Grilled Halibut with Tomato Olive Relish

Grilled Halibut

Grilled Halibut


Lucky me.  Okay lucky everybody.  Fresh Halibut is readily available in the markets right now.  And coincidentally, right in the middle of fresh tomato season.  Add Kalamata olives to the mix and I’m one happy puppy.  Kalamata olives are one of my favorite foods.  I enjoy them in Greek salad, in olive tapenade, and on just about anything.   They are rich and oily and have a great salt punch.  Try slicing raw cauliflower about an inch thick, brush with olive oil, cover with some finely chopped Kalamata olives, and bake at 425F for about 20 minutes.  You’ll want to make more next time.

Little plates:  I decided to serve this dish as a first course on a small plate.  It’s a great starter dish on a hot day.  It’s light and really easy.  If you want it for the main course, double the portion.  I love the denseness of Halibut and how it takes on the personality of its plate partner.

Tomato Olive relish

  • ¾ cup deseeded and diced tomato
  • 6 yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ½ cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon finely diced red onion
  • 3 Basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of EVOO
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir gently.  Make at least ½ hour ahead allowing the flavors to marry.  Serve the relish at room temperature so the tomatoes are at the height of flavor.  Refrigeration mutes the flavors of tomatoes so always keep your tomatoes at room temperature for the best flavor.

Pan Grilled Halibut

  • 1 – 12oz. Halibut Filet
  • 1 Tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Sea Salt, Fresh cracked black pepper and ½ teaspoon Paprika

Rinse and dry the Halibut filet. Sprinkle both sides with the salt pepper and Paprika. I like to use very little spice on the fish so the relish is the dominant flavor. Heat a heavy skillet on Med-Hi heat (I have a side burner on my BBQ as I like to cook fish outside) for 5 minutes.  Add the EVOO until it shimmers.  Add the butter and immediately add the fish.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Remove from the skillet, cut into portions and cover each piece with relish.  Serve immediately. 

Tips:  Use the relish as a dip with chips.  Halibut is such a dense fish, try cutting into small squares, covering with the relish, stab with a toothpick, and serve as an appetizer. 


Chicken Picatta and Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Picatta and Chicken Marsala

2 Birds with one stone (fry pan)

Not entirely, but both recipes start out the same so I’d thought I’d give you the ‘ol 2 for 1.  Marsala is sweet and uses onions and sweet wine whereas Picatta is lemony and uses dry wine and capers.  Marsala favors a red wine as a pairing where Picatta invites a white.  So, lemon or sweet, white mushrooms or brown, red wine or white, let’s get in the kitchen.  It’s going to get a little messy but isn’t cleaning up half the fun?  Okay it’s not but whenever I dredge something in flour I make a mess.  Since both recipes start out the same, I’ll take us to the fork in the road, then, you decide which fork you want to take for the finished dishOr, if you’re really brave, make them both on the same night.  What’s a mess between friends?Chicken Picatta

Chicken Picatta and Marsala

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 Tablespoons EVOO
  • ¾ cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ cup of chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped


  • ¾ lb. sliced white mushrooms
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Tablespoons of drained nonpareil capers.
  • 6 cloves fresh minced garlic


  • ¾ lb. sliced brown mushrooms
  • I large onion, minced
  • 3 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 Tablespoon veal demiglace

