You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tempt Asian, Take Two

Biscuit Boy gave me a macro lens for Christmas. I was so excited because now I'd be able to get some really cool close up shots to post. We've been playing around with it for about a week when I decided I was ready to give it a trial run all by myself.

So last night we went to Tempt Asian which I had previously written about back in June. And while the pictures from that post were good, I was eager to see what I could with this bad boy.

When we got there the place was packed. We were seated at a table for two with another table for two sitting empty beside us and no sooner did we get settled when the waitress told us to get up so they could seat a party of four that just came in. She said another table for two was about to become available. So we got up and within a few minutes we were seated, again.

We looked over the menu with some idea of what we wanted and kept an eye out for the stuff coming out of the kitchen just incase something interesting caught our eye. We also scanned other tables, discretely, of course. The couple seated next to us was doing the same even though they had already finished eating and were paying their bill. We struck up a conversation about how fun it was to try new things here. They had a plate of Pork with Ferny Vegetables. It looked good so I asked them what ferny vegetables tasted like. “Sorta like wild mushrooms,” they said. Hmmm…..mental note to self……next time get this dish.

Our order was taken by a rather harried waitress who still maintained her smile and pleasant manner. We got pan fried dumplings as an appetizer. Yes, I know…..where’s our sense of adventure? We saw some at a table when we walked in and they looked really good and we were really hungry so just about anything we set our eyes on would have looked good.
The dumplings were tasty but nothing spectacular. As I tried to use my chopsticks to cut one in half I heard a ‘snap’ and looked down. In my hand was half a chopstick and sticking out of the still whole dumpling was the other half. Oops. I silently wondered if I had just caused a faux pas. A quick scan of the dining room assured me that nobody seemed to notice or care so I got another chopstick and just set into biting a piece of the dumpling off instead.

For our entrees, we ordered Dry Fried Green Beans and the Roasted Fish with Green Onions. Oddly enough, the fish is neither roasted of full of green onion. It’s fried with a scant amount of onion, a lot of Cumin a dash of salt and a bunch of hot peppers. Darn tasty.
The fish is served between two bamboo mats which make for a pretty presentation. The flavor and heat are well balanced and after a few bites you are addicted to it.
The green beans were also wonderful. Big chucks of garlic and pieces of red chili peeked out from all over the plate of glistening beans. The heat was just right and the beans still had just the right amount of crunch to them. Delish!

When each dish came out, I pointed the camera at the plate and took a few pictures and was quite conscious of the people sitting around us. Some looked at us like we were nuts for photographing our food.

In fact a woman at the table behind us with as much tact as a bulldozer in a mine field said to her tablemates “Will you look at that. That woman’s taking pictures of her food. Have you ever seen anything seen anyone do that before? How odd is that?”

Yes lady, I heard you as did most everyone else in that section of the restaurant. I wanted to turn to Biscuit Boy and say loud enough for her to hear “This food critic gig is great. I love the restaurant but some of the clientele (nodding my head in her direction)…..sheesh.”

But I refrained even though I should have said it or better yet gotten up and asked them if I could take pictures of their food too. Ha-ha, sometimes I just crack myself up.

So as I close my last post of the year, I want to say Happy New Year to one and all and here’s to a wonderful 2006!

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Dinner

A few hours after coming home from our dim sum lunch, I started putting together the lasagna and creme brulee. I got the lasagna assembled and put in the fridge where it would stay until it was time for the oven. Next I started on the creme brulee, and I must confess, it was not made from scratch. I used a mix that I bought in the store. But to my surprise, it was really good! And so easy to make. Once that was done I set the table then put my feet up, I was pooped.

Around 6, I fired up the oven to 325 and put in the lasagna and let it get all gooey and bubbly. At 7:30 it was time to eat and we were hungry. So much so that we completely forgot to get a picture of the lasagna when I took it out of the oven!

So Biscuit Boy grabbed the camera (with the new macro lens he gave me for Christmas) and quick took a picture of his plate then went into the kitchen and snapped a shot of the leftovers in the pan.

