Sauces star in French visitor's recipes

As I wrote in this column last week, French cooking instructor Laurence Herve arrived in Wichita a couple of weeks ago to teach a few classes for me.

Her visit was the second part of a culinary cultural exchange arranged by the Wichita Area Sister Cities.

Taking Laurence to a local supermarket to shop for our cooking sessions turned into an adventure for both of us. Corn on the cob caught her attention and she revealed she had only tasted "tinned corn," the kind widely available in France.

I quickly dropped the corn into the shopping cart, wishing it were July so she could taste fresh, sweet, locally grown corn. Yellow squash was also a new vegetable for her, so that went into the cart as well.

When our shopping was done, it was time to cook. We spent hours in the kitchen cooking food Laurence had never sampled: Besides the corn, we had nachos, quesadillas, a New York cheesecake, muffins and other items that we often enjoy but were new to my French visitor.

She was thrilled with the fresh tastes she was experiencing while I dreamed of all the wonderful cheeses and beautiful pastries available in France. The lesson learned is that each country has its own culinary treasures; it is good to appreciate and to share them with each other.

When it was time for Laurence's first cooking class in America, she taught a roomful of students how to make a beautiful three-course French menu with each course featuring a delectable sauce.

Her entree received high accolades, and I want to share it with you here. The sauce could also be used with pork, and would be delicious with fresh herbs such as chives or tarragon stirred in before serving.

Chicken With Mushrooms And Apples In A White Wine Sauce

6 tablespoons butter, divided use

6 boneless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups white wine or cider

2 cups heavy cream

4 apples, sliced (Gala or Yellow Delicious)

Melt 3 to 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Saute the chicken just until both sides are nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add the mushrooms and onions; season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add wine, and let it reduce to one-third its volume. Add the cream and let it cook for about 15 minutes on a medium heat, without the lid. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked, turning pieces halfway through cooking time. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.

While the chicken is cooking, fry the apple slices in a large pan with a remaining butter. Cook until tender and golden on the outside. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the chicken. Makes 6 servings.

The Wichita Eagle—04/14/10