Sunday, June 3, 2007

My Favorite Places to Eat

On Friday night, TheManoftheHouse asked me if I'd like to go to The Big City on Saturday. We had a fun day, with just one annoying moment. For some reason, he decided to inform me that, with the boys soon out of college, we should think about downsizing.

We have several friends who are beginning their downsizing. But, I've never understood this concept. Just because the kids are gone, doesn't mean you don't need the space. I want space so the kids will want to bring their kids back home. And we can have big family dinners. And if TheManoftheHouse is bugging me, I can hide out somewhere.

So, after a little thought, I told him I had a downsizing plan for him. He'll be the first thing to go. He wasn't amused. It's such a burden to have to slap him back into reality sometimes. And he's burdened by the fact that his wife is a smart arse. Oh well...there'll be no more talk of downsizing, if you know what's good for you. ThankYouVeryMuch.

Now....on to the purpose of this post! KBG has tagged me to list my 5 favorite restaurants where I live. Please keep in mind that she said I can cheat:

1. Hands down, my favorite place in Ft. Wayne, IN is Asakusa -- a little hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant and sushi bar. Not that I'm a big sushi eater, but I LUV their Teriyaki dishes. I found out about Asakusa from our customers who visit us from New Jersey. They insist on eating at Asukusa whenever they come to town. And rumor has it that our corporate goobers in Boston make up excuses to visit us, just so they can eat at Asakusa too.

2. Next would be the Casa chain of locally owned Italian restaurants. The afore-mentioned NJ customers claim it isn't that great (and being from Soprano-land, I suppose they would know), but it's better than the big chains and it's what we have.

Now, here's where I start to cheat. I've seen these posts on other blogs, and a lot of them mention high-end restaurants. We have some really good high-end restaurants here, but we rarely frequent them. I'm just too practical. Think how much fabric you can buy for the cost of one good high-end meal! So...

3. Das Essen Haus in Middlebury, IN. This is an Amish-style restaurant where you can eat family style or order off of a menu. It's not that the food is incredible (although, it is good), but if you tell me I'm eating at Das Essen Haus, I start salivating, 'cause that means I'll be visiting the nearby quilt shops in Shipshewana, IN. (Someday, that will be a separate post!)

4. MeMum's. Sorry, I know this isn't a restaurant, but I love to eat at MeMum's. She's a fabulous cook.

5. Now, for some, this one will be boring. A big chain. While in The Big City last night, we ate at Cheesecake Factory. (At least some of you have a chance of being able to eat at this restaurant -- 'cause what are the chances that you'll be eating at any of my previous 4 -- northern Indiana isn't exactly a tourist mecca!) Almost everything on Cheesecake's menu is appealing to me. Especially the cheesecakes -- duh! My very favorite dish is Madeira Chicken. And fortunately, since Cheesecake is a 90 minute drive from where we live, I was able to find a knock-off version of this recipe on the internet. I have made this recipe and it's a dead ringer for the original. Here's a very unappetizing picture, but trust me, it's delicious! (Kim -- really, I know it has mashed potatoes, but it's fabulous. If you must, give the potatoes to the kids!)

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Madeira

1 T olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
8 asparagus spears
4 mozzarella cheese slices
Madeira Sauce:
2 T. olive oil
2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
3 c. madeira wine
2 c. beef stock
1 T. butter
1/4 t. ground black pepper
(And here, I have a handwritten note, to add a little cornstarch to the sauce to thicken it up a little.)

