Tony and Sarah Nasello
According to various online sources, today is National Chiffon Cake Day. Until recently, I had no idea that such a day existed, and I'm still not sure how this confection earned its national day of distinction. But if it means I have an excuse to bake (and eat) cake, then I'll happily wish folks a "Happy National Chiffon Cake Day" all day long.
FARGO — Every March when I was growing up, my mother would make several loaves of Irish Soda Bread throughout the month, and this is one of my favorite food memories from my childhood. Now that my parents spend their winters in Florida, it's up to me to carry on her tradition.
The official start of spring this year is March 20, and springtime veggies are already arriving at our local grocery stores, including our favorite, asparagus. How can you tell when a vegetable is in season? First, pay attention to what is on sale in the produce departments — you will often find the best prices for a vegetable or fruit when it is at its peak in terms of freshness and abundance.
Today marks the beginning of the season of Lent and, as a Catholic, I welcome this opportunity for reflection, atonement and spiritual growth. In my childhood I viewed this season only through the lens of sacrifice, a somber time where we were expected to give up something we loved for the 46 days of Lent, in addition to not eating meat on Fridays.
FARGO — I didn't understand biscotti when Tony first introduced me to it years ago. This strange-looking, dry, oblong Italian cookie had nothing in common with the chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies I knew. But once I'd had my first taste of biscotti, I kept coming back for more. This popular cookie can be traced back to the days of the early Romans, who valued it for its hard texture and long shelf life which made it well suited for long journeys.
Chocolate cake holds a special place in my heart, especially on Valentine's Day. I still have the very first Valentine I ever received from Tony, which came to me back in 1993 all the way from Antarctica. We were both working for Clipper Cruise Line at the time, Tony aboard ship and I in the St. Louis home office, and we had been dating for almost a year.
A crudités platter may not be considered standard fare for Super Bowl Sunday, but when it's artfully presented with a creative variety of raw veggies, we'll wager that it can hold its own against any hearty contender. Especially when it's served with this week's Avocado Green Goddess Dip. This recipe was inspired by the very ripe avocados I found last week at the Hornbacher's store on 32nd Avenue in south Fargo. Even moderately ripe avocados can be hard to come by in our part of the country, and I couldn't resist bringing home a bagful.
Every year around this time, mid-January to February, I find myself pulling out my old Clipper Cruise Line cookbook and revisiting some of our favorite recipes from our years at sea. Clipper Cruise Line, now no longer in existence, was a small-ship cruise line devoted to providing the very best experience in the world of luxury expedition cruises.
FARGO — 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.