Menu of the Week Feb 22: Umami

We have a yummy menu planned this week.  I guess my cooking mojo is back, I didn’t realize it left, but it was sort of half hearted for a while.  Manda of Asparagus Thin is hosting this week and has picked umami as the secret ingredient.  The menu of the week ingredient has definitly morphed into a concept vs an ingredient and I love the challenge.  I think most of our dishes this week have an umami component to them, perhaps that is why I am so excited about this week’s menu.

steak with bordelaise sauce and pomme frites

Sunday:  Grilled steak with bordelaise sauce, homemade pomme frites, grilled asparagus (grass fed burger for Eby as he doesn’t like steak).  I used my gluten free demi glace (in the bordelaise) that I made a while bake and it was tasty!  We have the pomme frites technique down and they were perfect!

Monday: Pozole with a chile de arbol sauce and  sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, chopped onion and cilantro for garnishes.  Some locally made fresh salsa and chips on the side.  Pozole is the epitamy of umami for Mexican dishes with it’s savory full of flavor broth.

Tuesday: Thai fried rice and Tofu Lard Nah served over the rice instead of noodles as I have a big batch of leftover rice.  Plenty of umami in this dish.

Wednesday: Crispy sticky roast 1/2 chicken with smashed new potatoes (purple ones) and tomatoes.  Using one of Jamie Oliver’s tempting recipes for this dish.  Will roast some broccoli too.

Thursday: Beef Bourguignon and braised collard greens.  I will base my recipe off of Ina’s and Karen’s.  Must get this dish in before it warms up and it looks to be a cold week.

Friday: Mahi mahi with hazelnut romesco,  potatoes and winter slaw.  I finally found some piquillo peppers to use.  We have mahi mahi in the freezer, but if halibut goes on sale, I will use that.

frites

Happy eating!

i’m out

Labbneh, or little spicy herby cheese disks

Ok, the photo is not the greatest, I know.  You try taking an emergency photo of white balls of cheese in greenish olive oil and see how it turns out.

labbneh

Next time, I will remove a disk, put it on a plate with a cracker, you will see the difference.  You have to just trust me on this one and use the pic as a platform for improvement.  These little disks are delicious.  I can’t take full credit for them, but I take re-creation and improvement credit.  Last summer I was in Santa Fe NM for 48 hours.  I was headed back from Flagstaff AZ to Michigan and jumped off Amtrak for two days to visit my cousins.  Knowing we had limited time and wanted to maximize sight seeing and visiting, they went shopping for some groceries before my arrival.  As we picnicked overlooking a large lake, Abiquiu and Georgia O’Keefe’s playground Ghost Ranch,  we dined on mixed nuts, this cheese, Mary’s Gone Crackers and apples.  We ate every scrap of this cheese and the olive oil it was marinating in.  It was made locally and for sale in their Santa Fe Whole Foods.  I have yet to find any in Michigan.

So, I recreated it based on their list of ingredients.  It is so easy and so tasty.  I took some up to a “cottage on the beach weekend” with friends and they devoured it and wanted the recipe.  Almost 7 months later I am getting around to typing it up.

I might just be what is known as a recipe writing slacker, maybe.  Writing them up means I actually have to measure or give guidance some how when I used none and didn’t measure.  There is no point in keeping it all in my head though, is there? What if you wanted to make it and bring it over to my house for dinner?  You couldn’t could you?  Well, now you can.  As far as the name of these little tidbits, well, my understanding is that labbneh is really a yogurt cheese and this creation involves zero yogurt, so please comment with alternative names in the comments section – really, I mean it.

You will notice that I use all dried herbs and spices, this is because if you are not eating it all right away (and it gets better after a few days), it will hold better with dried ingredients than fresh and no one wants botulism from raw garlic and olive oil hanging out do they?  Of course you can use all fresh ingredients too, just don’t let this cheese dish hang around as long.

