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Grilled Whole Branzino with Lemon-Oregano Emulsion

26 Aug

On Wednesday while I was at school, Zak let me know that he had taken a trip to Whole Foods to pick up some fish and after bs-ing a little bit with the fish monger while purchasing this branzino, the fish monger threw in some free salmon steaks.  SCORE!  He offered to cook up the salmon steaks on Wednesday and gave me the task of preparing this branzino on Thursday.

It was nice to have a whole day to brainstorm.  I knew I wanted to throw the fish on the grill.  This Mediterranean fish absorbs smoke beautifully, and the skin crisps up in such a way that I can’t describe its deliciousness.  I also wanted to pair it with lemon somehow, but was bored of simply stuffing the cavity and squeezing a few wedges over.  Instead, I decided to prepare a lemon sauce.  My new immersion blender that my sister-in-law got for us as a shower gift is super handy for whipping up sauces and emulsions, so I decided to make a lemon, Dijon, and oregano emulsion with a touch of mayonnaise for extra creaminess.

This turned out great.  Though simple, the smokiness of the sweet-fleshed grilled fish paired perfectly with the lemon-y, creamy emulsion.  The emulsion on its own was delicious, and I was happy to have leftovers while making breakfast the next morning – it makes for an excellent substitute for hollandaise, so I’ll post a recipe I made with it soon!

Grilled Whole Branzino with Lemon-Oregano Emulsion

Grilled Whole Branzino:

1 lb. whole branzino, cleaned and scaled

1/4 cup olive oil

1-2 tbs. dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat a grill, either charcoal or gas.

Using a brush, brush fish, inside and out, with olive oil.  Liberally season all sides and center cavity of the fish with oregano, salt, and pepper.

Place on preheated grill and cook 7 minutes per side until flesh is opaque and flakes easily.  When flipping the fish, carefully separate the skin of the fish from the grill and flip in one fluid movement.  Cover grill once flipped.

Lemon-Oregano Emulsion:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbs. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. mayonnaise

1 tbs. dried oregano

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Combine lemon juice, mustard, mayonnaise, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Using an immersion blender, food processor, or whisk slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking/blending.

Serve over fish.

Whole Grilled Golden Trout and Grilled Corn

31 Jul

This whole grilled golden trout stuffed with lemon, dill, and garlic served alongside an ear of grilled Ohio sweet corn is tasty summer simplicity at its finest.  The golden trout is lightly perfumed with the citrus of the lemon and flavors of dill and garlic with crispy, lightly charred skin and tender, flaky flesh.  The natural sweetness of the corn is coaxed to a new level from the caramelization on the grill, making this some of the best corn I’ve ever eaten.  The husks prevent the kernels from burning, while allowing the smokey charcoal flavors of the grill to make their mark.

I cooked the corn on the grill first before cooking the fish because our grill is tiny and it acted as a great appetizer.  If you have a big grill, then there’s no need to do that.

Whole Grilled Golden Trout and Grilled Corn

Whole Grilled Golden Trout:

1 whole golden trout, weighing approximately 1 lb.

1 lemon, cut into half moon shapes

1/4-1/2 cup dill fronds

3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

1 lemon, for serving

Make sure all cavities in the fish are empty and trim off all fins using a pair of kitchen scissors.  Cut three deep slashes in each side of the fish, to but not through the bone.

Rub fish inside and out with olive oil.  Season the inside of the cavity of the fish, the slits cut into the fish, and both sides of the fish liberally with salt and pepper.

Squeeze a tablespoon or so of lemon juice into the cavity of the fish.  Stuff the cavity of the fish with most of the lemon wedges, dill, and most of the chopped garlic.  Stuff remaining chopped garlic into each of slits cut into the fish.  Place a few slices of lemon both under and on top of the fish.

Let marinate, refrigerated, for about an hour (not necessary but I believe helpful).

Preheat your grill to medium-hot.  Make sure your grill grate is clean and very hot.  Spray the grill with non-stick cooking spray.

Add fish, removing any lemon wedges stuck to the bottom and placing on top.  Let cook, without touching for 5-8 minutes.  Using a spatula and tongs, carefully un-stick the fish from the grate of the grill.  Let cook another 3-4 minutes, for a total of 8-12 minutes.  Remove the lemon wedges from the top of the fish.

