We Need Your Help

Dear Friends & Followers, we at Serendipity Farmhouse need your help.

Blondie, Mr. Monte, and I have been working hard to develop our blog SerendipityFarmhouse.com. Our goal is to provide folks like you with interesting and entertaining content. We focus on our simple, faith-centered, farmhouse life. The blog presents our take on cooking, gardening, RVing, and life with an overly intelligent, 24-pound Maine Coon Cat.

Your comments and suggestions to improve our format and content would be greatly appreciated.

We also need new subscribers. If you like our posts, share them with your friends.

Serendipity Farmhouse YouTube Channel

Recently, we started a Serendipity Farmhouse YouTube channel. We think the video format will add a useful dimension to the way we present the joys and foibles of farmhouse living. Learning videography techniques has been a challenge, but we’re getting better. Today, we’re premiering a video demonstrating Julia Child’s recipe The Way to Cook Chicken in White Wine.

Earlier this week, we posted the recipe on this blog here. Today, we published a video version for our YouTube audience.

Here’s the link to the video:

The Way to Cook Chicken in White Wine

way to cook chicken

Please check out the video and tell us what you think. Your input will help us work out the bugs and make our channel worth your while. If haven’t already done so, please subscribe to our channel.

By the way, we know we need to work on our audio recording technique.Mr. Monte’s working on it now

Yes, we need your help. Your support means so much to us. Many thanks in advance and God bless! – Serendipity

The Way to Cook Chicken in White Wine

You probably know many ways to cook chicken, but do you know Julia Child’s way to cook chicken in white wine? In this post, the Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen explores Julia’s master recipe Chicken Simmered in White Wine.

way to cook chicken

Hi! Now that Autumn has arrived, let’s see what Julia Child has to offer that suits the season.

For us at the SFH Test Kitchen, chicken immediately came to mind. When poached or simmered with vegetables, the aroma fills the kitchen with the promise of a warm meal. Better yet, when prepared in white wine or vermouth one can only feel a sense of Autumn cheer.

A grouping by techniques

My amazing kitchen staff and I are well versed in four primary cooking techniques. They are dry-heat cooking with fat, dry-heat cooking without fat, moist-heat cooking, and combination cooking.

Julia’s recipe is an excellent example of moist-heat cooking. That’s because, depending on which variation of her master recipe you use, you will be poaching or simmering.

way to cook chicken

Throughout her book The Way to Cook and DVD set, Julia emphasizes the logic of grouping items by cooking techniques or methods. In her words:

“The technique is what’s important here, and when you realize that a stew is a stew is a stew, and a roast is a roast whether it be beef, lamb, pork, or chicken, cooking begins to make sense.”

Combination of Techniques

way to cook chicken

Julia demonstrates how various techniques are combined within a recipe. She starts with a master or template recipe and then adds to it. In the case of chicken cooked in white wine, she adds aromatic vegetables. The vegetables are julienned. Item #115 in the Way to Cook DVD shows you how to do it.

Choice of White Wine

Although you can use almost any type of dry, white wine with this dish, you may want to take a tip from Julia. She recommends that you use a fine, dry French vermouth. This adds a noticeable accent to the overall flavor.

Vermouth is a fortified white wine. But don’t worry, the alcohol is cooked away during the 25 minutes when the chicken is simmering. – We found out years ago that Julia’s favorite vermouth was Noilly Prat. We always keep a bottle in reserve for Julia’s recipes.

So, let’s gather our mise en place and get to work. You can do it the way we do it, or you can try out any of the variations offered by Julia. Whichever you do, have fun and –

Bon appétit!

Did you like this post? If so and you want to see other Julia Child recipes tested by the SFH Test Kitchen, please subscribe to our website. Of course, your questions and comments are greatly appreciated.

Recipe Resources

If you would like to learn more about Julia’s way to cook chicken in wine, here are some resources that will help.

