Plastic Pollution Solution & Lemony Tarragon Pistou

The snow is receding. The lumps of dirty snow that line my driveway are no longer ten feet tall. Cheery crocuses (or is it croci, I can never remember) are doing their best to pop up and greet the spring. They are not alone. Plastic bottles, cups and whatnots are popping up everywhere. Each layer of melting snow reveals more plastic.

Invented in 1907, plastic was a major modern breakthrough. Plastic is strong. It weighs almost nothing. It’s cheap. It comes in an endless rainbow of colors. If it slips your hands, it won’t land on the kitchen floor in a million pieces. A myriad of uses have been developed for this miracle product.

Unfortunately, this miracle has a decided downside. It is the gift that never goes away. Since its invention, the world has produced more than 9 billion tons of plastic. That’s the virgin, not the recycled, stuff. About 80 percent of it is in the landfill. That’s 5.5 billion, yes billion, tons of plastic. It can take decades, even centuries for plastic to decompose. That mountain of plastic will be sitting around for a long, long time.

Sunday is Earth Day. The first Earth Day in 1970 motivated millions of Americans to think and act differently. The passage of the Clean Air Act was an early victory. The work continued with the Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act and Superfunds to clean up hazardous waste sites. This year, the Earth Day Network is asking all of us to think and do something about plastic. They are asking us to be part of the plastic pollution solution.

We’re all guilty so let’s start with an inventory. To find out how plastic gets into the house, we need to check our pantries, cupboards, counters and garage. When and how do we use this not so miraculous product? At my house, it comes in with my groceries, especially in the winter. It holds fresh produce and milk, it is wrapped around meats and poultry and it holds nuts and grains. All that packaging adds up. The average American throws out about 185 pounds of plastic every year.

It doesn’t end there. My dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, lotion, shampoo and deodorant are packed in plastic bottles and jars. I have plastic storage containers. I love my lightweight prep and mixing bowls. Should I mention the half dozen pairs of cheap reading glasses with plastic frames and lens scattered around the house?

In the garage, the blade and handle of my snow shovel are plastic. Looking further, there are several buckets, the dishes I take to the beach in the summer and some adorable but very uncomfortable rain clogs. For heaven sake, even the fenders on the cars are plastic. Most of these things aren’t going anywhere soon. They will remain in the garage until they wear out or break.

For the earth’s sake, let’s all take one small step, maybe two. If you don’t already recycle, start. If you do just a little, do a lot. Even better, stop bringing plastic home. Think about shopping for need and not for entertainment. Image the free time you will have, the savings and the reduction in clutter. When you must shop, bring your own bags. Many, maybe most, of us bring bags to the supermarket. What about the hardware store, pharmacy and everywhere else? I’m also thinking it’s past time I bring re-usable bags to the produce aisle. One small step … maybe two, if we all do it, it adds up. And who knows? Maybe next year we can commit to a zero waste household.

Happy Earth Day and bon appétit!

Lemony Tarragon Pistou
Pistou, pesto and salsa verte – they are all variations of delicious herbs and olive oil. Pesto Genovese is the classic basil sauce, pistou is the French cousin. Fabulously French tarragon is perfect for an Earth Day sauce. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 cups

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch or to taste chili pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups loosely packed tarragon leaves
1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Put the lemon juice, garlic and mustard in the bowl of a small food processor, season with the chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper and pulse to combine and finely chopped.

Working in batches, add the tarragon, parsley, chives and thyme and pulse to roughly chop. Add the olive oil, walnuts and lemon zest and pulse to combine. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to combine the flavors.

Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Freeze leftover pistou for future meals.

Serving Suggestions:

Drizzle Lemony Tarragon Pistou on any of the following:

Grilled, steamed or roasted asparagus, carrots, green beans, potatoes or zucchini
Grilled swordfish, salmon or shrimp
Roasted salmon, cod or shrimp
Steamed lobster
Grilled or roasted chicken or lamb

Add a spoonful or two of mayonnaise to 1/4 cup Lemony Tarragon Pistou for a creamy sauce for chicken, lobster or potato salad.

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One Year Ago – Asparagus Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette
Two Years Ago – Homemade Personal Pizzas
Three Years Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri
Four Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Grilled Ham & Swiss Cheese Sandwiches
Five Years Ago – Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookies
Six Years Ago – Thai Curried Shrimp and Green Beans
Seven Years Ago – Asparagus Risotto
Eight Years Ago – Fennel & Feta Salad
Nine Years Ago – Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak, Potatoes & Asparagus

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you have a plastic pollution solution? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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Persisting Women Pork Stew with Beans & Greens

It began with a simple grassroots effort. A school district in California realized that their kids had little if any knowledge of women’s contributions to the state, to the country and to the world. So, they dedicated a week to women’s history. There were special programs and curriculum. The grand finale was a parade and celebration. It was 1978.

In 1979, educators and activists got together at The Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. A teacher from Sonoma shared her district’s success and it lit a fire. Spreading to schools and colleges across the country, Women’s History Week took off. Unable to contain the enthusiasm to just seven days, there were soon calls for a month of education and celebration. National Women’s History Month was declared in 1987.

This year’s theme is Nevertheless, She Persisted. The goal is to honor women who persist in fighting all forms of discrimination against women. Persistence, it is an amazing word. Could it be the secret to women’s success?

Take for instance, the right to vote. Today, most of us take that right for granted. Not my grandmother. In her time, the voting age was twenty-one. However, she could not go down to town hall and register to vote on her birthday. Women did not have that right. She was twenty-five when the Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified into law. The fight for suffrage began as one of twelve resolutions at the Seneca Falls Convention in the summer of 1848. Success took seventy-two years of persistence.

I remember when one of the credit card companies turned my mother down. Whether it was a holdover from laws limiting women’s property rights or misguided custom, it doesn’t matter. Mom was incensed. The person at the other end of the phone told her they would be more than happy to grant a joint card with my dad. She just couldn’t have one in her own name. Mrs. Nye was fine; Elizabeth was not. She finally got her card a few years later. I’m guessing it was after the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.

At about the same time, I was appalled to learn that wage disparity of women to men was fifty-nine cents to the dollar. It didn’t matter that I was a teenager earning minimum wage at my summer job. Or that the busboys were also earning minimum wage. It was the principle. Since then, the wage gap has narrowed to seventy-nine cents. Persistence continues.

Throughout the month, let’s celebrate the women who came before us. Let’s honor the women in both our personal and collective histories. We’ll thank our mothers and grandmothers, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman and Amelia Earhart. We shouldn’t forget our favorite aunts, cousins and neighbors along with Shirley Chisolm, Ella Fitzgerald, Margaret Sanger, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Julia Child, Billy Jean King, the 1996 Women’s Soccer Team and the 2018 Women’s Hockey Team. Because of them, we stand stronger, we are better educated and our lives are freer, richer and safer.

Armed with persistence and patience, women have fought and won the right to vote, to education, to work and to own property. The path has rarely been easy and the journey continues. In spite of a rapidly changing world, we still measure the timeline to equal rights for women not in days or even years but in decades.

With a toast of gratitude to brave and persistent women, I wish you bon appétit!

Pork Stew with Beans & Greens
Invite friends over for a cozy dinner and celebration of women. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 ounces slab or thick cut bacon, roughly chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups cooked white beans, drained and rinsed (about 12 ounces dried beans)
4-6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 bay leaf
1 pound pre-cooked kielbasa sausage, cut into 2-inch slices
16 ounces baby kale or spinach

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon and reserve.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the pork and cook for a minute or two per side. Remove from the casserole and reserve.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, carrot and celery, sprinkle with thyme, allspice and chili flakes, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.

Return the pork and bacon to the pot and add the beans, 4 cups stock, vermouth, mustard and bay leaf. Gently toss and stir to combine, bring to a simmer and transfer to the oven.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Add the sausage and, if necessary, more stock to the pot, return to the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Add the kale in handfuls and stir or toss until it wilts. Return the pot to the oven for 5 minutes.

Spoon the stew into shallow bowls and serve with a chunk of crusty bread.

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One Year Ago – Shrimp Curry with Spinach
Two Years Ago – Mini Tarte Tatin
Three Years Ago – Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette
Four Years Ago – Potato & Cheddar Soup
Five Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Six Years Ago – Guinness Lamb Shanks
Seven Years Ago – Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Eight Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Nine Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

During National Women’s History Month, who are the heroes you most want to celebrate? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Christmas Red & Greenery & Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce

The Fourth of July has its parades and fireworks. Thanksgiving has turkey. When it comes to traditions, Christmas has cornered the market. We bake dozens of cookies and roam the streets serenading the neighbors with seasonal ditties. We hang our stocks on the fireplace, wait only somewhat-patiently for reindeer to fly and a jolly old elf to arrive. Hmm, if you stop and think about it, some of our favorite Christmas traditions can best be described as, well, odd. Take, just for instance, the foliage we bring into the house for the holidays.