So how did it taste? Delicious. Once we all got our plates fixed table got very quiet with only the clinking of silverware against plates and the occasional grunt of pleasure to be heard. When we finally finished, I cleared the plates and sat for a little bit to let dinner settle. Then we decided it was time for dessert. Biscuit Boy grabbed my creme brulee iron and handed his brother the camera.
Hey, wait a minute.....those are my new toys! I somehow got crowded out of all the action! Ugh! Well at least I wouldn't have to worry about me setting the house on fire. Biscuit Boy would get the credit if that happened.
So I sat back and watched the boys play in the kitchen. You can see the smoke coming off the creme brulee in the picture above. And just how did the new creme brulee iron work?
Well, for the first two brulees, it worked like a charm. But after that things got a little messy, and charred. The directions said to heat the iron for 5-10 minutes and that it should be hot enough to caramelize three brulees. We didn't find that to be the case.
Brulee number three (the one in the upper right corner) got a little charred and the sugar started to stick to the iron. Biscuit Boy put the iron back on the burner and tried to reheat it. When he tried to caramelize the last two brulees the sugar burned almost immediately. The smell of burned sugar filled the kitchen. Since the last two were going to be mine and his anyway, we could still serve the pretty ones to the in-laws. The brulees were smooth, creamy and very tasty. If I hadn't told anyone they were from a pre-made mix, nobody would have known the difference. Even the dogs were enjoying the last little bits from our bowls.
This is Java. He's my in-laws Boston Terrier. Traveling with him was George, my brother-in-law's miniature Schnauzer. Java just couldn't stand the wait for a bowl to lick so he did his best to bring to our attention. And it worked. While Biscuit Pup and George got to lick our finished bowls clean, Java got a spoonful all to himself.
Ah, creme brulee heaven.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Lunch

Last year we went out for Dim Sum on Christmas Day and did the same this year. Why? Because it's really good! And we love dim sum here. It's also a busy day for Mark's Duck House as people line up for dim sum or for take out. The specialty on this holiday is the whole roasted baby pig. It's an impressive sight to behold as tray after tray come out of the kitchen to awaiting take out customers. The pigs are adorned with a poinsettia flower in their mouths. Creepy and festive at the same time.

The place was packed and we waited 45 minutes for a table, but it was well worth it.
We started out with a patty of shrimp paste covered in shredded taro root then fried. And it seemed like an eternity before another cart came by. We were more interested in the steam cart which was on the other side of the dining room. Finally a cart appeared, and it had a few things we were interested in. Pan fried dumplings and scallion-seafood dumplings. A little greasy but very tasty. Now where is that steam cart! Ugh, it's still on the other side of the restaurant. Ah, another cart, what delectable treats will be have......hmmm these noodles looked good and tasted great. We also snagged some baby bok choy fresh from the kitchen (we forgot to take a picture). But where is that blasted steam cart? OH! It's coming! It's so close we can feel the steam oozing from it. Now we'll do some serious eating. We raided the steam cart and got Sticky Rice wrapped in a banana leaf,
Shrimp Dumplings,
Shrimp balls, scallop dumplings, scallion dumplings, and shrimp dumplings.
And it was good, right down to the last bite.
Next up, lasagna.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

MERRY CHRISTMASFrom all the Biscuits.
(Biscuit Girl, Biscuit Boy and Biscuit Pup)


My newest toy

If you've been reading my posts lately, you'll already know that I'm making creme brulee for dessert tomorrow. I finally decided on regular and chocolate. The only remaining concern (i.e. fear) was how well I would be able to brown the sugar without burning it or setting it on fire.

My fear is well founded you see, as I have already set food on fire in our gas oven while using the broiler. It happened in 2000 on the first Thanksgiving in our new home. I had never worked with a gas stove and oven. Imagine my surprise when I turned on the broiler and discovered that there were open flames coming out of the top of the oven! Biscuit Boy's reply to my surprise was "Well, else would you broil in a gas oven?" And to add to my trepidation, the item I was going to broil was my mother-in-law's sweet potato casserole. She carried this casserole all the way from Chattanooga, TN. A 10 hour drive. All I had to do was sprinkle the brown sugar, pecan and butter topping on it and broil it until it was nice and bubbly.

