Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cream--or, If You're on a Diet, Walk Away from This Post!

I try valiently to eat well...and by that, I mean lots of fairly naked veggies and lean cuts of meat and fish. But the truth is that I love sauces and butter and rice and potatoes, and some weeks I just have to satisfy my epicurian lusts.

This weekend I did.

I bought a container of organic whipping cream when I did my weekly shopping yesterday and immediately set about using it. I made "Lemon Cream Tarragon Chicken" and "Savory Scones"...and they are such good eating that I realized I had to share the recipes. Both of these recipes were "unvented" by me, so that's probably why I love them so much, as they appeal to my personal taste buds.

The fact that an entire pint of cream is already gone underscores just how calorie-laden and rich these recipes are. But please don't let that stop you from trying them--I think they could become favorites in your kitchen as well!

Lemon Cream Tarragon Chicken

(Serves 2 to 4)

Lemon Cream Tarragon Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins (good sized ones if you're feeding four people)
flour for dredging chicken
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup sliced fresh button mushrooms
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon French tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
cooked white rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (At this point I set the rice to cooking and things come out in good order at the end.)
Melt the butter and olive oil together in a saute pan. Dredge the chicken pieces in flour and cook them in the butter/oil until browned on both sides. I make sure my heat isn't too high so the butter doesn't burn. When the chicken is sufficiently browned, I lightly salt and pepper them and then put them in a baking dish (anything that fits will do) and throw them into the oven to finish cooking while I make the sauce.

Into the remains of the butter/oil, I place the onions and mushrooms and saute those until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have cooked some. Then I turn up the heat slightly and add the lemon juice, stirring well so I can deglaze the pan and get all those good bits of floury-chickeny goodness. I cook down the lemon juice a bit and then turn the heat way down. Next, I add the cream, tarragon, and salt and pepper. Heat until the cream is very hot but don't let it boil. I stir and let things simmer for a few minutes so the flavors meld and then I serve the chicken and tarragon cream sauce over rice.

One thing to keep in mind: These measurements are really just suggestions. Taste as you go and add more if you want.

Okay, that was last night's dinner. This morning I made:

Savory Potato Rosemary Scones

(Serves 8)
 (You will notice there are only 7 scones pictured. That's because I ate one before I took the photo. I have my limits for self-discipline!)

2 1/2 - 3 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded or fine diced cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for greasing the baking sheet
1/4 cup finely diced onions
1/4 cup sliced button mushrooms
1/4 cup finely diced bell peppers (use orange, green, and red for a pretty display of color)
1/2 large potatoe, peeled and diced (I usually use a small one and call it good)
1 egg
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon rosemary, bruised so the aromatic oils come out
1/4 teaspoon sage

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a cookie sheet in a 12-inch circle. (This is where the dough will go later. If you only butter the area where the dough will go, it's easier to clean afterward.)

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until a bit softened. (I usually throw them into vigorously boiling water and let them boil for a minute or two. Then I turn off the heat and let them sit on the hot burner until I need to drain them.)

Saute in 1 tablespoon butter the onion, mushrooms, and bell peppers.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking power and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the cheeses and egg. Add the cream and mix well. Add the sauted veggies and the drained potatoes and mix well again.
Fold in the flour mixture, a bit at a time, by hand. You may need to add more flour--what you want is a soft dough. Mix just until the flour is thoroughly incorporated in the mixture.

Pat out into a round about 1 inch thick on the buttered cookie sheet. Take a knife and score by cutting down as best as you can into eight equal pie-shaped "slices." When they bake, they'll still stick together but the scores will be there and help to define individual pieces.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the scones are cooked through and golden brown on top.

Set on a wire rack to cool.


 I plan on eating mostly naked vegatables and lean cuts of meat for the remainder of this week as my pennance...but it's hard to feel bad about eating such good food!

Blessings to you and yours,

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