Chicken Poached in White Wine – In this video from “The French Chef” TV series, Julia demonstrates a technique for poaching chicken in white wine. This is a very basic version of the recipe. In the same video, Julia demonstrates how to modify the recipe for serving in a casserole.

In 1989, Knopf released the cookbook The Way to Cook. Internet Archive has posted the complete cookbook here. A version of the recipe we used, Chicken Simmered in White Wine, is on page 144.

In 2009, Knopf released The Way to Cook DVD. The accompanying booklet lists the recipe our Test Kitchen used in item#114. the booklet uses a slightly different name for the recipe – Chicken Poached in Wine with Aromatic Vegetables.

More resources are listed in the Wikipedia article – The Way to Cook.

way to cook chicken

The Way to Cook Chicken in White Wine

You probably know many ways to cook chicken, but do you know Julia Child's way to cook chicken in white wine? In this post, the Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen explores Julia's master recipe Chicken Simmered in White Wine.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 4 people


  • A covered flameproof casserole, chicken fryer, or electric frying pan that will hold the chicken and vegetables comfortably


  • cups each julienned carrots, celery, and onions. See item #115 in DVD booklet. We only used a cup of each vegetable.
  • 2½ to 3 lbs. cut-up frying chicken
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ Tb tarragon
  • cups dry white vermouth or white wine
  • 2 cups more or less of chicken stock, canned or homemade
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Julienne 1½ cups each of carrot, celery, and onions. See item #115 in DVD booklet
    way to cook chicken
  • Mix julienned vegetables and strew one-third of them in the bottom of a heavy casserole.
    way to cook chicken
  • Place dark meat of chicken (legs and thighs) on top.
    way to cook chicken
  • Season with salt and tarragon.
    way to cook chicken
  • add another layer of vegetables. Then then add the white meat (breasts and wings).
    way to cook chicken
  • Season again, and top with remaining vegetables.
    way to cook chicken
  • Pour in wine and enough stock almost to cover chicken. Add the bay leaf.
    way to cook chicken
  • Bring just to the simmer and cover.
    way to cook chicken
  • Cook at a slow simmer 25 minutes, or until done.
  • Serve as is, over steamed rice. We used wild rice.
    way to cook chicken


Accompaniments: Serve the chicken and vegetable julienne over a bed of steamed rice or wild rice basted with the chicken juices.
Keyword chicken in white wine

See Chef Blondie’s video demonstrating this recipe: Here!

My Feline Fame & Fortune

My feline fame and fortune are not my most cherished gifts. Granted, my great achievements are acknowledged and praised throughout the world, and I am justly proud. There are more important things to me than the glories of my great celebrity.

Yes! It’s My Birthday!

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

Today is my 9th birthday! That means I will take a well-deserved day of rest. I will use this day to ponder the meaning and value of my life.

You, my 23,417 faithful feline followers, well know that a cat’s life is filled with competing concerns. It’s very difficult to balance our instinctual needs for food, play, and sleep. And, of course, our humans forever complicate our lives.

Pondering Feline Fame & Fortune

We felines possess an independent spirit. We do not walk about our domains submissively as dogs do, with tails wagging and tongues hanging from their mouths. That, my dear feline friends, is why we rank so highly in the animal kingdom.

Yet, our humans see us as desirable pets. And we allow ourselves to abide with them. We willingly, if not reluctantly, subordinate ourselves in small ways to their way of life. Over the years, I’ve often wondered why that is.

The Breed Maine Coon

I am of the breed known as Maine Coon. Our origin is told in legend, and tall tales. Nevertheless, we are here, and we have developed unusual traits, both physically and emotionally. And one of our traits is quite contradictory. On one hand we are as independent natured as any other feline. On the other hand, we are not suited to being alone for any length of time.

Here’s an example of my conflicted nature. When Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face are at home, I want to be alone. I will paw at the door until they let me out on the porch. But, if they get ready to go shopping, I will sit on top of their slippers. I won’t play nor will I eat. I will just stay right there on those slippers until they until they return.

No Need for Fame & Fortune

Yes, I am a famous cat. I receive praise from all corners of the world. But today, as I celebrate my birthday, I do not celebrate my fame and fortune. Instead, I will take the day off from my many duties. I think Blondie and Fuzzy are in need of some companionship. Come to think of it, so am I.

Back in the Saddle Again!

Yahoo!! The lawn tractor vet returned my mighty yellow steed to Serendipity Farmhouse on Monday. They fixed her up and gave her a good cleaning. Upon seeing her back in the driveway, my Case of Lawn Tractor Blues😒 was instantly cured.

Early on Tuesday morning, I saddled her up and we mowed the north 40. After lunch, my old Cub Cadet and I took on the south 40. She was in fit form and more than up to the job. Yup, I’m back in the saddle again!

What it Means to be in the Saddle

Many, many years ago, I learned that some work can be enjoyable. Back then, I had the privilege to work with not just one, but several horses and ponies. I first took riding lessons and then graduated to being an instructor myself. When a hard day of work with student riders was over, I would take one of my favorite horses out riding bareback for an hour or two. In the 50s and 60s that was every boy’s dream. For me, it was a cherished reality.

As we were approaching Labor Day one year, Mr. Brown, the owner of the horses, asked me to represent his riding school in the Great Geauga County Fair. His sons were now too old for the fair, and he would be greatly pleased if I rode one of his horses in competition.

The Great Geauga County Fair is Ohio’s oldest continuous county fair and one of the oldest existing agricultural fairs in the nation. It was established in 1823, and it is held annually in Burton, Ohio every Labor Day weekend. I would ride my Favorite horse Buckeye in three different events, and I wore the #4 proudly on my back. – It just doesn’t get any better than that.

I took home some ribbons that day. And those ribbons were accompanied by memories that have lasted a lifetime.

From Horse to Lawn Tractor and Other Big Changes

Nearly sixty years have passed since that Labor Day, and I’ll probably not have another chance to ride a horse again. So, forgive me for my bit of fantasy about my mighty yellow steed. The hour or two that I spend mowing this vast 1.203-acre estate, allows me the time to think and dream, just as I did back in the days when I was riding old Buckeye.

There’s been one big change since the days when I was a lone rider. Back in the early 70s, I found a partner to ride with me. We’ve been riding together ever since.

lawn tractor

A Case of Lawn Tractor Blues😒

They say you should prepare for nasty seasonal diseases, but how can you prepare for the most frightening of them all – a case of lawn tractor blues? And this year it hit me hard. The weakness and pain persist. I’m only beginning to recover. – So, let me tell you how it struck; what I did to ease the pain; and the nearly miraculous cure.

Onset of the Lawn Tractor Blues

I felt the blues coming on at the worst possible time. The National Weather Service predicted a sustained heat wave. At the same time, Serendipity Farmhouse was in the midst of a severe drought. I was hot and tired, but the farmhouse chores had to be done.

lawn tractor blues

There’s a lot of rugged terrain on the vast 1.203-acre SFH estate. Even the best-made lawn tractors would only have a limited lifetime here. The rocks, holes, and ridges make it a rough ride for driver and tractor alike. On the 2nd of September, my Cub Cadet and I were both very weary.

This is what happened.

We were clearing leaves, mowing weeds, all the usual things. The north 40 was done, and we were just finishing off the south 40. That’s when it happened. The old Cub Cadet just stopped moving. – The motor was running. The blades were spinning. But we just stopped.

I checked everything I could. It seemed that the drive belt was still in place. With the little I had to go on, I had to conclude that the worst possible thing had happened. – It appeared that I had just witnessed the death of the tractor’s transmission. And along with that, I foresaw the death of large portion of emergency funds. (Fortunately, we plan ahead and have some emergency funds.)

Of course, it was a holiday weekend. Nothing could be done until Tuesday. When I finally talked to the repair tech, he said we’ll pick it up later this week.

On the scheduled day, I singlehandedly pushed my beloved tractor to the front drive. Later that day, they took it away.

