Food & Drink

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Muffins

By Barbara Beltrami

When the kids were little, we used to carve pumpkins and then use the insides to make all kinds of pumpkin goodies: pumpkin bread, which we froze for Thanksgiving; pumpkin soup and pie and pudding; and cookies and cakes. Each year we would try a new recipe for the jack-o’-lantern’s innards; sometimes it was great like the pumpkin-butterscotch muffins and sometimes it was awful like the pumpkin tapioca. But we always had fun looking up recipes and concocting something new. Here are two of our success stories.

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Muffins

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Muffins

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

¾ cup pureed cooked fresh pumpkin, drained

¼ cup water

1¼ cups flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2/3 cup butterscotch morsels

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a muffin pan or insert paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine sugars, oil and eggs. Stir in pumpkin and water. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add the pumpkin mixture and butterscotch morsels; stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until crusty on top and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with cream cheese, butter or apple butter and hot coffee, tea or chocolate.

Pumpkin Crumble

Pumpkin Crumble

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick unsalted butter

4 cups pureed cooked fresh pumpkin, drained 

2 cups light cream or half and half

1½ cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

¾ cup flour

½ cup finely chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. With one tablespoon of the butter, grease the bottom and sides of a 13×9×5-inch baking dish. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, cream, sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and half the salt until well blended. In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, pecans and remaining half teaspoon salt. Melt remaining butter, add to oat mixture and toss well. Spread pumpkin mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish; sprinkle oat mixture on top. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until pumpkin mixture is set but a little wobbly in the middle if dish is moved back and forth and oat mixture is golden and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and hot apple cider.

Pasta with Walnut Sauce

By Barbara Beltrami

Come October it was always there. The peaches and plums and cherries in the big yellow bowl on the kitchen table gave way to apples and pears and walnuts accompanied by an ancient slightly rusty nutcracker and mother of pearl-handled fruit knives thrust among them. When we came home from school, we would grab a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts on our way upstairs to do our homework. Inevitably we would be chastened later for having left a trail of nutshell shards behind us and not putting the nutcracker back in the bowl. If you like walnuts as much as I did and still do, here are some recipes you’ll love.

Pasta with Creamy Walnut Sauce

Pasta with Walnut Sauce

YIELD: Makes 1½ to 2 cups sauce

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound pasta

1¼ cups chopped shelled walnuts

1 garlic clove

¹/3 cup light cream

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a food processor combine walnuts and garlic; pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add cream, oil, thyme, salt and pepper and process to a coarse paste with pieces still remaining. Add 4 tablespoons pasta water and Parmesan cheese and pulse a few more times (sauce should be chunky, not smooth). If desired, place sauce in a small skillet over medium heat to warm. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and pour sauce over it. Serve with a light salad or green vegetable on the side.

Candied Walnuts

Candied Walnuts

YIELD: Makes 3 cups

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg white at room temperature

1/2 pound shelled walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a small bowl, combine the sugars, salt, cinnamon and pepper. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white till frothy; add one tablespoon room temperature water and whisk in. Add walnuts and stir to coat; add sugar mixture and stir again. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and spread nuts on it. Bake 15 minutes, stir the nuts, then bake another 15 minutes until nuts are toasted and sugar coating is caramelized. Serve alone as a snack or with salad or cheese.

Walnut–Arugula Pesto

Walnut Arugula Pesto

 

YIELD: Makes 1 cup

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1 garlic clove

2 cups tightly packed arugula

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in an electric food processor and, stopping to scrape sides of bowl frequently, process until smooth and light green. Serve with pasta, crostini, crackers, chips, chicken or fish, as a sandwich spread or dip.

This year's event will feature samplings from Danfords Wave Seafood & Steak

Save the date! The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Dan’s Papers, will host its 11th annual The Taste @ Port Jefferson at the Village Center, 101-A E. Broadway, Port Jefferson overlooking the Harborfront Park and harbor on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 6 to 10 p.m.

This year’s event will feature  samplings from Kilwins. 

In celebration, the chamber has reached out to the greater Port Jefferson restaurant community and will highlight over 20 restaurants and purveyors offering top-quality food tastings and desserts as well as samples of premium liquors, wines and beers. The event, for ages 21 and over, will feature musical entertainment by the popular band 1 Step Ahead. 

