Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I have never been much of a troublemaker. Never skipped class (a lot) in high school, never did (too many) drugs, drank within reason (for a Russian person). The closest I ever came to doing something actually bad was aiding and abetting a rather minor theft. When I was in high school, I was out with a friend at a TGI Fridays type of establishment. My friend wanted to steal a goblet. Why, I don't think I could tell you. And so she did! Stuffed the thing in her bag and ran out to the parking lot, with me close behind. I really thought there would be a police cruiser in my rear view mirror, because clearly, the police would have nothing better to do than chase a couple of dorky 16 year-old girls with a large glass stuffed in a bag... Like I said, I have never been much of a criminal… not in my own eyes, anyway. So it is odd that I now, as an adult (ugh), should choose to steal.

My transgression is this - I have stolen a recipe idea, ripped it off most mercilessly. I attended the wedding of a very good and very old friend this past September (totally weird to see someone you have known since 14 walk down the aisle). The wedding was perfectly lovely, in a country club type place in the middle of gorgeous woods in Virginia (is that right? I think so) and the food was fantastic. Oh it was so good. The two things I remember best were rockfish* stuffed with blue crab (both Maryland specialties), and green beans with dried figs and goat cheese in a white vinaigrette. The green beans in particular were so good, that I stole them. Well, the idea of them.

I attempted to recreate the green beans using a classic French vinaigrette recipe but unfortunately, forgot about the goat cheese until right about now. The vinaigrette was tangy and the figs were sweet and chewy, the beans were fresh tasting and crisp… oh it was really good. Good, but not as good as in VA. Just goes to show you, crime doesn’t pay... much.

*Rockfish is another name for striped bass. I have never heard bass called rockfish outside of the Chesapeake Bay area, curiously enough.

For the vinaigrette (from

2 garlic cloves
5 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard (I added little more to make it more mustard-y)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a small saucepan boil the garlic in 2 inches water for 15 minutes, or until it is tender, and drain it. In a bowl mash the garlic to a paste and whisk in the cream, the mustard, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste, whisking until the mixture is thickened slightly. Add the oil, drop by drop, whisking, and whisk vinaigrette until it is emulsified.

For the green beans:
Blanch desired amount of green beans in heavily salted boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, until the green beans are bright green and still crisp. Shock in cold water to stop the cooking, and drain well. Toss with desired amount of vinaigrette and about 8 quartered dried figs (or as many as you would like). Add chunks of goat cheese, if you have it [I really wish I did - I missed its creaminess].
The green beans are even better the next day because the figs absorb some of the vinaigrette.

P.S. This is sad, I know, but I have been thinking about this recipe since I got back from the wedding. I tried making it once before but I didn’t have any lemons. Being the amateur that I am, I thought I could use a bit of white wine vinegar instead. I am sure that would have worked well, had I not used the same volume of vinegar as lemon juice. Not so much with the super-vinegar vinaigrette.


amanda said...

anna, i grew up in virginia (and spent summers and holidays in maryland, where my dad lives), and this menu sounds awesome. Every holiday meal i ate was studded with things like a rockfish dad caught earlier in the year, and then froze. or cheasapeake bay blue crabs, pick family stil and frozen then made into crabcakes for the holidays. wow. just reading your menu takes me back. how awesome... btw, we also had a chestnut tree in our back yard and can i just say, amen to buying already shelled chestnuts... (did i mention my dad is a soil scientist?, thus all the fresh goodies)

amanda said...

damn i suck for misspelling chesapeake...

Ben said...

Wow, I remembered the mini-empinadas and the pork. Guess you are slightly more high class than I am. I do, however, remember that the fish was pretty tasty, but that old dude kept on trying to speak Chinese to me. He was nice and all but when people try to speak Chinese to me and have a limited vocab it is really tough to try and correct them. Eh.

It was totally weird watching a good friend get married. It was also weird seeing a whole bunch of friends after so long. Everyone is getting OLD. Except you, that is.

JC said...

Well, if you're going to steal something at least a recipe is pretty innocuous. I loves me some green beans, they're my favorite bean. The goat cheese reminded me that I tasted some sheep's milk cheese in NC, it was good - kind of tasted like parmesan.

Anna said...

Amanda - I grew up in Virginia as well! I never spent much time in Maryland though. How very cool that your Dad has chestnut trees. I bet there is little to compare between fresh chestnuts from your back yard and the stuff you get in the supermarket.

Ben - That guy weirded me out. I felt like a complete heathen sitting next to him. He was just too nice. We're not getting old. Just oldER. That's what I keep telling myself. OldER, not old...

JC - I almost feel like I should do something bad just to say that I have, but that would be dumb. I haven't had much sheep's milk cheese. Is it mostly on the hard side? Wish I knew more about it.

Ben said...

That old dude reminded me of an officemate that I blew up at, at work. SUPER nice guy and was really polite and then one day, after sitting in the same office with me for a year, he just SNAPPED, at me, that is. We were working on a project and I went to go work out and he was like, don't let work get in the way of your workout. I was like dude, it is 7pm. What a burro.

Anyways, I liked talking to that guy. He was nice since he talked a lot and let me stuff my face :-D

oh, I also remember their being some scallops or something. WITH BACON! Sooo good.

JC said...

I think you should do something bad just to say that you have!

I've only had a bite-sized sample of sheep's milk cheese that one time, so I don't know how representative it is. It was a little bit on the harder side. I would have bought some, but I had no way to get it home and I didn't have any sheep cheese recipes handy! :)

Alicia said...

I was so drunk I barely remember the food. Which is weird, because I totally promised myself I wouldn't be a tacky drunk bride. But still, there I was, downing one glass after another, stumbling around. Oh wait, you guys are not talking about some other wedding are you? LOL, just kidding. I selected that menu myself! I'm guessing, Anna, that you did not try anything wrapped in bacon (but Ben, I thought those bacon-wrapped scallops were awesome too! and the empinadas, lol, which I only ordered because I like the way empinadas sounds). And I had some vegetable medley thing, that might be what you are talking about in your post, that had some lumps of some kind of cheese in it and I thought maybe some red bell peppers or something. It is hard to remember exactly what I was eating. What old guy are you and Ben talking about, Anna? It must have been one of Mike's uncles or something. I will bring my picture book with me when I am up in VA for Christmas and we can all get together and go over it in excruciating detail! It will be like a blow-by-blow of the whole wedding, narrated by me, with visual aids! So fun!! I am kidding, I have a mean fantasy of doing that to people, but in real life I would not. But I'll bring the book with me and you guys can scan it at your leisure.

Ben said...

I believe he was your guitar teacher. Very nice guy. A little too nice. Hehe.

Anna said...

Ben - I do remember the scallops. They were very pretty. I didn't have one though, sadly.

JC - I cut out of lab today at around 4 to have a beer. Is that bad enough? What about the fact that I do it on a regular basis? :)

Lissa - You were NOT a tacky drunk. I were a funny, cuddly drunk - the best kind there is. My memory of the night may be as faulty as yours. So the green beans didn't have goat cheese in them? Did I just make this bean thing up entirely? The food really was fantastic, by the way. I am totally excited that you will be in VA for the holidays. Looking forward to the pictures very much. Especially the drunk ones. Hee.

JC said...

We'll have to see about working you up to at least a misdemeanor, but that will do for now. :)