It was the eve of Valentine's Day. Ryan and I had made it a tradition to have a toddler-free dinner on the 13th to celebrate, so that evening Ryan had made reservations for us in downtown Salt Lake City at The Garden. Before we headed out for dinner, Ryan took me down the street to Orson Gygi for a book signing I've been waiting for since 2008.
I've made it a habit to watch The Next Food Network Star every summer, and an amazing teeny blonde gal on the 4th season caught my attention right away. Kelsey was absolutely darling, was so relatable, and I wanted her to win so badly - mostly because I deeply believed she deserved her own show on the Food Network. A little into the season, I found out she was from Utah, went to BYU, and was a Mormon. This, for me, made it all icing on the cake. Kelsey didn't win, but the Cooking Channel and Food Network still realized her incredible talent, and she now has her own shows on both channels. Way to go, girl!
We showed up at the store, my dear friend Natalie was there waiting for us, and I felt we were both a little nervous to meet Kelsey. Her delicious food filled the room with the most incredible fragrance of success, and Ryan was more than happy to help himself to more than a few samples (especially the tomato pesto soup - recipe to come on here, soon. It was amazing!) We finally were able to talk with Kelsey - she was darling, classy, and genuinely interested in our food blogs. She was much teenier/shorter than I thought - I mean, I'm 5'5'' when I'm not slouching, and she was shorter than me! We talked about our little boys (she has a son a little younger than mine), and I learned a little bit about what it was like for her to walk around the Food Network & Cooking Channel building. It was a dream come true to meet her, and it was such a treat to have her sign our copies of her cookbook.
We've already tried 2 of her recipes from that cookbook, and this was the second one we chose to try. It was incredibly simple, but tasted like it had taken years and years to master and refine. I made the mistake of buying spinach and tomato tortellini, but I don't think it changed the dish too much to feel like we didn't get a good feel for the original recipe. Next time, I'll just stick to the regular white flour tortellini with cheese (even though I really adore all the color). I've never really cooked much with dill - bad, bad, mistake. Dill is now an essential part of my kitchen. It, coupled with the fresh lemon zest, made this beautiful pasta dish with cream sauce jump off the plate! I should have spooned up a bit of that amazing cream sauce over the tortellini in my photo to show you just how beautiful that sauce was! The flavors were so bright, and everything seemed to immediately meld together in their perfect place.
Thanks, Kelsey, for all your inspiration - and for making your dreams come true for all of us to enjoy together. Now to dive right back into that cookbook of yours :)
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Tortellini with Snap Peas in
Lemon Dill Cream Sauce
Makes 4-6 servings
1 lb refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 C sugar snap peas, strings and ends removed, cut into 3rds at an angle
1 T EVOO
3 oz pancetta, thinly sliced (we subbed for bacon this time)
1 shallot, minced
1/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 C heavy cream
1 t lemon zest
3 T fresh dill, snipped and chopped fine
1/3 C Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook tortellini according to directions on the package. Add the sugar snap peas during the last 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add pancetta and cook until crisp. Using a fork, transfer pancetta to a plate. Set aside. Pour out all but 2 T fat from the pan. In the same pan, add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add cream, broth, dill, and lemon zest.
3. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, then simmer until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Add tortellini and peas, then pancetta to the sauce and toss gently to coat. Serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan, and garnish with dill.
recipe source: Kitchen Confidence, Kelsey Nixon