Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Recipe Tribute to Robin Williams: Chili-Espresso Steak Rub from Martha Stewart via Cleo Coyle

Like so many people, I was a huge fan of the late actor and comedian Robin Williams and heartbroken to hear of his passing. 

Not only could Robin's stand-up comedy make me laugh until I cried, he starred in one of my all-time favorite films, Dead Poets Society. If you are a writer and have not seen this movie, put it on your list to screen soon. (More on that below.) 

For today, because this is a recipe blog, I am sharing a happy memory of Robin when he appeared on The Martha Stewart Show back in 2006. You won't want to miss his comedic chef act. And the recipe he makes with Martha is a delicious one. I'm posting a very slightly adapted version for you to try at home.

To see Robin Williams and Martha Stewart
cooking this recipe together, click the
arrow in the window below. 



If the above video does not play,
you can 
view it on Martha Stewart's site
clicking here.

Chili-Espresso Steak Rub

(Great for Fajitas or Tacos)

Slightly adapted from a recipe
Martha Stewart made with Robin Williams
on The Martha Stewart Show, April 2006

Serves 8

Steak Rub Ingredients:

3 cloves of garlic crushed and tossed 
with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (I use kosher salt)

1 tablespoon more of coarse salt for rub (I use kosher)

2 tablespoons mild chili powder

3 tablespoons light-brown sugar

2 teaspoons smoked or sweet paprika (I use smoked)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (See my note on this ingredient
      at the end of the recipe)

Suggested use on: 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak 

Cleo’s version of Martha’s
and Robin’s process:

Step 1 - Here's the rub (heh-heh): After tossing the crushed garlic with salt, make a paste. Here’s how to do it. On a firm, flat surface (such as a cutting board or clean counter top), put the flat side of the blade on top of the garlic and press down as you pull the blade toward you. Repeat this a few times until you see a paste forming. Move this paste to a small bowl. Measure in the chili powder, brown sugar, paprika, cumin, pepper, espresso powder (aka instant espresso), and the remaining tablespoon of salt. Stir this mixture until combined. You now have your rub!

Step 2 – Prep the steak: Rub the mixture all over the skirt steak (both sides), and place the steak in a large plastic bag. Marinate the meat for 30 minutes at room temperature. (Note: You can certainly marinate longer. I like to marinate the rubbed meat for 2 to 3 hours, but note that for this amount of time, you will have to move the plastic bag into the refrigerator to prevent bacteria from forming, and be sure to allow the steak to warm to room temperature again before "shocking" the meat on the hot grill.)

Step 3 – Grill the steak: For indoor grilling, preheat a grill pan over high heat, or you can use an outdoor grill. For medium-rare, place your skirt steak on the grill, and cook for 3 minutes on each side.

Step 4 – Rest that meat: Let the steak sit for about 5 to 8 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to re-collect and prevents them from running right out when you slice (making the meat taste dry instead of moist and juicy).

Serving idea: Thinly slice the skirt steak into strips and serve with warm tortillas, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, shredded lettuce, and lime wedges.

Cleo's note on espresso powder: One of my readers recently asked me about espresso powder. What is it? Where do I purchase it? To see my reply with links that may help, simply hop over to my website's message board here.

Thank you, Robin!

Robin Williams starred in many of my favorite films, and I enjoyed his performances time and time again. Good Will HuntingWhat Dreams May Come; Good Morning, Vietnam; Birdcage; and the list goes on.

If I had to choose one of his films as my all-time favorite, it would have to be Dead Poet's Society, which spoke volumes to me as a writer. Below is a scene from the movie, which seems all the more poignant today... 

To view this clip, click the arrow
in the window below, 
or click here to see it on YouTube.



"That the powerful play goes on

and you may contribute a verse..."

Thank you for your verse, Robin. 
You touched and inspired 
so many of us. 
We will never forget you.

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.


To see my regular recipe post this week...

Paleo Pizza or
How to Make Pizza Crust from Cauliflower
(no flour, no yeast, no kidding), 

I'll see you there...



  1. Thank you for this Robin Williams tribute. I too was shocked and saddened to hear of his death. Dead Poet's Society was such a great movie, as were Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Night at the Museum, and so many more. I will have to do a movie marathon this weekend in his memory. I would even make the steak recipe if I weren't allergic to red meat -- do you think the rub would work with chicken?

    1. Cee Plus - I'm glad you brought up Mrs. Doubtfire, a sweet comedy with a touching and realistic ending, also one of my favorite Robin roles. And from what I've read, there are four more films he made that have yet to be released. I'll be watching for those.

      On the chicken question, although I haven't tried this rub recipe on chicken, I think it would work well (likewise for turkey) as long as you leave out the espresso powder, which is an earthy flavor much better suited to beef. Other than that, I'd go for it.

      Thanks again for dropping by the Kitchen, CP,
      and sharing your thoughts,

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

    2. More movies from this super talent--what a treat for all us fans!!

  2. Thank you Cleo for that lovely tribute. What sad news about a wonderful spirit!

    1. A wonderful spirit he was, Lucy/Roberta, well put and thanks for dropping in today. ~ Cleo

  3. Oddly enough, I was thinking about Robin Williams yesterday, before the news broke. He could be hysterically funny, but he spoke so fast that people probably missed half the jokes. It didn't matter. What came through loud and clear was his creative mind, running a mile a minute. I keep thinking now that the voices in his head became too much to take. A quick mind like his is both a blessing and a curse.

    1. Sheila - Thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. You're so right. Creative minds, especially (and ironically) comedic minds, are often challenged with bouts of heavy self doubt; and in Robin's case, it appears depression overwhelmed him. What a terrible loss for his family and for audiences who will miss him for years to come. On the other hand, the legacy of work he left behind, will (no doubt) remain a joy for generations to come. And I'm sure that work will continue to be appreciated and celebrated.

      ~ Cleo

  4. Excellent, and now I want to try the recipe.

    I've never seen Dead Poet's Society, but now I must. Thank you.

  5. Lovely tribute, Cleo. You brought tears to my eyes. The recipe looks wonderful too, of course.



  6. Cleo, I had the lovely privilege of being in an improv comedy class with Robin for all of one day. He and I did a skit on stage. I had no idea who he was and he put me through the wringer; he was supremely funny and kept me on my toes! He left the class to star in Mork and Mindy. It is a memory I will never forget. He is missed. I hope he's laughing it up in Heaven and putting everyone in stitches. And I hope he is at peace.


    1. Great story and sure it's a great memory for you. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. What a terrific tribute!! Thanks!! Steak looks great too. All your receipts are wonderful. You should gather them all up into one cookbook on coffee receipts plus others!!

  8. Thank you for such a lovely and enjoyable tribute, Cleo; it felt good to laugh through my tears as I watched. Avery, what a marvelous memory!

    I'll laugh with an ache in my heart whenever I make this steak.

  9. Thank you
    He fought his demons valiantly, but, in the end, lost the final fight. Now he doesn't have to fight anymore.
    The world is a little less bright with his leaving, but we are so fortunate to have had him.

  10. Thank you for remembering Robin today. His death is devastating.