Monday, March 28, 2011

Grilled Swordfish in a Garlic, Tomato and Basil Vermouth Sauce

Too much garlic for your taste? 
Add more fresh herbs!

This recipe is so easy, but so delicious and colorful.  You have to try it! 

I love it because you can easily cut it in half or even down to a portion for one or you can double it and it still works! 

If you like less of a garlic flavor, you can add more fresh herbs!

Grilled Swordfish in a Garlic, Tomato and Basil Vermouth Sauce
Makes 4 Servings

4 - 3/4 inch thick Swordfish steaks
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste

For the Sauce:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
I Tablespoon bottled Minced Garlic
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
¼ cup of dry Vermouth
1 tablespoon of Butter, iced cold*
1 tablespoon of fresh Basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Parsley, (Optional)

Double Click to See The Dish!
Preheat grill to 400°.

Brush swordfish with Olive Oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium flame, about 6 – 8 minutes each side.

In a medium skillet or saucepan, add olive oil and garlic.  Sauté for one minute.  Reduce heat.  Add Cherry Tomatoes.  Cook two more minutes, making sure that the garlic does not burn, as it will get bitter.

Add vermouth.  Scrape off any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Reduce to half. 

Add butter, removing from heat.  Top with chopped basil and parsley.

Pour sauce over fish.

MK's cooking note:  Put your butter in the freezer before adding it to sauces!  You get a rich sauce that does not break!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tuna for Two

Cook's Note:  This recipe makes me think of the situation and the wonderful people of Japan.  Know that our prayers are with you ALWAYS.  I'd like to dedicate this post to our adopted nephew, Josh, who is serving in the US Marines there.  Our prayers are with you, too!

Sesame Crusted Tuna
Marinated in a Garlic Teriyaki Ponzu

Click on the Picture: 
Look at that Sesame Crust!

Dan wants to eat more fish.  I want Dan to eat more fish. 

The other night we were talking about making tuna.  I've made tuna over the years, but he's always been just "okay" with it.  He recalled a recipe he had in a restaurant years ago; he couldn't even remember the name of the place.  It was the only tuna he ever really was wild about, other than the kind you get out of a can and mix with tons of Mayo. 

It was a sesame crusted tuna, which had been marinated in Teriyaki sauce. Game on!

So, I came up with this recipe.  I never saw Dan devour, I mean devour a piece of tuna so quickly.  The flavor in this marinade is so crazy good.  You will want to marinate tuna, chicken or even pork loin in it.  If you cook it just right, you'll have the best tuna ever.  I promise!  But as I say, you are the judge and jury.  Make it and tell me what you think.

I made this recipe for two, but feel free to double or triple it if you are having company or cooking for a family.

Garlic Teriyaki Ponzu Marinade

1 clove of fresh Garlic, chopped
¼ cup bottled Teriyaki Sauce (Suggest Kikkoman)
½ tablespoon bottled Ponzu Sauce*
1 tablespoon Red Pepper Rice Vinegar
1 tablespoon of chopped Green Onion

For the Tuna:

2 – 4.5 ounce Wild Caught Ahi (Yellowfin) Tuna Steaks
One Tablespoon of Sesame Seeds
Extra Teriyaki Sauce for Drizzling

Cooking spray

Whisk together all ingredients for marinade.  I like to reserve about an 1/8 of a cup if I am making my veggie packs, otherwise, go ahead and use it all.

Place tuna in a glass dish.  Pour marinade over tuna.  Cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator for approximately 2 hours, turning once.

Tuna in Marinade

Remove tuna steaks from marinade.  If garlic sticks to tuna, press it into the flesh.  Press sesame seeds into the flesh of the fish.

Heat cast iron skillet over side burner or grill (this is my number one choice for cooking this), or heat up your grill to about 400 degrees.

And now, for the perfectly cooked tuna!

  • Cook for 30 seconds each side for very rare (cold center).
  • Cook for 90 seconds on each side for rare to medium rare (warm center).
  • For medium (pink center), cook for 90 seconds on each side, and then cook one additional minute on each side.

Turn off heat and let fish rest in pan for about 30 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Drizzle with Teriyaki sauce and serve.