1. Heat up 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover each chicken breast with plastic wrap, then use a mallet to flatten the chicken to about 1/4-in. thick. sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper.
2. Saute the chicken fillets for 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until the chicken has browned just a bit. Remove chicken fillets from the pan and wrap them together in foil to keep the fillets warm while you make the sauce. Don't clean the pan. You want all that cooked-on goodness to stay in the skillet to help make the sauce.
3. With the heat still on medium, add 2 T. of oil to the skillet. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the madiera wine, beef stock, butter and pepper. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until sauce has reduced to about 1/4 of its original volume. When the sauce is done, it will have thickened and turned a dark brown color.
4. As the sauce is simmering, bring a medium saucepan filled about halfway with water to a boil. Add a little salt to the water. Toss the asparagus into the water and boil for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus spears. Drop the asparagus in a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking. The asparagus should be slightly tender when done, not mushy.
5. Set oven to broil. Prepare the dish by arranging the cooked chicken fillets on a baking pan. Cross two asparagus spears over each fillet, then cover each with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Broil the fillets for 3 to 4 minutes or until light brown spots begin to appear on the cheese.
6. To serve, arrange two chicken breasts on each plate, then spoon 3 or 4 T of madeira sauce over the chicken on each plate. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Of course, if you make this dish, you'll have to make cheesecake to go along with it!

Oh P.S.! Who to tag: How 'bout everyone who commented on the last post 'cause it makes for great diversity! That's Nicole from the west coast (who has potentially already done this?), Rohanknitter from the Heartland, Jade in Australia, and two girls from the UK: Lucy Locket and Kim, who is sure to include pubs with mashed potatoes! Also, a little boomerang tag for KBG, since you taught me how to cheat, could you give an example of a typical Ukrainian meal eaten at a local restaurant?


Anonymous said...

It's fun to hear about your local restaurants, Anna. My favorite places are also quite local and one of a kind.


meggie said...

What a fun post. I loved the bit about the downsizing!

dizzyjadey said...

LOL! Bet the husband didn't think about grandkiddos when he thought about the downsizing.

And thanks for tagging me....have to say Cheesecake Factory is one of the best, so agree with you there. When we went to Hawaii a few years ago, we ate dinner there at least four times!

KBG said...

I, too, am a CF fan. Yummy, yummy, goodness. Maybe one day I should post my cheesecake recipe. Hmmm, should get around to that. Maybe I'll have to somneday visit nothern IN and eat at some of these delish places!

Juliann in WA said...

I loved your comments about downsizing. I have been amazed at my friends who are ready to move to smaller digs when the kids go off to college but I want mine to come home to visit. And I am loving the space - it lives differenly when there are fewer to fill it.

rohanknitter said...

I love Shipshewana - haven't been there in years though. Guess where I was yesterday - right in your neck of the woods. We were there just for the afternoon to attend a nephew's graduation party. We were in the car longer than at the party but that's ok.

rohanknitter said...

I will do my list soon!

Lucy said...

Hello Thimbleanna!
Thanks for visiting mine; I like yours and I'm going to try that chicken madeira now the asparagus is coming into season, it's good to have a new idea for it!

Ragged Roses said...

You're a very naughty woman. I was just enjoying your post and you did it to me again - with pictures this time!!!! Yes I go to pubs that serve mashed potatoes and yes I have to look away quckly! Am I officially tagged then?
Kim x
PS guess what my youngest asked to have for supper on Monday!

Glenna said...

I loved your account of restaurants (and I love Indianapolis, although I haven't been there for years--now that I have the restaurants, could you do a run-down on antique/kitchen/misc. shops as well?--LOL).
I enjoyed the downsizing comment also; although we are in our early 50s, we recently moved into a 5 br 4,000 sq. ft. house (and we have no children and no grandkids either). Our neighbors think we're the weirdest things walking the planet; they sent a representative over to find out just what we were thinking (and the question was put quite boldly; they said "WE want to downsize as soon as the kids move out. WHAT are you thinking?" But I'm loving every square inch of it and every last blade of grass and every pebble and earthworm in my garden. I'll downsize when I'm too feeble to walk up the hill and not before! I don't care that it's technically too large to clean in a weekend, I don't care that the mortgage is three times what our old one was, and I don't care that the neighbors just about make twirly motions around their heads and laugh at us for planting a FOOD garden in the middle of suburbia.

de vliegende koe said...

A rather late comment on a wonderful post. I have laughed my head off about the downsizing issue!