Labbneh

4 oz of Feta at room temp French or Greek feta, up to you.
4 oz of Neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese) at room temp
dried thyme
dried oregano (Turkish or Greek if you have it)
dried marjoram
ground rosemary (easier disbursement of flavor) or whole dried rosemary
dried garlic powder
dried shallots (Penzeys is an excellent source for dried)
dried basil (less of this herb, more of the others)
crushed red pepper
freshly cracked pepper
sea salt
good quality extra virgin olive oil

Cream the two cheeses together, add a bit of shallots, garlic, pepper and thyme to the cheese.
Form the cheese into little flattened disks.  Mine were about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.  Place in a container that has a lid. Sprinkle the cheese disks with all of the herbs and spices listed above, including more shallots, garlic, pepper and thyme. Pour olive oil over the whole thing until the disks are submerged, the more you pack in, the closer they are, the less oil you will need. Let the cheese marinate for as long as you can, but at least a couple of minutes hours.  Then refrigerate, but let it the disks and olive oil come up to room temperature before serving. Goes great with a hearty crispy cracker and also with a cracker that will adsorb a bit of the oil.  I recommend a combo of Mary’s Gone Crackers and Glutino crackers for you gluten freers.  Take this to your next potluck!  Put the disks on a plate and pour the spiced olive oil over them and put a couple of little cheese spreaders around for cracker spreading.

Enjoy!

i’m out

February 16th: Comfort Food, a menu and a plan

flank steak

It’s Mid-February.  Is there a better time for comfort foods?  Probably not.  The winter doldrums have not been as dark this month.  The earth must have tilted or perhaps it is global warming, but we have had far more sunlight than any winter I have spent in Lansing.  It really lifts the snow spirits.  But it’s not sunny everywhere and even if it is, comfort foods will always be something we turn to.  Comfort foods can be so many things and below I have listed what they are this week for us.  Wendy of Celiacs in the House is the gf menu swap host this week and comfort foods are the theme.  This week I am drawing from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, The Breath of a Wok, Fish Without a Doubt, imagination and memory.  Libraries are terrific resources for cook books!

On a side note I feel very guilty for not actually posting anything but my menus lately.  So look forward to a couple of recipes this week, I promise.  I am hoping to revamp this blog and actually have a link for recipes eventually.  Currently they are not easy to find on here when I do post them.  My IT guy is in charge of the blog lift.  As usual, any pork, tomatoes, dry beans, garlic or potatoes featured in the menu below are local.  I am anxiously awaiting my own greens and veggies from the garden, but until then, we are breaking our rules and splurging a bit on asparagus.  Don’t hate me.  At least it is from California, not Peru.

Sunday:  Enchiladas Verdes with chicken and cheese, Frijoles de Olla, guacamole with red onion and cilantro, locally made corn tortilla chips, salsa

Monday: Grilled flank steak with a salsa verde and wilted escarole bread salad, grilled asparagus.

Tuesday:  Georgian Pork stew with cornmeal pudding and roasted brussel sprouts (comfort food for Georgians I’m told)

Wednesday:  Poached Salmon with scallop mousse, sauteed broccoli rabe and purple potatoes roasted with duck fat and rosemary.

Thursday:  Sichuan YuXiang Pork with wood ears mushrooms, water chestnuts and bamboo,  rice and maybe some shrimp toast.  Shrimp toast is definitely comfort food.  I am not sure who invented it, but I would like to thank them. Any thing spicy is comfort food to me come to think of it.

Friday: Italian sausage sauteed with broccoli rabe tossed with penne and shaved Parmesan, then drizzled with a tomato vodka sauce.  The store had broccoli rabe this week, so we stocked up on it as I love it!

Lunches this week: Beans and greens with escarole, hopefully a Rueben sandwich or two with Karina’s rye bread and out for Thai food or sushi one day.  I love weeks when I don’t have to be on the road most days!

Happy eating!

i’m out

Menu of the week Feb 9th: Chocolate!

Ah Chocolate!  You either crave it all the time, or not so much.  I am in the not so much category, but I do like my chocolate, it just has to be good chocolate.  I don’t crave it.  I am more of a salt than sweet tooth.  If there is any week to like chocolate, this is the one.  Since this week includes Valentine’s Day, I will embrace chocolate in souffle form and pair it with raspberry (chocolate is better with raspberry don’t you think?), but I am also using chocolate in a savory dish.  As long as we are on the chocolate topic, if you haven’t seen Like Water for Chocolate, you really, really must (esp if you like cooking and Mexico) and see it in the undubbed original Spanish version with subtitles.  Do not watch the dubbed version, you lose everything.

chocolate souffle

Our host for the menu swap this week is M-Elle of Cooking and Uncooking .  I am certain there will be some great gluten free chocolate desserts posted this week, so check them out.

Sunday:  Smokey pork (our pork) on the charcoal grill, low and slow in the sunshine. Potatoes Dauphiniose with both sweet and local potatoes plus Gruyere and grilled asparagus.  I am using my Mexi rub and added  cocoa powder, coriander and brown sugar to the rub.

