Isn’t there room for one more at the table?

This year, the Peña Five will be the happy guests of the gracious Carroll family, whose Thanksgiving dinners embody Norman Rockwell paintings, only with better lighting, more attractive guests, and less inebriation. Aunt N always prepares an impeccable traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, pork stuffing, whipped potatoes, and so on, but done so perfectly and consistently that I can hardly bear the excruciating anticipation in the weeks leading up to the most delicious of Thursdays.

The single issue I have with my favorite meal-based holiday involves the majority of tables across the US, and in no way directs any criticism toward two of my favorite hosts. Many dinner guests enjoy a beer or a glass of wine during the hour before the meal, but not much of a drinker, I turn to another nerve softener: cheese. I can almost always rely on my old friend to ease me into a mingle, and start feeling at home as soon as I spot a cheddar and pepperoni combo plate with a fan of Ritz, a nut-encrusted ball surrounded by water crackers, a yule log, a pub cheese, a baked brie and baguette toasts, or the Excalibur, generally reserved for wedding receptions: the fruit and cheese cube fountain.

How many Thanksgiving dinners can you recall that incorporated any sort of cheese showcase? My best guess is that most diners on this particular occasion are concerned that they will exceed capacity before they’d like to stop eating, and can’t allow distractions like pepperjack to poach on precious abdominal real estate. I, however, do not overeat at Thanksgiving. I’m not above the occasional overindulgence, but I dread experiencing the inevitable system shutdown anywhere but at home. If I can’t get into my bed, I stop at one plate.

There must be others like me, who yearn to stick their head right into the bowl of whipped potatoes, while instead they slowly cut their one slice of breast meat, and savor their single scoop of pork stuffing, when they just want to grab the serving dish and lock themselves in the nearest closet with it. A good bracing of cheese beforehand would spare us from these horrible fantasies.

Since I’ve managed to establish a solid run for my coveted monopoly on the Christmas feast (a childhood dream), I don’t see myself hosting many Thanksgiving dinners in the coming years. So I entreat you, gentle reader, to leave a little space on the coffee tables between the nuts and olives this Thursday, and let’s see what happens when we get some Camembert involved.

Mama’s Little Id


A week of rain always makes me feel terribly guilty about my lack of creativity regarding indoor toddler-appropriate activities. So when Billy the Kid announced he wanted “cheese pie” while watching an episode of Angelina Ballerina (all characters are mice – I know the American Cheese Council has a hand in this), I jumped at the chance to make what he wanted for dinner with him. In my book, “cheese pie” means someone’s selling quiche to a small child. I’d never actually made one but only because I always forget about them as a dinner option. My mother’s sister, the unparalleled Mrs. V.P, makes a quiche that hints there just might be a heaven after all, and when she hosts a lunch, I find that I’m glad I don’t generally seek it out elsewhere, because I don’t think any other could compare. I found a straight-forward enough undertaking on none other than Simply Recipes, so I strapped everyone into their respective car seats, then at the market, their respective cart seats.

Since “cheese pie” would somehow have to encompass dinner, I selected a quiche that called for a variety of BK-approved ingredients, like bacon and chopped sautéed mushrooms that I added to the recipe (I’ll admit, though, they can be a wild card). Even forgoing the classy but pungent gruyère for a foolproof cheddar, I have no idea what possessed me to assume I could get away with a sprinkling of green herb, and sure enough, although he prepared it with me and witnessed every single item’s incorporation, BK stared with perplexed fury at his slice of not-cheese-pie he found at the dinner table.

After explaining, bargaining, guilting and sighing passive-aggressively, I pulled out all of the foreign bodies from the top half of BK’s slice, so that he could have exactly what his ballerina mouse friend had eaten for lunch. The clash of wills anticlimactically resolved, my charming but belligerent heir immediately switched tactics to absolute refusal to eat. Cue bed-time call, tantrum, wails, pleas, demands, and, finally, my put-this-day-in-the-ground nightcap.

Once I got around to eating my first slice of the since chilled product this afternoon, my lingering resentment disappeared, and I’m pleased to report quiche just acquired a bi-weekly menu slot. Cheese pie, my britches.

