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Monday, March 31, 2008

What Your Kitchen Ingredients Say About You

What are the top cooking ingredients that you have in your kitchen? The staples. The have-tos. Hubby informed me the other night that these are mine:

1. Orange juice (it goes in everything!)
2. Balsamic vinegar
3. Brown sugar
4. Red chili flakes
5. Fresh cracked black pepper
6. Garlic

And that's a perfect introduction to a recent meal that, I must say, was absolutely delicious. Again, I'm really into the art of cooking, not so much the science. So don't get caught up in the minute measurements or exactly how much of anything is required. Make it your own. Revise and revamp to create your own culinary delight!

Pan Fried Chicken with White Wine, Apples, Onions, and Tomatoes

Soak boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use tenderloins) in white wine, garlic, pepper, salt for an hour or two. Bread in seasoned flour and pan fry in medium hot skillet with olive oil until browned nicely on both sides. Add chopped apple, onion, and canned or fresh diced tomatoes along with more white wine, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower to simmer until it's all cooked...maybe 30-45 minutes. I served this alongside Trader Joe's Multigrain Pilaf which, if you haven't tried it, is amazingly good in flavor and full of protein and fiber. It's microwavable in 2 minutes. I served it alongside:

Crispy Baked Asparagus Spears

Add flour, seasoned bread crumbs, dash of cayenne pepper, season salt, garlic powder to a bowl. Spray asparagus spears with olive oil, roll in flour mixture and place on greased foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 or so for around 20 minutes, until tender. If more crisping/browning is needed, you may need to broil just for a minute to make them nice and brown.

It was one fantastic meal, if you don't mind my saying so. And I'm all about good food outside of mainstream, chain restaurants. If we get the chance to hit up our local mom and pop restaurant, we do it. We are less and less about national chains. Overpriced and mediocre, at best. Why waste your money?


Anonymous said...

Now that I'm cooking more frequently, one of the recent styles I really, really like is a balsamic glaze (or reduction, I guess) which often contain 2,3,5,and 6 from your list (and other stuff). I've also had a citrus-balsamic glaze which I figure contains #1). It seems to really stand out best with steak-style fish, like Tuna or Salmon.

Stash said...

That's easy.

1. Extra-virgin olive oil.
2. Fresh herbs.
3. Fresh vegetables, in season.
4. Garlic and onion.
5. Chicken stock and fish fumet, preferably homemade.
6. Good cheese, not the pre-packaged or pre-grated kind, or heaven help me, the type that comes in a can.
7. Good olives, not the ones with pits removed or (*gag*) pimentos stuffed inside.
8. Good bread. If you can't make your own, a baguette will do nicely.
9. Good butter. Preferably unsalted and not the usual crap that you find in supermarkets.
10. Wine. The rule is if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it.


TJ said...

Staples in our kitchen include sea salt. black, pink, green and white peppercorns mixed, a variety of infused balsamic vinegars (current favourites, a locally produced strawberry balsamic and an imported black maple infused balsamic from Canada). We also always have a variety of locally produced dairy products especially cheeses from King Island and Bruny Island, locally grown salmon and last but not least all locally grown seasonal produce, currently it's apples and grapes.

Laurie said...

I'm coming over for dinner. Get
those undies on!

Thanks for the support.


Anonymous said...

I've not been hungry for quite sometime and this sounds good! Hopefully, I'll be back in a kitchen soon and able to try it out.

Lemuel said...

Those asparagus spears sound delicious (so does the chicken), but I loves me some fresh asparagus.

Keith said...

My kitchen is a little like yours. I also can't do without orange juice (or lemon juice, or lime juice, or grapefruit juice) and cracked black pepper. I CAN do without the garlic, though. I never used to have anything against garlic; then I lived with someone who ate it raw and used way, way, way too much of it, and now I just don't want to be around it anymore.

Otherwise, I must have:

Extra-virgin olive oil.
Fresh parsley.
Thyme, for fish.
Basil, for most meats.
Coarse nutmeg in self-grinder bottle (if I can't find whole nutmegs).

And curry powder. If you make a mistake with anything else, you can usually cover it up with curry powder! : )

Sorted Lives said...

I have had asparagus served that way at a restaurant in town -- it was the bomb!

Palm Springs Savant said...

Amen to that! Aside from buying mostly organic foods these days, I tend to cook lots more fish- particularly salmon, which I either grill or bake with lemon, rosemary and a little ginger sometimes too

Anonymous said...

A very delicious sounding recipe for both. Staples for me include parsley, garlic, cayenne, and kosher salt.

WAT said...

Orange juice goes in everything? Hmmm...

You kinky devil! ;)

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

I occasionally amuse myself by wondering what ten ingredients that I'd take to a desert island, but, really, I'm just grateful that I don't have to limit myself to ten.

I have a salad with dinner almost every night, and it almost always contains avocado since you can always find good ones at Costco. And I always dress it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coarse freshly ground pepper and some pink salt that I got as a souvenir the last time I was in New York.

Other than that, I probably couldn't live without lentils, onions, garlic, lemons, olives, smoked paprika, and butter.

Now I'm hungry.

dit said...

WOW! Sounds yummy! I completely agree about the big chain places. In LA, we have so many privately owned eateries, thank goodness for diversity.

wep601 said...

Garlic, for sure
black pepper

Billy said...

Good choices!

My list would include:

- Cold Pressed Extra - Virgin Olive Oil,
- Balsamic,
- Black Pepper - freshly ground,
- Sea salt,
- Lemons & limes,
- Garlic & Red Onions,
- Fresh Herbs,
- Coconut Milk - fell in love here in East Africa,
- Chilli of any kind,
- Butter,
- Plain Yogurt,
- Tomatoes (Tinned and Fresh),
- Fresh fruit of any kind!

(He wonders deep inside why he has this little tube around his middle...)

Cooper said...

Those recipes sound fantastic! I'm having a guest for dinner this Saturday. I think I might just make them both. Your kitchen staples would make an interesting salad dressing. My own staples:

1. Maple syrup
3. Garlic
4. Tomatoes
5. Butter
6. Extra virgin olive oil
7. Aged cheddar cheese
8. Peanutbutter
9. Goldfish crackers

Thom said...

Numbers 2, 4, 5, and 6 are staples for me, too, plus olive oil.

These two recipes sound great. I'm definitely going to give them a try.

LSL said...

I'm going to use these! Thanks, Lewis.

Nathan Garvison said...

YUMMEH! i have to come to your house for dinner some time! That sounds like fun! Ciao, Nate.

Ur-spo said...

bravo for the balsmic vinegar and the peppercorns
My list is similar - the red pepper flakes we get from Santa Fe, hand picked at 3am but organic native americans or something like that.