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Some Marriages Are Made in the Kitchen

Times Staff Writer

Marriage is known to awaken certain passions in many people, but for cooking?

Well . . .

That’s what Karl Webber says happened to him--and his Australian-born wife, Carmel, corroborates the story.

“Before we were married, he was the ‘take-out king’ of Orange County,” she says. Now, “he’s a genius in the kitchen . . . the best . . . a gourmet whiz . . . to die for!”

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While a little less effusive about his talents, Webber, 31, a vice president for the Orange branch of the Paine Webber stock brokerage, admits to acquiring a certain talent and a great deal of joy out of cooking.

“I wasn’t unfamiliar with good food while I was a bachelor,” he says, “I had just never tried making it before.”

“I ate out a lot, but mostly at good restaurants and I particularly enjoyed places where they weren’t afraid to experiment with food. And, frankly, not many women I dated were particularly skilled as cooks themselves.”

He says that the conflicting schedules of his and his wife’s also played a role in his gravitating toward the kitchen. He’s in his office by 6 a.m. to catch the market’s opening on the East Coast and his wife works in Los Angeles and isn’t due in until 8:30. Consequently, he’s home several hours before she is.

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“Normally, we eat light and quick meals--soup and salad or maybe a baked potato and salad--but three or four times a week, I like to prepare full meals. I like Cajun food, particularly blackened fish. And Carmel likes my creamed spinach pasta with pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto.”

Webber says his wife is a good cook and they will often combine their skills when they’re entertaining. The pizza he shared with Guys & Galleys was also prepared for a party of 10 the same evening.

An active golfer and skier, Webber met his wife-to-be while on a skiing holiday in Aspen, Colo., early last year. They were wed in a civil ceremony in Nevada in July and traveled to Australia in December and were married again in a large church ceremony in Melbourne.

Webber says he was impressed with the country and with his wife’s parents. “They literally never go out to eat,” he says of his in-laws. “Carmel’s father says he married the greatest cook in the world, so why go out and buy second-rate food?” As to his mother-in-law’s cooking skills, Webber says, “He’s right.”

KARL WEBBER’S QUICK ‘N’ EASY GOURMET PIZZA

Ingredients

1 Boboli brand “family size” pizza crust

3 tablespoons Ragu Pizza Quick Sauce

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6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

6 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 slices prosciutto, cut into strips

4 baby mushrooms, sliced

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 sweet red bell pepper, cut into strips

1/4 sweet yellow pepper, cut into strips

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3 leafs basil, sliced

Ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease pizza pan with a few drops of olive oil. Place crust on pan and spread pizza sauce thinly over it. Layer cheeses to cover crust, then evenly sprinkle over remaining ingredients. Bake 15 minutes (2 to 4 servings).


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