Quick ‘n Easy Coq au Vin

Hearty dishes aren’t usually described as elegant, but this classic French recipe is the very definition.

This is something I would usually reserve for ordering in a good French restaurant, and even then, it’s not something I readily crave.  But I had chicken and I had white wine on hand.  Actually I had everything except the bacon so it made sense to find a recipe.

PHOTO: Liz Andrew.  STYLING: Erin McDowell

The only problem? You need Julia Child levels of patience and skill to pull it off. Enter this foolproof version, which is ready in under an hour. Plus, it’s made with dry white wine instead of red for an elegant twist.

What you need:

3 pounds chicken (8 pieces total—thighs, breasts and drumsticks)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 strips bacon, diced

1 large sweet onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pint cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 cups dry white wine

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until it’s well browned, about 4 minutes per side.
  2. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until the fat begins to render, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and sauté until the mushrooms are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Add the browned chicken back to the skillet. Pour the wine into the skillet, stir in the mustard and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  5. Cover the skillet and simmer until the chicken is almost fully cooked, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Uncover the skillet and add the cream. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the chicken is fully cooked, 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

de rien


Recipe: greek oregano chicken + orzo with tomatoes in garlic oil

If you’re looking for an easy, no fuss delicious dinner made in one pot – this is it!

image: halfbakedharvest.com

I’m always on the lookout for recipes that keep things simple but are healthy, hearty and smell heavenly.  Of course a touch of the exotic or unexpected is always a plus and it must look appetizing on the plate and pleasing on the palate. In this one the *orzo takes on a risotto-like texture since it gets cooked in with the chicken and peppers.  Sometimes oregano can be overpowering, but when paired with this chicken, some balsamic vinegar and smoked paprika, it’s perfect. This dish was originally a summer dish because of the heirloom tomatoes but you can still find them at select grocers and winter farmers markets.  The first part of the recipe (Tomatoes) is an extra step which is optional, although I highly recommend making it.



  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes sliced
  • 2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes halved
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cut into bit size pieces
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano chopped
  • 2 bell peppers sliced
  • 1 cup mixed kalamata or green olives
  • 16 ounces orzo pasta (use gluten free if needed)
  • 4-6 ounces feta cheese crumbled



  1. Add the olive oil, garlic and chili pepper flakes to a small sauce pan. Bring the oil to a low boil and then quickly reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes and then remove from the heat. Allow to cool and then store in a glass jar for up to a month in the fridge.
  2. Add the tomatoes to a bowl or plate and drizzle with the chili oil mix. Sprinkle with salt + pepper. Serve alongside the chicken.


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium size dutch oven or large skillet set on medium-high heat.
  2. Once hot, add the chicken, garlic, balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Toss the chicken to coat and then cook until the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oregano and cook another minute. Remove the chicken from the pan and to a plate.
  3. To the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil, the bell peppers and a pinch of salt + pepper. Sear the peppers until just beginning to caramelize on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Add the orzo and another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir the pasta with the peppers on then pour in 2 1/2 cups water. Cook until almost all the water is absorbed and the orzo is creamy. Taste the orzo to make sure it is soft in the middle, if needed, add another 1/2 cup of water and continue cooking the orzo until soft. It is important to stir the orzo often, as it wants to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Once the orzo is cooked, slide the chicken and olives into the orzo and remove from the heat. Allow the chicken to warm through, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve the dish topped with crumbled feta cheese and a side of tomatoes in chili oil.

*Orzo is a Greek barley-like pasta, the shape of large grains of rice

Original Recipe: halfbakedharvest.com

Let me know if this is something you would make and if you make it, let me know how much you like it.


Grill Talk: lime-marinated Mahi Mahi

Surprise, surprise…who knew?  It’s actually quite easy to barbeque.

Everyone except me it seems. But honestly confession….I recently barbequed for the very first time. For someone who has always enjoyed cooking in all its various forms, I’ve never had the desire to barbeque until now, even though I find many things taste better when on the grill – even vegetables. For no reason I can think of,  I’ve always left it up to others, specifically my husband to do the honors.  But now that I’m on my own and in the company of more than one barbeque I thought it was time to give it a go.  Because I’m doing some things I’ve never done before how daring of me. So once I fired it up; mystery solved! This is my third time grilling in the past two weeks, and each time dinner was surprisingly delicious.  And simple.  And quick.