Meanwhile, because it’s that time of year, I ordered two cords of firewood. – Like everything else, it cost more than last year.

lawn tractor blues

The Pain of Lawn Tractor Blues

Yep, my case of the lawn tractor blues was setting in hard. Then, when I talked to the repair service, it only got worse. Let’s just say the estimate for repair was somewhere around $1,800.00. – That’s when my dear wife Blondie and my erstwhile companion Mr. Monte caught the lawn tractor blues from me. – It was over 100 degrees outside, and inside we were all moaning from financial pain.

The firewood was coming soon. The tractor wouldn’t be fixed for many weeks to come. That meant that the Cub Cadet wouldn’t be available to haul wood to the shed. Every cartload would have to be pulled by hand. – I felt very sick, indeed!

A Nearly Miraculous Cure

Yesterday, I received a call from the tractor service repair technician. He had already told me that he was preparing to order the replacement transmission from Cleveland. So, I figured he had called to give me the final estimate. I had some tissue sitting next to me to wipe away the tears. – – – – I waited for his words with the same feeling of agony as someone awaiting the sound of the blade sliding down the guillotine.

“Sir, the problem with your lawn tractor isn’t quite what we originally thought. I had my technician bring it in so we could check it again. That’s when we found the oil residue around the front drive pulley. We also found a lot of oil on the drive belt.”

“Sir, it’s not often that I get to give this kind of good news to a customer. There’s nothing wrong with your transmission. The oil filter was loose and dripping oil on the belt. We tightened up the oil filter and replaced the drive belt. We can return your tractor next week – Of course there will be a service charge, but it will be nearly $1,500 dollars less than our original estimate. – Is that okay with you?”

Suddenly, all the symptoms of my case of lawn tractor blues disappeared. And when I told Blondie and Mr. Monte, they were instantly cured as well.

The Moral of this Story

Blondie and I prayed that things would work out for us. But we didn’t see how they could. And, as I’ve said all these many years, “Serendipity is the answer to a prayer you should have prayed but didn’t. – The moral of this story is: The cure for a case of lawn tractor blues is prayer and a little bit of Serendipity.

lawn tractor blues

Serendipity Chicken with Cream Sauce

Jacques Pépin’s Chicken in Cream Sauce (Poulet à la Crème) is an adaptation of his mother’s recipe. Jacques added white wine and mushrooms to the basic recipe. This change brings about a subtle sophistication in the flavor. Of course, the Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen staff and I knew this would be a perfect dish to try out and share with you. – So, let’s head to the kitchen and make Serendipity Chicken with Cream Sauce.

Jacque Pepin Poulet a la creme

Hi! Thanks for joining me today.

There are few places I’d rather be than cooking in the SFH Test Kitchen. Yes, even now in the midst of the longest heat wave of the year, this kitchen is a joy. That’s because this is where my Hubby and I can be together and share the adventure of cooking.

Why test Jacques’s recipe for chicken with cream sauce?

Jacques admits that his mother might not approve of the changes he made to her recipe. But he notes that his recipe “is easy, fast, and good.” We at the SFH Test Kitchen understand that the essence of creative cooking is the desire to take an excellent recipe and make it your own. So just as Jacques adapted his mother’s recipe, we too will add our own personal touches. – Our goal is to take a simple French country meal and turn it into a simple everyday farmhouse meal.

Level of the challenge

I take Jacques at his word when he says his recipe “is easy, fast, and good.” Unlike the adherence to technique demonstrated by some chefs, Jacques follows a more relaxed approach. This is easy to see when one reads his recipe and then views two or three videos showing how he cooks the dish himself. – It’s never done the same way twice.

This is a meal meant to be cooked by the average mom, just like Jacques’s mother cooked it for him. It could be a great restaurant meal, but it works quite well in a simple farmhouse.

Selection of good-quality ingredients

Jacques’s recipe calls for fresh tarragon. But none was available. Fortunately, last year Hubby dehydrated our homegrown SFH tarragon. It worked quite well as a taste substitute, though it was lacking in its visual presentation.

