Saturday, May 31, 2008

LAMB RAGOUT IN A WOK

What's a wok? ............Something you throw at a wabbit. Get it? The missus just read this and by the blank look I got I might have to explain it. I always liked that joke. Anyway moving on. My clients love lamb so I'm always trying to do it differently. The wok? The biggest pot I have at work is, you guessed it, a wok. I'm not sure if this could be called Italian Asian cooking but either way it's my lamb ragout in a wok. Here goes.

Recipe:
4 lbs. grass-fed lamb shoulder on the bone
1 medium white onion - sliced
1 tbsp. garlic - minced
1 32oz tin tomatoes
2 cup red wine (I like a syrah/zinfandel)
1 quart (4 cups) broth (veal, veg)
2 tsp. cinnamon
Olive oil
S&P to taste
In medium hot large saute pan season and sear each lamb chop in 1 tbsp. olive oil 'til golden, 3-4 mins. each side. This is done to lock in the juices while you braise the meat. Meanwhile in another pot or as in my case a wok, saute the onions in 1 tbsp. olive oil for 3 mins. on medium heat. Add garlic, cook 1 min. Add red wine and let simmer for 5 mins or 'til liquid is reduced by 1/2. Add chopped tomatoes, cinnamon, broth. Pop your chops in. Make sure the chops are covered by liquid, if not add more broth. Bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce to a simmer and partially cover with lid or foil, about 2/3. You want some of the liquid to evaporate so as to naturally thicken the sauce. Cook for 2 1/2 - 3hrs. The meat should be falling off the bone. Sounds good right? If the sauce is reducing too quickly just add more broth.

If you're interested in 'healthifying' your food a little more, I'm big into quinoa pasta. I've been using quinoa for a while but came across their pasta which is dynamite. It's well known for it's nutritional value more so than regular grains. Instead of me pretending I know everything about it, check it out on Wikipedia.
felice 吃
(happy eating)

Friday, May 30, 2008

FRIDAY'S FUNNY

Being as funny as I've been told I am (no pressure), I was thinking who doesn't need a good dose of humor at the end of a long week? And then I came across this on a blog from a new food network I joined, www.iFoods.tv. Excellent way to kick off Friday's Funny don't you tink? Leave it up to the Irish. Thanks Niall!  

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Grilled Fish Burger w/ Apple Jicama Slaw

With Summer on the way, barbecue season is just around the corner. I've come up with a very healthy yet tasty recipe for all you grillers out there. As you know, I love to keep things simple in the kitchen and this is no exception. Slaw is typically made with mayonnaise but my version is healthier and I think tastier. From start to finish this recipe will take you 15 mins. well, depending on how fast you can chop!

Recipe:
2 5-6oz Pacific Cod, Black Sea Bass or Tilapia
1/2 cup jicama - thinly sliced
1/2 cup red apple - thinly sliced
1/4 cup red pepper - thinly sliced
1 tbsp. fresh mint - chopped
olive oil
1 lemon to zest & juice
S&P








Depending on whether you use a gas or coal grill, preheat it. While the grill's coming up to temp. make the slaw. You can do this ahead but only maybe an hour or so. Place all three ingredients in a bowl of iced water and squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon. This is to stop the apple from turning brown and nasty. The ice helps keep them crisp. Finish the slaw as soon as your fish is almost ready.
Drizzle a little olive oil on each filet and season with S&P. Don't put too much oil on the fish as, well fish is naturally oily but also if the oil drips into the grill the flame will turn the fish black. You only need enough to stop it sticking to the grill. Depending on how thick your filet is it'll take approx. 3-4 mins. each side. When cooked you want the fish to be firm and clear juices running from it.
To finish the slaw, drain and add back to your mixing bowl. Add fresh mint, zest of 1/2 lemon, sprinkle of salt and squeeze lemon juice. Mix together and taste. If you think it needs more mint or lemon, add it. No big deal, after all you're the one eating it!
Toast a couple of burger buns and if you want add some avocado or mustard to your burger.
Check out YouTube to see this episode in action and more of the Shirtless Shef Summer Series.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ROAST SPRING LAMB

This is a recipe I've had in the bag for a few weeks but just didn't get around to posting. Roast lamb is one of those things that's deemed a winter or spring food so I just got it in on time before the beach season kicks in. Growing up we'd have this regularly for Sunday lunch so I tried to replicate that with this recipe.

Recipe
1 6 lb leg of lamb (grass fed pref)
6 garlic cloves - cut in half lengthwise
4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
S&P
With a small pairing knife pierce the lamb about an inch deep. Push a piece of garlic into the flesh along with a sprig of rosemary. Do this about 15 times around the meat. This will get some flavor into the meat as it's cooking. As you can see from the photo it also adds a nice garnish to the cooked meat.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Place lamb on roasting tray and roast for 30 mins. Turn heat down to 350 for the remainder 45 mins. - 1 hour or until internal thermometer reads 130 degrees. It's very important to let the lamb rest for at least 15 mins after cooking.
To serve I roasted some baby carrots and baby Peruvian or purple potatoes. Those of you who read my blog will remember (or not) that Shepherd's Pie is traditionally made with leftover lamb so be sure to check out that recipe again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

IRISHMAN FOR HIRE

Another great party in the bag (I've been working hard!)   Thanks to my buddy Trev for his collaboration.  
MENU
TRAY PASSED APPETIZERS
Mini fried Mac 'n' cheese
Pressed Cuban Medianoche Sandwiches
Sliders w/ Asiago cheese & sun dried tomato pesto
Pecorino Cauliflower Cakes w/ Romesco sauce 

