Friday, September 27, 2013

Meals, Memories, and the Perfect Alfredo Sauce

I remember the first time I attempted Alfredo Sauce.


It was fat-free everything. Bland and all together uninspiring. The kind of meal you try to forget but can’t quite shake from your mind.

In 2005, I knew nothing about the real food movement or the need for good fats to add a healthy dose of flavor to a meal. I grew up cooking with margarine, drinking reduced fat milk and consuming artificial sweeteners. Their addictive qualities still plague me to this day.

The second time I made Alfredo I purchased heavy cream for the first time in my life and comnined that with full fat sour cream. What was originally a horrible white sauce only slightly elevated above the stuff in the jar was at once a symphony of garlic and cheesy creaminess. It was perfect. And I never looked back.

Once, my first husband’s side of the family wanted something atypical for their Christmas Eve feast. We went with an Italian theme and I made my Alfredo Sauce and scattered it in small ramekins around the table. Its purpose? Purely for dipping your bread in or even drizzling over everything else. Needless to say it was a hit.

Food is the Great Unifier 


I remember the time we hosted a known food connoisseur and close friend for the first time on New Year’s Day.  Of course, my go-to was the Alfredo Sauce as star in a build-your-own-pasta bar. We had salad, bread and dessert too but everything is but a bleak memory in comparison to that sauce. I’m so glad that was the meal the four of us shared together in our home. Little did we know that just the next month my first husband would be involved in a motorcycle accident that would eventually take his life.

I’ve shared my Alfredo Sauce with more people and for more occasions than I can count. If it’s your first meal at my home I’m usually serving it up.  If I’m trying to impress you or it is a special occasion, it is at the top of my go-to list.

It’s amazing how food and meals can leave such memorable imprints on our minds. I know some of the best conversations I’ve had have been around a shared meal. Some of my best memories include food. Around the table you can build community, solve problems, and find yourself again.
Imagine if we lived in a world where our government leaders, when faced with monumental decisions, got out the olive oil, onions and wine? What if Joe Democrat uncorked the bottles and began filling the glasses while Jim Republican started browning the onions. And then they all sat down together around a spread of meat and bread, produce and pasta, uncorked another bottle and began to talk and eat…

I’m not an idealist. I don’t believe shared meals can bring world peace or cure cancer. They’re not the answer to all our problems. But I do believe that if we came back to the table on a regular basis with our friends and our foes then our society would truly begin to change.


On Making Memorable Meals

Before I go any further I want you to know that I’m a Christ follower. Now regardless of whether you believe God exists, what you think about Christians or if you practice a religion, I believe we all can find inspiration for more meaningful, intentional lives around the table. In the month of October I’m writing a series called Missional Meals at my blog. It will help people discover how to intersect their faith and life by gathering around the table and sharing meals. If that appeals to you I’d love you to join me beginning October 1, and if it doesn’t that’s ok too.

In Bread and Wine, Shauna Niequist relays her experience reading of an article about famous chef Thomas Keller. Keller writes that the first time you make a recipe you should follow it exactly to the author’s instructions. The second time, he says, you rewrite the recipe adjusting for your own preferences and tastes. The third time? You make it you make it by memory and then it becomes yours.

So I encourage you to make my Alfredo sauce yours. It’s probably not something you’ll make regularly but it is quick and easy. If you don’t have a block of Parmesan lying around you can even use the sprinkling cheese in the green can which I’ve done in seasons of life when finances were tight. But as with most things the more quality ingredients you start out with the better the end result. And once you’ve tried it you’ll never go back to bottled stuff again. So invite some friends over, open a bottle of wine and relish your first time with this sauce. I hope it’s one of the meals you won’t soon forget.

Perfect Alfredo Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ½ cup sour cream 
  •  ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • Fresh basil for garnish (optional)
  1. Melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until softened and barley golden.
  2. Add cream and wisk in flour vigorously. Heat to boiling stirring often.
  3. Beat in sour cream with wisk. Reduce heat to low and cook 1-2 minutes more until heated through.
  4. Remove from heat and add cheese and spices.
Serves 4-6


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  2. Super excited to share your recipe today Joy (and see what is coming in October)!

    1. Thank you so much for everything, Renia.