Wednesday, July 30, 2008 Feature

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Grilled Chicken under a Brick (or two)

This is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to cook chicken on the barbeque. Clearly the marinade is important but the cooking method is key here too. When you put the bricks on the chicken you're basically searing the bird to not only give you really crispy skin but help lock in the flavor as well.

1 x 1-1.5 lb.natural grass-fed chicken
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5–6 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram)
sea salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste
3 lemons - zested
Marinate the chicken in the fridge with the herbs, olive oil and pepper for at least 3-4 hours. Season with salt just before cooking. You could do it over night if you wanted to. Before cooking, let the chicken stand at room temp. for up to an hour. If you try to cook meat that's straight out of the fridge, by the time the heat penetrates the center the outside will burn and over cook. When I cook chicken like this I use an indirect heat cooking method. I place the hot coals to one side of my grill and place the chicken skin side down on the rack away from the heat. A whole chicken should be cooked over a medium-high heat.
Immediately place two heavy bricks wrapped in foil over the chicken. Close the lid of the grill and cook for about 15-20 mins. depending on how hot your coals are. Check to see that the skin is crispy and golden.

Remove the bricks and turn the chicken over placing the crispy skin side up directly over the heat. Cook on the other side for another 10 to 15 mins. or 'til the juices run clear when pierced with a knife. Set aside to rest for 5 mins. If, like any other meat, you carve straight away the juices will run out and leave the meat dry.

I served this with a bunch of grilled veggies (asparagus, zucchini, squash, eggplant). Crack open a beer and you're off!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Roast Halibut w/ Cherry Tomato & Olive Dressing

One of the great things about doing what I do (working as a personal chef) is getting kudos when you hit the nail on the head! Let's be honest not everything turns out the way we think it's going to but when it does, it's the business. I made this for my (work) family and they loved it.

1 lb. Wild Pacific Halibut (or Striped Bass, Pacific Cod) 4 x 4oz. portions
1 pint cherry tomatoes - washed
1/3 cup Kalamata olives - pitted & halved
3ozs. (1/2 small jar) marinated artichokes
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken / veg. broth
1/2 lemon - zested
Olive oil
S&P to taste
Preheat saute pan. Your pan should be quite hot but not smoking. When hot, season and sear fish 'til golden brown. The key here is to get a quick sear on the fish but not to cook it all the way. Remove the fish to a foiled roasting tray. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and put back on the heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Once hot add your whole cherry tomatoes and saute until they begin to blister, 3-4 mins. Add the garlic and saute for 30 secs. De-glaze (flashy term for add the liquid) with wine & broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce and simmer for 4-5 mins. Meanwhile in pre-heated 400 degree oven cook your fish. It will take approx. 5-6 mins. max depending on how thick it is, so keep an eye on it. To finish your sauce, add the olives, artichokes and lemon zest and cook for another 5 mins.
Once the fish is cooked let it sit out of the oven for a couple of mins. and any juice that comes out add to your sauce. This is the difference between a good sauce and a great tasting one.
I served this with some wilted spinach and polenta.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


One of my favorite things about Summer, apart from the beach & beers, is being able to cook & eat outside. I love being able to go the market and grabbing something for the barbeque. As you may have noticed from my previous blogs, desserts are not really my thing. I do however, have a wife who is fond of all things sweet (not going to make the obvious pun!) When I was in the market last weekend I saw a great selection of in-season fruit like pineapples, peaches and plums.Since I was going to be grilling anyway I thought I'd pick some up and make a 'healthy' dessert for herself. You can grill the fruit ahead of time but don't do it too far in advance as it's nice to serve them warm off the grill especially, as I did, with ice cold vanilla ice cream. Depending on how hot your grill is, cooking times will vary but as soon as the fruit begins to caramelise and soften, you're good to go.
When I was looking for some ice cream for this recipe I saw a sugar free variety. As I'm always looking for 'healthier' alternatives while shopping, I thought it would be a great substitute for regular ice cream. I was surprised to find that this is not the case. I already had some ice cream in my freezer so I compared them (guys if  you only take one bit of advice from me let it be this: ALWAYS HAVE ICE CREAM IN YOUR FREEZER, it'll save your life and you know why!). Here are the nutrition labels from the two products I compared:
Clemmy's All Natural Sugar Free Ice Cream in Vanilla Bean (on the left)

Breyers All Natural Pure Premium Ice Cream in French Vanilla (on the right)