Carefully flip the fish.  Replace the lemon slices and cook another 5-8 minutes before carefully un-sticking from the grate of the grill.  Cook another 3-4 minutes.

When cooked through, the flesh of the fish should be opaque and semi-firm to the touch.  The skin of the fish will be darkened and even charred in some areas, and the internal temperature should reach 140º.

Carefully remove to a serving dish and serve immediately with another lemon for squeezing.

Grilled Corn:

2 ears corn

2-3 tbs. olive oil

Butter, to taste

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Take corn and pull back outer green husks without removing them.  Remove the silk of the corn and discard.

Brush the kernels of the corn with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Reposition the husks back over the kernels.

Place corn on grill heated to medium heat.  Grill approximately 20 minutes, turning as necessary to keep from charring, covered.  When cooked through, the corn will flex in your hands without breaking (be sure to wear oven mitts), the husks will be darkened and charred in places, and the kernels will slightly darker in color and tender.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

4 Jun

Now that the weather has warmed up, I need to try and think of recipes that don’t use the oven.  Preferably, some of them will involve the grill.  These were absolutely perfect for the increasingly hot weather – light, refreshing, and bursting with flavor.

The flavors in these tacos were extremely fresh and bright.  The cilantro and lime marinated shrimp picked up the smokiness of the grill and retained their natural sweetness.  The onions packed a punch of spices and a delicious tartness from the vinegar.  The vivid green of the marinade contrasted nicely with the pinkish hue of the onions.  Both pretty and flavorful, these were an extremely easy, refreshing, and flavorful taco.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

Michael Symon’s Pickled Red Onions:

Adapted from Live to Cook by Michael Symon (I <3 my signed copy!)

1 large red onion, sliced 1/4″ thick (about enough to fill a 1-quart jar semi-snugly)

Vinegar – half apple cider vinegar, half rice wine vinegar


Kosher salt

2 tsp. mustard seeds

1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tbs. coriander seeds

2 tbs. black peppercorns

4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

2-3 bay leaves

Pack the onion slices in a 1-quart jar and cover with water to come within 1/2″ of the rim.  Pour the water out into a measuring cup.  Note the volume, then pour off half of the water.  Replace it with half apple cider vinegar and half rice wine vinegar.  For example, the total volume of water was 2 1/2 cups.  So I used 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 3/4 cup rice wine vinegar.

Pour the vinegar mixture into a nonreactive saucepan.  Add 2 tbs. sugar and 2 tbs. salt for every 3 cups of liquid.  Add the mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Allow the liquid to boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Pour the hot liquid into the jar over the onions.  Stir to evenly distribute the spices.

Screw on the lids and shake a few times.  Let cool to room temperature.  Transfer to refrigerator.  Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Cilantro-Lime Grilled Shrimp:

1 lb. shell-on jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cups loosely packed cilantro

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 lime, juiced

1/2 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed

1/3 cup olive oil

Add cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and jalapeño to a food processor.  Pulse a few times to chop the cilantro and garlic.  With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil.  Add the shrimp and the cilantro mixture to a ziplock bag and marinate for thirty minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up your grill.

Thread shrimp onto skewers, making sure they have some space between them.  Brush with leftover marinade.  Add the skewers to the grill.  Depending on the heat of your grill, cook about 4-5 minutes per side, brushing with any leftover marinade as they cook, until pink and no longer translucent.


Pickled red onions, see above

Cilantro-lime grilled shrimp, see above

Soft tortilla shells, heated thirty seconds per side on the grill

Add 4-5 shrimp to each tortilla.  Top with some onions.  Fold into taco shape and devour.

Grilled Meatball Sandwich with Roasted Tomatillo-Parsley Sauce

29 Apr

It has been relatively chilly for late April, especially following a week or two of eighty-degree weather in March.  Oh, the vagaries of Cleveland weather.  So when it warmed up into the low sixties with sunny skies the other day, I decided I wanted to do some BBQ.

This grilled meatball sandwich is absolutely delicious.  So much so that I didn’t even bother to repurpose the leftovers the next day – I simply warmed them up and ate the exact same thing again.  The rich, smokey, beefy flavor of the meatball is offset by the bright, tangy taste of the roasted-tomatillo parsley sauce.  Ensconced in some lightly grilled ciabatta, this makes for a real home run.  I love the crispy edges of the grilled meatballs, balanced nicely with the moist, creamy interior.

