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.

Chinese New Year and Robbie Burns Menu of the Week Jan 26th: fennel/anise

Sunday was Robbie Burns’ birthday.  If you have never been to a Robbie Burns party, you really should go, or host one.  I have done both.  Make sure you have lots of scotch, kilts and people willing to read poems and get sappy.  We didn’t have one to go to this year, and I didn’t remember in time, so I will do an honorary Robbie Burns night sometime this week to celebrate Scotland’s most beloved poet and my Scottish heritage at the same time.  This picture is just before I found out I had Celiac about 3 years ago.

Ginger at robbie burns

Chinese New Year!  That starts at midnight on the 26th, and well, it seems worthy of a couple of meals since we couldn’t pick just one.  I don’t have any Chinese friends here in town, strangely enough as we have so many students from China at Michigan State Univ down the road.  Korean and Thai (aquaintances) we have covered, but no Chinese.  Will make that a goal for the new year. So we are branching out on our own for the festival and going the extra mile for some of the dishes.

Just as a reminder, Mardi Gras starts soon too, as long as we are festing.  I love a fest.

This week the menu swap’s lovely host is Manda of Asparagus Thin and the theme she has chosen is licorice flavor or fennel/anise.  Ironically I hate anything with a licorice flavor, including the Greek liquor whose name escapes me at the moment.  However, I love fennel, both the seeds and the bulb and really enjoy anise when used in small background quantities, like in Vietnamese Pho.

Menu this week:

Saturday: Italian: Center cut pork roast rubbed in fennel, rosemary, garlic and sage with lemon asparagus risotto (Jamie Oliver’s risotto recipe, we actually have 5 of his cookbooks home from the library right now)

Sunday: Localvore meal: Chicken Chile Verde with organic chicken from my bro, canned green zebra tomatoes from the garden, frozen roasted green chiles from the garden and Michigan Great Northern Beans, garlic was local too, but not the onions or cilantro.

Monday: Chinese New Year: Hong Shao Ji and it has anise in it as an added bonus and is red, a good luck color for the New Year.  Fried spring rolls will also make an appearance as well as 100 Flower Blossoms using Jaden’s mom’s recipe (including crab) at Steamy Kitchen.  I just love Jaden’s sense of humor, photography, recipes and her blog.

Tuesday:  Chinese New Year continued: Spicy Lacquered Duck using duck breasts unless duck is on sale at the store.  Rice and Baby Bok Choy with shrimp from Rasa Malaysia to accompany.  Rasa Malaysia is another great go to Asian cooking blog with beautiful food porn shots too.

Wednesday:  Robbie Burns night at home: “Oat Cuisine” (har har) Horseradish crusted salmon with whole grain mustard cream sauce I guess we will need some braised leeks to go with the salmon.

Thursday: Pasta night: spinach ravioli (we hope) from the forgotten freezer stock with a chunky tomato sauce with loads of fresh basil from the basement greenhouse pots.  They might be filled with meat and cheese too.  Hopefully they thaw properly and don’t stick to each other. That will teach me to cryovack my pasta.

Friday: Ethiopian:  Sik Sik Wat with pork instead of beef and some Misr Wot and collard greens, feeling in a spicy mood and need to use up the batch of Berbere I made last summer.

Happy eating and Happy Chinese New Year and happy new US administration.  Lots to be happy about this week.  Don’t think about the snow.

i’m out

Menu of the Week Nov 17th: Rutabagas and several stories.

I am a bit behind on this post.  This always happens when I am gone for the weekend, get back late and then Monday night I had to attend a “Arbonne” party.  If you want to know what that is, I will be happy to hook you up with my friend who is just getting started.  She loves a good road trip.

So, I know you all have been waiting to see what the secret ingredient is (even though you may have glimpsed at the header – put that out of your mind).  Rutabaga, that is what we are experimenting with this week.  Now, the only time I really have eaten rutabaga, or swede as it appears to be called in the British Isles, is in pasties, a specialty (perhaps the only one aside from any deep fried vegetable and I mean any) of the UP or Upper Peninsula of Michigan as we Michiganders call it.  The part that borders both Lakes Superior and Michigan.  A really beautiful part of the state.  You should go there.  I think of moving there sometimes when I want to leave normal society.  At any rate, pasties are everywhere up there.  The miners used to take them for lunch.  They are a pocket pie filled with (typically) beef, onions, carrot, potato and rutabaga.  There seems to be only salt and pepper in there, no such thing as herbs in the UP a hundred years ago I guess.  They are often served with gravy (always from a jar I am sure) but the Yoopers (think UP-ers) insist on ketchup with theirs.  I have no love affair with ketchup.  None at all.  Ok, maybe occasionally with a tator tot that missed the buffalo sauce.  But really, that’s it.