First, there’s the tree. Forget settling for a houseplant or flower-filled vase. No indeed, we cut down a full-grown evergreen and drag it into the living room. If that’s not strange enough, we then foolishly think that the dog and cat won’t notice. Really? Even the most standoffish of felines can’t help but observe a tree in the middle of living room. Perhaps, we think our furry friends will just ignore it. Could that explain our astonishment when the puppy lifts his leg? As for our show of surprise at the cat racing up the tree and then refusing climb down; just who are we trying to kid?

Speaking of bringing the outside in, mistletoe could be an even odder choice to deck the halls. First of all, it’s a parasite. New Hampshire is too cold for mistletoe but I used to see it all the time in Geneva. It latches on to a tree and grows into a massive ball. As that ball of greenery and white berries grows, it robs the tree of moisture and nutrients and eventually kills it.

If that’s not bad enough, mistletoe is poisonous. It’s not so bad for humans. Rather than kill you, it might make you drowsy, blur your vision or cause vomiting, maybe even seizures. However, it can be very dangerous for the hamster, cat and dog. In spite of all that, we hang it in doorways throughout the house. Not because we want a stash of poison handy but to induce loved ones and strangers to kiss under it. What’s next? Hemlock wreaths.

However, when it comes to poison, poinsettias get a bit of a bad rap. By the way, what’s with the name? If it wasn’t for spellcheck, I couldn’t even write about these bright red beauties. Although no one sings about it, poinsettia is another one of those tomato-tomahto kind of words.

Growing up, everyone had a grandmother or aunt or a fancy-pants neighbor who pronounced it poin-set-ee-ah. The rest of us, and by that I mean everyone at my house including both Nanas, pronounced it poin-set-ah. Although, come to think of it, I think some of us added a -t- along with dropping the -ee- for point-set-ah. All that said; my Grandfather Westland might have used the la-di-da pronunciation once or twice. The family comedian, he delighted in making us giggle with, among other things, fancy-pants accents and pronunciations.

Anyway, regardless of an extra t, ee-ah or ah, poinsettias are barely toxic. There’s little reason to worry about kids or grandkids keeling over. They’d need to chow down about 500 leaves to become ill. That would be quite some salad for a little one. Given the awful taste, there’s little chance the children will indulge.

Enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. Bon appétit!

Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce
My grandfather always brought cocktail shrimp to family celebrations. Dad continues the tradition. He serves boiled shrimp with ketchup-based cocktail sauce. I like to shake it up a little. Enjoy!
Makes about 36 pieces

Rémoulade Sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1-2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons capers, drained and finely chopped
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 finely chopped scallion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Put the mustards, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice and zest, capers and anchovy paste in a bowl, season with the spices, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the mayonnaise, scallion and herbs and whisk again. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to mix and meld the flavors.

Makes about 1 cup. Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Roasted Shrimp
2 pounds extra-jumbo (16-20 per pound) shrimp
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil

Put the shrimp in a bowl, sprinkle with the garlic and lemon zest and toss to combine. Drizzle with the lemon juice and enough olive oil to lightly coat and toss again. Let the shrimp marinade for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the shrimp on rimmed baking sheets in a single layer and roast at 450 degrees for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through and opaque. Don’t overcook.

Serve immediately or at room temperature with Rémoulade Sauce.

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One Year Ago – Bûche de Noël
Two Years Ago – Roasted Beets with Sautéed Greens
Three Years Ago – Very Ginger Gingerbread Muffins
Four Years Ago – Ginger Shortbread
Five Years Ago – Baked French Toast
Six Years Ago – Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
Seven Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Roasted Grapes
Eight Years Ago – Savory Bread Pudding
Nine Years Ago – Triple Chocolate Parfait

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you decorate for the Holidays? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Celebrate Bastille Day Weekend Special

On July 14, 1789, anti-monarchist forces stormed the infamous Bastille Prison in Paris. Ruled by an excessive king and self-indulgent queen, France was in deep economic and political crisis. The storming of the Bastille began the revolution and the pursuit of liberty, equality and fraternity for the French people.

