Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Dear Blog!

With Vincenzino in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast

It was a year ago today that I made my first posting and the Skinny Gourmet Guy was born.  What a ride it's been!  The most significant change for me has been all but giving up red meat and having fish for dinner 99% of the time.  This kind of happened by accident.  The core of the Skinny recipes were adapted from the philosophies Vincenzino taught me.  I studied with him at his house in Ravello on the Amalfi coast.  Every night I'd try out recipes and photograph the results.  Some recipes worked, some didn't - but they were all fish.  I had no idea before starting the blog that you could have fish for dinner every night and still have lots of variety.

My favorite new recipe - tuna steak

For some reason, before the blog I always messed up grilling tuna.  But after long hours watching the Food Network I caught an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and Anne Burrell solved the mystery for me. 

Anne Burrell of  Secrets of a Restaurant Chef

It's funny - Anne is a bit off-putting to me - with the crazy hair, unbridled sarcasm and bull-in-a-china-shop personality - but her recipes are great and she's a really good teacher.  Here's the link to the tuna recipe:

Roasted vegetables have become a mainstay

I had also never roasted vegetables before the Skinny blog and now I do it all the time.  It's so easy to take your favorite vegetables, add olive oil, salt and pepper and throw it in a 450 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing the veggies with tongs halfway through.  Roasting really intensifies the flavors. 

I kicked the potato chip habit
Another major change in my diet was kicking the potato chip habit.  I would plow through chips every night when I got home from work and still eat a big dinner.  Now I opt for baked instead of fried and snack on Pop Chips or pita chips (I really like Trader Joe's pita chips) and really watch how much I have rather than sitting in front of the TV with bag in hand mindlessly gorging on chips.  Now I take a small portion, put it on a plate, and put the bag away. 

Cooking class in Barcelona

I was thin when I started the blog, mostly due to my punishing workout schedule, but I've lost about 10 pounds over the past year all due to changes in my diet (my workout schedule has remained the same).  It's all about the Mediterranean diet (thank you Vincenzino!), limiting carbs and cutting out potato chips.   But I also believe that every now and then you have to live a little.  So occasionally I have my old favorites: salt and vinegar potato chips and if you see me having dinner at Cafe Luxembourg you may just see me downing their excellent steak frites!

Skinny Gourmet Guy in Spain

I hope you'll join me for the second year of the Skinny Gourmet Guy!  Thank you for checking out my blog over this past year.  I'm constantly amazed at the number of hits I get from all around the world. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Turkey Lurkey Burgers with Mushroom Sauce

Juicy turkey burgers

I was shopping at Trader Joe's the other day.  Usually, I go there to buy their Shredded Wheat.  You got over 17 ounces for $2.69 a box compared to $4.99 for a 16 ounce box from Post.  I like their Pita Chips, too.  But I passed their meat section and spotted a package of ground turkey.  There was almost 2 lbs in a package and it only cost $3.50.  Sold!

I've posted about chicken burgers in the past.  And tuna burgers.  And salmon burgers.  Any kind of burger other than ground sirloin which of course is delicious but not so good for you.  The key is to cook the burger but not have it dry out, which can happen with poultry burgers.

I like my burgers medium rare

Another secret to a delicious burger is not to overwork the meat (or in this case, turkey).  I nimbly put together four medium sized burgers from the package.  I worked quickly and didn't pat down the burgers any more than necessary.  The package said there was rosemary mixed in with the turkey.  Other than that and a little salt and pepper I added nothing.  I think when you add things like peppers, onions and an egg, you're forced to overwork the turkey in order to get everything mixed thoroughly. 

Just in case the burgers were dry I had a sauce at the ready

I got my trusty cast iron skillet super hot by putting it over a medium flame and letting it heat up for a good 10 minutes.  I cooked two burgers and froze the other two.  They took about 4 - 5 minutes on each side.  I removed them from the flame and covered the pan with tin foil.  They continued to cook while I made the sauce and asparagus on the side.  They were perfect.

This gravy would make a cardboard box taste delicious

I also bought a package of Baby Bella's at Trader Joe's.  They're baby portabello mushrooms.  The package cost $1.50.  I sautéed the mushrooms in a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil in my Le Creuset nonstick pan.  As they began to brown I added a 3/4 cup of white wine and the juice of one lemon and cooked it down.  And, yes, I added a pad of butter.  Just that little bit of butter really makes a difference and as I've posted before, there's only about 35 calories (yes, from fat) in a pad of butter.  I next added salt and pepper and dusted it with Wondra quick dessolving flour to give the gravy some texture.  It took about 5 - 10 minutes.  The longer you let it cook down and sit the better it will be. 

Pencil thin asparagus

I usually like to roast meaty spears of asparagus, but in the Spring the vegetable stands on the sidewalks have delicious, pencil thin asparagus.  They cost $1 - $2 a bunch.  You may notice the heads are missing.  I get two servings from one of the bunches by cutting them in half and cooking them over two consecutive evenings.  This dinner cost practically nothing and it is delicious!


For the Turkey Burgers

1/2 lb ground turkey per patty (the rosemary infused ground turkey at TJ's is really good!)

Cooking spray for your skillet

Salt & Pepper to taste


Form the ground turkey into patties.  Don't over mix!

Sauté for 4 - 5 minutes per side.  I removed from the flame when you could see pink in the middle (from the side)

Cover in foil (in the skillet) and set aside.  Burgers will continue to cook and not get overdone.

For the Mushroom Gravy


1/2 package Baby Bella or your favorite mushrooms.  I bought them pre-sliced.

1 - 2 tspns extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon

3/4 cup white wine

1 pad butter

2 tbspns Wondra quick dissolving flour (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


Eyeball the amount of mushrooms you'd like to use.  I used a half a package.  They shrink to about 1/2 their uncooked size.

Sauté the mushrooms in oil (the less oil the better - they really absorbent) until they brown

Add the butter and swirl around

Add the wine and salt and pepper

Add the Wondra flour

Squeeze the lemon and add juice to mixture.  I toss in the lemons themselves after they've been squeezed (optional)

Cook down over low to medium flame until you get the desired consistency - about 10 minutes or so.

Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm back!

Backstage with Christie Brinkley

The period surrounding the Tony Awards are always especially busy for me and this year has been no exception.  I try to see as many Tony-nominated shows as possible so I can enjoy the awards, but also to be able to recommend shows to clients.  A big part of my job is arranging house seats for agents in the WME offices and our clients.  Many out-of-towners don't know what they want to see, so it's helpful for me to see everything to be able to give good suggestions.  I've been so busy that my creative energy has been sapped and it's been difficult if not impossible to get creative about Skinny recipes - but I'll be back on track soon.

Chicago isn't up for Tony Awards this year - it walked away with six Tonys back in 1996 - but I caught one of Christie Brinkley's last performances in the long running musical the other week. She is as gorgeous in person as she is in pictures and a genuinely nice person to boot. Her daughter Alexa Ray Joel was in her dressing room too - she was very sweet as well. Christie was wearing a dress designed by Victoria Beckham. I never thought much of Victoria's dresses, but this one was a knockout - and Christie has the rocking body to pull it off!

Christie went to see the new musical Once at my suggestion and really loved it.  In fact, she went to see it a second time shortly after she said it the first time!  I'm seeing Once on this Saturday night and will post my two-cents-worth next week.  My crystal ball says it's going to clean up at the Tony Awards, taking in Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical and others.  It has 11 Tony nominations.

Tracie Bennett in End of the Rainbow

I saw End of the Rainbow a few weeks ago.  It's not exactly a happy musical.  It boils down to the Judy Garland character begging Mickey Deans (her last husband) for pills for two hours.  Tom Pelphrey gives Deans a decidedly masochistic edge to his character though Tony winner Michael Cumpsty does well as the long-suffering accompanist.  Bennett paints a heartbreaking portrait of a women drowning in pills and alcohol. Except in profile, she didn't really look all that much like Judy.  Come to think of it, she didn't sound all that much like Garland either (I've seen drag queens do better).  But I think her Tony nomination was well earned as she gives a riveting portrayal of a woman who is out of control and has lost any grip of reality.  And she has the Garland moves and poses down pat.  My vote for Best Actress in a play goes to Stockard Channing in Other Desert Cities.  I understand Cynthia Nixon was riveting in Wit but that play is no longer running and Tony voters tend to have short memories.

Megan Hilty is a star!

On a much lighter note, I saw Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Megan Hilty of Smash fame.  This was the final show in this year's Encores series at City Center.  Megan is so hateful on Smash that I was prepared not to like her in this show.  But she was wonderful.  Also great was Rachel York as second-banana Dorothy Shaw who almost stole the show out from under Hilty. As a teenager I was an usher at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, Massachusetts.  Carole Channing did a week of the nearly identical musical Lorelei during my tenure and I saw every performance.  Hilty didn't channel Channing or, for that matter, Marilyn Monroe (who starred in the Blondes movie).  She just played the part and made it her own.

The Tony Awards air on Sunday, June 10th on CBS at 8 PM.  Postings may be spotty until then, but more Skinny Gourmet recipes to follow when things calm down - I promise!