It takes some people decades to figure out what to do with their lives. Others heed their calling early in life and spend a lifetime engaged in their passion. Lake Oswego's Molly Engrav is one of those lucky people. The 16-year-old Lake Oswego High School senior is going to be a chef.

Molly has been cooking since she was three.

'My dad actually taught me to cook,' she said. 'And I've been watching the Food Channel since I was three. I just kept experimenting and getting better and better at cooking.'

Molly has become very adept in the kitchen over the years. She has completely taken over the Thanksgiving feast preparation for the past two years, and she served up a festive brunch for Mother's Day.

'I (made) two types of muffins, a special casserole my mom usually makes, my grandparents (brought) the fruit and I (made) bacon, too,' she said.

Molly is also making all the items to be served for her graduation dessert party.

Molly doesn't need more than the appreciative oohs and ahhs from friends and family to let her know she has talent for cooking, but she recently received accolades that can't be ignored. In fact, this praise proves that her talent is far above average.

Molly was invited to participate in a culinary competition at the Professional Culinary Institute near San Jose, Calif. She and her mom Mary flew down to tour the campus and compete in the competition.

'I was really nervous. I talked to my dad that evening (before the competition) and he had me all calmed down and relaxed. We had to be at the school's kitchen at 7 a.m., and a fire alarm went off at our hotel at 3 a.m. I didn't get much sleep.

'We had 15 minutes to prepare, wash our vegetables and stuff and then we were to start cooking. As soon as I got started all my concerns went right out the window.'

She relaxed and did what comes so naturally to her. She cooked.

Molly's ease in the kitchen earned her a scholarship to PCI. She was the youngest of the competitors and placed in the top five in her category.

Molly will start PCI on July 3 and turn 17 a few days later. She is excited to meet new friends and immerse herself in learning new techniques of food preparation.

What does Molly like to cook? She cooks lots of vegetarian foods for her mother and sister and steaks and chicken for the rest of the family.

'My brother will be home from college soon, and he is looking forward to eating,' she said.

And what did she prepare that earned her high honors?

'I sautéed some asparagus and mushrooms and then added some baby spinach. I made some linguine and then combined the vegetables and the pasta. I drizzled that with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. Then I topped it with Parmesan cheese.'

There you go, friends - another great entrée from a budding culinary professional. Don't worry about quantities - just add as much or little of each ingredient as you wish. Experiment, just like Molly would.

Best wishes, Molly! We'll look forward to eating at your restaurant one day in the near future.

Bon Appetit!


A five-ingredient entrée, ready in 30 minutes.

Glazed Orange Marmalade Chicken Breasts

Makes 4 servings

4 boned and skinned chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)

Vegetable oil for brushing on chicken

½ cup sweet orange marmalade

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Place the chicken in a lightly sprayed or oiled 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish. Brush with oil. In a small bowl, mix together the marmalade, soy sauce, mustard and salt and pepper to taste and spread it on the chicken. Bake, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

The Big Book of Chicken by Maryanna Vollstedt, 2008

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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