Wednesday, November 28, 2007


When I started working as a chef in '92, I primarily worked in seafood restaurants. Although I grew up as a meat and potato man I've always loved all seafood. It was an obvious choice for me with the abundance of great seafood in Ireland. I like this recipe 'cause it's easy, healthy and damn tasty.

1 medium red onion - thinly sliced
1 medium red pepper - thinly sliced
1 medium yellow pepper - thinly sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. fresh tomatoes - chopped (can use tinned if preferred)
1 lb. medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
10 fresh jumbo scallops
1 lb. little neck clams - washed
1 1/2 lb. mussels - washed
1 cup clam juice
1 cup white wine
1 cup veg. broth or water
2 tbsp. fresh basil - chopped
2 tbsp. garlic - minced

Begin by sauteing red pepper, onion and 1 tbsp. garlic in medium hot pan for 15 mins. Add chopped tomatoes and broth and simmer. In hot saute pan add mussels, 1/2 tbsp. chopped garlic, 1/2 cup wine, 1/2 cup clam juice and cover. Cook mussels till all shells have opened. Drain in a colander and keep all remaining liquid. Repeat process with clams. Once drained remove clams and mussels from shells and set aside. Throw away any unopened shells. Strain mussel and clam juice and add to tomato sauce along with lemon zest.
Season and sear scallops in hot pan for 30 secs. each side. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Once removed, season and sear shrimp in same hot pan for 2 mins. each side. Add all seafood to tomato sauce and simmer for 20 mins. on medium low heat. Stir all ingredients to coat with sauce. Add chopped basil and taste for seasoning.
This is a great recipe to make and serve family style with a few friends.
NOTE: Video demo on YouTube

Tip: When buying shellfish always make sure the shells are closed to make sure they're not only fresh but more importantly alive!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


OK I get it. I see why it's all about eating, drinking and eating more and drinking more (if you've any room left) and of course family and all that. For me it's the same as Christmas. I usually work for Thanksgiving 'cause well, it's an American holiday but this year I finally got to enjoy the festivities instead of working them. And you'd better believe I had seconds!
I'm sure you already know the history behind it all, well if you're from here you do, so I won't go into it as I'll probably mess it up anyway. We got the nod to go to a killer feast at my friends Kelly and Van's house. What a spread. There was 27 of us and I'd say the majority were from from the South and these southerners meant business in the kitchen. Everything was made from scratch. BTW Kelly's also a chef.
Let me tell you what we had: a 35lb. smoked sucking pig, deep fried and roasted turkey, oyster and cornbread dressing (that's stuffing if you're not from here, new to me too), homemade green bean casserole, rice consomme, creamed corn, stuffed mirlitons, potato yeast rolls w/ honey butter, gravy, cranberry sauce and other bits and pieces like a grape salad thing with brown sugar, not sure about that one. A lot of this was new to me but man was it good. Even down to the desserts--homemade pecan pie, pumpkin gooey bars, pumpkin banana torte, pumpkin cheesecake, choc. chip bundt cake, ginger pumpkin cake and as Kelly pointed out, a dreamwhip pie which I apparently shovelled in my mouth.Won't see that everyday!

Myself and Kelly
Great day-lots of food and drink, hit the scratcher early (that's bed for you who don't speak Irish!) I'm going to try one of these recipes soon so keep checking back!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


One of the best memories I have growing up was when we'd get a phone call from our neighbor asking us (myself and my older sister) in for some apple tart. She was an elderly lady, loved us, as her kids were all "growed up". We knew the routine and played it well. She made different tarts and crumbles every week. Apple, rhubarb, berries the lot. We could smell them in the oven from our house and would be casually hanging around the phone. The call always came and man you never saw two kids run faster. I was probably no more than 8 or 9 but can remember it vividly. I'm not really big into desserts but show me an apple tart and ice cream, gone.

There are so many recipes out there for various pies, tarts, crumbles that I decided to focus more on the filling than the pastry. You can buy good quality tart shells in most stores. I was in Wholefoods yesterday and got one. A lot of people don't want the hassle of making a pie crust so these are perfect.

1 9 inch pie crust
Pre-heat oven 375 degrees
Filling Recipe:
5 medium apples - sliced (Arkansas black, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. honey/agave
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
I used the Arkansas Black apples which I came across at the farmers market the other day. Crisp and sweet. You should look for a firm variety such as those above so they don't break down too much when cooking and hold their shape better. The Granny smiths will need more sweetening than the others so taste them and decide for yourself.

