Summertime Grillin’ and Chillin’

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Mexican / Steak


Carne Asada (Citrus Marinaded Skirt Steak)

Carne Asada is the quintessential grilled dish in my backyard.  It’s the perfect summer meal to enjoy with friends and family.   When I want to barbecue, I think of Carne Asada or Burgers.  We are fortunate in California to have a plethora of Mexican Carnecerias (Meat market).  At the Carnecerias you can buy marinaded skirt steak ready to grill.  When I lived in New York 12 years ago I couldn’t find marinaded Carne Asada.  I had to figure out how to make it myself.  It is a sweet and sour, citrus marinade that tenderizes the meat.  It grills up in just minutes.  When the skirt steak is done sit down with friends and grab a beer because it’s time to chill.


Time -1 hour and 10 minutes


2 lbs of skirt steak, 1 cup fresh orange juice (3 oranges), 1/2 cup of fresh lime juice (3 limes),  1 cup of vegetable or canola oil, 1/2 red onion sliced, 1 clove of garlic smashed, 1 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt, 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1/2 tsp of Mexican oregano


Place skirt steak in a pyrex platter and add all the ingredients listed above and let marinate for an hour in refrigerator.



After 1 hour take meat out of refrigerator and let sit at room temperature while grill gets hot.  Get grill to take least 400 degrees.  Place skirt steak on grill about 3 minutes per side.  The steak is very thin and cooks quickly.  The basic rule of thumb is to look for great grill marks and flip once.  The marinade has a cup of oil in it so be careful to properly drain excess off before placing on grill to avoid oil fire and flame.  Grill jalapeños and Mexican green onions for added flavor.

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Place cooked meat on platter and enjoy alone with a side of rice and beans.  You could also chop this up for Carne Asada tacos or burritos.  Grab a sit at my table while I pour you a drink.  Enjoy!FullSizeRender 3

Please see blogs: Back to Basics a Mexican Kitchen, Don’t tell anyone I told you this secret and Take a Break.  It’s Labor Day for recipes on rice, beans, salsa and guacamole.

Recipe note:

Please don’t leave out oil in marinade.  It balances the citrus flavor.


Unabashed Eggslut

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Breakfast / Sandwich

Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a Buttered Brioche Bun with Sriracha Ketchup

Have I told you that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day? Well this sandwich is one of the reasons why.  When I lived in New York, having a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll was as commonplace as a breakfast burrito in California.  The restaurant Eggslut has brought the breakfast sandwich to life on the west coast.  They really upped the ante with the introduction of the brioche bun.  They use a chipotle ketchup that adds a tangy sweetness that is appreciated with all the salty and savory deliciousness from the eggs, bacon, and cheese.  If you do not have an Eggslut near you, this recipe will satisfy the craving.

Time-20 minutes



2 Brioche buns, 2 eggs, 6 slices of bacon, 2 slices of American Cheese, 1/4 cup of Ketchup, 1 tsp of Sriracha, butter, salt and pepper.


Butter both sides of Brioche bun and toast on a medium high skillet until golden.  FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender 2








Fry up bacon until desired crispiness.  Set aside on paper towels.

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Mix Sriracha and ketchup together in a small bowl and set aside.

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Before frying egg start to build sandwich by slathering Sriracha Ketchup on the bottom of the bun.  Pile two or three slices of bacon on top of ketchup.

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Start to fry over easy egg by adding 1 tsp of butter on medium high heat.  As egg cooks season with salt and pepper then flip egg once you have golden brown edges.

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Once egg is flipped immediately add cheese and turn off heat.  Finish sandwich by adding egg and cheese.

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Enjoy with your choice of protein such as sausage patty or ham.  The sky is the limit enjoy!DSC_3757

It’s Irrational Not to Eat Pie on Pi Day!

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Chocolate Banana Empanadas (Mini Pies)

March 14th is National Pi Day.  It celebrates the irrational number of Pi.  Whatever the reason, in my world it’s just another day to enjoy some food!  These chocolate banana mini pies are perfect for tomorrow’s festivities.

Time-45 minutes

Servings-24 mini pies


2 pre-made pie crusts, Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels, 1 banana, 1 TBS brown sugar, 1 egg, 2 TBS granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and bench flour.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface.

