Category Archives: panko

Crispy Chicken w/ Avocado-Berry Salsa


Its strawberry season here in Belgium and I’m loving it. Thanks to globalization it is now possible to find fresh strawberries year around but nothing tastes better than a fresh local berry. Belgian strawberries are slightly smaller than their imported counterparts and when ripe, are a deeper red color. They are also sweeter. I buy them every chance I can get and they are so good it is hard to make it home with them. But when I do, I try to incorporate them into as many dishes as I can.

This fruit salsa is refreshing and flavorful and is the perfect topping for cripsy panko coated chicken breasts. Of course the strawberries play a leading role in the salsa but I’ve also added avocado, blueberries and pineapple to the mix. Be sure that your avocado is ripe and use whatever fresh fruits you have available. The jalapeno and the cilantro add a bit of heat and spice to the sweetness of the fruits. Regular breadcrumbs may be substituted for the panko but using the later will result in crispier chicken.


1 ripe avocado, diced

1 cup strawberries, diced

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced

Juice of 1 lime

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oll, divided

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin

1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

1 cup panko crumbs

  • To make the salsa, combined the avocado, fruits, lime juice, jalapeno and cilantro in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle with the salt, toss well and allow to sit while you make the chicken.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Place the seasoned flour in a shallow dish, the egg mixture in another dish and the panko crumbs in a third dish.
  • Dredge the chicken first in the flour mixture followed by the egg mixture and finally the panko crumbs, ensuring that all sides of the chicken are covered with all of the mixtures.
  • Place two of the chicken breasts in the hot skillet and saute until crispy and browned, about 4 minutes.
  • Flip the chicken over and cook for an addition 3 to 4 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. The length of cooking time will depend upon the thickness of the breasts.
  • Add the remaining oil to the skillet and once it is hot, cook the remaining chicken breasts.
  • Serve immediately topped with the avocado-berry salsa.

Serves 4

Japanese Fried Chicken


It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion.  If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This recipe comes from Cuisine at Home magazine but I’ve adapted to the ingredients I have on hand.  I’ve substituted Chinese rice wine for the mirin called for the in the original recipe and in order to save time I’ve used chicken breast filets instead of buying whole chicken breasts and slicing and pounding them.  If you can’t find filets just buy whole chicken breasts and slice them in half then use a meat mallet to ensure they are of an even thickness. The panko gives the chicken a crunch that holds up to the sauce.  I like to serve the chicken over a bed of rice and use whatever kind I have on hand.  The results?  Every bit of dinner gets eaten.  Now that’s a great way to end a long week.


For the sauce:

2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups sliced onion

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup Chinese rice wine

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Black pepper to taste

  • Simmer the broth, onion, soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, and pepper flakes in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-low heat.
  • Cook until the onions are soft, approximately 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and black pepper and keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

For the chicken:

8 thin chicken breast filets or 2 whole chicken breasts sliced in half and pounded thin

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 eggs

1 tablespoon water

2 cups panko bread crumbs

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • Combine the flour, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a shallow dish.
  • Whisk the eggs and water together in a second shallow dish.
  • Place the panko bread crumbs in a third shallow dish.
  • Coat the cutlets on both sides with the flour mixture then dip in the egg mixture.  All the excess egg to drip off of the chicken.
  • Place the chicken in the dish with the panko crumbs and coat thoroughly.
  • Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Fry the cutlets in two batches, adding more oil as needed, until thoroughly cooked on both sides, adjusting the heat as necessary.
  • Slice the cutlets into strips and serve over a bed of rice with the soy-onion sauce.

Serves:  4


Panko Cookies


I’ve always thought of panko crumbs as a savory ingredient. After all, these crispy Japanese bread crumbs are the perfect coating for crispy fried and baked meats. I never gave them must thought beyond this until I stumbled across this recipe from the Noble Pig food blog. At first I dismissed the recipe but when I looked at it again I figured why not? After all I’m a huge fan of combining sweet and savory, I like panko and I’ve never encountered a Noble Pig recipe that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. So I gave it a shot and am so glad I did.

