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)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jim's Grouper Therapy

By Jim

If I ever get a center console boat to go offshore in, I'll probably name it something like Grouper Therapy for the kind of fish I plan on pursuing. Fortunately, up here, you just have to go to Wegmans or a good fish market to find good, fresh grouper. The kind, when you put it to your nose, smells sweet and salty, not fishy.

Barbara wrote about her version of this a couple of years ago. Here is mine.
Two grouper fillets (5-8 oz each)
Olive oil
8 oz package oyster mushrooms, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
2 shallots chopped fine
4 cloves garlic chopped
12-16 grape tomatoes, quartered
Pinch of thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
Italian parsley, rough chopped, for garnish
Crusty bread

Preheat oven to 450. In an ovensafe skillet, heat olive oil to cover bottom of pan until smoking. Add mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add thyme and a large pinch of kosher salt, and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Remove mushroom mix. Salt and pepper grouper filets. Add more olive oil to cover bottom of pan, heat until smoking, then gently lay filets in pan. Cook until deep golden brown , then turn gently. Add mushroom mix, tomatoes, and wine to pan. Put into oven for 4-6 minutes. Remove from oven, then remove grouper filets and cook down wine sauce with mushrooms and tomatoes. Top filets with sauce and mushroom-tomato mix. Make sure that you have some crusty bread around to soak up wine sauce.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Eat at Joe's

By Jim

We haven't posted about Joe's Noodle House lately because we're in Alexandria, and it's in Rockville, about 30 miles away, which means we burn at least 2 gallons of gas going there. [You know, considering how much we used to go there, I'm surprised we only posted about it once.] Saturday night, to have dinner with our friends Jason and Abby, was an exception, and we got to have some old and new favorites. And I had a full diner's card there, so we got $20 off dinner.

Appetizers were pressed bean curd with spicy sauce, tender bamboo shoots in sesame oil dressing, and baby wontons with red hot sauce.

This dish has become a favorite of ours, Tibetan Lamb, cubes of lamb wok-fried with red bell peppers, dried hot peppers, szechuan peppers, green onions, and cilantro on top. It's relatively new on the menu. And it's fantastic. Just avoid the dried peppers if you're not a chile-head.

The other dishes were Kung Pao Chicken Home Style (like they make in Szechuan, in other words incindiary), fish filet and soft tofu in Szechuan sauce (Like the old H20, but without veg and adding soft tofu), and another new one, Shanghai cabbage with garlic. This was a perfect, soothing counterpoint to our hot and spicy dining.

Needless to say, we had a lot of leftovers. And Jason and Abby let us take them home. We'll be having those for dinner tomorrow night. And if you live in the Washington, DC area, like authentic Chinese food, or are a chile-head and want something to blow your head off (get the triple pepper dry beef sautee) get up to Rockville. This is seriously good stuff. Just make sure you get some veg with your dinner to cool off with.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Veal Piccata

I had a weekday off last week which gave me the perfect opportunity to cook Jim a nice dinner. I had no particular meal in mind and would just wing it based on what looked good in the market and what looked good was veal. And the first thing that popped in my head was veal piccata, one of Jim's favorites.

I found this recipe on It was an Emeril recipe and very easy to put together. To round out the meal I made another favorite of Jim's...tater tots and for a healthy touch, roasted Brussels Sprouts, also a recipe and also very tasty.
Veal Piccata
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse,

1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 veal scallops, about 3/4 pound, pounded to a thickness of 1/8-inch
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 lemon, juiced, or more to taste, (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves, optional, plus sprigs for garnish

In a shallow bowl or plate combine the flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and pepper and stir to combine thoroughly. Quickly dredge the veal scallops in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and, working quickly and in batches if necessary, cook the veal until golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Deglaze the pan with wine and bring to a boil, scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the wine has reduced by half, add the chicken stock, chopped garlic, lemon juice and capers and cook for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons of butter and the chopped parsley. When the butter has melted, return the veal scallops to the pan and cook until heated through and the sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve immediately.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe courtesy George Duran,

2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the bottoms off the Brussels sprouts and trim off any damaged outer leaves. Soak them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes and drain them well. Cut them in half and put them into a roasting pan. Add the thyme, oregano, pine nuts, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add the olive oil and vinegar and toss everything well to coat. Put the roasting pan into the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Give everything a good stir and cook for 25 minutes more, or until the Brussels sprouts are nicely browned and caramelized. Serve immediately.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Technical notes

By Jim

You may have noticed the pictures looked a little different lately. This is because my Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D SLR was in the shop for repairs. It was covered by a service campaign by Sony, who bought Konica Minolta's camera business, so it didn't cost us anything but a couple of weeks of lost use. We've been using our now-elderly (5 years old!) Minolta Dimage S414 for the past two weeks. The Maxxum is back, though, and we took some pictures of dinner that Barbara will be writing about soon.