Though the sugar free choice has no sugar, it has nearly double the amount of fats and cholesterol (Mums, think of your kids here since the news is broadcasting high cholesterol found in kids is on a serious all-time high). Sure you're getting sugar in the Breyers choice (right) but take a better look at the ingredients now. Clemmy's (below) contains maltitol syrup, xylitol, maltodextrin - ingredients you can't even pronounce not to mention know what they are. Breyers contains milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, natural flavor & natural tara gum. At least I know what's in this! To say it best I will quote from the book, Eat This Not That, "When it comes to ice cream, we're willing to sacrifice a few calories for the sake of purity." But in this case even the calories are less so what are really sacrificing? And if you're wondering how the tastes stack up? Direct from herself the elf, a self-proclaimed ice cream expert who was happy I did any research, said Breyers wins hands down with it's true taste of what else--vanilla. Her advice: don't forget to sprinkle on some mint as it's delicious and refreshing with both the ice cream and grilled fruit. 
This is good news all 'round for everyone on the healthy path this summer.
My point with all this, read the labels, know what you're eating and most of all enjoy what you eat and ....make sure you try this recipe! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


When I was growing up as a kid I thought corn or 'sweetcorn' was something that came out of a tin. Obviously with the Irish climate of wet, about to be wet or 'drownded' as we say, the weather isn't exactly conducive to growing corn.
The penny dropped eventually as to where the corn came from but I really hadn't eaten fresh corn on the cob 'til I came here to the States. The fresh flavour is absolutely brilliant. I've played around with different ways of cooking them, boiling being the easiest, however I decided on this method of grilling them in the husks thanks to my friend Riz, a self-proclaimed corn expert from Indiana. All you do is soak the corn wrapped in the husk in salted cold water for at least an hour. This will saturate the husks preventing them from burning on the grill as well as help steam the corn when cooking. Cook them on one side 'til the husks start to char and then flip them over. They'll take about 30 mins. or so. depending on how hot your coals are.
With barbeque season in full swing (over here anyway) you'll love how easy this is.......and the taste, unbelievable.

Friday, July 4, 2008


As with many holidays, the 4th of July Independence Day celebration includes food, drink & the realisation of how fortunate we are. But being from another country I decided to surf the internet in search of cool 4th of July stuff to broaden my horizons. I came across and here are some the interesting tidbits it offered up:
Did you know?....

Number of Americans who said they have taken part in a bbq during the previous year. It's probably safe to assume a large # of these events took place on the Fourth.
You can almost count on traditional favorites such as hamburgers & hot dogs, chicken, ribs, garden salads, potato salad, chips & watermelon. Following is a summary of where these foods come from:
*There's a 1-in-6 chance the beef on your backyard grill came from Texas. The Lone Star State is the leader in the production of cattle and calves.
*The chicken on your bbq grill probably came from one of the top broiler-producing states: Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina and Mississippi.
*The lettuce in your salad or on your burger probably was grown in California, which, combined, produced more than two-thirds of U.S. tomatoes. The ketchup on your burger or dog probably came from California, which accounted for 95% of processed tomato production last year.
*As to potato salad or potato chips or fries, Idaho & Washington produces about one-half the nation's spuds.
*For dessert, six states - California, Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Indiana - combined to produce about 80% of watermelons last year. 

Bet you didn't know all that! 
Off to man my own grill.  


For those of you across the pond this is the America's Independence Day (aka a big piss up and bbq day!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The smell of  food cooking on the barbeque brings back great memories for me. During the summer my Dad would come home from work and throw a few steaks on the grill and I'll never forget the smell of the charcoal burning. Everyone who's reading this in Ireland knows that the summers aren't great (to say the least) but the first sign of sun, the shorts would be on and the barbeque out. Some years we got to barbeque a lot but you can be sure that that was few and far between.
I love the idea of picking something up in the supermarket and going home and throwing it on the grill. There's a lot to be said for the simplicity of that not to mention the fact that it's healthy and tasty.
1 orange zested & juiced
1 lemon zested
2 tbsp. fresh ginger - grated
Drizzle olive oil
S&P to taste
When I'm grilling I like to keep things as simple as possible. This is a very straightforward recipe. I use this more as a glaze than a marinade. You have to be careful when marinading shrimp in citrus as it begins to cook the shrimp so you can't leave them sitting for too long. I've always preferred to just brush them as I'm grilling but it's up to yourself. 
Before skewering the shrimp soak the skewers in cold water for a couple of hours. This helps stop the skewers from burning on the grill. Makes sense, right?
Very important to make sure your grill is hot. Brush one side with your glaze and lay that side down on the grill for 2 mins. You want to hear the 'sizzle' when you put them on there. Shrimp cooks really quickly so be careful not over-cook them as there's nothing worse. Brush the other side and once ready flip them over for another couple of mins. I did a bunch of grilled veggies when I did them (zucchini, squash, Japanese eggplant and asparagus).
If you want to see how easy this is and take a gander at me in all my glory check out YouTube