My first attempt was Wild Alaskan Salmon coated with mayo, grainy mustard & spices.  Then it was a boneless rib-eye steak and now:

Lime-Marinated Mahi Mahi

Hawaii Mahimahi is an excellent source of healthy, extra lean protein. It is also low in saturated fat and low in sodium. It is rich in niacin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium. It (like most fish) should not be over cooked and flakes easily when done properly.  It’s also very meaty, almost steak-like in texture.  So if you want to re-create a tropical flavor this recipe will do so.  Enjoy.


  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate.
  2. Whisk the extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, lime juice, and grated lime zest together in a bowl to make the marinade.
  3. Place the mahi mahi fillets in the marinade and turn to coat; allow to marinate at least 15 minutes.
  4. Cook on the preheated grill until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  5. Garnish with twists of lime zest to serve (optional).

What is your favorite thing to grill?




Stylish Food – Gucci’s Haute New Restaurant

 When I think dream of Gucci, what usually comes to mind is:






Instead of THIS:

But when in Rome Florence you can now dine out Gucci-style.  It appears that the latest trend is mixing famous high-end fashion houses with cuisine.

The Italian fashion house has opened a 50-seat restaurant, Gucci Osteria, in Florence where three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura will serve up high-end dishes.

The Gucci restaurant is sited behind the walls of the 14th century Palazzo della Mercanzia building, overlooking the city’s most famous square, Piazza della Signoria. Visitors can treat themselves to the likes of Parmigiano Reggiano tortellini, Peruvian-inspired tostadas, pork belly buns and mushroom risotto for €20 to €30 euros per dish.

Few strategies come without an element of risk, however.

*Bernstein analyst Mario Ortelli said that if luxury companies did not provide a gastronomic experience that matched their other goods, it could dilute their brands. “The experience has to be luxurious and recognizable,” he said.  At least fashionably plated right?

“Food is luxury as much as fashion,” said Stefano Cantino, strategic marketing director at Prada, which owns exclusive Milan patisserie Marchesi.

“Barriers have been broken.”

The Gucci Osteria restaurant is part of “Gucci Garden,” which includes an exhibition area, a bazaar-like boutique and a cinema room. “Haute couture and haute cuisine are a recipe made in heaven,” chef Bottura told reporters.

So if you can’t have that special Gucci bag or pair of loafers you can always get a loaf of Gucci bread.   But to do so, you still have to get to Florence.

btw, just because you asked….this is my new favorite neutral:

Source: businessoffashion.com

*Bernstein is widely recognized as Wall Street’s premier sell-side research and brokerage firm, with a global equity trading platform that spans the U.S., Europe, and Asia.



Food: One-Pan Salmon with potatoes and romaine

Dinner Simplified

This easy salmon recipe gives you the main course and sides all at once, so fewer pots and pans to clean later.  Plus I happened to have tiny potatoes and romaine to use up in my fridge. And sometimes all you need are just three ingredients. 

Makes 4 servings

1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes (or other bite-sized)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Four 6-ounce salmon fillets

1 tablespoon melted butter

¼ teaspoon paprika

2 hearts romaine lettuce


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; arrange in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.

3. Roast the potatoes in the oven until slightly golden and fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. While the potatoes roast, cut 2 romaine hearts in half and rub with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. Brush the salmon fillets with the melted butter. Season each fillet with paprika and salt and pepper to taste.

6. Arrange the romaine and salmon on the baking sheet with the potatoes. Continue roasting for 5 to 7 minutes more, until the lettuce is tender and the fish is cooked through.

7. To serve, divide the potatoes, romaine and salmon among four plates.

For when you fancy nothing fancy; just good!

Afternoon Delight: High on Tea

High TEA,

as opposed to having an ordinary cup of tea and a biscuit, is a welcome time-out to a dreary afternoon. Complete with finger sandwiches, scones and sweets, let’s just say it’s a bit more indulgent.

I’ve always taken advantage of any good recommended ‘high-tea’ in any city I’ve been to that happens to have one.  Some of my past favorites have been at the Empress hotel in Victoria, B.C., Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aries, Claridge’s in London and the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal.

In Vancouver we have the Secret Garden Tea Company. I like that it’s a family run business with a story. Owned and run by Sisters-in-law Kathy and Erin Wyder, who were inspired by their two remarkable grandmothers (Gammy Bentall + Nan McBeath). I recently ordered several dozen sandwiches for a gathering that did not disappoint.  But I think the best thing is to actually go there in person to take in the ambiance.