Skillful, creative substitution is what separates a good chef from an apprentice short-order cook.

Using good-quality ingredients doesn’t mean you have to pay a premium price. Most of our ingredients were purchased at Aldi, Walmart, and Sam’s Club. We shop our own pantry, Aldi “red tags”, and all the sales. Rest assured; this is a meal that doesn’t have to be expensive.

Use of cooking techniques

This recipe does not require a master chef to be in the kitchen with you. No, this is a meal that can be handled by a dedicated amateur cook. – Nevertheless, basics are basics. How you hold the knife, how you brown the chicken, and how you make a simple cream sauce, these are techniques that must learned and practiced. All of these skills are essential to making this recipe work.

Development of superior taste and flavor

Now, I’ll let you in on a little cooking secret. A chicken thigh without the skin is not necessarily my favorite thing. That’s why, when I read this recipe, I was a bit perplexed. Despite my deep respect for Jacques, I chose to leave the skins on.

Here’s why. – The primary taste components of this dish are the chicken and the creme sauce. Unfortunately, the taste of chicken without the skin is overcome by the cream sauce. When the skin is left on and browned, the taste of the chicken and the cream sauce are united. – It is a marriage feast of flavor.

Ironically, in a video you can watch here, Jacques left the skins on. The video was made a year after this recipe was published. Thanks to my Hubby for finding the video. Now I know Jacques and I are not so very different.


Jacques chicken cream sauce

Jacques says that his mother would serve this dish with rice pilaf. However, he makes no recommendations concerning how the dish should be served.

My sweet hubby suggested that since it is a rustic, country dish, it might go well with homemade sourdough bread. So, he made a loaf, and guess what? – He was right!

Jacques Pépin was absolutely correct. His Chicken in Cream Sauce (Poulet à la Crème) “is easy, fast, and good.” – So, try it out and tell us what you think. Until then.

Happy Cooking!

Recipe Resources

If you would like to learn more about Jacques’s recipe for chicken with cream sauce, here are some resources that will help.

  • 2015 – Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen – This is the cookbook with the recipe and background commentary by Jacques.
  • 2015 – Poulet à la Crème – This is an article containing a full excerpt of the recipe and commentary from the book Heart & Soul in the Kitchen.
  • 2016 – Jacques Pépin’s Chicken with Cream Sauce – In this episode of the Rachael Ray Show, Jacques demonstrates how to prepare this dish. This video is fun because Jacques’s daughter Claudine and granddaughter Shorey join him in the cooking.

Did you like this post? If so and you want to see other Jacques Pépin recipes tested by the SFH Test Kitchen, please click here. Of course, your questions and comments are greatly appreciated.

Jacques chicken cream sauce

Poulet à la Crème - Serendipity Chicken with Cream Sauce

Jacques Pépin's Chicken with Cream Sauce (Poulet à la Crème) is an adaptation of his mother's recipe. Jacques added white wine and mushrooms to the basic recipe. This change brings about a subtle sophistication in the flavor. Of course, the Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen staff knew this would be a perfect dish to try out and share with you. - So, let's head to the kitchen and make Serendipity Chicken with Cream Sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 4 People


  • 1 Large saucepan


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs: about 3 pounds, skin removed (about 2 ½ pounds skinned) - We used 4 chicken thighs with the skin on.
  • 8 mushrooms; about 6 ounces, washed and sliced.
  • tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dry white wine We used chardonnay.
  • ¼ cup water You can substitute chicken broth.
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon; optional We used dried tarragon.


