Steak Kabobs with Fancy Vegetables

All the kabobs I’ve ever had have been yummy but pretty standard. You know, chicken, pineapple, peppers & onions. Right now I feel like there are so many great fancy vegetables that are more readily available to us than in the past. Vegetables like brussel sprouts, kale, shitaki mushrooms and red pearl onions aren’t what you normally think for kabobs. They are so delicious when done right so don’t be scared… Pair these amazing veggies with a juicy steak and the flavor from the grill really makes this a delicious dinner idea. Its also as easy as it gets to make. Enjoy!

Recipe: (Yields 4-5 Kabobs)

2 lbs sirloin steak cut into 24 cubes

12 brussel sprouts cut in half

12 kale leaves

12 shitake mushrooms

12 pearl red onions peeled (white are fine if the red aren’t available)

Directions:

Alternate spearing meat and veggies on a metal or soaked wood skewer. Be sure to spear two cubes of meat at a time so that the meat doesn’t dry out on the grill since the veggies need more time to cook. When spearing the kale, fold it over a few times and then skewer through the middle. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Grill on medium high heat until veggies are done and meat is still juicy. Serve and enjoy!

Love & Dining Out

When I was growing up my family never had money for eating out much. Especially when I was little we rarely dined out. If we did it was usually with my grandparents and was either Sizzler or a mexican restaurant. But I loved eating out. Even walking into a Denny’s seemed glamour to me at 10 years old. Adults brought me food and there was a general buzz and excitement in the room. It seemed to me that the most important people were at restaurants.

As I got older and was asked out on dates I started eating out a little better. My high school boyfriend took me to dinner on the roof of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown LA and took me to see “Les Miserable” one night. It was so fancy that when they brought over a platter with my utensils on it I had no idea what I was suppose to do. The kind waiter gently told me to take my salad fork from the platter and played it off like it was a silly fine dining ritual. My boyfriend, whose parents apparently ate at nice places all the time, always knew where to take me. We dined at Geoffry’s in Malibu & The Chart House and he spent all his money from his valet job on taking me out. It was a relatively short but intense relationship and he certainly set the bar high in terms of my being spoiled by nice things.

Then I met Boris. Boris has been my friend now for 12 years. (Well, we actually didn’t talk for a couple years in there somewhere but besides that….) Boris had a flare for living the high life. I met him while singing (yes singing) at an Italian restaurant that he was eating at with a friend. Boris is one of the only straight men that has a wide repertoire of musical theater knowledge and proceeded to test me by asking me to sing a wide variety of songs at his table. (I’m sure the diners nearby were incredibly annoyed) Anyway, he tipped me $40 and that was that. He came in again another time and then called up the restaurant and asked me to dinner. I said yes, but it had to be at Chili’s next door. :) After our dinner at Chili’s he invited to take me out to for my upcoming birthday and asked me where I wanted to go. I blurted out, “Spago’s!” (which was Wolfgang Pucks premiere restaurant at the time) and that’s where we went. He later told me that he was thinking more along the lines of TGIF Fridays but didn’t have the heart to tell me no. And thus began my many adventures dining out at fancy places with Boris. We had a year long string of dinner dates (and trips to the theater) that spanned from japanese restaurants to steak houses, seafood places to fondue. Oh, and I was 19 and he was 30. But the age difference didn’t matter because we weren’t officially “dating.” My friend Michelle (who Boris always refers to as my “black friend”) thought the whole thing was fishy but Boris and I have remained friends and over the years and after I was married he’d bring his girlfriends up to Santa Barbara for my husband and I to meet. Michael loves Boris. I probably could write an entire essay on Boris since he is an incredibly interesting personality, but I’ll save that for another time.