I served over a simple mix of veggies prepared in a foil pack on the grill using a little of the same marinade, a little olive oil and a splash of Saki to steam.  And, yes, that is bagged coleslaw mix on top of those sliced carrots, onion and zucchini.  Dan and I can never use an entire bag of coleslaw mix.  I love using the extra up this way.

Marinade mixed with olive oil, ground ginger and Saki!

I also took a little store-bought help to round out the meal.

Note:  Ponzu is a citrus based sauce used in Japanese cuisine.  It’s made from mirin wine, rice vinegar, dried tuna (katsuobushi) and seaweed.  Try the bottled version. It is de-lish!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blue Cheese Chicken-Chive Burgers with a Creamy Horseradish Ranch Sauce

My chicken burger remains my number one post on this blog so far.  Here is another one.

Don't forget... for a really delicious look at what I'm cooking tonight, click on the pictures to enlarge.  You will be hungry after you do!

Blue Cheese Chicken-Chive Burgers
Makes 6 Burgers 

...with a Creamy Horseradish Ranch Sauce

For the Burgers:
2 lbs Ground Chicken
2 tablespoons Grill Seasoning for Steak
6 large Baby Bella Mushrooms, diced
1 large Shallot, diced
4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
4 oz. crumbled Blue Cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Chives (plus ½ tablespoon for the sauce)*

For the Sauce:
¼ cup Fat Free Sour Cream
2 tablespoons Ranch Dressing Mix (Suggest Hidden Valley)
1 Tablespoon prepared bottled Horseradish (more or less to taste)
½ tablespoon fresh chopped Chives*

Other (optional): 
Cooking Spray for Grill
Thin sandwich or burger buns (whole grain or whole wheat)
Green Leaf Lettuce
Tomato Slices
Sliced Red Onion

Spray grill with cooking spray.   Preheat grill to 400°.

Combine all ingredients for the burger and mix well.  Form into six even patties. 

Combine all ingredients for the sauce and chill until ready to use.

Place patties on grill and close cover.  Bring grill temperature to 425 degrees (this will take about 2-3 minutes, depending on your grill) and then cook for approximately five minutes. 

Flip burgers.  You will know that they are ready to flip as they will come up from the grill without much of a fuss.  If they are not ready, they will let you know as they will stick to the grill.  If this be the case, let the burgers go another minute or two and then flip.

Once burgers are flipped, close the grill lid and bring the temperature back up to 400.  Open the lid and test the burgers with a meat thermometer.  The burgers will most likely be somewhere around 140 degrees at this point. 

Close the lid again and repeat process.  On my grill, the burgers will now be up to about 160 after this go round.  Most chefs agree that you should not remove chicken from the grill, oven, etc. at less than 160 degrees.  There is carryover cooking time (once you remove the meat, it still continues to cook).  It's normally best to let any meat rest.  The temp of the chicken will normally rise about 5-10 degrees during the resting process.   If you tent your plate with foil after you remove the burgers, the temp will normally rise about 10 degrees.

Keep in mind, you are cooking for temp, not time.   If I am serving these straight from the grill to the bun, I have even cooked these as high as 175 degrees and they are still very juicy. 

The sauce is yummy!
Top bun with lettuce and tomato (optional), burger and sauce. 

Red onion slices are also optional.

Serve with Garlic Ranch Grill Fries & English Pea Salad

For the fries, I simply toss thinly sliced red potatoes in olive oil, garlic salt, and ranch dressing mix.  I "fry" these on the grill in a tin foil pan along side whatever I am grilling, flipping the fries only once during the cooking process.

The pea salad recipe will be featured in an upcoming post on summer salads. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cedar Planked Chicken Parm Meatloaf

MK's special note:  Thanks to all of you who e-mailed and called me about my surgery.  I'm moving a little slow, but I am doing just fine!  Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts and your prayers.


Craving Meatloaf? 

Cook it on the grill and save on the electric bill!

I'm serious!  Here is another creative way to use ground chicken.  I made this last week while Mama Pirri was here recovering from her surgery.  (Yes, Dan's girls are a total mess).  

And now, for something completely different...  

Cedar Planked Chicken Parm Meatloaf

Chicken Parm Meatloaf, hot off the... grill???

You won't want to hold the applause.  This dish is so smoky and cheesy!  Trust me. You will love it!  Think of the best barbecue chicken you ever had, glazed and saucy meatloaf with crispy ends, and your favorite chicken Parmesan recipe all rolled into one!