And I’ve been added to yet another watch list.

Chicken Ham and Basil What?

Picture coming eventually. Mr. P. ate the designated model.

Every now and then I create something other than a person, and I’m beside myself with smug delight over my new oeuvre. A few weeks ago I found a recipe for Chicken Prosciutto on my go-to site for new recipes, and I remembered having seen some prosciutto in the deli bin the previous month. I didn’t have sage on hand, but had some basil, and instead of Fontina, figured I could substitute a parm/mozz blend. (Un)forunately, a quick call to Mrs. Hamilton confirmed my fear that no lunch meat can stand up to three weeks past its expiration date. I may have detected a slight note of confused distaste in her tone; I know one probably assumes I’m a freshness tyrant, but I was genetically blessed with a cast-iron stomach (except when gestating), and worked in fast food as a teenager, so I’ve developed an it’ll-cook-off outlook toward food-borne pathogens. The tradeoff is that I’m pathologically obsessive about meat temperature, and I’ve turned off the scald-proof mechanism on my kitchen sink (soap should serve as a backup when washing dishes; the water should be hot enough to burn off all bacteria).

So the only thing my refrigerator had in common with Chicken Prosciutto at this point was chicken. I borrowed a few of the techniques from the found recipe, slicing each breast into two fillets before pounding them to one eighth of an inch, and frying the basil leaves in a stick of butter, using them in the chicken, and frying the chicken in the resulting basil butter. But here’s where I went a little I-wonder-what-would-happen-if…

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloins removed, sliced into two fillets each, pounded within a millimeter of their lives
6 thin slices of deli ham (I used Hannaford Inspirations Wildflower Honey Ham, because I’m Frasier)
12 fresh basil leaves
1 stick butter
1 C breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten in a shallow bowl
6 long, thin slices of mozzarella
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Once foaming, add the basil leaves and let them fry for 1 minute, then turn and fry for another 30 seconds before transferring the leaves to a paper towel. Turn the butter down to warm. Trim a pounded chicken fillet of any fly-aways, then lay 2 basil leaves on top. Place a slice of ham on top of that, folding in any edges that protrude. Fold the bottom third of the fillet to the center, hold it in place while folding the top half down as far as it will reach, and secure with a toothpick. It should be packed up tightly enough to prevent anything from sliding out the sides. I will refer to the resulting unit as the briquette (loaf, knuckle, and chicken fist were runners up).

Assemble all of the briquettes before starting to cook. Mix up the breadcrumbs with some salt and pepper, and spread them out on a large plate. Increase the heat on the basil butter to medium-high and add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil to the pan, swirling to incorporate with the butter, and give it a minute to get hot. Dip a briquette in the beaten egg, then coat completely in the bread crumbs, packing them into the sides. Immediately place it into the hot butter/oil. Repeat for the remaining briquettes, and once the last one goes into the pan, flip the first one over with tongs, and proceed to flip the others at thirty-second intervals, in the order they went in. After the final flip, cook for an additional 2 minutes, then check one to verify doneness (I like to designate Billy the Kid’s portion as the tester, as I have to cut it up anyway). Transfer the briquettes to a wire rack placed over a pan or cookie sheet, top each with mozzarella, and broil on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the cheese is melted and hinting at browning.

As with all breaded and fried proteins, have lemons or at least lemon juice on hand. Since each briquette is half a chicken breast, you can serve them in decadent pairs — just remove the toothpicks upon plating unless you happen to be spite-hosting. In that case, set the table with disposable linens, invite at least 1 vegetarian paramedic, and combine 10 drops of Visine with the bottled lemon juice. You’ll want to have a lawyer on retainer, but that’s just good sense in general.

Teeth. Jealousy. Shanks.

More Italian Than Not Chicken Parmesan

It’s not the incessant and simultaneous wails of two teething babies that have driven me to enact a semi-weekly 5:00 cocktail hour (consisting of two shots of amaretto), but more the straining required to hear the tiny, inappropriately quiet voice of a certain toddler over the racket, and ultimately realizing that the urgent refrain is none other than the jaw-clench-inducing “what are you doooing?” It’s become part of Monk Jr’s routine, and every time I change a diaper or feed a belly (activities which infuriate whoever isn’t receiving the attention), Billy the Kid is right there, inaudibly inquiring about the nature of my distraction from El Dicta-toro. “Well, what do you think I’m doing?” I ask in a sweet but pretty obviously condescending tone. And what do you know, BK offers the correct answer every time.

