March 28, 2008

Poule au Pot Façon 'Asiatique'

Thank Heavens for the French language. It sure makes "Chicken In A Pot" sound like something worthy of serving to a king.

My Poule au Pot is a homemade whole chicken soup with asian herbs and spices thrown in to elevate it from sick-people soup to let's-invite-people-over soup. Or better yet: let's eat-it-all-ourselves soup.

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Whatever, it's Chicken In a Pot and it's good.

The great thing about this Chicken in a Pot is that it's: easy, nourishing, colorful, and it makes tasty leftovers. Nothing is canned or pre-fab. All you need is a chicken, some water, some vegetables, some herbs – et voilà! – you have Chicken in a Pot. Or rather, Poule au Pot.

Now, I'm lucky because I live right next to a Vietnamese grocery store that sells cool things like: won ton wrappers, kaffir limes, lemon grass, thai basil, thai chives, galanga, steamed pork buns, and a bunch of other long leaf herbs I haven't gotten around to exploring yet. I just buy stuff and toss stuff it into my poule au pot and see what happens.

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Galanga (pictured left), you might be familiar with now that Whole Foods carries it regularly, is a wonderful form of ginger. To me and my overactive tastebuds, it tastes of eucalyptus, ginger, and cedar. I like to slice it and toss it in the broth to simmer. I wouldn't try eating it whole. Very woody.

Kaffir lime (picutred right) looks like a small bumpy hand grenade and its zest is even more explosive – sort of lime tasting with a strong furniture polish overtone. Lemon Pledge to be exact. The fruit is also powerful, but I normally stick to the zest. Just a sprinkle over top the before serving.

Thai chives (pictured center) are fatter and stronger in flavor than their normal counter part and I use them in place of green onion. Be careful when storing these in the refrigerator because everything will take on their flavor; butter and eggs included. This is not necessarily a bad thing unless you were hoping for buttered toast and jam in the morning sans onions.

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I simmer my Chicken in a Pot and then when I'm minutes away from serving toss in bok choy, baby corns, mushrooms, or whatever else makes my soup pretty and nutritious.

There's another more personal reason why I'm really in love with this recipe and it's not just because I don't have an oven at home...

I eat two staff meals at the restaurant I cook at and sometimes I go for weeks without eating lean protein or green vegetables. Sounds crazy right? I mean, I cook at a world renowned restaurant. I bet you thought I munch on caviar and truffles all day.

Well, not exactly.

The other day, I turned to a cook I work with and I asked him when was the last time he ate something green. He couldn't remember. Neither could I. We vowed to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables over the weekend.

Staff meals consist of the 4 "other" French food groups: starch, protein, fat, and salt.

I'll give you some examples: mashed potatoes (with a pound of butter) and Toulouse sausage. Or buttered pasta with tripe stew. Or cerveaux (brains) with creamy potatoes au gratin. Or canned cabbage (is this a vegetable?) with poitrine de porc.

Here's what my California body prefers: lean protein, herbs with anti-oxidants, steamed greens, fresh vegetables, NO FAT.

So while your enjoying the most amazing 3-star meal on earth in the dining room, I'm eating farm hand food in the kitchen. Ah well, that's the breaks. I'll tell you, the young French cooks eat it up like it was going out of style.

Cailfornia dreamin', my French/Asian Poule au Pot really hits the spot. TRY IT!

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December 11, 2007

Suprême de Volaille Farcies aux Champignons Sauvages

Here it is – the moment you've all been waiting for – another chicken recipe! But, this one is special because it has a French title which automatically elevates it from mundane to elegant. Why is that? Regardless, chicken breasts stuffed with wild mushrooms is anything but boring.

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I wanted to post some recipes during the holidays that are easy to prepare for a diner party, light in fat, low in cost, French, and beautiful. Immediately chicken stuffed with wild mushrooms came to mind. Chanterelles, shitake, and oyster mushrooms are plentiful right now so take your pick or use all of them together.

If serving this dish to a crowd, stuff the chicken ahead of time. Cook it à la minute after your first course and let your guests marvel at your chef capabilities. The chicken takes 6 minutes to cook through and the sauce about 3 minutes. A word to the wise, practice once beforehand so you are comfortable with the time limitations.

