it's me...


Friday, May 28, 2010

Wana Try Something New This Memorial Day; Forget The Grilled Hot Dogs

Recently on Facebook I got into a conversation about the best way to cook a hot dog. As we all know grilled hot dogs are good and they have their place. But I have to tell you about another option, the hot dog seared in butter. I hate to admit it but I got the idea from Paula Deen. Yes the queen of all things butter.

Take about ½ tablespoon unsalted butter and melt over medium high heat. Add your hot dog of choice to the pan and cook till crisp and heated through.

Add the bun to the pan and swirl in butter; toast to a golden brown.

Top with your favorite topping; to me that is a good smear of Creole mustard, a little ketchup, diced onions, and sprinkling of relish

but really it depends on the day of the week what I want on my hot dog!

Happy Memorial Day

My “essential” tools

In cooking classes I bring several “essential” tools with me, tools that I just could not cook without and I wanted to share them with you.

First is the Messermister serrated vegetable peeler

This peeler allows you to peel the skin off of peach, tomatoes and mango with ease. While at the same time it never dulls, helping you to peel those holiday mash potatoes with ease.

Global Chef Knife

A good quality chef’s knife will change your world. The ease and joy it can add to bring to your life (not to mention your food)

Microplane zest

At first it was just a handy tool for making super fine citrus zest. But as time has gone on it is a tool I never knew I needed but cannot live without. From grating my favorite cheese to making quick work of minced garlic or to create chocolate pieces to dust the top of my Tiramisu. It is my bff!

Ingredient of the week ~~~ Guanciale~~~

Guanciale- unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig's jowl or cheeks, from Knights Salumi (

Can be used just like bacon, but so much better. Great fennel seeds, herbs and spices give this stuff so much more flavor than generic grocery store bacon.

Personally I like to cut it into small cubes and brown or crisp it in a pan. Then sprinkle it into salads, onto pasta, or just snack on it like crispy little meat potato chips.

Purchase at the Little Italy Mercato in San Diego ( One of San Diego's best famrers markets. Full of great local products.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A few Pics from Spa Cuisine Cooking Class At Torrey Pines High School

I recently got luck enough to have a small intimate class of students at Torrey Pines; while the students where lucky enough to have a "private" cooking class!

So nice to take a moment and enjoy a meal with anyone who has take as class with me before will know that is a big deal.

The menu for that night was
Arugula and Spinach Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Yellow Bell Peppers
Dresses with a Dijon, Sherry Vinegar and Shallot Vinaigrette

Chicken Breast Roulade Stuff with Asparagus
Served with a Spinach and Basil Pesto

Vegetable and Squash Risotto

Almond Phyllo Cups with Rose Water Fruit Salad

If you are interested my next classes start next week (Thai and Vietnamese or Greek and Morocan) go to

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Il Fornaio Coronado Presents a Palmina Winemaker Dinner ~May 20, 2010

Il Fornaio Coronado Presents a Palmina Winemaker Dinner
With Winery Specialist Chrystal Clifton

Thursday, May 20th at 6:30pm

Il Fornaio General Manager Luca Allieri and Chef-Partner Marco Nocco invite you to a Palmina Wine Dinner. Palmina Winery is situated along the Pacific coastline in Santa Barbara County and solely produces Italian varietals. Palmina Wine Specialist Chrystal Clifton will take you on a tasting tour of her best wines paired with Chef Marco’s five-course menu. Also enjoy a live musical performance by accordionist Lou Fanucchi.

RSVP at (619) 437-4911
$59.99 per person

(excluding tax and gratuity)
Menu della Casa

Tuna tartar, mussels augratin,
eggplant and goat cheese rollatini
Arneis 2008, Honea vineyard, St.Ynez Valley

Pomodoro e Mozzarella di Bufala
Heirloom tomato and imported
buffalo mozzarella cheese salad
Pinot Grigio 2009, Santa Barbara County

Risotto ai Carciofi e Porcini
Carnaroli rice, artichokes, porcini mushrooms,
white wine sauce
Nebbiolo 2005, Santa Barbara County

Choice of

Filetto d’Orata Costa d’Oro
Seared fresh sea-bream filet, baby zucchini,
crispy potatoes, zucchini sauce
ocai Friulano 2009, Honea Vineyard, St.Ynez Valley
Filetto di Vitello
Sautéed veal tenderloin, grilled asparagus,
rosemary potatoes, veal demi-glaze
Barbera 2007, Santa Barbara County

Tortino di Ricotta e Canditi
Housemade ricotta cake with candied fruit
Sangiovese Passito, Osare 2006, Alisos Vineyard, Santa Barbara County

Il Fornaio • 1333 First Street • Coronado • 619.437.4911 •

The “Super Green” List: the healthiest choices off the Monterey Bay Aquarium sustainable seafood list...with a recipe for Grainy Mustard Crusted Salmon

The “Super Green“ list highlights products that are currently on the Seafood Watch “Best Choices” (green) list, are low in contaminants and are good sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

The Best of the Best: January 2010 (from Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch for more information go to

  • Albacore Tuna (troll-or pole-caught, from the U.S.or British Columbia)
  • Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems,from the U.S.)
  • Mussels (farmed)
  • Oysters (farmed)
  • Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)
  • Pink Shrimp (wild-caught, from Oregon)
  • Rainbow Trout (farmed)
  • Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)
  • Spot Prawns (wild-caught, from British Columbia)

Eating sustainable and healthy is not nearly as hard as some people might think.
Here is a super simeple recipe for a broiled salmon, make it a meal by serving it with some sauted greens or a grilled asparagus.

Grainy Mustard Crusted Salmon
Serves 4

1 ¼ lb Center-cut salmon fillets, cut into 4 portions
Salt and pepper, to taste

¼ cup Reduced-fat sour cream
2 tbsp Stone-ground mustard
2 tsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Lemon zest
Lemon wedges

Preheat broiler.
Line a broiler pan or baking sheet with foil.
Place salmon pieces, skin-side down, on the prepared pan.
Season with salt and pepper.
Combine sour cream, mustard, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl.
Spread evenly over the salmon.
Broil the salmon 5 inches from the heat source until it is opaque in the center, 10 to 12 minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges.

Per serving :
290 Calories;
15 g Fat
89 mg Cholesterol
2 g Carbohydrates
29 g Protein
289 mg Sodium
550 mg Potassium


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo...Enchiladas with Homemade chiplotle red sauce

New Mexican chile pepper pods have a pungent, earthy flavor, and slightly sweet flavor…. which you might find quite addicting. These chiles are also known as California or Anaheim peppers, before they are dried. These are the chiles that I prefer for my enchiladas, but to be honest there are millions of different sauces and variations of chiles that can be used to make a red enchilada sauce.

For instance, my friend’s mother swear by Guajillo, the work horse of Mexican chiles, they are slightly spicier then the New Mexico chile and have an almost smoky flavor. Then there are the Passila and the Ancho, the combination of all the various chiles mentioned. You can mix and match till you find the sauce that is just right for you.

I know that many people love their Mexican food spicy, and for that I call upon the Chipotle in Adobo!! This is my favorite way to add a kick to any Mexican and Southwestern flavored dish (and sometimes I just puree them with Mayonnaise and lime juice to put on anything- from shrimp to a turkey sandwich). Just take one of these beauties out if the can, I never recommend using more than one (I also suggest you start small and work your way up- chop off a small piece of the chile and add it to the sauce and keep adding till you get the heat you like), and puree it into the my enchilada sauce. This makes my roommate very happy!!!!

Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce
Serves 4 to 6

7 New Mexico chilies, whipped clean, seeded, stemmed and torn into small pieces
1 ½ cups Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, smashed
2 ½ cups Chicken broth
1 ½ cups Water
1 tbsp Chipotle in adobo(optional), chopped
2 tsp Coriander
½ tsp Garlic salt
½ tsp Oregano
¼ cup Lime juice

1/3 cup Vegetable oil
12 Corn tortillas
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterrey Jack or Oaxacan, shredded