Zut alors! Let’s celebrate! Drink champagne and make some of your favorite French dishes. Here are some of mine:

For nibbling … first you should know that the French don’t do heavy apps like Americans. Try my Tapenade with crisp crackers or veggies. Even easier, set out a bowls of my Spicy Olives.Then again, a batch of Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam sounds good. Don’t forget the nuts … my Roasted Almonds or Rosemary Cashews will be perfect.

Next, move to the table. Remember, the French love a long and leisurely dinner. Why not start with a few Roasted Shrimp with Tarragon Aioli. Want something a bit lighter? How about Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction?

Now for the main course. I can’t think of anything better for a Bastille Day dinner than Filet de Perche. (I don’t know about you but perch is hard to find where I live. A few weeks ago, I made this recipe with haddock filets and it was delicious.) Serve the fish with steamed new potatoes or rice and Roasted Asparagus with Walnuts.

Unless you are in the mood for a roast chicken dinner. Typically French, throw a chicken in the oven and roast it to golden perfection. Add a dollop of Smashed or Mashed Potatoes. Don’t forget the Roasted Asparagus with Walnuts.

Now it’s time for the salad. (Yes, the French eat their salads after the main course.) Keep it simple (and very French) with beautiful baby greens tossed a little Classic Vinaigrette. Serve the salad with a few of your favorite cheeses and warm baguette.

For dessert … lets go with something warm and custard-y. Think French toast and give my Blueberry Bread Pudding a try. (In France, French toast is called pain perdu.) On the other hand, Blueberry Clafouti is creamy delicious and very French.

Tous à la Bastille! Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

On the Border & Pissaladière

I was something of a biking fanatic when I lived in Switzerland. I was still running and cycling once or twice a week gave my knees a break. Either that or the boyfriend who truly was a biking fanatic got me hooked. From the first of May through October, most weekends found me pedaling.

Just a few miles from the center of the Geneva, the office buildings, banks and apartment houses give way to ancient farms and rustic villages. Although I lived there for years, it never ceased to amaze me how quickly you could go from international metropolis to farm country. That said, I had no trouble taking advantage of the open space. As long as the day was warm and the sky clear, I’d hop on my bike and take a spin through the countryside.

That’s when I discovered the leaky borders between Switzerland and France. First, a little lesson in geo-politics. Geneva is more or less surrounded by France on three sides. While Switzerland is part of Europe, it is not part of the European Union. While there are border crossings, there is no great wall to separate the two countries. If you’re out rambling through the fields, you could cross from one country to another without knowing it. As for those border crossings, they look a little like a tollbooth without the basket for your change. Some are manned and some not. If there are any, more often than not, the guards just wave you through.

However, if they are bored, the guards will sometimes make you stop, show your passport and ask if you have anything to declare. As for contraband, I’m not talking about dangerous drugs but a couple of nice, thick steaks, a few kilos of butter or several bottles of wine. All of which are much cheaper in France than Switzerland. Sometimes the guards will go so far as to ask you to step out of the car and open the trunk. According to the aforementioned bike-riding boyfriend, this is particularly true if the driver is wearing a short skirt.

Happily for me, any contraband I may or may not have carried across the border was not detected. I’m pretty sure that the statute of limitations protects me from incarceration for any smuggling that I may or may not have done. However, no need to spill my guts and invite trouble.

Anyway, back to bicycling. Weaving my way by farms, fields and forests, I would head mostly west and just a tad north down to the lake. Although I can read a map, I usually cycled without one. A map offers little help when you travel on narrow, unmarked agricultural roads. Now, my sense of direction is not exactly brilliant. So, you guessed it, on more than one occasion, I unwittingly ended up at the border. I’d slow down, wait for the nod and then sail through with a cheery wave.

That’s assuming the crossing had one of little booths, with or without a guard. On more than one occasion, I’d suddenly realize I wasn’t in Switzerland anymore. Could be a road marker or a maybe a roundabout gave it away. There are lots of roundabouts in France. Sometimes things looked familiar and sometimes not. No need to panic, I would simply keep an eye on the sun or the Salève and work my way down to the lake. At some point, I was bound to cross back over the border.

There is an awful lot of talk about borders and walls these days. Some go so far as to contend that a country can’t truly be a country without a wall. If that’s the case than there are a lot of non-countries out there. I know because I’ve driven, walked, skied and cycled through my fair share of them. I’ve even lived in two.

With longer, warmer days, it’s time for all of us to get out and about. Bon appétit!

