes can be overpowering. Be very careful handling this precious liquid. Think hazardous waste!)

Meanwhile, liberally sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper.  Heat the vegetable  oil in a Dutch oven or covered pot over medium heat. Add the pork and cook until browned on all sides. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 4 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for about a minute.

Stir in the 8 cups water and chicken flavored bouillon (or 8 cups chicken broth), cumin, oregano, bay leaves, and ½ cup of the reserved chili sauce or more as desired. (If you are extremely sensitive to spicy food, you might actually want to start with ¼ cup of the hot sauce.) Bring the stew to a boil, partially cover pan, reduce heat and maintain at a simmer until meat is tender, about 1½ hours.

Stir in the hominy (either canned or re-hydrated dry posole) and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the pork starts falling apart, about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.  Adjust seasoning and serve with avocado, reserved chopped onion, radish slices, remaining chili sauce, and warm tortillas. Oh yes, and a nice cold beer is great with the posole too!

Note: This recipe is my interpretation of the recipe for Posole Rojo on the Food Network site. (A great site BTW.)






When I started my latest mini-series on stews, the rain was beating down and snow was imminent. Today however, the sun is shining, the water in Port Susan Bay is a light dusky blue, and Mt. Baker*, Three Fingers, and Glacier Peak are out in all their glory. (I love the term “out” in connection with a mountain being visible. As if when it’s not visible it’s “in” or “gone”? Yet another example of the vagary consistent within the English language.) But back to the recipe. (Sometimes it’s almost impossible for me to stay on track.) Now, where was I? Ah yes – stew.

I came across this recipe (or my take on a combination of adovada recipes) while I was researching stews from around the world. What interested me the most about this dish was the use of different and totally unfamiliar chilies. So I went on line and ordered the chilies I needed from a specialty site. I patiently waited until they arrived, and taking the advice of several people who had made comments on the recipes I lifted, I began my journey into adovada land. It was wonderful, but I had used all the guajillo chilies I had ordered in just my first batch of this stew. So just for grins and giggles I decided to see if I could purchase more at one of my local grocery stores. Low and behold, I had no trouble finding them in Stanwood. Yeah team! Needless to say I was delighted.

Now something you should know. This is a very rich stew, and a small portion goes a long way. In fact, the next time I serve it, I am going to think of it as a side dish. Actually, a small serving would be just perfect, not to mention economical served with Refried Beans, Classic Coleslaw, warm flour or corn tortillas, and a Margarita or cold beer.

So next time you are hungry for traditional Mexican food and don’t want to make a trip to your local Mexican restaurant where pretty much everything tastes the same regardless of what you order (oh oops, did I say that out loud), give this dish a try. I promise you that it will have the authentic Mexican taste we all crave and typically can’t find at a restaurant. OK, if you live in Denver, New Mexico, or Texas you can probably find great Mexican food on every corner. But not so much in many parts of the US.

So take the time some rainy Saturday to create a Mexican fiesta for your family and friends. Good Mexican food takes time to build, but it is well worth the effort. Buen provecho!

*For those of you not familiar with the glorious northwestern part of Washington State, Mt. Baker is in the most northern part of the Cascade Range or North Cascades. Mt. Baker is the mountain shown at the top of my home page (using the zoom feature on my camera) as it appears from my kitchen sink. And yes, I do know how lucky I am!

  • 9 dried guajillo chili peppers* (about 2-oz.)
  • 4 dried chile de árbol **
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes (extra fat and silver skin removed)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. corn or vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T. dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano

In a dry skillet, toast the chili peppers over medium high heat until they are slightly puffed and fragrant. (Be careful not to burn the pods or they will become bitter.) Let cool. Rip off the stems of the dried chili peppers and empty out all of the seeds. (Feel free to cut a slit into each chili if it helps to remove the seeds.) Pour 3 cups of the chicken broth into a pot; add the cumin, cloves, and the toasted chilies. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until both types of chili pods are fully rehydrated. Remove from heat and cool. When cool, carefully pour the liquid and re-hydrated chilies into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Set chili sauce aside.

