Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Weekly Recipe: Libby’s Lemon Chicken

This recipe is one I’ve wanted to try since first flipping through my cookbook, Maine Home Cooking.  It spoke to me for a number of reasons: first, although its name is certainly not connected to my Aunt Libby, I can’t read the title without it calling her to mind (she passed away of breast cancer when I was 14, and was a very special woman); second, the ingredient list includes several favorites of mine (capers, white wine, and lemon); and third, I love any chicken dish that requires me to flour and fry the chicken lightly before baking in a sauce.  These inevitably seem to turn out well!

The recipe can be found on page 90 and serves 5-6.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons capers with juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • several stalks of parsley, finely minced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice each piece of boneless chicken horizontally.  Put the slices between two pieces of waxed paper and pound them gently with a mallet or rolling pin.  Toss together the flour, salt, and pepper and dip each piece in the mixture, shaking off the excess.  Put a little olive oil in a heavy skillet and make it quite hot.  Cook the chicken slices for 3-4 minutes per side, and remove them to a baking dish.

Chicken in the hot skillet

Chicken in the hot skillet

Add the capers and wine to the pan and cook until you can scrape up the little stuck-on bits.  Pour it over the chicken in the baking dish and lay the lemon slices over the chicken.

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Put the chicken in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.  Lay the chicken on a platter, pour the juices over it, distribute the lemon slices, and sprinkle with parsley.

The lemon slices really make this dish visually appealing.

The lemon slices really make this dish visually appealing.

I made this recipe for my in-laws first night in town over Easter weekend.  As sides, I roasted red potatoes and sauteed asparagus.  The chicken was tender and flavorful (although it could have benefitted from slightly more salt and pepper!), and all in all, the meal received rave reviews.  It was also a pretty easy, straightforward recipe that gave me the opportunity to indulge in a glass of wine.

Time to enjoy!

Time to enjoy!

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Weekly Recipe: Oven Beef Stew

You may have noticed this is my second weekly recipe post within days – I’m making up for lost time, you see.  I owe you one weekly recipe, and here it is.

This Oven Beef Stew recipe from Recipes from the Maine Kitchen is one of my all-time favorites. Just ask my husband – I make it at least once a month in the fall and winter, always on a Sunday, and the smell fills the house.  As a result, your mouth is watering long before it’s ready, and in my case, that means I have to have a bit of cheese and wine on hand to keep me patient.

I have modified this recipe, which can be found on page 64.  The list below are the ingredients and quantities I use, and in parantheses beside them, I’ve included what the original recipe called for.

1 onion, chopped

1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes

1 10.5 oz can mushroom soup

2 cups beef broth (1 cup water)

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon flour (1/3 cup tapioca)

3 or 4 peppercorns

1 bay leaf (I’ve made this recipe with it and without it – it’s nice to have, but doesn’t have a significant impact on flavor)

1.5 lbs stew beef, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 lb. carrots, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 large potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes

1/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

(I also like to add a bit of seasoning salt)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place all the ingredients into a Dutch oven or covered pan and cook for 3 hours.  This recipe serves 4-6.

Turns out pictures of beef stew don't look so yummy.  You'll have to trust me that it's delicious.

Turns out pictures of beef stew don’t look so yummy. You’ll have to trust me that it’s delicious.

This recipe in particular is a stellar example of why I love this cookbook – it’s simple, easy, hearty, and healthy.  Most of the ingredients I already have in my house, so if I get an urge to make it, my grocery list is minimal.  In this case, I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper, for several reasons – the first, I like to incorporate some sort of seasoning that isn’t salt and pepper, and my preference is a nice, spicy punch; the second is more health-based – using hot spices, like Cayenne actually revs your metabolism a bit.

What could be better on a cold winter day in Maine than beef stew?


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Weekly Recipe: Homemade Tomato Soup

This tomato soup recipe is one that I first learned from my cousin’s wife’s blog – which you can check out at http://www.piercewholenutrition.blogspot.com/.  Ann is a Master Nutrition Therapist, and this is originally one of her family’s recipes.  My mom and I modified it a bit when we made it on Christmas Day, but it’s great just as it is.

I like it because it’s homemade, healthy, and easy.  It was also a good lunch option for a busy Christmas in Maine – warm and tasty without being labor-intensive.  You’ll need:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup dry vermouth

2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (I have used regular tomatoes, and I also skip the peeling – the skins make it healthier)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth

2 tablespoons of mixed herbs (parsley, chives, tarragon)

Tomatoes!

