New School Hamburger Gravy

When I was in grammar school at Cheremoya Avenue Elementary School in Hollywood, California, about once every two weeks we had Hamburger Gravy and Mashed Potatoes.  I really loved that dish, it was my favorite.  All the other stuff was pretty bland, and actually kind of nasty, especially the paper thin cheeseburgers.  For years and years, I have been trying to replicate the special taste of that gravy, and have been pretty much successful.

Years ago, when I first met Chef John Farion, he treated some friends and I to dinner at another chef’s restaurant on Melrose .  I ordered the filet mignon with blue cheese sauce.  It was truly fantastic, and I have been pairing blue cheese with beef ever since.  I guess I’m not the only one, even Carl’s Jr. now has a steakhouse burger featuring blue cheese.

I get my blue cheese at the Armenian stores, for several reasons, 1) because the cheese is of a superior quality, 2) because it is much less expensive than the major chain supermarkets, and better quality.  I just bought a half a pound brick a few days ago, and it was sitting in the cheese drawer waiting to be the star of some dish.

I had an epiphany!  Why not make hamburger gravy and add blue cheese at the end?  I tried it, and it was, well, fantastic!  This was much, much better than the gravy I had had when I was a child.  Now, just because Spane gave it a big thumbs up, I can’t guarantee that every child will like it as much as we did.

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Italian Dinner – Fennel Pork Chops and Risotto with Mushrooms and Saffron

Recipes in this PostPork chops marinating

Sundays are the day in our family where we really try to keep the Sabbath day. We go to Mass, and I try to not get on the computer. No working on Sunday, sometimes not even to get email.

Spane really likes going to the 5:30 p.m. Mass, the Life Teen Mass, mainly because it is a more youthful Mass, with a band that plays guitar, drum and piano, with really good jazzy singers. I like going to the earlier Masses because I really like listening to Holy Family’s award winning choir. I like to sing, too.

Usually, we go to 5:30 Mass, so I don’t have that much time to make a real “Sunday” dinner, but today we went to 11:00 Mass, so I did. I thought that this was a good opportunity to praise God with a nice dinner, and Italian is always a good choice.

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Chinese Five Spice Tandoori Chicken

Chinese Five Spice Tandoori Chicken

Chinese Five Spice Tandoori Chicken on a bed of herbed rice, chutney and tomatoes.

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Last night I was watching an ancient Iron Chef, from the original series where everything was dubbed, May 7, 1999. It was a famous chef in Japan, Takeshi Ōkubo, who specialized in Chinese cuisine, up against the Chinese Iron Chef, Chen Kenichi. The Iron Chef did not win :-(, but it did give me some ideas for dinner tonight.

It’s been hot and muggy in Los Angeles, and I really don’t want to get my house hotter than it is – the evaporative cooler (aka swamp cooler) is going full blast. Nesco to the rescue.

I had some chicken thighs in the freezer, and yogurt, and I was getting a whole bunch of spices when I saw the curry jar and decided to use it. That’s when the Chinese aspect hit me, I also have a long forgotten jar of Chinese Five Spice powder.

You would not believe how good this thing smells.
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Books! Wonderful Books!

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Dollar Bookstore in Burbank

A few years ago, my friends took me to this wonderful bookstore where all the books were only $1.00 – A Dollar! I love to read, and I love having hard cover books sitting in my library where I can read them any time I want. There are a few books that I read a long time ago, that I knew I loved, and I love rereading them!

I had the fortune of going to the Burbank Centennial celebration , and was able to pick up some out of print books to add to my collection. I had to be careful, because the car was several blocks from the bookstore, and books get heavy!

Jeff Smith

jeffsmith.jpgJeff Smith’s Frugal Gourmet Series. I used to love watching the Frugal Gourmet when it was on PBS. No matter what Jeff Smith did, he is and always will be a good cook, and an excellent teacher. I already had The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wineand regularly used it for reference. Here’s what I was also able to pickup:

  • The Frugal Gourmet – the book that a started it all
  • The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American
  • The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian (my favorite)
  • The Frugal Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines Greek, Italian and Chinese

Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery

My mother and I had the complete set when I was a little girl, and these are the books gave me my cooking skills (and The American Woman’s Cookbook). These are wonderful books, if you can get them. They have been republished a few times, but I like the original ones that my mother and I had. I was only able to find four of them, and am still missing nine books. If you find em, let me know! When I was perusing mine, I came across a recipe that I have made for years, Hungarian Porkchops:

Hungarian Porkchops – DISZNKARAJ MAGYAROSAN

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Ingredients

6 pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
slat and pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons lard or butter
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup chicken bouillon
1 cup dairy sour cream
2 teaspoons paprika

Directions

Trim excess far from pork chops and sprinkle chops with salt and pepper. Saute onion and garlic in lard until soft and golden. Push aside or remove from skillet. Add pork chops and brown on all sides. Pour off fat. Lower heat and add bay leaf and bouillon. Cook, covered, over low heat for about 1 hour. Transfer chops to hot serving plate and keep hot. Reduce pan juices to half by cooking over high heat. Add sour cream and paprika and blend thoroughly, but do not boil. Pour sauce over chops. Makes 4 to 6 servings

Dressed to Grill

dressed_to_grillDressed to Grill by Karen Brooks, Diane Morgan and Reed Darmon, Illustrated by Beth Adams – hey I’m a girl, but I like to grill. This is a cute little book with some nice tips and recipes just for girls who like to grill, like me!

Spane’s Birthday – The Prep

Spane at the phone store

Spane on November 15, 2010 at the camera store

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Spane’s birthday is tomorrow, November 21, 2010.  He is going to be 7 years old!  So, like every birthday there is the preparation for the party.  This year will be the first one where he gave out invitations. 

Originally, we were going to have the party at Carr Park, but since it is supposed to rain, Amber volunteered to host the party at her house.  That meant sending out notices to everyone to let them know about the change of venue.  I hope everyone will make it.

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