¼ cup Cotija or Queso Fresco cheese, crumbled
Crema or sour cream

In a sauté pan, over medium heat, add onions, garlic, and chile. Cook till onions and garlic are lightly toasted.
Add chicken broth and water.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes.
Remove from heat and place in a blender, add chipotle, coriander, garlic salt, oregano and lime juice. Blend till smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
In a bowl mix together cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese, reserving ¼ cup of cheese mixture.
Heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, add 1 tortilla and cook until softened, turning once, about 15 to 30 seconds for each side.
Transfer tortilla to paper towel lined plate and drain well. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spoon 1/3 enchilada sauce into a baking dish, and spread to coat.
Spoon cheese into slightly off center of the tortilla, roll up tortilla and place seam side down in prepared dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, making sure they do not touch each other.
Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Cover with foil.
Bake enchiladas, covered, until sauce bubbles and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.
Remove foil and add remaining cheese, cook till cheese melts.
Serve hot, drizzled with crema or sour cream.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A day of gluttony

Over the weekend I went a little foodie crazy (guess that is what happens when your knee hurts and going out and enjoying the beautiful San Diego weather is not an option). Saturday was spent slowly eating a 5 course meal. I wanted to share it with you but don’t want to show just what a glutton I am, so I am only sharing 2 recipes (that made up just one of the courses).

Maybe one day I will be comfortable with my gluttony and will reveal the other 4 courses.

To prep for this day of gluttony I had to do some shopping, one stop was at Chino farms to pick up the start of summer produce. Then grabbed a lovely piece of Swordfish from my local fish marketed, combined it with my Chino farms finds, as well as some fun items I had in my garden; here is what I created with these great treats.

Grilled Swordfish with Avocado, Orange, Habanero, and Dill Salas
Serves 2

Swordfish marinade
¼ cup Olive oil
2 tbsp Lemon verbena
1/2 tsp Ground black pepper
3 dashes Maggie
1 (1-inch-thick) Swordfish steak (8 ounces)

For salsa
1 Orange, segmented
1 Orange, juiced
1 Avocado, diced
½ tbsp Fresh dill leaves
1 tbsp Green onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 dashes Habanero hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Marinate swordfish:
Place olive oil ,lemon verbena,ground black pepper, maggie and swordfish into lagre plastic bag; coat fish in marinade. Marinate for 15 minutes in the refrigerator. (Do not marinate longer.)

Make salsa while swordfish marinates:
Combine orange segments, orange juice, avocado, dill, green onions, Habanero hot sauce and season with salt and pepper. Gently stir together and set aside.

Grill swordfish:
Heat non-stick grill pan over medium high heat. Remove swordfish from marinade and grill until just cooked through, approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve topped with salsa.

Follow the same recipe for marinating and cooking the fish but omit the salsa and serve with this recipe:

Vegetable with Cream
Serves 2

2 tbsp Unsalted butter
7 Petterpan squash, cut in quarters
1/3 cup Carrot, sliced
2 tbsp Green onion, sliced
1 cup Fresh English peas
3 sprigs Thyme
¼ cup Cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauté pan heat butter over medium high heat.
Add squash and carrots, sauté till just tender (about 3 minutes).
Add green onions, peas, and thyme, sauté until peas just begin to become tender.
Add cream and simmer for 2 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Italian Cooking for Beginners (Part 2) Menus

I had some questions recently on the menus for my upcoming Italian cooking class, as well as a question about if students needed to take the first part to take the second. To be honest, No you don't need to take 1 to take 2. Yes it would give you more information but the second part is really independent of the first. Both classes are amazing and give you a ton of wonderful recipes.

Here is the menu for the class...and please continue to email me or contact me with any questions you might have.

Day 1 –

“Antipasti” Salad with Red wine Vinaigrette
Baked Cannellini Beans with Tomato Ragu
Grilled Strip Steaks
Citrus Rice Pudding

Day 2-

Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Green Beans with Sautéed Portabella Mushrooms and Prosciutto
Roasted Garlic and Mascarpone Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Pork Chops with Mushroom and White Wine Sauce

Day 3-

Italian Wedding Soup
Sautéed Broccoli with Garlic and White Wine
Chicken Breast Milanese

Day 4-

Roasted Eggplant Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
Fresh Egg Pasta with Fried Sage and Garlic Shrimp
Chocolate Hazel Nut Mousse