Meanwhile pat the meat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy covered Dutch oven. Add the meat in single layers and brown thoroughly on all sides. Remove meat to a bowl. (Add more corn oil during the browning process if required.) When all the pork is browned and removed from the pan, add the onion and cook until soft. Next add the garlic and oregano and cook for about a minute or until the garlic releases its aroma. Add the browned meat back into the pot along with the chili sauce. Use the last cup of chicken stock to “wash out” the blender or food processor bowl and add liquid to the Dutch oven. Stir well to bring up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring stew to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and place in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Stir after one hour, taste and adjust seasonings; add a small amount of water if necessary. (You want the stew to be moist but not so soupy that it can’t be served on a regular plate. See picture above.)  When the meat is fork tender, remove the pan from the oven and serve.

Note: Carne Adovada is also wonderful when used as a filling for burritos, enchiladas, or tacos.

*The Guajillo Chili Pepper is the most common chili in Mexico after the Ancho. The flavor is distinct, slightly fruity with a strong piney, berry under taste. The chili measures 3 to 5 inches in length and is about an inch wide. The color is a brick red with deep burgundy tones with a smooth, shiny skin. Dried Guajillo Chili peppers can be located in the ethnic food section of most grocery stores.

**The Chile de árbol is a small and potent Mexican chili pepper also known as bird’s beak chili and rat’s tail chili. These chilies are about 2 to 3 inches long, and ¼ to 3/8-inch in diameter. They can be purchased in most good sized grocery stores.



So, as you will have noticed, I listed this dish under both stews and soups, because frankly it is often very difficult to tell the difference. Technically, I suppose borscht is more of a soup than a stew because it can be served both hot and cold, although I personally would never serve this dish cold. (I have never really been a fan of cold soups, with the exception of Gazpacho, of course!) So the terms soup and stew can get a bit confusing. One good way to differentiate is by the thickness of the broth or gravy. Most soups have a thin liquid base compared to a stew which has a much thicker consistency. Stews usually cook low and slow allowing the meat and vegetables to tenderize in their very own tantalizing hot bath of a flavored liquid liberally infused with herbs and spices. While soup on the other hand, can often be prepared in less than an hour. So whatever you choose to call this quintessential Russian beef and beet concoction, (let’s call it “stoop” for ease of conversation) you are sure to make those around you happy when they sit down to a big old bowl some winter evening. Thank you Emeril Lagasse for the basic recipe for this absolutely Замечательный (pronounced zamechatel’nyy) “wonderful” dish.

  • ¼ lb. lean bacon, diced
  • 1 lb. round steak, cut into bite-size pieces and dried with paper towels
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dill seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 T. red wine vinegar
  • 2 quarts beef broth (I make my broth with water and Better Then Bouillon – beef flavored base)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 medium sized beets
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 6 c. shredded green cabbage (about half a medium sized cabbage)
  • 1 large russet potato, diced
  • sour cream, opt.
  • chopped fresh dill, opt.

Sauté bacon in a large heavy pan until bacon starts to brown.  Add beef and continue frying until meat cubes are brown on all sides. Add the onions and carrots. Stir fry until onion and carrots begin to soften. Add the minced garlic and cook until garlic gives off aroma. Add the oregano, dill seeds, and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the red wine vinegar and cook until the liquid is gone. Add the beef stock and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer partially covered until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, wash the beets and place them on a baking pan. Using your hands, coat the beets with vegetable oil. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 60-80 minutes or until the beets can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and cool.  When cool, peel and shred the beets. Set aside. When the meat is tender, add the shredded cabbage, diced potato, and beets. Cook until the potato is tender. Adjust seasonings. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and pinch of fresh dill.



Since winter is going to be with us for a while longer (it’s actually snowing as I write), I thought I might add a few more stew recipes to my blog for your culinary edification. And since most countries have their own take on “stew”, I thought I would bring you along on my quest for beloved stew recipes from around the world.

I have already posted Carbonnade (Germany), Beef Bourguignonne (France), Poulet Au Vin Blanc (France), Irish Lamb Stew (Ireland), and from the good old USA, Chicken and Dumpling Stew, Beef Stew, and Creamy Oyster Stew.  Today I am going to share with you my take on a classic Mexican stew –pozole.

