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She-She-La-La August 5, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, Garden, random stuff.
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So the other day, I was reading one of my 942 daily blogs in my Google Reader, and I came across one that referred to tarragon as the “little black dress of the herb world,” and I thought “of course!”

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From classic bearnaise to fancy chicken dishes to humble chicken salad, we can certainly all agree that tarragon just makes everything seem a little. . . special, you know?

And as an aside, I’m still on the lookout for the perfect LBD – I’m still hoping to find something a little, well, littler than my current model.

But we’ve always got our tarragon.

And add some fancy shallots, and, well, ooh la la indeed!

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And you may recall that I roasted a chicken the other day with some orange slices and tarragon – which nicely infused the meat with a faint citrus-herbiness.  And, since it was a 7-pound roasting chicken, we had quite a bit left over!

I thought that, what with all the tarragon we’ve been swimming in and all, some sort of chicken-tarragon-filled crepes in a creamy tarragon-y sort of sauce would be nice.

Very she-she-la-la.

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We minced a couple of shallots – I pick them up by the “basket” at the public market – usually they’re about $2 – they have a bit softer, smoother flavor than onions.  If I had to use onions, I’d probably only use maybe half of a mild, or even a sweet onion.  Just sort of saute the shallots in a bit of butter and/or olive oil until they’re softened, then add about half of the leftover chicken, maybe 2 cups of finely diced cooked bird, along with a hearty pile of minced fresh tarragon.  Finish cooking the shallots, and get the tarragon a little wilted and the chicken coated with butter, then remove the chicken and shallots from the pan – just place into a medium-sized bowl.  Add to it a small (15-ounce) container of ricotta cheese (I usually buy part-skim) and stir it all together, then set aside.

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Now we turn our attention to the sauce.  The rich, creamy, cheesy sauce.

The sauce that launched a thousand ships.

OK, if I weren’t all fat and stuff, I’d use heavy cream.  If I were simply at a “maintain my weight” point, I’d use half and half.  But I am still trying to lose weight, so I don’t use cream – I use evaporated milk.

Evaporated milk.

I know, right?  But it adds that dairy richness without (quite) so much fat.

Use your judgement.

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Dump 24 ounces (that’s 3 cups or 2 cans) of evaporated milk, a heaping half cup of Parmesan, a teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of pepper, and another good bunch of chopped fresh tarragon to the same pan you cooked the shallots in, and combine well.

Then we look to our secret ingredient – cream cheese.

Or, more specifically, LIGHT cream cheese.

Again with the fat and calories.

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Hey, 1/3 is 1/3, you know what I’m saying?

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I just take an 8-ounce package of light cream cheese and do my best to crumble it into the sauce.

That actually amounts to scooping spoonfuls into the sauce mixture and letting it melt.

And melt it will – just let that simmer until it’s incorporated and starts to thicken a bit.

Shut the heat off and add about 1/2 cup of sauce to the filling.

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Then just set everything aside while you concentrate on your crepes.

Have you ever made crepes?  They’re super easy – you just need a decent non-stick pan and a little patience.

If you’re interested, though, we can talk about them another time.

So anyway, it works nicely if, while you make your crepes, you have a partner who will take 1/4 cup of filling and roll them up (into burrito or canneloni or manicotti shapes).

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Or just roll them into filled crepes.

After all, they’re crepes – not tortillas!

You see what happens when you have a Midwestern Swede try to make an ethnic dish?

Confusion!

Anyway, as each crepe is rolled, it’s laid in the baking dish until the dish is full.

(Or, in this case, two baking dishes – one for dinner now and one to go in the freezer!)

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Pour the sauce over top of the whole works, then bake, covered, until everything is thoroughly hot.

I like to uncover for the last few minutes and let the sauce get a little bubbly – remember, there’s cheese in there, and very little browns more nicely than cheese!

One little suggestion – this is super-rich.  The tarragon and cream (or evaporated milk) and cream cheese – it all cries out for something to cut through it – something like a nice glass of white wine.

May I suggest a white Bordeaux?  After all, there’s very little more she-she-la-la than creamy crepes and a white Bordeaux.

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Comments

1. sjbraun - August 5, 2010

These look wonderful! I’m right there with ya on using light versions of things, too – yeah, it may not taste fully wonderful, but it’s still pretty darn good considering the calorie and fat savings.

The trick, I think, is figuring out when the trade-off will work (which is usually most of the time), and when it won’t (like, oh, bernaise sauce) (which is why I never make it).


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