Pissaladière
Usually served as an appetizer with a glass of white wine, Pissaladière will be a delicious addition to your French cooking repertoire. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2-2 large onions (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons anchovy paste*
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pound your favorite pizza dough
12-16 Niçoise olives, pitted and halved
1-2 tablespoons capers

Put the butter and oil in a large pan and heat over medium-low until the butter melts. Add the onions, sprinkle with thyme and rosemary, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Drizzle with the white wine, cover the pan and, stirring occasionally, simmer until the onions are soft.

Uncover the pan, add the garlic, anchovy paste and vinegar and toss to combine. Continue cooking, uncovered, until any liquid has evaporated and the onions are lightly browned and very tender. Remove from heat and reserve.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven and a pizza stone (if you have one) to 450 degrees.

Cut the dough in 2, 3 or 4 pieces – whatever is easiest for you. Pat or roll each piece of dough out into a thin round and place on a piece of parchment paper. Top with the onions, sprinkle with olives and capers.

Working in batches, transfer the pissaladière to the preheated pizza stone or a baking sheet. Bake the pissaladière until golden, 8-12 minutes with a pizza stone and 12-15 minutes with a baking sheet.

Cut into wedges or squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Can be made a few hours ahead and served at room temperature.

* If you prefer, use 6-8 anchovies. Instead of tossing them with the onions, cut them lengthwise and decoratively arrange them on top of the Pissaladière before baking.

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One Year Ago – Tabbouleh
Two Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado
Three Years Ago – Grilled Balsamic Vegetables
Four Years Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Five Years Ago – Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables
Six Years Ago – Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Seven Years Ago – Feta Walnut Spread
Eight Years Ago – Bruschetta with Grilled Vegetables & Gorgonzola

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? How do you get your exercise once spring finally rolls around? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

April in Paris & Coq au Vin au Printemps

April in New Hampshire … the ski slopes close down, frost heaves hit new heights and mud season is at its peak. Time to get away to someplace like … Paris! Now, April in Paris, that’s a whole different story. I’ve had the good fortune to spend an April weekend or two in Paris. The chestnut trees are in bloom and beds of daffodils bob in the breeze. The air is spring-like and a whole lot warmer than New Hampshire. Indeed, unlike New Hampshire, a foot of new snow isn’t blanketing the town. Parisians can thank the Gulf Stream for that.

Don’t tell me you were asleep the day your science teacher gave his illuminating lecture on this wondrous current? Without going into detail, let’s just say the Gulf Stream is the reason that April in Paris is a good bit warmer than the Granite State. If all this snow and mud has got you feeling glum, how about we take a tour of the City of Light?

Paris is a city for walkers so you will need comfortable shoes. Let’s start the tour by taking in the magnificence of the Champs-Élysées and the Jardin des Tuileries. Then we can wander over to the Seine and contemplate the river with all its grandeur. You’ll want to pause to enjoy the ancient architecture as we cross a few of its many bridges. While we’re out and about, let’s stop in and see the beautiful rose window at Notre-Dame Cathedral and marvel at the Church of Saint-Sulpice.

Next, it’s time to delight in Paris’ old world charm. We’ll wander over cobblestones and down narrow streets. You never know what charming bistro or amazing shop you will discover. When you need a break, we can stop for a leisurely coffee at a sidewalk café. If it’s a sunny day, we can probably sit outside. People-watching is one of my favorite activities in Paris.

When mid-day hunger pains strike, we’ll pick up an elegant picnic at the Marché St-Germain. The fruits and vegetables are gorgeous. The beautiful breads and cheeses take an ordinary picnic to a whole new level. We’ll add a view of the Seine or the Eiffel Tower or more people-watching at the luxurious Luxembourg Garden. Our picnic will be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!

Paris is not immune to April showers so if it rains during the trip, and it probably will, we can visit the museum. From the ancient Egyptians to the Mona Lisa, you can easily spend an entire week or more at the Louvre. The Musée d’Orsay is a must for fans of impressionism and post-impressionism. Built in a beaux arts railway station, it makes for a fascinating afternoon. Rain or shine, the Centre Georges Pompidou is a fun place to visit. From the jugglers and musicians out front to the cinemas and National Museum of Modern Art inside, the Centre Pompidou is not-to-be-missed.

