Mahi Mahi Pouches with Zucchini and Mint

After being in Washington DC for a week I was definitely ready for some fresh Charleston seafood. We found some beautiful Mahi Mahi filets at a local seafood market. Normally I would do a simple fresh herb rub and throw them on the grill, but alas another Charleston evening thunderstorm was rolling in. Baking fresh fish in parchment paper pouches is a fool proof way to get moist and perfectly cooked fish every single time. The paper browns up on its own, letting you know when your fish is ready. You can put any vegetables or garnishes in the pouch with your fish, infusing it with great flavors and allowing for a whole self contained meal with very little clean up! Perfect for a rainy summer day.

Mahi Mahi Pouches:

  • 4, 1/2 lb Mahi Mahi filets
  • 2 medium Zucchini, grated
  • 2 tbsp red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 thin rounds
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4, 15in x 15in pieces of parchment paper, folded and cut into a heart shape (picture follows!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush melted butter on one half of the heart shaped parchment paper and place one Mahi filet on each one (skin side down if it is still on there) and sprinkle each with salt and pepper. Split Zucchini, Red Onion and Mint among the four filets and spread it on top. Place 2 Lemon rounds on each filet. Drizzle remaining butter over filets to be a little indulgent!

To illustrate the heart shaped parchment!

Fold over heart and roll up edges to create a closed, sealed pouch. The steam staying in is important to cooking it.

Place on cooking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until parchment is slightly browned. Simply put on a plate, open pouches (be super careful of the hot steam!) and enjoy!

Just to show how lovely and steamy it comes out!

Grilled Corn and Red Pepper “Relish”

Summertime is perfect for grilling. I love the charred, smokey taste that anything you throw on gets almost like its a seasoning in itself. Having fewer dishes to wash after cooking doesn’t hurt either! With this dish I use the term relish loosely, I originally used this as a topping for steak or chicken but now I like it as a side dish in itself. It is an incredibly simple recipe but so satisfying with all the flavor that comes from the grill.

Grilled Corn and Red Pepper “Relish”:

  • 5 ears of Sweet Corn, Husked
  • 3 Red Peppers
  • 3 Banana Peppers (Optional, we have a Banana Pepper plant outside so I throw them in almost everything!)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

First I start with a hot, charcoal grill and put the Corn, whole Red Peppers and Banana Peppers directly onto the grill. Turn until the corn is slightly charred and peppers are black on the outside.

Immediately place peppers into a brown paper bag for five minutes to sweat off their skin a little bit. Peel off skin, remove stem and seeds from peppers and dice them up. Cut corn kernels off the cob and combine in a large bowl with peppers, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold, a perfect side dish or relish for a summer day!

The Most Disturbing Burger…Ever!

I was at my parent’s house last night making them a lovely dinner (Grilled NY Strip, Escarole Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette ((3 tbsp White Wine Vinegar, 3 Tbsp EVOO, 3/4 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles)) with Caramelized Onions, Walnuts, Bacon and Pears, then Chocolate Covered Strawberries for dessert) and my Body-Builder younger brother walked in. When he eats it is more of a feeding than a meal, purely for energy and not for taste which I can not relate too. I’ve seen him do some strange eating, like drinking raw eggs and whole days of just sweet potatoes, but last night takes the cake. He grills up a burger, which seems normal enough, then throws on the Walnuts from my salad and the Chocolate Chips from my dessert…blech.And there you have a burger that is almost as disturbing as the speedos he wears in his competitions haha!

Just to add to the randomness of this post, a picture of my dog in sunglasses, he loves them:

Happy Weekend!

The “Feels Like I Haven’t Had a Vegetable in a Week” Greek Salad

Do you ever feel like you have been deprived of the vitamins and nutrients in vegetables after a long weekend of burgers, sandwiches, boozing, pizza and other poor eating choices? Sometimes I feel like my body is just screaming for some good healthy food and just one vegetable won’t do it. My Greek Salad is perfect because it is packed with big chunks of veggies, olives and some feta cheese for that little bit of indulgence. When I’m having one of those malnourished feeling days this salad is a perfect fix.

Salad:

  • 1 Cucumber, cut in half length wise, seeded and sliced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 3 Banana Peppers, thin sliced
  • 1 Bundle Green Onions, thin sliced
  • 1 16 oz can Artichoke Heart Quarters, Drained
  • 1/2 c Pitted Kalamata Olives
  • 1/2 c Crumbled Feta Cheese
  • 2 tbsp Oregano or Dill (Both are delicious in it, I usually used Dill but my Dill plant went to seed so I subbed Oregano and it was equally as tastey)

Dressing, Whisk together:

  • Juice of 1 Whole Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4-1/2 c Extra Virgin Olive Oil (depending on your oil level preference–I like less, some people like more)
  • Ground Pepper and Salt to Taste

Toss all ingredients except the Feta Cheese together and refrigerate for at least 30 mins. Toss in the Feta before serving. A beautiful, nutritious and fulfilling salad!

