Kitchen Wit and Wisdom: Remembering the sacrifice

Cathi Litzenberger honours her Second World War veteran dad, and all of those who served, and continue to serve

On this Remembrance Day I am thinking of my dad and the thousands of other Second World War soldiers, who at this time of year in 1944 were slogging their way across France.

It was a horrendous experience that most of these veterans have found too painful to fully share.

Imagine arriving on D-Day June 6, 1944 to the carnage on the beaches; being alive one minute, gone the next. Imagine digging and diving into ditches for protection from mortars and bombs daily.

Imagine wearing the same filthy, flea and bug-infested uniforms for two solid months until new troops could be sent in to relieve you at the front. Imagine the horror of your convoy being bombed; and you injured, from the air by hundreds of planes.

And since this is a food column, imagine being fed only once a day, usually some kind of stew concoction, and only if they could  get to the troops at the front; if not they ate dry emergency rations. These are but a few of my dad’s experiences.

We can never really imagine the horrors and experiences these young soldiers endured but we can respect their bravery and acknowledge them for freeing Europe and saving Canada.

Today’s recipes are both comfort foods. The first is a delicious chicken dish that will feed a crowd, the second a hearty soup, perfect for the cool days of fall.

Chicken Breasts Lombardy

8 skinless chicken breasts

1 cup butter, divided

Salt and pepper

1-1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

3/4 cup Marsala wine or dry white wine or use low-sodium organic broth

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

3 green onions, chopped

Place chicken between wax paper and pound to 1/4- 1/8 inch thick.

Dredge in flour, then place 4 pieces at a time into a hot frying pan with 2 tbsp. of butter.

Cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden.

Place in 9 X 13 inch dish over lapping edges. Repeat, adding 2 tbsp butter.

Sprinkle all 8 with salt and pepper. Reserve drippings in skillet.

Sauté mushrooms in 1/4 cup butter. Drain and sprinkle over chicken.

Stir wine and broth into drippings, simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the chicken. Reserve remaining sauce.

Combine cheeses and green onions, and sprinkle over chicken.

Bake at 450 F for 10-12 minutes. Place under broiler 1-2 minutes to lightly brown.

Serve with reserved sauce.

Hamburger, Bean & Macaroni Soup

1 lb. hamburger

1 onion, diced

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 cups beef stock

1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (14 1/2 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 cup uncooked macaroni

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a large dutch oven or other soup pot, sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add meat and cook until no pink remains.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook an additional 15-20 minutes until macaroni is cooked through and flavours have had time to meld.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.