I bought the Maxxum 5D three years ago. The repair fixed a known shutter defect that showed up on our trip to Malaysia, so now I have a camera with a brand new shutter and should be good for many more years. I love this camera. It's great for relative stealthy photos (Useable ISO3200, large aperature prime lenses, and antishake are great for restaurant pictures or museums without flash). Also, I have to say that Sony did right by us with the repair campaign for these Konica Minolta cameras.

Anyway, we have a lot of dinner pictures waiting for blog posts. So, stay tuned.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Fun stuff on the internet

By Jim

Something I ran across on the internet: Wordle. It takes any text source, copied in or from a URL, and makes word art from it. Here's one from Barbara's blog from earlier today.

Just click on the image for the larger size. And have fun!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Schezuan Beef Noodle Soup - part 2

(By Jim)

So, I've been making Szechuan Beef Soup monthly since we posted this. I've refined the recipe slightly, to make it taste like the soup we get at A&J Restaurant, a Chinese place with locations in Annandale, VA, and Rockville, MD. I started with the base recipe that we used back in May. I've since doubled the recipe so we could put up plenty of it. The refrigeration also makes it easy to skim the fat off the top. We typically make it on the weekend, and then either refrigerate or freeze all of it until we need a quick meal.

I've been buying broad Shanghai noodles at our Asian market for it. They're cheap, fresh, and taste nearly as good as homemade. Also, I've started using the Shaoxing cooking wine. To offset the extra salt from that, I use low-sodium Kikkoman soy sauce. I'm using star anise now, and only using the 5-6 pods, as it was much stronger than our 5-spice powder. Another change is using crosscut beef shank meat with the bone in. It has more chunks of just meat, more good connective tissue that makes it nice and gelatenous, and less fat to trim away before freezing.

Finally, we were eating at A&J after I made the first or second batch, and Barbara said "What is the citrus taste in this?" I immediately figured out "Orange Peel". We use the zest from one whole Florida juice orange. You might find tangerine peel, either dried or fresh, to taste good as well.

This weekend we were at A&J, and Barbara said that she may like my soup more now than she likes theirs. I think they're slightly different, but both are very good expressions of the same thing.

Szechuan Beef Noodle Soup Part 2

4-5 lbs beef shank bone-in, cut into steaks
5 quarts water
1 cup shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)
1 cup low-sodium Kikkoman soy sauce
2 4-inch pieces of ginger, cut into several pieces and crushed with the back of a knife
6 green onions, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
12 cloves garlic, crushed with the back of a knife
20 cilantro stems, leaves separated from stem pieces
Zest of one orange
5-6 star anise pods
4 tsp szechuan peppercorns
2 tsp red pepper flakes

Soak beef in cold water for 20 minutes to remove blood, then dispose of water

Bring water to boil in stock pot.

Add beef, return to boil, skim foam and impurities from surface.

Reduce to simmer, add shaoxing, soy sauce, star anise, szechuan peppercorns, pepper flakes, ginger, green onions, garlic, and cilantro stems.

Simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove beef, then strain solids from the broth. Discard solids.

At this point I usually separate the broth into 6 one-quart deli takeout containers. Then I remove the beef from the bone, strip off the fat and cartilage from the beef, then share it among the soup containers. You can now freeze or refrigerate the soup solidify the fat on top to remove it.

When you're ready to serve, take out one quart for each person for a main dish (or 1 for two or three people for a soup course). Bring to a boil, add noodles, and cook until noodles are done.

Also, if desired add steamed greens or use broth to cook baby bok choy or watercress. Serve in soup bowls with cilantro leaves and green onion tops for garnish.

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