As of press time, participating businesses include Barito’s, Bliss Restaurant, C’est Cheese, Costco, Danfords Wave Seafood & Steak, Dos MexiCuban Cantina, Kilwins, Flying Pig Cafe, Haikara Sake, Twin Stills Moonshine, L.I. Pour House Bar & Grill, Locals Cafe, Manhattan Beer, MELTology Mount Sinai, PJ Brewing Co., Port Jefferson Frigate, PJ Lobster House, Slurp Ramen, Starbucks, The Steam Room, St. Charles Hospital, Tuscany Gourmet Market, Uncle Giuseppe’s and The Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club.

Sponsors this year include St. Charles Hospital, Paraco Gas, Harbor Hot Tubs, Haikara, TGIF Rentals and Fenelon Landscapes. BNB Bank is this year’s VIP Lounge Sponsor Dan’s Papers is the media sponsor.

Tickets, which may be purchased online at www.tasteatportjeff.com, are $70 per person for general admission starting at 7 p.m. and $99 for VIP guests at 6 p.m., which includes early access by one hour, a special VIP lounge with a private seating area, speciality spirits, dishes, wine pours and more. For further details, call 631-473-1414.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Shallots and Mushrooms

By Barbara Beltrami

A recent trip to a farm stand out east provided more than I had bargained for. I had stopped to pick up winter squash as an accompaniment to a flavorful main dish. But when I beheld the cornucopia of varieties gorgeous and green and gold, earthy and tawny, tumbling from crates and mounded in baskets, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I wanted to buy them all. However, I showed remarkable restraint and took home just a couple of spaghetti and acorn squashes. Then I couldn’t decide between the following two recipes so I made them both! 

Stuffed Winter Squash

YIELD: Makes 4 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 large, 2 medium or 4 small winter squash, any variety

3/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs

¹/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Chopped leaves from one handful Italian flat-leaf parsley

2/3 cup pignoli nuts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano, thyme or sage

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash, halve and seed the squash. With a sharp spoon scrape out flesh until only half an inch is left inside the shell. Place flesh in a food processor and puree until as smooth as possible. Transfer to a medium bowl; add breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, nuts, pepper and herbs; and mix thoroughly. Scoop mixture into hollowed-out shells; dot with butter. Fill a shallow baking pan with one to two inches of water; then place the filled shells in the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more, until tops begin to turn golden brown. Serve immediately with Italian sausages, pork or poultry and couscous or wild rice.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Shallots and Mushrooms

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Shallots and Mushrooms

YIELD: Makes 4 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

2 small spaghetti squashes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 small shallots, minced

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, basil or thyme leaves, minced

5 to 6 large fresh Roma tomatoes, finely chopped

4 to 6 ounces fresh white mushrooms, diced

DIRECTIONS:

Wash and quarter the squash. With a spoon, scoop out seeds. Place wedges skin side down in a large skillet and fill it with two inches of water or just enough to touch bottoms of wedges. Cover and cook over low-medium heat 20 minutes or until very tender. Check occasionally to be sure water hasn’t boiled away. Remove squash from heat and when it is cool enough to handle, scrape flesh into a medium bowl. Add two tablespoons butter, salt and pepper; mash and mix thoroughly. Set aside to keep warm.  

In a medium skillet melt two tablespoons butter; add shallots and herbs. Sauté until barely tender; add tomatoes; sauté five minutes more until they are barely cooked. Add mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes. Place squash mixture in a large serving bowl and top with shallot-tomato mixture and serve immediately as a main or side dish with poultry, beef, lamb or pork.

‘What is the definition of a good wine? It should start and end with a smile.’ 

William Sokolin

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Zinfandel is a classic all-American grape variety, planted in virtually all of California’s grape-growing areas. It is a thin-skinned, medium-acid red grape with a mysterious past and has been grown throughout California for over 150 years. For decades it was believed that zinfandel came to the United States from Hungary in the mid-1860s. However, some 30 years earlier it was already growing in a nursery owned by William Robert Prince, now known as the Botanical Gardens in Flushing, Queens, New York.