This is a meatloaf that is so moist and so flavorful on the inside.  Not to mention, it's healthier than most Italian meatloaf recipes!   I am not certain if it's the flash of the fire on the cedar plank that does the trick, or what's in the middle that makes this turn out so fantastic.   

You  are my judge and my jury.  Try it and tell me what you think.

Plank it!

For the Meatloaf:
1 lb Ground Chicken
1 tablespoon Grill Seasoning for Chicken
1/2 cup chunked Romano Cheese (be sure to chunk, not grate it!)
2 Eggs, cracked and beaten lightly
2 tablespoons Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1/2 cup diced Red Onion
2 cups diced White Mushrooms
4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup dried Italian Breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon chopped Chives
2 tablespoons Red Sauce from a jar (just use your favorite)*

*You will need a 1/4 cup of extra sauce for the glaze and for topping the meatloaf at the table (optional).
Glaze it!

For the Glaze:
1/4 cup Red Sauce from a Jar
2 tablespoons Ketchup

Cheese it!

Cheesy Topping:
1/4 cup shredded fat free Mozzarella Cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat grill to 350°.

Mix all ingredients for the meatloaf together.  Form into loaf on top of a soaked cedar plank.  Carefully place plank on grill. 

Important Note:  Just be sure to soak your plank before using and keep a spray bottle of water on hand in case of flair ups.

Close the lid and maintain the grill at about 350 degrees, checking occasionally for flare ups.  I like to make this when I have time to sit out on the porch with a cold drink, so I am close to the grill with the squirt bottle in case I need to put out any flair ups. 

You are going for temperature here, so continue to cook (on my grill it took about one hour and fifteen minutes), until internal temperature reaches 175 degrees and the juices run clear. 

During the last five minutes of cooking, when the temp gets up to around 170, I top with the glaze.  Right before I am ready to pull it from the grill, I top it with the cheese and let the cheese get all melty (just like you would with a burger). I like to add extra sauce at the end!  I'll fight you for those crispy ends!  Inside, it's so moist and juicy and smoky!  Yum! 

Serve with a side of Broccoli
& White Beans

MK's Note:  

I didn’t invent the concept of cedar plank meatloaf.  If you do a Google search, you’ll find a dozen or more recipes out there.  I am partial to my own recipe. 


Friday, March 18, 2011

Balsamic and Dijon Marinated Lamb Chops with Mint Wine Jelly

Savory and tangy, this super easy recipe will be your “go to” when you need a springtime lamb fix!   Since Sunday is the first day of spring, how about dusting off the grill? 

Get ready to say goodbye to a long, cold winter.  Fire it up!

Balsamic and Dijon Marinated Lamb Chops
Makes 4 Servings

For the Marinade:
8 - ½ inch Lamb Loin Chops
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Honey
¼ Cup Olive Oil
½ Tablespoon dried Herbes De Provence

Cooking Spray for Grill
1 Tablespoon Grill Seasoning for Steak, (suggest Montreal)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Mint (optional)

For the Mint Wine Jelly:
¼ cup store bought Wine Jelly*
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Mint

Whisk all ingredients for marinade together.  Pour over lamb chops. 
Marinate at least four hours, or preferably overnight.

Marinated Lamb Chops, Ready for the Grill!
Spray grill with cooking spray. 

Preheat grill to 400°. 

Pat excess marinade from chops with a paper towel so that they brown evenly.  Liberally season chops with steak seasoning on both sides, pressing the seasoning into the meat.

Grill over open flame or charcoal -  medium heat - about  3 1/2 minutes per side for medium rare, five minutes per side for medium.   Top with mint, if using.

Mix mint into wine jelly. 

Serve with lamb. 

Daphne's Muscadine Wine Jelly* with Fresh Mint Added

What is that great-looking side dish with my lamb? 

It's my Tortellini Salad with Broccoli and Tomato. I promise to post healthy summer salads very soon!

*Use any wine jelly that you like.  Our friend, Daphne, is a local vendor who sells her jelly at our local  festivals.  Look for how to buy her jelly on my "Links You Will Like" soon!

BTW- What do you think of the new blog pic?  My cousin, Amy, likes this one the best so I thought I'd give it a try.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grilled Mahi Mahi in a "Tipsy" Three Citrus Sauce

Let's face it, if you don't cook or you don't cook very often, the very thought of making a sauce from scratch can be "scary:"  making the roux; whisking; worrying about the sauce "breaking."  It's enough to drive even an experienced cook nuts!

