As Steve continues with the roof job, I entertain myself by working in the vineyard (it’s all-year round job, despite what some people might think, now it’s thinning time), checking and re-tying the tomatoes (they just about start ripening), cleaning the mess after Steve’s day work on top floor and in bodegas below and whatever else needs doing. I am not allowed on scaffolding, for various reasons.
Yesterday I was in a mood for cooking. Usually my husband cooks (yes I know, he works all day on the house, and then cooks for me). I am not lazy and I love cooking, but early on in our marriage we established that Steve IS THE COOK OF THE HOUSE, and so it continues. Even now, he says it relaxes him, so I let him. Besides, I don’t think you can have two cooks in the house, unless you have two kitchens (I can rate our current kitchen as 1/3, so I REALLY don’t mind).
Among other businesses over the years, we had several restaurants so my husband is a professional chef. Sometimes I say ‘I only married you because you cook for me’. Partly true. But every night we do have a restaurant-style meal. I am a lucky girl!
Anyway, yesterday, while my multi-talented husband was battling with over-complicated 400-year old roof, I made chicken Provençal. I called it Provençal because the herbs I used are more of French style than say Spanish. This dish is very easy to make, it’s very healthy and nutritious.
It is my own version. I first softened two onions, garlic and a small green pepper in olive oil, then browned pieces of skinless chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper, added passata sauce with the same amount of water (you can use chicken stock). And then I went mad with herbs: dry thyme ( I prefer tarragon with chicken but we run out), a touch of Spanish smoked paprica, a handful of finely chopped fresh mint, 1 rosemary sprig (remove before serving), 2 fresh bay leaves (remove towards the end of cooking otherwise they add bitterness) and a few lavender flowers. Simmer for 40 minutes. Et voilà!
Tarragon is one of my favourite herbs. When we lived in France, we saw chefs using it so widely: with chicken, rabbit, pork, fish, and since then I am hooked. Tarragon is very fragrant, delicate yet subtle, and is great dry as well as fresh. Alas, I didn’t have it for my dish yesterday.
I served my chicken Provençal with fusilloni pasta, it’s also good with boiled potatoes. Tip: when you cook pasta, just drain it and add to the sauce with chicken, then simmer for 5 minutes for pasta to absorb all the flavours. Italians always do it, none of this ‘spaghetti on top of sauce’ nonsense. Really makes a difference!
So, the dinner was a success, husband thought it delicious, what more could I ask for? I should do it more often (as long as The Chef lets me)!
While I was in the garden picking the herbs, I though fresh herbal tea would be a good idea. I simply used mint and lavender (lavender flowers as well as a few leaves). We had lovely refreshing afternoon tea!