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Monday, December 19, 2011

French Chicken Fantastique!

Poulet Provencal

If you, like many hostesses during the holidays, are pressed for time, yet require a delicious meal lovely enough  for guests, preparing Poulet Provencal will be providential!  Coating the chicken with olive oil and herbs, crisps the skin and leaves the meat succulent.  The tomatoes, onions, garlic and olives baking alongside create a savory stew which serves as a side dish. The aroma of this roasting chicken will scent your home with herbes de Provence, transporting your guests to a colorful table in the South of France.  C'est magnifique!

Poulet Provencal Recipe
3-4 medium tomatoes cut into wedges
1 large onion, cut into wedges, leaving root ends intact
1/2 cup brine-cured pitted black olives
4 large garlic cloves sliced, plus 1 t minced

3 T olive oil, divided
2 t herbes de Provence*, divided
1/2 t fennel seeds
1 whole chicken 3 1/2 to 4 pounds

Kitchen string

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss together tomatoes, onion, olives, sliced garlic, 2 T oil, 1 t herbes de Provence, fennel seeds, dash of salt, dash of pepper in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.  Push vegetables to sides of dish to make room for chicken.

Stir together minced garlic, 1 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, remaining teaspoon herbes de Provence, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Remove excess fat from chicken and pat dry, then rub inside and out with seasoning mixture.

Tie legs together with string and place chicken in baking dish.  Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 170 degrees, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  Let chicken stand 10 minutes before carving.  

*herbes de Provence can be found at most gourmet groceries and kitchen shops or follow this guide to mixing:
2 T dried savory,  2 T dried oregano
2 T dried rosemary,  2 T dried basil
2 T dried thyme,  2 T dried marjoram
             2 T dried fennel seed
Mix all together and store in an air-tight container.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ginger Gives Truffles Snap

Gingersnap Truffles

I have to confess, I'm a certified choc-o-holic!  I do not have a yen for just any old chocolate; it must be the darkest of chocolates.  Forget that sugared up, weak, chalky, barely-there milk chocolate.   And white chocolate?  That's an insult to name!  Until I tested this combination, I believed there was no way to improve on a dark truffle besides simply providing a dusting of cocoa.  This recipe piqued my interest because it substituted ginger snaps, a childhood favorite, as a coating, adding a taste of Christmas to a classic chocolate candy.  It compares to nibbling a few ginger snaps while downing a cup of cocoa, which gives this chocolate lover cozy comfort while satisfying my cravings!

Gingersnap Truffles
(recipe adapted from

1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate pieces
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup chopped ginger snap cookies (about 10)
1/3 cup finely crushed ginger snaps (about 7)

In medium bowl combine combine chocolate, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and chopped gingersnaps.  In small microwave-safe bowl, heat cream on 100% about 70 seconds, or until boiling.   

Pour cream over chocolate mixture and allow to stand 5 minutes.  Whisk cream/chocolate mixture until smooth.  Refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours or until firm, but soft enough to form into balls.

Scoop a scant tablespoon of chocolate with spoon and form into a ball.  Roll in crushed gingersnaps.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.  Store in airtight container in refrigerator.  Makes 25 truffles.  

Truffle Treats with Gingersnap Goodness!