Entrées

Schweinehaxe (Pork Knuckle)

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Schweinehaxe (Pork Knuckle)

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Pork knuckles have many fans and admirers around the world, yet, despite so many folks loving to eat them in restaurants (especially German restaurants or, if the opportunity presents itself, at the most famous “Knucklefest” of them all, Munich’s Oktoberfest 🙂 , very few people prepare them at home, especially in the US.
I assume the reason for this reservation is the fear of doing something wrong when preparing a rather underused and underappreciated part of the animal with which most cooks have never cooked.
While it can be daunting if one does not know how to do it right and there is a lack of proper guidance and hands-on experience, the following recipe it is nearly impossible to screw it up, therefore I hope it will serve to have more folks preparing this wonderful dish at home.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Ham Hocks  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Pork Knuckles  on  ChefsOpinion
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Schweinehaxe (Pork Knuckle)

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Schweinehaxe (Pork Knuckle)

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Schweinehaxe (Pork Knuckle)

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Schweinehaxe (Pork Knuckle)

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before roasting……..

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during roasting……..

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after roasting……….

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Preparation :
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Calamares Al Ajillo, Arroz Mexicana Y Frijoles Negro

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Calamares al Ajillo, Arroz Mexicana Y Frijoles Negro

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This was such a down to earth, yet wonderfully delicious meal. Well-prepared rice and beans are something I enjoy at least twice a week. But not just the simple black beans and white rice common here in the Caribbean, South America and South Florida, but many, many combinations of different rice and different beans (or peas)
Add a simple protein, such as steak, schnitzel, roast pork, braised pork, fish, seafood, sausages, eggs or other veggies and you have a meal fit for a (Latin) king 🙂
As for the rice and beans, there are the same endless possibilities of variations – curry rice and fried chickpeas, white rice and black eye beans, risi e bisi, curried chickpeas with wild rice, succotash and white rice, rice porridge (congee) with beans or peas, sautéed rice patties with hummus, etc, etc. Just make sure you season these dishes to be fragrant with fresh herbs, chilies, cumin, garlic, a bit of soy sauce and/or Maggi seasoning. If left bland, rice and beans are a sorry excuse for a multicultural/multinational staple, but when properly prepared, they will be exciting and satisfying 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for  Mexican Rice  Recipe
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Click here for  Black Beans  Recipe
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Calamares al Ajillo, Arroz Mexicana Y Frijoles Negro

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Calamares al Ajillo, Arroz Mexicana Y Frijoles Negro

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Calamares al Ajillo, Arroz Mexicana Y Frijoles Negro

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Calamares al Ajillo, Arroz Mexicana Y Frijoles Negro

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Calamares al Ajillo, Arroz Mexicana Y Frijoles Negro

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Arroz Mexicana

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Frijoles Negro

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Preparation :
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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS # 70 – “Smoked Salmon & Fried Eggs On Sourdough Bread”

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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS # 70 – “Smoked Salmon & Fried Eggs On Sourdough Bread”

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Smoked salmon and eggs – what’s not to love ?
I’ll just leave it at that and throw in the pictures.
If these don´t hook you, all´s lost and you better find another passion. Food certainly is not your calling 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS # 70 – “Smoked Salmon & Fried Eggs On Sourdough Bread”

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Preparation :
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Escargots à la Bourguignonne

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Escargots À La Bourguignonne

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The garlicky butter in this dish is almost as delicious as the escargots themselves, and what better use for crusty bread than sopping up this delicious “snail butter.”
But the main event are the escargots’ tender texture and clean, woodsy flavor.
When I was an apprentice back in the mid-sixties, preparing FRESH snails was a most hated assignment, taking hours to remove the snails from the shells and then cleaning and cooking them, then cleaning and sterilizing the shells. I don’t want to go into the less than pretty details, but it was not a pleasant task and as a young kid of 14 years old I thought I would never in my life eat something as shocking as snails.
Boy, was I wrong 🙂
Nowadays snails are among my favorite appetizers in the World and I order them whenever I see them on a menu, which, sadly, becomes rarer every year. 😦
Luckily, I found that canned snails work just as well and turn this appetizer into one that can be whipped up quickly, economical, anytime. I usually buy a case online which lasts me for about a year.
Traditionally,  Escargots à la Bourguignonne  are served 6 ea or 12 ea in their shells on a special metal or porcelain dish, or, if these are not available, on a heat-proof dish covered with sea salt into which indentions the size of the shells have been pressed to avoid the shells to move or topple over and spill their butter. I would not shy off to buy these dishes for my home, plus the special tweezers to hold them and the tiny two-pronged forks to remove the snails from their shells, but the fact is 6 or 12 snails will not do it for me and the whole ritual makes no sense for me at home alone. So I always serve them in a bowl with lots of the traditional toasted bread on the side.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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snail tweezer and fork

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Escargots À La Bourguignonne

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Escargots À La Bourguignonne