Then began the string of random dates with random guys that never quite panned out. There was Dan who took me to a very nice fish restaurant on our first date. I ordered macadamia crusted halibut and it was delicious. It was my first experience eating halibut and I was skeptical I would like it but eager to be adventurous with seafood. It didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, my relationship did disappoint mostly because of me. Our dates were cut short when in a moment of frustration with a phone message he left me I let out a long winded vent of what I didn’t like about him to a friend that accidentally got recorded on HIS voicemail. That wasn’t a fun conversation to have when he confronted me about it.  And then there was Brian. Brian took me all over the place. It was with him that I experienced eel for the first time. We also went to Kings Fishhouse in Calabasas one night and I ordered something with the dressing on the side. It reminded him of Meg Ryan in, ” When Harry met Sally” which I hadn’t seen. We went back to his house and watched it and I proceeded to spill ice cream down the front of my shirt. Lovely. I wonder why that relationship didn’t go anywhere? Finally there was the boxer. The boxer and I never actually went out. He came into the the italian restaurant I was working at and approached me about accompanying him to his next fight in Vegas. He promised plane flights, hotel suites, dinners – the works. I was polite but refused to give him my number. He came into the restaurant again for a second attempt and got me to sit down at the bar with him. I was uncomfortable because usually when someone mentions a trip together intimacy is assumed. I was 19 and vigilant about not having sex before marriage so I knew I would need to be fairly forward about my standards. I mentioned my beliefs and he actually asked if he could covert to my religion. I remember saying a very lame, “yes…?” but after that it sort of fizzled. He could tell I just wasn’t going for it and he relented.

So between my high school boyfriend, Boris and other random dates along the way I was relatively spoiled with good food. I don’t think when I met Michael (who later became my husband) he was ready for the high expectation I had for lavish dates. He was just out of the Navy and starting photography school so his earnings at the time were modest to say the least. And it was in this time of general want that we fell in love and got married. No one can say I married for money since I was in reality marrying into student loan debt! But after both our graduations and the success of our photography business we have been lucky enough to dine at some amazing places together. From Los Angeles to New York, Paris to Italy we have been so lucky to eat at some of the worlds best restaurants. My darling husband has taken my passion for the culinary arts seriously and has enjoyed all these experiences right along with me. Michael isn’t just another boyfriend or friend. He is my true soul mate and without him my life would seem pointless and sad. He brightens everything and probably is the reason I love to cook. His love and enthusiasm for my culinary adventures keeps me excited. When we sit down in a restaurant we first look at the decor and comment on the design. When the first course comes we take a bite and give our critic or praise. Same with the second. We judge the service and staff. We talk about our overall experience and I take notes on my phone. We are a restaurants worst nightmare. But we have fun and even though its not for anything but our own enjoyment and maybe a posting on my blog, its something we can get into. And just like everything else in our life, we enjoy it because we enjoy it together. I love you Bear.

Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Tomato Salad

There isn’t much else in the this salad other than what is listed in the title. :) Its simple, easy and most of all delicious. I really just made this because I had these ingredients in the fridge and was hungry. Not a major thought process or anything…I’ve actually found good success with recipes I’ve come up with based on random ingredients that I need to use up in the fridge. Its almost like Top Chef. The Chef’s are given a parameter to work with and that’s what inspires them. Its always the episode on Top Chef where the challenge has no parameters that the Chef’s tank on.  Anyway, I digress…. My husband raved over this recipe and I hope you do to!

Recipe:

Proscuitto (torn in large pieces)

Roma Tomatoes cut in wedges

Goat Cheese Log

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Directions:

On a plate place tomatoes and proscuitto. Crumble goat cheese over the top and drizzle olive oil and the vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Top Chef – LIVE!