In 1967, a U.S. Department of Agriculture plant pathologist first discovered the similarity of the Italian grape known as primitivo and zinfandel while in Bari, Italy. Italian researchers determined the primitivo grape had been grown in Apulia since the late 1700s. In 1976 a University of California scientist tested both grape varieties and determined them to be the same. That led researchers to Croatia where growers were convinced that zinfandel was the same grape variety as the local Plavac Mali. After further DNA testing it was revealed that Plavac Mali was not related to zinfandel. However, while the researchers were in Croatia, they heard stories about another indigenous grape that may in fact be the key to unlock zinfandel’s mystery.

In 2001, it was confirmed through DNA testing that zinfandel and an indigenous Croatian grape called Crljenak Kastelanski are the same. Additional research determined that Tribidrag is the oldest known Croatian name for the Crljenak Kastelanski grape variety, which appears in print as early as 1518.

George West from Massachusetts made California’s first white zinfandel at the El Pinal Winery near Stockton, California, in 1869; the first varietally labeled zinfandel was made in 1944 by the Parducci Winery; and the first rosé zinfandel was introduced in 1955 by Pedroncelli Winery. Sutter Home was the winery that defined and popularized the white zinfandel category and craze in the early 1970s.

The zinfandel grape’s history is not only fascinating but ponder this … winemakers can produce a white zinfandel, rosé zinfandel, red zinfandel, sparkling zinfandel, late-harvest zinfandel and port wine zinfandel.

A few recommended zinfandel wines I recently tasted are:

2015 Ravenswood “Dickerson,” Napa Valley

2015 Pedroncelli “Bushnell Vineyards,” Dry Creek

2014 Pedroncelli “Mother Clone,” Dry Creek

2017 Pedroncelli “Dry Rosé of Zinfandel,” Dry Creek

2016 Kreck “Teldeschi Vineyards,” Dry Creek

2016 Kreck “Del Barba Vineyard,” Contra Costa

2015 Kunde Estate Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley

2015 Kunde Reserve Century Vines, Sonoma Valley

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

Chicken Salad with Chopped Gherkins and Walnuts on a Croissant

By Barbara Beltrami

When John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, purportedly commanded that a servant bring him some slabs of roast meat between two slices of bread during a gambling session, he unwittingly changed the lunch habits of the English people. 

While the story’s veracity lies on shaky foundations, its subject, the sandwich, lies on foundations that are unquestionably the staff of life. Although this versatile commodity undoubtedly takes its name from England, it had been the custom in France long before that to give field workers or travelers a meal of stewed or roasted meat between slices of bread. 

In fact, fish, sliced fowl and egg sandwiches were a recognized preparation in French cuisine long before the British invented, or at least, discovered them. Whether a wrap, petit pain, panino or pita pocket, the sandwich is certainly the greatest invention since sliced bread. On a baguette, bagel bialy, bun or brioche, on rye, pumpernickel, whole wheat, white or multigrain, the sandwich filled with just about anything is the staple and star of any self-respecting lunch box or lunch menu. 

And in case I’ve left any out, here are a few of my favorites that make ham and cheese ho-hum and peanut butter and jelly pedestrian. Each recipe is for one sandwich but can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

Curried Egg Salad with Sliced Heirloom Tomato and Green Bell Pepper on Multigrain English Muffin

Combine 1½ tablespoons mayonnaise with ½ teaspoon of curry powder. Mix with one chopped hard-boiled egg. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Spread on a toasted multigrain English muffin; top with sliced tomato and thinly sliced pepper rings. Season again with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Chicken Salad with Chopped Gherkins and Walnuts on a Croissant

Poach or broil half a chicken breast.  When cool, cut into ½-inch cubes, then mix with 2 tablespoons diced celery, 1 tablespoon chopped gherkin, 1 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Pile mixture onto croissant halves.

Italian Tuna with Cannellini Beans, Red Onion, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Wine Vinegar on Sliced Tuscan Bread

Cut bread into two slices; toast lightly. Drain a 3-ounce can of Italian oil-packed tuna, flake it with a fork and then set it aside. Rinse and drain ⅓ to ½ cup cannellini beans. In a small bowl, mash slightly. Stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons wine vinegar, then season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle each bread slice with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, top with bean mixture, tuna and 1 tablespoon chopped red onion.

Smoked Nova Scotia Salmon with Sliced Radish and Scallion Cream Cheese on an Everything Bagel

Mix ¼ to ⅓ cup whipped cream cheese with two sliced radishes and one sliced scallion. Spread evenly on two bagel halves. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Place a slice or two of smoked salmon on each half.