I actually got this recipe from Mr. C. He had just come home from a tango rehearsal at one of the other musician’s homes, and she (Ruthie) had served this wonderful stew after rehearsal. Well needless to say, Mr. C. was so impressed with the dish that he requested a copy of the recipe. (I have him very well trained!) As it turns out, the recipe was posted on the Epicurious site in 2003. Of course I made a few changes based on ingredients that I knew I could purchase at my local grocery store. I also ramped up the flavor a bit by starting with chicken stock rather than plain water. I also tried to stick to as few pots as possible. (The first time I made this stew I had every pot I owned dirty by the time the stew was done! Not the best use of my time or energy. So the changes I made were both efficiency measures and time reduction methods. I love to cook, but I don’t appreciate performing steps that make no difference to the final result.)

So below is my recipe for Green Pozole with Chicken. Now something you should know before you follow me into Mexican food heaven. I have never tasted another pozole stew, so all I really know is that whatever it is that I made tastes really, really good.

So, if you happen to be a pozole connoisseur, I would appreciate your comments. (And yes, before you jump all over me for not including green pumpkin seeds in my recipe, I know they should be included. But if you can find hulled green unroasted pumpkins seeds on Camano Island or even in the burgeoning metropolis of Stanwood, then you are a better shopper than I. And don’t even go there with me about using dried epazote as a first choice over oregano!) Comments/questions?

  • ½ c. dried white corn posole (hominy)*
  • 5 c. water
  • 5 tsp. Knorr Caldo de Pollo (chicken flavor bouillon- located in the ethnic food section of most grocery stores – yellow label, green lid) or regular chicken stock
  • 1 celery stalk, rough chopped
  • 1 carrot, rough chopped
  • ¾ large onion, chopped, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 small Turkish or ½ California bay leaf
  • couple grinds of black pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1½ lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ lb. tomatillos, husked
  • 1 jalapeño chile pepper, quartered (including seeds)
  • 6 T. chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • ½ tsp. oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • cubed avocado tossed with lime juice, opt.
  • lime wedges, opt.

*Use 15-oz. of canned hominy if in a hurry, but taste and texture are just not as good as when you start with dried pozole.
Place dried hominy in a non-reactive container and cover with water; soak overnight. Next day, boil posole in salted water for approximately 2-2½ hours or until tender. Drain.  Meanwhile bring the 5 cups of water, chicken bouillon, celery, carrot, half of the chopped onion, half of the minced garlic, bay leaf, black pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil, covered, in a large heavy pot; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add chicken and poach at a bare simmer, uncovered, until chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to cool. Pour broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids, and reserve stock. When chicken is cool enough to handle, coarsely shred with your fingers.

Using the same pot, simmer tomatillos, remaining onion (except for about a quarter cup reserved for garnish), and 1 cup of the reserved chicken stock together, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Gently pour the soft vegetables into a blender or food processor along with the jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro, oregano, remaining garlic, and remaining ½ teaspoons salt. Whirl until well blended. Pour back into the pot and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Combine corn starch and 1 cup reserved broth, add to purée and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken, hominy, and remaining reserved broth and simmer, partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir in remaining 4 tablespoons cilantro and adjust seasonings. Serve pozole in bowls garnished with reserved onion (really a must), avocado, and lime wedges. Lovely with cornbread on the side; a nice cold beer too!



First thing you should know. I love oysters and hate tarragon. Well if truth be told, I used to hate tarragon. Why I hated this herb is now way beyond my comprehension! It truly makes no sense at all when you consider I’ve always loved fennel seed, fresh fennel, and other anise flavored ingredients. But for whatever reason, the charms of tarragon simply eluded me. Perhaps it’s because I never tasted fresh tarragon until I moved to Camano Island. (And believe me the difference between fresh and dried tarragon is about the same as frozen petite peas and peas that have been canned.) Really! And along with my recent discovery that tarragon used in moderation is absolutely delightful, I’ve discovered another anise flavored delicacy – licorice. Now, I’m not talking about those black ropes we ate as kids. I’m talking about the real thing. My favorite is made in Holland (says Holland on the package folks, so who am I to argue with the company who produces the product), calls itself “Dutch Licorice” and is imported by hafco. We buy it at PFI. (If you live in the Seattle area, look up PFI – Pacific Food Importers. And then next time you are near the International District/stadium area, pay a visit to one of my favorite places to shop for imported groceries. It’s not fancy, but if you come out of there not having spent at least $50, you’re a better person than I am. Or at least know how to show better restraint!) But back to oyster stew. (I get so easily distracted!)

