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Monday, February 02, 2009

cordon bleu...or maybe it's green....

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Since being on mat leave, I've done a number of things. First, I got a nice big TV. Next, I upgraded my cable package.

And last, I've become totally and completely addicted to the Food Network. However, in doing so, I've discovered that they tend to replay the same episodes about three times a day. Probably not a huge deal if you only tune in every once in a while, but when it's on your TV all day, most days, it gets darned annoying.

The added bonus is that the idiosyncracies of the various hosts really start to grate on your nerves. I'm not about to get into a full-blown invective lambasting the various people on tv, but one show in particular that I *almost* love is Chef At Home. It's hosted by Michael Smith and he's got a great approach to food. Unlike most chefs whom I would be absolutely sh!tbaked to have at my home (you know, the ones who ascribe to the idea that there is only ONE correct way to make every individual dish), he seems to have a totally down-to-earth approach to food. I think we'd get along.

That is, of course, if I could get over his didactive narration. Seriously, he talks to me like I"m about 5 years old (coincidentally, the age of his cherubic little son, Gabe). And if you watch each episode, a fun drinking game would be to take a shot every time he uses the word "aromatic." Might liven things up.

Anyway, with all that said, his food is almost unerringly fabulous. I caught a preview for an episode a while back and was so intrigued by it (ham and cheddar chicken baked on a bed of onions) that off I went to to try to find the recipe.

It was yum. I made the whole meal and it was a big hit. Simple, complaints here. I might skip the spinach sauce next time (it made a TON and was just a little too spinachy tasting), but the onions were amazing, and the stuffed pototoes kicked all kinds of ass. Two thumbs way up. Make this meal - it'll impress your inlaws and fill your bellies.

Ham and Cheddar Chicken Rolls
stolen from Chef at Home

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
Sprinkled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
8 slices deli ham
8 thin slices cheddar cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp dried thyme


1. Preheat your oven to 350°.

2. Layer two pieces of plastic wrap on top of each other. Fold them in half, open and place a chicken breast near the fold. Fold over the plastic wrap covering the meat then gently pound and flatten the breasts using a rolling pin, meat pounder or the bottom of a heavy pot.

3. Season the chicken, then spread a thin layer of Dijon over each piece.

4. Lay two slices of ham and two slices of cheddar on each breast. Roll them up tightly.

5. Sauté the onions with the oil, dried thyme, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until they are lightly browned and golden.

6. Place the chicken rolls on top of the onions in the pan or transfer to another baking pan, cover with a tight-fitting lid or foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the rolls are cooked through.

You may serve them whole with a scoop of the onions or slice each one into several ‘rounds’ and present them on a bed of the onions.

Spinach Sauce
stolen from Chef at Home
as mentioned, I could take this or leave it. It makes WAY too much - I've frozen the leftovers to use as a pizza sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 lb. spinach leaves, washed
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
Sprinkled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Pour the oil into a saucepan over medium-high heat then add the onions and garlic. Sauté until they are fully aromatized, until the whole kitchen smells great!

2. Add the spinach, white wine and chicken broth and cook briefly just until the spinach softens, shrinks and wilts down. This is a 6qt pot, btw.

3. Puree with a hand blender, counter blender or food processor and season with salt and pepper.

Salsa Stuffed Potatoes
stolen from Chef at Home
these potatoes ROCK - I used hot salsa and old cheddar. I recommend you do the same

4 large baking potatoes
1/2 cup your favourite salsa
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Sprinkled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 350°.

2. Bake the potatoes for an hour or so, until their flesh is very tender.

3. When they are cool enough to handle, trim the top off of them. Scoop out most of the flesh, leaving enough around the inside of the skin to keep it whole and give it strength.

4. Mash the scooped potato with the salsa and cheese. Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells, mounding them over the top a bit as needed.

5. Bake until they are hot and the tops are golden brown and beautiful (about 20 minutes...put them back in the same time as the chicken!)


This is a great meal to serve to company - it's got loads of flavour, but there's nothing in it that is especially exotic or strange to the unadventurous tastebud. I had no leftovers, so that should say something. Super yum. Thanks for reading!

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