It’s Friday, and I have nothing left for anyone. No energy, no functioning brain cells, no sympathy. Teeth hurt? Yeah, I’ve been there, too. But guess what. You get Orajel, Tylenol, and eventually teeth. Bored? Why don’t you head down to the basement and see what/who you can rustle up. Hungry? Next scheduled feeding, how about drinking more than an ounce instead of looking around frantically to make sure your sister isn’t happy? Today’s snow was the literal icing on the proverbial cake. The only thing that induces more guilt in me than not taking the underlings out into the world at least once a day is taking them out under sub-par driving conditions, and putting their tiny lives at a slightly higher risk than usual. My serious need for some contact with civilization: denied.

The death of such a bastard of a week should be observed properly, with a seam-splitting meal involving cheese, a casserole dish, and meat, that will have us all unconscious and transported out of the hell that has been February 21 through 25 (with a brief respite on the 24th spanning the length of Jess D’s visit). For those who need it spelled out: Chicken Parmesan. In spite of my insecurities about preparing cuisines of nationalities to which I have no relation, I found a promising recipe on Simply Recipes, a site that has yet to disappoint me (well played, Ms. B). Aside from a smidge too much heat from the red pepper flakes, this is what I hope for whenever I order Chicken Parm at a restaurant, though I haven’t been able to find it outside of Providence’s Federal Hill.

Speaking of Federal Hill, my father, the venerable Mr. S, alerted me of an interview with the locally famous Baby Shanks Manocchio, in which the former Patriarca family boss (and serial restauranteur extraordinaire) was asked about the nature of his name. It turns out that his original nickname was Baby Shacks, an allusion to his success at finding continual transitional housing with charitable women, but that the erroneous “Shanks” eventually replaced “Shacks,” some assuming it referred to his stature, others convinced he must fashion a mean shiv. When asked for the final word, Manocchio offered the entirely unhelpful “what does it really matter?” Seldom does my heart pine so achingly for my state.

The Cakening

Calgon Key Lime Cheesecake

It’s almost time to start making lemon meringues! To tide me over until the July 4th season opening for cool custard-based desserts, I rolled the dice on the Smitten Kitchen’s Key Lime Cheesecake the night before last. Win! The citrus cuts the heft of sixteen ounces of cream cheese brilliantly, lending a lovely antacid effect and enabling the diner to put away an impressive helping. I’m not much for mini-anything these days, so instead of buying a special pan with a dozen tiny spring-forms, I opted for the nine-inch single unit. It’s less climactic than the individual cakes, since you can’t count on the whipped cream topping and mango slices to keep as long as the headliner, and until she’s done her hair and makeup, she’s not much to look at.

This necessitates one to whip, seal and chill a half cup of cream each morning, as well as maintain a sealed container of mango slices in lime juice to facilitate enjoyment throughout the day. I’m about the only person I know with that kind of time on their hands, so save it for a group you know will leave no leftovers (college students, children of vegan parents, anyone wearing elastic pants – I have temporarily joined this particular group and have to say it opens up a whole new world of comfort and capacity). By last night, the cream was being dolloped as opposed to spread, and you can see it pictured here next to some apricot and mango salad – time was of the essence, and I wasn’t about to waste valuable snacking minutes arranging mango ribbons. Take care not to become too transported; I had yesterday’s afternoon wedge on the porch with my feet in Billy the Kid’s inflatable pool, and as my cabana boy poured water on my ankles with a watering can, a wonderful sense of smugness settled over me in which I basked drunkenly until realizing how similar I am to Steve Martin’s character in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

And the appetite’s back.

