Make a bouquet garni: Tie tarragon stems, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a small square of cheesecloth. Place bouquet garni, sherry, celery, onion, and 5 cups water in a medium pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Add to the gently simmering liquid, and cook until firm and the juices run clear when pierced with a 2-pronged fork, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the breasts from the poaching liquid, and arrange on serving plates. Drizzle with lemon vinaigrette. Serve with asparagus and rice pilaf, if desired.
Combine lemon juice, white wine vinegar, mustard, and sugar in a small bowl. In a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, drizzle in olive oil until the mixture is thick and emulsified. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Stir in chopped tarragon, and serve. Yield: 3/4 cup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with a baking sheet inside. Trim and peel asparagus to the point on the stem where it is most tender. Wash well. While asparagus is still moist and wet, drizzle it with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place on the preheated baking sheet, and roast until tender to the point of a knife, 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the asparagus. Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium ovenproof saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion and mustard seed, and saute until onion is just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper. Continue to cook until the vegetables become soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and salt. Stir well to combine and to coat rice with the oil. Add chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Cover tightly with a lid, and place in the oven. Cook until the liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente, about 17 minutes. Remove from the oven. Fluff with a fork, and stir in snipped chives. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings
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