The ingredient list and method reminded me of Mexican wedding cookies. Rich in butter with just a few other ingredients–in this case the panko crumbs were substituted for the traditional ground nuts– the dough came together in a matter of minutes and because it didn’t need to chill before baking, your cookies are done in no time. And the taste? My family agreed that they did indeed taste like the afore mentioned wedding cookies but with a slightly moister and lighter texture. The verdict was that these are definite keepers. So much so that I immediately made a second batch to be brought into the office.


1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

2 cups of sifted powdered sugar for coating

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and panko, on low speed until blended.
  • Scoop the dough onto the prepared tray (use a one ounce ice cream scoop). Press down slightly on the dough to flatten it to about 1/2 inch tall. Bake for 7 minutes, rotate, and then bake 7 to 8 minutes more or until bottoms of cookies are slightly browned.
  • Cool 10 minutes on baking sheet. Roll warm cookies in the powdered sugar until evenly coated. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before tossing again in the powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Yields 10 cookies

Sesame Crusted Chicken Cutlets w/ Vietnamese Caramel Sauce


Chicken cutlets are a hurried cook’s best friend. They cook up quickly, are versatile, and can serve as a blank palate for whatever flavors you want to add. But the biggest danger to cooking thin filets is over cooking them; in a matter of seconds they can go from perfectly cooked to over done leaving you with meat that is dry and rubbery.

So how do you make sure your filets are perfectly cooked? I like to bread mine with a crispy coating first which helps seal in the juices. This recipe, from Cuisine at Home, yields perfectly cooked chicken cutlets that are crispy, juicing and thanks to the spicy caramel sauce that accompanies them, full of flavor. The triple coating of bread, egg and panko crumbs infused with toasty sesame seeds results in a delicious outer layer that seals in all of the juices. You can make the caramel sauce while the chicken cooks, leaving in the solids as I do or straining them out if you prefer a smooth sauce. I like to keep them in because they add texture and interest. Either way, your results are sure to please. Serve the chicken alongside rice or noodles so you can enjoy every last drop of the caramel sauce.


For the chicken:

4- 3 ounce chicken filets

1 1/2 cup panko crumbs

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 egg

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

For the sauce:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced

1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

  • Combine the panko crumbs and sesame seeds in a shallow dish.
  • Beat the egg in a separate shallow dish.
  • In a third shallow dish combine the flour, salt and pepper.
  • Dredge a chicken filet in the flour mixture then dip it into the beaten egg before coating with the panko mixture. Set aside on a plate and repeat.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  • Add the chicken filets and cook, flipping once, until brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  • While the chicken is cooking, place the sugar in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, cook the sugar until it has melted and is light brown in color.
  • Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce and fish sauce in a small bowl then whisk it into the melted sugar.
  • Stir in the shallots, garlic, ginger and serrano chile.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until thicken and reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  • Serve the sauce over the chicken.

Serves 4

Crunchy Lemonade Drumsticks

photo 2-262

These tasty chicken drumsticks from The Noble Pig take some advanced planning and are a bit messy to make (envision hands covered in mayonnaise) but they are so worth the effort. The chicken marinates overnight in a buttermilk and lemon juice mixture ensuring that the chicken is super moist and flavorful. When combined with the crunchy panko and lemon zest coating this chicken is phenomenal. Yum.


3 tablespoons grated lemon zest, divided

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/3 cup buttermilk

4 pounds skin on chicken drumsticks

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoons dried thyme

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Miracle Whip)

  • Combine 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and the lemon juice in a large resealable plastic container.
  • Add 1 cup of water and the brown sugar and whisk to dissolve then add in the buttermilk.
  • Pierce the chicken drumsticks all over with a fork then submerge them in the buttermilk mixture.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place the panko, thyme, 2 tablespoons of lemon zest, cayenne, salt and pepper in a large plastic Ziploc bag and shake to mix.
  • Place the mayonnaise in a small bowl.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and slather the mayonnaise on the chicken then add to the panko filled bag. You may need to do this is batches.
  • Thoroughly coat the chicken with the panko crumbs then place on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Flip over and bake until browned and crisp, an additional 35 to 40 minutes.