I-Can’t-Even-Stand-Myself Danishes

Mr. Pena took on dinner last night and grilled us up two fantastic steaks he had picked up at the market. Being a manly man, “dinner” received a check off Mr. P’s mental list with the procurement of meat, and it was only during plating that he noticed the abundance of white space. Always resourceful, Mr. P threw a few frozen waffles into the toaster, and I moved the couch out onto the front lawn. Mercifully, our dignity was revived with a few of these for dessert (I will have a few of whatever I want, I am presently a trinity for god’s sake). The lovely gal over at knows her puff pastry, and I foresee a summer of experimentation with my new favorite flaky medium. I almost substituted mascarpone for the ricotta, but in retrospect I think that would have made it too sweet, as would the extra powdered sugar. As it was, Mr. P stood over my shoulder while I drizzled the icing with a whisk, commanding me to just get a spoon and start dumping.


1 pkg puff pastry (2 sheets) thawed
1 egg white, whisked
raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and mandarin oranges, room temperature

Cheese Filling:

1 C ricotta cheese
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp flour


1/2 C powdered sugar
1/3 C freshly squeezed lemon juice

Set your oven to 350. Depending on what kind of person you are, the first part will be the fun/infuriating part. Cut one sheet of puff pastry in thirds along the fold lines. Cut two of the thirds into three rectangles each. Use the third third to cut strips from, to form frames on the tops of the rectangles. Repeat with the second sheet. Use a few drops of water to glue the frame pieces to the bases, and please try to cultivate some pride in your work. If you require visual aids, I’m sorry, and here’s the original recipe.

Once that’s out of the way, mix up all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl until even (and a little granular). Deposit about 1 tbsp of the cheese mixture into each pastry square, and spread it just to the frames. Brush the frames with egg white, then bake until the pastry has puffed up nice and high, about 20 minutes. Check at 15, but don’t take them out if they look too buttery. You’ll know what I mean. Let them cool for 15 minutes, then arrange the fruit over the cheese. Stir together the powdered sugar and lemon juice, and drizzle (or slather) the glaze over the pastries, then seal whatever you don’t immediately inhale in an airtight container and refrigerate until cool.

An Intro and A Confession

Zucchini Quesadillas
Inspired by this.

My plating skills are lacking.

I suppose it might go without saying, but I’m really excited to start contributing to this blog. I love to cook, especially for other people. Even if I can’t stand at everyone’s stove in the literal sense, at least I can pass along a good recipe.

Before you scoff at the origins of this dish, let me say that my grandmother gives me her magazines when she is finished reading them. Every. Single. Blessed. One. While I do nothing more than recycle Diabetic Living (Really, Grandma? Really?) I flip through some of the others. I happened upon this recipe while deep in a Mexican phase, and in the time it takes Domino’s to deliver I had this on the table. Goes great with black bean soup, rice, and a stiff margarita.

The inside goodness.

2 tsp. olive oil
½ small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or ½ tsp garlic powder)
2 zucchini (about 1 lb.), cut in half lengthwise, then into ¼ slices
Fresh Ground Black Pepper and Salt
2 plum tomatoes
1 8 oz can of sweet yellow corn, drained
Four 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
Cooking spray or olive oil or butter
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream (optional)
Salsa (optional)
Guacamole (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic, sautéing for 3-5 minutes. Add zucchini slices, and season with pepper and salt to taste. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until tender. Turn off heat.

2. Cut tomatoes in half, and squeeze out seeds. Roughly chop and add to zucchini mixture. Add corn to mixture, and set aside.

3. Heat a small, nonstick skillet on medium-low heat. On one side of a tortilla either brush lightly with olive oil or spray with a cooking spray like Pam. Place one tortilla at a time, oiled side down, on the skillet. Tortilla will puff slightly.

4. Once tortilla is slightly browned on the bottom, fill ½ of the tortilla with zucchini and tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Carefully fold over, and cook for about 1 minute per side. Remove from heat.

5. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole. (And if you’re my husband, hot sauce.)

Save the Cheese Plate

This week’s menu has been, so far, a revisiting of the most recent additions to our family’s dinner canon. I haven’t been able to get enough Baked Shrimp in Tomato Feta Sauce, and my Inside-Out Chicken Cordon Bleu has become a weekly meal. Mr. P made pork chops sautéed with red onions and white rice a few days ago, and while we’ve been going to bed happy every night, I have nothing new to show for myself.

However, I’ve been meaning to address an item that gets frustratingly little coverage, one that offers comfort and solace to so many in the midst of social insecurity and anxiety, and one that graces 80% of parties, receptions, cocktail hours, cookouts, and holiday dinners: the cheese plate. While there’s nothing wrong with some sliced block cheddar, a sleeve of Ritz crackers, and an open container of pub cheese, I think we can do a little better than that. First, it’s imperative to understand that while cheese holds the platterial scepter, its magnificence is best showcased when supported by an entourage of meats, grains, and fruits.

Never forget that this is the cheese’s show. The selection should offer several representatives of varying textures, tastes and colors. My standard assortment includes first and foremost a springy yet creamy Muenster, a soft and room temperature Brie or Camembert, an extra sharp Cheddar, some Pepper Jack, and the occasional log of goat cheese. A honey-drizzled, pecan-studded baked Brie served with thickly sliced warm baguette rounds is a mouthwatering indulgence for Winter spreads, and for a cuisine-specific event (i.e. Greek, Provençal), you of course want to present only cheeses from the celebrated country or region.

The supporting accouterments should be tailored specifically to the elected cheeses’ cumulative personality. I generally outift my previously detailed fromage coalition with several kinds of crackers (water, stone wafer, butter, melba), as well as thin slices of pepperoni, seedless red grapes and sweet midget gerkins. For large groups, I take advantage of the opportunity to omit the expected vegetable wheel by (lightly) garnishing the cheese plate further with cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, and snow peas or slices of green bell peppers.

The possibilities for accessorizing your cheese are endless, and you can find inspiration throughout your grocery store, at the dried nuts and fruits bins, among the berries and tropical fruits, and in the bizarre and wonderful pickled section. Watermelon rind is a favorite of my lovely mother, Mrs. S, in spite of her coolness toward the fruit as a whole, and I find it to be an excellent palate cleanser.

I hope I haven’t given the impression that I’m above spray-cheese on Wheatables for the occasional late night witnessesless snack. But for the company, let’s forgo nozzles and jazz things up a little. Just remember to start with the cheese and then build its staff; otherwise, it isn’t really a cheese plate.

It’s getting a little Valley of the Dolls around here.

Usually, excessive enjoyment of my current unemployment kicks my Puritan guilt gland into gear, but with the holiday season fully upon us, a toddler whose mind is perpetually blown by the sudden appearance of lights all over everything, and endless time and possibilities for baking and craft projects, I’m about as pleased as I get. Or so I thought until Miss. Z, our new Billy-watcher and, as far as he’s concerned, his fiancée, reminded me (as she knocked) that we had scheduled her to come for the morning. I stopped at the big Hannaford on my way back to the gym for the first time in a few weeks, and it hit me like a shot of Bacardi; I was alone with my market. 9:30 in the morning, no shoppers, no toddler.

Grocery shopping is one of our favorite things to do together, but Billy the Kid has one condition in return for his stellar behavior: the cart must keep moving, unless he is executing an item’s move from shelf to basket. I don’t usually mind, as I find his appreciation for efficiency endearing in an apple-didn’t-fall-far kind of way, but my heart pines each time I slow down by the cheese section, BK grabbing the handlebar warningly and rocking back and forth in an attempt to Flintstone acceleration.

Today I considered cheese for fifteen spiritual minutes, and left with a wedge of St. André, a French triple-crème cow’s milk cheese with about 70% butterfat. I only do this to myself once a year, as this cheese is more decadent than Camembert, and you’re never too young for a heart attack. Bread takes up too much gastric real estate, instead I spread 1″ slices onto Bremner Wafers and throw a few grapes on the plate to cut the salt.

So I’m looking at the Christmas tree, eating fancy cheese, clinking the ice in my Diet Coke, and contemplating watching The Royal Tenenbaums for the sixtieth time while BK finishes his nap. I’ll have an actual recipe to show for myself tomorrow, but right now I’m going to pretend that dinner gets taken care of by the help.

