Mark Clemens
Glenn Sasveld
58, Elgin
Former cook of the week.
Favorite celebrity chef: Jacques Pepin

Grilled Citrus Seasoned Salmon with Pumpkin Seed Mole and Sweet Corn Salsa


  • 1 generous cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 large white onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick (reserve other half for salsa)
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 6 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 2 large (3 small) Romaine lettuce leaves
  • 3 1/2 cup chicken stock, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper


  • 2 1/2-inch thick slices white onion
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 ears sweet corn, husked
  • 1 tablspoon olive oil


  • 4 salmon fillets (6-8 ounces each), see note
  • 4 tablespoons Trade East Citrus Grill Seasoning
  • Olive oil

For the mole: Toast pumpkin seeds in dry heavy skillet over medium heat until first seed pops, then continue toasting for about 5 more minutes, stirring often, until seeds are lightly browned. Pour in flat pan to cool. Set aside 2 tablespoons of seeds for garnish.

Put remainder of cooled pumpkin seeds, 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and remaining mole ingredients except olive oil in blender and process to a smooth paste.

Heat olive oil in a heavy 4- to 6-quart saucepan. Pour in mole and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining 2 cups chicken stock and cook over medium heat 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour all ingredients back into rinsed blender and process until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

For the salsa: Set up grill to medium high heat. Grill whole ears of corn, jalapenos and two thick slices of white onion until all vegetables are slightly charred and corn gets some nice brown caramel spots on it. Set aside to cool.

Using a wide bowl to catch everything, slice the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife and scrape remaining pulp into the bowl. Cut off stems off the jalapenos and seed and dice; add to bowl. Chop onions; add to bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

For the salmon: Heat grill to medium high heat. Season each salmon filet with 1 tablespoon citrus seasoning mix. Let rest for 10 minutes before grilling. Lightly drizzle olive oil on fish. Grill fish, skinless side side down first, 3-5 minutes, then flip fish and cook to desired doneness, about 7-10 minutes.

To assemble: Ladle about 3/4 cup mole into rimmed plate or wide, shallow bowl. Lay salmon on top of mole. Top each filet with 3 to 4 tablespoons salsa. Garnish plate with one sprig of cilantro and a few reserved pumpkin seeds.

Serves four.

Cook’s note: Either skin on or skinless filets can easily be used in this recipe. I prefer leaving the skin on in order to control the final cooking of the fish without being concerned about the fish sticking to the grill. The skin easily slips away from the fish before plating.

Contestant's Recipe from the First Round

Polenta "Lasagna" With Brussels Sprouts and Black Swan Barbecue Sauce

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups Black Swan Barbecue Sauce (divided)
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts halved
  • 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 pkg. pre-made polenta rolls (in plastic package)

Halve Brussels sprouts lengthwise, Saute, leaving them cut side down, in a non-stick skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, until they caramelize to a rich, nutty brown, Add one-half cup of water to skillet, cover and cook over low for approximately 10 minutes, Do not overcook. You want to retain some texture In the sprouts, Drain and transfer sprouts to food processor or chop by hand to a medium-to-rough dice.

Wipe skillet clean with paper towel, return to medium heat and saute ground beef in remaining one tablespoon of oil to brown. Drain excess fat. Reduce heat to low and add 1 cup of Black Swan Barbecue sauce to pan and stir with meat.

Add sprouts to same pan to blend flavors and salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.

Slice polenta length wise in 1/4" thick slices to create "lasagna noodles"*. In 8" by 8" oven-safe glass pan put one layer of polenta "noodles' overlapping slightly. Top with 1 1/2 cups of meat/sprout mixture followed by 1-cup mozzarella. Repeat polenta step and meat/sprout step. Add generous ½ cup Black Swan Barbecue Sauce over meat/sprout mixture and top with 1 cup mozzarella.

Cook in 400-degree oven for 20 minutes until nicely browned and bubbling. Allow to rest tented loosely with foil for fifteen minutes. Serve with additional Black Swan Barbecue Sauce on the side.

* Though this can be done with a sharp knife, I find the easiest way to accomplish this is with a wire-type cheese cutter with roller. It allows you to cut thin. even slices to create the "noodle".

57, Naperville
Favorite cooking show: "Top Chef"

BBQ Meat Loaf, Polenta Fries, and Brussel Sprout Salad with Spicy Dressing

  • BBQ Meat Loaves
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 baby carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 cup cooked polenta (recipe below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons Black Swan BBQ sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup Black Swan BBQ sauce - divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Fry bacon until crisp and then crumble into small pieces. (Save grease)

In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except 3/4 cup BBQ sauce.

Form mixture into 4 individual loaves brush loaves with 1/4 cup BBQ sauce

Place loaves on a small baking sheet and put in oven

After 15 minutes, remove pan, drain grease, and brush with 1/4 cup BBQ sauce.

Bake an additional 15 minutes and remove from oven.

Turn oven to broil, brush with remaining BBQ sauce, and broil for 3-5 minutes or until sauce starts to carmelize.

Serves 4


  • 1 1/2 cups instant polenta
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenene pepper

Combine water and milk in a saucepan

Bring to boil.

Turn down heat and slowly add polenta while stirring constantly

Once combined, add cheese and cayenne pepper and mix

Remove from heat.

Scoop 1/2 cup of the hot polenta into a mixing bowl for the meatloaf

Place the remaining polent onto a baking sheet and smooth so that it's about 1/2" thick

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours

Polenta Fries

  • 1 baking sheet of refrigerated polenta
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

cut polenta into "french fry" shape pieces (about 24-30)

brush all sides with olive oil and place on large cookie sheet

Place in oven for 10 minutes.

Flip over and bake additional 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Season with salt and serve

Serves 4

Brussel Sprout Salad with Spicy Dressing


  • 2 tablespoons reserved bacon grease
  • 2 tablespoons Black Swan BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice

Mix thoroughly - do not refrigerate


  • 4 cups brussel sprout leaves (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup carrots sliced into matchbook sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup tart apple sliced into matchbook sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Cut off ends of brussel sprouts and discard.

Cut in half, separate individual leaves, and steam for 2 minutes

Place immediately in ice an ice water bath for 5 minutes.

Remove sprouts and drain on paper towel

Mix remaining ingredients in large bowl.

Add brussel sprout leaves and gently toss with the dressing refrigerate until ready to serve

Serves 4