I have slowly been developing an ever-more elaborate series of rituals surrounding the end of exams each term. It gives me something to look forward to, a bit of carrot to counteract my self-imposed stick during finals. In its current incarnation, the ritual looks a little like this.
1. I emerge from my last exam or from handing in my last paper. My hand is numb from writing, or my eyes bleary from staring too long at a computer screen. It takes a few minutes to hit me that I’m actually finished with another semester of school. I try to restrain myself from capering too flagrantly, lest I demoralize those who still have exams left, but generally cannot keep from skipping at least slightly as I make my way to…
2. THE BOOKSTORE. Browsing is one of my absolute favourite things to do. It doesn’t particularly matter if it’s a bookstore or a library. Generally I prefer libraries, as they tend to be vastly cheaper, but at the tail-end of exam season stress is still dripping off the walls in the library. So a bookstore it is. If I can, I treat myself. If I can’t, I content myself with puttering away a few pleasant hours before plunging into the library to pick up a book to read purely for pleasure.
3. I go home and make myself a special meal, to be prepared and enjoyed slowly, with a nose buried in said book.
(And, yes, I know I am crowding the mushrooms in the above photo. Forgive me, Julia, for I have sinned. Someday I will have larger pan. Or the patience to cook my mushrooms in two batches.)
This year it is Persuasion—it’s been far too long since I read it. I pore over it happily, part of my mind concocting elaborate lists of all the books I will read in four months which will gallop by all to quickly. And I make mushroom-stuffed chicken breast, because mushrooms are my favourite things in the world, and stuffing a chicken breast is something I have never tried before. Life is very good.
Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken Breast
- 2 T butter
- 1/4 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
- pinch thyme
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 C grated Parmesan
- 1 chicken breast
- salt and pepper
Heat 1 T of the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about four minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent. Add the mushrooms, thyme, paprika, and salt, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are browned and softened. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan.
Meanwhile, rinse the chicken breast and pat it dry with paper towel. Lay it so that the tender is on the bottom and to the right, and carefully slice the breast horizontally, as if you were cutting a cake into two layers to put icing in between. Don’t slice all the way through, though—leave a small hinge. Spread the breast out flat and lay the stuffing on the half with the tender. Fold the other half gently over the top and pin the breast shut with a few strategically-placed toothpicks. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken generously.
Heat the remaining T of butter in a pan large enough for the chicken to lay flat. When the butter is hot, put the chicken in the pan and cook, flipping gently every 5 minutes, for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve in slices with rice (I used black rice—wild rice would be even better!) or potatoes.