Holiday shopping getting you down? Watch my video – at least you're not cooking on a two burner plaque! (okay, so it's in Paris, tant pis.) 'Tis the season to be jolly! (recipe on page continued. Click on the link at the very bottom)

More Chicken Recipes from the Blogoshpere:

Chicken and Mushroom Cream Sauce
Pan Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms, Onions, Rosemary
Chicken, Mushrooms, Tomatoes with Port Wine

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August 19, 2007

Paris On The Terrace: BBQ Chicken

Without fail, whenever I make a video on my terrace, it rains! Nonetheless, I think this video is still entertaining – in the same way rubber yellow chicken gags are entertaining. You'll see what I mean if you watch the video. I got the idea from ex-pat blogger Meg of La Blagueur À Paris who asked me if I would do a video on how to section chicken from a whole bird.

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I prefer to buy whole chickens for many reasons: they are more sanitary and have had less contact with bacteria from packing facilities, I can make up to 8 servings and cut fancier sections for presentation, it's easy to make chicken stock from the carcass, it costs less per pound, and it takes five minutes extra of my time.

For this recipe the chicken was simply slapped on the grill with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, and some dried thyme. I like barbecue sauces, rubs, and marinades but I don't always think they're necessary if the product is great to begin with. My chicken was exceptional (mais oui, c'est français) and you can tell by the color of the yellow skin that it had a corn diet.

Different regions in France feed their chickens different diets and they are quite proud and protective of their particular poulet product. It is the French emblem afterall – Le Coq!!! France is probably most famous for it's Bresse chicken which is the only poulet in France to have it’s own Appelation Origine Controlée (A.O.C.). This means there are strict laws governing how and where these birds are raised. After thirty-five days exactly, the birds are range fed in a grassy area. This diet is supplemented with cereals and skimmed milk. The last phase of production is completed in ventilated wooden cages that are in a quiet and low-lit location in order to keep the chickens happy and calm.

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I chose a yellow corn fed chicken from Landes, France for my recipe because they are hearty in texture (but juicy) and will stand up better to the smoke flavor from the barbecue. I find that chickens from Landes pair nicely with bacon, blue cheese, and other intensely flavored foods. I would never in a million years pair the delicacy of a Bresse chicken with anything so overwhelming in flavor as bacon or the value of the milk diet would be lost – quel horreur! However, poulet de Bresse does pair well with some rich foods including foie gras and truffles.

At the time I filmed this video new potatoes, chanterelle (girolle) mushrooms, and apricots were just hitting the farmer's market stalls in Paris. The grilled vegetable salad with mustard seed vinaigrette was a tribute to what started out as a promising hot summer. Oh well, at least we got a little sun in the beginning of the season! The apricots are simply brushed with a honey-basalmic glaze and grilled for a few minutes each side.

I think this video is pretty funny. I'm a total dork in it, so have a few laughs at my expense....

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March 16, 2007

Coq Au Vin: Bistro Dinner for 8

While I was home in San Francisco – on vacation – my mother put me to work. "You wouldn't mind cooking for just a few friends?" Three large dinner parties later I decided that bistro fare was a little more manageable for my own sanity.

My mother doesn't brag too much about my cooking. But most of her telephone calls to our inviteés went something like this: "Are you busy Friday? You know, Amy's cooking – my daughter, the chef? Yes, she's back from working in a 3-star michelin Parisian restaurant and she said she'll cook for us."

No pressure...

So here's a menu that's guaranteed to impress the masses. But you must start the Coq Au Vin the day before. Don't trust any of those 30-minute Coq Au Vin recipes. There is no substitute for the real deal.

And by the way, no one in France really uses Roosters anymore. To do so would be revolting by Paris standards. Back in the day, you soaked the nextdoor neighbor's rooster (who was driving you crazy with his 4Am wake up call) in red wine and then cooked it slowly to tenderize the annoying little pecker before serving it back to your neighbor over a friendly bottle of bordeaux. That's passé. I don't even know where you can buy a rooster in Paris. Feel free to use chickens instead.

Salad Verte avec Tarragon Vinaigrette
Coq Au Vin
Assiette du Fromage:

Tarte Au Poire et Cardamom Crème Anglaise


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Click on "Continue reading" for les recettes!

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August 19, 2006

French Bistro Style Roast Chicken & Roasted Garlic Parsley Potatoes

If I can't make my nephew Bohan eat every bite on his plate, then I'm not doing my job. Let's face it, the toughest customers at every family get together are the ones below the age of five. Happily my most discriminating client ate everything on his plate and then helped mom out too – much to the surprise of both Grandmas who aren't always as successful. Woo-ooo!


