Tony and Sarah Nasello
Our son, Giovanni, loves Chinese cuisine and is a big fan of the Chicken Lettuce Wraps at P.F. Chang's, an Asian-themed restaurant chain that we try to visit whenever we are in the Twin Cities. We had hoped to get there over his Christmas break from school, but unfortunately bad weather and the flu kept us at home, throwing Gio's cravings for P.F. Chang's into overdrive.
This week's featured recipe has become one of our family's favorite go-to chicken dishes. Three Herb Chicken and Mushrooms is easy to prepare, elegant in appearance, affordable and — most importantly — delicious. Gio (our son) and I discovered this dish last summer when my Aunt Margie (Mathison Hance) made it for us during a visit to her home on Pelican Lake. Our visits there are always memorable, as there is hardly anyone on earth more fun than Aunt Margie (also known as The Great Pumpkin in our family).
We normally begin a new year with a super-healthy dish, but after nearly a week of battling post-Christmas stomach and cold flus, all our little family wanted was some comfort to ring in the New Year. Thank goodness for Giovanni's Comforting Pasta Bolognese. Our 12-year-old son, Giovanni (or Gio), created this recipe last fall after watching an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network.
We love finding ways to take a classic dish and turn it on its head, and this week's Savory Smoked Salmon Cheesecake does just that. The original recipe was created by former Sarello's executive chef, Christian D'Agostino (now co-owner of The Boiler Room, Barbacoa and the soon-to-open Twist), with jumbo lump crab meat as the main ingredient, and it was always a hit with our guests who were delighted by this unexpected delicacy.
Recently, we attended a holiday cocktail party hosted by our dear friends, Daniel and Shannon Hedrick of Fargo. The evening was a small gathering of about a dozen old friends who first met through our affiliation at Sarello's, our former restaurant, either as employees or beloved customers, all who have now become dear friends. Daniel was the very first server we hired when we opened our restaurant, Sarello's, 16 years ago, and quickly won our guests over with his excellent service and passion for good food and wine.
Every year around this time, we receive dozens of emails from our readers who are looking for ideas of what to serve on Christmas Eve. This week, we take our inspiration from the Italian tradition of serving fish on Christmas Eve with our recipe for a classic fish stew called Cioppino. Like so many Italian favorites, cioppino (choh-PEE-noh) originated among the peasant, or working class, before becoming a popular favorite in high-end restaurants.
I bake often throughout the year and tend to go into overdrive during the holiday season. I have my repertoire of favorites that I've made for many years, which includes peppermint bark, krumkake, Italian almond sweets, macaroons and chocolate crinkles. Over the years I've added new favorites like Belgian lukken cookies, sun brittle and toffee.
I love giving edible gifts, particularly when they're homemade, and especially at the holidays. We've written about this in the past, with recipes including peppermint bark, homemade vanilla extract, sunflower brittle and last week's featured toffee recipe. As delectable as these confections may be, it's nice to have something in your gift arsenal that's not only delicious to eat, but also nutritious, and this week's Homemade Granola hits all the right notes.
Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you are as excited as we are to welcome the holiday baking season, which officially begins this weekend in our home. This week's featured recipe is one of our family's all-time favorite holiday treats, which I like to call Marilyn's Best Toffee. My mother, Marilyn, has been making this toffee for the past 40-plus years, and it is a wonderful combination of crunchy, chocolatey, buttery goodness. The recipe yields about 1 ½ pounds of toffee, and stores well for at least a month, making it perfect for gift-giving.
For the past 23 years, we have been fortunate enough to spend our Thanksgiving holiday as guests in other family members' homes, which means we have never had to be responsible for the star of the show: the turkey (in fact, we have never even roasted a whole turkey, ever).