Category Archives: mushrooms

Classic Miso Soup Recipe: Keep it Simple

Classic Restaurant Style Miso Soup
Japanese cuisine topic is broad and challenging, but quintessentially Japan’s food tradition rests on rice and Miso soup. The Miso soup is a beautiful ode to the Sea and the Earth. Almost 40 years ago, Avelin Tomoko Kushi, the legendary advocate for macrobiotic diet and the ‘moving force’ across the US behind the wave of the health food restaurants back in 70’s, published the book ‘How to Cook with Miso’. I found a copy of it few years ago in a thrift store and have embarked of a wonderful journey of experimenting with miso and myriads of interesting combinations with it.  Kushi poetically described Miso soup as ‘… soup, containing a sea vegetable, can be likened to the ancient sea we have evolved from. As that ancient sea nourished our first beginnings, miso nurtures us as the internal sea of our blood.

Visually, when you look at a bowl of Miso soup it somehow reminds of a cloud of sand suspended in the water under which the treasure of other ingredients is hidden…

Japanese Miso Soup & Kombu Seaweed

Although I’m quite sure no one remembers that great activist woman of a Japanese origin, we all know that as of today, Japanese cuisine has officially conquered the world with its food culture intangibles.  In a nutshell, to me it’s a story of the Japanese Chef Nobuki Matsuhisa, who came to the US via Peru, opened his first restaurant in Beverly Hills back in 1987 and was convinced by the rich admirer, Robert De Niro, to open one in NYC 7 years later (celebrity Hiroshima-born Iron Chef Morimoto used to be a head chef there as well). Today Chef and restaurateur Matsuhisa celebrates his 66th anniversary. ‘Nobu’ is all over the world, including US, UK, Italy, Greece, Russia, UAE, Hungary, Hong Kong and, of course, his native Japan…

Chef Matsuhisa and his Miso Soup Images from Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook by © Nobu Matsuhisa
What started as an exotic personal or professional travel to Japan few decades ago by selected chefs, food critics and writers has now turned into a massive food tourism pilgrimage to the land of samurai and cherry blossom.  It’s not just the exotic atmosphere, steamy bowls and sultry paper lanterns that lure foodie tourists from all over the world to this destination. With 267 Michelin starred restaurants under its belt Tokyo became the global gourmet capital where food is perceived as SUPER-HEALTHY and ATTRACTIVE; and Japanese chefs known for their stiff upper lip work ethics have become an example of a professional EXCELLENCE to be judged against.

Most of us however can’t afford to hop on a plane and fly to Japan to explore its rich culinary map and this is when the classic simple Japanese recipes come in handy. This post is my tribute to the humble Miso soup, a simple traditional Japanese concoction with exotic flavors of umami, sea and earthy and tangy taste of fermented soybeans. The mentioning of it instantly brings most of us to the sushi restaurants, where miso is a staple to begin the feast.

Unfortunately, the Internet is riddled with pseudo-classic miso soup recipes (missing kombu, using roasted nori instead of wakame, chicken stock or soya sauce for the stock base, firm tofu instead of soft, etc.) which can repulse you fast and make you forget about trying Miso soup DIY forever (this is how my first pack of miso paste ended up in garbage in a first place). But may be this fool-proof recipe will hook you on it without a problem.

The vegetarian version of Miso soup is made of primarily two basic ingredients: dried kombu seaweed-based stock called ‘dashi’ and ‘miso’, fermented paste from cooked salted and aged soybeans.

Kombu Vegetarian Dashi Stock
KOMBU VEGETARIAN STOCK (called KOMBU DASHI) + MISO make a powerful healing and detoxifying soup packed with fiber, probiotics, proteins, enzymes, rare vitamins (like K and B12), microelements and scientifically proven anti heart disease and breast cancer properties. Truly, this soup is a wonderful dish to kick-start a day, have a healthy lunch, break or a quick dinner. While the spring is trying to break through and the Lent has started back in February, this soup DIY recipe can’t be more timely in my point of view.
Miso Paste

The RESTAURANT STYLE, NON-VEGETARIAN classic version of dashi stock is called awase dashi and has an extra ingredient in it: dried fermented and shaved skipjack tuna flakes called KATSUOBUSHI, which you can buy at any major Asian grocery like Kim Phat:

Katsuobushi Flakes (Bonito)
Equally, and more on a budget, dashi stock can be made of dried baby anchovies and is called the iriko dashi:

Dried Anchovies

The sushi restaurant-style version also usually includes:
– soft silken tofu (never firm tofu);
– shitake mushrooms;
– wakame seaweed;
– minced scallions

Other Miso Soup Ingredients
If you are a Miso Soup lover, its exotic ingredients will not cost a fortune and have a very flexible shelf life. Here is what you need to to stock on (requires one single trip to the big Asian supermarket like Kim Phat,Tai Food (smaller places would be more expensive) – don’t forget to bring this list with you:
– DRIED KOMBU SEAWEED (can last well-sealed in a pantry indefinitely) – the 100g/$3.99 pack lands me with around 20 batches of 4 cups dashi stock;  
– BONITO FLAKES (can last well-sealed in a pantry indefinitely) –  the 30g/$5.99 pack is enough for 4-5 batches of 4 cups dashi stock; 
– MISO PASTE  (can last in the fridge for up to 12 months) – the 500g/$9.99 pack of uber-healthy white non-pasterized miso paste by Hanamaruki brand (my preferred) makes 8 to 10 batches of 4 cups miso soup and can be used in tones of other recipes (NOTE: as a general guide, the darker is the miso, the longer fermentation it went through, so begin with white type of miso to gradually get used to the taste and proportions);
– SILKY/SOFT TOFU – the 200g/$1.99 pack is found in most major groceies, enough for 1-2 batches of 4 cups of soup;
– DRIED WAKAME SEAWEED (can last well-sealed in a pantry indefinitely) – the 100g/$2.99 pack lands me with around 40+ batches of 4 cups dashi stock; 
– DRIED SLICED SHITAKE MUSHROOMS (can last well-sealed in a pantry for up to 12 months) – the 100g/$4.99 pack lands me with around 20+ batches of 4 cups dashi stock;
Follow the recipe below for the few simple steps:

 And voila, your restaurant-style miso is ready!

Enjoy your first real miso! I will come back with more takes on it.


One Year Ago: 
Rosemary Oatcake Crackers
Candid Citrus Peel DIY

Two Years Ago:
Pear Yogurt Granola Muffins
Home-Made Granola


Yields: 3 to 4 portions
Ingredients for the dashi stock:
4 cups water, OR rainbow vegetable broth without beets
5-6 of 2-inch pieces of kombu (dried kelp)
4 tbsp (1/2 cup) loosely packed bonito flakes (katsuobushi), optional
Ingredients for the miso soup:
2 tbsp dried sliced shitake mushrooms (optional), soaked in cold water to reconstitute 
½ to 1 pound silken/soft tofu, cubed
2 tbsp wakame seaweed
4 tbsp white miso, OR mix of red and white miso paste
3 scallions, minced
To make the dashi stock combine water/broth and kombu in a saucepan and bring the mix to boil. Simmer for 10 to 40 minutes (depending on how strong you want the flavor of seaweed)* Remove kombu and add bonito flakes, if using. Bring the stock to simmer, remove from heat and let bonito flakes steep for 5-20 minutes. Strain the stock through the mesh and discard bonito flakes.  Add some boiled water or stock to bring the quantity back to 4 cups.
Bring the broth to simmer and add shitake mushrooms. Simmer for 1 minute. Add tofu – don’t boil, because it will ruin the distinct flavor of dashi.
Dissolve miso paste in a cup of hot broth separately. Pour the miso mix back into the stock, add wakame and scallion, warm through (don’t bring the stock to boil) for 1 minute. Ladle into bowls and serve hot.
*Please note that restaurant chefs prefer to cook kombu longer for more intense flavor.