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Escargots À La Bourguignonne

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Escargots À La Bourguignonne

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first bite always goes to Bella 🙂

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Preparation :
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” LION’S HEAD SOUP ” ( SHR ZA TOU )

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” LION’S HEAD SOUP ” ( SHR ZA TOU )

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Meatballs come in many shapes, sizes and flavors. In the western cuisine we are most familiar with Italian meatballs, while in Asian cuisine soup dumplings are the most common.
Among Asian meatballs, Chinese lion heads are probably my favorite plain (no wrapper) meatballs. They are usually served in a flavorful soup, loaded with the Lions heads, black mushrooms, rice noodles and napa cabbage (pekinensis group cabbage).
Whenever I prepare the soup at home, (click here to see a version I usually prepare at home), I usually do the traditional chinese way, as described above. However, when I prepared the one featured here, I had leftover dumpling wrappers and ground pork mix in the fridge from the previous day’s  “CHINESE PORK DUMPLINGS IN TAMARIND BROTH”.  I always have frozen homemade chicken stock in the fridge, so this  ” LION’S HEAD SOUP ”  was a no-brainer and it took only a few minutes to put together. Easy does it when you’re lazy ! 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Lion’s Head Soup  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more Soup  on  ChefsOpinion
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P.S.
Click  Here  or  Here  for  Lion’s Head Meatballs Recipe (different recipes)
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” LION’S HEAD SOUP ” ( SHR ZA TOU )

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More Lion’s Head Soup variations :
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Preparation :
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Braised Beef Neck In Merlot/Mushroom Sauce With Bread Dumpling (Geschmorter Rindernacken In Merlot/Champignon-Soße Und Semmelknödel)

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Braised Beef Neck In Merlot/Mushroom Sauce With Bread Dumpling (Geschmorter Rindernacken In Merlot/Champignon -Soße Und Semmelknödel)

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The texture of beef neck is absolutely stunning. I wish I’d be able to buy just a slab of the meat, without the bones. That would make the perfect goulash or braised roast. In the meantime, I’ll just have to make do with the neck bones and the meat on them. They are of course the same wonderful texture and flavor as a large boneless slab would be, but naturally, the presentation suffers a bit.  😦
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Beef Neck  on  ChefsOpinion
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P.S.
These bread dumplings are a typical example of the fact that most savory recipe measurements are at best guidelines. In this case, there are too many possible variables for the ingredients to use ANY measurements. Rather, the measurements are loose guidelines. For dumplings especially, experience is the key to a successful dumpling. As I mentioned in previous posts, most young (or old) cooks and chefs have never perfected the art/craft of proper dumplings for that particular reasons  – one needs experience and  “feeling” to get the ratios of the ingredients just right. Dumplings of any type (fish, meat, liver, potato, bread, lobster and so forth must be very light without falling apart while cooking. By just following measurements, because of the many and large variables, this is impossible to achieve. One needs practice, practice and practice – THEN one needs feeling, feeling and feeling. I believe the reason why we hardly see dumplings on menus anymore is the same as the reason why most cooks embraced the idiotic habit of eating fish, pork vegetables and other food items “seared on the outside, raw on the inside”, – any moron can achieve that without any skills, knowledge or experience 😦
Anyway, don’t be discouraged if by the first try you don’t succeed, – just put in lots of practice, lots of love and lots of feeling, and soon you too will be able to enjoy homemade dumplings (and properly cooked protein) as often as you crave it 🙂

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Braised Beef Neck In Merlot/Mushroom Sauce With Bread Dumpling (Geschmorter Rindernacken In Merlot/Champignon -Soße Und Semmelknödel)

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Braised Beef Neck In Merlot/Mushroom Sauce With Bread Dumpling (Geschmorter Rindernacken In Merlot/Champignon -Soße Und Semmelknödel)

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Braised Beef Neck In Merlot/Mushroom Sauce With Bread Dumpling (Geschmorter Rindernacken In Merlot/Champignon -Soße Und Semmelknödel)

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Braised Beef Neck In Merlot/Mushroom Sauce With Bread Dumpling (Geschmorter Rindernacken In Merlot/Champignon -Soße Und Semmelknödel)

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Braised Beef Neck In Merlot/Mushroom Sauce With Bread Dumpling (Geschmorter Rindernacken In Merlot/Champignon -Soße Und Semmelknödel)

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Semmelknödel – Bread Dumpling

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Preparation :
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Poached Cod Fillet With Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce And Pomegranate Pilaf

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Poached Cod Fillet With Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce And Pomegranate Pilaf

