Supreme Baked Asparagus Fries

Supreme Baked Asparagus Fries Mis En Place

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A few birthdays ago, my friend Adel took me out to a lovely dinner at one of the new restaurants at the Americana at Brand. We ordered asparagus as an appetizer. Boy, what a surprise that was. Those asparagus were dripping in melted butter and Parmesan, and just delicious. I wanted to make them at home.

I had forgotten about them until I saw something similar on Pinterest, and pinned them to my Recipes I Gotta Try board. When I looked at the recipe, I knew that I could improve it, and I did.

The original recipe calls for and egg wash and a dip in flour, then dipping in cheese and Panko bread crumbs. I’m sure they are delicious, but asparagus CRIES out for butter. Butter also makes an excellent coating to which a variety of things will cling, so I decided to forgo the egg and flour, and go with butter.

These asparagus spears were supreme, and that is why they are called Supreme Asparagus Fries. My recipe is for 6 spears per person, but if you have asparagus lovers, you might want to increase the recipe.

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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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Fennel Cashew Crusted Pork Loin

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Fennel Cashew Crusted Pork Loin

We really like pork loin in our house. It’s small, and cooked correctly, tender and moist. The problem with pork is that it can dry out easily, so it is important to keep it moist, or cook it so that it retains its moisture.

I make Pork Chops with Fennel, and I wanted to do something similar with my pork loin, but still keep it moist since I was going to roast the meat.

I put all the ingredients for my crust in a small food processor, then mixed that with Panko bread crumbs. I washed my pork loin under cold running water, patted it thoroughly dry, then coated it liberally with olive oil. Coating it with the olive oil did two things:

  1. It allowed the crust to stick to the meat.
  2. It added a moisture that patting the meat had removed

I let the crusted roast rest in the refrigerator for a half an hour to let the crust harden and make a better moisture barrier. Knowing that it wasn’t going to be producing a lot of liquid, I put it on a rimmed baking sheet covered with foil, and cooked it in a medium oven while my Blue Cheese Risotto with Merlot was cooking. Then I let it rest for three minutes while a microwaved broccoli for our Oscar Party dinner. It was a show stopper!

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Braised Chicken with Onions and Mushrooms in the Nesco

Braised Chicken with Onions and Mushrooms in the Nesco

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I have a friend who has a chicken, who I have named Coq Au Vin. She’s a big orange chicken, and she is going to live a nice long life in my friend’s yard, with plenty of food, water and melon treats. Coq Au Vin even recognizes me when I go and visit with her. Why did I name her that? Well, when she is quite old, and not laying eggs anymore, then she will have the glory of becoming a real Coq Au Vin. It will be a good day for her to die because she will know that she is going to make a wonderful dinner.

Well, until that time, I’m not waiting to eat chicken. I bought a chicken, some nice boiling onions, and large mushrooms, most of which became Bacon Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms. I buy most of my produce at the local Armenian store, and they don’t usually have the kind of wine I would need to make Coq Au Vin, but I did have some Marsala in the pantry. I also had some dried leeks in my pantry, which also went into my dish.

Whole vs Precut Chicken

A word about whole chickens vs precut chicken. You know, you pay more for the meat-packing company to cut the chicken, and you don’t even know if it’s all coming from the same bird. When you purchase a whole chicken, you know everything is from the same bird, and you save money by cutting it up yourself. It takes about a minute, and you can find plenty of videos on Youtube showing exactly how to do it. Here’s my chicken, all ready to go.

cut up whole chicken

Cut up whole chicken


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Stuffed Ciabatta Garlic Bread

Recipes in this PostStuffed Ciabatta Garlic Bread

We are very lucky living in Glendale, where there is a wonderful bakery that makes the best breads, including a Ciabatta bread. When I picked Spane up this afternoon, and needed some things at the store, I passed by the bread aisle and couldn’t help smelling the fresh bread.

This bread was pillow soft with a crisp crust very reminiscent of the true Ciabatta bread found in the Lake Como region of Italy. It is nothing like the stuff that comes from mass bakeries.

Since the breads are small but rather flat and elongated, I knew it would be perfect for Stuffed Garlic Bread to go with our Antipasto Salad with Original Brown Derby Dressing.

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Pork Chops Paprikash

Recipes in this PostPork Chops Paprikash

When I was a little girl, my mother had the entire collection of The Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cooking, and there was a recipe in for Hungarian Porkchops, which I have been making for many years. Today, I decided to change the recipe a bit, and came up with Pork Chops Paprikash.

In Glendale, California, which has a large Armenian population, we have Red Pepper Sauce. It’s basically paprika peppers, and I use it quite often, in sauces, eggs, and other dishes. There are many brands and you can probably find it in ethnic European stores. I highly recommend it.

Paprikash dishes call for sour cream. I have probably talked about this before, and I will say it again. When you buy sour cream, please only get the kind that has cultured cream. The other stuff has gelatin and other ingredients as fillers, and they just are not real sour cream. The Alta Dena brand has a wonderful saying on the top of the tub, “Those cravings you feel are totally natural”. I love that because it’s true – there is nothing in that sour cream except cultured cream, the way sour cream should be.

Mis En Place

Mis en Place – Sour Cream, Red Pepper Sauce and Beef Base

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