Friday, June 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Mussels and Short Ribs and Dancing With The Stars Contestants I've Seen In Person


First off, a disclaimer.  Some of the photos in this post aren't the greatest because I took them with my phone.  My old one.  I now have a new phone (longish story--you can read about that here) AND, I finally got my camera back after a month in the shop.  My future posts will have better photos, I promise.


Joe and the boys, as always, cooked me a fancy dinner on Mother's Day.  They pulled out this cookbook

I took THIS photo just this morning, with my camera, not my phone...

and decided to cook mussels and short ribs.  So without further ado (now that it's almost Father's Day; good grief, I'm late posting this, sheesh):


Grill-Roasted Mussels

6 lb* (3 kg) mussels, well scrubbed and debearded (what the heck does THAT mean?)
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) dry white wine
1/4 cup (2 oz/60 g) unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped

Prepare a CHARCOAL or GAS grill for DIRECT grilling over HIGH heat.
Divide the mussels between 2 large, heavy cast-iron frying pans,* discarding any that fail to close to the touch.
CHARCOAL:  Place the pans over the hottest part of the fire.  Cover the grill and cook the mussels until they open, 3-5 minutes, stirring the mussels occasionally with tongs.  GAS*:  Place the pans directly over the heat elements.  Cover the grill and cook the mussels until they open, 3-5 minutes, stirring the mussels occasionally with tongs.
Transfer the mussels to warmed individual bowls, discarding any mussels that failed to open.  In a small flameproof saucepan, combine the wine, butter, and garlic.  Place the pan n the grill rack and swirl until the butter is melted.  Stir in the parsley.  Pour the wine mixture over the mussels, dividing evenly.  Set out a couple of empty bowls for spent shells.

(from Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Grilling:  Recipes and Techniques for Successful Outdoor Cooking, p. 239)

*I think they halved the recipe and only got 3 lbs, and only used one pan.  We poured the mussels into one big serving platter and everyone dug in.  Oh, and we have a gas grill, not a charcoal one.


Korean-Style Short Ribs

1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) soy sauce*
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons dry sherry (we didn't have any so I helped them choose a red wine to use instead)
3 tablespoons Asian Sesame oil*
1 1/2 tablespons peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz/45 g) sesame seeds, toasted*
3-4 lbs (1.5-2 kg) beef short ribs, crosscut flanken style*
Lettuce Leaves

In a shallow, nonreactive dish just large enough to hold the meat in a single layer, stir together the soy sauce, vinegar, sherry, sesame oil, ginger, honey, and about 1/4 cup (1 oz/30 g) of the sesame seeds.  Add the ribs and turn to coat all sides.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or for up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.  Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a grill for DIRECT grilling over HIGH heat.  Oil the grill rack.  Remove the meat from the marinade, reserving the marinade.  Grill the ribs over the hottest part of the fire (for charcoal) or directly over the heat elements (for gas), turning once and brushing with the marinade for up to 5 minutes before the ribs are done, until nicely charred and cooked to your liking, 6-10 minutes per side for medium rare.  Sprinkle the ribs with the remaining sesame seeds and serve with the lettuce.

*We made some substitutions:  Gluten free tamari rather than soy sauce, canola oil instead of sesame (Moe is allergic), and Joe made Moe a separate marinade without sesame seeds.  We didn't have any dry sherry so I helped them pick out a nice red wine they could use.  And the part about "crosscut flanken style?"  They couldn't find anything like that.  Just plain old regular-cut short ribs will do; I think they just had to cook them just a tad bit longer.
(Adapted from Essentials of Grilling, p. 92)

Of course, the asparagus is the fresh, local variety! 

Joe is the grill-meister.


Before I started blogging and before I knew about Facebook and Twitter, I was really into Oprah's Book Club, and wasted many hours taking part in online discussions of her selections.  Now that Oprah has moved on to other things (I'm still miffed that she never had Nicholas Sparks on her show.  But hey, Anderson Cooper did; yay, Anderson!) I figured her book club had gone down with her.

Guess what?  Oprah's Book Club is back, and last week I read her latest selection, Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  Yesterday over at Musings of a Catholic Mom I posted my own review of sorts; check it out!


And while you're on my other blog, you might as well check out what I posted earlier this week, too.  Last Saturday I took some friends to see GAIVIN DEGRAW LIVE IN CONCERT (I just love typing that) and I still don't think I've quite come down off of Cloud Nine yet.  You know Gavin DeGraw..."Not Over You," "Sweeter"... you might have seen him this spring on Dancing With the Stars, although if you blinked you may have missed him because he got booted pretty early on, unfortunately.  So anyway he ROCKS and I got to see him and here's how I was feeling afterwards.  I took some blurry photos with my new phone; here's the best one:

And in case you missed Gavin on Dancing With the Stars, here he is on what was probably his best night (except maybe the crying part):


Speaking of people who've been on Dancing With the Stars (AND cried on the show; those evil producers try and squeeze as many tears out of them that they possibly can) and pictures I've taken of them, do you know who this is?

It's Helio Castroneves, the race car driver who won the Mirror Ball Trophy a few years back.  He also won the Indianapolis 500 three times.  I took this photo of him in Richmond back in 2008.  Yes, that's ME he's smiling at.  And why did I post this photo, you ask?  Well, do you know the name of the professional dancer who taught Helio to foxtrot and samba and quickstep and ultimately helped him become a Dancing With the Stars champion?  Julianne Hough.  Know what she's up to these days?  (Besides starring in the new movie Rock of Ages, which frankly looks like one I will most likely skip...) Right now she's down in Soutport,North Carolina, filming the next Nicholas Sparks movie, Safe Haven.  How about that? 

(Wouldn't you just love to see Nicholas Sparks on Dancing With the Stars?  I would vote for him every single week.  Hopefully they won't try and make him cry.)


Sooo....summer vacation is here and hopefully I'll have a little bit more time for this here little blog.  I've got a couple more projects up my sleeve from The Lucky One, and soon you'll probably see more Lemony Snicket and/or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo posts.  Then we'll move on to The Last Song.

I sure hope Nick will have a new story out this fall.  I'm running out of books.

Have a great weekend, and be sure to give all the dads in your life big hugs.  Oh, and Nick...Happy Father's Day!

(Check out Jen's Conversion Diary blog for more Quick Takes!)

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