Solstice! and Menu of the week Dec 21: Cranberries!

Happy Solstice!  Solstice occurred around 7 am this morning.  The days will be longer soon!  This week’s ingredient is cranberries.  I guarantee you I will consume at least one cranberry vodka cocktail this week, plus we will use cranberry sauce on Friday with a turkey dinner.  Angela’s Kitchen  is this week’s gluten free menu swap host, so click on over there and check out all the great menus floating around.

This weekend I made three different batches of brittle:  pine nut, pumpkin seed, almond brittle with red chile and fleur de Sel; coconut cardamom brittle  and macadamia nut, almond, coconut brittle, both of the last two also had cayenne and fleur de Sel.  That heat combined with crunch and salty sweet  is so delicious!  It is the best brittle I have ever eaten and the first time I have made it.  I made the coconut brittle for a friend who has a peanut allergy and she loved it.

Sunday: Snowpeas with pork stirfry – a hold over from last week’s menu 
Monday: Latkes/potato pancakes with Weiss wurst
Tuesday: Vietnamese Chicken Pho – I still have fresh Thai basil growing in the basement greenhouse/room.  Organic free range chicken raised by my brother for this pot of soup.
Heading North for the holidays at the farm:
Christmas eve – shrimp cocktails and roast beef
Christmas day tradition: cheese fondue with veggies and beef fondue with many dipping sauces with baked potatoes, cheesy parm bread and salad
Christmas day after Roasted Turkey (extended family gathering) with hot spiced wine
Saturday night:  Hanging and likely eating too, at the Bluebird in Leland – traditional reunion weekend gathering spot for all those who no longer live in Leland, but are home for the holidays.

I am bringing apps for both Christmas eve and Day:  mini meatballs with porcini mushroom, parm and thyme, spinach veggie dip with tortillas, shrimp, hopefully some blue cheese gougeres, and a cheese and salami platter with lots of GF crackers.  Oh and pate, if it works.  I have a liverfree pate in the oven right now.  I used chestnut puree instead of liver hoping it will give a similar spreadable texture.  Country pate with homemade fermented dill pickles and dijon.  I have the whole week off to play and cook until we head North.

Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas!

i’m out

Menu Swap Monday October 20th: Squash

Squash.  It has such a great sounding name and it can make a nice squish when you eat it.  Food that sounds like it is.  Kim of Gluten Free is Life is hosting this week’s swap.  I do have two pumpkins that I will attempt to carve this week in honor of squash and their lovely seeds.  It is really all about the seeds for me.  I do like butternut squash soup and some nicely roasted acorn squash.  I am squashless at the moment, with the exception of our pumpkins, so those will have to do.  I forgot to check the ingredient before we went grocery shopping yesterday. We have a heavily Italian country oriented menu this week due to Eby picking out some dishes and making his way through some more Italian cook books.  They all sounded good to me too.

Sunday: Hunters stew with rabbit and smashed potatoes.  It took me a while to get over the concept of rabbit, even though most of the world eats them if they have rabbits running around.  It was tasty.  Eby made it, but I had to cut it up for him.  If it hadn’t been for recent work events that gross me out worse, I might not have made it through.

Monday: Pork cutlets with prosciutto, parmeasan and Marsala wine with a pesto risotto

Tuesday: Rice and Cabbage soup with pancetta – the recipe looks better than the title, trust me.

Wednesday: Turkey tenderloins stuffed with spinach or stuffed porchetta style and roasted.

Thursday: On the road and back late: Ragu Bolonese with noodles.  I did a crock pot full of grass fed beef short ribs recently and froze the meat to use in a ragu.  It was already slow cooked so shouldn’t take much time to throw together along with a spinach salad.

Friday:  Chicken ala Diavola with potatoes chianti – this didn’t happen a couple of weeks ago and now we have chicken again from my brother.  Lots of smoked paprika and lemon zest in this dish!

Saturday: Grass fed burgers on the grill, tator tots with salad

Sunday:  Down to Eby’s parents for dinner.  Their first time cooking a gluten free meal and Eby has been coaching them 🙂

i’m out

Appetizer of the week: Tuscan white bean truffle dip


This one is great as it requires no heat and no stove, just a food processor of some sort.  I always have most of the ingredients for this one on hand which makes it easy to throw together for an impromptu appetizer.  We have been asked over to dinner this eve with some friends that are grilling a leg of lamb and I thought this appetizer would go well with it.  It is sort of like Italian hummus, but high scale.

tuscan white bean truffle dip

As usual, I rarely measure anything when I make it, so I will try to be as accurate as possible.  I also use what I have on hand, so if you don’t have an ingredient or two, sub something else that is equally as tasty.  The two key ingredients are the white beans and the truffle oil.  If you don’t have any truffle oil, just take truffle out of the name of your dip.

1 can of Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained.  (or any white bean of your choice)
1/4 cup of grated or finely shredded parmeasan
1 sun dried tomato or two, depending on size – the ones packed in olive oil would be fine.  I dry my own every fall when I am tired of canning.  Then I forget to use them until I think of this app.
1 clove garlic
1-2 TBS fresh chopped chives
1-2  TBS fresh oregano, use the flower buds if you have them
dash of salt (the parm keeps it salty)
two big dashes of smoked paprika – if you don’t have smoked, use regular, but if you have both, used smoked.
lots of cracked pepper
1 TBS + of truffle oil – from one of those tiny bottles – if you have a big bottle (5 oz or  more), it is probably not as strong, so use more of it and cut back on the olive oil.  Use enough so that you can smell the truffles in the dip.  Use more if your budget allows it and cut back on olive oil.
1/4 cup Olive oil – give or take

In a small food processor, mix everything but the beans and olive oil.  Mix until everything is finely chopped.  Add the beans and some olive oil and mix until you get a nice smooth consistency.  Add more olive oil as necessary to keep the mix moving and about the thickness of hummus.

