With Apologies to Tom Douglas; Why Mom’s Cooking is Better Than Any Chef, The Intaglio Salon
Anyone familiar with the cooking scene has heard of Seattle chef extraordinaire, Tom Douglas; acclaimed restaurateur, author, talk show host and undefeated in Iron Chef America competition. Okay, in full disclosure he retired from the Iron Chef competition after going 1- 0 but like the 1972 Miami Dolphins, undefeated is undefeated.
Chef Douglas hosts a radio talk show which airs weekends on Seattle’s 97.3 FM. (http://tun.in/pgfrh) I am not a full-time listener, but I occasionally check in if I am out and about. On one such occasion, Chef Douglas spoke about his hobby of purchasing used cookbooks and occasionally finding family recipes tucked inside the books. He spoke to how such recipes and the dishes they create play memorable, cherished roles at holidays and other family gatherings. Chef Douglas wondered if these recipes, stuck between the pages of discarded cookbooks, were now lost to families who now speak in fond memories of dishes once prepared from recipes now lost. Hearing this, and with Mother’s Day around the bend, I could not help but reflect upon some of my favorite dishes created by my Grandmother (now deceased) and by my Mom.
In my younger days, my primary concerns regarding food were that it tasted good, was warm if was supposed to be warm, and that it was there when I wanted it. I knew that it came from the kitchen because I could hear my Mom in there and I could breathe in the delicious smells emanating throughout the house. Thus, it came as no surprise that when I moved out on my own and sought cooking advice, the first cook book my Mom gave me was “How to Boil Water”. I am proud to say that I quickly mastered this task with flying colors. Then I opened the book and realized that there was much more inside!
No matter what my Mom makes, it was and is comfort food to me. Her cooking always gives me that feeling of being rooted somewhere, of being home no matter where I am. As far back as I can remember, she'd ask us "what do you want for your birthday meal"? I would always select one of the recipes below. These are recipes I have on replay for my family and hope that my daughters will find the same joy and comfort in them just as I did as a child, and still do now!
This first one my Mom titled Kasey’s Favorite Broiled Salmon in her file and helped me discover that fish can taste good!
Kasey’s Favorite Broiled Salmon
Marinate 1 ½ lbs. to 2 lbs. salmon cut into serving size for approx. 3 hours in:
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tbs. EVOO
½ tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
Remove from marinade.
½ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic – minced
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbs. EVOO
Coat the salmon steaks with the above. Broil on high for approx. 10 min. Coat again with above mix. Broil on low for 5 minutes or until lightly brown.
Okay, calories be darned, who does not love a good spaghetti? Trivia: Did you know pasta existed since the days of the Roman empire? One theory is that it was created in China and Marco Polo brought it to Venice. There are a zillion versions of spaghetti dishes! Below is a version my Mom prepares that is now in my file.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
3 tsp fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tbs. fresh basil
1 tbs. fresh parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 med. size sweet onion – chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic
2 tbs. EVOO
2 tsp. sugar
2 – 28oz cans tomato sauce
2 – 6oz cans tomato paste
2 - 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes
½ cup good red wine
4 cups water
Put EVOO in sauce pan. Chop up 3 cloves garlic and add to the pan. Heat on medium until oil starts to bubble. Add chopped onion and lower heat to med/low. Simmer for 5 min. Put heat to low and add 1 tsp. oregano, ½ tsp. basil, dash of salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir.
Add 1 of the cans of tomato paste with 6 oz. water and stir. Turn heat back up to med and simmer for 5 min., then add a dash of salt, pepper and ½ tsp or oregano.
Add both cans of the diced tomatoes, plus 1 cup water. Mix and simmer for 10 min. Add 1 tsp. oregano, ½ tsp. basil, 1 ½ tsp chopped parsley, ½ tsp of garlic powder and a dash of pepper. Then add the other 6 oz. of tomato paste plus ½ cup water. Simmer for another 15 minutes.
Add both cans of tomato sauce plus 2 cups water and 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp parsley, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp garlic powder. Add ½ cup red wine. Cover and simmer for 15 min., stirring every 5 min. Add bay leaf and 2 tsp. Sugar.
1 lb. ground chuck
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 ½ pieces wheat bread
2 tbs. Italian bread crumbs.
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp garlic powder
Fresh ground pepper and salt
¼ cup red wine
1 tsp basil
½ tsp fennel seeds
Place beef and sausage in bowl. Add ¼ cup parsley and egg. Chop garlic and add to bowl along with the Parmesan cheese. Take the bread and get it wet under the faucet. Squeeze out the water, add to meat mix along with the Italian bread crumbs, pepper, salt, garlic powder, red wine, basil and fennel seeds. Mix all together. Put in the fridge for about ½ hour.
Make balls, about 1 to 1 ½ inches. Heat pan on med/high heat. Brown on all sides. Add to sauce. Simmer sauce and meatballs for at least 2 hours.
¾ cup Italian bread crumbs
½ cup fresh parsley – chopped
½ cup Parmesan cheese & Provolone cheese
1 clove garlic / minced
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup prosciutto, thinly sliced and chopped
Dash salt and fresh pepper
4 tbs. EVOO 1 ½ lbs. flank steak or London broil / round steak – have the butcher slice in very thin, long pieces
1 cup white wine
Place the first 8 ingredients (2 tbs. of the EVOO) in a food processor or mix all together.
Lay the steaks flat, add the mixed ingredients over the steak and evenly spread out. Roll the steak to cover the filling completely. Tie with butcher’s twine.
Heat the remaining EVOO – 2 tbs. – in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the meat and brown on all sides / about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cover with foil and cook approx. 30 minutes. Add to sauce.
Holidays, birthdays, etc. provide gatherings with family and friends that I always enjoy. Food plays a major part. One of the things I look forward to most after we're able to gather again, is sharing one of these meals at my parents house. Until then, I have the comfort of familiarity in these recipes that always give me a taste of "Mom's home cooking". Something I'll never outgrow.
What are some of your favorite recipes?
Happy Mother’s Day!
The Intaglio Salon