I am a Top Chef Fan. Shocker. Along with millions of other people I enjoy watching a show that I can ultimately take NO pleasure in since I can’t taste the food that they are making. Its actually sort of insane. With Project Runway you can see the clothes. With Biggest Loser you can see the weight loss. But with Top Chef you are merely tantalized and taunted and then its over. I must be a glutton for punishment. Anyway, I had heard that the UCS Book Festival was having food industry speakers and some Top Chef veterans at the event. So I left my 5 month old baby in the care of her daddy and drove 2 hours to the blazing hot festival. I was tired, hungry, parched and late. I was planning on making it to Michael Voltaggio’s cooking presentation but LA traffic got the better of that situation. So I decided to bake out in the open sun in order to reserve a front row seat to hear what Gail Simmons had to say. Gail Simmons is a judge on Top Chef and also works for Food & Wine Magazine. I actually had no idea she had written a book (although I don’t know why it wasn’t obvious to me – I was at a BOOK festival.) Gail made her cooking demonstration as simple as simple could be – a scrambled egg. However, I was delighted to learn some new tips on how to cook a scrambled egg properly. I found out that Gail had gone to culinary school but never with the intention of being a chef. Rather, she wanted to understand and get a foundational knowledge to help her career in media as it related to food. And that’s exactly what she’s done. After watching her presentation I was inclined (and felt obligated) to buy her book. And she was doing a book signing so I thought, “What the heck.” There is a picture of me and Gail but I didn’t post it because my figure after the baby is not as svelte as I’d like to be. That’s why there is an out of focus shot of Gail with some blonde hair (me) in the frame to represent the photo I’m not posting. ;)

So onto the book. In short the read was very entertaining and well worth the purchase. However, it was somewhat weak in content and would only be interesting to Top Chef fans. It felt as if Gail was given the opportunity to write a book and took the offer as if she wasn’t sure there would be another one.  I can’t blame her as I probably would have done the same thing. Overall the book encompassed her road to Top Chef and many experiences while judging the show. It was a fun and simple book.

The final experience of the day was a interview with Michael Voltaggio and Nancy Silverton. Michael Voltaggio is the Season 6 winner of Top Chef and new co-author of, “Voltaggio Ink” with his brother Brian. Nancy Silverton is a long time and well respected chef and restaurant owner whose most recent restaurant Mozza has had wide success. The topics revolved around the food scene in Los Angeles and was fun and educational. Some subject they went into were the foie gras debate, LA’s perception of not being a “food town” and behind the scenes of writing their books.

Finally, the food trucks were off the hook. LA is definitely known for the craziest food trucks and they were definitely there representing.

Overall, I got a wicked burn but thoroughly enjoyed watching these TV personalities in the flesh.

(Below: Me (blonde hair) with Gail Simmons (out of focus). I look REALLY good in this photo don’t you think?)

(Below: Michael Voltaggio & Nancy Silverton during their interview)

(Food carts!)

Miss Piggy Cupcakes (& Kermit Too!)

My sister had a Muppets theme birthday party for my adorable nephew Sam and I was asked to make dessert! I scoured the internet for Miss Piggy themed cupcakes and took a variety of ideas and blended them together to get this end product. It was super fun! The whole time I was making them I kept annoying my husband by doing Miss Piggy impersonations. I was coming into the office with a cupcake and putting it in his face while exclaiming, “Hiiiiiiiiya!” or “Oh Kermy!” And since I have a sort of turn up nose the impersonations really seemed believable.  My husband thinks I’m half sophisticated woman half clown… Anyway – enjoy!

Here’s whatcha need…

Miss Piggy:

1 box strawberry cake mix

buttercream frosting 

red food coloring

black licorice

pink marshmallows

gourmet pen (for making nostrils!)

red piping gel

Make the strawberry cupcakes according to directions on the box. Set aside to cool

Make buttercream frosting and color with one drop of red food coloring. This should give it a light pink color. Frost the cupcakes with the frosting.

Cut the corners of the pink marshmallows to make the ears. Attach to the top of the cupcake.

Take the black licorice and cut about a 1/2 inch and then cut it length-wise on both sides. Cut along the edge to create little eyelashes. Make two and attach the the “face” of the cupcake.

Cut the marshmallows in half to create the snout. Using the gourmet pen color in some black holes for the nostrils. Attached to the “face”

Make the lips by using the red piping gel

Voila!

For Kermit:

Any flavor boxed cake mix

buttercream frosting

green food coloring

mentos

gourmet food pen

Make cake according to box directions. Set aside to cool.

Make buttercream. Color it with several drops of green food coloring. Frost cupcakes with frosting.

Taking a mento and color a round circle in the middle with the gourmet food pen. Draw a line through the circle to complete the eye.

Attach two eyes to the “face” of the green frosted cupcake to create Kermit. Repeat.

Enjoy!