Chicago Style Pizza

Deep Dish or Thin Crust? A debate that has plagued my family for generations. If you ask my Grandpa, a South-Side Chicago native, Thin Crust is king. They have been going to Fox’s Pizza for decades, and anytime I am in Chicago visiting it’s the favorite family meeting spot. With a crispy, thin to the point of non-existent crust, covered in cheese, olives, mushrooms, peppers and sausage it is delightful. I could almost eat a whole family size pizza to myself. But if I close my eyes and think of the pizza of my childhood all I can picture is that thick deep dish, ultra stuffed and ultra cheesey pizza. Sorry Grandpa!

A true deep dish has a thick, crispy, flaky and buttery crust. Next comes the layer of gooey mozzarella cheese, spicy Italian style sausage all covered with stewed tomatoes, fresh basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan. If you are ever in Chicago, Lou Malnati’s is the place to go. One slice is more than enough, but you always eat two or three! The last time I was in town visiting for a week and I had it THREE different times (once for lunch, once as a late night munchy in the hotel and once on the El ride to the airport!). When we got home to Charleston, the Lou Malnati’s withdrawals set in pretty quick, so we went online to get some shipped. It costs a whopping $105 to get one of these masterpieces sent to you! I knew it just wasn’t practical for an addiction like mine so I had to learn how to make one myself. Here’s my best effort to bring a little Chi-Town to your home!

Chicago Style Deep Dish:

  • 1 batch Emeril’s Pizza Dough (I use cornmeal instead of semolina flour, I like it better with the little crunch it adds) Makes 2 Pizzas
  • Olive oil for pan
  • 2 tbsp Melted Butter
  • 4 c. Mozzarella Cheese
  • One package Spicy Italian Sausage, cooked and sliced (I like Turkey Sausage because I can pretend its healthy!)
  • 2 16 oz Cans Stewed Tomatoes, drained
  • 1/3 Cup Chiffonade of Fresh Basil (visual of chiffonade below!)
  • Parmesan Cheese (For sprinkling on top)

Preheat oven to 475. Grease a 9-inch Spring Form Pan with olive oil, sprinkle bottom with cornmeal and shake out excess to give crust an extra crisp. Cut the risen pizza dough in half and roll out on a floured surface to a little larger than pan, transfer into it and press dough about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of pan. Brush dough with melted butter and allow to rest for a couple minutes. You may have to be persistent with pushing it up the sides, the dough can be springy and pull away but with some effort will stay in its position!

Add a layer of half of the mozzarella cheese, evenly distribute the sausage slices, then cover with the remaining cheese. Cover cheese with a single layer of the stewed tomatoes.

Cook in oven for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, sprinkle the top with the fresh basil and Parmesan, return to oven and cook an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven, unspring the spring form pan and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Slice (we like to do just quarters!!) and enjoy!

A Chiffonade is the pretty long thin strips of basil that are really simple to make! Stack basil leaves on top of each other, roll into a tight cylinder and slice width wise through it:

Grilled South Carolina Peaches

Grilled Peaches have been like a gift from the gods as a perfect summertime dessert. They are light, nutritious and beyond delicious in this hot and steamy weather. We get our peaches from a local farmers market style place called The Vegetable Bin, where it is extremely affordable and locally sourced fruits and veggies whenever possible. For this recipe we use not-too-soft, not-too-hard (does that make sense??) peaches so that they’ll hold up on the grill.

You’ll need:

  • 4 ripe (but not too ripe!) peaches
  • Mascarpone Cheese (A sweet Italian cream cheese of sorts! Greek Yogurt works too if you want to make this completely healthy)
  • Honey

Simply cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. On a medium-high grill, start with the exposed fruit side down, grill 3 minutes, then flip to the skin side down for an additional 3 minutes.

Serve warm with a dollop of Mascarpone Cheese (I always feel like Giada de Laurantiis when I use it!) and a drizzle of Honey.

Monday Burger Night At Cypress

Cypress has been one of my favorite fine-dining restaurants in Charleston. Everything they have is delicious, from the Caesar Salad (Made and served table-side) to the Molten Chocolate Cake for dessert. Their Chef, Greg Deihl, was a James Beard Award nominee this year for good reason! Unfortunately with my budget I can’t afford the whole dining experience too often, which makes Monday Burger Night awesome. At $5 for a variety of burgers and $3 for the sides (Fried Mac and Cheese or Steak Fries), it can’t be beat. With the entire 2nd Floor Bar and Dining Room open for seating, there is plenty of room for all to enjoy! So on Monday nights I’m able to get a little dressed up, enjoy a nice glass of Rose Wine and a delicious gourmet burger for a great experience and very little damage to my bank roll!

Wood Grilled Burger (bacon jam, pimiento cheese, butter lettuce, yeast roll), Fried Mac and Cheese, House Made Pickle