Provence and spring flavors

April 29, 2003

Provence and spring flavors

It finally feels like spring! The weather is warm and most days are sunny. As I watch my parents sorting through their house in preparation to sell it, I have been receiving all of the pieces of my past that was in that house- box after box of it! The process of going through it all is slow. I have also found that it has motivated me to sort through and reassess some of the many things we have been keeping in our own house.

The box I came across in my attic the other day reminded me of several things, even though it was only filled stuffed animals. As I opened the box, I was confronted with the intense smell of lavender. In the top of the box, I had stashed a handful of lavender wrapped in a scrap of cloth. It came from a wonderful lavender plant in my garden at The Shepherd’s Cottage. We lived there for 8 years on the grounds of the Hill-Stead Museum. I loved my garden there and kept records of the many things I had growing there. I used a 10 year gardener’s journal, which was wonderful for comparing how things were the same and how they differed from year to year.

In any case, the lavender always provided such a wonderful smell. It made me think of the things I have read about the fields of lavender in Provence where the air is perfumed with tthe scent. Opening the box of bears in my attic the other day, immediately made me think of a wonderful recipe that I have for Lemon Chicken which uses Herbes de Provence, a mixture laden with lavender. The recipe makes me think of spring and all the light flavors and foods that come with it.

Perhaps that is why it fits in so well with spring cleaning, spring flavors and spring aromas. Perhaps that is why lavender is used to scent freshly cleaned linens. The clean fresh smell, the clean fresh flavors of both lemon and lavender- this should be the quintessential recipe to welcome spring!

Lemon Chicken

From The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. “Ideal for entertaining, this dish is easy to prepare and can be doubled for larger quantities.” I made this as a room temperature dish for Kate’s baby shower in ‘96.

5 lbs chicken breasts, cut into cubes (riginal recipe calls for 2 21/2 lb chickens cut up)
2 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice(about 10 lemons)
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 cup chicken stock
2 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence

1. On day before serving, place the chicken pieces in a shallow dish. Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator overnight turning the pieces occaissionally.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. Remove chicken from marinade: reserve the lemon juice. Combine the flour, paprika and some salt. Dredge chicken with the seasoned flour and place in a single layer in a shallow baking pan.
4. Bake for 20 minutes.
5. While the chicken is baking, whisk the reserved lemon juice, stock, brown sugar, and lemon slices together.
6. Pour the lemon mixture over the chicken and sprinkle with the herbes de Provence. Bake 10 minutes more, basting with pan juices. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.
6-8 portions

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