When I first got engaged, my childhood BFF threw me an engagement shower. Her mother was there, a mother I had known and adored since third grade, and was the neighborhood mom who who most impressed me in a June Cleaver kind of way. She always had her hair and makeup just so, and wore a cheerful apron around the house throughout the day while doing housework and cooking. She was an elaborate and skilled knitter, gardener, baker and cook. My friend’s bag lunches (this in an era long before school lunches became so scrutinized) made me feel wistful with longing. I think adoption crossed my mind a few times.
At one point during the engagement shower, this mother affectionally steered me to the side, out of earshot of other guests. “Do you do a lot of cooking, Dear?”, she asked. I was not known for my cooking, and when I stared back at her nervously, she continued. “You should try hard to mix things up a lot when you’re married, and I’m talking about food here. Don’t just make the same five things, try new recipes, and keep them coming. Variety is essential.” She gave me a little squeeze then, and moved on. I stood there, deer in the headlights, knowing I was sorely out of my league in all things domestic, while my childhood friend—already married ten years—had carried on with her mom’s legendary skills.
I can’t say I did as I was told, unfortunately. I clipped recipes, I took cooking classes, but I also fell back too often on a handful of tried and true dinners. So paging through The Newlywed Cookbook creates a big If Only moment for me; If only I’d taken her advice to heart, if only I’d had this book! But maybe I can pay it forward here by giving newlyweds I know a little boost. Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore‘s new book is aimed at cooking together, on weeknights and weekends, dinner parties and date nights. These recipes make good use of all those wedding presents that are sure to arrive. Whole chapters are organized around that shiny new food processor, grill, slow cooker, and ice cream maker that make so many newlyweds glaze over.
Consider this book a little squeeze on the arm, and remember, variety is essential.
Winter Chicken, Artichoke, and Fennel Cassoulet really is a perfect dinner on a cold night. The fennel, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichokes create a modern flair, but the beans and chicken mean the dish offers classic, comforting flavors. —The Newlywed Cookbook
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This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Pat!
St. Martin’s Press
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
- Kosher salt and freshly
- Ground black pepper
- 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered
- 1⁄2 medium sweet yellow onion, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1⁄3 cup chopped sun-dried Tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (14-ounce) can quartered Artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 (16-ounce) can great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh Flat-leaf parsley or minced
- Fennel fronds, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Heat the oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook for 5 minutes, or until well browned. Turn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, or until well browned. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Add the fennel and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until the onion is tender. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the chicken broth, sun-dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Heat until the liquid boils, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Return the chicken breasts to the skillet, skin-side up. Pour the artichoke hearts and beans over the chicken.
- Cover and bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink inside and a meat thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F. Remove from the oven and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley.
• Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel before cooking to ensure better, more even browning.
• Bone-in pieces of chicken add to the flavor in the dish. If you wish to use boneless skinless chicken breasts, you may do so. Cook as directed, but reduce the roasting time to about 20 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside and a meat thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F.
• Have you ever cooked fennel? This flavorful plant has stems that look somewhat like celery, fronds that can serve as an herb, and a bulbous end that is cooked and served as a vegetable. For this dish, cut off the stems and leaves to mince for the garnish or to use in another dish, and use just the bulb end. Trim away any tough or dry outer leaves from the bulb, then cut the bulb into quarters.
• If desired, or if an ovenproof skillet is not available, brown the chicken as directed in a skillet, then place it in a 21⁄2- to 3-quart casserole. Cook the vegetables in the skillet as directed, add the broth and seasonings, and bring to a boil. Spoon the vegetables over the chicken and pour the broth over all. Cover and bake as directed.