Hearty Chicken and Olive Stew with Bacon Fennel Cornbread

So here are the recipes to go with this weeks “Inspired Cooking.”  My show airs tonight on Cape Ann TV, channel 12 at 8:30.  The same episode aires again Friday afternoon at 4:30 and again Sunday morning at 11:30.  Hope you will tune in!

This week, with Fall upon us, I decided to make something good and hearty to keep us warm.  I wanted to use similar ingredients in two of the dishes, onions and fennel, and come up with totally different results.  I thought it might be fun if I took some pictures of what my kitchen looks like when I am getting ready to shoot  the show–you will see how tiny it is but strangely enough, works great for TV!

This is a pic of the corner of my kitchen, next to the stove.  The bacon is frying up for the cornbread.   I measure out the ingredients twice, once to make right away for the test batch and then one set in matching bowls on trays so that I have everything ready for the show.

I always make everything at least once beforehand so that if it doesn’t work or needs some adjustments, I can do that before we start taping.  The only exception to this rule is if I have made something hundreds of times, like my lemon squares, for instance.

This is what the kitchen looks like from where Rob, my fantastic camera man stands (he is great–takes care of everything but the shopping, cooking and cleaning and I “pay” him in food from the show!)  Sometimes he stands on a milk crate to get overhead shots of whats in the pan.  The only thing that would make this set up better is if the stove where on the other side of the kitchen.  Luckily, I have my nice little induction burner and it all works out pretty well.

And this is what it looks like after we are done taping–food all plated, kitchen clean (wonder if those Food Network celebs have to do their own shopping/prep/dishes/cleanup–NOT) and then we take the still shots of the final dishes.

I have to tell you, it is a ton of work but I LOVE every second of it!

And finally,  here are the recipes from the show:


Fontina Cornbread with Fennel and Bacon

4 strips bacon, chopped
2 cups diced fennel
1 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
12 oz shredded fontina cheese
1-15 oz can creamed corn

In a large saucepan, render bacon over medium low heat until meat is browned and crispy.  Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon to a paper towel covered dish, and fennel, onion, butter and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over medium low heat until vegetables are soft and caramelized.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, re-seasoning with salt and pepper if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs.  Add the sour cream, vegetable oil, creamed corn and all but ½ cup of the fontina and stir until well blended.  Add the dry ingredients and stir again until just blended.  Fold in vegetable mixture and reserved bacon and pour in to prepared pan.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Hearty Chicken, White Bean and Olive Stew

3 bone in chicken breasts with skin, trimmed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fennel, diced
1 cup sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
1 ½ teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1-15.5 oz can diced tomatoes in sauce
2 bay leaves
5 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup pitted olives of your choice (not brined) drained and cut in half
1-1lb 13 oz can navy or small white beans, rinsed and drained
8 tablespoons prepared basil pesto

Heat the oil in a heavy 7 quart Dutch oven over medium heat.  Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and place them skin side down in hot oil to brown, turning frequently to prevent scorching.  Brown the skin and remove breast to a plate.

To the pot, add the fennel, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary and saute until vegetables are translucent, about 5-minutes. Sprinkle in flour and stir until flour turns slightly brown, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, stock, tomato paste and bay leaves and the browned chicken to the pot.

Bring the mixture to a low boil and then reduce the heat to low.  Allow the chicken to cook, uncovered but submerged, until cooked through, about 25 minutes.  Remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool to a workable temperature.  Remove skin and bones from breast and cut or pull chicken into bite sized pieces.

Remove bay leaves from pot, add beans and olives and allow broth to thicken and reduce slightly.   When broth is thickened, return chicken to the pot, stir and re-season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring soup back to a simmer. Ladle soup into serving bowls and drizzle with one tablespoon prepared basil pesto.  Serve immediately.


Great Gloucester Burger War- Mike’s Place

There is an option at Mike’s which I didn’t realize until after I ordered.  You can get this same burger and a side of fries if you are willing to forgo the salad for significantly less money.  You can get the same 1/2 lb burger for under $4.  Who needs salad FFS?

Mexican Magic – Win a $50.00 Jalapenos Gift Certificate

Udine4less_LOGO2Well, Joe had mentioned we would be giving away some goodies, so why not start right now! Udine4less.com will be giving away a $50.00 Jalapenos gift certificate this month.


If you have never been to Jalapenos, well you should consider making a trip very soon. I have been there numerous times, and I always find myself ordering the Steak Gaonera. This dish is delicious! It’s a nice piece of steak smothered in two different cheeses and topped with a generous amount of guacamole.

The new addition that was put on a awhile back has really added to the atmosphere, and has provided much needed space and seating. If you plan on heading to Jalapenos, then check out the deal alert below:

GMG_Deal Alert


Announcing The Next Leg Of The GMG Food Challenge Series At The Farm Bar and Grille

Thursday Night November 12th At The Farm Bar and Grille

Play The Video To Hear The Details Of The Latest GMG/Farm Bar and Grille Man vs Food Competitive Eating Challenge.  We’re breaking out the waivers on this one folks!

Ed Collard, Cliff Rideout and Big Lar’ get byes into the event and we have Jeremy Guyotte joining the mix.  That leaves one open slot for a lucky GMG contestant to enter.  The Farm Bar and Grill will have 5 open slots to fill so if you don’t get in here with the first comment stating you want in, contact Ryan, Bradley or Noah at The Farm- 978-768-0000

You can also check out their facebook page for more details or the website

Privatizing Our Fisheries Will Leave Small Independent Fishermen Tattered

Sure a few fishermen will be able to sell out to big corporations for large amounts of money but once that circle is complete within a few generations, the way of the independent commercial fisherman will become much like the way of the small independent farmer.  Permits and boats will be far too costly for any individual to stake their claim much like my Grandfather Captain Joe did when he came to this country. Much like many of the Irish and Portuguese fishermen did.  Working hard, supporting families, buying businesses, sending their children to college and buying homes locally.

The stuff that real communities are made of.  The stuff that Gloucester IS made of.

Two Sisters Veggie Benedict With Linguica

Yesterday I met with GMG’s David Cox at Two Sisters Coffee Shop to get his awesome GHS vs Lynn English photos which are uploading as I type this.

I asked Patty what I could take a picture of that would be visually stunning for the blog.  Of course you can’t go into Two Sisters without getting thoroughly entertained.  Her response- “You’re lookin’ at it right here”  while she points toward herself.

I settled on the fantastic veggie benedict which was Patty’s second choice of visual delight.  I couldn’t just go straight veggies though, had to add the linguica.