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Provencal-Style Grouper

Provencal Style Grouper (1)

Provencal Style Grouper (2)

A dish known for its flavors from Provence, France. Lavender fields and medieval hilltop villages, in the southeastern region of Provence, stretches from the Rhône in the west to the Italian border.

This sauce with its colorful and bright flavors enhances the succulent taste of the grouper. Grouper should not be overcooked. The fish should be tender and using a fork should flake apart easily. I call this dish my Provencal-style Grouper. Your family and friends will definitely want to recreate this dish at home.

I’m using asparagus in this recipe, so I need to *blanch the asparagus first. I want them to remain vibrant green in color.



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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

Provencal Style Grouper (1)

Prep Time: 15 minutes, (time includes blanching asparagus)
Total Cook Time: 1 hour
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, 1 (11 x 13-inch) casserole dish, colander spoon, tongs, large mixing bowl, chef’s knife, 1 (3-quart) saucepot

Directions For Blanching Asparagus:
First, rinse the asparagus stalks under cold water to remove any dirt or sand. Take one of the stalks, hold it towards the bottom third of the stalk gently bending it until it breaks.  The bottom end that snapped off is the part of the asparagus that’s woody and very fibrous. The stalk breaks naturally where the tender part ends and the tough part begins.

In a 3-quart saucepot of salted boiling water (6 cups) add the asparagus. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a colander spoon or pair of tongs, immediately transfer the asparagus to an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice water).  Allow the asparagus spears to cool down completely. This process is what’s known as “the shocking method”. You’re stopping the cooking process and setting the asparagus’ vibrant green color. Drain well before cutting the spears on the bias into 2-inch pieces.

Ingredients For Fish:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 (8-ounce) center-cut skinless grouper fillets, 2 pounds total
3 tablespoons olive oil, to be used on the fish fillets
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients For Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup fennel, (1 bulb), diced
1 cup of red bell pepper, diced
1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons of garlic (3 cloves), minced
1 (28 ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons chicken broth, unsalted
2 tablespoons Pino Grigio (good dry white wine)
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
1/4 cup fennel fronds for garnish
2 lemons sliced for garnish

Directions For Searing Grouper:
Let fish rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes (utilize this time for prep). Once fish reaches room temperature, prep the fish with olive oil, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Note: A (12-inch) cast-iron skillet or a (12-inch) non-stick saute pan works best for searing fish.

Preheat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Carefully tilt pan off the heat to add the olive oil,  swish the oil around in the pan, then back onto the heat. You may see the pan start smoking, that’s what you want. Next, carefully place the grouper fillets into the pan, presentation side down. Jiggle the pan immediately so fish does not stick. Do not touch the fillets for about 3 minutes. The fillets will release from the pan easily, once they’ve browned on that side. If you believe they’re ready to flip, using a spatula, pick up one corner of the filet and see if it’s not sticking and looks golden brown. Turn the fillets over and sear the other side for another 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Transfer the fillets to a plate until sauce is ready to be transferred to the casserole dish.

Directions For Sauce:
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan. Add the onions, fennel, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft.

Place the tomatoes and their juices in a large bowl. Take a knife and slice through the tomatoes until they’re large bite-size pieces. Add the tomatoes to the sauce, then the chicken stock, white wine, salt, and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add the chopped basil and caper and cook for 1 minute.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Transfer the sauce to a casserole dish. Lay the seared grouper fillets on top of the sauce, bake for about 15 minutes. To judge if your fish is fully cooked (because oven temperatures may vary and so might the thickness of the fillets), make a small cut with a paring knife to see if the flesh has turned from translucent to opaque. Finally, lay the lemon slices, reserved chopped basil, and fennel fronds over the top.

Place a puddle of the sauce onto a plate, place a filet on top, and garnish with basil, lemon, and fennel fronds. There you have it, my Provencal-style Grouper.

*Blanch: Blanching is a cooking process in which a food, usually a vegetable or fruit, is scalded in boiling water, removed after a brief, timed nterval, and finally plunged into iced water to stop the cooking process.

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Rigatoni With Sweet Italian Sausage And Zucchini

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This dish is one of Steve’s favorites, loaded with sweet Italian sausage, sweet bell peppers, zucchini, diced tomatoes, and huge shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The dish comes together with garlic and white wine which makes for a sauce that’s light and flavorful. This is my Rigatoni With Sweet Italian Sausage And Zucchini.

Mini Sweet Bell Peppers

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Sweet Italian Sausage (2)

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Sweet Italian Sausage (5)

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes ( this includes time for the sausage to steam and grill)
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 2 (6-quart) saucepots (1 with a tight-fitting lid), 1 (6-quart) Dutch oven, indoor grill pan, chef’s knife, vegetable peeler

1 pound (5 links) of sweet Italian sausage
1 pound (1 box) of Rigatoni
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
3 large zucchinis, cut into half-moons and quartered
1 1/2 cups of mini multi-colored sweet bell peppers, seeded and diced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 (15-ounce) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 quart plus 1 cup of chicken stock, unsalted
1 1/2 cups of good white wine (Pinot Grigio)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (3 to 4 shavings per serving)
1/2 a cup of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish

Start by using a fork to prick 3 sets of holes into the sausage links on both sides. In a large saucepot with a tight-fitting (glass) lid add the sausage links. Pour 1 cup of the chicken stock over the sausage. Turn the heat to medium, cover allowing the sausages to poach, in the broth, for 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Preheat an indoor grill pan over medium-high heat. Arrange the links on the grill pan. Grill the sausages for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the links to cool before slicing them on the bias. Set aside.