One Spooky Night and Deviled ‘Shroom Bites

It is a Halloween night and we’re going to have some hello-w/in time taking a break from home cooking and going out. Part of the plan is to drive by some areas where people have turned their front yards into some creepy insane asylums and have our share of spine chilling and laughs. I’ve already got a few good Halloween recipes listed in this blog including the yummy Dead Fly Pies, or Fly Cemeteries, or Fly Graveyards, which in fact are also more humanly called Eccles Cakes; and Pumpkin No Brainers . If I would be selecting a recipe that sounds crazy-scary-engaging for most of North American ears tonight, I would probably go for a traditional British fare with ominous name Spotted Dick But that would be some other time. For now I have something else and a great story to tell: about one of our recent nightmarish evening and a later flop-cooking experience.

Couple week-ends ago we were driving back home with the double brown bag of dozen live blue crabs in it. We were excited to make a fresh crab risotto later that night. We took a rural side road going through the forest to go back home to avoid traffic. We’ve never taken that road before and first were surprised about how empty and quiet it was.

The night was rainy and foggy although the full moon still casted the eerie glow through the clouds and trees. The crabs managed to wet the bags through and were going out of whack, so we had to make an emergency pit stop to catch them and collect them into the plastic bag. While we were stepping out of the car a peaceful booty-song on the radio has awkwardly switched to vintage Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face. It was then that I started feeling uncomfortable. I became fear-stricken by darkness, emptiness, silence and sinister shadows appearing through the forest trees here and there. ‘Eyes without the face have got no human grace…’ the radio went on when suddenly the end of the road was lit by a light which, obviously, seemed like another car was approaching. Except the light stood there without moving for a minute or so and then disappeared…

The Good Shepherd by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1903 Zimmerli Art Museum

No big deal, right? But for some reason for me it was a heart pounding moment. I couldn’t wait to get out of that road. Imagine when I told this story to one of our neighbours the other day, he revealed to me that the empty road used to be the place where Hell’s Angels gangs were making their executions and/or police would sometimes find a burning car with the body in it (how’s that for hair raising?). And that came as real creepy news to me. Was it a sixth’s sense? You tell me. But if you are a mystic or clairvoyance, perhaps you can see some ghosts in these images.

Otherwise you can just apply your imagination and try to read these moon shadows – it’s actually quite interesting…

Once back home we were greeted by the local two-headed Boo dog. Making a crab boil was already not so easy task (crabs appeared to be much livelier than lobsters).

After we hankered down in our kitchen with cracking tools and bunch of newspapers to process them. Already upon the first five minutes (and to our greatest regret) of tackling the impossible and having the crab scraps flying all over the kitchen, we realized that the fresh crab risotto would be ready by next morning or would have to be put on hold. Hubby quit first, declaring he was an equal opportunist believing in fair trade and no exploitation. OCD driven, I went on crab-cracking to prove that home crab flesh extracting (like pierogi-making that D. believes should only be made by prisoners) is a doable chore. The problem was, I was hungry, so most of the result secretly went straight into my belly. After the crab juice went into my eyes though I abandoned. Well, may be somewhere in Japan people from Okinawa island consider crab-cracking a meditative and fun activity which they practice often while whistling Japanese version of La Marseillaise. But there are many other things I’d like to do around my week-end. Not to mention that exactly during times like that you realize more than ever that time IS the most precious commodity… Change of plan (which is not unusual for the flop cooking): I went to the pantry, got a can of the crab meat, and deviled a box of button mushrooms with savoured crab meat into these little guys within 20 minutes.

Sounds like a cell phone from 90ies? Hell yeah, but still as exquisite as ever. By the way, they didn’t use much of smoked paprika in those days Slice some black or green olives for the top to give that Halloweenish twist and, voila, you got your ‘Eyes Without A Face’ party snack. We managed to eat them before The Midnight Hour.

Happy Halloween and enjoy your cooking!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Mini-Tarts



1 box button mushrooms (around 18-20)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup chives or scallions, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp white wine or brandy
¼ crumbs (gluten free if necessary)
1 (7 oz) can crab meat, drained
½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
1 tbsp mayonnaise or sour cream
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of smoked paprika
Salt & pepper to taste


Remove the stems from mushrooms with grapefruit knife. Chop the stems finely. Set aside. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped mushroom stems and cook for 1 minute. Add chives (or scallions) and garlic. Cook for another minute. Add a splash of brandy or wine. Evaporate for a minute. Add crumbs, mix well. Add crab meat and mix well. Remove from the heat. Stir in Parmesan, mayonnaise (or sour cream), mustard and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cool down. Stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place mushrooms on baking sheet. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan, Top with sliced olives if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Sloppy Joe Hoagies on a Groundhog Day