In a large pot, warm the olive oil.  Add the onion, fennel, and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.  Add vermouth and cook until evaporated (in this case, we didn’t have any vermouth – although dear old Dad swore that we did until the moment of truth – we supplemented by adding roughly a 1/2 cup of sherry at the very end of cooking, and it truly made the soup something special).  Add tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down (8-10 minutes).  I didn’t cut the tomatoes into small enough pieces this time around – I usually cut them in eighths, and quarters isn’t quite enough.

Tomatoes, breaking down

Tomatoes, breaking down

Add broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes.  Wait until the soup has cooled, and, using an immersion blender (also known as a stick  blender), puree the soup, leaving some chunks for texture.  If you don’t have one, you can use a regular blender or food processor (you should wait to do this until the soup has cooled, but when I’ve been in a rush, I have done it while the soup is still quite hot, and it didn’t cause any problems).  Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the herbs when ready to serve.

In this case, as I mentioned, we substituted a 1/2 cup of sherry for the vermouth, and we also added about 3 tablespoons of butter, which smoothed out the flavors nicely.

When I make this at home, I usually make grilled cheese sandwiches as well – the perfect complement to this soup on a chilly day.

The end result:

Truly - good enough to eat!

Truly – good enough to eat!

Try and enjoy!  Happy Holidays to all.


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Christmas Shopping in the Old Port

Shopping in the Old Port is a pleasure at any time of year, but the holiday spirit adds a sense of excitement and anticipation to the atmosphere.  As the time until Christmas morning grows shorter, I wanted to quickly highlight a few of my favorite Old Port stores and recommend that you stop in – you might find the perfect gift for someone on your list!

My puppy, Lexi (pictured below – isn’t she cute?), will surely be getting a gift from Fetch – located at 195 Commercial Street, this pet store is right on the waterfront.  Since opening in 2000, their mission is to improve the quality of life of animals and their people with healthy natural diets (and other edibles), a great selection of gear, a depth of knowledge, and a spirit of good fun.  Based on my shopping experiences there, I certainly feel they’re delivering on their mission!  They have a great set up for browsing and an excellent selection of food, gear, and pet accessories.  Check out their website and stop in – their hours are Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm and Sunday 10am – 5pm.

Lexi

Portland offers a number of quality jewelry stores, but I have to highlight D. Cole Jewelers, located on Exchange Street in the Old Port.  I’ve known the owners, Dean and Denise Cole, for most of my life, and I have incredible respect for them and their family.  My brother and I are close in age to their son and daughter, Ryan and Emily, who also work in the store now, and we used to carpool to school together.  Dean and Denise were fun and easy to talk to – no small feat when dealing with teenagers – and their entire family reflects the best of Maine: generosity, kindness, and a willingness to lend a hand whenever it’s needed.  For purposes of this post, I can tell you this jewelry store is well worth the visit for its quality – their designs are beautiful and unique – and they also provide excellent customer service.  My husband worked with Ryan to design my engagement ring (check out their bridal gallery), knowing how much it would matter to me that it came from their store.  Please stop by and experience what a special place this is – their hours are Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm and Sundays noon – 5pm (on Friday nights, they stay open until 8pm).  You can reach them via phone at 207-772-5119.

It’s no secret that I love to cook, so naturally, I love LeRoux Kitchen, located in the Old Port on Commercial Street, with additional locations in Portsmouth, NH and on Martha’s Vineyard.  This is an exceptional store for the home cook – whether you’re a beginner or a culinary whiz.  My mom and I go in every time I’m home.  They have everything from unique kitchen gadgets, to bakeware, to beverage and glassware, to cast iron pots and pans (my personal area of interest at the moment), and much, much more.  LeRoux is also offering a gift registry service now.  Call them at 207-553-7665 or stop in, Monday – Saturday, 9am – 8pm, Sunday 10am – 6pm.

LeRoux Portland

There are many wonderful stores in the Old Port, each with their own unique style, and offering a variety of merchandise from clothing to children’s toys to antiques.  Visit this great part of Maine in person to experience it for yourself – I know you will love it!  Here are a few more stores, with website links, to wet your whistle:

Bliss Boutiques

Cool As A Moose

Helene M

Old Port Card Works

Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine

For a more complete listing of local stores, click here and spent some time on the ‘Portland Maine’ website.  Good luck with your shopping this holiday season, and be sure to indulge in a little hot chocolate from Maine Bean Cafe!