Saturday, January 12, 2013

3 F-U-N Words: Sunday. Jazz. Brunch!! How to Make Your Next One Legendary

Even cookbook authors seek to get away from their kitchens once in a while. Like anyone, we like being waited on. We like seeing for ourselves what the buzz is all about when a restaurant or club has its grand opening. Live music is also a wish fulfilled. I can’t think of a Sunday Excursion that lives up to all that and more, as much as a good old fashioned Sunday Jazz brunch.

Google those 3 little words and you’ll pull up reviews with “legendary” headlining the Sunday papers. The icing on this South Florida girl’s cake is that I don’t have to go too far to find a legendary Sunday Jazz brunch, and hope my Broward County friends know about it too. This official Go Riverwalk logo says it all--you just have to remember to make it down there between 11 and 2, pick a place to wine and dine, or simply reserve your space on the Esplanade lawn.

Here I am talking about Sunday Best Excursions, and January’s first weekend found me nowhere near live jazz. So, I’ll just have to be retroactive in practicing what I preach. I spent a morning perfecting some ideas I had for leisurely and elegant breakfasts that meandered into lunch time and listened to a little jazz in the meantime. Who knows why we free associate and remember the things we do, but I thought how nice it would be to make some of my Sunday Best breakfast recipes close to the lavishness you might expect at Brennan’s in New Orleans.

The radio blared over the hiss of my electric griddle.  Dexter Gordon’s Fried Bananas song saw me through the preparation of this SCANDALOUS  pancake recipe that’s a twist on Brennan’s very own Bananas Foster. I’m including a photo (an extreme closeup!), but I’m not giving away the recipe until my book comes out.

Some things are better when one’s lips are sealed. Besides, you need to get outta the kitchen. History is being made out there, and Sunday Brunchers are loving their eggs on outdoor patios, tapping their feet to the saxophones—maybe even getting little flashes of inspiration while they eat. We can only assume that’s the way it went for the person who invented the Mimosa—a fusion of Sunday jazz brunch staples, like citrus juice and champagne.

A Grand Opening to Look Forward To…

If you love jazz and champagne, and you happen to be from West Palm (or neighboring areas), keep your eye out this month and February for the opening of a HUGE jazz club coming to Mizner Park. I read about it in Jazzizz Nightlife. This place is going to be great! It’s in the former space for Zed451, and will include, in it’s 11,000-square feet (not a typo), private dining, a stage, a cigar bar and lounge. I know what I’m getting my Valentine!

Come to New Orleans with me Next Week!

If you like N’awlins inspired food, be sure to check in with my blog next week. I’m having another Foolproof Food Day. A reader is making his famous Gumbo. Hope to see you again, January 20th. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Write it on the Sunday Menu: A Dreamy One-Pot Chicken Dish, Heavy on the Sauce!

Sundays should be special. They should also be easy, and that’s why I’m so enamored of my Sunday Best Braised Chicken Thighs with Sweet Peas and Bacon. When it comes to ingredients, precious little (you could practically write what you’ll need on the back of a postage stamp) goes into this kicked up version of Coq au Vin, but it’s ridiculously good, and, better yet, teaches the home cook about creating sauces on the stovetop that could pass le saucier’s final exam in a French cooking school. Coq au vin is simply chicken cooked in red wine, and while the cook can work with whatever crimson vino he or she prefers, I recommend something dry for this, like a Pinot Noir or French Burgundy.

On shopping day, consider going to Costco for the chicken—as I mentioned in my Sunday excursion post, I visited Costco and was just as pleased as punch that the retailer sold 18 chicken thighs, already neatly bundled, in 6 different packages—that made it so easy!  However, if you’re more provincial with your poultry and see your butcher, ask him to cut up a whole chicken into 10 pieces; that’ll help you approach this chicken dish with utter and complete ease.

Half the wine to cook with, the other half to help the mind wander!
I love the history behind anything braised. That’s why it made me laugh so much in the movie Hairspray, when John Travolta (as Edna Turnblatt) drifts over to the skillet on the stove and asks in a dreamy Baltimore accent: “Is that braised!?” It so happens braising has been a family favorite long before the 60s. Since Julius Caesar! The earliest recorded mention of it came from a English cookbook in the 1800’s. The cook/author was known merely as “a French woman”, and she taught the Brits to make Poulet au vin blanc. She used white wine. There are so many options when you braise chicken! In Fresh Traditions, I made a version of this dish with chorizo sausage and baby artichokes—but I like Sunday Best’s version even better.

More to Come…!
You’ll be so pleased when you plate this dish for your family. The peas give the dish a freshness and brightness that’s much needed on these cold January nights. This chicken is heaven on its own, but also works when served over a bed of rice, egg noodles or the Polenta With Asiago Cheese that’s making the rounds through my test kitchen. Stay tuned!

Braised Chicken Thighs with Sweet Peas and Bacon


1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large (5 to 6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 6 smaller thighs
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 large white onion, peeled and thinly sliced, about 1 ½ cups
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup red wine
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
½ cup sour cream
1 (16-ounce can) sweet peas, drained or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed

            Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the bacon in the olive oil until crisp.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a platter. Set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the pan drippings.

            Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken in the pan until browned on one side, about 3 minutes.  Turn and brown on the remaining side, about 3 minutes more.  Transfer to a platter.

            Carefully pour out the fat from the pan, leaving about 2 tablespoons. Place the onions into the skillet. Cook until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, wine and tomatoes. Return the chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. 

            Stir in the peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream and sprinkle the dish with bacon.
Related Posts with Thumbnails