This week I am sharing excerpts from my new novel, Julianne. Each excerpt comes from a chapter that involves food and, of course, I am going to share the recipes. Today you will be treated to Michael’s Roasted Chicken with Creamy Cheese Tortellini and Asparagus. Michael and Julianne Finnegan are siblings in the small coastal town of Alexandria, NC. Michael is a successful owner of several resorts and restaurants, while Julianne is floundering in one dead-end job after another. The excerpt below takes place when Michael comes over to check on his sister and makes her dinner.
“What do you want for dinner?
“I hadn’t even thought about it. What time is it anyway?”
“Four thirty. I thought I would make you something to eat before running over to the Serenity Beach Resort to check on a family reunion group.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I know, but I want to. Let me see what’s in the kitchen to work with. You put up your feet and watch some TV.” Michael handed her the remote before disappearing into the kitchen.
Julianne flipped through the channels disinterested in any of the afternoon fluff TV. She listened to Michael rattling around in the kitchen, humming to himself as he cooked.
“Did Gavin tell you Oliver came by earlier?” She called out to Michael. The humming stopped and the kitchen was silent.
“I haven’t talked to him since this morning,” he finally replied. Julianne wandered into the kitchen and leaned against the counter.
“He came to tell me about the trouble he got into in L.A. He said you already knew about it.”
“We talked last night. I remembered Gavin mentioning it to me several years ago.”
“It’s so hard to believe he was into the drugs and all that. He seems so together.”
“He was lucky to be working with a director who saw the talent he was throwing away and was willing to step in. All his friends disappeared during rehab, giving him a lot to think about.”
“If he hadn’t told me himself I wouldn’t believe it. The person he described just doesn’t match what I have seen of him. I wonder why he felt he had to tell me.”
Michael stopped stirring the sauce he was making. Slowly he turned to face his sister.
“He told you because of me.” Michael watched her face change from confusion to horror.
“What did you do?” she cried.
“When we talked last night I warned him not to get you involved in any of that garbage.”
“How could you?”
“Wait. Let me finish. I admit I was trying to be rough and intimidate him. I wanted to get his reaction. He told me he understood where I was coming from, and didn’t try to hide anything. I told him I wouldn’t share any of it with you, that he could choose if you needed to know or not.”
“So he was afraid I would find out from you or Gavin eventually.” Julianne sat on a bar stool and rested her head in her hands. For the second time her idea that a bond was forming with Oliver was shattered.
Oven Roasted Chicken Breasts
chicken breasts (Michael used boneless, skinless breasts)
5 carrots (peeled quartered halfed)
1 onion (quartered)
¼ cup margarine (butter)
2 tbsps minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp rosemary (chopped fine)
1 tsp paprika
Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.
Clean and debone chicken, season with salt and pepper, peel and quarter carrots and then split quarters in half place in aluminum foil lined roasting pan. Place chicken on top of carrots. Quarter and onion and place in roasting pan. Melt quarter stick margarine or butter and add all spices.
Drizzle over chicken.
Bake chicken for 35-40 minutes until skin is golden brown.
Creamy Cheese Tortellini and Asparagus
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 garlic cloves (smashed)
3 thyme (sprigs)
2 strips lemon zest (2 by 1 inch)
18 ozs cheese tortellini (refrigerated frozen or dried)
2 tsps cornstarch
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 bunch asparagus (¾ pound trimmed and thinly sliced diagonally)
½ cup parmigiano-reggiano (grated)
Boil broth with garlic, thyme, zest, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large heavy skillet until reduced to about 1 cup, about 6 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and zest.
Meanwhile, cook tortellini in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (1 1/2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water) according to package directions. Drain.
Stir cornstarch into cream, then whisk into broth. Bring to a simmer, whisking, then continue to simmer 1 minute. Add asparagus and simmer until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in cheese and tortellini and cook, gently stirring, until heated through.