Sunday, May 26, 2013

Deep Fried Asparagus

Deep Fried Asparagus


Its asparagus season here in West Michigan!  I Love ASPARAGUS!  A client of mine wrote:


Hi Terri

You should try this.

This is an awesome appetizer at Joe's Stone Crab. I tried to duplicate at home and can't come close to the amount of Panko breading that I can get to stick when frying in a thin layer of olive oil. It is then rolled in the asiago.


Any ideas?

Thank you very much

Wayne Walkotten


The challenge was on.  I got close, it’s a lot harder to bread, fry, roll and photograph asparagus when you are cooking, and well, Wayne’s wife Kelly is an award winning photographer, and let’s say I was a bit nervous.  I’m close, not quite what they had but I think very close.  The difference:  Professional grade fryers at the restaurant compared to my little home fryer.


Here’s what I did.  I blanched my asparagus.  This technique is used to firm or soften your vegetables and to set the color.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil – for once, I was a bit short on the salt – when it comes to a boil drop your asparagus in, bring back to a boil for about 1 minute, and then immediately immerse into ice cold water to stop the cooking process.


I then set up a standard breading station, seasoned flour (with s&p, aka salt and pepper) an egg wash, 1 beaten egg with water, and the panko.  Next time I’m going to add the cheese to the panko.  Wayne thought it was rolled in asiago but I’m not sure.


I put several pieces of asparagus into the flour, then to the egg mixture, and then rolled it in the panko, pressing firmly. 


First batch test fried!  A little weak on the coating, but tasty!


The second batch, I did a “double dip” – I started with the egg wash, then the flour, back to the egg wash and then to the panko.  It set much nicer.  I think if I would have let the asparagus set in the refrigerator to cool, it might have adhered better.  I’m going to try that next time.


I then deep fried my asparagus, let it drain for about 5 seconds and rolled it in the asiago.


Not bad, a bit closer, needs some work.  I definitely will add the asiago/shredded cheese directly into the panko, that’s how I do Parmesan Chicken!  I think it would work.  All in All a tasty snack for the day!




A bit of flour with salt and pepper added

1 egg beaten with water

Panko with asiago cheese!


That’s it!  I hope you enjoy – let me know how it works for you!



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pan seared steak with rissotto

It has been an interesting week and a half.  My daughter Jennifer and her husband Colin came in (a.k.a the “kids” – though they are adults!)  Jeffery ran the riverbank, it was Mother’s day, my Aunt passed away, the dogs got sick at night and we had not one but two water leaks in the house.

There was a bunch of brightness in the week, though the temperatures plummeted.  We got three new friends – a new Weber Summit Grill and Smith & Wesson (ok that counts as one) – a bunch of ammo and I have a date night with my hubby this week to learn gun safety!


My amazing husband trained for the riverbank starting in January 2013 with the Striders run club.  Every Saturday, rain, snow, sleet or nice, he got out there and ran.  He lost weight, I gained weight!  I should’ve gone with him, but honestly, it didn’t seem like a hubby/wifely “let’s do this together” idea.

He ran it in darn good time, for an old guy!  He had some interesting stories once he caught his breath and finished.  To celebrate, I dug out some beef tenderloin left over from a previous party and finished out the dinner with some risotto: one of our favorites.

I pan seared my tenderloin steaks-just a little salt and pepper (or S&P as we call it in the industry!  It’s important that you have your pan ripping hot, and then put your steaks down.  They will caramelize nicely, you may need a touch of butter or oil, but that’s it.  Why ruin a good steak.



The risotto can be done so many different ways.  I know of people who tell me it’s to hard, time consuming and I don’t like to stir it!  Less than 30 minutes and Jeff and I sat down to dinner.



The goal in risotto (which is really a style of cooking normally thought of with Arborio or short grain rice) is to toast the rice, and the broth slowly until it absorbs one ladle at a time, and then nacre it (a fancy word for finish with butter) at the end.

I had to do something special for Jeff, he’s a special guy!

Serves approximately 4
5 cups chicken stock - simmering
2 tablespoons oil
1 garlic clove crushed
1 leek, white part only sliced
1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
To make the risotto
Heat the oil and garlic in a large heavy based sauce pan, add the leek, and fennel – cook over medium heat until slightly browned.  Add the rice and stir for approximately 3 minutes, until translucent and smells kinda like popcorn.
Add the stock 1 cup at a time and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding liquid ½ cup at a time until all the stock has been incorporated, and the rice is al dente.  This will take about 30 – 40 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.  Let cool slightly.
Note:  you may omit the fennel and the leek and use a medium white onion.  Risotto is very versatile, you can add mushrooms, asparagus, almost any vegetable about 5 minutes before it is done!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Metro Health Farmers Market

Opening day at Metro Health Farm Market
Center of the market, what a gorgeous day!


I love this market!  It’s close to home (I could walk, but this trip I didn’t!), they have lovely vendors, it’s not too big or crowded (yet), and it has really nice vendors! 