I've got a sauce that only looks "scary."  Tonight, I am serving it with an easy grilled Mahi Mahi, and my Tequila Shrimp and Scallops.  Finish the meal with a simple side, such as wilted spinach with onion and mushrooms, and you've got a dinner that you and your family won't soon forget!

When I make a complex sauce – meaning one that uses a list of ingredients – I like to pair it with something simple, such as grilled fish or chicken. This sauce is not as “scary” as it looks.  It’s very simple to make.   And my “frozen” butter trick, allows you to prepare the sauce 2/3 of the way prior to pairing your entrée.  You can  even reheat this sauce and finish it up without it “breaking.”  The thing that I love about this sauce, is that you can put the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week. 

You can use it as a glaze for grilled pork, chicken or fish.

Grilled Mahi Mahi in a "Tipsy" Three Citrus Sauce

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
½ cup chopped Red Onion
2 tablespoons Flour
4 tablespoons butter, divided (toss two tablespoons into the freezer while making the roux)
Juice of one medium Lemon
Juice of one small Lime
Zest of one large navel Orange, orange part only
Juice of one large navel Orange
½ cup dry White Wine*
4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 dashes Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons gold Tequila*
2 tablespoons Honey
½ teaspoon Spanish Paprika
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste

*Wine and Tequila in the same sauce?  It works!  Trust me! 

For the Fish: 

12 oz. fresh or frozen Mahi Fillets, if frozen, thaw
(DUH, I bet you couldn’t figure that out)!
Blackened Seasoning, to taste
Cooking Spray for the Grill

I like to serve this with For the Shrimp and Scallops:

4 large Sea Scallops
9 medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Old Bay® Seasoning, to taste
Drizzle of Olive Oil
One Shot of gold Tequila

For the sauce:  In a medium saucepan,  add olive oil and onion.  Sauté three minutes, until softened.  Add flour and two tablespoons of butter.  Reduce heat, stir and cook until you see a light coffee color emerge*. 

Whisk in lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice and orange zest.  Add wine, reserving a splash, Worcestershire sauce, and Soy sauce.  Reduce half-way over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Add tequila, honey, salt and pepper. 

Turn off heat until ready to finish. 

Once ready to finish, over a low heat, add in reserved wine and frozen butter, one pat at a time.

For the fish:  Sprinkle Mahi with Blackened seasoning, to taste.  The great thing about this recipe is that the grilling tempers the seasoning, and you can add and much or as little as you like.  You can adjust for guests.

Spray grill with cooking spray.  Grill over medium flame, about four minutes each side. 

For the Scallops and Shrimp. 

Add Scallops and Shrimp to grill safe pan.  Toss with Old Bay® and drizzle with Olive Oil.  Sauté  five minutes, turning once.  Remove from flame.  Add Tequila.  Return to heat and simmer about one-to-two minutes.

*If I have more time one night, I will post a blog all about roux’s.  It’s so interesting how getting the roux to a different color can change the complexity of a sauce.  I wish I would have taken a picture of my roux, as it came out perfectly. Next time, I promise!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snapper in a Snap

Our friend, Mike Brooks, loves when I prepare fish this way...  especially when we share the leftovers.  So I named the dish after him and his lovely wife, Lynne.

I’ve made this same dish with Snapper and with Orange Roughy.  You can substitute any white fish that is firm and holds up to baking.  This dish is a very versatile. After you taste how delicious it is, I am sure this will become your “go to” fish recipe, too!

Wine, lemon, herbs and butter make the Snapper rock!
Snapper a la Brooks

12 oz Snapper Fillets, fresh or frozen; if frozen, defrost
½ tablespoon Old Bay® Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, plus a little more for drizzling
1 medium Red Onion, chopped (or a combination of red and sweet onion)
1 medium Red Pepper, chopped
Coarse Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Butter Flavored Cooking Spray
2 small vine ripened Tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons dry White Wine
Juice of one medium Lemon
2 tablespoons Butter, cut into “dots”
1 lemon, sliced into two slices, the remaining quartered
1 tablespoon chopped Fresh Parsley
½ Tablespoon chopped Fresh Dill (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. 