  • Add olive oil and butter to a large saucepan. Heat until the butter is melted.
    Jacques chicken cream sauce
  • Add the chicken thighs to the pan in one layer and brown over high heat for about 2½ minutes on each side.
    Jacques chicken cream sauce
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle on the flour.
    Jacques chicken cream sauce
  • Turn the chicken pieces with tongs so the flour is dispersed evenly.
    Jacques chicken cream sauce
  • Stir in the wine and water and mix well.
    Jacques chicken cream sauce
  • Bring to a boil and add the salt and pepper.
    Jacques chicken cream sauce
  • Cover, reduce the heat, and cook gently for 25 minutes.
    Jacques chicken cream sauce
  • Add the cream, bring to a boil, and boil, uncovered, for about 1 minute.
    Jacques chicken cream sauce
  • Serve sprinkled with the chopped tarragon, if desired.
    Jacques chicken cream sauce


This recipe is a modified version of the way Jacques Pépin's mother prepared this dish. We decided to leave the skins on to add extra richness in flavor.
Keyword Chicken with cream sauce, Jacques Pepin, Poulet à la Crème

See Chef Blondie demonstrate this recipe: Here!

Serendipity Farmhouse on YouTube Today

At the suggestion of family and friends, Serendipity Farmhouse now has a channel on YouTube. There’s only one humble video there now, but with your subscriptions and helpful comments, there will be some quality content in the coming months.

So, click on this link here to see our first video. If you like what you see, please hit the like button. If you want to see more in the future, please subscribe to our channel.

A Birthday to Crow About

Let me tell you all about my birthday. It was a birthday to crow about.

all about my birthday

Is a birthday just a party? Must there be balloons, cake, and ice cream? Is there some magic and mystery in the passing of a year? If you live here at Serendipity Farmhouse you really never have to ask, “What is it that makes a birthday special?”

That’s because you already know – Here at SFH, Birthdays are a great blessing from God.

Family Traditions

Our three children are grown and have their own wonderful children now. Over the years, they’ve created their own family birthday traditions. But when I have a birthday, each of my children makes a special effort to let me know how fondly they remember the time when we were all together. – This year, their special expressions of love for me have filled my heart with great joy. Thank you, sweet children. – I am blessed!

My Dear Friend

For 38 years, Nancy and I have shared in an enduring friendship. We’ve helped each other during hard times, and we’ve enjoyed the good times together. There are few things greater than having a good friend. – I am blessed!

This year, Nancy spent the day with me. I made a special meal using a recipe for Silver Palate Pasta. She gave me the recipe years ago. It’s a superb blending of garden-fresh cherry tomatoes and basil with linguine and melted brie – it was all so good.

After opening of presents and sharing in good food, Nancy, Hubby, and I made our way to my favorite Quievremont Vineyard & Winery for just a “splash” of wine.

A Birthday to Crow About

all about my birthday

My loving Hubby set the theme for this birthday. It was the combination of two of my great passions – simple French-style cooking and decorating my kitchen with every conceivable type of chicken.

Knowing that our favorite chef, Jacques Pépin, is also a painter and lover of chickens, Hubby decided on the perfect gift for me. And there it is hanging on my kitchen wall, an autographed print of Jacques’s painting Black and Yellow Rooster. Could there ever be a birthday present better than that?

But the Jacques Pépin-Chicken theme went on beyond the rooster print. Dear Hubby also presented me with Jacques Pépin Art of the Chicken: A Master Chef’s Paintings, Stories, and Recipes of the Humble Bird. And if that wasn’t enough, Son #1 also added to my Jacques Pepin collection with the book Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen.

It’s been a wonderful birthday with family and friends. You might even say it was a birthday to crow about. Yes, it’s what a every birthday should be – a great blessing from God.

A new specialty page for the SFH Blog

So, as my birthday week draws to a close, Hubby and I are making plans to have the Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen staff try out many new recipes by one great, inspiring cook – Jacques Pépin. His Black and Yellow Rooster print will get to watch all the action. And if you’d like to see what we’re cooking from Jacques’s cookbooks, just check out our new blog page – Recipes by Jacques Pépin – Serendipity Farmhouse. (To see it, click here.)

Until next time – Happy Cooking!

