Barbie Butz is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at barbiewb@hotmail.com.

Last week I had lunch at Cider Creek in Paso Robles with Diane Schneider and Carol Porter, two very special friends. Our conversation got around to recipes, food preparation, and cookbooks.

In 2001, Carol and I served on our Assistance League of SLO County’s cookbook committee. Diane did not join the League’s chapter until 2003, so she missed serving on the committee but has a copy of the book titled Recipes from the Heart of the Central Coast. This all led to a discussion of how some recipes are ageless and often show up in food magazines or current cookbooks, leading the reader to think they are new ideas.

Regional cookbooks are always popular with collectors. When we travel, I love to find a cookbook from the area to add to my collection. Cookbooks have always been a popular fundraiser for nonprofits, and I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Junior League cookbooks. Used bookstores and thrift stores are great places to find copies.

Diane talked about her mother, Jerry Michler, and her 45 year membership in the Auxiliary of Torrance Memorial Hospital. In the ’70s the Auxiliary published a cookbook titled Tender Loving Cooking with Volunteers of Torrance Memorial Hospital, with proceeds benefiting the Hospital.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Diane is still using recipes from the book, and she gave me two of her favorites to share with you.

Chicken Supreme

Ingredients:
8 chicken breasts, skinned, boned, flattened
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup bread crumbs or stuffing mix
8 slices Danish ham
Pinch of thyme, marjoram and paprika
Salt and pepper

Sauce:
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted 
1 pint sour cream
3 tablespoons white wine

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. After flattening the chicken breasts, spread them on a cutting board, and with a sharp knife, trim off all ragged edges so that each breast is approximately rectangular. This should give you about ¾ cup of scraps. Run this through a meat grinder (or food processor) and combine with softened butter, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, and bread crumbs. Set this mixture aside. Place one thin slice of ham on each chicken breast then spread with the meat mixture. Roll up and secure with heavy twine or skewers. Place seam side down in a baking dish and dot with butter. Sprinkle with paprika and lightly cover with foil. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes in 350 degree oven. Remove to a heated platter and serve with sauce.

Directions for preparing sauce:
Using a whisk, combine undiluted Cream of Chicken soup with sour cream and white wine. Heat on low, stirring occasionally.

Chicken-Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients:
4 whole chicken breasts, cooked and cut in bite-sized pieces
2 packages frozen broccoli, cooked and cut in bite-sized pieces, drain well
1 large jar Cheese Whiz 
½ cup milk
1 package Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix
1 cube butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place chicken pieces in greased 9 x13-inch casserole dish. Add broccoli. Melt Cheese Whiz and blend in ½ cup milk. Pour cheese mixture over chicken and broccoli. Melt butter and toss with stuffing mix; spread over casserole. Bake 30 to 40 minutes in 325 degree oven.

This next recipe is from the Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County cookbook I mentioned above. It is simple but absolutely delicious!

Warm Onion-Potato Gratin

Ingredients:
1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ -inch slices
¾ pounds onions, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (about 4 ounces)
8 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
2/3 cup whipping cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine potatoes and sliced onions in large heavy saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drain potato-onion mixture well. Arrange half of potato-onion mixture in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture with 1/3 cup Gruyere cheese, then 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Arrange remaining potato-onion mixture on top of cheeses. Pour cream over the mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then remaining 1/3 cup Gruyere cheese and 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered in 400 degree oven until cream thickens, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Preheat broiler and broil gratin until top is golden, about 2 minutes.

Enjoy the spring-like weather and don’t forget to look for those daffodils. 

Cheers!