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Well, this week wasn’t any calmer than last. That may be why three out of the four recipes I choose for this week include white wine! Obviously, something is on my mind…

I do love to cook with wine. Like lemon juice or butter a little bit adds a ton of flavor and in a snap you can make a sauce to accompany almost anything. One of my rules for cooking with wine, which I learned watching Mario Batali, is to always use a wine you would drink on its own. This is great advice not only because you want to treat your dish with respect and not ruin it with something that doesn’t taste good, but also because it is nice to have a glass of wine while you cook. You don’t have to use a $30 bottle, but don’t use those “cooking wines” you sometimes see at the grocery store. There are enough decent $10ish bottles around these days which will do the job nicely. Note, the alcohol burns off as you cook so kids can eat any of these dishes.

(Meals should feed four adults and take about 30-40 minutes to prepare, or the time it takes Patrick to give Eliza a bottle and put her to bed.)

Meal #1: Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs + Roasted Potatoes with Green Beans
Meal #2: Swordfish Parmesan + Roasted Broccoli
Meal #3: Porchetta Pork Chops + Fennel with Shallots and White Wine
Meal #4: Chicken Piccata with Noodles + Green Salad

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items:

red or yukon gold potatoes – 6 medium
broccoli – 1 large head
green beans – 1 lb.
fennel – 2 large bulbs
shallot – 2
lemon – 4
lettuce – 1 head or bag
rosemary – 1 bunch
fennel seeds
noodles- 1 bag
eggs – 2
garlic (if you don’t already have it)
flour (if you don’t already have it)
capers (if you don’t already have it)
red pepper flakes (if you don’t already have it)
Parmesan cheese (if you don’t already have it)
bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs – 4-8 (depending on the size)
bone-in pork chops – 4
thin chicken cutlets – 1 ½ lb.
swordfish steaks (6-8 ounces per person)
white wine

Porchetta Pork Chops
Have you had porchetta before? If you haven’t, find some fast. One of the first times I ever had it was from a stand at the Brooklyn Flea aptly named Porchetta. Essentially it is a fatty, boneless pork loin that is stuffed with salt, fennel seeds, rosemary, garlic and other herbs before it is roasted over a wood-flame. Heaven!

Obviously we all can’t make porchetta ourselves at home, but fortunately Melissa Clark at the Dining Section of The New York Times created this super easy, at-home recipe. The first time I made it I was shocked at how much it tastes like its namesake. (Note: Clark’s recipes is for 2 servings, but simply double the ingredients to serve 4.)

Fennel with Shallots and White Wine
To compliment the fennel of the porchetta pork chops, I thought I’d share this braised fennel recipe from The Wine and Food Lover’s Diet cookbook. I know that I’ve been using a lot of fennel these days, but it is a great winter-ish vegetable. Don’t worry, the days of asparagus and peas are just around the corner!

2 large fennel bulbs
2 TB. olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ ts. lemon juice
salt and pepper

Cut off the stems from each fennel bulb and if the outer layer is tough, remove it or trim it. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and remove the core if it is tough. Cut each half lengthwise into 2 or 3 wedges.

In a skillet over medium heat, warm the oil until it shimmers. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the fennel and toss well to combine with the shallot and garlic. Pour in the wine and lemon juice and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the fennel is tender when pierced with a thin, sharp knife, about 15 minutes.

Uncover and cook until the liquid has reduced slightly and the fennel is beginning to caramelize and brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adjust with salt and pepper, and serve hot.

Roasted Wild Striped Bass with Lemon, Olives, and Rosemary

The original recipe, published in The New York Times, actually uses Halibut, but when I visited my local fish market they didn’t have any, so I bought some beautiful, wild striped bass instead. It was a perfect substitution. My fishmonger suggested that the bass might take a little less time to cook than the halibut, but I found that it was done at exactly 10 minutes, just like the recipe said. If you can’t find halibut or even striped bass, be sure to get a comparable, thick, white fish, such as cod.

Roasted Fennel with Artichoke Hearts

A long time ago, my best friend dated a guy who asked her why all women loved artichokes. It had been his experience that women were crazy for them, while he thought they were just okay. I can’t speak for you, but this rings true in our house too. I love them, and Patrick thinks they’re fine. What is it about artichokes? Why do women love them so much?

(Note: both recipes serve 2, double the ingredients to serve 4)

On this day in 2009, Patrick proposed at Simon Pearce Restaurant in Quechee, Vermont. We were on our way to the Mad River Valley for a long weekend when he suggested we stop at one of my favorite restaurants for lunch. I was thrilled! After a leisurely meal of rich, cheddar soup, airy scones, and Vermont draught beer, Patrick suggested we visit the restaurant’s deck where you can see the adjacent waterfall. Despite what sounds like a total set-up, I had no idea what was coming. No sooner had we walked onto the deck that I turned around to see him down on one knee. Well, the rest is history –  and these days, that day feels like ancient history…

Minutes after I said yes!

Minutes after I said yes!

Five years later, we are driving to Vermont again for the long weekend, but with a toddler in tow. However, we were fortunate to celebrate the holiday, albeit a bit early, last weekend with another delicious meal, this time in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at St. Anselm. Sitting at the bar, we split a duck rillette appetizer, a plate of roasted shoshito peppers, a side of spinach gratin and I had a juicy, hanger steak with garlic butter while Patrick dug into a bourbon-soaked pork chop. Divine. It smelled so good at the restaurant that I told our waiter I wanted to live there. I think Patrick was bit embarrassed.

As you can tell, the way to this lady’s heart is through her stomach and in honor of this day of hugs and kisses I have prepared several meals for you that bring together ingredients that I love: artichokes, macaroni and cheese, shallots, olives, kielbasa, etc. Hope you enjoy them!

xoxo, Kelly

(Meals should feed four adults and take about 30-40 minutes to prepare, or the time it takes Patrick to give Eliza a bottle and put her to bed.)

Meal #1: Kale, White Bean, and Kielbasa Stew + Bread
Meal #2: Roasted Wild Striped Bass with Lemon, Olives, and Rosemary + Roasted Fennel with Artichoke Hearts
Meal #3: Macaroni and Cheese with Prosciutto + Green Salad
Meal #4: Roasted Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta + Sauteed Green Beans with Shallots

Your Grocery List, excluding the usual pantry items:
kale – 1 large bunch
lemon – 3
fennel – 2
lettuce or mixed greens – 1 head or bag
grape or cherry tomatoes – 1 pint or container
shallots – 7
rosemary – 1 bunch
green beans – 1 ½ lb.
kalamata olives – ¼ cup
Spanish olives – ½ cup (or just buy more of the kalamata olives and use those instead)
artichoke hearts – 2 cans
chicken broth – 1 small can
white beans (cannellini or navy) – 2 small cans
small elbow macaroni – 1 box
Gruyere cheese – approx. ½ lb.
whipping or heavy cream – 1 small container or 8 oz.
whole milk – 1 small container or 8 oz.
feta cheese – ¼ lb.
baguette or Italian bread
Parmesan cheese (if you don’t already have it)
ground nutmeg (if you don’t already have it)
thinly sliced prosciutto – 3 oz.
wild striped bass – 1 ½ lb. fillet
bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs – 8 or approx. 2 ½ lbs.
kielbasa – ½ lb.