Monday: Homemade pizza!  Deep dish or thin crust, to be determined.  Using our canned tomatoes and our frozen tomato paste and herbs from the indoor garden for the sauce.  No homemade mozzarella yet, but soon!

Tuesday:  Vietnamese crab and tofu soup with a Vietnamese cabbage salad and maybe attempting scallion pancakes.

Wednesday: Pesto Risotto and grilled salmon with spicy black butter

Thursday: Gumbo with okra, tomatoes, andouille sausage and chicken over rice (maybe dirty rice maybe not)

Friday: Indian, pork kofta curry balls (based on the linked recipe), rice, dal and maybe I can work a cabbage potato curry dish in there too.  I recently had a great one at our local Indian restaurant, the potatoes were tangy with lots of cilantro and black mustard seeds in the dish.

Saturday (Valentine’s Day): Cheese fondue appetizer with Whole Foods Sourdough GF  bread and apples for dunking,  Scallops (for me, fish for Eby) with beurre blanc sauce and angel hair pasta, green salad with sustainably raised hearts of palm, tangerine supremes, red onion and a dijon viniagrette , chocolate souffle with raspberry eau de vie whipped cream Going to eat the Trader Joes GF flourless chocolate cake I forgot I had in the freezer for emergency dessert needs when traveling.  We made a raspberry puree with a bit of Grand Mariner to go with it.  L.Mawby Sparkling wine from Leelanau County. Martini’s and cocktails instead of wine.

Menu of the Week Feb 2: Pineapple

Pineapple cart by the ocean

Cheryl is the host again this week for the GF menu swap and has chosen pineapple for this week’s ingredient.  Make sure you hop over to see all the creative pineapple uses.  I am going to use pineapple in a savory dish and a cocktail.  This pineapple cart is a photo I took on my last trip to Mexico. Ah, Mexico!

I just realized that I have some version of pork in almost every dish this week.  All that pork is from our piggies, including the bacon.  We need to restock our grass fed beef.  Still good on organic free range chickens and organic garlic from the farm. Getting low on canned tomatoes, potatoes.  I am looking forward to garden season.  We have had more snow than usual in Lansing this year.  It is more like being up in Leelanau, except it is sunnier there.  Oh and Lake Michigan is there.  Only the cold and amount of snow in common after thinking it over.  They actually use snowplows there to plow the roads, here, they just let the snow pile up until it freezes and everyone gets stuck.  Don’t move to Lansing.

Sunday:  Out to eat: Old Chinese restaurant w/new owners and an authentic Chinese menu that rocks!  Brought my own gf tamari for them to use – amazing food, will duplicate and will return often.  Ok, this is one good reason to be in Lansing.

Monday: Ultimate mac and cheese with bacon and chives using our bacon and indoor garden chives.  I like Smitten Kitchen’s version which is the NYTimes version from 06.  Creamy and heart stopping.  The below pic is the above recipe, but this time, bacon and chives will be added.  If I had fresh tomatoes I would slice them and garnish the top with them too.  But I don’t.  Some folks are mac and cheese only folks and some are rev it up with other stuff folks.  I am both.  UPDATE:  That was not the same recipe I used before.  Or if I did, I had completely different results.  This mac was grainy and I didn’t even want to finish it!  The bacon added a bit too much salt with the cheese.  Will perfect!

the ultimate need no more recipes mac and cheese

Tuesday:  Tacos al pastor with pineapple on the rotisserie and pina colodas.  Will use two recipes as guidelines to create the taco I crave this week.  Will use some of my garden canned tomatoes to make a “fresh” winter salsa.

Wednesday:  Sichuan Ma Pu Tofu with some stir fried sugar snap peas and rice.  I am all about Sichuan/ Szechuan style these days as it wakes my senses and brings me garlic and heat.

Thursday: Pork pot roast with garlic smashed (purple) potatoes and some sort of green veggie.  On the road all day and coming home to pot roast just sounds good this week.  Using pork, because 1.  I love pork and 2. We have 1.5 pigs worth of it in the freezer and 3.  I am out of grass fed beef except for burger. Pork and potatoes are local.  We are down to our garden’s purple potatoes for a while until we can restock from the farm.

Friday: Moroccan chicken with green olives, apricots and preserved lemons with rice.  Maybe a little hummus app to go with that, it is after all, a Friday. Will use my bro’s organic chicken for this.

i’m out