These recipes originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
Let the guys take over the kitchen.
Back when my husband, Thom, and I were raising our young family, he endured long commutes to work leaving me to fend for our nightly dinners alone. These days we both work remotely and look forward to our evenings together at home in the kitchen. It’s pretty much a natural fit. I still like running the show in this space — planning the meals, shopping and cooking, but Thom makes me look good as he preps ingredients, cleans up, and sets the mood with music. Truth is, he exceeds me creatively in every space imaginable, but, somehow, I naively assumed this place, the kitchen, to be my area to shine.
Years ago on a Sunday in May, far from my family’s Mother’s Day picnic by the bay, Thom foraged a treat for me with a suggestion — he would prepare dinner for me that evening. Initially, I had raised an eyebrow as I’d witnessed his attempts in the past — spaghetti omelets anyone? However, I quickly surrendered because, well, it was a sweet gesture.
I soon learned Thom had secured a few recipes, then mysteriously disappeared after church to shop for groceries. Later, as I put the kids to bed, I heard clanking in the kitchen, which led me to believe our dinner was underway. Curiously, I entered the kitchen fully expecting to rescue him, only to find he had everything under control. True to his word, he delivered a dinner that rivaled a fine restaurant. His skill not only surprised me, but blew my taste buds away.
Over the years, we’ve continued to lean on our strengths in the kitchen. Me: steady and consistent, shopping on-budget, and creating meals to feed a happy crowd. Thom: on a hunt for the unusual, the creative, mastering the few. His recipes are unique, upscale, and masterful. They come from what he craves, but mostly what I don’t cook. He seeks them out like a salve for a culinary ache, each recipe with a story all its own.
Nothing rivaled one of our favorite eateries for its French onion soup until we moved away and he had to locate a copycat version.
Craving oysters like his next breath, Thom arrived home one day just before a gathering with two dozen iced-on-the-half-shell oysters and a recipe known for its namesake town: Oysters Apalachicola. They make a wonderful starter.
On an anniversary celebration in Tampa, Florida, we visited a legendary steakhouse where we were served a Caesar salad table-side. Thom gleaned the recipe from watching the waiter’s every move.
In sharing Thom’s recipes, I hope you experience a little of the pampering you so well deserve this Mother’s Day, but to ensure it — maybe leave these pages open for those who love you well.
Happy Mother’s Day!
French Onion Soup ▶ Makes 6 servings
5 Tbsp. butter (divided)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 medium Vidalia onions (thinly sliced)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. dry white cooking wine
6 c. low sodium beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 loaf French bread
1 clove garlic
1 c. Gruyere cheese (grated)
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add three tablespoons of butter, oil, and onions. Cook until translucent, then add salt, pepper, and sugar. Continue cooking until onions are browned and caramelized. Add cooking wine, thyme, bay leaf, and broth. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Heat oven to broil. Cut bread into two-inch slices and place on baking sheet. Spread remaining butter on bread. Broil bread on both sides until dry and lightly brown, flipping after one minute. Peel and cut garlic clove in half, then rub on toasted bread. Divide soup into oven safe bowls placing them on sheet pan. Float toasted bread on top of soup and cover it with grated cheese. Carefully return bowls to the oven and broil for four to eight minutes, until cheese is melted and browned. Serve immediately.
This soup is rich and luxurious and can be the first or only course eaten for any gathering.
Oysters Apalachicola ▶ Makes 2-4 servings
1 doz. oysters (shucked, cleaned, drained, and
returned to the shell)
Heinz Chili sauce
2 slices bacon (partially cooked)
Parmesan cheese (grated)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut bacon into one-inch strips and partially precook the bacon. Place the oysters on the half shell on an oven-safe tray or cupcake pan. Repeat each of these steps per oyster: Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of Tabasco sauce. Place small strip of bacon on top of the oyster. Top with a tablespoon of Chili sauce and sprinkle a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese to cover all ingredients. Place in the oven and bake until cheese melts and liquids bubble (about 10 minutes). Transfer to platter and serve hot.
Caesar Salad ▶ Makes 4-6 servings
2 Romaine hearts (leaves separated)
1 large egg yolk
6 anchovy fillets (packed in oil, drained)
2 small garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (more to taste)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Ground black pepper
Chop garlic and anchovies together. Use a fork to mash them into a paste. Add to a medium bowl, and whisk in the egg yolks, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and Tabasco sauces. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture thickens. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and add more lemon and pepper to taste. Add the romaine lettuce to the bowl. Toss and serve.
This Caesar salad complements a filet perfectly!
Laura Schupp is the author of Our Newlywed Kitchen: The Art of Cooking, Gathering & Creating Traditions. Learn more about Laura at OurNewlywedKitchen.com.