Spring Comfort Food, From Former Ballerina

Patricia Williams danced with some of the top companies in the world before retiring at age 30.

Then came a life-changing trip through France, during which Williams discovered a passion for all things culinary.

When she returned to the U.S., she decided to pursue a career as a chef.

Today, Williams is executive chef of the brand new NIOS restaurant in New York City's theatre district. It opened earlier this month, and is already generating a lot of buzz.

She also took on another challenge - making a delicious three-course meal for four filled with spring comfort foods as The Early Show Saturday Edition's "Chef on a Shoestring," on a recession-busting budget of only $35.

On the menu: Arugula Salad Salad with Green Goddess Dressing, Beef and Bacon Meatloaf, and Strawberry Shortcake.


Arugula Salad

Serves 4

1 pound Arugula
16 asparagus green stalks, standard size
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper


Wash and dry the arugula. Cut the woody stems off the asparagus; peel the asparagus and save for the salad. Blanch the asparagus in salted water then shock in ice water.

To assemble the salad, place a large dollop of green goddess dressing on the plate. Place the arugula and the asparagus shavings in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper; add the olive oil and the lemon juice and toss. Place 4 asparagus on each plate (2 green and 2 white) and top with arugula.

Green Goddess Dressing

Serves 4

2 egg yolks
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
2.5 cups parsley leaves
2 cups arugula leaves
4 tablespoons tarragon
6 tablespoons minced chives
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 white anchovies
Juice of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 ripe avocado


Slice the herbs and arugula thinly and puree with anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, avocado with ½ cup extra virgin olive oil.

To make the mayonnaise, blend the egg yolks and white wine vinegar and slowly add 2 cups extra virgin olive oil; combine and season with salt and pepper.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.