Whenever kids would come for a quick visit, my mother-in-law used to fix them this easy and filling fare she called in French ‘petits pains fourrés’(translated as little stuffed rolls) and they always rocked. She made them in minutes with simple ingredients like browned ground beef, onion, ketchup and spice mix squeezed into hallowed potato buns and baked. The little stuffed rolls were sometimes replaced with sloppy joes (pain à la viande), so popular in those days. She used to make them with leftovers of her famous meat sauce. Kids (and adults, for that matter) would always ask for more.  
Key West, Florida – the Birthplace of Sloppy Joes via Wikimedia

Today my boys asked me to make them something ‘they like’ for the Super Bowl and those memories kicked right in. These hoagies are both, my treat to them and a tribute to my mother-in-law’s recipes. 

The groundhog day weirdly coincided with the Super Bowl today. According to the mysterious Punxsutawney Phil (whose name I can never read properly), who they call the prognosticator of the groundhog weather, we shall have at least six more weeks of winter. Brrrr! That leaves some space for a few extra calories. Although, the predictions are apparently only 39% right…. Personally, I’ve never seen a groundhog emerging from its burrow in winter, but I know they visit our backyard frequently in summer to our lab’s greatest disappointment.
I have modernized the recipe with ciabatta rolls, lots of veggies, mushrooms, spice and lotsa cheese. I also made a vegetarian version for a successful double take. 
In fact, I much prefer a completely vegetarian version these days: the ratatouille-like mix with mushrooms and topped with cheese fits into the recipe perfectly. For the non-vegetarian take, if you have any home-made pasta meat sauce frozen, please feel free to use it and skip the meat browning and tomatoes.
The boys always prefer the meaty one and who can blame them on the day when the big part of 169 million people is devouring junk in front of TVs – there will be other days for salads and soups.  Speaking of salad, these hoagies go wonderfully with a big green salad on a side, and/or the spicy olive salad and/or kimchi, or pickles. I am giving the recipes for both versions below. Please feel free to use your imagination as you can select or swap the veggie/mushroom ingredients as you please. Since the bread envelopes are used in similar to pizza or flatbread way, you might even wish to stuff them with other kinds of leftovers, like braised lentils or even mashed potatoes.
Flush the hoagies down with a glass of good Cabernet Sauvignon while the Seattle Seahawks pour it on in the MetLife Stadium. Cheers!

One year ago: Ice Fishing in Quebec

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lbs ground meat, of your choice (beef, turkey, chicken, pork)*
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 small carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup button mushrooms, diced
1 ½ cups tomato sauce, OR, 2 cups diced tomatoes
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin, ground
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup Parmesan, grated
1 cup mozzarella, grated
4-6 ciabatta rolls, hallowed out
* for vegetarian version, replace with 1 lbs extra-firm tofu, well-drained and diced or crumbled, + 1 tbsp soya sauce during cooking, OR, 15 oz can black beans, drained
Meat Version:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in the large skillet. Add the ground meat. Cook until browned, breaking it into crumbs in the process. Add salt, black pepper, chili powder, ground cumin and mix well. Drain any excess grease. Add garlic, bell pepper, onion, carrot, celery, zucchini and mushrooms stirring often until softened, for about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes or tomato sauce and keep mixing for another 2 minutes. Check the seasoning, remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool sprinkle with Parmesan and mix.
Cup the upper side of the ciabatta rolls and hallow them out with a teaspoon (keep the crumbs for further use and/or stir some into the stuffing mixture during cooking). Spoon the meat or vegetarian mix into the buns and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly brown on the outsides and the cheese has melted. Serve warm.
Vegetarian Version:
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in the large skillet. Add garlic, bell pepper, onion, carrot, celery, zucchini and mushrooms, stirring often until softened, for about 5 minutes. Add tofu and soya sauce (or beans), salt, pepper, chili powder, ground cumin and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes or tomato sauce and keep mixing for another 2 minutes. Check the seasoning, remove from heat and set aside to cool.  Once cool sprinkle with Parmesan and mix.
Cup the upper side of the ciabatta rolls and hallow them out with a teaspoon (keep the crumbs for further use and/or stir some into the stuffing mixture during cooking). Spoon the meat or vegetarian mix into the buns and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly brown on the outsides and the cheese has melted. Serve warm.

Savory Mushroom Leek Parmesan Bread Pudding

The weather has been nasty in Montreal for the last few days which predisposed us to mostly stay home and do tons of baking (hoping that the ice rain will not bring electricity cut so often challenging us in this area).  Our family’s patriarch was successfully experimenting with kamut and millet bread to the Christmas jazz tunes. While I came up with an idea to make this bread pudding as a prequel to my Christmas post menu (which goes next).

This recipe was conceived last summer when I was staring at the mountain of the leftovers of commercial multi-grain gluten-free bread (which no one in our house eats except me) thinking how can I possibly re-use it.  I cut the stale bread in small cubes preparing first to use them instead of the crumbs in some fancy deep-fried recipes. Then I realized what a caloric bomb it would be if used that way (putting an extra load to our already weakened livers).
So pudding came next to my mind – I like no frills recipes where I can also recycle the leftovers.  Porcini, leek and Parmesan (I used old cheddar initially) factored in and Ta-dah! – few hours later I was trying the creation surprised with how little savory it tasted against my expectations.  I put other puddings in the fridge and re-heated one of them next day to have with a stew and, oh boy, it tasted so different! All the flavors I expected in a first place were set and present and waiting to be discovered upon a quick broiling to make the top crusty. Excellent main (with some good sauce or gravy) or side dish for stews and roasts.

Tonight I am repeating this exercise as I think it will work marvellously with the mystery bird I planned to cook for the Christmas dinner and act as a new age holiday stuffing. Buckle up with me if you like bread puddings.

Savory Mushroom Leek Parmesan Bread Pudding
Yields: 8 portions
3-4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
3 green onions (scallions), minced
30+ gr dried porcini, reconstituted and minced, or, ½ lbs (225 g) fresh shiitake or button mushrooms (or fresh mushrooms of your choice), minced
2 leeks, white and tender green thinly sliced
Splash of white wine, or apple cider vinegar mixed with water (50/50)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
4 cups multi-grain (gluten free), or whole wheat stale bread, diced or in crumbs
4+ cups chicken stock, or milk, or mix of milk and cream
¾ cup Parmesan or other dense cheese of your taste, shredded
1 large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
 Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Butter eight ¾ cup ramekins and set them in a roasting pan.
Melt the rest of the butter in a skillet, add scallions and mushrooms and cook stirring on the high heat for about 2 minutes. Add leeks, garlic, thyme and a splash of wine and continue stirring for another 5 minutes lowering the heat to moderate.  
In a large bowl, stir together the leek mushroom mixture, bread crumbs, stock, cheese, salt and pepper to taste until fully combined. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. In a saucepan, bring the stock (or milk and cream) till hot, but not boiling, remove from heat and gradually start whisking the eggs into the liquid. Stir the custard into the bread mix and let stand, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, for about 15 minutes. 
Divide mixture into the prepared ramekins, place in the roasting pan, add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins and cover loosely with the foil (all at once). Bake for 25-30 minutes. Then carefully remove the foil and broil for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes, then turn the bread puddings out onto an ovenproof platter. Sprinkle (optionally) with Parmesan and broil for about 30 seconds or until golden. Equally, you can make the pudding ahead and perform the same after up to 48 hours of refrigeration. Serve hot.


No Fuss Coq Au Vin

”Have you ever tried Coq au Vin?” ”No, but I once let an Italian put his hand up my jumper on the back seat of his Fiat…” Anglophones truly love the play of French words in this dish. But, whatever the jokes are, Coq au Vin (rooster in wine) continues to tickle the taste buds and enthrall the world’s pickiest eaters through the centuries.

And maybe it’s not so bad that this French classic is so ‘’oxymoronic’’ – for sure it helps to create certain gastronomic enigma à propos de complexity of the dish. Which in fact is very simple to make and quite inexpensive if you adjust the ingredients set to create a healthy and easy weeknight meal. In this one I traded rooster for chicken, Burgundy for a good quality dry red wine (Cahors), and pearl onions for a regular yellow onion (the last one is REALLY a good idea when you want to have a quick supper without spending some extra 30 minutes peeling pearl onions). 

I also skipped the roux turning it into a gluten free meal (the sauce turned thick enough without any flour in it and, yes, turned into a gel comme il faut when placed in the fridge). The result: my very FRENCH (Canadian) hubby devoured it in seconds without even noticing there were no pearl onions in it, which are usually a big deal for him.  And if this did not convince you yet, please also note that for a true comfort dish like this, it is VERY low in calories. At different times, I served it with egg or rice noodles, with roasted or mashed potatoes, as well as with potato leek gratin, but my favorite part is just dipping the crusty bread in that savory wine sauce that is so typical in taste to this particular dish. HEAVENLY!
Although many historically attribute the origin of Coq au Vin to Burgundy region of France, rumor has it the Caesar’s cook made it when Romans were battling the Gauls (at that time Romans were very well established in the area of modern Southern France and they really liked local wine). The Gauls sent Caesar a scrawny rooster as a message of defiance. Caesar ordered to cook the rooster in wine and herbs and invited the Gauls to eat it to demonstrating the overwhelming sophistication of the Romans… Or so it goes… But most agree that Coq au Vin existed as a rustic dish long before that and was a way for peasants to recycle an old rooster or an old egg-laying hen by slow cooking in wine and herbs.  
Today Coq au Vin is made with cuts of chicken from hen or capon and has many designations depending on a wine being used: Alsacienne (with Riesling), Nuitonne (with Côte de Nuits), Jurassienne (with Arbois rosé), etc. My twist relates to Quercynoise version and table travels me to the beautiful town of Cahors where I tried Coq au Vin for the first time. It was made with a real cockerel (rooster) and Cahors wine; and included true Quercy-Perigord ingredients: fresh ceps wild mushrooms and duck fat. Needless to say, that a splash of Armagnac flambé was applied to the browning process in this version… The taste of it comes back to me each time I am looking at the pictures or am thinking of that travel…  
Again, this is a speedy version of the Coq au Vin, with no ceps or duck fat in it, but as hearty as the dish can be. The stock, wine, mushroom & bacon sauce imbues chicken and veggies with the iconic flavor during slow cooking transforming any cheapest piece of commercial chicken into a little French culinary voyage. Free range chicken however would deliver much tastier results, but you already know it. 
And, of course, if you are a true admirer of ‘’Mastering the Art of French Cooking’’ and are not looking for any tasty ersatz, I suggest you use Julia Child’s recipe or the version of the host of the Iron Chef of America, both of which are designed to turn you into a real connoisseur of the dish. 
 Cheers to all and happy French cooking!
Yields 4 servings
4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into bite size
3 lbs chicken thighs and drums (8+), skin on
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots peeled and cut into cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. dried thyme
3 tbsp. butter
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
2 cups dry red wine
6-8 fresh parsley springs, minced
3-4 scallions, minced
¼ kosher salt (or to taste)
¼ freshly ground pepper
In a large skillet, brown bacon bits, remove them to the paper towel and set aside while reserving the bacon grease in the skillet to brown the chicken. Add chicken pieces skin side down and sear them on the medium high heat until golden brown on all sides for about 6-8 minutes each side.  Transfer chicken to the Dutch oven or another casserole dish.  Add onion, garlic, carrots, bay leaves and thyme to skillet and continue sautéing for about 6 minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Transfer the mix to the casserole to cover the chicken pieces. In the still hot skillet, add butter, mushrooms and shallots and cook for 3 minutes. Add wine and broth to the skillet, stirring constantly until the mixture boils and thickens a little bit (5 minutes). Add seasoning, mix well and pour over the chicken in the casserole dish. Simmer or bake for 30-40 minutes at 350F. During the cooking process, carefully skim off and discard any fat from the surface with the spoon. After 30 minutes of simmering, verify the seasoning, add chopped parsley and scallions and give it another 10 minutes of simmer. Serve hot with roasted/mashed potatoes or egg noodles and crusty bread on the side. Enjoy!