Slow Cooking, Baking at Home and Champagne

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The following recipe is from Leanne Ely's Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes, and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table, published by Ballantine Books:

Skillet Chicken with Spinach
Serves 6

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 lb red potatoes, cut in 2" cubes
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups spinach
In a skillet, heat oil over a medium heat. Add chicken and cook till browned on both sides. Add onions, potatoes, chicken broth, wine, thyme, salt and pepper. Lower heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Serve on 1/2 cup raw spinach and let the heat of the chicken perfectly wilt the spinach. Keep the spinach together as much as you can so it wilts correctly. Serve.

Per Serving: 372 Calories; 6g Fat (14.3% calories from fat); 58g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 137mg Cholesterol; 299mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 7 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Baked butternut squash and you're set!

If dinner is a hassle at your house, try Leanne Ely's Menu-Mailer, where you can get your menu and check out the new low-carb menu while you're there.

These recipes are from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World, published by Artisan.

Simplest Apple Pie
Makes one 8-inch square apple pie

The pastry is rich with egg yolks and sour cream. It needs no rolling out and no special handling. Some is pressed into the pan to make the bottom crust, and the rest is just crumbled over the top of the filling. Use McIntosh apples so the grated apples melt as they cook. Serve from the pan in generous slices.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and softened
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons sour cream
  • Scant 1 tsp minced lemon zest (optional)
  • Up to 2 Tablespoons cold water, if needed
  • About 3 Tablespoons fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 8 medium-to-large McIntosh apples (nearly 4 lbs)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Mix the flour and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, break the butter up into bits with a fork or your fingertips. Add the egg yolks and sour cream and beat with a wooden spoon. Add to the flour mixture and stir. Add the lemon zest, if using. Use your fingers to break up lumps so the mixture has a coarse cornmeal texture. Add water a little at a time if needed to make the dough come together, blending it in, then pull the dough together into a mass. Place in a heavy plastic bag and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8" square baking pan and sprinkle the bottom generously with the bread crumbs.

Peel the apples. Using a coarse grater, grate the apples. You should have about 8 cups. Place the apples in a bowl, add the lemon juice and a little sugar if you wish, and toss well.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Cut it in half, and set one half aside. Place the other half in the cake pan and press it evenly to cover the bottom. (It will be less than 1/4 inch thick.) Pile on the grated apples, mounding them up in the middle. The pile will look high, but it will shrink during baking. Crumble the reserved dough over the apples to cover.

Bake for one hour, or until the top of the pie is touched with golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Banana Coconut Bread for Pam
Makes 2 large loaves, lightly sprinkled with brown sugar.

  • About 8 medium-to-large frozen bananas, defrosted, or very overripe bananas
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp white or rice vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut
  • About 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9" x 5" bread pans.

Puree the bananas (with their juice if using defrosted ones) in a blender. Measure out 3 cups and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vinegar and rum and beat briefly. Add the banana puree and the flour mixture alternately, about 1 cup at a time, beginning with the bananas, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in the coconut.

Spoon the batter into the buttered pans. Sprinkle the top of each loaf with about 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes; until golden. Let cool for 20 minutes, and then turn out of the pans onto a wire rack to cool completely and firm up.

* To freeze bananas, choose overripe fruit. Peel them and cut them into large chunks. Freeze overnight on a tray or in a container. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic bag, seal and freeze for up to 1 month. Place in bowl to defrost at room temperature, and save the juices.

Vietnamese Bread Pudding
Makes about 1 moist loaf, rich with coconut milk and sweet with bananas and sugar. Once cooled, this pudding slices beautifully. If you are serving it as a dessert, top the slice of pudding, if you wish, with lemon or mango sorbet.

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (canned or fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons palm sugar, or 1 tablespoon each maple sugar and light brown sugar
  • 10 - 12 slices fresh or stale Vietnamese Minibaguettes, or 8 - 10 slices white or light whole wheat loaf bread, toasted until golden
  • 5 ripe bananas, 4 mashed, 1 sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch medallions
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil or butter an 8" x 4" inch bread pan.

Place the coconut milk in a heavy wide pot and heat until warm. Add the cinnamon and palm sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove from the heat. P> Tear the bread or toast into large chunks and add to the coconut milk, stirring to moisten it completely. Add the mashed bananas and stir to mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the loaf pan. Top with the banana medallions and sprinkle on the granulated sugar. Bake for about 1 hour, until golden. Let stand for 10 to 20 minutes to firm up before slicing.

Dorie Greenspan is the author of Paris Sweets, among other books. She spoke about Veuve Clicquot.

Paula Wolfert is the author of The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook.