From Homemaker

Poulet Basquaise (Chicken Basque-Style) for St. Bernadette’s Feast Day, April 16


When we visited Lourdes in 2008, we ate a chicken dish at this restaurant, but I don’t remember much about it except that it had a winey sauce with a bit of bite, and that it had peppers, which I disliked as a child but now love as an adult. So when I was looking for a chicken recipe to prepare for St. Bernadette’s Feast, I chanced upon this Poulet Basquaise, that does have the spicy winey sauce, and the peppers. Parfait!

It starts out with a classic chicken sauté, and then come the peppers, and finally the finishing sauce, with everything heated gently together at the end to allow flavors to blend more fully. Excellent over rice or potatoes, or accompany with some French bread.

I used organic boneless chicken thighs here, which we keep in stock in the freezer to make daily meal prep easier, but you can easily adapt the recipe to bone-in chicken parts; just cook the chicken a few minutes longer to make sure they’re cooked through. You can also use boneless chicken breasts, but watch that you don’t overcook 🙂 .

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 lbs. boneless chicken thighs, patted dry
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sliced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped Bayonne ham, or substitute prosciutto
1 bay leaf
2 red bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
2 pinches piment d’espelette, or substitute red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine (I used a combo of Rioja & some leftover French Merlot)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons minced parsley

Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet, over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add chicken thighs in one layer, leaving enough space between chicken pieces to ensure that they sauté properly and not steam. (Cook the chicken in batches if you have to.) Cook until golden on one side, 7-8 minutes. Carefully turn and cook the other side, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go, another 7-8 minutes. Remove to a platter. Add onions and sauté until just becoming limp, then add garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes to release aroma, then add ham and bay leaf. Cook a few minutes to meld flavors. Add sliced peppers and cook, 5-6 minutes, stirring, until peppers are just limp. Do not overcook or they will turn to mush. Season with piment d’espelette and a bit of salt, stir and cook a couple minutes more, then remove to platter. Pour in wine, deglazing skillet to incorporate browned bits. Increase heat to medium-high and boil down to about 3/4 cup. Whisk in tomato paste. Taste and adjust seasoning, then return chicken and pepper mixture to skillet. Fold to coat everything with the sauce. Remove from heat, transfer to platter, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Note: French sauces are often enriched with a bit of butter at the end. Though truly delicious and gives the dish that extra OOMPH, I’ve omitted this step because of dairy allergies here. If you wish to add butter, swirl in 3 tablespoons of it, cut into small pieces, after adding the tomato paste and correcting for seasoning. Continue as above.

I’ve found different recipes for Poulet Basquaise; some call for white wine, others no wine at all, and still others use chicken stock. I’ve picked the red for this dish as the one I remember eating in Lourdes definitely had red wine and not white. 🙂

Meatless Soups for Lent


Suzanne over at the forum bumped up Nancy’s old thread on meatless soups, so I’m putting together a compilation of old posts here in case it would help.

It’s soup season still, so I’m hoping to update old posts with pictures that got lost when I switched blog hosts and forgot to renew our old image hosting.

Here are some yummy meatless soups:

Black Bean Chili
Sopa de Mariscos
Creamy Forest Mushroom Soup
Lentil Soup with Kale
Filipino-Style Pumpkin Soup
Soupe au Pistou
Greek Shrimp Stew
a rather pricey, not really for Lent type of soup, but it is meatless: Zuppa di Tartufo Nero

and here are some soups that can be adapted for Lent by omitting the meat ingredient or subbing with seafood, or meat substitutes:

Barley Soup Johri’s Talvo
Chickpea Stew with Spinach and Chorizo
Lentil, Kale and Sausage Soup

Scripture, Beauty, Art, Chesterton: Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer

Today’s reading was a bit WOW for me, I’m kinda left speechless, so I’m limiting my “response reflection” to music and art.

Here’s where I “journeyed” today…. some of my favorite Scripture verses. I thought it would be interesting to meditate on the beauty of God’s word, both the words themselves, in the Latin, in today’s English, and as interpreted by artists and musicians, old and new.

1 Corinthians 15:55
Ubi est, mors, victoria tua? Ubi est, mors, stimulus tuus?
O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?

Resurrection by Carl Bloch
Resurrection by Carl Bloch

Isaiah 9:6
Parvulus enim natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis, et factus est principatus super humerum ejus : et vocabitur nomen ejus, Admirabilis, Consiliarius, Deus, Fortis, Pater futuri sæculi, Princeps pacis.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Luke 2:11
Quia natus est vobis hodie salvator, qui est Christus Dominus in civitate David.
For to you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Revelations 21:5
Et dixit qui sedebat in throno: Ecce nova facio omnia. Et dicit: Scribe. Quia haec verba fidelissima sunt et vera.
And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Matthew 10:29-31
Nonne duo passeres asse veneunt? et unus ex illis non cadet super terram sine Patre vestro. Vestri autem capilli capitis omnes numerati sunt. Nolite ergo timere: multis passeribus meliores estis vos.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 19:14
Jesus vero ait eis: Sinite parvulos, et nolite eos prohibere ad me venire: talium est enim regnum cælorum.
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Suffer the Little Children by Carl Christian Vogel von Vogelstein
Suffer the Little Children
by Carl Christian Vogel von Vogelstein

Luke 11:15-32
In Latin and English: The Parable of the Prodigal Son

The Return of the Prodigal Son Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
The Return of the Prodigal Son
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Mark 9:23 (24)
Et continuo exclamans pater pueri, cum lacrimis aiebat: Credo, Domine; adjuva incredulitatem meam.
Whereupon the father of the boy cried aloud, in tears, Lord, I do believe; succour my unbelief.

Matthew 8:26
Et dicit eis Jesus: Quid timidi estis, modicæ fidei? Tunc surgens imperavit ventis, et mari, et facta est tranquillitas magna.
But Jesus said to them, Why are you faint-hearted, men of little faith? Then he rose up, and checked the winds, and the sea, and there was deep calm.

These aren’t exact matches, but what I often think of when I read/hear these passages.

The Incredulity of St. Thomas Caravaggio
The Incredulity of St. Thomas
St. Peter Walking on Water Alessandro Allori
St. Peter Walking on Water
Alessandro Allori

John 2:5
Dicit mater ejus ministris: Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite.
And his mother said to the servants, Do whatever he tells you.

The Marriage Feast at Cana Bartolome Esteban Murillo
The Marriage Feast at Cana
Bartolome Esteban Murillo

1 Corinthians 13
In English and Latin

1 Corinthians 13
1 Corinthians 13, Custom Calligraphy available at Etsy

cute versions here

One of these days I’d like to design and illuminate my own.

I am spending the rest of the evening reading and meditating on G. K. Chesterton’s Everlasting Man (Part 2, 2 and 3).

A Summer Menu

Last week, we spent a couple of days prepping and cooking for Saturday. We had some favorite people over as Aisa’s leaving for a 10-week internship in Michigan, Paco’s leaving for 7 (though he’ll be home on the weekends) and Migi will be gone for 3. We prepared so much food that our fridge is still full of goodies that we snack on and base our main meals on. It’s so relaxing to be able to just pull things out and not worry about cooking every single day. It’s so freeing, that I’m putting the whole menu here, and I’ll try to keep up a routine of 2x a week cooking all summer. I know some moms who do once a month cooking, but 2x a week is already a VAST improvement for me.

1. Filipino barbecued pork, which Aisa broke down from a whole Boston Butt Roast — marinated and skewered and grilled.
2. Chicken thighs, marinated and grilled.
3. Mussels, steamed and marinated in remoulade.
4. Shrimp, poached in Pernod, optionally tossed in pesto.
5. A white bean-kalamata-goat cheese spread that Aisa put together, with/without zucchini. Very nice on allergy-free bread from Schar (which we will try to copy).
6. Blanched green beans tossed with an almond-butter-soy-sesame dressing.
7. Blanched cauliflower tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and shichimi togarashi.
8. Boiled eggs, aioli optional.
9. Pickled carrot sticks.
10. Pickled zucchini sticks.
11. Quick-pickled cucumber slices.
12. Boiled chickpeas tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper.
13. Peter Reinhart’s pizza crust, my half-whole-wheat version, rolled out and ready to use.
14. Various toppings for pizza, e.g., fresh arugula from the garden, nitrite-free salami, mozzarella (on the list of to-dos for the summer), and my favorite no-cook pizza sauce.
15. Lemon bars. (need to make an allergy-free version)
16. Cream cheese brownies. (need to make an allergy-free version)
17. Thai tea in the pitcher and thai tea ice in ziploc bags. (thinking of a healthier rooibos-almond-vanilla-star-anise version)
18. Green-tea-mango concentrate in the pitcher, more as ice cubes in ziploc bags.
19. Yena’s fabulous apple tart.
20. My finally-successful cioccolato gelato.
21. Jiaozi made with ground turkey instead of pork, and of course the accompanying sauce.
22. Raw mushroom salad.
23. Berry sorbet.
24. Aisa’s beer sorbet.
25. Aisa’s chocolate sorbet.

(It helps to have daughters who love to cook.)

The fridge is finally starting to get empty again, so tomorrow I’m making our edamame, maybe tossed with the same almond-butter dressing that I used on the green beans, a carrot soup with fried sage leaves for topping, turkey meatloaf, our favorite lentil salad, and some spicy broccoli. Those plus the leftovers from up top should be good for 3 days or so. And then I’ll start another cycle.

Menu for the Week

Sigh. So this gluten-free thing isn’t really working yet, as I still have a ton of stuff to get rid of from pantry, fridge, freezer. So next phase of the project is to get rid of everything. Hubby meanwhile (who’s the wheat-free guy) will only have the non-wheat stuff.

This week’s menu: (will be linked to recipes yesterday)

1. Chocolate Stout Bread (to use up the Chocolate Stout that Aisa bought and didn’t like)
2. White Bean Chili (too many white beans in the freezer) ***
3. Roast chicken ***
4. Hot and Sour Soup (to use up the pork chops) ***
5. Banana-Spinach Smoothies for Dad and me — aka Liquid Banana Bread around here ***
6. Pan-roasted green beans with umeboshi dressing ***
7. Grilled fish (TBD, probably cod) with brown-butter caper sauce ***
8. Olive Bread
9. Spicy Crunchy Kochujang Shrimp ***
10. Sesame-Seed-Crusted Salmon
11. Potato-Pea Samosas with Tamarind Chutney
12. Minestrone ***
13. Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
14. Mashed Lima Beans ***
15. Sour Cherry Cobbler
16. Ampalaya with Egg ***
17. Pear-Cherry-Brie Soup ***
18. Calabaza Soup ***
19. Celebration Bread

Dishes marked with *** are gluten-free.


I made the mistake of auto-updating my theme, and now everything’s messed up with Mantra, and I’m stuck with this generic theme. 🙁

sigh….. it’s one of those days.

My Beloved DLX

naughty Nino under the table, his mouth full with peppermint marshmallow

…. I just found out, is now available at Amazon!

Here’s my original post on it, 5 years ago when it was younger : Utensibility Meme

I was just going to post something about this workhorse of mine. The past three weeks it has made two batches of peppermint marshmallows, six batches of macarons (one a complete flop, but that was my fault), 2 fruitcakes, a batch of Food for the Gods, sugar cookies and gingerbread, a batch of ensaimada, plus rainbow cookies and shortbread…. all without complaint. It is my most steadfast companion in the kitchen (besides my loving dh who volunteers to wash dishes and pots and pans and baking sheets often!)…. so faithful, so reliable. It just finished mixing 3 pannetone recipes and 3 batches of Cinnabon rolls. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Thank you, Electrolux!!

I also found the Amazon review that said this was rated low by Cook’s Illustrated. I discovered that review a couple of years ago and thought of writing the folks at CI (whom I respect and admire a lot! except for THAT review). All I can say is, they don’t know what they’re missing. When I first started working with macarons, I worried that the mixer bowl would be too big to handle 90 grams of egg whites, but NO problem at all. After five years of baking with this machine, it still works like a dream.