So I turned on the broiler, slid the casserole in the oven and af ew minutes later I, um, sorta forgot about the open flame and uh, sorta smelled something burning. I peeked in the oven and saw it....a small bit of flame on top of the casserole! Eek! I pulled the casserole out of the oven, blowing out the parts of the top that were still smoldering and tried to figure out what to do. But not to fear, my mother-in-law very calmly said "Aw, we can just scrape off the burnt part and put some more on. It'll be fine." Phew! I was saved. And this time I kept an eye on the casserole which came out just right.

So you can imagine that I didn't want to repeat history with the creme brulee, especially since my in-laws were here. And today while I was out shopping at World Market with my mother-in-law I spied something that may just save me, a creme brulee iron. The instructions are simple, just heat up the iron over the stove top for about 5 minutes then gently press it onto the sugar in the creme brulee dish until it's lightly browned. Then repeat until they are all done. Hey, I can do that! (I hope). But to be on the safe side, keep your fingers crossed for me......just in case......

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dough Boy....a.k.a. me little bro'

Last night my brother e-mailed me to say he has started a food blog of his own. Hehe, guess he saw how much fun I was having and decided to come over to the dark side. His blog is called Tasty Bytes and he has taken the nickname of Dough Boy.

Actually, we've been calling him Dough Boy for years. He didn't take too kindly too it at first but after years of teasing, he has learned to embrace his inner dough boy and now wears the nickname proudly.

Our mom instilled the joy of cooking in all three of us kids. Our sister is even mulling over starting a blog too. It'll be the trifecta of family food blogging!

In other news, I
STILL haven't finished baking my Christmas cookies! EEK! I finished my Italian Tri-Color cookies, have to put an orange glaze on my Pistachio-poppy seed shortbreads and have to assemble and bake a new cookie called Lion's Paws. I'm hoping that I can get them done on Friday. Then you'll get some pics and the recipes. And my staff at the library will get some New Year's Cookies (instead of Christmas cookies) but they won't care. There isn't much those folks won't eat.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Oh Deer!

My nephew and I decorated the tree today (Finally!). As we merrily listened to Christmas music, we carefully unwrapped each ornament, stood back from the tree and looked for the perfect spot to place it. All was going well, until.........

I handed my nephew Rudolph. He looked at the tree and found the perfect spot and hung the more ways than one. As he stepped back from the tree, it hit us at the same time.....Rudolph was one HAPPY reindeer! And I don't think it was his nose that Santa used to guide his sleigh either.

Now I should have been the adult and not blinked an eye, but we both looked up at each other and started snickering. Biscuit Boy, who had been working on my computer, turned around and asked what was so funny. I replied, we have an anatomically correct reindeer. He just shook his head and turned around. But you could see his shoulders shaking as he tried not to laugh out loud.


Friday, December 16, 2005

And the winner is.....................


After intense negotiations with Biscuit Boy, we have decided to make Lasagna for Christmas dinner. Among the contenders were the infamous Barbacoa, Lasagna, Osso Buco, or Peking Duck from Mark's Duck House. All were worthy of being our dinner choice but in the end, lasagna seemed to be the easiest one to make (or in the case of the Peking duck, to pick up).

The dinner menu is now complete. Salad, Lasagna, Meatballs and garlic bread and Creme Brulee for dessert. I only have to decide which kind of creme brulee to make. Will it be regular, chocolate, pumpkin or cappuccino? You'll just have to check back after Christmas to find out.

For now, I still have too much else to do before deciding which flavor to make. We have a Christmas tree but haven't decorated it yet, I still have to make cookies, Biscuit Boy still needs to make him famous Bourbon Balls and we have to get this house cleaned up!

My nephew, a.k.a. "Eel Boy" or "Unagi Man" is here for a few days to visit. We're going to finish his gift shopping today then go out for sushi for dinner. That's where his nicknames come from. When he was 11 or 12, we fed him sushi for the first time. He absolutely loved the eel. Thus he was called Eel boy. Now that he's nearly 20, I told him it was time he became Unagi Man.

Thankfully we know of a great sushi place that has $1.00 to $1.75 a piece sushi because this kid...I mean, young man, can pack the stuff away. We kid him about setting him in front of the sushi chef and having sushi tossed to him until he pops (or our money runs out). I think I'll feed him a nice big lunch today...hehe

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