Rinse and clean the chicken breasts of any connective tissue where the wing was connected.  Pound the chicken breasts to even thickness, about ¾ of an inch. Put the chicken breasts, 2 at a time in a large zip lock bag.  Then on a cutting board and with a rolling pin, pound them to the desired thickness.  Then place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan, separating with a piece of wax or parchment paper.  Heat a heavy skillet (that has a lid) on medium high.  Add 2 Tablespoons of the EVOO and 2 Tablespoons of the butter.  Put the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl or pan for dredging.  Dredge 2 chicken breasts coating both sides well.  Place both breasts in the fry pan and brown on each side, adding a new dredged breast to the pan as you remove one breast.  Set aside.  Add more butter and EVOO as needed.  Make sure the pan always has a breast cooking or the pan will get too hot and burn the flour.  When the last breast is removed turn the heat to medium and add the crushed garlic.  Stir for 15 to 30 seconds and add the onions (for the Marsala) or the mushrooms (for the Picatta).  For the (Marsala) after cooking the onions for 3-5 minutes, add the mushrooms.  When the mushrooms have released their liquid turn the heat to medium low/low and add half the wine, ½ the chicken stock, ½ the lemon juice, and the capers (for the Picatta) and ½ the chicken stock, ½ the Marsala wine , and the demiglace (for the Marsala).  Stir and let the sauce start to thicken.  Adjust for taste (the Picatta) sauce with more lemon juice, wine and chicken stock.  Adjust for taste (the Marsala) sauce with more wine and chicken stock as it thickens and becomes sweeter.  Once you are happy with the flavor and consistency of the sauces (this step usually takes from 10-20 minutes), add the chicken back into the pan.  Coat the chicken with the sauce turning with tongs.  Cover with the lid and on low heat simmer approximately 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Garnish with the parsley, and serve immediately.  I like pasta (you want to soak up the sauce) and a seasonal vegetable like zucchini or green beans for a pretty and flavorful dish.

Chicken Marsala with green beans and pasta

Chicken Marsala with green beans and pasta

Tips:  Try this with pork loin when making the Marsala.  Pound or tenderize the pork and follow the same steps as the chicken.  Pork really works well with sweet flavors.  Try a Pinot Noir with the Marsala.  I lean towards the fruity styles as it complements the sweetness of the Marsala.  I like an Italian white or a lightly oaked Chardonnay with the Picatta.  The lemon and capers in the Picatta really come forward with one of those choices.  Both of these dishes are very “pretty” food so I like to serve them family style so everybody gets a “visual” of the great food they are about to eat.  Make sure you include a spoon so each piece of chicken gets some sauce.  You’ll be glad you did.Chicken Picatta



Sauteed Scallops with Mango Salsa

Mango Mania

Mango Mania


Too hot to handle: On a hot day try a meal with fruit salsa to cool things off.  Ripe mango salsa is a wonderful compliment to milder seafood.  I paired it with scallops but lighter fishes take to it very well.  Try snapper, grouper or even halibut.  You can make it spicy, mild or somewhere in the middle. Everything in the salsa is raw, showcasing the pure taste of fresh ingredients.  If you like mangos, try fresh peaches or apricots in a fruit salsa.

High five to as the base for this recipe came from their fine site.  I tweaked it a little to more suit my tastes. It’s very simple and only gets better as it sits in the fridge. 

Sautéed Scallops with Mango Salsa

Serves 4

  • 2 Ripe mangos, peeled, seeded, and chopped.
  • 2 green onions chopped.
  • ½ cup fine chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 fresh jalapeno seeded and fine chopped
  • 2 lbs of large sea scallops, rinsed and dried
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO divided
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

In a large bowl combine the mango, green onion, red bell pepper, lime, lemon, orange juice, chopped cilantro and jalapeno.  Store covered in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Heat a heavy skillet on medium high for 3-5 minutes.  Add ½ the EVOO and coat the skillet.  Carefully add 1 Tablespoon of the butter (as it will spit and splatter) to the skillet.  Salt and pepper the scallops on each side.  Add ½ the scallops around the skillet being careful not to crowd.  Brown each scallop about (1-2 minutes each side depending on the size). Remove when cooked and set aside.  Repeat for the remaining scallops. Don’t disturb the scallops while cooking as they easily fall apart.  I use tongs to turn the scallops pinching the sides and flipping.   Divide the salsa on 4 plates and put ¼ of the cooked scallops on each place and serve immediately. 