At the end of a busy day, there is nothing better than dinner in a cozy bistro. No need to rush, take it easy and relax over a long, leisurely meal. The food and wine in Paris are nothing short of wonderful. After all that walking, feel free to indulge in a traditional five-course dinner. Each course will be loaded with flavor but you shouldn’t worry about overindulging. Portions are smaller than a typical American restaurant.

Oops, daydream and tour over. Don’t despair; instead, enjoy a walk around Pleasant Lake and a beautiful bistro dinner at home. Pick up a bunch of daffodils, download Ella Fitzgerald’s version of April in Paris and gather friends and family around your table for a taste of Paris.

Here’s to a little Parisian spring charm and bon appétit!

Eiffel Tower photo credit: Thank you Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Coq au Vin au Printemps
Roast chicken is a typical bistro meal. Add veggies for a typical spring bistro meal! Enjoy!
Serves 8

8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups or more chicken stock or broth
3/4 cup or more dry white wine
1 pound whole mushrooms, trimmed and halved or quartered
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces fresh (peeled and trimmed) or frozen pearl onions
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and chopped
1 pound baby spinach

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer in the oven for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoons herb and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin-side down in the hot roasting pan. Return the pan to the oven and roast the chicken at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

While the chicken roasts, put the mushrooms in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Add the onions, sprinkle with the remaining herbs, season with salt and pepper and toss again.

Put the mustard and garlic in a measuring cup, whisking constantly slowly add the lemon juice, stock and wine.

Turn the chicken, add the wine and broth mixture and scatter the mushrooms and onions around the pan. Return the pan to the oven. Continue roasting, adding more wine and broth if necessary, for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked-through and golden and the vegetables are tender and caramelized.

Put the sour cream in a small bowl. A few spoonfuls at a time, whisk 1/2-1 cup of the hot braising liquid into the sour cream. Moving the chicken around if necessary, stir the sour cream and asparagus into the vegetables and around the chicken. Return the pan to the oven for about 5 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Add the spinach and toss to combine. Return the pan to the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the spinach has wilted.

Transfer the vegetables to a large platter or individual plates, top with the chicken and serve.

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One Year Ago – Moroccan Baked Cod
Two Years Ago – Artichoke Pesto
Three Years Ago – Quinoa with Sweet Potato & Spinach
Four Years Ago – Runners’ Chicken with
Five Years Ago – Bananas Foster
Six Years Ago – Tapenade
Seven Year Ago – Lavender Infused White Chocolate Crème
Eight Years Ago – Lemon Tart

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What is your favorite spring destination? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Holiday Entertaining – Dinner Party with Friends

Christmas_Cheers_01The holidays are a great time to entertain. Dinner for eight, brunch for a dozen or cocktails for fifty; you decide. Perhaps you are thinking that you are long overdue for a dinner party? Maybe it is your book club or the neighbors or your favorite, oldest, nearest and dearest friends. The ones you met when you first moved to town … how many decades ago? Whomever the company, take a break from the hustle and bustle and get a group together for a long and lazy dinner party. Let casual meet elegant with your favorite cashmere sweater and cozy bistro dishes.

Maybe you’re thinking … what the heck is a cozy bistro dish or how did that hole find my sweater? I can’t help you with the sweater but I can suggest a menu!

So, here we go.

Start with a glass of champagne and a tasty amuse-bouche. (Translation – amuse-mouth. It’s just a fancy way to say a one or two bite treat.) How about a nice little tartlet (or tartelette in French)? You might like to try my Butternut Squash Tartlets or Tartelettes au Fromage avec Saucisse et Poireaux (Sausage and Leek Tartlet). Add bowls of Spicy Olives and Rosemary Cashews to nibble.

Moving à table (to the table) … a lovely soup is just the thing on a chilly night. I suggest you try my Wild Mushroom Soup.

For the main course … you can’t go wrong with my Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs. Serve the chicken with a spoonful of Whole Grain Pilaf and Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary and/or Roasted Carrots (skip the pearl onions).

Next, comes the salad; yes, after the main course. Keep it simple with Salad Greens with Classic Vinaigrette. Keeping with the French theme, add a wedge of your favorite cheese and a basket of artisan bread and/or crackers.

Now, it’s time for dessert. As always, you can’t go wrong with chocolate. My Chocolate Walnut Tart is rich and delicious. If you’d prefer a creamy French pud, then give my Cranberry Clafoutis or Ginger Crème Brûlée a try.

Have a lovely evening! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How are you spending the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! target=”_blank”>Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2016