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Use a 3 inch circle cookie cutter to cut.  Combine left over dough and roll out again. You should get 12 pies per crust.

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Mash banana with a fork and add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar set aside in a bowl.  Beat one egg and set aside in a bowl.

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With each pie crust use rolling pin to make slightly oval to fit in filling.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of banana mixture a 3 chocolate morsels.  Close and crimp edges on both sides with a fork.

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Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay 12 per cookie sheet.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Cook in oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Dust with powdered sugar.


Happy π Day!

My Valentine’s Day Gift

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fullsizerenderOn Valentine’s Day last year I had the privilege of meeting a living legend, Nancy Silverton. Nancy needs no introduction. However if you are not familiar with Nancy, allow me to introduce her. She is a chef, restaurant owner, founder of La Brea Bakery, and a James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Chef. Nancy is co-owner of my favorite restaurant Mozza. We celebrate Valentine’s Day every year with the best pasta and wine in Los Angeles. If you are fortunate enough to dine when Nancy is present, she is very visible in the center of the restaurant. She works behind the Mozza Bar surrounded by a marble countertop where she prepares delicious bites with mozzarella. It’s mesmerizing to watch her work with such grace and posture. There are so few moments in life when you get to witness someone who has honed their skills to the point that they make everything look simple. To my surprise Nancy walked up to our table and I about broke into tears. Nancy was unbelievably kind and generous with her time. We discussed the dishes I have made from the Mozza cookbook and she informed me of her new cookbook Mozza at Home. She engaged my husband and kids in conversation. Later Nancy posed for a picture and gave me a really good hug before leaving. This was quite the moment for this home cook who rubbed shoulders with a legend on Valentine’s Day.

One of the most popular pasta dishes, and a family favorite, is orecchiette with fennel sausage and swiss chard. The recipe from Nancy’s cookbook takes approximately 90 minutes. I adapted the recipe to an easier and quicker version for the home cook.


fullsizeoutput_c99eMozza inspired Orecchiette with Fennel Sausage and shaved Brussel Sprouts

Time-45 minutes



4 uncooked sweet sausage links, 4 uncooked hot sausage links, 1 lb and 1 cup of orecchiette  pasta,  1/2 cup of onions or shallots chopped, 3 cloves of garlic minced, 1/2 tsp of crushed pepper, 2 cups of chicken stock/broth, 1 tsp of fennel pollen (see cooks note), 1 10 ounce bag of shredded brussel sprouts, 3 TBS of butter, 1 cup of panko bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano plus some for plating, and drizzle of olive oil to finish.


Fill a large pasta pot with water and start to bring to boil.  While waiting for water to heat, prepare sausage.  Sausage is difficult to break down in a hot skillet.  In an unheated large 13″ skillet remove sausage from casings and piece into cold pan.  Once sausage is broken down turn on burner to medium-high heat and brown.   Sausage has plenty of fat and salt no need to oil pan or season with salt.


It is important to get a good brown on the sausage it helps build flavor.


When sausage looks similar to the picture above add shallots/onions and incorporate into dish.  After 2 minutes add garlic, crushed pepper and 3/4 of the shredded brussel sprouts.  Sauté crushed peppers, garlic and brussel sprouts for one minute then add chicken stock.

Drop orecchiette into pasta water and cook 1-2 minutes under package instructions for al dente pasta.  Reduce the sausage mixture for 5-10 minutes on medium high heat.  When the mixture is reduced but still has about 1/2 cup of stock remaining turn off heat.  When pasta is ready drain pasta water and add pasta to sausage mixture.  Mix pasta into skillet incorporating the sauce onto the pasta.  Add fennel pollen, parmigiano-reggiano, and remainder of brussel sprouts.

fullsizerender-6 Lastly, in a smaller skillet add 3 TBS of butter on medium heat.  Once butter starts to bubble add panko bread crumbs.  Slowly brown crumbs for 5-10 minutes.



Add sausage orecchiette to plate and top with a drizzle of olive oil, more parmiagiano-reggiano, and a tablespoon of  bread crumbs.  A dusting of fennel pollen would be lovely as well. Enjoy!


