Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Steak With Diablo BBQ Sauce

Oh wow am I worn out from my marathon of cooking! At this point, all I can hope is that I came in first. We made so much food! It started with a typical beef stew, then coucous salad, roast chicken with olives, capers and artichoke hearts over pasta, (that last one is based on my favorite thing to order at the late Charlies Crab on St. Armands Key in Florida. Mmm. Mmm.) mixed greens with raspberries and candied pecans, honey glazed salmon steaks, potato gratin, lasagna verde and ended with strawberry bread pudding. I can honestly say, that was a lot of food to make, and it took five hours, plus two hours of shopping for ingredients. Phew...Happy Memorial Day!

Porterhouse Steak With Diablo BBQ Sauce
Serves 4

Diablo BBQ Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
3 cups canned plum tomatoes, pureed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 porterhouse steaks, about 1 1/2-inches thick

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Heat grill to high. Season steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill, on one side, until crusty and slightly charred, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn steaks over, close the hood and continue grilling for 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare doneness. Baste with the sauce during the last few minutes. Remove from the grill and brush with more of the sauce. Let meat rest for 5 minutes, then slice into 1/4-inch thick slices and serve.

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Monday, May 24, 2004



Cookbooks. There sure are a lot of them out there (and hopefully, one day, mine will be too!)and picking which ones work for you can be tricky. But don't worry; there are some basic books that can really inspire you! I know people like pictures to help them along, and that makes a lot of sense, but not every good book has them (only one of the following do.)

These are my top five favorite basic cookbooks, all of which can be found on

The Joy Of Cooking-
There really isn't much this book doesn't cover.

The Fanny Farmer Cookbook-
Another classic. If you only want to have just have one book, this should be it.

The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook-
The SF Chronicle has the best food section in America (Sorry NY Times!), and this book proves it. Eclectic recipes, leaning towards Asian, that are well written and easy to make.

Classic Home Desserts By Richard Sax-
A book that really does what it claims. Provide a lot of simple recipes for home style desserts.

Fish And Shellfish by James Peterson-
James Peterson is the best cookbook author out there, and this book (and his others, Soups, Sauces and Vegetables) covers everything you would ever need to know about fish cookery.

I know I didn't include any ethnic cookbooks, of which there are many good ones, but this list was for basics, and I have plenty of room on this blog for more thoughts until then, Happy Cooking!

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Polenta Stuffed Peppers

This morning we made some fantastic food. The client I was working with had never had polenta, and I think we can now count her as a convert! We made quite a few things, including; Orange, Olive and Red Onion Salad, Baked Fish with Tomatoes and Lemon Tea Cakes. We also made Polenta Stuffed Peppers. Here is that recipe...

3 large red bell peppers
2 teaspoons butter (or margarine)
½ lb. Assorted mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, minced
Pinch of dried thyme
Black pepper to taste
1 cups instant polenta
1 ¾ cups water
1 large egg
½ cup mascarpone cheese
6 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the red peppers lengthwise, remove core. Place in a single layer in an oven proof dish.

In a large sauté pan, heat the butter. When melted, add the shallot and mushrooms, in a single layer. Do not stir for a few moments, allowing the mushrooms to brown. Remove from heat and add the thyme and pepper

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil, salt liberally and add the polenta, stirring until soft, about 4 – 6 minutes. (Follow directions on the package.)

Remove from heat and stir in the egg, and cheese, when incorporated, mix in the mushroom mixture.

Using a large spoon, scoop the polenta mixture into the peppers. Top with the parmesan.

Bake, covered for 20 minutes, uncover and continue to bake until the tops are browned and the peppers are soft to the touch, about 15 more minutes.

Makes six peppers.

Saturday, May 22, 2004


American Party Fun

I don't know how I got roped into this, but Sassy LaRue has been saying for month's that it seemed like a good time for me to host another tonight I am hosting a Hillbilly Party -- we keep saying White Trash, but that's not so nice. The menu has been a challenge, since, well, I don't normally make food like this, and I didn't want to end up with a lot of leftovers (for instance, Pork Rinds. Funny though they are, I would have just thrown them out)...So this is what we ended up with:

Sandwich Platter:
Fluffernutter (That's peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on white bread, a DELICIOUS concoction that teenaged dope fiends and trailer vixens everywhere feed on.)

Bologna and Cheese (B-O-L-O-G-N-A. Except not Oscar Meyer brand, so it's not quite as upscale.)

