Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Feb 28, 2011

Roasted Chicken with Fennel & Lemon

Libations used: 2 Tbs white wine
Libations left over: pretty much the whole bottle

I was craving coq au vin earlier this week and didn't get around to making it, but now that the sun has come out in Santa Monica, I wanted something lighter. Plus, the fennel just looked so pretty at Sunday's Farmer's Market - I couldn't resist. Thanks again to The Kitchn for this awesome and insanely simple recipe. I ended up using white cooking wine because I didn't want to crack open a whole bottle for myself on a Monday night, but this is perfect to serve for an impromptu dinner party.

Roasted Chicken with Fennel & Lemon - serves 4 people

  • 1 Lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 small fennel bulbs
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs white wine
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
- Heat oven to 425 F. Place chicken in large bowl
- Trim stalks & fronds off fennel bulbs and cut each bulb into quarters. Slice each quarter into 1 inch slices a la the French.
- Add to bowl, along with 1 tsp. minced fennel fronds.
- Add minced garlic, olive oil & white wine to bowl.
- Zest and juice the lemon and add both to bowl.
- Toss all ingredients together, and add salt & generous amount of pepper.
- Drink glass of white wine
- Spread chicken & fennel in dutch oven or a large baking sheet. Arrange fennel along the outside and place chicken closely together.
- Pour remaining juices over chicken.
- Roast for 30 minutes, or until chicken reaches 160F and fennel is tender & slightly brown around edges.
- Cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

The Lush Chef's Home Bar

Since I've moved into my new apartment, I've been entertaining a lot more, and of course that means having a fully stocked bar to satisfy everyone's tastes, as well all these new recipes I'll be trying out!

Besides at least 2 bottles of red and white wine, and some beer, here's what every lush chef should have in their home bar to be prepared for impromptu dinner parties and recipe whims:

The Basics -
  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Whiskey, Bourbon & Scotch
  • Brandy
  • Rum (white and dark)
  • Tequila and/or Mezcal
Flavored Liqueurs & Bitters -
  • Sweet & Dry Vermouth
  • Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Peychaud's Bitters - a little harder to find, but this has more of a licorice flavor
Lush Chef Favorites:
  • Bailey's Irish Cream
  • Campari
  • St. Germain (elderflower liqueur)
Mixers & Garnishes:
  • Soda & Tonic Water
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Large Green Olives
  • Lemons, Limes & Oranges
  • Juices
  • Herbs - I have mint and basil in my little herb garden, so I'm always prepared
  • Jigger - using one of these does not make you a bad bartender. In fact, all the good ones I've seen use these for consistent, quality cocktails.
  • Cocktail Stirrer
  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Glasses - wine, champagne, martini, pilsner & highballs 

Feb 27, 2011

The Ultimate Lush Dish - Coq au Vin

Libations Used: 3 cups red wine
Libations left over: 1 glass red wine

Coq au Vin might sound all fancy and French, but this is actually one of the easiest dishes to make. What with the cold snap and the sheets of rain earlier this week in LA, I was constantly craving this dish. Sadly, I didn't have time to make it due to the madness of awards season, but I wanted to share this as my first recipe on "The Lush Chef." It has quickly become my standby dish for solo dinners and dinner parties - who doesn't love wine-soaked chicken?

This recipe was taken from "The Kitchn" - my favorite cooking blog, and the best part is, they found a way to shrink the cooking time down to about 30 minutes. I prefer to cook this longer for ultimate flavoring, and to give time for the sauce to reduce, but if you're desperate on time, 30 minutes will do.

Coq au Vin - serves 6-8 people, or 3 hungry guys and 2 girls.

  • 1 whole chicken (already cut and with skin on) or 8 thighs
  • 3/4 cup dried mushrooms (I've also done fresh if dried can't be readily found)
  • 1/2 cup diced pancetta
  • 1 large onion cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices. Or, if you find small & pretty heirloom carrots at the market, just toss those in whole!
  • 5 large garlic cloves, gently smashed
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 3 cups dry, fruity wine (I prefer zins that have red roosters on the label)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Lightly sprinkle chicken on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Wash hands and pour yourself that remaining glass of wine.
- Place mushrooms in a small bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover.
- Brown pancetta over medium heat in a dutch oven or 4-5 quart deep skillet for 5-7 minutes.
- Add onions and cook for another minute, until softened.
- Turn up heat to med-high and add chicken, skin side down and cook for 10 minutes, turning pieces as they brown on each side. Drain any excess fat.
- Add carrots, garlic, tomato paste, wine, chicken stock, bay leaves and thyme.
- Lower heat so liquid barely simmers, cook and cover for 20+ minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken to a platter and skim off any excess fat from liquid.
- Add mushrooms and broth to dutch oven, and turn up heat so mixture is boiling. Reduce by 1/3 or 1/2 (depending on time).
- Finish glass of wine.
- Remove bay leaf and thyme. A few minutes before serving, add chicken back to dutch oven to reheat.

I love this dish served with some warm, crusty bread to soak up all that delicious wine sauce.

Welcome to the Lush Chef

Over the past two years, the cocktail culture has taken LA by storm, specifically vintage cocktails. A bartender is no longer just a bartender, but a "mixologist" who whips up simple syrups from their garden, uses square ice cubes, and infuses their libations with the spirit of Prohibition. Now, as much attention and care is given to a cocktail, as to an entree. This trend seems to be in line with the locavore movement and the rise of the home gourmet chef. I'm seeing this amongst my family, friends, and myself. So in the spirit of me cooking and baking more, plus the quiet expansion of my home bar, I bring you "The Lush Chef." This blog will chronicle my culinary successes and epic fails, with the latter being few and far between (I hope). I'll do my very best to incorporate fresh and seasonal ingredients, outline recipes with simple tips, and infuse these experiments with creativity, vim and vigor.