Scallops on Mango Salsa

Scallops on Mango Salsa

Tips:  If you like more heat try a Serrano pepper.  They are little and packed with a lot of heat.  I will use one on occasion and a little goes a long way.  I find the lime juice can be a bit tart if the mango isn’t super ripe.  I use the orange juice to adjust the sweet side of the dish.  With fresh fruit it’s hard to go wrong.  This salsa is good as a side dish with cheese and crackers.  Warning, this salsa is addictive like good Guacamole

Marinated Flap Steak



Treetop flyer: For years this cut has flown under the radar.  Much like short ribs before they became popular, the flap steak was either discarded or sent home with the butcher.  Similar to the hangar, skirt or flank, this is a cut from the bottom of the beast and less glamorous than the Filet, New York or Rib cuts.  With that unpopularity, the price was modest.  As the wonderful flavor was discovered, and the popularity increased, the prices followed.  The Latin cultures have used flap steak, and similar cuts for centuries.  If you like grilled Fajitas, it’s probably from this family of cuts.  The French have a version often called the “Bistro” steak and the Italians as well.  The bottom line is:  If this steak is cooked properly, it tastes great.

Mary meets Nate: This family of steaks does best when marinated.  They take to all spectrums of flavors and infusions.  I used a garlic lime combination with heat from Jalapenos and green onion.  It shines wonderfully with Asian flavors highlighted with Ginger and soy.  The sweet tang of Balsamic vinegar is a good choice.  Whatever flavors you choose, the flavor of this cut can hold up.

One tough customer:  Cook this cut past medium rare and you can patch the elbow of your old sport coat with it.  Cook it slowly with moist heat and you can patch those old shoes.  One thing about this family of cuts, they start out tough.  They are the lumberjacks of steak and need your respect.  Set your grill on high.  When it’s as hot as it can get, go grab another beer and then come back.  The flames, smoke, and hairless forearms are all worth the effort.  Cook these steaks on high for a nice exterior crust.  The thickest part of this steak rarely reaches one inch so to get that crust and leave the inside just north of rare, turn up the heat.  It’s got to be hot. 

The grain, the grain:  A very bad mock quote from Fantasy Island.  Sadly I’ve dated myself.  Picture this cut of meat like a piece of wood.  Cut the wood against the grain and it gives little resistance.  Cut the wood with the grain and the wood pinches and makes sawing almost impossible.  The same is true with this cut.  ALWAYS cut across the grain.  Even though the shape of the cut may tempt you to cut the other way, ALWAYS cut across the grain.  Otherwise you will be eating flavored rubber bands.  If you don’t believe me, cut a piece with the grain and start to chew it.  Start a load of laundry.  The laundry could be done before you are done chewing.  I learned the hard way.

Lime and garlic marinated flap steak

  • 2 flap steaks 1-2lbs each
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • ½ cup of EVOO
  • 1 bunch of green onions chopped
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers, 1 chopped, 1 roasted and sliced.
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped Cilantro dividedDSC06472

Clean the flap steak of membrane.  There shouldn’t be much.  Mix the EVOO, lime juice, garlic, green onions, salt, pepper and ½ the chopped cilantro in a bowl.  Mix and pour ½ the mixture over the flap steak in a shallow baking dish.  Coat the meat evenly and then flip.  Pour the other ½ of the mixture over the meat.  Cover and marinate for 1-2 hours at room temperature.  Heat the grill on high.  Place the meat on the grill and cook for approximately 3 minutes until crusty, flip and grill another 3 minutes until the meat reaches desired doneness.  I like this cut on the rare side of medium rare with a nice crunchy exterior.  Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing ACROSS the grain.  Serve with the roasted Jalapeno and the remaining Cilantro.  This meat pairs well with roasted summer vegetables such as yellow squash, tomatoes, peppers and corn.

Tips:  This is wonderful meat for a steak salad.  Try it with avocado, tomato, and roasted corn.  Make a dressing out of tomato salsa adding wine vinegar and some spices.  Try this cut Asian style with a Miso or Teriyaki marinate.  Serve on a salad with mandarin slices and the combo will knock your socks off.  When marinating with Ginger be careful not to let the meat set too long.  The enzymes in Ginger will break down the meat so it has a “soft” texture that can border on mushy.  If you’re not fond of heat, leave out the Jalapeño, both in the marinade and as garnish. The best tip of all.  Cut the meat ACROSS the grain.  Okay, I’m done.