Have you met my mom?
If you’re an actor in the Twin Cities, she’s probably dressed you, beautifully and carefully in costumes that helped you fully realize the physicality of your character. If you’re a St. Kate’s graduate, she might have mentored you and helped you find your way into adulthood. If you’re a ballroom dancer, you might have once shared a waltz with her at the Dancer’s Studio weekly dance party. In the unlikely event that you’ve been incarcerated, she might have taught you to quilt on one of the many Sunday afternoons she’s volunteered at the women’s correctional facility in Shakopee. And if you’ve been to her place for dinner, you’ve had an incredible meal shared with good friends, along with music, wine, fascinating conversation, echoing laughter, and a lapful of love from her cat, Pablo.
When she came to my house for her birthday dinner last month, I wanted to prepare an extra special meal, to return the kindness of many such dinners and thank her for setting such a powerful, compassionate, creative example for me to follow. Also, cooking for people is how I love them.
So I topped a creamy lemon risotto with Mom’s favorite—seared scallops. The luxurious risotto is somehow light, with a pop of freshness from lemon and Italian parsley. I served it alongside a fig, burrata, and prosciutto salad with balsamic vinaigrette (recipe to come!), and followed it with mini flourless chocolate cakes topped with a blackberry and red wine reduction.
Happy Birthday, Mama!
The good news is my little show opens in less than two weeks and we’re right on track. The bad news is my little show opens in less than two weeks and I’m plagued with the world’s worst chest cough. For better or for worse, I’ll soon be standing in front of hundreds of people at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis, and I’m hoping with all I’m worth that I won’t be up there honking like an agitated goose.
Thank goodness for Air Supply’s Greatest Hits to ease my anxiety.
I’m comforted, too, by the memory of the last meal I prepared for Mom and Handsome Greg that I truly tasted—Crab Cakes with Orange Aioli—before cough drops became my primary source of sustenance and “mentholyptus” killed my taste buds. The crab cakes were exceptionally crabby—you could easily add more breadcrumbs and make more cakes. They were moist and flavorful with a crispy, golden crust, and the accompanying dip was a perfect balance of creamy mayo, pungent garlic, and bright, fresh orange zest.
Most of the year, I really appreciate the giant, south-facing windows in each room of my apartment. Particularly in wintertime as the sun rises and paints my buttery yellow walls with a gentle glow, I’m thankful that my odd-numbered apartment placed me on the south side of the building.
In July, however, those same windows with tightly sealed blinds conceal an indoor climate of roughly 8 berzillion degrees with a dew point of oh-my-god-my-hair-is-still-wet-three-hours-after-washing-it. I can’t believe I’m talking about the weather, but what the fork? It’s hot.
So hot. Only my lemon understands.
And that’s not just my garbage-crap excuse for failing to post a new recipe for nearly a month. It’s also my garbage-crap excuse for failing to cook anything blog-worthy for nearly a month. I’m smack-dab in the center of my annual mid-summer meal slump. I don’t really feel like cooking and nothing sounds good to me except salads and sandwiches.
So I was shocked—shocked—when I found myself craving pasta. In JULY. One steamy afternoon, I imagined twirling my fork in a mess of spaghetti, and I just had to make a light, sunshiny, quick and easy, pasta dinner. This lemon pesto capellini with shrimp is the perfect combination of bright, summer flavors, tender-toothsome textures, and crave-busting carbs.
Continue reading for the Lemon Pesto Pasta with Shrimp recipe
In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.
What can I possibly say about the tuna melt on rye that hasn’t already been said? It’s a classic, and I saw no reason to mess around with it. Creamy tuna salad and gooey American cheese on hearty, fragrant caraway rye is perfect, just the way it is.
Do you want the good news or the bad news?
The good news is my little theater company won a spot in the Minnesota Fringe Festival again this year! We’ve got a great show in the works – a musical revue of songs about growing up.
The bad news is we may not be able to do the show at all. Normally I fund the show myself out of my sorry-ass checking account. Times being the way they are, that’s not a possibility this year. My theatrical co-conspirators and I are planning to put up a fund-raising page on Kickstarter.com, and hopefully we’ll be able to raise the money we need by the Fringe withdrawal deadline in mid-March.
And so, in the coming months you might find cheap and easy casseroles and sandwiches in my galley kitchen as I prepare and scrimp and save for the festival. Hopefully this beautiful and elegant appetizer recipe will tide you over until I can get back to cooking hard-core.
This scallop dish started off the final schmancy-town dinner I made for Mom and Handsome Greg before I threw myself into Fringe last year. Wonton skins are fried and shaped into crispy bowls to carry the seared scallops and spicy-sweet pineapple and cucumber salsa.
Continue reading for the Scallops with Pineapple and Cucumber Salsa recipe
On a Saturday evening every other month, Mom and Handsome Greg come to my place for a leisurely, candlelit dinner. I spend weeks preparing the menu, and developing and testing recipes. But despite my careful, down-to-the-minute scheduling of the shopping, cleaning, and food prep, when Mom and Greg arrive at Chez Galley Kitchen, I am generally rushing around in a mad panic to get the food done on time. Handsome Greg (who incidentally towers over me at nearly 6’4”) kindly offers to help, and is subsequently banished from my wee kitchen to open the wine and set the table.
One day I will learn my lesson. I will plan menus that aren’t needlessly complicated with too many dishes that require last-minute, pre-dinner devotion. I will have food on the table when my guests arrive, and I will feel like a grown-up or a superhero or Katie Couric. And when that day comes, the meal will begin with an easy, make-ahead appetizer, like a hearty, palette-pleasing spread.
This creamy, crabby, cheesy dip gets the party started with a nostalgic nod to 70s swank. I’d never had canned crab before and wasn’t sure what to expect (foodies talk some serious smack about canned crab), but it was delicious! It didn’t taste “canned” at all. With all the creamy, cheesy, mayo-y ingredients, I was a little nervous the dip would come out of the oven with an oil slick on top, so I used the light versions of the dairy and mayo, and the consistency was plenty decadent without being greasy.
Continue reading for the Crab and Artichoke Dip recipe
Last week, Minnesotans enjoyed a warm and sunny, puddly teaser thaw, and it seemed spring was just around the corner. Sadly, winter made an all-star comeback this morning, and the icy Minnesota wind that chapped my ears as I left for work sounded especially smug.
"Corn ... Nuts!"
I’m still pouting over my not-trip to Mexico, so I’m sharing another not-authentic Mexican recipe. These delightfully spicy and crunchy fish tacos look winter square in the face and say, “BITE ME.”
As much as I love batter fried fish (fish and chips, like, woah), I don’t really like deep frying in my kitchen.
Or, more accurately, I don’t like cleaning up the mess left by deep frying in my kitchen. So rather than dragging out the kitchen kettle and dealing with all that oil, I marinated the fish and grilled it on my little electric grill.
I made a cucumber salad instead of the more traditional cabbage slaw, but that left me with a pretty soft, squishy taco.
So I took a little inspiration from Heathers, and added a handful of Corn Nuts for some crunch. I drizzled the top with a spicy and tangy sriracha dressing, and saved the leftover dressing to use as a dip for tater tots, à la the Bulldog.
Recipe below the fold