Sunday, May 08, 2011


The Frenchie makes fun of me all the time for misplaced words. I take it in stride and even see it as a source of pride as, whatever the language, the error's usually a graceful one if I do say so myself.

Last Summer, we visited a favorite town on his side of the Channel. After a bit of dune-wandering (kind of an adventure for me as I worry about old ordinance), we decided to take a walk around a part of the town that wasn't demolished by the Germans in the last war. Something that's striking in a lot of the old architecture is that it's mainly taller buildings and apartments - mind you, not as huge as the monstrosities built by modern development companies to attract the English - but maybe two or three stories in cement with sharply-pointed roofs and a fair bit of ornamental woodwork. Kind of like the Queen Anne style here (certainly from the same period).

The more modern houses that are built by families on the outskirts of town are generally one story, white stucco and red tile roofs - the footprint being a bit larger than your average Cape. Since there is very little variation one starts noticing the details a bit more: beach roses as opposed to lavender as a hedge. Patches of Beach Grass in gravel as opposed to everything being just paved over. On one house, I actually saw something pretty common in my part of the States that is a fair bit rarer over there and thus worth pointing out: a weathervane.

"Regarde le joli vol-au-vent!" I cried out, tugging at his arm like a little kid.

"Quoi? Come again?"

"Re-garde le jo-li vol-au-vent!" I repeated (louder and more slowly, of course. It's an American thing.) pointing to the roof where the iron rooster was perched.

When he figured out what I was talking about, burst out laughing. It took him a couple minutes to calm down.

"It's girouette! Gir-ou-ette."

"Now that you mention it, yes. I know that word. Just forgot it and had to come up with something that made sense in the context. What's wrong with vol-au-vent?"

"Absolutely nothing; not a thing at all. It's nice. Poetical, even."

A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. This one's in Rockport, MA.


The other day, it was cold, damp and pretty miserable out. Comfort food was in order. Since shopping hadn't been done yet, kind of needed to work with what I had which, in this case, was a half a roasted chicken and some frozen veggies. Decided that I'd improvise a bit of something I'd been longing for for a while:

Chicken à la King

4 c. diced roasted chicken (about 1/2 a bird)
1 medium onion
2-3 large branches of celery
1/2 large green pepper (or one smaller)
3 c. frozen mixed vegetables
1/4 c. butter, margarine or olive oil
3-4 T. flour
2 c. milk or
1 c. milk and 1 c. water or chicken brother (this is what I used).
Seasonings to taste. (I used about 1 T of curry powder)


1.) Dice onions, celery and green pepper. Saute the three in a tablespoon and a half of fat. (Generally, I start with the onions. When they've turned a bit transparent, I add the other veggies and cook over low-med heat until soft).

2.) Add frozen vegetables and raise the heat slightly. When they've thawed, add the chicken and allow all to warm through. When done, set all this aside.

3.) Prepare a roux: melt remaining fat in a pan, slowly add flour and cook until bubbly and slightly golden. S-L-O-W-L-Y add the milk (& other liquid), stirring all the time until all is incorporated and you have a nice, thick sauce. (Small lumps are okay; they'll dissolve. What you want to avoid are big lumps which end up like dumplings in the sauce). Add seasoning(s) and heat through a bit to get rid of the flour taste. Don't let it come to a boil.

4.) Add the chicken and veggies mixture to this, then heat through again (on low heat). The sauce should continue to thicken a bit. If it gets too thick, you can always add a bit more liquid.

Serve over noodles, potatoes, biscuits(a great recipe for those is the standard Joy of Cooking quick baking powder biscuits.), or the aforementioned vols-au-vent.

Now, I love puff pastry as much as the next girl, but have no intention of ever making it. Was all out of the biscuits, too (strawberries were on sale, so we've been going nuts with the shortcake). Ended up serving this over toasted, buttered pumpernickel bread slices; was pretty good.

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