Chicken with Mushrooms in Wine Sauce

Chicken with Mushrooms in Wine Sauce

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My best friend’s mother, Joan, used to make the best chicken. I was very close to Joan, and paid attention when she cooked. I think this was my favorite, and she was nice enough to give me the recipe.

I loved Joan for other reasons, too. Joan was the manager of a high-end gift shop in Beverly Hills, and she had very good taste. Her house was beautifully decorated, and well-organized. Everything had a place, and everything had a job, even the legs on the cast iron dining room table. It’s job was to bite us on the toe as we passed by it and weren’t paying attention.

Joan taught me a lot of stuff. She taught me the right jewelry to wear with what outfit, she taught me the importance of being organized, she taught me how to make the Hot Dogs with Mashed Potatoes and Cheese (Spane’s favorite), and she taught me how to make this chicken dish. She loved me like her own daughter, and I loved her like the mother I lost when I was 15 years old. When I moved out of her place, she gave me metal prep bowls and a stainless steel wok. Despite all the moving I have done, I still have those bowls and that wok, and use them frequently.

Fresh Water ChestnutsThe only thing Joan did not teach me was about fresh water chestnuts. My grocer taught me about those. They look like ginger fingers, and sliced thinly, they are very crisp with a nice flavor. I don’t know about you, but I always avoid water chestnuts when I find them in Chinese food because those have no flavor. But, the fresh ones? They have a very subtle flavor, almost like a potato. If you can find them, I highly recommend them.

Sadly, Joan died just before Spane was born, but I know she watches over us. I love you, Mom!

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Chinese Feast of Roast Pork, Asian Wings, Asian Coleslaw and Fried Rice

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Golden Dragon Parade 2013

Two weeks ago, I was asked if I would cook for Ascencia again, and I said yes, what day? The date was the same as my birthday, February 16, 2013, and also the same day as the Golden Dragon Parade in downtown Los Angeles. What a perfect thing! Birthday, Parade and Cooking – all in one day!

Since I was going to the parade, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the Chinese New Year by making Asian food for the folks at Ascencia. I knew there were two large pork roasts and a mess of chicken wings already in the freezer, and lots of rice. No problem, all I needed was the stuff to make fried rice, and an Asian coleslaw to go with it.

The secret to good fried rice is that the rice has to be a day old. Why? Because freshly cooked rice is already full of moisture and will not absorb the flavored oil in which it is fried. What can you do if you don’t have day old rice, and you’re just going to die if you don’t have fried rice? Well, you can get a package of precooked rice that you would heat up the microwave, and use that instead. It’s not quite the same, but will do in a pinch.

You will find the recipes for the Asian Chicken Wings and Asian Coleslaw in other posts, but I’ll put the Asian Roast Pork and Asian Fried Rice recipes here.

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Ascencia Salad – Tuna, Broccoli and Bean Salad

You never know what life is going to give you, and tonight, the very first night of the New Year, I received something that made my heart leap with joy. I got to cook dinner for 40 people!

When the guest chef did not arrive, I asked if I could cook dinner, and my friend said, “Yes”. First I looked in the pantry, and was amazed to not find any of the things I usually have in my pantry, like onions, or potatoes. There was a lot of pasta, and a lot of spaghetti sauce, frozen turkey sausage, frozen garlic bread, many cans of tuna, two cans of kidney beans, one can of pinto beans, and a can of chopped tomatoes. No problem! The Good Plate to the rescue.

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Ham Steaks with Russian Red Eye Gravy and Cranberry Almond Pilaf

Recipes in this PostHam Steak with Russian Red Eye Gravy and Cranberry Almond Rice Pilaf

Sometimes, you need a little Christmas, right this very minute. That’s why we love ham steaks, because you satisfy your craving for a good piece of ham, without having to cook a whole ham. If you’re lucky, you even get to have the bone with the luscious marrow.

When I make a whole ham, I usually make a glaze of Russian mustard and Sour Cherry preserves. It’s sweet and a little hot, and definitely wakes up the ham. One of the traditional gravies for ham steak is Red Eye gravy, which has, you guessed it, coffee in it. I wanted to incorporate both.

Since The Good Plate is all about deconstructing packaged foods, and one everyone likes a lot is Rice-a-Roni. Rice-a-Roni is rice pilaf, but with way too much salt and other preservatives. There’s no need to use the box, just get the ingredients together and make it from scratch – you know what’s going in it, and you can add whatever you want.

Over the weekend, I made a salad with a new dressing. It was fresh dill and lime, and Amber absolutely loved it. She asked for it again tonight, so I’m including the recipe for it here.

Remember, if you’re having a ham steak, and you don’t want your bone, just give it to me!

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Curried Egg Salad Open-Face Sandwiches

Recipes in this PostJar of Cross and Blackwell Major Grey's Chutney

I have a very good friend who said to me once, “Does everything with you have to be gourmet?” and I said, nonplussed, “Yes!”. Why do you have to go to a restaurant when you can make gourmet food at home, for a fraction of the cost! I was reminded to this today when I started to make egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and decided to make this a Curried Egg Salad Sandwich.

Probably, one of the reasons I can do this is because I have a good pantry, a good spice rack, and I’m not afraid to try new foods. That means I usually have good curry powder in the spice rack, and Major Grey’s chutney in the refrigerator. I have to watch the chutney, though, because Spane likes to eat it by the spoonful, right out of the jar.

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Grilled Asian Orange Cornish Hens with Asian Vegetable Medley Salad

Recipes in this PostGrilled Asian Orange Chicken with Asian Vegetable Salad

It was almost Labor Day, and in Southern California, you know that it is going to be hot through the holiday. Such days are excellent for barbecuing, but I get tired of regular barbecue sauce, and I didn’t feel like having Highway Chicken either. What to do, what to do?

I remembered I had some packets of True Orange that I hadn’t even tried yet, so I thought I would make an Asian orange glaze for the chicken. Then I thought that Asian green beans would be good – but it was too darned hot – so went to the freezer to see if we had any green beans. No luck, but we did have a package of frozen Asian mixed vegetables. Asian Vegetable Medley salad was the way to go.

If you haven’t tried the True Citrus products, you’re missing something wonderful. There is True Lemon, True Lime and True Grapefruit, as well as lemonade. The product comes in little packets, and has no preservatives, just crystallized citrus. It’s wonderful for making sauces because there is no extra liquid. All are wonderful in water, or mixed to make drinks. I have plenty of recipes, just have a look.
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