Pigs In A Blanket (My concession. Typically this seems to be hotdogs wrapped in biscuit mix, or some variation. OUR variation is Adiells Chicken and Artichoke Sausage wrapped in Puff Pastry.)

Cheese Puffs (Mmm. Cheesy. I had a choice of these or Cheese in a can, but that was $4.00, so obviously, I went with the puffs -- at half the price)

BBQ Chips (People like their BBQ sauce, so this is my homage)

Chips with Clam Dip (Clam Dip! Clam Dip! Clams-From-A-Can-Dip! YUMMY! YUMMY!I couldn't bring myself to buy French Onion Soup Mix for this.)

Jello Shots (Green apple, like the Appletinis that went out about 3 years ago -- IE: Perfect.)

Beer (Tall boys galore! No bottles! I have two classes to teach tomorrow, and a brunch, so I guess the drinking will be kept to a minimum...)

Moon Pies and Twinkies (Lard and Sugar all in one! BONUS!)

Spiked Watermelon (Well, I just like watermelon, what can I say...)

The soundtrack, of course, is heavy on Lynard Skynard, Drive By Truckers and the ilk.

Here is a recipe for Spiked Watermelon:

Start this the day before you want to eat it. All you do is make a hole in a watermelon (with seeds!) about as big as the opening on your bottle. Use a small knife and take out some of the melon, enough to make room for a pint of vodka. Save the plug (rind) that you cut out. If your melon takes the vodka fairly fast before your cookout, push the plug back in. Turn the bottle (carefully and slow) upside down and stick it in the melon. Push it down tight. Let it drain in. If not eaten in 2 days will become very mushy.

(This recipe is so popular, I have reprinted it here.)

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Client Praise

I got an email today from one of my clients. She told me that she had gone on the very popular website Chowhound and posted a nice review of our class, that was immediatly taken down by the moderator. When she emailed the moderator, asking why that had happened, in light of the fact there are many reviews of cooking classes on that site, she got a really rude email back, that actually called her names, and was quite upset. I have posted on Chowhound for some time, and have always noticed that the people who run the site have a little bit of a chip on their shoulders, but I figure, it's their site, let them do as they please...until now. Insulting my clients (anyone really) is uncalled for. So I say shame on them. I will post what was so nicely written about our class at a later time, but for now, I hope you will all stand by my client (I won't give her name) and myself and avoid Chowhound from now on. Thank you! Rachael

Monday, May 17, 2004


Asian Style Cole Slaw

My latest cooking class was a super success. I was stoked that we were grilling, which is really perfect this time of year, and nothing could have been better than the basic kebobs, steak, corn and nectarines we threw on there. The gin and tonics my client was pouring didnt hurt either of course!

As a zippy side we made this super simple Asian coleslaw. It is tangy and sweet and only takes a few minutes to pull together. If you cannot find napa cabbage, standard green cabbage will work, but you should give it a while longer to wilt. Try this, and enjoy!


5 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons oil
1 ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 teaspoon jalapeno chile, chopped

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt, as needed

½ Napa cabbage thinly sliced
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
1 carrot, shredded
Black sesame seeds for garnish

Additions: Bell peppers, chiles, peanuts, cubed tofu, shredded chicken.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing. (This dressing can be used as a marinade also)
Combine the rest of the ingredients, add the dressing, and toss to coat. Let marinate up to 3 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature. Can be made two days ahead, but will wilt.

Serves four

Friday, May 14, 2004


Healthy Eating

I have pretty strong thoughts on weight loss and why it is Americans struggle to lose weight. As someone who is constantly around food, I understand how much of a struggle it can be to maintain your ideal weight, so I thought I would share my thoughts on the subject.

1. Eat real food. Stop eating strange, processed, diet,low-cal,low-carb,low-fat foods. Your body needs real food, not substitutes. Buy fruit, vegetables, meats and legumes and grains. Like your friends (ha ha) at Breyers say, if you can't pronounce the ingredients on the label, you shouldn't be eating it. Nothing in your cupboard should have a shelf life longer than your life expectancy.

2. No more soda -- drink water. Even diet soda is bad. Cut it out of your life. Try green tea.

3. Stop eating junk. Just stop. Don't buy it, don't have it in the house, avoid it at the office. There is no middle ground. Do not buy junk substitutes, just don't eat junk. Period.

4. Stop and eat. When you are eating, just do that. Sit down, at a table, and eat, slowly. It takes your brain up to 30 minutes to realize your stomach is full, so you could eat almost 4 times what you really need in the time it takes your stomach to feel full. So slow down. Chew. Savor. Enjoy.