Season snapper on both sides with Old Bay®.

Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil into medium skillet.  Sauté onion and pepper, about five minutes, until softened but not browned.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.  Cool slightly.

Spray glass cooking dish with butter flavored cooking spay.  Layer peppers and onions on the bottom of the baking dish. 

Place fish fillets on top of peppers and onions.   Pour wine and lemon juice over fish.  Top with tomatoes, lemon slices and butter “dots.”

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until fish is opaque. 

Top with fresh parsley and dill.  Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

Suggestion:  Serve with Sea Shell Pasta with Lemony Fennel, Beans and Greens:

Kicked up version:  

Reserve lemon slices during original baking time.  Bake for 20 minutes. Top with Italian style bread crumbs mixed melted butter, and then add the lemon slices. BROIL five additional minutes.  Top with fresh herbs after broiling.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sea Shell Pasta with Lemony Fennel, Beans and Greens

Whether you observe Lent or you are just trying to eat a few meatless meals each week, this dish will surely hit the spot! 

I am not so crazy about raw fennel, but I love it cooked; especially when it’s served with pasta.   You will love this easy dish!

Sea Shell Pasta with Lemony Fennel, Beans and Greens

½ lb. Multi Grain Sea Shell Pasta, cooked per package directions
1 tablespoon Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling at the table
One Fennel Bulb, sliced thin
Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper, more or less to taste
Coarse Sea Salt, to taste
1 -15 oz can Cannellini Beans, drained and washed
5 oz Fresh Spinach, washed and stemmed
¼ teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
Juice of one medium Lemon
Zest of half a medium Lemon
Splash of dry White Wine
Shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese, to taste
Fennel Frawns for garnish, optional

While pasta is cooking, slice fennel bulb. 

Wash and trim spinach.

Add olive oil to medium skillet.  Add sliced fennel.  Sauté fennel until soft, about five minutes.

Add crushed red pepper, salt and beans.  Cook three or four more minutes. 

Add spinach in batches.  Wilt into pan.  Add a little of the nutmeg on top of each batch.

When spinach is just about wilted, add in lemon, zest and wine.  

Add pasta (if you need to add a little starch to the sauce, you can also add a little of the starchy cooking water from the pasta). 

Plate and top with shaved cheese and frawns, if using.   Drizzle with olive oil at the table, to taste.


Prefer a red-sauced pasta?  Try adding cooked fennel, a little cooked sweet onion and fennel frawns to your ricotta, mozzarella and egg mixture. 

Stuff large pasta shells for a different twist on this Italian favorite!

Next week is ALL about seafood!   Have a safe and fun weekend, everyone!  Cheers!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

There's the Rub

I promised you two rub/seasoning recipes tonight…  The steak and chop rub is extremely simple but totally flavorful.  It’s not that the ingredients are anything out of the ordinary; for me it was about getting just the right amount of each ingredient into the mix. 

The Jerk seasoning is a bit more complex, but also made from basic ingredients.   It’s amazing to me that we go out and buy spice mixtures when we already have a lot of these things on hand in our pantry.

So, with no further adieu… 

T-Bone Steaks rubbed with MK's Steak Rub
MK’s Steak and Chop Rub
1 Tablespoon Course Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
½ Tablespoon Onion Powder
½ Tablespoon Ground Coriander
½ Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store in a covered container in your pantry for one month.

Home-style Jerk Seasoning
2 Tablespoons firmly packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Garlic Salt
½ Tablespoon Onion Powder
½ Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper
½ Tablespoon dried Thyme
½ Tablespoon Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon Ground Allspice

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  This recipe makes enough rub for four lbs of chicken, ribs or chops or for one whole, four lb. whole chicken (for Beer Can Chicken).

My Beer Can Chicken, with Jerk Rub and Steak Sauce

Cook's note:  I use this jerk rub along with a little olive oil, and then I baste my beer can chicken during the last five minutes of cooking time with a healthy dose of Heinz 57® Steak Sauce.*  Try it.  It's fantastic!

*Not a paid endorsement.

Yesterday's Dinner = Today's Lunch
Since this is part two of last night’s blog, I wanted to show you what that leftover pasta salad can do.  Add a can of tuna and a little extra mayo; lay a bed of fresh spinach on a plate and top it with the salad... an amazingly light and delicious lunch!