Monday, October 21, 2013

Blue Jeans, Tea, and Vinegar

I made a rare trip to the mall a few weeks ago to return a pair of jeans that I had allowed a store to ship to my home - knowing that there was a better than average chance that I would have to return them. Will I never learn?

My son agreed to go with me, and he patiently waited while I stubbornly continued my pursuit of the perfect pair of jeans - or at least a pair that fit nicely. Several stores and several hot, cramped dressing rooms later, and I was completely frustrated and no nearer to my goal.

So I did what I always do in these situations... I headed for the specialty stores where one size really does fit all and all the styles displayed on the shelf are available for immediate purchase.

One of my favorite stores is Oil and Vinegar. They have an amazing selection of, you guessed it, oils and vinegars, along with spices and specialty items. The fun thing about this store is that you can taste things before you buy them. That's also kind of scary, because everything is so amazingly good! We selected two vinegars - a pear balsamic and a white truffle balsamic - and managed to get out of the store for less than $50... just. As we left with our treasured bottles, I was already trying to think up some creative recipe ideas.

Our next stop was Teavana, where everything is about tea. They have samples, too, which is good and (remember) dangerous. We chose four different teas that could be blended together to make some truly delicious hot and cold teas, and a fancy new iced tea pitcher. I won't even mention how much we spent there, it was so ridiculous. But we left the mall, quite satisfied with our purchases, and the jeans debacle (mostly) forgotten. When we got home, we made mixed berry iced tea in our new pitcher, and it was delicious. The pitcher turned out to be a really good purchase because it encourages me to make tea more often, which cuts down on our consumption of sodas. Totally worth the cost.

So, what to do with the vinegars? I thought about it for several weeks and last night I finally used the white truffle balsamic to make a sauce - more of a reduction, if you want to get technical. Anyway, it was delicious. I've tried to recreate the steps below. Please be aware that the measurements are approximate... because that's just the way I roll.

Chicken Breasts with White Truffle Mushroom Sauce

4 chicken breasts
Emeril's Essence (or preferred seasoning blend)
1 - 2 Tbs olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced
6 - 8 large button mushroom, sliced
1-1/2 Tbs white truffle balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp dried basil
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
Parmesan cheese

Season both sides of chicken breasts with Emeril's Essence. Cook under the broiler (low setting) until browned and cooked through, turn midway through cooking. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the breasts - ours took about 15 minutes per side.

Sauce: Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, then add garlic. Saute until lightly browned. Add mushrooms, vinegar, pepper and basil. Saute for 1 or 2 minutes. Add chicken stock. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed. Cut chicken breasts into slices, spoon sauce over chicken, and top with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with your favorite green vegetable - we chose steamed asparagus.

My guys really liked this meal and deemed it "5 star restaurant quality", which made me feel great and totally justifies all those hours I spend watching the Food Network.

Now if I could only be as successful with a pair of jeans...