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On a rainy Sunday, the only thing I ever want is a comforting bowl of soup. I finally restocked the kitchen with some basics this weekend, and decided that making a simple soup was the best way to start the week. I love potage parmentier – it’s perfect, delicious, and so easy. I’ve used it as the base for plenty of other, heartier soups in the past, but on this cool-ish spring day something simple was all I wanted. I love it with a handful of fresh herbs and a warm loaf of crusty bread.

Potage Parmentier

2-3 large leeks
2 tablespoons butter
2 large potatoes
2 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup cream
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Cut the leeks lengthwise and wash them well. Slice the white and light green parts. Peel and dice the potatoes. Heat a saute pan over medium heat, add the butter and saute the leeks until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add the potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, partially cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Mash them roughly with a fork and add the cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

image via costachel

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Success! A few weeks back I posted a list of great date night meals and yesterday I finally made an attempt at the first one that drew me in. And it was delicious. And incredibly simple! My only recommendation would be to follow the directions for the polenta from the package (if there are some). My first batch turned out a bit runny because the kind in my cupboard called for less water. But overall the dish was creamy, rich and the perfect date night meal. I’d spoon the mushroom sherry sauce over just about anything!

Scallops with Wild Mushrooms, Sherry & Polenta
adapted from bon appetit

9 tablespoons unsalted butter
16 ounces fresh mushrooms (such as oyster, chanterelle, stemmed shiitake, or crimini)
2 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup amontillado Sherry
1/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup whipping cream
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 cup polenta
1 pound scallops

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and thyme. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Add green onions; sauté 1 minute. Add sherry; boil until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add broth. Boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add cream; simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.
Bring 3 1/2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook polenta until tender, adding more water as needed if too thick, and whisking frequently, about 20 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.
Reheat mushroom mixture. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in another large skillet over high heat. Add scallops and sauté until just translucent in center, about 1 minute. Stir scallops and juices into mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon scallop mixture over polenta and serve.

So I’m pretty sure now that jury duty isn’t going to end any time soon. But more on that later!
I knew that after last week’s post-court exhaustion, I wasn’t going to be up for much cooking in the evenings this week, so I planned quick, simple, tasty meals. This one was so simple and tasted fantastic. My dear husband said that the sauce was even better the next day. And it tasted great even over the red potatoes we had on the side! Definitely going into our rotation of regulars.

Chicken Scallopine with Saffron Cream Sauce
via cooking like a champion 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chicken breasts, pounded thin
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning chicken
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning chicken
2 shallots, sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large skillet set over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the hot oil. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
Reduce heat to medium, then add the shallots and garlic. Cook about 2 minutes, until the shallots are tender. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pan with the wine, making sure to scrape up any brown bits at the bottom. Cook until the wine has all but evaporated, then add the chicken broth and saffron. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until reduced by half. Stir in the cream, salt and pepper and continue simmering an additional minute. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.