5. When you buy groceries, take the extra ten minutes to chop everything up. Mince those onions, put them in a baggie and have them on hand. Peel some carrots and store them for snacks. It makes cooking easier and snacking healthier.

6. Taking carbs completely out of your diet is not a healthy way to lose weight. Sure, cutting back on them makes a difference, but cutting back and cutting out are two different things. Try portion control and go from there. Bread is good, a lot of bread isn't. Also, there is a risk with low-carb eating -- you don't get fiber. Fiber is important to your health.

7. Eat seasonally. Vegetables have seasons. Find out what they are, and eat accordingly. You know peaches won't be any good in the middle of winter, but potatoes choose accordingly.

8. Exercise. Walk, run, hop, skip, lunge, leap...whatever it takes.

I don't know if that sounds easy or hard to you, but if you change the way you deal with food, you can change the way food affects your life. We have such abundance, it can be overwhelming, but it shouldn't be. You are in charge of your weight.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Mixed Fruit Crisp

Yesterday we made a lot of fun things, including couscous salad, pasta salad with peppers and olives and a really nice fruit crisp. Here is the fruit crisp recipe. Easy, peasy.

1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 pounds assorted fruit
1/2 cup sugar (or more if needed)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a food processor blend flour, brown sugar, 1/2 cup oats, cinnamon, salt, and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a bowl stir together flour mixture, and remaining 1/4 cup oats.

In a small bowl stir water and cornstarch until combined. Toss with fruit and sugar as needed. Transfer mixture to a 15 x 9-inch (3-quart) baking dish.

Sprinkle topping over fruit. Bake mixture in middle of oven 40 to 45 minutes, or until topping is crisp and golden, and cool on a rack 10 minutes.

Serve dessert warm.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004



Let's see...last night I made a middle eastern feast as a demonstration...I don't know why, but the eggplant for the baba ghanouj took more than 1.5 hours to soften in a 400 degree time, I will start earlier, I guess. It turned out fantastic though. Really smooth and smokey. We also made Spinach, Mushroom Phyllo Pie, Tabbouli and Hummus. I subsituted yogurt for some of the tahini in the hummus recipe, and I think it came out great. Here it is:

1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Salt to taste

Add ingredients to blender; blend until coarse puree forms, occasionally scraping down sides.

Season hummus to taste with salt.

Transfer to small bowl.

Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with pita chips.

Sunday, May 09, 2004


Earl Grey Tea Chocolate Truffles

After a wonderful Mothers Day Brunch with my fam, I headed up to Malibu to teach a class for a woman and her mother, grandmother, aunt and cousins. They wanted something fun, so I demonstrated how to make quick fudge, and then got everyone's hands in to make mocha and raspberry truffles. It was the perfect,quick class and they seemed to enjoy it. Of course, who doesnt love chocolate, right?

2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 ½ teaspoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves or any liquor* of your choice (optional)
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder or powdered sugar

½ cup cornstarch (for dusting hands)

Bring cream and butter to a boil in a small, but heavy saucepan and stir in tea leaves. Remove from heat and let steep 5 –10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the chocolate and transfer to a bowl. Pour cream through a fine-mesh sieve onto chocolate, pressing on and discarding tea leaves, then whisk until smooth. Chill mixture, covered, until firm, about 2 hours.

Put cocoa in a bowl. Using a spoon, scoop up the ganache in one teaspoon sized chunks and place on a baking sheet, then dust your palms lightly in the cornstarch or cocoa and roll each piece of ganache into a ball (wash your hands in cold water and redust about every 3-4 truffles). Drop several balls at a time into bowl of cocoa and turn to coat using a fork. If the ganache gets too warm, return to the refrigerator for 5 minutes.

Transfer as coated to an airtight container, separating layers with wax paper. Chill until firm. Can be kept refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

Sunday, May 02, 2004


Caprese Salad

Today I went to the Hollywood Farmers market to get some ingredients for my classes this week. The tomatoes I got are so perfect, I might end up eating them myself! Cherries have just appeared, and they are delicious too, so I bought a pint to see if I can make a nice tart later this week. Here is a recipe for a basic caprese salad to use some of those amazing tomatoes

2 medium, ripe tomatoes, red or gold or both, in thick slices
6 oz. fresh mozarella cheese. Sliced thick
12 leaves basil, torn up.
1 oz. best quality olive oil
A sprinkle of the best quality salt you have

Layer the tomatoes, cheese and basil on a platter, drizzle with oil and salt. Enjoy!

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