Introducing the Unparalleled Mr. H

Steak Hamilton and Cheesy Potatoes

It’s not surprising that the lovely and talented Mrs. Hamilton is married to an equally engaging and capable gentleman. Mr. Peña and I agree that Mr. Hamilton holds the top slot on our survive-a-zombie-attack-or-other-apocalyptic-scenario team roster. He’s also the easiest man I know to shop for. At the end of each January, he checks in with me to schedule his annual birthday dinner, and I pick up his gift at the meat counter several weeks later with the groceries. Both spouses were averse to mushrooms until the first time I made this for them, but now they’re believers.

I should warn you that you will open a door with this recipe that doesn’t close. For example, I acquired Mr. Peña with this meal, setting the bar a little higher than I would have had I not been in the heat of the culinary moment. Originally titled Teeny Tiny, my mother would make a petite version if one of us had an emotionally trying day and was feeling particularly teeny and/or tiny. I’ve renamed it as an homage to the man who may one day save my family’s brains.

To serve 4:
4 filet mignons, size dependent on budget and preference (I use modest 1″-thick cuts)
4 Russet potatoes
2 12-oz pkgs white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced with stems, 1/8″-thick
1 16-oz package baby carrots
1 C whole milk
1 C/2 sticks butter, to be safe
3/4 C grated white cheddar cheese
1/4 C cooking sherry
1 tbsp herbs de Provence (blend of savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender; you can just mix up whichever of those you already have)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper

Set the oven to 350, grease up the potatoes with olive oil, and stab them repeatedly with a sharp fork. Bake them until it they hardly resist a poking. You’re looking at about an hour and a half.

Start the mushrooms when you’ve got about 15 minutes left on the potato clock. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large pan over medium-high. Once the foaming subsides, add the mushrooms and sauté. After a few minutes of turning and cooking, add another 1 tbsp of butter and melt it in. The mushrooms will soften and release about 1/3 C of liquid. Keep the heat at medium-high until the liquid cooks off, turning the mushrooms frequently to prevent burning. Once the liquid has evaporated, add the sherry and nutmeg, and continue cooking until the alcohol boils off. Transfer the mushrooms to a medium bowl, cover, and set on the stove-top to keep warm.

Ding! Either your potatoes are done, or you need to up your hustle. Put the milk in a small saucepan and heat over low. Set a ricer over a large mixing bowl. Holding a potato using a dishcloth or folded paper towel, cut two slits in the top to form a lemon shape. Peel the cut skin off, and carefully spoon the piping hot potato into the ricer bin, getting out as much as you can without tearing the husk. Rice the potato, then repeat with the other three. Set the empty skins on a cookie sheet. Cut half a stick of butter into tbsp chunks and bury them in the potatoes to melt. Stir vigorously while you slowly pour in the milk, beating in as much air as possible. Then add the cheese, season with salt and pepper, and combine (don’t worry if the cheese doesn’t melt completely).

Spoon the potato whip back into the shells, and pile any extra filling on the tops. Sprinkle with paprika to get a little Lawrence Welk-ish nostalgia going, and wedge a pat of butter into each. Put them back in the oven and bake until they’re hot all the way through, about a half hour. Give yourself a 15-minute break (just enough time for a cigarette and a fresh Diet Coke!).

Throw the carrots into a medium saucepan with 1″ of water, 1 tbsp of butter and a pinch of herbs de Provence, and set the heat to low. Put 2 tbsp of butter in your largest (flat) pan and set it over medium-high heat. Let the butter melt and froth, then add the steaks. You need an equal ratio of free space to meat in your pan to do this correctly, so cook them simultaneously in 2 pans if necessary. Fry the steaks over medium-high for 2 minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to medium-low, add the mushrooms to the pan, and give each steak another 4 minutes on each side, turning the mushrooms frequently. You’ll need to adjust the time slightly since it’s difficult to convey flame strength, but you want to end up with rare, not raw.

The carrots are done when they’re al dente, and that should be right about now, along with the potatoes, steak and mushrooms. By your thirtieth time making this meal, you’ll have perfected the timing, so don’t worry about being a basket case for the first one. Drain the carrots and plate everything up, generously topping the steaks with mushrooms.

The dishes are going to be a bitch for this one, but the acclaim and self-satisfaction more than compensate.

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