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Cod –
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Kabeljau / Dorsch / タラ Tara / Morue / Bacalao / smk alqadi / Treska / Turska / Γάδος Gádos / Kele / Torsk / треска, etc, etc. 🙂
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Until a few short years ago, cod (kabeljau), and especially cod in mustard sauce was a very popular dish in Europe. It was very cheap, tasted great, looked good and was widely available.
It could be found  at least  once a month on Fridays in private homes, in restaurants on “Daily Specials”, as a choice in school- and factory cafeterias and everywhere else where people did not eat meat on a Friday because of religious reasons, or simply because they loved the dish and welcomed it as a change from the usual daily meat or vegetable offerings.
I would love to eat cod at least 3 times a week, breaded, poached, sautéed, grilled, in tacos or sandwiches, plain or with sauce or condiments, and so forth. However, the exuberant pricing of at least $ 10 a pound prevents me from enjoying cod more often. 😦
But once in a while I spoil myself and Bella and go all out, no matter the cost. 🙂


Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Pomegranate  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Cod  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Mustard Sauce  on  ChefsOpinion
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Poached Cod Fillet With Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce And Pomegranate Pilaf

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Poached Cod Fillet With Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce And Pomegranate Pilaf

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Poached Cod Fillet With Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce And Pomegranate Pilaf

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Preparation :
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Grilled Pork Belly & Green Asparagus

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Grilled Pork Belly & Green Asparagus

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One of the greatest mysteries in our Universe is without doubt the fact that pork belly is not the most popular food there is !
In my opinion, it should be treasured and respected with the likes of caviar, foie gras and lobster. 🙂
It certainly is a delicacy if prepared by a Chinese master chef and transformed into a pyramid, or if just simply roasted or simmered, with lots of spices or just sea salt and pepper, in chinese buns, in a kaiser roll or as Szechuan-style or Shanghai-style braised pork belly ( hong shao rou,  红烧肉  ) or any of the never-ending list of pork belly recipes from around the world.
While I have cooked many of these pork belly dishes, nothing is more satisfying than the dish featured here – it tastes like a million bucks, yet takes less than 5 minutes of actual prepping time (plus a few minutes for the asparagus). It’s like playing the Lotto for a dollar and winning the jackpot 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Pork Belly  on  ChefsOpinion
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Grilled Pork Belly & Green Asparagus

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Grilled Pork Belly & Green Asparagus

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Grilled Pork Belly & Green Asparagus

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grilled asparagus & chili relish

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Preparation :
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Grilled Calamari Salad With Frisee And Israeli Couscous

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Grilled Calamari Salad With Frisee And Israeli Couscous

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While the old standby of fried calamari can be a wonderful dish, what one usually gets in a run of the mill restaurant are rubbery, underseasoned, overbreaded,  tasteless poor cousins of the real deal. On the other hand, grilling them is much easier, less labor intensive, less costly (all the frying fat) and, let’s be honest, damn near impossible to screw up by a normal person with even just a tiny bit of talent for cooking. Grilled squid/calamari are also a perfect ingredient for great green-leaves salad, fresh pasta salad, or, as featured here, a combination of both. 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Read about my lunch in the Key’s last Sunday at the bottom of this page 🙂
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Grilled Calamari Salad With Frisee And Israeli Couscous

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Grilled Calamari Salad With Frisee And Israeli Couscous

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Grilled Calamari Salad With Frisee And Israeli Couscous

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Grilled Calamari Salad With Frisee And Israeli Couscous

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Grilled Calamari Salad With Frisee And Israeli Couscous

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Preparation :
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This is what Florida / Miami living is all about
We want fresh seafood – let’s take a quick trip to have lunch in the Keys.
First stop Key Largo for stone crab claws appetizer at the “Key Largo Fisheries”, then on to Isla Morada for a beautiful sunset and blackened mahi mahi main course, washed down with a couple of brewsky’s while listening to live rock music right on the beach at my favorite Florida beach bar, “Loreley”.
Life is Good !
If you think seafood is cheap around here –
10 claws on paper baskets (only self service) = $ 120.00, sauce and tax extra 
Paradise sure has its price 

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Szechuan Beef Noodles

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Szechuan Beef Noodles

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The food at our house is usually flavorful and piquant, but not “fiery hot”.
However, once in a while, I crave Szechuan food. Not the watered down version you get in Western influenced restaurants, but the real, Szechuan deal. ( When you look at the pictures of the noodles with sauce below, that bright red comes from the Szechuan chili oil and Szechuan chili paste) If you prepare this recipe, you might want to add the chili oil and chili paste at the end (STEP 2),  in VERY small increments, until you reach a level of hotness that almost hurts. The beauty of Szechuan peppers is the fact that after a few seconds of eating them, your mouth becomes almost numb, to the point where you can tolerate spice to a level you did not previously imagine you could.
This might sounds a bit like a bit of senseless torture (to the novice to Szechuan cuisine it certainly is), but it will also provide you with an extreme satisfaction of your taste buds 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Beef  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Noodles  on  ChefsOpinion
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Szechuan Beef Noodles

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Szechuan Beef Noodles

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Szechuan Beef Noodles

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Szechuan Beef Noodles

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Szechuan Beef Noodles

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Szechuan Beef Noodles

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Preparation :
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To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures

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