Refrigerate for a little while to let the flavors blend.  Bring the dip to room temperature before serving so that the earthy, smokey, herbiness of the ingredients comes out.  Serve with strong crackers (Glutino’s aren’t much for dipping, but are my favorites) or GF crostini.  Garnish with some fresh parsley for accent. Drizzle with more olive or truffle oil for pizazz.


Dip and enjoy!

tuscan white bean truffle dip with glutino crackers

i’m out

Menu of the week: It’s peachy baby!

Unfortunately, being further North than the rest of the GF bloggers leaves MI peachless right now.  We need about one more month before they start showing up at the farmer’s markets.  I don’t have any frozen right now and I don’t care for canned peaches, so perhaps I will sub with a mango – which of course is never in season in MI.  Fruits and Veggies that are grown in MI I am trying to wait until they are ready in MI.  Stuff that will never be grown here – avocados, mangoes, limes – I just have to clear a guilty pathway to my conscience as I can go local as much as possible, but enjoy a global cuisine.  I at least reduce my “shipped from CA” footprint a little bit.  Now I feel very guilty about my mangoes that were on sale.

For some great use of peaches, check out the Gluten Free menu swap, hosted this week by the creator of the swap, Natalie at Gluten Free Mommy.  I will just take note of everyone’s recipes and hold on to those ideas for August.  I used all my frozen peaches in margaritas over the winter.

Here’s what’s cooking in Lansing MI this week, it’s a very porky menu and a very local menu this go around:

Saturday:

lunch: green chile cheese tamales (from our dear friend Trader Joe) with NM red chile sauce

dinner: grilled mustard marinated pork loin with a pear green peppercorn demi glaze (featuring homemade demi glaze!), wild mushroom risotto and grilled asparagus

Sunday:

lunch: local free range organic breakfast sausages, scrabbled egg yolks with veggies (I can’t eat egg whites)

dinner: smoked ribs from our pig pancetta (only a few pieces of pork left in the freezer 🙁 ), red cabbage slaw with a ginger, garlic, lemon dressing and chives, Michigan made potato chips and  fresh dill dip

Monday:

Lunch (working from home today) Spanish style: Clam and chorizo soup with tomatoes, white wine saffron, shallots, garlic, chives and parsley.  I really have no idea how this sentence alone gave itself italics and I can’t seem to make it go away.  It was a tasty lunch though….

Dinner: Italian fusion: Maple Leaf Farm duck breasts porchetta style, stuffed with fennel seed, rosemary and garlic.  Baby new potatoes grilled with mustard and herbs.

Tuesday:  On the road and home brew club if I get back early – I brewed a GF porter on Sunday thanks to the motivation of Sally and Dan of Aprovechar – pics here and tasting soon as it is fermenting fast!

Wednesday:  Potato leek soup with local milk, farm market leeks, potatoes and some locally made German knockwurst (we just have so many great local food sources here in MI!) – lots of fresh herbs will be in the soup.

Thursday: local potato chip, Parmesan (not at all local) crusted fish, sides TBD from farmer’s market availability.

Friday Thai:  pad thai with spicy, crispy tofu and garden cilantro, spring rolls and maybe some shrimp hot and sour soup.

The menu looks just peachy to me!

i’m out

Menu of the Week April 28th: Peas

This week’s menu swap host is Manda over at Asparagus Thin and peas are the featured ingredient. My darling BF saw the subject peas and promptly boycotted the ingredient this week, but I plan to work them in for a dish just for me, peas with prosciutto and dill. Lately I have been struggling for inspiration and yet trying hard not to repeat menus (except for pizza and grilled asparagus of course). I think it would be great if I cooked something different almost every night for 6 months. In an effort to eat more brown rice (with this months Saveur as inspiration) I cooked up a rice cooker full and now am going to experiment with brown rice fritters and different ethnic flavorings.

Saturday: Mixed grill

Spicy lamb brats and spicy grass fed burgers with caramelized onions and cheese, penne with pesto and creme fraiche and grilled asparagus

Sunday:

Lunch: Vietnamese crab and shrimp soup with mung noodles, mint and basil

Dinner: Pizza!

White pizza with a roasted garlic and chive bechamel (made with goat butter as we are out of regular butter – how did this happen?), Italian sausage, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, feta and some mozzarella.

Monday: Cyprus (ala Saveur mag)

Souvlakia Hirina : Pork kabobs (from Pancetta, our pig) with tatziki with brown rice fritters with oregano, lemon zest and feta, veg to be determined

Tuesday: New Mexican

Green Chile Cheese Nachos (three of my favorite ingredients right there) and fennel slaw with cilantro and lime

Wednesday: Mediterranean mix

Braised leeks (and maybe some kale) and Chicken Provencal and brown rice fritters with parmesan and parsley

Thursday: Fresh American (or whatever you think fits here – I am at a loss)

Seared Scallops with roasted garlic chive butter, peas with prosciutto and dill for me, asparagus for the BF, oven roasted potatoes with garden herbs.

Friday: Mexican mayhem or Indian Monsoon

Company in town – we are either cooking up a Mexican storm with carne asada tacos( with grass fed beef of course – must use it up), pintos de olla, salsa, chips and guacamole – oh and margaritas or we are going out for Indian.

I must confess, I had a really busy week last week and didn’t get around to making my app of the week or my dinner for Friday night as I was helping a friend move. I still plan to attempt the gruyere pinwheels with herbs sometime this week. Also look forward to posts on rubs (as promised) and hotel butters. And I haven’t forgotten about the cocktail of the week feature either, but that feature will be switching to the cocktail of the month.

i’m out