Girl Scouts, Girl Scout alumnae and volunteers will once again help out at the event. Image courtesy of Jenn Intravaia Photography

By Ernestine Franco

I never need a reason to eat pancakes. In case you do, head over to the 4th annual Butterfly Breakfast for a Cure at Applebee’s, 355 Route 25A in Miller Place on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 8 a.m. and eat pancakes to help find a cure for the worst disease you’ve probably never heard of: epidermolysis bullosa. Young people who suffer from this disease are called “butterfly children” because their skin is so fragile it blisters or tears from friction or trauma. This rare genetic disease affects 1 out of every 20,000 births in the United States. Currently, there is no treatment or cure.

Proceeds from this fundraiser will support DEBRA of America, an organization that provides assistance and education to families with children born with this genetic condition.

Rocky Point resident Donna McCauley is often associated with this event, but it is her daughter, Kelly, who is the driving force for this fundraiser. “It all started when I was a junior in High School with this out of the world idea to host a fundraiser and create more awareness for the disease that affects both my mom and my uncle. Doing this event every year is just a small act that I can do to repay my mom for showing me what being strong is like, and not letting ANYTHING bring you down,” said Kelly.

 As in the past, former and current members of Donna McCauley’s Girl Scout troop will volunteer their time as servers for the breakfast. In addition to a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and a beverage (coffee, tea, juice or soda), there will be a raffle auction with fantastic prizes. So come and “enjoy a short stack for a tall cause.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children 10 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at www.debra.org/butterflybreakfast. To pay by check, email Donna at donnamc1230@gmail.com. For more information, please call 631-821-6740.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

By Barbara Beltrami

Dressing a salad is a lot like dressing oneself. Just as clothes should compliment the body, so should dressing enhance the salad type. If one sticks to the basic elements of oil, vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper and maybe some herbs or garlic or a dab of mustard in good proportion, it is hard to go wrong. 

Keeping in mind the kind of salad being dressed and other ingredients impinging on the flavor, a basic ratio of three to four parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice usually is fail-safe. With so many varieties of salad greens available these days, it is particularly important to dress them appropriately. 

From gorgeous leafy lettuces like Boston and bibb and romaine to escarole, green leaf, red leaf and frisee to mesclun and baby leafy greens, choices abound. Then there are radicchio, Belgian endive and arugula with their slightly bitter or sparky flavor. 

If they are genuinely fresh, they all deserve the highest quality ingredients for dressings that enhance their textures and taste. And for that you can’t do any better than vinaigrettes made from extra virgin olive, hazelnut, pumpkin seed, grape seed or walnut oils complimented by fine vinegars like balsamic, wine or raspberry or freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh herbs and seasonings. 

Forget about packaged, processed or powdered ingredients and save those heavy ranch and Roquefort dressings for otherwise tasteless iceberg wedges. Go with a nicely balanced vinaigrette and let the salad itself be the center of attraction.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes about ⅔ to ¾ cup.

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon sugar or honey

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Crush raspberries and push through a small wire strainer. In a small or medium bowl, whisk together two tablespoons of the raspberry puree, raspberry vinegar, lemon juice and sugar. Continuously and vigorously whisking, add oil, salt and pepper and toss with salad just before serving, no sooner. Serve at room temperature with any delicate salad greens, fresh baby spinach or greens of your choice.

Dijon Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes about ⅔ cup.

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, shallot and garlic. Gradually whisk in the oil, salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with a salad of mixed greens or any greens of choice.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes one cup.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. When mixture is thoroughly blended, still vigorously whisking, gradually drizzle in the oil. Serve at room temperature with mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and red onion or any greens of your choice.

Grilled Fresh Tomato Slices

By Barbara Beltrami

So you stopped at that cute little farm stand and couldn’t resist those beautiful (ugly and misshapen) heirloom tomatoes. Those peppers were just too perfect to pass up, and there it was, the first local cauliflower of the season. Or maybe you’re lucky and this year your vegetable garden actually yielded some tomatoes before the critters got to them, you had a bumper crop of peppers and eked out one perfect cauliflower. So now what? Roll up your sleeves, wash those veggies, and fire up the grill because that’s where they and you are going.