Last year I got to share the market with my mom several times, she’s 87 now and living in Florida with my older sister.  This visit, I really missed her, she grew up on a farm, and did organic gardening, before it was a “hip” term!  I remember the cow manure coming to the house on Groveland Ave, and it stunk up the whole neighborhood.  We forgot about it as kids, when we got to harvest all of the veggies.  More times than not, lots of it went into our mouths and not into the baskets and bags for dinner!  We didn’t worry about germs, dirt and bugs (well that’s not true; we all hated the bugs, except for my sister Sue!)

My mom would talk with the vendors, and taste a bit, and if I was lucky let me buy a few goodies for her. 


This year I went to scope it out on opening day – just to see what’s there, and I had the day off!  It’s going to be another great market!  I love the honey, and oils, and fresh veggies!  Little kids running around, and this year there was live music!  And I knew the song the guitarist was singing, The Tennessee Waltz!  I’m sure not to many of you know that song! 

I was looking at all of the hanging baskets, and fresh herb plants!  Oh how I wanted some, but I haven’t really planned out my garden space yet, this weekend I will and then – watch out, I’ll be buying some!


If you get a chance, check out your local farmers markets!  There are lots of them around town now, and nothing beats knowing where you’re food came from and talking with people who lovingly grew, gathered, picked and harvested your food.



Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco De Mayo 2013

Cinco De Mayo


Yesterday I taught a class in “Mexican” Cuisine in honor of Cinco De Mayo.   Really, I thought it was an Independence day celebration, but when I researched the day, it’s in remembrance of The Day of the Battle of Puebla  which occurred in 1862.   This was a battle of Mexican’s unlikely victory over French forces!  Mexican’s “independence day” is actually celebrated on September 16th!


Needless to say, some of you know that I am polish by heritage, and I love Mexican food.  I went to some true sources; recipes that my friend from culinary school Juan Carlos has given me, Patty’s Mexican Table, and my all time favorite Rick Bayless.  I always give credit where credit is due!


If you haven’t been a regular of my classes at Spartan Stores, you should!  The students start scoping out the recipes early, in search of what they may want to try making. Everyone gets to taste all of the recipes, and bring a packet of recipes home with them, sometimes we even have leftovers!  The experience allows you to taste recipes, well frankly, that you may not have thought of before! 


The day’s recipes were, well rather aggressive for the time period.  A class generally is 3 hours long, including the best part, the tasting!  We had lots of chicken and pork shoulder to cook, and some short cuts were taken!  We also tried our hands on two different tamales, and well – we surprised ourselves with the results!  They were rather tasty.


One of my favorites is the cold Chicken and Avocado Salad with Chipotle Chile.  Long title, but a wonderful salad and I hope that you get an opportunity to try it sometime soon!


Cold Chicken and Avocado Salad with Chipotle Chile

Pollo, Aguacate y Chile Chipotle en Frio

Yield: about 3 1/2 cups, enough for 12 tacos, serving 4 as a light main course

The chicken for this salad can be prepared 1 or 2 days in advance and then mixed with the dressing just before serving. Great for a summer picnic.


Also, buy the chicken “pre-cooked”  a roasting chicken from the store is a great way to save some time!  This can be served as a salad, or as a filling for tacos!


1 chicken leg-and-thigh quarter or 1 large breast half
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 small (about 6 ounces total) boiling potatoes like the red-skinned ones, halved
2 medium (about 6 ounces total) carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 canned chiles chipotles, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 small onion, finely diced
4 large romaine lettuce leaves, sliced in 3/8-inch strips, plus several whole leaves for garnish
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 slice of onion, broken into rings, for garnish


1. The chicken mixture. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan, add the chicken and salt, skim off the foam that rises as the water returns to a boil, partially cover and simmer over medium heat—23 minutes for the dark meat, 13 minutes for the breast. If there is time, cool the chicken in the broth.

Boil the potatoes and carrots in salted water to cover until they are just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Rinse for a moment under cold water, strip off the potato skins, if you wish, then cut the potatoes and carrots into 3/8-inch dice. Place in a large mixing bowl.

Skin and bone the chicken, then tear the meat into large shreds and add to the potatoes. Skim off all the fat on top of the broth, then measure 3 tablespoons of broth into a small bowl. Stir in the vinegar, oregano and salt. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and add the sliced chiles chipotles and chopped onion. Stir, cover and let stand for 45 minutes, refrigerated or at room temperature.

2. Finishing the dish. Shortly before serving, mix the sliced lettuce and diced avocado into the chicken mixture. Drizzle with oil and toss lightly. Taste for salt. Line a serving platter with the remaining romaine leaves and pile on the chicken mixture. Decorate with the onion rings and serve.

Chiles Chipotles: In Mexico City, dishes like this often utilize pickled (not adobo-packed) chipotles. Without any chipotles at all, this dish loses many of its special qualities, though a nice salad can be made using pickled jalapeƱos and chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), if desired.

Timing and Advance Preparation
The active preparation time is less than 45 minutes, though you’ll need to start a couple of hours before serving. The chicken mixture can marinate overnight, covered and refrigerated; complete the final dressing within 15 minutes of serving.