8 oz. cooked egg noodles
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. whole nutmeg (grated will work, too)
¼ tsp. Cayenne pepper
Salt & black pepper to taste
Optional: grated Parmesan cheese
Place pan over medium heat.
Add butter.

When butter begins to melt, add extra virgin olive oil.
Add cooked noodles to butter and extra virgin olive oil.
When noodles are incorporated into butter and oil, grate fresh nutmeg onto noodles.
Add Cayenne pepper to noodles, then salt and black pepper.
Plate up and top with grated Parmesan, if desired.


1 lb. beef stew meat
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ white onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 pkg. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. dried parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups beef broth
1 cup sour cream
coarse grain salt and pepper to taste
optional: ¼ cup cream sherry

Sautee onion in olive oil for approximately one-two minutes. Add garlic and sautee until softened. Add stew meat and coat with olive oil. Be careful not to burn garlic. Whem meat is coated, add broth, bay leaf, mushrooms, parsley, thyme, and sherry, if using. Simmer over medium heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat, add sour cream. Serve over hot buttered noodles.

You’ve taken a dish from someone you know, or from a recipe you’ve read, and made it your own, haven’t you? That’s okay. It’s called a signature.

I stood in the kitchen last night, straining noodles for Beef Stroganoff and giving myself an impromptu facial with the steam of the hot pasta water, and my six-year-old, Zoë, says “I just want plain noodles, Momma.” Okay, noodles I can do. But plain noodles, no way! I just can’t serve anything plain or , without my signature.

I once heard an interview with a roadie chef – that’s a chef that travels with bands and musicians so they can eat what they want while on the road – and learned that one of my favorite musicians prefers hot buttered noodles after shows. Reaffirming my belief that food puts us back together again.

So how appropriate that Zoë, my little rock star in training, asked me for noodles to eat after her show last night (dancing and singing to High School Musical, of course).

Imagining a song by Zoë topping the charts one day titled “Nobody Makes Noodles Like My Momma”, I sliced a thick pat of unsalted butter to my Grandmother’s cast iron skillet. When the butter turned a buttercup color against the patina of the pan and increased it’s circumference as if stretching it’s arms, I added some extra virgin olive oil. The butter kept the olive oil from smoking too soon. I would have added some minced garlic but the Stroganoff needed me. So I quickly tossed the cooked noodles to the butter and oil, then stirred the noodles in skillet with a wooden spoon that had seen better days. Medium flame turned off, I grated some fresh nutmeg and sprinkled some cayenne pepper into the egg noodles. With little specs of maroon and sable brown, the olive oil and butter singing the perfect duo called “fat is flavor”, I handed Zoë her hot, buttered noodles with my very own signature.

Cayenne and nutmeg for me have made some simple and outdated dishes refined in a home cooking sense. The cayenne gives my dishes a piquant something-something with regional Southern traits. The nutmeg lends what I call a milky earthiness, almost sweet against the heat of the cayenne, with elegance to balance the attitude of the cayenne. Cayenne pepper and nutmeg may be an unlikely pair, but they cooperate for me. These signature ingredients have graced roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, meat sauce, even fruit salad with a complexity that is not commonplace at our neighborhood restaurant or even Grandma’s. Exactly my intention.

Signatures aren’t unlike secrets, as in “secret ingredients” or “What’s your secret?” , well, the decision to disclose your signatures is entirely up to you. I’ve just told you mine and I hope you run to the stove right now to make some hot buttered noodles, or at least scribble down your own signature ingredients/processes on a 3×5 recipe card for your children to inherit one day.

Cooking gives us a chance to keep what we want and create what we need. It’s a chance to leave a legacy. It’s a way to leave your mark, tastefully.

Smantha Gianulis

Samantha recently released my her family food memoir, Little Grapes on the Vine…Mommy's Musings on Food & Family .

Samantha is a self-taught chef. She worked in the Catering and Special Events industry for seven years before becoming a stay at home, now a work at home, Mom.
She appeared on NBC's ivillage Live.

Smantha Gianulis

Latest posts by Smantha Gianulis (see all) GianulisApron Strings Cooking ColumnHome CookingCooking and RecipesHOT BUTTERED NOODLES8 oz. cooked egg noodles1 tbsp. unsalted butter1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil1/8 tsp. whole nutmeg (grated will work, too)¼ tsp. Cayenne pepperSalt & black pepper to tasteOptional: grated Parmesan cheesePlace pan over medium heat.Add butter.When butter begins to melt, add extra virgin olive oil.Add cooked noodles...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids