Show Your Friends and Family You Love Them With Your Signature Dish
Mid-November to mid-January is the most wonderful time of the year for me. It’s all about family, friends, cooking, shopping, decorating, celebrating, eating, drinking and then starting out with a fresh new year.
My friends and family know full well that I don’t cook. In fact, I’m a bit of a mess in the kitchen, if I'm being totally honest. I’m a great clean-up guy, table setter, DJ, bartender and dishwasher -- but please don’t ask me to cook. I can’t even assemble cheese and crackers. I’m just more trouble than I’m worth in food preparation.
Even my two kids make fun of me. They grew up on stir-fry chicken, spaghetti marinara and grilled cheese when I was a single dad. But I will say this: there are a couple of things I do make that have given me at least some street cred with my family. My signature dish? Lasagna.
Granted, it takes me a couple of hours to prep the sauce, compile the ingredients, boil and dry the pasta and then piece it all together like a puzzle. The kitchen is a mess when I’m done because unlike when I’m the sous chef, I don’t clean up as I go along. I let it all pile up so that I can concentrate on my creation.
For many years, my lasagna was the signature dish on Christmas Day, perfect for after what was a more formal meal on Christmas Eve. It’s stacked high, with layer after layer of meat sauce and different kinds of cheeses. Sometimes I add sausage and sometimes I use ground turkey -- I have a few versions to keep them guessing. Once in awhile, I make it vegetarian sans mushrooms.
What’s my secret to the dish’s success? Lots of cheese! I create a special cheese mix of different kinds that are all held together by a raw egg.
Three words: to die for.
Why do I bother when I’m so clumsy in the kitchen? I feel like it’s important to have a signature dish that can show the people you love that you love them. A signature dish shows them that you can care for them, even if you have just one or two shots at it.
Don’t just limit your signature dish to your family and friends. I’ve long shared my lasagna with work colleagues both in my home and their homes as well as on social media. It shows “the boss” has a human side, and it allows you to bring your guard down and bring them into your “home” in some small way. It’s also great cocktail party conversation.
You won’t see me baking a rack of lamb and you won’t see me doing elaborate combinations of food. But I do set a mean table, I make a killer bloody Mary and I can make the best lasagna you’ve ever had. Those are my signs of caring.
If push comes to shove, I can whip up a country breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. Or a grilled cheese like back in the day. Most of the time, though, I stick to lasagna.
I encourage you to do the same -- show your friends and family that you really care for them and indulge them with your own signature dish.
I’m already getting excited to make mine this Christmas. What’s your signature dish?