If Valentine’s Day has arrived before you found time to buy your honey a gift, there is hope.
More than 200 copies of “Downtown Naperville Dishes and Delights” are still available to purchase in the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce offices in the Main Street promenade.
The cookbook cover is Valentine-appropriate pink and red, and is truly a labor of love, according to Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance. Wood is the organizer and creator of the cookbook that was released in December.
The cookbook idea came to Wood while she was combing through recipe books to find ideas for her son’s graduation party last spring.
“I thought that a cookbook from downtown merchants would be a great idea because it would help everyone remember that the shops are run by real people,” Wood says. “It could be a way for people to connect. Someone could go into a shop and say, ‘Hey, I just made your recipe, and it was really great.’ I wanted it to be all about food and family.”
When Wood approached merchants and city leaders about the idea, she was pleased with the response.
“People started calling grandmas and mothers to get family recipes,” Wood says. “Everyone really wanted to put in a special recipe that would represent his or her personality.”
Wood heard many stories about the recipes.
Chad Fahrenbach, a 16-year-old Naperville teen who works at Twisted Olive, proudly submitted his recipe for salsa that he developed when he grew his first batch of black cherry tomatoes last summer. He experimented with the tomatoes until he came up with just the right combination for a delicious salsa.
Family secrets pop up all over the cookbook.
Dominique Martucci of Naper Nuts and Sweets shares her family recipe for Cannolis, and Councilman Joe McElroy discloses his “secret” oatmeal cookie recipe, which his mom made every Sunday night when he was growing up. Carole Schwager of Occasions boldly claims a recipe for “The Best PB Cup Cookies in the World.”
Wood says she always is able to find a special twist for her meals at downtown Naperville shops.
“I can take a recipe I have and find new ways to add flavors. Penzy’s has an amazing selection of spices, herbs and rubs. Twisted Olive has all of these balsamic vinegars and oils,” she says, gesturing to the array of 26 varieties of olive oil and 24 varieties of balsamic vinegars.
While in the shop picking up ingredients for Chicken Marsala, a recipe from Mary and Scott Shearer of Twisted Olive, she finds many interesting options.
“Instead of garlic olive oil, I could use roasted garlic olive oil, porcini mushroom garlic oil, or for a punch, hot chili olive oil,” she explains.
When it comes time to serve her dish, Wood says she knows she can always find the perfect platter or bowl at Occasions, Sur La Table or William Sonoma in downtown Naperville.
Then a stop at Naper Nuts and Sweets, Sugar Monkey Cupcakes or Le Chocolat Du Bouchard can supply the ultimate ending to a great meal.
“Downtown Naperville is a great place to shop for those special meals,” Wood says.
For her own Valentine’s meal, Wood plans to make Chicken Marsala and Councilman Grant Wehrli’s Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce. She shares those two recipes from the cookbook but reminds everyone that there are more than 200 more recipes just as delicious in the cookbook.
“To make it even better,” she adds, “all net proceeds from the sale of this cookbook are going to support Naperville’s Little Friends. It really is a gift of love.”
Mary and Scott Shearer
4 skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup garlic extra-virgin olive oil
5 ounces thinly slice prosciutto
8 ounces mushrooms
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Pound chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Mix flour, salt and pepper and dredge chicken in mixture. Shake off excess. Heat oil in pan and cook chicken on each side until golden. Remove chicken and keep warm. Add prosciutto to frying pan and sauté in dripping for one minute. Add mushrooms and sauté until brown. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in wine and boil a few seconds. Add chicken stock and simmer one minute to reduce sauce. Stir in butter and return chicken to the pan, simmering gently to cook chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Cut a 10-inch parchment round, butter and place in bottom of the pan. Place chocolate and butter in a metal pan or bowl and melt over a second pan of simmering water. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Sift cocoa powder over mixture and whisk just until combined. Pour batter into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until top has formed a thin crust and a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out with moist crumbs on it. Cool 10 minutes and then remove sides of springform pan. Invert to remove bottom and then flip again, right side up, onto a cooling rack. Dust the cake with extra cocoa powder before serving with raspberry sauce.
To make sauce, place raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Puree and pour mixture through cheesecloth to remove seeds and solids. Drizzle sauce over cake to serve.