If using a pre-made pie crust, par bake it for 20 mins. and let cool. Halve, core and slice your apples to 1/4 inch thickness. Place them in a bowl of lemon water to prevent them from turning brown. In large saute pan over medium-low heat melt the butter. Once it begins to foam add your honey and stir for 30 sec. Add the sliced apples, cinnamon and allspice and coat gently. Cook for 3-4 mins. till the apples begin to soften. Set aside to cool. Once ready lay filling gently into tart shell.
Press down the apples to as to fill the whole tart. Bake for 25 mins.
Once ready, let cool.
Serving suggestion: Fresh raspberry sauce.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Roast Turkey Breast w/ Cranberry Orange Relish

For most people the holidays are all about eating, drinking and usually lots of leftovers especially turkey. We end up having turkey sandwiches out the ying yang for days afterwards. I bet a lot of you are only interested in white or breast meat, or maybe you're only having a few people round so here's a recipe just for you.
Some stores offer just the turkey breasts so you don't have to buy the whole turkey. This is great for smaller portions and cuts the cooking time so you won't be up at the crack of dawn to get the bird in the oven. Regardless of meat size, I always brine my turkey the day before. Brining is soaking the meat in salted water which helps add flavor and keeps the meat moist during roasting. You can add a variety of other ingredients such as spices, herbs, bay leaves or even beer if you like to enhance the flavor. I find that a lot of people when cooking poultry, in particular cook the daylights out of it so they won't poison anyone. It always ends up dry and flaky, not good. Brining also provides a temperature cushion during cooking, so if this is your tendency, brining will help lock in the juices so it won't taste like rubber. Another note on brining is that brined meats tend to cook faster than unbrined meats so keep your eye on the internal temp about 2/3 of the way into your normal cooking time.

11/2 lb. organic turkey breast
8 cups water (enough to cover)
1/3 cup kosher salt
3 bay leaves
1/2 tbsp. peppercorns
1 cup fresh herbs (thyme, marjoram, sage)
2 lemons-zested
Dissolve salt in the water. Add remaining ingredients and submerge turkey. Put in fridge overnight. When ready to cook, rinse and pat dry with paper towel.

11/2lb. brined turkey breast
1 lg.carrot-roughly chopped
1 lg.parsnip-roughly chopped
1 med. white onion-roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic- halved
2 tbsp. fresh ginger- roughly chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Mix all vegetables together and lay on roasting pan. These will be used as a base for roasting the turkey which not only prevents the meat from sticking to the pan but are used for the gravy. Lay the seasoned turkey on the vegetables and place in oven. After 15 mins. reduce heat to 350. When cooked internal temp. should be 160 degrees. It took 50 mins. in my oven so keep an eye on it. When done, let rest for 15 mins. before carving.

Cranberries are quite bitter so the majority of recipes use sugar when making. It's usually 1:1 water:sugar. I try to avoid sugar as much as possible as there are so many great alternatives. I prefer to use agave nectar which although is a real sugar and has similar properties to many sugars its glycemic index is much lower which makes it less likely to raise blood sugar levels. Agave is 40% sweeter than sugar so you also use less. Check out for more info.
1 12 oz. bag cranberries
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup agave or honey
1 tbsp. fresh ginger-chopped
1 med. orange-zested
Place all above into sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once the cranberries start popping reduce the heat and stir until blended, 10 mins. approx. Taste for sweetness (add more agave if needed) and refrigerate. This can be made a day or so in advance.
Yields 3 cups.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Here we go again. Turkey, mash potatoes, gravy, pies, the lot. A good time by all but we'll pay for it in January (a great time to own a gym with all those new members.) This is a healthy low-fat way to start your meal and will let you have that extra piece of pie.

Butternut squash is a more watery squash and tastes very much like sweet potatoes with a sweet nutty flavor. Typically butter and sugar are used to make this soup but if you know anything about my cooking these are two items rarely used. I prefer adding chopped apple to sweeten or even carrot as I've done today, which also enhances the color of the soup. If you want to vary the flavor you could add 1 tbsp. curry powder as you're sauteing the onions. I often make this for my clients and alter the flavor by adding the apple, curry, nutmeg or even sweet potatoes or parsnips. Don't be afraid to play around and see what you come up with.
4 cups roughly diced & peeled butternut squash
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
1 carrot-roughly chopped
5 cups low-sodium chicken/vegetable broth
2 tbsp. olive oil
S&P to taste

Yields 6 cups

Saute the onions on medium heat for 5 mins, no color. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute. Add the squash and carrot and continue to cook for 10 mins stirring occasionally. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer until vegetables are tender, 30 mins. approx. In a blender, puree until smooth and season to taste. Easy as that. To make it even easier you can purchase already peeled squash and then all you have to do is chop. This is great to make in advance and even freeze if need be.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Unless you've been living under a rock you've probably noticed NBC went Green this past week. Every program was dedicated to being Eco-Conscious, from the Today Show to the soaps and into prime time. I consider myself a pretty active green guy. I recycle, I dry my clothes on the line, I've changed my light bulbs and I always try to turn off lights even in hotels. But I was amazed at all the stuff I didn't know. Where do you start?

Water. For washing dishes, hands and food we should be using a pencil thin trickle of water (easier said than done.) And for clothes, use cold water to wash both whites and darks, which won’t waste 35 gallons of hot water to do each load of laundry. Drink tap water if it won't kill you (literally) or invest in filter options. The less plastic bottles the better. That goes for soap as well. It makes sense that bar soaps are better for the environment than body washes and hand washes. It just took someone pointing it out for it to sink in! No pun intended.