This recipe including tarragon is my version of the one dish I always order when we dine at the Oyster Creek Inn, one of our favorite restaurants. The Inn is located along Chuckanut Drive perched on a cliff where the dining room overlooks scenic Oyster Creek. The food is amazing, the service impeccable, and everyone is treated like an old and valued friend. (And not in that smarmy, “Hi, my names Bob, I’ll be your server, is this your first time to our restaurant” kind of way. God I hate that! But rather with the charm of a European restaurant that caters to people who appreciate fine dining.)

On our first visit to the restaurant I found Oyster Stew on the menu. (I love oyster stew.) But I almost didn’t try their version because of the tarragon. (Thank heaven some instinct told me I would not rue my decision, so I went ahead and placed my order.) I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I was with just my first bite. I could not believe that any dish containing tarragon could taste so wonderful. Right then and there I decided I would figure out a way to make this delightful stew at home. Now, to be perfectly honest, my stew is not the same as the stew at the restaurant. I start with a small bit of bacon, and finish with a drop of Pernod or ouzo. The bacon I know they don’t use, and the Pernod is really just a favorite of mine so I add a drop at the end. (Actually, the restaurant too may finish with Pernod, but I certainly can’t attest to that fact. And it’s not like I feel comfortable asking them for the recipe. Even I’m not that gauche!)

So if you too are an oyster stew lover, give this first course stew a try. (I call it a first course stew because it is very, very rich.) But if you are as crazy about oysters as Mr. C. and I both are, just make an entire meal out of it. Just make sure to have lots of oyster crackers on the side. The crackers not only help cut the richness of the stew, they contribute a lovely crunchy element to the meal.

And if you are lucky enough to live in the Pacific NW, especially north of Everett, consider spending an unforgettable evening at the Oyster Creek Inn. Don’t hesitate to order anything on the menu. You will not be disappointed. Visit  for more information. Tell them Mr. and Mrs. C. sent you. (They won’t have a clue who Mr. and Mrs. C are, but it’s always fun to add a little non threatening suspense to someone’s life. Believe me, the wonderful wait staff is up to the challenge!)

  • 2 slices lean bacon, chopped
  • butter, if needed
  • ¼ c. finely chopped shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 small (10-oz.) container fresh oysters
  • 1 (8-oz.) bottle clam juice
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • pinch white pepper
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • ½  tsp. Pernod or Greek ouzo, or to taste
  • 2 T. chopped Italian parsley, opt.
  • oyster crackers, opt.

Fry bacon in a large, heavy covered saucepan until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; set aside. (Bacon will be added as a garnish when stew is served.) Fry the shallot in the bacon grease until transparent. (If not enough bacon grease in pan, add about a tablespoon of butter.) Add garlic and cook for about a minute or until garlic releases aroma. Stir in the flour and let cook for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, strain the oysters through a sieve over a bowl. Reserve oysters; add liquid to the pan. Whisk in the clam juice and chicken stock. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly and cook for about 6 minutes or until liquid reduced to about 2 cups.

Reduce heat to low and add the tarragon, salt, and pepper. Add the heavy cream; cover pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Cut reserved oysters in half, or thirds if they are large and add to pan; cook for about 4 minutes or until just hot. Remove from heat; remove the bay leaf and stir in Pernod. Serve immediately topped with a bit of the fried bacon and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Serve with oyster crackers.



I’ll tell you one thing for sure. Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon recipe has nothing on Margaret Hilty’s version. And who is Margaret Hilty you ask? Well, she was the former wife of one of my former husband’s former physics professors. That’s who! She was also one heck of a wonderful person as well as a fantastic cook. A little story about this amazing woman and this recipe.

For whatever reason, Mrs. Hilty took a liking to me. (Even though Mrs. Hilty was divorced, her former husband (Professor Hilty) used to invite his students and their wives to her house for get-togethers. Apparently they had been married for decades before the divorce, and she still loved having young people in her home.) During these infrequent get-togethers, Mrs. Hilty would serve us the most delicious food.

One night, it was just my husband and I who were invited for dinner and Margaret (by then she had asked us to call her Margaret) served us this amazing dish. I had never tasted anything so good. So right there and then I begged for the recipe. (If possible, I would also have adopted her that evening, but that might have been asking too much!) She was like the perfect white haired grandmother. She enjoyed hearing about my aspirations, was never judgmental, and laughed at my jokes. I made a vow right there and then that when I got older and had a home of my own, I too would always have good food around, not only for my own family but for whoever happened to be in my home at the time.

I also remember thinking that not only was she the best cook I had ever known, she was probably just about the best person I had ever had the privilege to meet. Her way of living life was an inspiration to all of us college age kids. Her ability to keep an open mind and a generous and forgiving spirit was a model for all of us to follow. She was simply an amazing, bright and loving woman. I feel very blessed to have had her in my life, even if it was for only a brief time.

I actually hated when we had to leave her behind after college. But if I ever make it to heaven, I know she will be there waiting with more wonderful recipes to share with me. I hope you enjoy Margaret Hilty’s recipe as much as I do. And thanks for letting me share her story with you.

  • ¼ lb. bacon, chopped
  • 2 lbs. rump roast or other stew type meat cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ½ c. flour
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots cut into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 c. burgundy wine
  • 2 c. beef stock (I use 2 cups water and 2 heaping teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 lb. small whole mushrooms (button preferably)
  • 2 T. minced fresh parsley

Fry bacon until crisp in a large, heavy covered pan. Remove the bacon and set aside. Dry the beef cubes and place in a large plastic bag along with the flour which has been seasoned with the salt and pepper. Shake well to coat the meat. (Don’t forget to zip the bag first, or you too will be coated with flour!) Fry the cubes in the remaining bacon grease until well browned. (Add additional bacon grease or butter if needed to brown all the meat.) When all the meat is brown, remove to a container and set aside. Add the carrots and onions to the pan. Cook until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Again, if you need to add more fat to brown the veggies, do so. Add cooked bacon and meat cubes, along with any meat juices that have accumulated back into the pan with the carrots, onions, and garlic. Stir in the wine while scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits on the bottom. Add the beef broth, bay leaf, thyme, and tomato paste. Cover and simmer slowly for about 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Stir periodically.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a fry pan and sauté the mushrooms for about 5 minutes. When the beef is tender, add the mushrooms. If the gravy is not as thick as you would prefer, add a couple of tablespoons of flour to about a quarter cup of water and slowly stir into the stew. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve over Creamy Mashed Potatoes (recipe below) and sprinkle with parsley.

Hint: Don’t ever discard bacon grease after you have cooked bacon. Store it in a covered container in your refrigerator for just such an occasion as browning the meat in this recipe. BTW – bacon fat has about the same shelf life as a Twinkie. (Don’t quote me on this, because I don’t want the Twinkie folks to sue me, but truly, bacon fat can be stored for months.)


  • 2 very large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 2-inch pieces
  • kosher salt
  • 6 T. butter, room temperature
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • milk

Place the potatoes and about a tablespoon of salt in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are super tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Pour back into pan and set on stove using lowest heat setting available. Mash the potatoes and butter together. Add pepper and enough milk to make a creamy, not too stiff mixture. Adjust seasoning. Cover pan, turn off heat and serve immediately. Or, place in oven on low setting until ready to serve.






Recently I posted a recipe for Carbonnade à la Flamande (Belgian Beef, Beer, and onion stew). On that post I also referenced Boeuf à la Bourguignonne (Beef Bourguignon or Beef Burgundy). (Recipe to be posted within the next couple of days.) But today, I am going to write about my take on a less well known classic French dish – Poulet Au Vin Blanc.

Poulet Au Vin Blanc, a stew like dish with chicken, wine and vegetables is the absolute definition of comfort food. Doesn’t matter whether you are sitting in a French café during a thunderous rainstorm or sitting in your own dining room listening to your children argue over whose turn it is to clear the table, this dish is magnificent! It is also a dish that I think your entire family will enjoy; even your children who might normally reject food containing onions, mushrooms, or carrots. (Actually your little ones might not even notice these evil ingredients if you serve the stew over mashed potatoes.) I personally prefer biscuits with this stew, but I realize some concessions have to be made when there are pre-pubescent gourmets in the family.

