Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal


Photo Credit: Paul Gauche, I Nonni Wine Cellar, Castella Di Barbaresco

All I need tonight is a new cookbook to complete a weekend that has been food-oriented from beginning to end.  Hmmmm… so many cookbooks, so little time.

On Friday night, Nancy Lee and I enjoyed a quiet table with six close friends.  Three other couples joined us at our home for appetizers and wine on the deck and then dinner inside around the table.  Great friends, great food, great fun.  For me, the only ‘downside’ to the day in the kitchen was that I couldn’t have had two days in the kitchen.  From the initial process of bringing together a menu and shopping for the ingredients, through the whole creative process of having three recipes in process at the same time to the “kitchen blitz” at the end of the evening, it was all good.  Here’s what it looked like… on paper:

Course One
  • Rustic Goat Cheese Tart with Caramelized Balsamic Onions
  • Wines, lemon water

Course Two

  • Warm Brie
  • Assorted table crackers
  • Walnut and Cranberry Bread
  • Cold Cucumber, Watercress and Avocado Soup

Course Three

  • Beef and Chicken Kalby Kabobs
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Savory Rice
  • Spinach and Strawberry Salad

Course Four

  • Colorado Peach Pie with ice cream


On Saturday night our “Gourmet Group” set out on a road-trip to I Nonni on the corner of County Road 13 and Highway 35W in Lilydale, MN (

This group of friends has been exploring ‘culinaria’ together for several years and every once in a while we make the move from one of our homes to a restaurant.  I don’t know, maybe we just get tired of doing so many dishes.  Anyway, on Saturday night we elected to “go Italian” and “go Italian” we did–with vim, vigor and vitality.

Some reminiscence:

Linen table cloths and napkins. Comfortable seats and soft lighting.  Ample table space.  A wine cellar.  EVerything in Italian. Well, most of it.  A Sommelier who also delivered a (Beefeater) martini from the bar to the table–filled to the brim–without spilling one drop. Not one drop.  No rushing; no hurry.  35-40 minutes with the menu and the personal service from the waiter who described everything without ever being in the way.   Every time someone left the table, he refolded their napkin.  Fresh water all the time.  Two different wines from someplace in Italy. Really.  New flatware for every course.  Speaking of courses, there were four.  By the end of the evening, these are the pieces of art that made their way across my palate:

Crostini e Bruschette

  • Chicken Liver alla Toscana
  • Eggplant Caponata Crostini
  • Sicilian Relish of Eggplant, Tomato and Pinenut
  • Tomato, Basil, Garlic, Pecorino

Il Lattughino

  • Romaine, Feta, Gaeta Olive, Tomato and Green Onion


  • Mussels, Clams, Swordfish Bottarga and Artichoke


  • Seared Rare Blue Fin with Sicilian Relish, Saffron and Orange Sea Salt


  • Blood Orange

 Photo Credit: Paul Gauche, I Nonni Exterior

Finally, Sunday arrives and what a great evening this has been!  Our Staff Potluck at Cleary Lake Regional Park in Prior Lake was all fun and games, great colleagues with their families, hot coals for grilling and and a dish to pass.  All good.  Really good.

So that’s how the weekend unfolded.  And now, a quiet moment on the far end of some great moments with friends and food. 

All I need is that new cook book.  The one I’m leaning toward is The Big Book of Breakfast by Maryana Vollstedt. I was perusing this volume at the local grocery store two weeks ago and almost bought it.  I should have, because yesterday when I looked for it again, all of the copies were gone.  That’s generally a good sign.

 Big Book of Breakfast

Have a great day in the kitchen!

Stirrin’ it up!


2 Responses to 'Culinaria!'

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  1. Swen said,

    I wanna be like you when I grow up.
    Feast on!

    • Paul Gauche said,

      Dude. One thing:

      Let’s just not grow up.

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