2.24.2018

Mom to the Rescue!

When in a culinary crisis, I can’t call my mother anymore, unless I am at a seance. However, she still helps me when I am in a quandary about menu planning.

How? I have a cookbook I made of her recipes, and I use it all the time.

In today's case, I needed something for guests visiting from the East Coast (Susan from the Provence WineZine and her daughter Alex were here!). We were out all day wine tasting, meeting up with vintners, being consummate wine enthusiasts, and simply enjoying the beautiful Arizona countryside.

We got home late, and I wanted something quick to throw together. For some people, “quick” and “throw together” connote store-bought prepared food or, God forbid, a frozen meal.

But not if you were my mother. She could put an elegant meal together in no time flat, and you would never know it was so simple.

Susan and James after a rigorous day of tasting!
We opened a bottle of 2016 Viognier by Rune Wines, an Arizona winery that is make Rhône-style wines; it was a terrific pairing. James Callahan, the owner and winemaker at Rune Wines, is a genius.

And Mom was a genius in the kitchen. This chicken dish is elegant and so easy; serving it to guests almost feels like cheating.

Prep time? Less than 5 minutes. Cook 20-25 minutes. Voilà! Dinner on the table.

Thanks, Mom!

~ David

Dijon Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 4-6 ounces each

freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots


Preheat oven to 375°F. Place trimmed breasts, skinned-side up, in greased baking dish and season with freshly ground black pepper. 


Mix butter, mustard and shallots and spoon over breasts, spreading evenly. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness of the chicken. 

Serves 4.

Note: The potatoes featured are from a recipe by my friend Mimi, who writes the Chef Mimi Blog - her Fondant Potatoes.

43 comments:

  1. This recipe is indeed genius! Your mom sounds like a truly remarkable woman.

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  2. Ive actually heard of the Verde Valley Wine Trail north of Phoenix but I didn't know there were wineries closer to Tuscon. But Tuscon and Tuscany are similar enough in spelling that there might be something going on there. Elegant meal. Intriguing wine info. GREG

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    1. I had my joke all set and that's where it went hay-wire. GREG

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    2. Too funny. We often tell people we ended up in a Tucson because we misspelled Tuscany. So... we aren’t the only ones!

      The wine region south of Tucson (Sonoita, Elgin, and Willcox) is pretty impressive! Come visit - we’ll take you!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your memories of your beloved mom, David. (Apologies if I don't stop by as often... we are moving house). xx

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    1. Thanks, Liz - you are so sweet! I hope the move is going well.

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  4. Dinner in 30 minutes or less! Yes please. I love the fact that you made a cookbook from your Mother's recipes.

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    1. With four boys, my mother had to think and cook fast!

      The book was so much fun to do... my brothers and their families use it all the time, as do I.

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  5. I’m mesmerized by the fondant potatoes!😍

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  6. So glad to find your new post today; it proves, as usual, that the best things are always those simple ones. Thank you !

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    1. That is what I truly believe, and so evident in Italian cuisine!

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  7. This meal definitely beats the Chinese takeout . It looks lovely David. I am going wine tasting in Sonoma county today .

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    1. Have fun today! We are sitting by the fire until it’s warm enough to sit in the garden!

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  8. what kind of cook was yr mum? I mean, better, what type of cooking dish she do? and what years are we talking about? Julia Child's time? (early 60s) - was it mainly American with french influences? lovely thing, the book. stefano

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    1. My mother was fairly traditional and did do a lot of French cooking based on Julia Child’s show. She also ready Gourmet Magazine and was fearless in the kitchen. She also made really good simple food to feed four hungry boys. She had some very nice Italian recipes, too, which she got from my uncle’s Sicilian family.

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    2. I would give anything to have a day in the kitchen with her now! She will be gone for 30 years in July.

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  9. It was so delicious that I went right home and made it for my husband! And I can also attest to the fact that David made the whole meal while I was in the shower! And the wine was a terrific match as well!

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    1. I love testimonials like this, Susan! People think I am making all this up!

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  10. Dear David, what a lovely hommage post to your mother! Love all about it and I know that the cookbook that you so lovingly put together is amazing, filled to the brim with wonderful memories, food and photos!
    Love, love your post and all those thoughtful comments above...
    Andrea
    P.S.: You asked about the cutlery I used in my latest post - it is from "Sissy Boy" in Antwerp, Belgium. One of my favorite stores. I accidently deleted your comment and had to paste it from another account...sorry, about that, my friend!

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    1. Thanks, Andrea. You are so sweet, and I did love putting it together.

      Thanks for the information abuot the fork... I guess I will have to love without it if I can’t find it online!

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  11. One of my standbys also but your recipe is even a tad faster . . . and it only takes a few heritage carrots to make the plate look elegantly inviting!

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    1. Thanks, Eha - it is amazing how the plate looks better with those carrots!

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  12. David, you've sorted my dinner plan for tonight. I was going to make a chicken dish I tried in Naples, but yours has one of my favourite condiments - Dijon mustard!

    The pollo alla sorrentina will have to wait!

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    1. But now, John, we are all waiting for the pollo alla sorrentina!

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  13. David, I love that your still get so much inspiration form your mom. My mom had that same skill of throwing things together quickly, but they'd seem so elegant and elaborate. So great you had the book of her recipes! I think my family will love this recipe. I'll think of your mom when I make it.

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    1. Even after these thirty years without her, I still find Mom in my kitchen all the time. (Dad is in my checkbook!) I hope you and your family like the chicken - and thanks for thinking of my mother! :)

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  14. My mom has been gone now for 20 years, but it's amazing how her memory still lives through the food she taught me to prepare. One funny memory: after she was confined to a wheel chair, she used to put her medications in the oven (turned off) where she could easily access them. I didn't realize this, so one day I turned on the oven to warm up some buns and after a few minutes I started to smell the plastic melting from the capsules! That memory will always stay with me!

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    1. That is a funny story, Fran - although I am sure it wasn't so funny at the time... How did you explain that to the pharmacist??

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  15. That's really nice. I mean the book of your mother's cooking. Really sweet.

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    1. Thanks, Mimi! It was really fun to do.

      And your potatoes are getting a lot of attention! Much more than the chicken! :)

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  16. Mum’s recipes are always the best. I never worked out how my mum could create such wonderful meals from seemingly nothing.

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  17. I will definitely try your mom's Dijon chicken, David. It looks and sounds wonderful and you know I love that it's a quick meal! That cookbook is such an incredibly sweet tribute to your Mom!! :)

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    1. I have had several friends make this already and all report back that it was a hit! So I hope you think so, too, Marcelle!

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  18. How lovely! I'm sure your mother is smiling about this post! The chicken sounds wonderful, as I'm sure it is!

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  19. Now we know where you got your great taste David!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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