Cook’s Note:

  1.  I buy Fennel Pollen online because it is difficult to find.  However, you can grind fennel seed in a spice grinder and it tastes very similar. img_5903
  2. Sausage is sometimes sold by weight.  I weighed the 8 links and it weighed 1 pound and 10 ounces.


3.  Always salt your pasta water.  Once water comes to a boil, I put in 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.

4.  In order to get the right sausage to pasta ratio I needed a little more pasta.  Yes, you have to buy two boxes of orecchiette.

5.  I have also used fresh baby spinach or power greens mix in place of brussel sprouts.  The power greens mix has baby swiss chard and it resembles Mozza’s version the best.

6.  Before throwing out pasta water reserve a cup in case your sauce is to dry you can add some pasta water to loosen.




Are You Ready For Some Football?

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dsc_2687Quesadillas two ways

Southwest BBQ Pork with caramelized onions avocado and cilantro & Green Chile and Chicken

My favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday is the food and commercials…  Shocking, I know!  When having a Super Bowl party finger food is your best bet.  You need one free hand for the high-five, or a cold beer.  Quesadillas are perfect for game day because they are delicious.  They even taste great at room temperature.  Expedite this appetizer with some pre-made ingredients from the store to make sure everything is ready before kickoff.  Sit back and enjoy the commercials…  I mean game!

Time-1 hour 15 minutes



1 rotisserie chicken, 1 40 oz package of pre-cooked carnitas, 4 burrito size flour tortillas, 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, 1 onion, 3 poblanos, 5 jalapeños, 1 2.2 LB of shredded Mexican cheese, 1 avocado, 1 teaspoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of butter, 1/2 bunch of cilantro chopped, sour cream, salsa, guacamole

Preparation of Quesadilla

Caramelizing onion start by peeling skin off the onion.  Cut onion in half from tip to root.  Then cut perpendicular to grain and cut thin half moon slivers.  Add oil and butter to skillet on medium high heat.  Add onions and distribute evenly in skillet and coat the onions well in the oil.  Keep an eye on your onions you may need to lower temperature to medium-low to prevent burning.  You can add a teaspoon of sugar to expedite the process and a pinch of salt about 15 minutes into cooking.  If onions look dry you can add a little water.  The onions will turn brown in about 30 minutes.  Remove from skillet and set aside.


Toasting peppers you can grill the chile peppers stovetop or on open flame.  Place peppers on grill on high-heat.  Blacken evenly then place in a container with lid to steam for 10 minutes.


Peel the skin off the peppers with a spoon.  Chop into small pieces and discard stem and skin then set aside.


Remove and shred Chicken from carcass and set aside.  Heat up Carnitas according to package instructions and add barbecue sauce and mix until well distributed.  Chop cilantro and set aside.  Open and score avocado and prepare all your toppings to start building your quesadilla.


Building the Green Chile Chicken Quesadilla-in a skillet, comal, or griddle lightly toast tortilla on both sides on medium heat.  Then add cheese, chicken, green peppers and cilantro.


Place second lightly toasted tortilla on top. Allow bottom tortilla to crisp up then flip and toast opposite side. Once cheese is melted take off griddle.  Place on cutting board and cut into 8 slices.


Repeat same method with cheese, pork, onions, cilantro and avocado.

fullsizeoutput_c994The amount of ingredients you use is entirely up to you.  Remember the cheese is the star of any quesadilla.  Serve with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.

fullsizeoutput_c995Enjoy with cold beers and good friends.

Cook’s Note:

  1.  Costco has two products I really like to use for the quesadillas.  Del Real Carnitas and Supremo Chihuahua Shredded Quesadilla Cheese.
  2. You will have left over ingredients depending if you only make the amount blogged. I made chicken enchiladas with my left over chicken.  Pulled pork sliders with the left over pork.  I blended the left over chiles with some canned tomatillos, cilantro, onion and garlic for a fresh salsa verde.  Waste not want not.
  3. I used Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.
  4. For great guacamole and salsa recipes see previous blogs.  Take a Break. It’s Labor Day and Don’t tell anyone I told you this secret! Find under appetizer.