I think I’m losing my mind. Popping out to the patio while the sun is tucked behind the low-hanging Gulf clouds, wearing only shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops, is morning routine. I say hello to our tiny green tree frog and give the plants a drink, not bothered one bit by the cool water trickling onto my bare toes. The rising sun is already intense, bringing a gentle flush to my cheeks. Stepping back into the air-conditioned apartment is a welcome reprieve.
Wait wait wait. It’s a week into November? Say what now?! If I were back in Wisconsin I could expect highs in the 40s or 50s, overnight frosts and snow would not be a strange sight. Parts of the west have already seen several feet of the powdery stuff, and most of the nation has swapped scanty summer duds for soft, warm and bulky autumn/winter wear. Yet we here in southeastern Texas continue to dress like it’s July, and can expect continuing sunny skies, little precipitation [definitely no snow] and 70 to 80° temps a while longer. My head is spinning. This place is upside down, backward, shaken and stirred.
If the weather by you is not so nice, I apologize. This is in no way meant as a taunt. In fact I’d be willing to trade with somewhere else if that’s possible. Oh well. We’ll be home for Christmas. I’ll soak up as much of the wintry atmosphere as I can before migrating back to the south. In the meantime, my onslaught of hearty meals, warm breads and rich desserts continues.
With the apartment to myself on Thursday night, I threw on my CIA apron and best chef face. On the menu: asparagus blue cheese chicken roulades and a white wine pan sauce, with strawberry pecan poppyseed salad alongside. Doing my best Julia Child impression, I flailed the rolling pin in the air between whacks at the chicken and may have swilled a glass of wine for encouragement. The kitchen was a flurry of twine, hot pans and whisks — what a time I had!
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4″ thickness
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
12 thin spears asparagus, trimmed of tough stems and blanched in salted water 2 minutes, drained and shocked in ice water
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
2 T finely chopped fresh dill, divided
3 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 T lemon juice, divided
1 T orange marmalade
1/4 c white cooking wine
Bring a medium saucepan filled halfway with salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch 2 minutes. Drain and shock with cold water. In a shallow dish, toss the asparagus with 1 T olive oil, 1 T lemon juice, salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, mix 1 T olive oil, 1 T lemon juice and the marmalade. Set aside.
Arrange the pounded chicken cutlets on work surface. Season both with salt and pepper on the side facing up. Starting on 1 side of the breast, place 6 of the dressed asparagus spears and half of the crumbled blue cheese. Wrap and roll the chicken around the asparagus and cheese. Secure around the middle with a 12″ length of kitchen twine. Brush the tops of each rouladen lightly with half of the marmalade mixture.
Heat the remaining 1 T olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, using tongs, add the chicken rouladen to skillet with seam side down. Season the outside of the rouladen with salt and pepper. Cover the pan loosely with a lid or foil, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the rouladen over, brush with the remaining marmalade mixture and cook another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove cooked rouladen to a serving plate.
Stir wine in with the pan drippings, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze, and simmer 1 minute. [You could add a pat of butter but there’s really no need, because some of the blue cheese will have oozed out into the pan.] Remove from the heat, add the remaining dill and spoon over chicken.
A squirrel bread original.