A brief history – the British tradition began in mid 1700’s as an afternoon meal usually served between 3 and 4 o’clock. Initially, it was a meal for the working man, taken standing up or sitting on tall stools, thus the term ‘high’. Tea. Me; I’ll take mine sitting down.

From the website:

In a world of franchising and fleeting trends, the values at the core of The Secret Garden Tea Company are timeless: Stay small. Be good at what you do. If it sounds like The Secret Garden is a bit of a throwback to simpler times, it is.

Maybe that’s why, since it’s inception in 1995, people come from miles around to the cozy little teahouse. Certainly for the delicious food and soothing tea, but also for the good feeling they take home with them. A feeling that comes from relaxing instead of rushing, and from reflecting on all the sweet little good things of life. Like family. Like friends.

And a lovely cup of tea.

Kathy and Erin Wyder.

The Secret Garden Tea Company

Location: Kerrisdale Village

2138 West 40th Ave.
Vancouver BC
V6M 1W5

(604) 261-3070


Moroccan Muhammara

This is a delicious crowd pleasing recipe courtesy of my friend and neighbour Geoff.  He brought it over twice, and twice it was gobbled up in no time.

It sounds exotic and it tastes exotic but basically it translates to: red pepper and walnut spread.  This good-for-you recipe is also easy to make. Which in my estimation is always a plus.

What you need:

3 Roasted Red Peppers (from a jar or if you dare to, roast them yourself)

1 cup of walnuts (using chopped in bulk is fine)

2 slices of good quality whole wheat bread

1/2 tsp cumin

2 big cloves of garlic

2 Tbs Pomegranate molasses. (available from Persian Food stores or Middle Eastern markets).

Juice of 1 lemon (or more, to taste)

Salt + Pepper to taste


Geoff cooks by trial and error so he recommends breaking the process down into parts to get the texture and taste you’re looking for.

Preheat the oven to 350, and toast the walnuts on a cookie sheet for about 10 mins or until they become fragrant.

Start by whizzing the peppers, garlic, cumin, pomegranate molasses, and lemon juice in a food processor, then pour  (it will be pretty liquidy) into a separate bowl.

Then process the toasted walnuts until they’re almost like coarse breadcrumbs.

Take them out of the blender and reduce the bread to coarse breadcrumbs.

Gradually mix the whizzed pepper and crumbed bread into the walnuts checking the texture as you go.  You may want more or less breadcrumbs.  Keep blending until you have something like a smooth pâté.  If you try to do everything together, you’ll end up with that smooth pâté, or something more like a dip than a spread.  The processing can end up getting out of control very quickly….

Again, you can process part of the walnuts and part of the bread till they’re fine, then do the rest more coarsely if you like.  It’s an experiment every time!!!

At the end you go by taste and fold in more molasses and/or lemon juice if needed until you get it right – to your liking.

Serve with pita bread.

Trust me; you’ll like it!


Food: Flu Fighting Soup

Winter Veggie Soup for flu & cold seasonsoup1
I made a whole batch of this soup and ended up freezing most of it.  The name of this recipe was formerly called “anti-cancer” soup because of the goodness of all the wholesome ingredients but I changed the name to anti-flu soup.  In general, it’s just a great overall recipe that tastes really good. I just unfroze a container and added brown rice macaroni which made it a complete meal (especially for lunch).
Serves: 12-16 servings (almost feeds an army!)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 cups carrots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper, to preference
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or other dried herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley)
  • 12 cups (or 3 32-ounce cartons) of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (look for BPA-free cans)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup lentils (any kind will work; rinse first)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped finely
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped finely
  • 2-3 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1-2 cups frozen green peas
  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic for about 3-4 minutes, until tender. Season lightly with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (to your preferred heat level), and Italian seasoning.
  3. Add chicken or vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, and lentils. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer (slight bubbling), stirring occasionally. Season again lightly with salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add all other vegetables except frozen peas (zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach) and simmer another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Stir in frozen peas and turn off heat (or turn to low), so they don’t overcook. Remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. If you like, serve with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese and/or whole grain crackers or crusty bread.

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To freeze: 
Fully cook and cool the soup. (Do not leave soup out on counter more than 2 hours.) Divide soup into freezer bags or containers and freeze.

To thaw and reheat: 
Thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Then reheat gently over low heat on the stove or in a crockpot. Another option is to put the frozen soup block over low to medium-low heat on the stove top or in a crock pot. Add about 1-2 cups of water or broth over the top. Gently warm over low to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.