BTW, I would much rather be sitting in a small café in Paris eating this dish than at a table with young children. But then, you see, I’ve survived the pleasure of dining with small children. I remember thinking at the time – will these darlings ever grow up?  (I probably used another word besides “darlings”, but I obviously blocked the word from my memory bank.) Now I only wish I could dine more often with their adult counterparts.

And yes, this is definitely one of the dishes I would fix for them. And yes I like to use the French name for a dish when appropriate. Someday I’ll even go so far as to post a recipe for a “casserole” on this site. That should prove how sophisticated I am about French cuisine!

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite sized pieces
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ lb. small white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 lg. Yukon Gold potato (10-oz.), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 lg. carrot, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 medium onion, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. flour
  • 1 c. dry white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 c. chicken stock or broth (I use water and a couple teaspoons (or to taste) of either Better Than Bouillon Chicken or Turkey Base
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or ¾ tsp. dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, opt.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add the chicken pieces, which have been generously seasoned with salt and pepper, in a single layer. Fry the chicken over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 7 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a bowl. (Do not over-cook the chicken. You want it tender and juicy.) Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan and add the mushrooms; cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to the same bowl as the chicken; set aside.

Add the second tablespoon of butter to the pan along with the potato, carrot, and onion; cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Stir in the flour. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock, thyme, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer over low heat until the potato and carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the heavy cream, the cooked chicken and mushrooms, along with any accumulated juices, and adjust seasonings. Simmer for about 2 minutes, or until all the ingredients are hot. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over buttermilk biscuits or Creamy Mashed Potatoes. (Recipe for potatoes under blog post for Carbonnade.)




There are few foods as comforting to eat as chicken and dumplings. Every time I make this dish I am transported back to my childhood when chicken was the featured meat almost every Sunday. My grandmother was the queen of frying chicken and also of a dish she called Southern fried chicken. Her version of southern fried chicken started with chicken perfectly fried in lots of butter.  Then she adding cream, covered the pan, and baked it for 30-40 minutes. And on the rare occasions when she made dumplings to go on top of the creamy sauce, I was one very happy little girl.

Well now that I’m older than my grandmother was when she was preparing this dish, and much more aware of calories, cholesterol, and the importance of using less protein and more veggies in dishes, I came up with this recipe. It will never replace my grandmothers’ butter and heavy cream laden sauce, nor will the chickens I cook ever be as fresh or flavorful. (My grandparents sold eggs for a living, so the chickens we ate were grain fed, free to roam in a fairly large chicken house, and killed only a couple of hours before being cooked.) But regardless, the flavor of the sauce in this recipe is both rich and savory. The addition of fresh parsley and thyme to the dumpling batter help make them savory too. Plus the addition of corn meal adds a bit of density to the dumpling batter which prevents the cooked dumplings from having that “not-quite-done” consistency.

So next time you are feeling like a little comfort food is in order, prepare this easy and fairly inexpensive dish. Your family will love it! And although you might feel that a salad or something else is necessary to serve along with the stew, resist the urge. After all, you have all the basic food groups (except chocolate of course) covered in this one pot meal. Remember we are talking comfort food here, and you deserve a little comfort too. So instead of building a salad, have a glass of wine. I promise you no one will miss the salad, but you will miss out on the whole “comfort food experience” if you make the meal complicated. Use the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Sweetie!


  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. finely diced carrots
  • 1/2 c. finely diced celery
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/8 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 c. white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. + 1 T. minced fresh parsley


  • 3/4 c. all-purpose Flour
  • 1/4 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme, opt.
  • 3/4 c. half-and-half

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Place flour in a re-sealable plastic bag and add the chicken pieces. Seal the bag and turn the bag several times until the chicken is completely coated with flour. Melt the butter and olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pot, add the diced onion, carrot, and celery. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in the dried thyme, turmeric, poultry seasoning, bay leaf, and white wine. Cook until the white wine is reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Add the chicken broth and cover pot; simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the gravy is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients and gently stir in the 2 teaspoons parsley, thyme, and the half-and-half. Set aside.

After the gravy has simmered for 20 minutes, add the cooked chicken, heavy cream, and remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley; stir to combine. Adjust seasoning.

Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer on low for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, completely cover pan and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.