Shish Kabob

I got email from a friend this week suggesting that we get together tonight.  We considered going out but didn’t want to leave our daughter with a sitter.  We invited them to our house – they are bringing salad and we’ll have grilled shish kabob with rice.  It’s pretty healthy and always delicious.  I made the marinade this morning and the meat and veggies have been soaking all day.

Shish Kabob

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TB dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jar.  Marinate sirloin cubes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and red onions (quartered).  Skewer and grill.  Serve over rice.

Entertaining with ease

There are several different ways to entertain friends.  When we get together with some of our friends, the food is the entertainment so cooking together and spending several hours in the kitchen makes the evening fun.  (Our New Year’s Eve tapas event last year was a perfect example as was our Thai feast two weeks ago.  In both cases, we cooked some things, ate them, cooked some more and had a ball.)  If that is not your objective and you want to sit and relax with friends, the key to success is to do as much as possible ahead of time.

We’ve invited a couple over for dinner tonight.  I’m making fresh Vietnamese spring rolls followed by grilled Porterhouse steaks over arugula (steak Florentine) and a cranberry apple cake.  I found the cake recipe in one of my Barefoot Contessa books and it sounded seasonally appropriate.  The Vietnamese spring rolls come from our cooking class and I’ve blogged the steak Florentine before.  The cake just came out of the oven – see picture below, I just cooked the shrimp so I can make the spring rolls and the only thing to do while our guests is here will be to put the steaks on the grill.

The spring rolls sound more intimidating than they are.  The wrappers can be found in an Asian market.  Here is a picture.

They are made of rice flour, tapioca starch, water and salt.  You soak them in warm water and then fill them.  Working with them takes some getting used to as the wrappers are flimsy.  Once the wrapper is wet, you spread out the circle gently.  Then I’ll top each wrapper with a romaine lettuce leaf, some bean sprouts, a few cooked shrimp, a couple of mint leaves and basil leaves and then roll them up.  Once rolled, I’ll put them in the fridge with a damp paper towel on top of them.  My brother-in-law puts flank steak inside his – you could also use cooked scallops, crabmeat for the protein and shredded carrots or thinly sliced red pepper would be good additions for crunch and flavor.  These are excellent dipped in sweet chili sauce or duck sauce.  The sauce we learned in our cooking glass is made by mashing garlic and spicy Thai pepper in a mortar and pestle and then adding rice vinegar, lime juice, sugar and chopped peanuts.  Either way these are delicious – possibly a little bit summery given that it is snowing in our area.

My husband is a big help when we entertain.  He is setting the table now.  When our friends arrive, we will be able to enjoy their company without stressing about dinner.  If you stress when you have company look for recipes you are comfortable making, be sure that of the appetizer, entree, side dish and dessert at least two are completely finished before your company is scheduled to arrive (if that means buying them rather than making them, that’s fine) and that you have as much of the preparation such as choosing serving dishes, setting table, etc. done in advance as possible.

More easy entertaining

Friends invited us to play paddle tennis tonight and then have dinner.  They suggested that we go out but I don’t like to get babysitters on Friday nights when my daughter has been in school all week.  A sitter will watch her while we play paddle and then we’ll come back to our house for dinner.  Having company on a Friday night when you’ve worked all week is doable if you keep it simple and go with make ahead recipes.

That means when we come back to the house, we’ll munch on my crabbie appetizers from the basement freezer with a glass of wine.  Dinner is shish kabob over rice – I made the marinade last night and marinated the beef overnight.  I’ll throw the vegetables in with the remaining marinade this morning.  Dessert is mocha mousse – it’s sort of a cheater’s version of chocolate mousse, easy and delicious.  I made that last night also since it needs to freeze overnight.  I made a double batch – Christie and I are having a Thai cooking extravaganza on Saturday and trying out our newest lessons for our husbands.  We’re making shrimp cakes, two kinds of spring rolls and curried fish custard.  Mocha mousse is certainly not an authentic Thai dessert but it’s always good.

Shish Kabob

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TB dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jar.  Marinate sirloin cubes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and red onions (quartered).  Skewer and grill.  Serve over rice.
Mocha Mousse
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant coffee
  • 6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
Combine sugar, water and coffee in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Put chocolate chips in a blender and add sugar syrup.  Blend for 10 seconds.  Add eggs and blend for 1 minute.  Fold into whipped cream and freeze, at least overnight.  Serve.