Most chefs have a mentor that has shaped them into the cook that they have become. I may be bias, but my mentor is the best cook that has ever cooked for me. My mentor was my mom, Mona Centola.

I will never forget the joy of being 8 years old and my mom allowing me to cook the holiday chocolate chip cookies by myself. The confidence that she had in me made me realize what she taught me growing up; you can do anything you want if you work hard for it.

It was always a joy to be in the kitchen while she cooked. The aromas coming from the stove were stimulating. She made it seem like cooking for a family of nine was a simple task. Where she really shined was when she was cooking for company. She seemed to work a little bit harder when her dishes were to be eaten by someone other than our family. I guess that’s where I get my desire to cook for others comes from. Her recipes were often asked for and gladly given away. I would like to share with you two of my favorite of Mona’s recipes. Let’s get Cookin’.

The first one is Shrimp Remoulade. This is a dish that can either be served as an appetizer or a salad. This dish was often found on her table around the holidays. While there are many variations of Remoulade sauce, hers is one that is made without mayonnaise. It is a great dish for a multi dish dinner because it is made in advance. When I lived in New Orleans, the Horseradish Mustard was a hard ingredient to find. I would often have to go to at least 3 stores before i would find it. On one of my first trips to a grocery store here in Searcy, I found numerous brands without even looking for this ingredient.

4 tablespoons Horseradish Mustard
1/2 cup Tarragon Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 tablespoons Ketchup
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 cup Salad Oil
1/2cup Celery, diced
1/2 cup Green Onions, sliced
2 pounds Shrimp, medium sized, boiled and peeled
Shredded Lettuce for serving

Mix vinegar, mustard, salt, Cayenne pepper, paprika, ketchup, and garlic. Add oil, beating well. Add celery and green onions and mix well. Add shrimp and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When serving, place shredded lettuce on a plate or bowl and top with shrimp and sauce.

This next dish is her most requested recipe, Fudge Pie. It seems like everyone who ate this dish asked for the recipe. People would always return to tell my mother that the Fudge Pie was a hit when they served it. You knew you were in for a treat when you saw her Corningware pie dish covered with aluminum foil sitting on the counter. This is another dish that often made an appearance around the holidays. It was always served right out the dish with a scoop of ice cream. It is also good to warm it up in the microwave before eating.

1 square Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
1/2 cup Margarine
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Flour,unsifted
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Cream margarine until soft. Gradually add the sugar and continue mixing until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating hard after each one is added. Stir in the melted chocolate. Mix in the flour and vanilla. Pour into pie pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Good Cooking, Good Eating, and Good Living!