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!
My dear, imaginary internet friends, I have a confession to make. I’ve lured you here under false pretenses. Yes, I will eventually get to the velvety dumplings I promised you, and yes, you could just scroll down to the recipe. But I hope you’ll read my shameless plug first.
When I’m not cooking up fabulous dishes in my kitchen, I’m cooking up fabulous musicals for the stage. I work with a small theater company in the Twin Cities and we’re creating a new show all about growing up called Are You There, God? It’s a New Musical Revue! The show, inspired by Judy Blume and other YA fiction, will premiere at the Minnesota Fringe Festival in August.
And we’re raising funds via Kickstarter to offset the production costs. If you’d like to make a donation—even $5 will help—I’d be incredibly grateful. If you’re unable to make a donation, but you’d like to support the show, please pass along a link to your blog readers, your Facebook friends, your Twitter followers, your barista…anyone you think might be interested in supporting our show.
The Ugly Dumpling
I’ve been working on this show for the past decade, and it’s truly a labor of love. And I’d love it if you played a part in it.
And now for the recipe I promised. I’m a big fan of edamame—my favorite movie-watching treat is edamame steamed in the shell, then dusted with truffle salt. I promise: it’s better than popcorn. I wanted to give my fave flavor combo an upgrade, and hoo boy, these dumplings did the trick. They’re younger than springtime—bright, fresh, and tender—yet creamy and luxurious. Dip them in the shallot broth for a perfect sweet-and-salty bite.
Hey, remember back when I had a job? No?
Well, once upon a time, I had a job. Every day at noon, I would walk down to the lunch room, heat up my leftovers, and tell the story of my lunch to my co-workers. And on days I brought in superstar leftovers like this velvety and rich, blue-cheesy casserole, my colleagues in the lunch room came down with a strong case of lunch envy.
I miss those days.
But good news, friends! After nearly three months of unemployment, I am thrilled to enter the field of catering. On a really, really, really small scale.
This is the dawning of the Age of Asparagus
Starting this week, I’ll be making lunches for Handsome Greg to take to work. See, Handsome Greg isn’t much of a cook, and he isn’t a planner, and he’s really not a morning person, so he buys his lunch out pretty much every day. The food isn’t particularly healthy and it costs a fortune.
So I spent yesterday afternoon preparing two different lunch menus and packing them up neat in plastic containers to send off with Greg after our date Saturday night. In the interest of Greg’s cholesterol level, the dishes I made this week are not quite as luxurious as the chicken campanelle with asparagus in gorgonzola cream sauce, but I think they may inspire lunch envy with the guys at the office nonetheless.
Continue reading for the Chicken Campanelle with Asparagus in Gorgonzola Cream Sauce recipe
When I go out to dinner, I don’t generally order the chicken. I mean, why would I? I make plenty of chicken at home. When I go out, I order the dishes that I can’t afford to screw up in my kitchen (fish and seafood). But chicken? Chicken leg quarters go on sale for $.89/pound, and I haven’t messed up chicken in over a decade. Why would I go out just to order the chicken?
That’s how I felt until Handsome Greg took me to dinner at D’Amico Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. Our very knowledgeable server suggested the chicken, so I took a leap of faith and ordered it. The gently pan roasted Amish chicken breast with caramelized Brussels sprouts, toasted hazelnuts, and truffle butter completely turned me around on chicken. I had no idea chicken could be so succulent and flavorful, especially the white meat.
So I used this beautiful dish as inspiration for Mom’s belated birthday dinner. I marinated the chicken, crisped up the skin on the stove top, then transferred the chicken breasts to the oven to cook them through, and served them with a smooth and creamy, intensely flavored sauce of reduced chicken stock, sweet roasted garlic, red pepper flakes, and truffle oil.
Continue reading for the Chicken with Roasted Garlic Truffle Sauce recipe