At this point you are thinking… all this info and we haven’t gotten a menu yet and it is the day after menu day.  Well folks, that is what a long day on the road and a strong vodka cranberry juice does for you, well, me.  Ester at Lilac Kitchen is this week’s host and who we have to thank for my long pastie post!

So, on my way home this eve I stopped by the store for some much needed groceries and knew that it was rutabaga/swede week and found myself staring at not one, but a box full, in the fresh starches isle (near the tators).  I debated.  I walked away.  I walked back.  I picked one up and resolved to attempt a pasty.  I will attempt the best pastie ever.  One with herbs.  And garlic.  No ketchup.  Maybe gravy though as I am a sucker for a sauce.

So, now you know about pasties (pronounced paasties – like Pa in Little house in the Prairie).  You have to watch out when you say the name or you will get some thing that only women in strip joints wear.

Menu time now.

Ok, maybe not yet.  The reason we were back late on Sunday was because we were returning from our pig butchering weekend.  We have a pig share of sorts which I will blog on in a new post but have blogged on it here before.  This year’s piggies were named Speck and Parma.  We had the entire 3.5 hours back which was more like 4.5 hours due to black ice everywhere and many collisions along the way, to think about how we wanted to cook our first pork dinner.  By the time we got home it was late and we were hungry so we made ground pork in a miso sauce and fried rice.  We have a total of 1.5 pigs in our freezer now.  Seem a bit extreme?  It might be.  We aren’t sure yet.  The bacon is getting cured in Traverse City aside from a 5 lb piece that I cut off to try curing ourselves.  So by butcher, I mean butcher.  The pig was shot and gutted by our bee keeper Julius.  It then hung for a day until we arrived on a Saturday afternoon to start slicing.  He does have a ban saw, thank goodness, but we do all the trimming, tell him what cuts where and wrap and label it.  I cut the tenderloin out myself, three times.  It is very humbling.  I am extremely thankful for our good fortune to hook up with these great folks: A raspberry and sustainable everything farmer who works on cherry harvesting equipment, his wife and a cherry/apple farmer who is also a large bee keeper.  No the bees aren’t large, just his operation, rather the honey operation.  We bought some honey from him while we were there.  Thankfully I haven’t needed a hot toddy yet this year, but I am ready when I do.

Ok, now on to the menu.

Saturday:  I didn’t really cook all of this, but my brother (and friends) did for a dinner party while we were up there.  It is definitely blog worthy.  It was all wheat free.  It was all local, every bit of it, except the cheese and crackers, which I brought.  I always travel with cheese and crackers.

Apps:

cheese and crackers

spicy pickled dilly beans

fresh pate made from our friends freshly butchered pig – I hate hate hate liver and loved this stuff.  Will find recipe soon.  I think the fact that it didn’t have much liver in it made all of the difference.

salad : local greens with balsamic dressing and slices of seared pheasant breast

entree:

local organic free range chicken breasts stuffed with pheasant and chestnut force meat – a meat stuffing of sorts – with a morel mushroom supreme sauce

sides:

sauteed brussel sprouts

leek tartin minus the crust to make it gluten free

roasted small potatoes with rosemary and garlic (i made this one)

roasted butternut squash

dessert:

homemade spelt  pumpkin pie from scratch, local pumpkins and all (the spelt is grown and milled in MI too)

to drink

our friend’s hard and sweet cider – they just opened their hard cidery, Tandem Cider,  a month ago and have 5 varieties of hard cider as well as tasty sweet cider.

I tell you, it was Thanksgiving.  Really.  Great friends, great food, all grown or raised by us or my dad.  I really can’t ask for more than that.  Honestly, it is the norm up there.  That is one reason we want to move back.  I am so making that pate and I have never said that before.

Sunday:  Ground pork in a miso sauce and Steamy Kitchen Jaden’s fried rice posted on Elise’s Simply Recipes.  Only we cheated.  We had no leftover rice – a big no no.  So I used Sushi rice and didn’t cook it all the way.  Sushi rice is so strong and sturdy that it worked just fine.  We used Martin Yan’s quick Chinese book for the pork.  It was really tasty!

Monday:  Mexican shredded pork stew (with ancho chiles, roasted garlic, chipotle and red chile) over rice with black beans (with green chile and garlic) and brussel sprouts ( I was craving brussel sprouts and decided to forgo the Mex theme for some extra green yummies.)