Simple Rice with Mushrooms & Asparagus – Jacques’s Way

Jacques Pepin’s Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus is a most simple and tasty meal. It’s perfectly suited for cooking in an RV or a small farmhouse kitchen. In this post, the formidable Serendipity Farmhouse Mobile Test Kitchen chefs will show you how it’s done. And I, Pierre LeChat, will provide invaluable tips on technique and creative cooking.

In his post Mobile Test Kitchen on the Shenandoah, Mr. Monte described the deployment of the Mobile Test Kitchen (MTK) to a perfect site along the Shenandoah River. That clever cat documented every move made by the MTK chefs. Now, after four days of painstaking review, I have organized and evaluated all of his most excellent notes, images, and videos. Once again, Mr. Monte has been awarded Persnickety Pierre’s Paw of Excellence.

Here’s the story behind this recipe test.

In his cookbook Quick & Simple, Jacques Pépin endeavors “to make your life easier.” And, while Jacques emphasizes times savings for people on the go, I find that his recipes are easily adapted to smaller kitchens such as one might find in an old farmhouse or recreational vehicle (RV). To prove this point, the amazingly skillful Chef Blondie took on the challenge of preparing this recipe in the tiny kitchen of the 24-foot RV she calls the SFH Mobile Test Kitchen.

Level of the challenge

Chef Blondie purposely chose this recipe because of its simplicity and readily available ingredients. She knew that she would have to make adaptations in ingredients and preparations. – In her view, any amateur chef can make this at home or on an RV trip.

Selection of good-quality ingredients

“Adapt and create!” That is a foundational principle for cooking in the MTK. Chef Blondie strives to use the best ingredients. But she knows quite well that sometimes the best ingredients just aren’t available. Likewise, there might not be sufficient time for shopping for a specific ingredient. That’s when you have to substitute.

For this MTK test, Chef Blondie deftly handled three such problems:

  • Rice: Jacques specifies the use of Carolina rice. Since Chef Blondie did her shopping at Aldi, there was no Carolina rice to be found. Because Carolina rice is a long grain variety, Chef Blondie substituted Jasmati rice she had in the SFH pantry.
  • Stock: Jacques specifies chicken stock. Two days a week the MTK staff abstains from meat. Therefore, Chef Blondie used vegetable stock.
  • Asparagus: Aldi’s is not the best place to buy quality asparagus. Because time was limited, however, Chef Blondie used the Aldi product. She had to discard quite a bit of the asparagus, but there was enough remaining that she was able to prepare the meal.

Despite the need for substitution and one low-quality ingredient, Chef Blondie’s adaptations and substitutions worked perfectly.

Use of cooking techniques

Jacques’s recipe requires that a cook possess but a bare minimum of skills. That is quite fortunate, because Chef Blondie needed Ol’ Fuzz Face to do some of the food prep. – He did moderately well and did not hurt himself.

Although technically not a technique, planning for a series of RV meals is an art form. When you are out in the wilderness, if you don’t have a key ingredient, you won’t have a meal. Chef Blondie and Chef Fuzzy have developed a very satisfactory method for making menus and ingredient checkoff sheets. – It’s really worth the time and effort.

Development of superior taste and flavor

Now, you might wonder how I can speak to taste and flavor of this dish in this evaluation. I wasn’t there when this test was conducted. It’s actually quite simple. The recipe yields six servings. Consequently, I was able to share a meal of leftovers with the MTK staff when they returned from their riverside adventure.

Because of that, I can attest to a very important point. This meal is tasty and satisfying even when served as leftovers. – Yes, the mushrooms held on to all of the original flavors. Wonderful notes of herbes de Provence continued to ring with clarity. – I can only imagine how delightful this dish was when first prepared by the able hands of Chef Blondie.

Presentation of Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus

Keep in mind, dear Reader, a 24-foot RV is not the Inn at Little Washington. But for the staff of the Mobile Test Kitchen, every good meal deserves a proper setting.

Jacques's Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus

In this case, a glass of wine bathed in the warm glow of candlelight brings joy to the heart. Likewise, a well-executed dish conceived by a master like Jacques Pepin brings happiness to the palate. – This table presentation brings both.