Grilled Fresh Tomato Slices 

Grilled Fresh Tomato Slices

 

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

4 large fresh tomatoes, washed and sliced 1-inch thick

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup fresh, chopped basil

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare a hot fire on your grill. Oil a perforated grill rack with a little of the olive oil. Brush the tomato slices on both sides with the remaining oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill the tomatoes on the perforated grill rack 3 to 4 minutes, gently turn and grill on the other side until they begin to sizzle and have grill marks. Remove to a platter. Garnish with basil. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with toasted garlic bread.

Grilled Stuffed Peppers

Grilled Stuffed Peppers

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium bell peppers (any color), inner membrane and small area around stem removed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch scallions, cleaned and sliced

2 cups cubed coarse white bread such as, but not limited to, ciabatta or sourdough

2 cups chopped tomatoes with their juice

1 cup grated cheddar or manchego cheese

1 cup fresh corn kernels

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare a hot fire on your grill. Oil a disposable foil baking pan with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Trim a small slice off the bottom of each pepper so it will stand up straight in the baking pan. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon oil and saute the scallions 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Add the bread, tomatoes, cheese, corn, parsley and salt and pepper and stir until well blended and bread is moist. Spoon mixture into peppers and place them in foil pan. Place pan on indirect heat side of grill, close lid and cook until tops of peppers are bubbling and slightly charred, about 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm with a green salad, corn on the cob, and meat, poultry or beans.

Grilled Herbed Cauliflower Steaks

Grilled Herbed Cauliflower Steaks

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 large head cauliflower, washed and drained

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Holding the cauliflower upright and starting at the center, slice it into one-inch slabs. Save any detached florets for another use. Oil grill rack; preheat grill to medium-low. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs. Place steaks on a large platter and brush them liberally on both sides with two-thirds of the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Grill them 5 to 10 minutes until brown on bottom; turn them, brush with remaining mixture, season again with salt and pepper and sprinkle with cheese Cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until tender and brown on other side. Serve hot or warm with poultry or meat, potatoes and a salad.

Chicken Tarragon

By Barbara Beltrami

If there is one herb that is closely associated with the delicacy and sophistication of French cuisine, it is tarragon. Despite its exquisite flavor and haunting aromatic essence, it is a hardy little plant that once introduced into your garden will return year after year to give you myriad pleasures in a countless variety of uses. As the growing season wanes, now is a good time to harvest the last of it and freeze it for later use. Or it is usually available in the produce section of the supermarket. 

Tarragon is certainly essential to a bearnaise sauce, which beautifully enhances not only beef but also chicken and fish. It gives a tangy kick to salad dressings and light creamy soups and is one of the essential ingredients in a bouquet of fine herbs. Try making your own tarragon vinegar by sticking a couple of sprigs into a bottle of cider vinegar or white wine vinegar and just leave it there until the vinegar is finished. Blend it with mayonnaise for chicken, shrimp, lobster or crabmeat salads or tartar sauce for fish.

There are various kinds of tarragon; the ones usually available around here are French, Russian and Texan. Go for the French as it has the truest, most pure flavor. And use the herb sparingly as a little goes a long way.

Chicken Tarragon

Chicken Tarragon

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 small roasting chicken (about 2½ to 3 pounds)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Leaves from 1 or 2 sprigs fresh tarragon

1 small garlic clove, minced

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup brandy

DIRECTIONS:

Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels inside and outside. In a small bowl mash together the butter, tarragon leaves, garlic, salt and pepper. Rub inside of bird with mixture, then brush olive oil on outside. Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow baking pan and roast one hour at 375 F or until done.  

Remove from oven, pour brandy evenly over chicken; then return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, place on a platter and stir and scrape drippings in pan. Spoon drippings over carved chicken and serve immediately with choice of potato and vegetable.

Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce

 

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

1½ tablespoons minced shallots

Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh tarragon, minced

Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

3 egg yolks

2/3 cup melted unsalted butter

Salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In the top of a double boiler combine wine, vinegar, shallots, pepper, tarragon and parsley and cook until mixture is reduced by half. Allow to cool, then, keeping the pot over very hot water, add the egg yolks and butter alternately and gradually while continuously whisking so that they are thoroughly combined. Add salt. 

Serve immediately with beef tenderloin, shell or porterhouse steak and French fries

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