Seasonal Chef: Looking For A New Chicken Inspiration?


People ask me where I find the time to come up with all the dishes I create. At times I wonder that myself! In addition to writing Seasonal Chef  I work as a private chef for three clients early in the week, and cater at the end of the week. Unlike a chef in a restaurant creating dishes that have long term staying power, my food literally has to change from week to week. While that may sound exhausting, it’s pretty exhilarating for me. Inspiration comes to me in many forms: a trip to the farmers market, a special request, cookbooks, magazines and reading blogs. On this very blog you can find all sorts of recipes that are IndianLatin, Vegan, and Kid-centric.  Magazines and cookbooks take a certain amount of dedication to sit and read, but for those who don’t have the time I highly suggest blogs. They can come to you automatically in the form of an email. You simply open scroll down and click when you see an inspiration. I subscribe to several, and a few that have become favorites are: The Tomato TartOh She GlowsSmitten Kitchen and The NY Times. Lately I’ve had some great inspiration from the NY Times blog. The NY Times email comes about twice a week and is loaded with all kinds of recipes.

Hilltop Hanover shallot

At the end of last week, one particular recipe caught my eye: Chicken with Shallots. I decided to rotate that into my recipe plan this week. Since Monday I’ve made this recipe literally three times and it’s quite delicious. Mario Batali once said that it’s important to do a recipe at least one time as written. The person writing the recipe has presumably taken a great deal of time to sit and list out their steps for you. I could not agree more. When I write my own recipes I go through two to three iterations before the final one is posted.


In my third making of this recipe last night I was short on time and cheated it a bit. The overall dish was none the worse for wear, and  just so good I want to share it with you. After dusting the chicken with salt, pepper and a bit of flour,

Brown chicken

I browned the chicken very well. This step took about 25 minutes.

peeled shallot

While the chicken cooked I cleaned my shallots. Soak them for about 10 minutes in very warm water. This will help the papery skins peel easily. For the record, these beautiful shallots are from Hilltop Hanover, purchased in December! They have been hanging out in my cool basement for several months.

Chicken with shallot and wine

Once the chicken is nicely browned, caramelize the shallots for about five minutes and then add it all back together with the wine, mustard and tarragon. Try to use fresh tarragon if possible. It will give your dish a hint of the herb. Using dry will bring more intensity.

Chicken with shallot and wine

This was my cheating part: I had to leave the house to head out and wanted to eat dinner before I left. I added the tomatoes and turned up the heat a little so the liquid would reduce faster.

Chicken with Shallot, Wine and Tarragon

While that was happening I made a quick pot of rice. I have a lot of different pasta, rice and grain options in my pantry. Some are longer cooking like wild rice and some super quick like couscous. I knew had 20 minutes of cook time left for the chicken so I opted for Blue Ribbon Parboiled Rice. I get the giant bag from Costco, and use it frequently. It’s completely failsafe and yields perfectly fluffy rice every time.

Presuming you have all the ingredients on hand, this dish will be done in about and hour. Easy and perfect for a weeknight meal.

Buon Appetito!

One year ago: Mixed Dry Beans
Two years ago: Halibut with a Thai Twist


Spices and Seasons – Creamy Asparagus Soup (Vegan)

A creamy asparagus and chive soup that is perfect for the new spring asparagus.


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pods of garlic
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced (whites and pale green parts only)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds (optional)
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup of white beans
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds of fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • ¾ cup of almond milk
  • ½ cup chopped fresh chives
  • Fresh sumac or smoked paprika for finishing


  1. In a stockpot or any other heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and add in the garlic and the leeks and shallots. Continue cooking the mixture on low heat, until the leeks begin to turn aromatic and golden.
  2. Add in the coriander seeds if using, and gently add in the vegetable broth. Add in the white beans and the salt and black pepper. Simmer the mixture for 1 hour and fifteen minutes stirring occasionally if desired.
  3. At this point the beans should be fairly soft. Add in the asparagus and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes.
  4. Puree the mixture in batches using almond milk to thin the mixture as needed. Return to the pot and heat again if needed.
  5. Stir in the chives and serve garnished with the sumac or paprika



About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

Leave A Reply