Happy cooking!

Jacques's Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus

Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus

Jacques Pepin's Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus is a most simple and tasty meal. It's perfectly suited for cooking in an RV or a small farmhouse kitchen.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 6 people


  • 1 large saucepan with lid


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • cups coarsely chopped onion (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cremini or portobello mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 2 cups any long grain rice
  • 4 cups light chicken stock vegetable stock also works
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 18 stalks asparagus with firm tips


  • Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan and sauté the onion for about 2 minutes, until it is almost transparent.
    Jacques's Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus
  • Add the mushrooms and herbes de Provence and cook for another 2 minutes.
    Jacques's Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus
  • Stir in the rice, stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
    Jacques's Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus
  • Cover tightly, reduce the heat to very low, and cook for about 15 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
    Jacques's Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus
  • While the rice is cooking, using a vegetable peeler, peel the lower third of the stalks or cut them off and discard.
  • After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, lay the asparagus on top of it and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, or until the asparagus is cooked but still firm.
    Jacques's Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus
  • Serve the asparagus with the rice on individual plates.
    Jacques's Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus
Keyword rice mushrooms asparagus

See Chef Blondie demonstrate this recipe: Here!

Mobile Test Kitchen on the Shenandoah

The Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen staff never takes a vacation. Nope, we just take to our Mobile Test Kitchen and do our cooking on the Shenandoah. Even in August, when the Blue Ridge can be most uncomfortable, we work to master, adapt, and enjoy recipes by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. – Come along with me and let this awesome 24-pound Main Coon cat show you what goes on behind the scenes.

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

You, my faithful 23,417 feline followers are probably not much into human gourmet cooking. But you do know that a day of hard work must begin with the very best breakfast. And that’s just the way it is here in the Mobile Test Kitchen. Chef Blondie always ensures that I’m properly fed and ready to do my assigned duties.

Because the amazing Pierre LeChat could not join us on this trip, it fell on me to observe the Test Kitchen staff in action, record video, and take copious notes. – A hardy breakfast made by Chef Blondie guaranteed that I would be up to the task.

And that’s the way a day of deployment in the Mobile Test Kitchen always begins. Then comes housecleaning chores, menu and recipe review, food inventory, and preparation of mise en place. Every member of the Test Kitchen staff has assigned duties, and they perform them with deft precision. – – Of course, there is always one member of the staff who’s a bit out of synch with the real world and Test Kitchen work.

Ol’ Fuzz Face is celebrating one year of full retirement. And to prove that he hasn’t lost his touch, he decided to take a selfie while standing precariously on top of the Mobile Test Kitchen roof. Fortunately, he survived this foolish stunt.

Once we coaxed Fuzzy down from the roof, we forced him back into the kitchen to do his job. Eventually, he put on his apron, and joined us preparing for the big test of Jacques Pépin’s recipe for Rice with Mushrooms and Steamed Asparagus.

In the Shenandoah Valley, weather makes a difference.

In August, temperatures climb into the 90’s in the Shenandoah Valley. Although the Mobile Test Kitchen is air conditioned, the high humidity can be stifling. But, as you see here, the humidity was unusually low on recipe testing day. – That made for a kitchen staff in very high spirits.

Mobile Test Kitchen – Testing Underway

Yes, under the expert guidance from Executive Chef Blondie, things were coming together. I busied myself by determining proper camera angles and lighting requirements. That required me to jump from tabletop to the over cab loft and various other select positions. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I performed video and photo tasks flawlessly.

As the test was nearing completion, Chef Blondie invited me over to taste test Jacques’s recipe. I think the pictures below adequately show my anticipation and my reaction.

Yes, the staff members of the Serendipity Farmhouse Mobile Test Kitchen had outdone themselves. – I could now hand over my notes, videos, and still pictures to Pierre LeChat for his evaluation.

Like you, I will be waiting for his post which will be published early next week. – Until then: Happy Cooking!