Lentil Soup with Kale

I know I’ve already got a Lentil Soup with Kale on here, but this one’s a bit different. More of a Middle Eastern take. It’s excellent as a fall soup, particularly when the leaves start falling and there’s a definite chill to the air. Serve over brown rice, or some homemade pita. Or not, since there are potatoes here. (Incidentally, since I last wrote about lentil soup, there’s been a welcome change. Paco, mentioned in that previous post, is now 14 — and LOVES bean and pulse soups. Can we say *progress*? )

2 cups Lentilles de Puy, or other lentil
1 large onion, chopped
10 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, water or a combination
salt to taste
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 bunch kale, trimmed and chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 lemon, sliced thin (thin-skinned are best but I only had the thick-skinned ones)
chopped green olives for topping

Pick through lentils carefully. Rinse and drain. Bring to a boil in a casserole with onions and stock. Cook over medium heat 30 minutes, discarding any scum that may rise to surface. Add salt and potatoes and cook 15 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Stir in kale and additional salt (if needed) plus black pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more or until everything is cooked through.

While lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and spices and keep over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in garlic mixture to soup and simmer 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and stir again. Serve hot, garnished with the lemon slices and chopped green olives (which I reserve for myself as the kids are not big olive fans unless in some unrecognizable puree). They content themselves with a sprinkling of some sea salt if necessary. Another salty topping you can use to contrast with the tang of the lemon is — what else — crumbled feta. I used a saltier-than-usual sheep’s milk feta from Israel.

This Week’s Bento Box Menu Lineup: Superfoods

  • Broccoli, Basil and Prosciutto Pizza (Broccoli, Basil and Prosciutto Rice Salad for Dad)
  • Orange Sections
  • Chocolate Spinach Smoothie
  • Blueberry Yogurt Cake
  • Turkey Black Bean Enchiladas
  • Green Salad with Ginger-Carrot-Miso Dressing
  • Montreal Arm Roast
  • Vanilla-Flecked Homemade Yogurt (sweetened with agave)
  • Homemade Granola-Crispy Rice Blend
  • Multi-Grain Struan, Homemade Almond Butter
  • Szechwan Celery and Chicken Stir-Fry
  • Hummus and Crudites
  • Salmon-Pasta Salad (Rice Pasta for Dad)
  • Black Bean Brownies
  • Broasted Tomatoes
  • White Tea
  • Dark Chocolate

Cultured Butter Using the DLX

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. We’ve made butter often enough in our DLX, but I’ve been wanting to try making it with Snowville Creamery’s heavy whipping cream (*not* ultra-pasteurized) since it became available at Whole Foods. The other — also important — reason for making butter is that I’m in love with Kerrygold’s Cultured Irish Butter…. and don’t mind paying a higher price at Costco for their 24-oz box… BUT I also would prefer to buy local when at all possible to support the farmers around us. The savings in cost, it turns out, isn’t anything to sneeze at either.

Two cups of the half-gallon of heavy whipping cream went with the strawberry shortcake I mentioned in an earlier post, so I had 6 cups left to work with. I added 1/3 + 1/6 cup of Seven Stars Farm Yogurt (my favorite store bought variety when I’m not making my own) and left it for about 13 hours in a bowl (whisked first of course!), covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature. After the overnight stay outside, I put it in the fridge to chill for a few hours. I’d have preferred to culture it a bit longer, but decided to make the butter in between lunch and dinner, since I figured by the time I got dinner started I’d be too tired to make it, and will have to put it off ’til tomorrow, which does me no good since I’m making our favorite loaf tomorrow, and it will not do to not have that butter ready!

So anyway, into the DLX mixer it went. And yes, some people don’t like making butter with anything plastic but my DLX has served me well all these years and has made me so much butter that it just tends to laugh off the criticism. What’s great about making butter in the DLX is that I can just plop a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the machine and I can observe what’s going on without getting all splattered. It’s almost like having an old fashioned glass butter churn, except this is for lazy people like me.

Just whirrrrr, whirrrrrr, whirrrrr….. it will thicken and turn into butter rather quickly. You’ll know because liquid (the buttermilk) will start splattering the plastic wrap. Let this go on for a bit, say, a minute, to get all that good buttermilk out (yum… for pancakes, dressing, any other recipe you like that calls for buttermilk!). Pour out the buttermilk (I used a plastic sieve but didn’t really need it much since the butter stayed put in the mixer bowl. Added (filtered) water, whirred again on high so that the butter leaves the beaters and gets slapped back to the sides of the bowl before coming together in the center again. Pour out the water and discard. Do this several times until the water runs clear. This is another reason I love the DLX! The washing part is a breeze!

The hardest part was squeezing out all that water at the end. I’m still not done. I’ve wrapped mine in plastic, parchment, foil, freezer paper, etc. Parchment is best but I’m out, so right now I’ve got it in a log-shape (kinda like those Amish butter logs) in paper towel and foil.

All in all, great results. I got about 2 1/2 cups of buttermilk, and 28 oz of cultured butter. (Not bad at all. I think the Kerrygold is $8(?) at Costco (sorry I forget the price)… the half-gallon of cream was $7.99, and I only used 3/4 of it. I love European butter, but I love my local farmers more.

That foamy stuff? Buttermilk!

This Week’s Bento Box Lineup

Sunday evening, preparing food for the week….


  • Baked Meatballs with Honey-Ketchup-Mustard-Soy Glaze
  • Potato Salad
  • Carrot and Celery Sticks with Ranch Dressing
  • Light Wheat Bread (BBA)
  • Pan-Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Olives
  • Apple and Cranberry Crisp


  • Grilled Scallops (marinated in Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, agave nectar)
  • Corn, Red Pepper and Black Bean Salad (suggested by dd-19)
  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Microgreens (from the garden!) + Raspberry Vinaigrette


  • Salsa Chicken, in wrap for Aisa, with brown rice for Bong

I’ll add more as I finish preparing the food. The list will go on the fridge so packers [ 🙂 ] can pick and choose if I don’t manage to get up early enough in the morning. I’m packing the lunches the day before so that I’m sure they get a bit of everything. Makes for a more balanced meal. 🙂

Friday Update:

Two kids fell sick this week… cooking halted yesterday and we had leftovers and ramen noodles for dinner. Cooking commenced today but I’m filling in requests from the sickies — namely Filipino arroz caldo and spaghetti with Bolognese sauce. College kid brought home a package of plantain bananas from the kitchens at school, so I’m baking several with their skins on. I *may* stir-fry some surimi crab sticks with asparagus if they need more food tonight :D. If you’re reading this, please pray that no more kids get struck down by this icky virus. Thanks!

Senior Product Designer at Vera Bradley is Filipina

Just so thrilled to find out that the Senior Product Designer at Vera Bradley is Elit Hoover who’s Filipina. There’s a brief interview featuring her in the latest (Spring 2010) Vera Bradley catalog.

Because I tended to lose things, I wasn’t a bag person until Vera. I put off buying a pretty bag for so long, even though the designs were lovely, because I was afraid I’d just lose it. Once I left a shoulder bag at a wedding reception and we were already on the way home and had to turn back to retrieve it! Guess I wasn’t wise enough to figure out that a bag could actually be the solution instead of the problem. So when I got my Vera it had to be a Vera — the biggest one, not easily forgotten. Since then I’ve used it as diaper bag, as book bag, as hide-things-before-a-party bag, etc. I *love* its many many pockets. What would make it perfect would be LABELS on the pockets!!! So I don’t have to check each one to find out what’s in it. What would be even more perfect is a zippable-on-the-sides Vera. So that if I do apply labels they wouldn’t be hard to see in the dark interior. Or maybe I can just bring a flashlight since it would fit 😀 .

Dd-18 wishes there was a sturdy Vera Bradley backpack she can use for all her books. The backpacks are all pretty, but there doesn’t seem to be one that would fit the bill, unless I got her a pullman (!). Her books are HEAVY. Maybe she should write Elit Hoover.