Sauteed Chicken Breasts With Red Chard

(4 servings)

There's still seasonal produce aplenty, even in late December. And as always, we believe the simplest methods of preparation allow the flavor to come through loud and clear.

Here's one example of what we're talking about. And it's on the table in less than 30 minutes from start to finish. From "Chicken: 150 Great Recipes for All Seasons" by Elaine Corn (Chronicle, $17.95).

4 bunches red Swiss chard (about 1 1/2 pounds), tough stalks removed

6 boneless chicken breasts, skin on

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits

Heat a large pot over high heat. Rinse the chard and while it is still wet, add it to the pot. Cook the chard, stirring frequently, until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain the chard; set aside to cool slightly. Squeeze the chard between paper towels to remove any excess water.

Meanwhile, season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large saute pan over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chicken breasts, skin-side down, and cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes per side. Remove the saute pan from the heat. Set aside.

In a skillet over high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the wilted chard and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Season with salt to taste. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the chard is hot and glossy, about 1 minute.

Transfer the chard to a serving platter. Place the chicken on top of the chard and cover to keep warm.

Return the saute pan to high heat and bring the chicken juices to a boil. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat, add the butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Pour the sauce over the chicken; serve immediately.

Per serving: 562 calories, 56 gm protein, 7 gm carbohydrates, 31 gm fat, 169 mg cholesterol, 9 gm saturated fat, 585 mg sodium, 3 gm dietary fiber

Bewildered by the array of Merlots and Cabernets and Chardonnays at your local liquor store?

If John Mazur, Doug Campbell and Michael Green have their way, consumers who know next to nothing about wine will now be able to buy perfect bottles and not break the bank.

"We're committed to the idea that buying a bottle of wine should be as much fun as drinking it," says Mazur of Grape Finds, a new Dupont Circle shop. "But if you don't know a tremendous amount about varietals, a wine store can be confusing."

"Lots of consumers feel overwhelmed and intimidated because of the presupposition that they understand the difference," says Green, the wine maven of the group.

The solution at this store is to group wines by weight, style and taste. So instead of being organized by grape varieties or regions of the world, the wines are lined up by category. And at Grape Finds, there are only eight of them: fruity, smooth and bold (the reds); crisp, mellow and rich (the whites); sweet; and bubbly.

"If people understand a wine's flavor profile, they'll feel more comfortable," says Green, who writes the descriptive information that accompanies each wine.

The number of different wines is limited too--only around 100, the majority of them priced under $15 and even under $10. How much does that matter? "Our selection is designed to offer great-tasting wine values," says Green. "Besides, at the end of the day, you don't need a PhD to enjoy wine. If a wine tastes good, it is good."

Grape Finds is at 1643 Connecticut Ave. NW. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Call 202-387-3146.

ADD THIS WEB SITE TO YOUR BOOKMARKS; www.thehungersite.com

Computer programmer John Breen once envisioned creating an organization to promote computer literacy for children in Third World countries. But as he researched its feasibility, he discovered that the most challenging obstacle to computer literacy for these children was hunger-related attention problems. So he founded the Hunger Site, which has a button labeled "Donate Free Food" and a map of the world showing where children are dying from hunger. Every click on the button elicits a donation from the site's sponsor companies. Funds are sent directly from the companies to the United Nations World Food Program.The WFP then allocates food to those parts of the world deemed most urgently in need.

The site allows visitors one click per person per day.

Judy Philactos earned her halo and wings for unearthing unique edibles for Dean & DeLuca in Georgetown. Now Philactos and partner Paula Knott have their own sweet little shop--a gift store named Periwinkle near Chevy Chase Circle. Bleached floors and beams glow. Showcases are filled with beautiful European chocolates and killer, creamy caramels made by pastry queen Ann Amernick. Need stocking stuffers? Consider Rococo Artisan Bars ($5.95 each)--deep, dark chocolates laced with flavors such as "Wild Mint" and "Orange Geranium." The dreamy, star-shaped shortbread cookies, decorated with gold, are made by Stardust Bakery in Portland, Ore. ($4.95 for a box of 4). What might appear to be a science lesson is, in reality, a nifty olive oil and balsamic vinegar vessel for the well-dressed table ($30). Periwinkle, 3815 Livingston St. NW; call 202-364-3076.

CAPTION: Rococo Artisan Bars

CAPTION: Oil and vinegar vessel

CAPTION: Stardust Bakery's shortbread cookies

CAPTION: Dupont Circle's new Wine Finds arranges its wines by weight, style and taste.