FEATURED ON WCSH 6 MORNING REPORT
Today, my mother rarely cooks. Her favorite line is: “Been there, done that.” And she marvels that I enjoy cooking so many items from scratch for so many people week after week. She seems to forget that I got my high standards and passion for good food from her.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom in the early 1960‘s. When she wasn’t wallpapering a room, changing somebody’s cloth diaper, or reading to us about the exploits of The Cat in the Hat, she was watching Julia Child on public television and clipping Craig Claiborne’s columns out of The New York Times. My mother kept a lucite box filled with neatly hand-written recipe cards. I can only imagine how many imperfect cards must have been ripped up by mother or her talented friends before the recipes were deemed good enough to be traded.
During her late twenties and early thirties, my mother developed a repertoire of dishes that included “exotic” items such as Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Kiev and Mousse au Chocolate. We ate these wonders on special occasions such as birthdays or as leftovers after one of mother’s elegant events. All the food for mother’s parties, including the chopped liver, the shrimp cocktail and the cranberry sour cream mold was prepared by mother. She didn’t believe in pot-luck suppers or take-out.
Despite her perfectionism, my mother considered herself a hip and modern young woman and she did rely on time-saving aids such as Wishbone Italian Dressing, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice. She drew the line with Swanson’s TV Dinners. Instead, she prepared Noodle Kugel and Turkey Tetrazini (probably made with Campbell’s Mushroom Soup) and placed these casseroles in the freezer in case of emergencies. Since my father worked long hours, my mother fed us and bathed us and put us to bed before returning to the kitchen to finish preparing my father’s meal.
Most people today don’t have the luxury of time or the patience, let alone the desire to do all of the things my domestic goddess of a mother did for my two brothers, my father and me. I completely empathize with the time pressures that mothers, especially, are under these days. I also understand the desire to forgo processed food and feed the family a meal that is delicious and pleasing to most palates. So–when WCSH 6 called and asked me to demonstrate a few quick and delicious dishes designed for working moms, I came up with Cheesy Rags and Broccolini and Panko and Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Mixed Green Salad, Parmesan Shavings and Lemon Vinaigrette. All of these dishes can be created and cooked within a 30 minute time frame. (Rachel Ray would approve of these meals, I’m sure.) The star ingredient in all of these dishes is the Parmigiano-Reggiano and you can get this lovely cheese at the grocery store or a specialty cheese department. If you use the best aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, your meal will be that much better. The same goes for all of the ingredients. As you can see from the recipes, there are not a lot of ingredients for any given dish, so if you can splurge on fresh local organic greens, cream from grass fed cows and happy free range chickens, please do so!