This menu is straight out of the Paris bistros and really is a simple crowd pleaser: roast chicken with jus, roasted parsley potatoes with a little garlic, and glazed carrots. It's hard to mess up roast chicken, but I have some tips on how to insure crispy brown skin, juicy flesh, and create delicious jus from scratch. Click on "continue reading French Bistro Style..." at the bottom of the page for the recipe.


Okay, Nina is not quite old enough to enjoy roast chicken yet, but she sure is a lively pleasure to have at the dinner table with all her baby talk, cooing, and bubble blowing. Quite the attention stealer actually (sigh!) she did grab for my plate a few times, so maybe she thought it was worth a closer look?


It was good to be home, even if time went by too fast. Wouldn't want my nephew's and niece's not to know who I am! That would be terrible. If nothing else hopefully they'll remember that I'm the one who can cook good kids meals.

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April 26, 2006

Crispy Sea Bass with Capers, Lemon, and Chicken Jus

This recipe reminded me of Zuni's restaurant in San Francisco. (Haven't been? You must go!) The sauce was reminiscent of the jus they do for their specialty roast chicken. You know, the one you have to wait 45 minutes that's cooked in a wood fire oven and worth every second? This dish, Croustillant de Bar Au Pain Perdu, is fish, but it has a chicken jus combined with brown butter and the salad has a tangy red wine shallot vinegar dressing that compliments the fish and the chicken jus perfectly.


Even Jamie, my cooking partner at Le Cordon Bleu, who made the worst grimaces when the chef brought out a tin of capers during our demonstration, couldn't get enough of the sauce. And she's a vegetarian! I saw her gobble down the chicken jus like there was no tomorrow! I might have been sighted licking my plate, but I wouldn't want to admit to that in public.

The toughest part of this dish is wrangling with the sea bass. They are huge with fins that poke holes in your fingers, and big scales with tough skin. I filleted one huge one (1.5 feet) for us to share and it took me at least thirty minutes. Thankfully Jamie compensated and prepared our jus from carmelized chicken bones and chicken stock as well as most of the garnishes. By the way, if you haven't already check out my video on filleting fish it should be running smoother.

I have simplified the recipe because most of us don't have the luxury of using thirty million pots and pans and taking the time to make homemade chicken stock. If Rachel Ray only has 20 minutes to whip up chili, then how are the rest of us supposed to manage? The sauce is an old popular French recette that can be used to accompany poultry, white fish, or eve perhaps breaded veal.

Recipe is on the next page...

Just bought the Zuni cookbook and it's incredible. My French chefs would have a fit it they read some of her techniques, but I love it! She won two James Beard awards for outstanding restaurant and oustanding cookbook. Worth the splurge

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March 29, 2006

Homemade Saucisson: Boudin Blanc

Making sausage is really fun and we've made a lot of it at Le Cordon Bleu. It tastes much better than the commercial kind filled with chemicals, additives, and un-identifyable meat. It's not difficult to make if you have a meat grinder (or a butcher who will grind it for you), a plastic pastry bag, and a sausage pastry tip. The trickiest part is finding the natural casing (intestines cleaned) and pure pork fat or fatback (so it won't dry out). After you get the basic technique down you can get really crazy with maple sausage breakfast links or fiery Italian sausage, the possibilities are endless...


This article is for Matthew Rose who asked me how to make sausage, specifically Boudin Noir. I prefer Boudin Blanc for it's delicate flavor and lack of blood, however, the methods are the same. The problem with Boudin Noir is finding the blood. Sometimes we get pints of it in the kitchens at LCB for specific recipes like Poulet en Barbouille – pint of pig blood anyone? Blood when it's cooked binds ingredients together and turns a beautiful dark chocolate color, but it takes some getting used to. Here's the technique:



Grind all the meat and fat up together. Weigh meat and add salt and pepper to it (20g salt/ kilo meat, 4g pepper/ kilo meat). Then mix meat and all precooked & cooled ingredients together in a big bowl. Load up your pastry bag with meat filing and pastry tip and scrunch casing over the tip then tie off the end of the casing. Gently squeeze away. Make sure not to overfill so you can tie off links with cooking string. Once finished poke a few holes in casing with toothpick, especially if there's any air bubbles. Boil for 20 minutes then fry up! Voila!

After cross referencing many different Boudin Blanc recipes they all seem to be the same with the exception of whether or not to add breadcrumbs instead of potato starch. Here's the old tried and true standby sans breadcrumbs...

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