Saturday, August 30, 2008

Urban Gardens - Transplanting a Plumeria Tree

This is our next installment of our Urban Gardens series. We've been busy all summer shooting with our neighbour Erica, the gardening guru, so we're putting those together right now but here's a taste of what we've been up to.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Sunday morning we were walking through our local farmers' market. It was a usual stroll through until I spotted the biggest red onion I'd ever seen. I'm not sure the photo does it justice. Maybe it's just me but I've never seen anything like this in my local supermarket.
As soon as I made my way over there I realised that the whole stall was just onions and lots of them in all shaped and sizes. Depending on which onion you are selecting, you can find onions all year round. You should pick your onions that appear to be heavy for their size. The skin should be dry and papery. There should be no soft spots or black spots, indicating mildew from moisture. Not good!.
This recipe came about from talking to Denis who works at the market. He said some of his customers suggested this technique which is similar to roasting garlic.
The variety I used were Bermuda onions. They're small and firm but when you roast them, man they're good. The flavor is not only sweet from adding the balsamic but the natural sugars will come out during cooking. You'll also get a little tartness when you bite in. The combination is brilliant.
Bermuda onions
good drizzle olive oil
drizzle balsamic vinegar
crushed black pepper
That's it. Lay them in the foil unpeeled with the ends trimmed. Pour the olive oil and balsamic over and wrap them so they steam which will sweeten them while cooking. Pop in the oven @ 375 degrees for 45mins. or until they're soft. As soon as they cool a little, the skin will fall right off and eat as is. They were unbelievably sweet and juicy. Fantastic.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Brown Rice & Mango Salad with Citrus Soy Dressing

When I was coming up with the menu for my party last week, my client asked for some sort of rice salad to be added. They weren't sure what they wanted so I looked at my menu and figured I'd keep it pretty clean and healthy. I also wanted to keep the vegetarians happy as well as offer some soakage for the drink. Trust an Irishman to think of that!

4 servings
3 cups cooked brown rice (about 1 1/4 cup dry)
1 mango, peeled and chopped
4 scallions (green onions)

2 tbsp. tamari (soy sauce)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp. fresh ginger - minced
2 tbsp. fresh lime zest
1 tbsp. honey (agave)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Blend all the dressing ingredients together in a blender except olive oil. With machine on add olive oil slowly to emulsify the dressing. Season with S&P to taste.
To assemble the dish, mix rice, chopped mango and scallions together. Add enough dressing to bind and flavor the rice. Taste and season with S&P. Serve at room temp.
Try serving this at your next barbecue. It's a great healthy dish to serve in place of the heavy mayonnaise based salads like potato salad or coleslaw. Another great advantage of not having mayo is that it'll last longer outside with the warm weather.
If, however you're in Ireland right now, you're having one of the wettest summer's ever so this doesn't affect you, tough!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Grilled Skirt Steak with Guajillo Chili sauce

Whether I go to or have a barbecue, two things are a must, steak and beer. I used to eat a lot more red meat than I do now but sometimes it's hard to beat a good steak. The beer on the other hand, well I could go the obvious route and say "I am Irish after all" but the fact is, I just like beer. That's a whole different story so we'll tackle that another time.

You may have noticed that this was on the menu or in the group pictures from my last post, Hollywood Dinner Party. The steak was the main focus but the sauce worked brilliantly with it.

I did a very simple rub for the steak:
1-ounce dry mustard
1-ounce chili powder
1/2-ounce cayenne
2-ounces brown sugar
1-ounce orange zest
1-ounce paprika
1-ounce garlic powder
1-ounce onion powder
1/2-ounce salt
1/2-ounce black pepper
Mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl. Coat the grass-fed steak on all sides with the rub for a couple of hours and refrigerate until needed. Since skirt steak is a thin cut of meat, be sure to let it stand at room temperature before grilling so the meat will cook evenly.

The Guajillo sauce recipe is pretty straight forward and is bursting with flavor. They are usually found dried and packaged. Depending on where you are in the world try and find a variety of dried whole chili peppers and use in the same way.

REMOVE SEEDS from each chili or you won't be able to taste anything.
In medium hot dry saute pan toast the chilies 'til the aroma is released and chilies are dark. Once done, hydrate in enough cold water to cover them for 30 mins. Once softened, drain and puree with some of the water used to hydrate along with 2 garlic cloves, oregano, & marjoram. You want to puree them to a pulp (a thick puree) so only add enough water to do so. Pour the puree into a saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Mixture should be 1 part chili puree to 3 parts beef broth (for example if you get 1 cup of chili puree, add 3 cups of broth). Simmer until sauce is reduced by 1/3. Taste and season if necessary.
Note: I used the whole bag for my dinner party of 20 people. Not to worry if you have left over sauce as you can toss it in a stew.

Skirt steak is perfect for barbecuing. Sear it quickly for 3-4 mins. on a hot grill. Let it rest for another 3-4 mins. When slicing skirt steak always carve diagonally across the grain as it's quite a tough cut of meat.
Wait 'til you try this, delicious.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


As you may have noticed, I've been off the scene for the past couple of weeks. My main job being a private chef, I also cater parties whenever they come up (feel free to contact me for more information on how I can cater your next party). With the nature of catering it's usually feast or famine and right now I'm stuffed! It's great but everything else suffers in terms of blogs and recipes. Anyway here's some pics of the last gig I did.

Caesar salad spring rolls with crispy shallots
Crispy Lavash Pizza with Arugula Basil Pesto, Heirloom tomatoes and Parmesan
Caramelized Pear and Brie Quesadilla with Crème Fraiche and Tomatillo salsa

Mini pitas with Moroccan Lamb Meatballs, Red Cabbage Coleslaw, Mint Raita
Grilled Skirt Steak with Guajillo chili sauce
Roast Citrus Cedar Plank Salmon
Butternut Squash Risotto Cakes
Baby Arugula and Radicchio with Shaved Fennel, Vine Ripened Tomatoes, Roquefort and Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette
Brown Rice And Mango Salad tossed with Citrus Soy Dressing

Dark Chocolate Fountain with Selection Fruit, Marshmellows and Macaroons

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Asian Steamed Sea Bass with Vegetable Spaghetti

This a simple little dish that I make which I have to say is pretty easy and very tasty.
Steaming liquid:
6 fluid ozs. mirin
6 fluid ozs. sake
2 tb. fresh ginger - minced
Mix together in sauce pan with lid on medium heat 'til needed.

4 x 4oz black sea bass portions

Vegetable Spaghetti
2 medium zuchini (courgette)
2 medium yellow squash
2 medium carrot
1/2 cup chicken / veg. broth
drizzle olive oil
S&P to taste

To prepare, slice all veg. lengthwise, 1/8 inch thick. Once sliced cut into thin strips like, you guessed it, spaghetti. I use a mandoline which is fairly readily available in kitchen supply stores or in Asian markets. It'll make your life a lot easier so definitely look into one.
Once all veg. are cut keep carrots separate as they'll take longer to cook than the others.
In a medium hot saute pan add drizzle of olive oil. Saute carrots for 1 minute. Meanwhile season your fish with salt and white pepper and add to steaming liquid and cover. Steam the fish for 10-12 mins. approx or 'til firm. Add broth to your carrots and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer. Add zucchini, squash and cover. Season to taste. You want the spaghetti to still hold it's shape so be careful not to cook the shit out of it.
If you're new to cooking fish or aren't familiar with it, sea bass is a great fish to use. It's a mild white fish that doesn't over-cook easily. This is a great starter dish for those of you looking to branch out.