Serves 8


Chicken Avocado BLT Salad


Here is a substantial salad idea from Cooking Light magazine that is a dinner entrée unto itself. It is essentially a deconstructed bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich and the recipe is more of a suggested method rather than set in stone instructions. The addition of chicken and avocado make it more satisfying with or without a side of bread. (I served the salads with slices of hot garlic bread). Not only is this salad easy to make it is easy to customize dinner to meet everyone’s culinary preferences. The chicken can be served hot or cold; you could use leftover rotisserie chicken. You can also add additional toppings to make it your own; Kalamata olives or even cucumber chips would also be nice. The herbed buttermilk dressing is a nice touch but you can use other herbs depending on your likes and what you have on hand. It is really that easy.

If you want to be particularly decadent, when cooking the chicken omit the olive oil and use 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings to pan sear the chicken breasts before placing them in the oven. Cooking Light most definitely wouldn’t approve but this cook certainly does.


1 cup buttermilk, divided

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

3/4 cup panko crumbs

4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 head iceberg lettuce, cored and cut into 6 wedges

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into slices

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

3 ounces crumbled blue cheese

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Combine 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and the egg white in a shallow dish. Place the panko crumbs in a separate shallow dish.
  • Dip the chicken into the egg white mixture then dredge in panko.
  • Sprinkle the chicken breasts with half of the salt and half of the pepper.
  • Heat a ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat.
  • Place the chicken in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes per side.
  • Move the skillet to the oven and bake for 14 minutes or until done.
  • Let the chicken stand for 10 minute then slice crosswise.
  • Combine the remaining buttermilk, the remaining pepper, mayonnaise, dill and vinegar in a small bowl.
  • Place the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Chop the garlic until a paste forms, scraping with the flat side of a knife to mash it into a paste. Add to the dressing and stir well to combine.
  • Place the lettuce wedges on 6 plates. Evenly divide the chicken, avocado, and tomatoes over the top of each piece of lettuce. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the blue cheese and crumbled bacon.

Serves 6


Fennel Au Gratin

photo 1-51

Fennel.  It’s the often ignored or misunderstood vegetable with the subtle anise flavor.  It is readily available throughout markets in Europe but seems to be more difficult to find in the U.S.  People seem to either love it, hate it, or have never tried it.  I fall into the first category and am always on the lookout for new ways to use the crunchy vegetable.  If you want to introduce fennel to the uninitiated, try this creamy gratin dish adapted from Fine Cooking magazine.  Roasting the fennel first makes it mild and sweet and any vegetable that is covered in cream and bread crumbs that baked converts even the most anti-vegetable person into a fan.

Try this as a side dish to accompany grilled rib eye steaks with a compound bacon blue cheese butter.  Yum!


3 tablespoons butter

4 medium-sized fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch pieces

1/4 cup finely chopped fennel fronds

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 cups panko crumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 cup heavy cream

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Preheat an oven to 425 degree.  Lightly coat a rimmed 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • On a large rimmed baking sheet, combine the fennel with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the vinegar, salt and pepper.  Spread into a single layer and roast in the oven until golden brown,  for approximately 30 minutes.  Stir the mixture once or twice during the baking time.
  • After the fennel has roasted, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Spread the fennel evenly along the bottom of the prepared casserole dish.
  • In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and the remaining olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally,  until golden, 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the sherry to the skillet and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck on the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook until the liquid has evaporated then stir in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of fennel fronds.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat then simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaves from the pan and pour the onion and cream mixture over the top of the fennel.
  • Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl in the microwave.  Add the panko crumbs, grated parmesan cheese, and remaining fennel fronds.  Toss gently to combine.
  • Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the fennel, onions, and cream.
  • Bake, uncovered, in the oven until the fennel is tender and the panko crumbs have browned, approximately 30 minutes.
  • Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8-10

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