Tuesday: Corn, Crab and Potato chowder with a bit of bacon and mashed sweet potatoes as the thickener.  On the stove right now.  Whoops. I totally scourched it.  To the point of having to pray that it doesn’t taste burnt and moved all the non burnt items into a new pot.  That also comes with drinking a strong vodka cranberry and blogging.  Luckily the crab, cream and milk had yet to be added.  There is no burnt taste, soldiering on, will eat when the post is finished.

Wednesday:  Trader Joe Chicken Sausages with spinach sauteed in a pasta toss with asparagus, dried tomatoes, parmesan and pine nuts.

Thursday:  Moletes de papas y queso  (potato masa torpedoes) and fish enchiladas with tangy tomatillo sauce via Rick Bayless.  Will use the rest of Monday’s black beans with green chile and garlic too.  Or if enchiladas don’t strike me, we will grill the fish.

Friday:  Pasties!  My pasties will have grass fed beef (if I can get to the bottom of the freezer), and all the normal veggies plus herbs, lots of them.

i’m out

Menu Plan Monday Oct 27th

It’s going to be a spicy week here at Fresh Ginger!  This week’s menu swap is hosted by Manda at Asparagus Thin and the ingredient is coconut, one of my favorite things.  Coconut is so versatile and pretty healthy too, in moderation of course.  Pop over to Manda’s blog to see what all the other bloggers are cooking up! Make sure you watch the Sesame Street video – did that bring back some memories.  Then go put the lime in the coconut and shake it all about – but add rum first…….

Monday: South West: Green chile Enchiladas with pork.  Trader Joe’s now has Hatch NM green chiles in the store – at my store they were logically hanging out over the frozen Mexican items.  I would ask where they might be hiding at a store near you as I never would have found them there without asking.

Tuesday:  Overnight for work: Gluten free meals requested at the Kettunen Center – fingers crossed.  Bring cheese and crackers in a cooler just in case.

Wednesday: Indian: South East Indian Crab curry with coconut milk – this one from the Jamie Oliver archives.

Thursday : Mexican: Red snapper ala Sayulita with cilantro and garlic. Whole red snappers dusted with corn starch and then sauteed until crispy, doused with a lime, cilantro, garlic sauce to make it sizzle.  I had this dish in Sayulita, Mexico a few years back and have wanted to replicate it for years.  But there was never whole fish in my store, that is, until the wrong order came in recently and they were sent whole snapper instead of filets.  Lucky me!  Maybe I will use the can of coconut water I have as the sauce base……

Since coconut is the ingredient this week, I will have to drink a pina colada as I just found a can of pineapple juice in the freezer – I always have coconut milk, coconut powder, shredded unsweetened coconut and dried coconut milk on hand.  I love coconut.

Friday: My family will be in town for a Michigan State University Football game, so we are going out to eat Friday night.  Maybe I will be nice and make some oatmeal, coconut chocolate chip cookies for them.

i’m out

Crab Cakes – patties of the gods….

Ok, I confess.  We ate them so fast I forgot to take a picture of them.  But you know what crab cakes look like.  These crab cakes have no bell pepper, red or green, in them.  I really dislike bell pepper in my crab cakes as the flavor permeates through everything and I really enjoy the taste of crab.  Bell peppers, not so much.  These cakes below are nice and crab laden.  Fresh herbs just make a crab cake.  Enjoy!

Gigi’s crabbies

1lb, 6.5 oz of claw crab (no need to use the premium for crab cakes).  I just happened to have a 1lb can and a 6.5 oz can on hand and company was coming over, so I used both. I used fresh, pasteurized crab that has been refrigerated.  In a pinch, the canned stuff off the shelf would work too.  Fresher is what it is.

1.5 tsp Old Bay seasoning (any crab seasoning will likely do)

1 tbs Dijon mustard

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup oats (or more depending on your moisture content)  If you don’t do oats, fresh Gf bread crumbs will work – probably close to the same amount.

3 tbs mayo

1 egg

And the critical ingredients:  fresh chopped chives, parsley, dill (preferably from your garden if you have one) and finely chopped green onion (3 onions? I forgot to write that down).  Hum, how much herbage?  Probably at least a tablespoon of each – I like flavor and don’t know what subtlety means.  I barely know how to spell subtlety these days.

fresh cracked pepper

*****

rice flour

Mix it all together, except rice flour.  Eyeball everything adding more or less for your humidity level in your house.  Form into patties.    Once formed, dust with the rice flour and then saute in olive oil until golden brown on both sides.  I had the oven on warm and stuck them in the oven to stay warm while the rest cooked.  The rice flour forms a nice crust and helps hold it together.  You can skip the rice flour and just flip the patties carefully.  Serve with wedges of fresh lemon.

This recipe made 8 hamburger sized patties.  A white wine beurre blanc sauce or an aioli would put these crab cakes over the top and you might not recover.

i’m out