Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gastronomy: Chicken Tarragon, an Ideal Weekday Meal

According to one really annoying celebrity chef, 30-minute dinners are easy to achieve. In fact, this particular chef boasts that there are hundreds of recipes that a home cook can prep, cook, and serve within the confines of a half hour. From my experience (and I cook often), unless you are making a sandwich, most dinners require more time than that. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the concept of a meal requiring little time and effort. During the week when work, school, and activities manipulate our schedules, most mothers would love to have a Rolodex of meals that were attainable in such a short amount of time.

I came up with the recipe for Chicken Tarragon when my finicky eating toddler decided one day that he actually liked chicken. It’s savory, easy, and quick—not 30-minutes-quick, but definitely less-than-an-hour-quick. Served with a side of steamed asparagus and a piece of crusty bread, it's well-rounded and pretty, too!

Tarragon Chicken with Asparagus

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 T unsalted butter for browning meat
2 ½ T fresh tarragon chopped
Juice from a half of lemon
¾ c dry, white wine
2 c chicken stock
¼ c heavy cream
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 loaf crusty sour dough bread
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

In a pot, boil salted water for asparagus. Meanwhile, pat chicken dry and season with a little bit of salt and pepper (be careful not to over-salt, because the sauce is quite savory). Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter is thoroughly melted and beginning to bubble, place chicken in skillet; brown both sides. Deglaze pan with white wine, making sure to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom. Reduce to half and add 1 ½ c of the chicken stock, tarragon, and cream. Reduce temperature to medium-low heat and cook about 25 minutes until the sauces thickens (if it becomes too thick, add the additional ½ c stock). Mix in lemon juice and simmer 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. While chicken is simmering, blanch asparagus for 3-5 minutes; remove from water and set aside.

Place one piece of chicken and a portion of asparagus in four low bowls. Spoon sauce in equal parts over chicken and asparagus and serve with a chunk of bread. This dish goes great with a crispy white wine.

Although I still haven’t convinced my son to try the asparagus, he gobbles up the chicken, sauce, and bread in way less time than it takes me to make it. Maybe that’s what the celebrity chef means by 30-minute meals—consumption time. If that's the case, Chicken Tarragon is a 10-minute meal that's sure to please even the pickiest palates in your house.

Email this article!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Style: Muji's No Brand Quality Goods

On my last visit to New York, I stumbled into Muji by chance and was completely smitten by its minimalist design and unusual product offerings. I bought a bunch of gifts, distributed the bounty, and moved on, forgetting about my little discovery. Fast-forwarding to our recent trip to Italy, I once again was drawn to a Muji. The only difference this time is that I promised not to forget about this little wonder.

Originating in Japan, Muji sells household wares, clothing, accessories, and toys. As its name promises (translated to "no brand quality goods"), Muji emphasizes recycled products and de-emphasizes branding and packaging. Muji's offerings are inexpensive, available online, and perfect for your own household or as a gift.Their designs are beautifully simple, from a vertically striped, reused yarn tee to a bright and bold pencil set and notebook encased in paper bag-colored packaging. My personal favorite is their City in a Bag series. Tied up in a delicate, linen sack is a half a dozen or so little, wooden blocks that include a number of the most famous icons from our most beloved cities. Choose from New York, Tokyo, London, or Paris and enjoy them for yourself or watch your kids go to town. Details: www.muji.us

Email this article!

Adventure Rome: More Than Its Icons

It’s easy to envision the long-list of Rome’s famed landmarks and when these sites are seen in person, they magically surpass their reputation. But, extraordinarily enough, Rome's real treasures are found in its neighborhoods. Laced together are more than a dozen unique quarters, each boasting their own stories, style, and gastronomic specialties. Over the year, we’ll highlight some of our favorites, but today we focus on Monti, located just north of the Colosseum.

The main drag, Via del Boschetto, combines antique shops and time-tested restaurants with hip wine bars and trendy boutiques. Historically known as the seedy part of town, this quarter is now one of Rome’s most desirable neighborhoods. Whether you’re searching for a new skate deck, a hand-crafted jacket, or a place to simply rest your feet between escapades, Monti is sure to please.

AireLab, Via del Boschetto 123
Walking down the street, the dangling chicken bag-bins were the first of the many quirky items to catch my eye. Once inside, this mother and son venture offers a number of pop-culture knick-knacks and funky accessories, including Chairman Mao bottle openers, vintage cloth sleeping masks, and handmade felt necklaces.

Fabio Picconi, Via del Boschetto 148

Filled to the brim with costume jewelry, it’s difficult to maneuver your way through the store, but the vintage, Italian brooches, glittery rings, and rhinestone pins make it a fun place to stay and play.

Le Gallinelle, Via del Boschetto 76

This old neighborhood meat market has been seamlessly transformed into a funky boutique. From the old meat hooks now hang one-of-a-kind creations made from second-hand clothing and world-wide materials. Peppered throughout the store are a number of vintage designer accessories, making Le Gallinelle the perfect destination for fashionistas on a limited budget.

Libreria Caffe Bohèmien, Via degli Zingari 36
Whether you’re craving a glass of wine, an espresso, or a good book, Libreria Caffe Bohemien offers it all. Cozy rooms lined with bookshelves, records, and artwork offer an inviting way to catch your breath, replenish, and map your next Roman excursion.

Valentino, Via del Boschetto 37
Don’t look too hard for the restaurant name: You won’t find it. In its place sits the original 1930’s sign reminding us of its beer parlor past. Today, however, Valentino is one of Rome’s most honest and comfortable trattorias. The checker tiled floor; heavy, dark wood work; low ceilings; and crisp, white table cloths offer a hint of the warm and comforting food that awaits. The specialty of this family-run establishment is their grilled meats and cheeses. Try scamorza, a smoked, tan, and bubbly melted cheese with the toppings of your choice (from Parma ham to mushrooms) or their ground beef grilled to perfection and topped with salty prosciutto and warm cheese. Accompany your meal with a carafe of their house-wine or a chilled beer from the tap.

Email this article!

Adventure (26) Gastronomy (38) Obsession (39) Style (26)

About Mod City Mom

After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
Questions? Comments? info@modcitymom.com

Is Mod City Mom loading incorrectly? Try upgrading your browser of choice.