BUFFET
Sweet 'n' spicy Corn Bread, Bread sticks, Warm flour & Corn tortillas
Red Chile Honey Glazed Salmon
Classic Crispy Fried Chicken
Polenta
Black beans and Rice
Penne pasta salad w/ pumpkin seed pesto, grilled red & yellow peppers and fresh Basil
Caesar salad w/ Baby romaine hearts, cilantro, jack cheese - Green chile lime Caesar dressing

For inquiries contact me at thehealthyirishman@gmail.com

Friday, May 9, 2008

URBAN GARDENS - sprouts & growth spurts

video

With time on our side (and the magic of editing) the urban gardens have flourished. It's brilliant to see the broccoli florets forming and the vibrant colors of the swiss chard. My favorite by far are the zucchini blossoms. I'm still amazed this is all happening right next door. If you could see the size of these cabbages in person...they're as big (and bald) as my head!
These photos document the days counted from the first round of photos. When we first posted Urban Gardens the photos from Chris's garden had been taken in late March which was about 3 weeks after planting. So basically we're looking at 9 weeks in the soil. Can you believe what a little over 2 months will get you? Last time the missus picked her first carrot. It was my turn this time and what a beauty it was! To see this in action be sure to check out my latest webisode on YouTube.
Looking forward to seeing more growth spurts along the way to my kitchen.

Friday, May 2, 2008

CINCO DE MAYO


Cinco de Mayo.  What does an Irishman know about Cinco de Mayo? I do know, from living in Southern California, that it means 5th of May in Spanish, but that's about it. So I logged onto the trusty site Wikipedia for some history to enlighten us all, especially those across the pond.
The holiday of Cinco de Mayo commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, though a common misconception in the United States is that it's Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is primarily a regional holiday in Mexico, celebrated in the state of Puebla, although there is some limited recognition of the holiday in other parts of the country.  In the States, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. The date is perhaps best recognized in the States as a date to celebrate the culture & experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Paddy's Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, & Chinese ancestry, respectively. Similar to those holidays, Cinco de Mayo is observed by many Americans regardless of ethnic origin and celebrations are a plenty. For the most part the celebrations combine food, music and dancing. As an Irishman, I see it as another opportunity for a gigantic piss-up.   
I have however, thought of how to make it through your celebration without putting yourself in cardiac arrest from the fat and calorie overload of the Mexican food and drink.  I know it's only one day but here are some smarter choices to think about....Where to start?
Let's start with drinks.  Margaritas and Mexican beer will no doubt be the drinks of choice on Cinco de Mayo but margaritas can pack up to 500 calories & 32 grams of carbs for about 8 ounces primarily due to the pre-made margarita mixes, which are essentially high-fructose corn syrup laced with a trace of lime juice. To put that into perspective you'll have to walk for 145 minutes or run for about an hour, swim for 45 minutes or cycle for 80 mins in order to burn off those calories.  And that's for EACH margarita consumed! Run Forrest run! A way to cut the cals is to ask the bartender to make your margarita from scratch or fresh, using a small hit of sugar to balance the tartness of the lime.  As for Mexican beers you've got lots of choices to choose from and here's how they stack up with calories based on a 12 oz serving (bottles are usually 12 ounces, pints are 16): Corona 148, Corona Light 109, Negra Modelo 155, Superior 153, Carte Blanca 128, Tecate 146, Dos Equis 149, Dos Equis Lager 156, and Sol 131. You do the math and keep in mind that in order to burn approx. 150 cals you'll have to walk for 40 minutes, jog for 16, swim for 11 or cycle for 20 (depending on your stats).  All of these calories and carbs can add up quickly and that's before you've eaten anything!  
I highly recommend eating if you're drinking. I've learned this the hard way. This is for two reasons: 1. You don't want to be a sloppy drunk and 2. Food delays gastric emptying in the stomach meaning alcohol stays there longer & is processed more slowly and broken down better with food. So eat but choose wisely.  Here's the good & the bad of a typical Mexican Cantina menu:
I'm sure you can figure out that chips are fried and full of fat but if you're going to go for it, eat them with guacamole.  Yes avocados are high in fat but the good kind of fat, monounsaturated, which means it's good for your heart. Soft tacos and Fajitas are also a good choice, but skip the sour cream and cheese to save 300 cals and 15 grams of fat.  You can even do better than that and save more calories by asking for only one flour tortilla for the fajitas and stuff it full or ask for corn tortillas on both the soft tacos and for the fajitas. They'll cut another 100 cals per taco plus they'll add a few grams of fiber. Skip taco salads. Though it sounds like a healthy choice, the reality is that it's packed with 900 cals and 55 grams of fat. Ouch! Enchiladas aren't much better. Typically the tortillas used are dipped in hot fat, stuffed, rolled, covered with sauce & cheese then baked. When topped with sour cream two enchiladas have about 750 cals, 55% of which comes from fat. Pass on rice and refried beans. Refried beans are usually mashed and cooked in lard. The rice at most of these restaurants are usually fried in oil, packing 380 cals and nearly 11 grams of fat in about 1/2 cup. Do search out the Bean Burrito if they're whole beans.  This could be the healthiest thing on the menu. The fiber in beans lowers cholesterol and helps make you feel full.  You can find many of these helpful hints I've listed above along with more tips in the book, Eat This Not That
Now off you go and enjoy your Mexican Fiesta but remember to be smart as you don't want to end up looking like the goodyear blimp bouncing down the street!