The sauce is also particularly lovely with either salmon or eggs, if you have a little bit leftover (which I did).  It’s also nice on a bit of toast, so make extra if you love bright, tangy tomatillos and the herbaceous flavor of parsley.

Grilled Meatball Sandwich with Roasted Tomatillo-Parsley Sauce

Grilled Meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef (I used local, grass-fed, free range)

1 large egg

1 slice whole wheat bread, pulsed in a food processor until coarse crumbs

2 slices whole wheat bread, soaked in 1/4 cup milk, squeezed dry, and torn into small pieces

2 tbs. dried parsley flakes

1 tbs. paprika

1 tbs. garlic powder

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat your grill and spray your grill grate with nonstick cooking spray, spreading charcoal into a single layer (if using).

Using hands, mix together all ingredients thoroughly.  Form into balls about 1 1/2″ in diameter.  It will yield about a dozen meatballs.  Place on skewers.

Add skewers to the grill.  Grill about 8 minutes per side, being sure not to attempt to move them for at least a couple of minutes (otherwise, they will stick).

The internal temperature of the meatballs should be about 160º.  Remove the meatballs from the grill slightly before reaching that temperature (or desired temperature), because the meat will cook while it rests.

Let rest 2-3 minutes and then assemble sandwich (see below).

 Roasted Tomatillo-Parsley Sauce:

3 small tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed, halved

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

2 cups fresh parsley

1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 tbs. red wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Add tomatillos, cut side down, to preheated grill.  Cook 8-10 minutes until very soft and charred.  Flip and cook another 5-7 minutes.

Add tomatillos, garlic, parsley, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to a food processor.  Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped.  With food processor running, slowly add olive oil until well incorporated.

Assemble sandwich (see below).


Grilled Meatballs (see above)

Roasted Tomatillo-Parsley Sauce (see above)

2 rosemary ciabatta rolls (or store bought rolls of choice), toasted on grill if desired

Cut roll lengthwise, nearly in half.  Spread a few tablespoons of the roasted tomatillo parsley sauce on each half of the bread.  Add 2-3 meatballs and drizzle a tablespoon or two of sauce over top.  Serve immediately.

Grilled Lemon-Dill Striped Bass and Grilled Melted Leeks

23 Oct

I very nearly opted against posting this recipe, because it’s just so darn simple.  A quick and easy marinade is whipped together and then the ingredients are thrown on the grill.  However, the combination of flavors from the striped bass and grilled leeks was so harmonious I figured it would be a shame not to share it on the off chance some of you were interested in a quick, easy, and healthy meal to throw on the grill.  The melted leeks are particularly fantastic – I ate them like string cheese by pulling apart the layers and popping them in my mouth.  A more civilized human – like Zak – would use a fork and perhaps a knife.  As you can see from the picture, the skin of the fish got stuck to the grill grate.  I pulled it off with some tongs so I could have some of that delicious, salty crunchiness.  If you’re a touch more careful than we were, it shouldn’t be an issue, however.

Grilled Lemon-Dill Striped Bass and Grilled Melted Leks

Grilled Lemon-Dill Striped Bass:

1 lb. striped bass fillets (2 large fillets)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/3 cup fresh dill, roughly torn

4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

Mix together all ingredients except non-stick cooking spray in a large ziplock bag.  Marinate fish 3-4 hours, flipping over occasionally to ensure even marination.

Remove fish from marinade.  Reserve lemon-dill marinade.  Lightly score the fish on the skin side.

Preheat a grill to medium-high.

Place fish skin side down on the grill.  Baste with reserved marinade.  Grill about 4-5 minutes.  Carefully flip and baste again.  Grill another 4-5 minutes or until internal temperature is about 140º.

Grilled Melted Leeks:

3 large leeks, dark green ends trimmed off, cleaned

Lemon-dill marinade, reserved from above

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, cut a few 2-3″ slits about a quarter of the way through the leeks, lengthwise.  This will allow the leeks to cook evenly.

Blanche leeks in the boiling water about five minutes until tender.  Drain rinse with cool water.  Drain on paper towels.

Place leeks directly on the grill.  Baste with some lemon-dill marinade, from above.  Cook about 5 minutes per side over direct heat.  Transfer to indirect heat and cook another 8-10  minutes, turning once or twice.

Serve warm.

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