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Fall Menu Delight

Our latest Chef on a Shoestring hails from the Pennsylvania countryside.

Jim Coleman is an old friend of The Saturday Early Show and one of our first Chefs on a Shoestring. We invited him back to create a delicious fall meal for four on our $30 budget.

Coleman is the executive chef at Normandy Farm, outside of Philadelphia, where he serves classic dishes with a modern flair.

In the early 1900s, Normandy Farm was the place to find the very finest dining experience and the most modern farming methods. That still holds true today. Coleman's dishes represent modern interpretations of Pennsylvania's gourmet traditions dating back to the birth of Normandy Farm.

When Coleman is not in the kitchen, he is often in front of a microphone or writing his newspaper column. Since 1996, Coleman has hosted "A Chef's Table," a weekly radio show that is broadcast nationwide reaching 30 million homes, and on the armed forces network and satellite radio. Also in 1996, Coleman became host of his own television series, "Flavors of Philadelphia," which two years later evolved into "Flavors of America" on national public television.

With his move to Normandy Farm, which followed a long, acclaimed tenure as the executive chef of the five-diamond Rittenhouse Hotel, Coleman received the added benefit of his own television studio in the Silos Ballroom. From there, he produces and stars in "Flavors of America."

Coleman attended the Culinary Institute of America, and he was one of 40 out of 10,000 applicants to participate in the premiere season of Madeline Kamman's Beringer School for American Chefs.


Braising: Unlike sauteeing, which cooks food quickly over relatively high heat, braising cooks food slowly over lower heat for a longer period of time. The slower, longer cooking time helps break down food's fibers. Coleman braises his vegetables in the butternut squash soup. This helps to tenderize the vegetables for the soup and develop the flavors as well

Butternut Squash: A large, cylindrical squash, about 8- to 12-inches long and 3- to 5-inches wide at its widest point. The butternut has sweet, orange-colored flesh and is very versatile because it can be steamed, baked or boiled. Coleman says fall is the perfect time for butternut squash because it is in season.

Forcemeat: Forcemeat is a mixture of finely ground, raw or cooked meat traditionally mixed with breadcrumbs and various seasonings. Coleman creates forcemeat to stuff the chicken breasts on his menu, using walnuts instead of breadcrumbs to add a nice crunch to the dish.


Butternut Squash Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced (approximately 3 cups)
3/4 cup leeks, finely chopped
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (approximately 8 cups)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a 6-quart heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and stir in the onions and leeks. Cover, reduce the heat and braise for 15 minutes — checking that the onions don't burn.

Add the squash to the onions and leeks. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cumin and thyme; cover the pot. Braise for another 15 minutes, checking once in a while that the vegetables do not burn.

Add the broth (and if you're using wine add it now). Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Purée the soup in a blender or food processor in batches or use an immersion blender. Puree until smooth. You may strain it if you wish. Reheat the soup; taste for salt and add more cumin to taste.

Walnut Stuffed Chicken

Chicken Ingredients
4 - 6 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Forcemeat Ingredients
1 - 6 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons yellow onion, small diced
2 tablespoons green bell pepper, small diced
2 tablespoons, celery, small diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chopped toasted black walnuts (see method below)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Toasting walnuts:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chopped black walnuts on a flat baking tray and toast in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool at room temperature.

Walnut Stuffed Chicken

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a food processor, finely grind the chicken meat for about 2 to 3 minutes, until it forms a paste. Transfer the finely ground chicken meat to a large bowl.

Add to the finely ground chicken meat, the onions, the celery, the green bell pepper, heavy cream, the toasted walnuts, salt and black pepper. Mix the ingredients well.

Lay chicken breasts out on a clean surface and using a meat mallet, flatten the breasts to double their original size. Lay each breast in the center of a clean 12 X 18- or 20-inch piece of plastic wrap. Divide the forcemeat evenly between the four breasts and spread the mix out on each breast.

Then roll the chicken breasts like a jelly roll. Wrap the plastic tightly around the breast and roll up the ends, turning tighter and tighter until the breast is in a cylindrical shape; take care to keep the plastic wrap tight around the roll.

Once the cylinder is formed, continue to twist the ends tightly until they are well sealed. Set aside and repeat with the other three breasts. Poach the wrapped chicken breasts in 180 degree F water until the internal temperature is 110 to 120 degree F. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts from the water and allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for about five minutes.

Using a sharp knife or scissors, carefully remove the plastic. Place a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the two tablespoons of olive oil. Sear the chicken roll until all sides are golden brown. Then place the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven let it rest for about five minutes. You will then slice each roll of chicken in half on the bias. Serve two pieces of walnut stuffed chicken on each plate with sautéed spinach.

Sauteed Spinach Ingredients
1 pound spinach, washed and trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil and spinach and sauté until it begins to wilt. Add garlic and continue sautéing for about another minute. Stir in butter; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Apple Crisp
4 ramekins (8 ounces)

Apple Filling Ingredients
5 firm apples, peeled, cored and cubed 1/2 x 1/2 inch
1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon allspice
1/6 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 ounces dark brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/2 tablespoons, unsalted butter
2 teaspoon cornstarch
juice of two navel oranges

Topping Ingredients
1/4 pound almond flour
1/4 pound all-purpose flour
1/4 pound granulated white sugar
1/6 pound butter softened at room temperature

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees F.

To make the topping, in a large bowl combine almond flour, all-purpose flour, and sugar. Add softened (not melted) butter and use your hands to rub into dry ingredients until coarse crumbs are formed. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine cinnamon, dark brown sugar, cloves, coriander, nutmeg and allspice. Add the apples. Toss the apples until they are well-coated with the sugar and spices.

Melt butter in a sauté pan. Add the apple mixture. Cook apples halfway, approximately 4 to 6 minutes (soft but not mushy). Stir mix constantly. Dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and this to add to the apples. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide mixture between four ramekins; crumble topping mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Chef's note: Use firm apples so they retain their shape during the baking process. If you want a bit of tartness, it is recommended to use granny smith apples. Coleman chose Rome apples for his recipe because he says they hold their shape well and retain a nice sweet flavor.