In a preheated Dutch oven add over medium heat add olive oil and diced onions, red pepper flakes, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, cook until onions are soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the diced peppers and zucchini, and dried oregano, frequently stirring, cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Next, add the wine, bring up to a bubble before adding the sliced grilled sausage, fire-roasted tomatoes, and a quart of chicken stock, occasionally stirring, simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling salted water drop the pasta. Cook until al dente, around 10 to 12 minutes.

Drain the pasta really well. Add the hot pasta in the bottom of a serving bowl(s). Ladle the delicious sausage and zucchini over top. Include a ladle of the broth too. Using a vegetable peeler, add shaving of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the top of each serving. Finally, garnish with the parsley. There you have it, my Rigatoni With Sweet Italian Sausage And Zucchini.

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Beef Wellington



Looks elegant right? It’s a really posh meal and made for special occasions but my version is simple to make and super delicious.

One of the ingredients for this dish is traditionally a pate’, often a pate’ de foie gras. Well, I don’t know about anyone else but my grocery store doesn’t have this, and if they did I have a feeling it’s not very affordable. They do however have a pork pate’ and I’m just not sure how that would work with this dish. So as usual, I’m changing things up.

Let’s start with what’s known as Duxelles. They always have fancy words for what really just a mixture of minced mushrooms, shallots, garlic, herbs, butter, white wine, and a touch of cream. This is what I’m using to take the place of the pate’. This is my Beef Wellington. To go alongside, my Mocha Chili Spiced Roasted Asparagus.

I forgot to mention, in one of the pictures above is a play on Surf and Turf. Steve caught a couple Red Ear Sunfish earlier. I sautéed them simply in butter with garlic, lemon and fresh parsley.

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Puff Pastry (2)








Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
Equipment: 1 (10-cup) food processor, rimmed baking sheet pan, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, 1 (12-inch) cast-iron skillet, small mixing bowl, chef’s knife

Ingredients For Duxelle:
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
1 pint of Cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
1/4 cup of Pinot Grigio
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup of Italian-style breadcrumbs

1 box of Puff Pastry sheets, Pepperidge Farm
2 (8-ounce) Filet Mignons
2 teaspoons of Canola oil
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided between the two steaks
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided between the two steaks
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
4 sliced of Proscuitto, thinly sliced

Start out by adding the garlic to a food processor, pulse until garlic is minced in size. Next, add the chopped shallots pulsing until shallots are minced in size. To the processor, containing the shallots and garlic, add the cremini mushrooms until all the ingredients are finely minced. Last, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to bind them all the ingredients together. Transfer to a bowl. Refer to the pictures.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the Duxelles (mushroom mixture) to the hot sauté pan. Next, add the Pinot Grigio, stirring occasionally. Allow the Duxelles to cook giving the wine time to completely reduce, around 5 minutes. At this point, add the freshly chopped thyme leaves.

To the pan add heavy cream, stir to combine, continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. You may notice there is still too much liquid in the pan to have the consistency of a pate’. That’s where the breadcrumbs come in the play. Add 1/2 a cup of Italian-style breadcrumbs to the pan, stir until completely combined, This will take care of any extra liquid and give you the right consistency. Refer to the pictures.

Now for the steaks. Traditionally Beef Wellington is made with a whole tenderloin wrapped in puff pastry. This is a little different in that I’m making individual Beef Wellingtons.

Start with a hot cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add the Canola oil heat until the oil shimmers. First, pat the meat dry on both sides. Season both sides of the steaks with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Place the steaks into the skillet, do not touch for the first 1 to 2 minutes.

The steaks will actually stick to the bottom of the pan at first and then release naturally when ready to be flipped. After a few minutes (using a hand mitt) shake the skillet if the meat releases from the pan then it’s ready to be flipped to the other side, repeat the process. Transfer the steaks to a plate, turn off the heat.

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl add Dijon and whole grain mustard, whisk to combine. together Spread this mustard mixture over the top of each filet.

Note: You want to remember when using puff pastry, to keep it in the frig until you’re ready to use it. You want it to be cold. Allow the pastry to thaw overnight in the frig.

Lay one sheet out on your board and place the steak in the center. Spoon half of the Duxelles over top of the mustard. Wrap 2 slices of Proscuitto around the steak and mushroom mixture. Repeat this process for the second filet. Refer to the pictures.

Take one side and pull the other side over to it pinching the two sides together. Then fold over the two sides in and place this side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Do the same with the second filet. Using a paring knife make 3 tiny slits in the top, to release steam, then score the top in a criss-cross pattern.

Finally, brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and steaks register 125-degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Ther you have it, my Beef Wellington. Serve with a side of my Roasted Mocha-Chili Spiced Asparagus.

*Eggwash: 2 large eggs and 2 tablespoons of water whisked together.

Mocha Chili Spiced Roasted Asparagus


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