Archive for October, 2009

Pasta Improv with odds and ends

October 26th, 2009

pastaimprov3Click here to view the recipe!

Sunday lunch can sometimes seem like a challenge. I often want something more substantial than a sandwich after a morning of working in the garden but I want it quick — I’ve been hungry for an hour already! If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely got lots of odds and ends in the fridge that, with just a little inspiration, can be turned into a supremely satisfying, hot meal.

Have a look in *your* fridge… Half a bell pepper? Perfect! Leftover roast chicken? That’ll work! Add capers, olive oil, some canned tomatoes or fresh, some chopped garlic, perhaps a few other herbs from the garden (dried herbs are fine, too) and your emergency package of pasta (everyone has one of these in the cupboard, right?) and you’re good to go. Are you getting the hang of it? Be creative and use what appeals to *you*. There are no hard and fast rules, as implied by the name ‘Pasta Improv’.

Here’s the secret – what will really give your dish that something special, transforming it from a collection of ingredients to a finished entree, is the splash of ACADÉMIE’s Blend #1. A dash of wine ties the flavors together, and at the same time, gives you a piquant and toothsome sauce. Sunday lunch never had it so good!

Click here to view the recipe!

Nouveau Coq au Vin

October 20th, 2009

Bon Apetit!Click here to view the recipe!

After going to see the movie Julie and Julia a few weeks ago, I’ve been intending to pull out my copy of Julia Child’s The French Chef Cookbook and spend some quality time in the kitchen. With out-of-town guests visiting this past weekend, it seemed an opportune time to put togther a satisfying and celebratory meal… but after reading Julia’s version of Coq au Vin, I knew I did not have quite that much time to devote to the task. The answer? An abbreviated recipe, both delicous and expeditious, that I’ve dubbed Nouveau Coq au Vin!

The original version of this famous casserole is broken down into 6 sub-recipes and includes several additional maneuvers (such as simmering the bacon as well as the onion in water before sauteing) that I’ve edited out for expediency. I should also confess that I’ve substituted chicken breasts for a whole, cut-up frying chicken and that I am guilty of such things as crowding the pan while cooking the chicken, so that it did not brown quite as much as if I had done it in either a larger pan or in two batches. Sometimes, I believe, the cook must improvise and use the ingredients as well as the cookware at hand! It was, however, delicious nonetheless and garnered rave reviews from our dinner guests, who appreciated the chicken’s rich color and savory flavor added by ACADÉMIE’s Blend #3 as well as the deeply colored and luxurious sauce, perfect for mopping up with bread.

As Julia would say, “Bon Appetit!”

Click here to view the recipe!

Black Bean Stew with Red Wine

October 13th, 2009

Blackbean Soup

View the recipe here!

Fall is here. I can feel it in the air. True, we live in gorgeous Northern California, but lately there has been a decided crispness in the breeze along with the occasional waft of woodsmoke, and maybe, just maybe, it’s almost time to think about wearing something other than flipflops.

I love these autumn days and the transition to heartier, more warming foods, so when thinking about what to have for a weeknight dinner, I was drawn to thoughts of soups and stews. I wanted something easy, and something I could put together quickly, so thinking ahead, I set some black beans out for an overnight soak. (If this is more prep than you are wont to do, don’t hesitate to use canned beans!)

With the beans ready to go, I dug out my favorite soup pot (a large, enameled cast iron affair), switched my Pandora station to Sarah Vaughan (seemed to go well with soup), and rolled up my sleeves. OK, truth be told, the hardest part of this recipe is probably uncorking the wine bottle, and even that was easy, as I have a lot of practice! ;-) With only 6 primary ingredients plus water and spices, you don’t have to be a gourmet cook to make a fantastically flavorful meal.

And about that flavor… Blend #1 does exactly as advertised — it lends depth and complexity — and pairs perfectly with the fire roasted tomatoes, giving this black bean stew a lightly smoky flavor that’s enhanced and balanced by the soft tang of the wine. I added a tablespoon of Blend #1 after the stew was finished cooking to incorporate an additional layer of flavor. The review from my dining partner? Delicious!

With a simple green salad, some crusty French bread and the remainder of the bottle of Blend #1 split between two wine glasses, this was an easy, healthy and palate pleasing meal!

View the recipe here!