Unplug. We should all know by now to unplug, meaning don't leave the plug in the power source when our cell phones, ipods & cameras are fully charged but what about computers? To quote, set your computer to go into sleep mode when it's not in use, and shut it off each night. Shutting down your system every night will help save energy and also prolong the life of your computer (it’s actually better for your computer than leaving it on). As a next step, adjust your settings so that your screen goes dark when you're not using your computer. Screen savers prevent your computer from going into sleep mode and (contrary to popular belief) are not needed to preserve your screen. You can find your computer's sleep settings and energy management settings in your System Preferences.

Food. Buy local for so many reasons. You've probably noticed I'm into going to farmers' markets which is a great resource for not only supporting local farmers and vendors but it's actually quite interesting speaking to them and finding out some info on their products. It's pretty good people watching too, especially around here. What about paper vs. plastic? The jury is still out on this one. Read the full article on msnbc's site but here's the short story: Trees make paper, oil barrels create plastic. To make paper bags creates 70% more air pollution than plastic, but plastic bags create 4x's the solid waste and can last up to a 1,000 years. So what's the right choice? Bring your own bags, cloth or canvas or reuse any bags. Here's a good question though...what is the best choice for picking up dog crap? Many of us reuse the plastic grocery bags for this purpose but if they end up in land fills for years and years, what's a green fingered man to do? Think I answered my own question with just a minute of Google: and They've thought of everything!

Fitness. Kudos to The Biggest Loser advocating eating healthy organic food and for turning off the power to the gym machines. If you're lucky enough to live in a good climate, get your ass outdoors! This is a good one though--did you know you can recyle your athletic shoes? Nike will recycle any brand of athletic shoe through its Reuse-a-Shoe program. (Get details on the Nike Web site.) The company processes and recycles the footwear to make sports surfaces for basketball courts, tennis courts, running tracks and playgrounds. Right now they’re collecting shoes to make athletic surfaces for New Orleans to help bring youth sports back to the city as it rebuilds. To date, about 20 million pairs of athletic shoes worldwide have been recycled through the Reuse-A-Shoe program. It's an amazing program that needs a mention.

Just some food for thought but important none the less. Guess you could call me the Healthy-Tree hugging-Green Irishman.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Ever since I got into sports and fitness I've been interested in looking at all types of exercise techniques. Along with all the fad diets that are on the market, most of which are quick fixes, there are a lot of trendy or "in" training techniques as well. Don't get me wrong if you need to dance around a pole for or go to a boot camp and have some guy scream at you to get you moving, I'm all for it. Whatever works as long as you're out doing something.
There are a lot of trainers out there who use a variety of methods to help you loose weight or build muscle. I was talking with one of my neighbors last night who's a personal trainer (there's a lot of them here in LA) who trains his clients using only kettlebells. I've seen these in my own gym but not too many people use them or probably know how to. Though it looks pretty easy it definitely takes some training.
A kettlebell is a cast iron weight which looks like a cannonball with a handle. It's an ancient Russian exercise tool that dates back to 1704. They're measured in 'poods'. A pood is an old Russian weight measure which equals 16kg or 35 lbs approx. Kettlebell training provides a great total body workout that improves strength as well as flexibility. It's a proven technique that's stood the test of time, not bad for a cannonball with a handle.

Friday, November 2, 2007


After we got back from Ireland a couple months ago having had our fair share of fish 'n' chips, which I love by the way especially after a few beers, I had an idea. I wanted to come up with my healthy and tasty version of this classic. So I did.
When deciding what fish to use always go for a firm variety such as halibut, cod, or sea bass. In terms of the way you cook it, not only do I like the look of grilling but it's obviously the healthiest choice. You can bake it or even fry it if you want. If you choose the latter, I suggest shallow frying instead of deep frying for healthier results and use canola oil instead of vegetable oil in a shallow saute pan.

Grilled Fish'n'Chips:

1 x 4oz Wild Pacific Halibut
1 x medium sweet potato
2 x tbsp. olive oil
1/2 x tsp. garlic-minced
S&P to taste
lemon wedge
Condiments - ketchup, tarter sauce, malt vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Begin by cutting the sweet potato in half lenghtwise and then into quarters. In a bowl toss potatoes with 1 tbsp. olive oil, S&P, garlic and even chili flakes if desired. Once oven is hot bake on middle shelf, approx. 20 minutes or 'til tender. If you're not sure if they're ready, don't be afraid, taste it! Be sure you don't put them on the bottom shelf or it'll burn the underside and be raw inside. Once they're cooking, sear seasoned fish in hot pan 'til golden on both sides, approx. 2-3 mins. This not only gives it a nice look but will help keep the fish moist while it's cooking. Pop it in oven for about 6 mins or until firm to the touch.
Let the fish rest for a minute or so when it comes out so all the juices won't run out of it when you cut into it. You can serve this as is or have some broccoli or green beans with it, it's up to your inner chef. Of course if you just want a snack or have some friends coming over, make a batch of the fries and dig in! I think this is about as easy as it gets when it comes to cooking. Simple, fresh, delicious and healthy!