Healthy (no sugar) Zucchini/Carrot/Apple Bread

This fluffy moist zucchini bread recipe which I adapted by adding carrot & apple, is made healthier with whole grains, honey (or maple syrup) and coconut oil instead of butter. It is easily made vegan and/or gluten free (see notes). Recipe yields 1 large loaf or 3 mini loaves. A great breakfast bread or afternoon snack with tea.  Guests wanted more.

Photo: d. king


  • ¾ cup roughly chopped raw walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil*
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk of choice or water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + more to swirl on top
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups grated zucchini (you’ll need 1 small-to-medium zucchini, about 7 ounces—if your grated zucchini is very wet, squeeze out the excess moisture over the sink before stirring it into the batter). * I used a mix of zucchini, grated carrot and grated apple to make this recipe my own, and what I consider to taste even better.
  • 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour

    Photo: d. king


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a small, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup, and grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan to prevent the bread from sticking.
  2. Once the oven has finished preheating, pour the chopped nuts onto your prepared baking sheet. Bake until the nuts are fragrant and toasted, about 5 minutes, stirring halfway.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil and honey. Beat them with a whisk until they are combined. Add the eggs and beat well. (If your coconut oil solidifies on contact with cold ingredients, simply let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of your stove, or warm it for about 20 seconds in the microwave.)
  4. Add the milk, baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and nutmeg, and whisk to blend. Switch to a big spoon and stir in the zucchini (and/or grated carrot and apple), then add the flour and stir just until combined. Some lumps are ok! Gently fold in the toasted nuts now.
  5. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with additional cinnamon. If you’d like a pretty swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern.
  6. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing it with a sharp, serrated knife.
  7. This bread is moist, so it will keep for just 2 to 3 days at room temperature. Store it in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months or so. I like to slice the bread before freezing and defrost individual slices, either by lightly toasting them or defrosting them in the microwave. I dusted the tops with icing sugar (but you don’t need to – it just looks prettier).

A Note on Oils: I used unrefined coconut oil in this recipe.  Olive Oil will lend an herbal note to the bread.  Vegetable oil has a neutral flavor, but the average vegetable/canola oil is highly processed, so better to use cold-pressed sunflower or grapeseed oil if you prefer that.

MAKE IT VEGAN: Use maple syrup instead of honey, replace the eggs with flax eggs and choose non-dairy milk (I used almond milk) or water.
MAKE IT DAIRY FREE: Choose non-dairy milk (I used almond milk) or water.
MAKE IT EGG FREE: Replace the eggs with flax eggs.
MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: I haven’t tried myself, but I have heard from a reader that Bob’s Red Mill’s all-purpose gluten-free mix worked well here.
MAKE IT LOWER IN FAT: Replace the oil with applesauce if you’re following a low-fat diet.

I had all positive reviews for tasters on this one, so I’m going to make it again.  How about you?  Do you have a favorite loaf/bread  recipe?


Self Care: Dinner for One

I’m slowly getting back to some of the usual happy rituals that make my day complete.  One is the enjoyment of cooking dinner.

Broccolini with shaved Vermont cheddar, baby potatoes & wild sockeye salmon with salsa verde (Botanica recipe posted on October 17th – absolutely delicious).

Over dinner (many times accompanied by a glass of wine) along with pleasant music playing in the background, there is conversation. Which means normally there’s another person to converse with. Someone who can talk about pretty much…anything, which makes the ritual that more gratifying. Of course I talk to the dogs but it’s not the same.  They’re really not up on current affairs, however they’re very good listeners.

So it has taken me at least two months to get back into some kind of norm of cooking only for myself.  It’s not that I don’t have the inclination to invite someone else to join me, it’s just that I feel the time has come to look after me, in the same way I used to do for two. So I went grocery shopping and thoughtfully put together a proper dinner, taking time to do so, incorporating healthful ingredients. And I enjoyed every bite.  By myself.

I’m not gonna lie; I much prefer dinner for two. But there is something to having a routine even if it’s only meant for one. It brings meaning to everyday living.  And besides,  I enjoyed the company.  Maybe next time I’ll try taking myself out on a date!

But really; looking after ourselves is as important as looking after another. Even if it’s not as much fun.

How about you?  Do you take the time to make a nice meal just for yourself?

Wine + Dinner = Winner                                                                                                        (image: d. king)