Food: Cooking for the love of it! |

Food: Cooking for the love of it!

Lee Mathis
Free Press Food Columnist
Lee Mathis
Staff Photo |

Vineyard Chicken

Serves: 4


4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, finely crushed

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

4 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

3/4 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 cups halved red seedless grapes

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese


1. Cut each chicken breast in half, lengthwise.

2. Mix together salt, basil, sage, paprika, garlic powder, white pepper and flour.

3. In a Ziploc bag, toss the mixture with the chicken strips. Save any excess seasoned flour.

4. Heat oil and butter in skillet.

5. Add chicken and cook both sides over moderately high heat until golden brown.

6. Add garlic and sprinkle in any leftover seasoned flour from the Ziploc bag. Add broth, vinegar, and lemon juice. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover chicken and add grape halves to chicken in pan and simmer for 5 minutes longer or just until chicken is tender and juices run clear.

7. Remove chicken and grapes to heated serving platter. Boil pan liquid for 1-2 minutes to reduce, then pour over chicken.

8. Sprinkle with parsley and crumbled feta cheese.


One of the things I love about traveling and finding new restaurants is having the opportunity to talk with the cooks and chefs — finding out what drives them and why they do what they do.

Now, yes, we run into people who do it just as a job. Occasionally — as I frequent non-chain, smaller places more now than in years past — I am finding people that really just love to cook!

In the past few years, I have had the chance to talk with the chef/owner of Cecelia’s Café in Albuquerque, N.M.; the owner of Roque’s Carnitas, Santa Fe, N.M.; Chef/Owner Maria from Maya in Richmond, Va.; and people here in the Grand Valley — Joe from the Palisade Brewing Company and Josh from Bin 707 Foodbar.

I count myself in this category, and I am lucky to have people working for me that feel the same way. We just love to cook, we love to try some new things and we love to play with our food! For those of you who have stopped by any of our pop-up restaurants, you’ve seen what I mean.

This love of cooking isn’t limited to those of us who cook for a living. Some of the best cooks around aren’t professional, they didn’t go to culinary school, and the biggest crowd they have cooked for is their family. They might not know who Escoffier was, but they are good!

A lot of people aren’t fans of the Food Network, the Cooking Channel or the preponderance of cooking magazines that are out there. Yes, I agree that there are dumb cooking shows, elitist shows and such, but I love the majority of them. I like to watch some of the shows and read the magazines with a notepad next to me, writing down tidbits and ideas, tearing out pages that I really want to try, showing a new twist, a new flavor combination, or a new technique.

So for all of you who love to cook, I salute you! And for those of you who don’t think they have the skills, you probably do. As I have said here before — play with your food!


Email me your favorite go-to recipe to There’s a prize!

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