Monthly Archives: January 2006

Warming Up: Chicken & Artichokes!

January 31, 2006

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INT. MR. R.’S KITCHEN–AFTERNOON

The cast iron skillet is back in use as chicken breasts sizzle and pop to a golden brown in olive oil. Caryn is half engulfed in a low cabinet, rooting for something that doesn’t seem to be there.

With all her CLANGING, she doesn’t see Hank enter, dressed in swim trunks. He swings a towel over his bare shoulder.

HANK

Looking for something?

Caryn bolts up to a standing position, her head colliding violently with an open cabinet door.

HANK (CONT’D)

Oooo. Are you okay?

He reaches out to her but she brushes off the pain with a smile, the model of professionalism.

CARYN

Yeah. What can I do for you?

She opens a can of artichoke hearts. Hank looks in the fridge.

HANK

I’m just getting a soda.

CARYN

Isn’t it a little chilly for sun bathing?

She pulls her wool cardigan closed as she drains the artichokes in the sink.

CARYN (CONT’D)

You boys seemed to get plenty of sun while sailing around the world for a month.

Hank examines the tan line around his waist.

HANK

Nah. I could use a little more.

Caryn focuses on a pot of wild rice simmering on the stove. Hank sneaks a peak.

HANK (CONT’D)

I’m starved. Can I taste?

He tries to take the spoon from her, but she playfully smacks his hand away.

CARYN

I’m trying to work here.

Hank laughs and rests against the counter to watch her stir the rice.

HANK

Twenty Hollywood types cruising around on that boat and not one of them could cook. We sure missed you.

CARYN

Well, I can’t say I missed you poking around the kitchen all the time.

She returns to her search in the cabinet. Hank steals a sliced mushroom from a bowl and heads to the door.

HANK

Alright, kiddo. Call me when lunch is ready.

Caryn watches him leave. As the door swings closed, she can’t help snickering to herself…just a little.

Chicken & Artichoke Casserole

This is an old recipe from Cooking Light that I’ve adapted over the years. Satisfying on a chilly day.

1 box of wild rice (6 oz.), preferrably seasoned like the Near East brand products

salt, pepper, paprika

4 medium-sized chicken breasts

1 TB. olive oil

1 TB. butter

1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

16 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup flour

1 TB. fresh rosemary, chopped

2-1/4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup dry sherry

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare rice according to package directions. Spoon into 13×9-inch baking pan.

2. Dusk chicken breasts with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat butter and olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add chicken and cook unti lightly browned, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from skillet.

3. Add mushrooms to skillet and saute until mushrooms release their moisture and moisture mostly evaporates, about 5 minutes. Whisk together flour, broth and sherry until combined. Add liquid and rosemary to mushrooms in skillet. Stirring constantly, cook until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.

4. Arrange chicken over rice and top with artichokes. Spoon sauce and mushrooms over the chicken and artichokes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until thoroughly heated, about 50 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

Back to Buttermilk Country Bread!

January 26, 2006

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INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–KITCHEN–LATE, LATE NIGHT

The back door swings open and Mr. R. stumbles through dragging enough luggage for an entire family. Hank follows with an equal count of bags. They deposit their loads just inside the door and stretch their aching arms.

MR. R.

I just couldn’t take another day in St. Barth’s. I’m exhausted.

HANK

I’m starving.

Flora enters from the dining room, rubbing her eyes awake.

FLORA

You made it home safe. I wait for you.

HANK

Where’s Caryn?

FLORA

She left. It’s very late.

Flora straps a couple bags over her shoulder.

MR. R.

(inhaling deeply)

Is that bread I smell?

FLORA.

Yes, tomorrow’s breakfast.

She drags a bag behind her out the door into the house. Hank and Mr. R. spot the warm loaf cooling on the stove at the same time.

HANK

Is it tomorrow yet?

INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–KITCHEN–LATER

The kitchen glows blue with the early morning light. Caryn comes in, wet hair pinned into a bun at her neck. She drops the newspaper on the counter next to a wooden cutting board scattered with crumbs. Her eyes narrow on the knife perched next to the tray of butter also speckled with crumbs.

CARYN

Welcome home, sir.

She tosses the cutting board and knife into the sink and opens the fridge with a knowing smirk. Hidden in the back is a loaf pan filled with soft white dough just barely rising in anticipation of an early breakfast. She spins the oven dial to 350.

Buttermilk Country Bread

The honey in this bread makes it surprisingly reminiscent of a wheat bread. Although I almost always bake the loaf in the oven, I confess that I prefer to make the dough in my bread machine, where I can just throw in all the ingredients and hit a button. The instructions below are for those who don’t have a bread machine. Put the shaped loaf in the fridge overnight and finish the rising in the morning while the oven heats. Nothing like fresh bread for breakfast!

2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

2 TB. butter, softened

2 TB. honey

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 c. buttermilk, warm

1 TB. melted butter

1. In heavy-duty mixer, combine flour, yeast, butter, honey, salt and baking soda until mixed. With mixer running, pour in warm buttermilk. When dough begins to pull away from the sides, switch to dough hook. Knead on low speak until smooth, about 5 minutes. Let dough rest for 10 minutes and then knead for 1 minute longer.

2. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and turn once to coat. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

3. Lightly grease 8.5-by-4.5 loaf pan. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Roll or pat into a rectangle about 1/2 inch in thickness. Beginning at narrow end, roll up the rectangle to form a loaf. Place the loaf, seam side down in the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until near top of pan, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush top of loaf with melted butter. Bake until golden brown or the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 minutes.

5. Turn loaf onto rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf

To Return!

January 16, 2006

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INT. CARYN’S APARTMENT–NIGHT

CARYN

Dearest Readers and Friends,

Thank you so much for your support and kind notes during my hiatus!

I just want to drop you a note to say that I’m finally working on some new entries and hope to be back in full swing within the week.

I sincerely apologize for the unexpected delay. I know it must be frustrating to follow a blog that so abruptly disappears for an extended period.

Nevertheless, your unwavering interest in my site is a constant inspiration to me.


I look forward to returning to our story.

A timer DINGS from the kitchen.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Oops! I’ll be right back…