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 Dec 15th: Nuts and seeds!

Nuts and seeds, I really like both of them.  The majority of seeds that I use are typically spices, but I do like to use my share of sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.  I mostly snack on nuts or use them in Indian cooking but this week, since it is the festive holiday season, I am going to make a brittle with pumpkin, almonds and red chile.  I was going to use pine nuts, but they are outrageously priced at my local store right now, almonds it is. I have a giant bowlful of walnuts that I need to crack that Eby’s dad gave us from his English walnut tree – those might find there way in the brittle too. At least they are local, even if they are still in their hard shells.

This week’s menu swap host is In My Box and she blogs about what arrives in her CSA box every week. Swing on over there and check out all the menus posted – lots of cheese sauces created from nuts this week. I have yet to try doing that as I have no problem with dairy, but I am curious as to how they taste and someday will break down and try making some.

I experimented with making some liver free pate just using pork, and it failed miserably. I chalk it up to over seasoning (never thought I would say that) and using chickpea flour instead of some other flour. You know the golden rule is to never taste your batter or dough before baking if the chickpea flour is in it as it is bitter. Well, the slow cooking, low cooking nature of the pate meant that the chick pea flour still tasted raw – very bitter in a bad way. It was a big disappointment after all that work. But now I know. Next time I won’t try to add a nuttiness to my pate.

On to the menu:
Sunday: Ma Po Tofu, with stir fried broccoli and rice
Monday: Shepard’s Pie – after posting the recipe yesterday, I couldn’t resist.
Tuesday: Chicken Cacciatore with tomatoes, red peppers and baby bella mushrooms
Wednesday: Hot Tamale Soup – with homemade tamales from the freezer stock and grass fed beef and home canned tomatoes (I am in a tomato mood this week)
Thursday: Indian something with eggplant and pork (I know they don’t eat a lot of pork, but I have a lot of pork) or a fish curry, depends on mood.
Friday: Paella with chicken and chorizo – making use of the peppers I bought for Tuesday too.
Saturday: Shrimp with snow peas (shrimp for me, chicken for Eby, who won’t eat shrimp, but more for me.)

Happy Solstice to you this weekend – light a candle and appreciate the dark days, sunnier ones are on the way, after Saturday.

i’m out

Menu Swap Dec 8th Bitter, no not me, the ingredient

The secret ingredient is not an ingredient this week, it is a taste:  bitter!  I think it is great, we are moving on from grounded items to the philosophy of eating this week.  I love bitter things, and sour things too.  Our lovely host this week is Manda of Asparagus Thin, who ironically has a new job as a cake decorator, ironic because it is not a GF bakery, but maybe it will be soon!

Saturday: Spicy grass fed beef and chorizo chile with hominy and cheese arepas

Sunday: Spinach and cheese stuffed shells (Tinkyada) with tomato sauce

Monday: Vietnamese Banh Xeo with our pork, bean sprouts, onions and nuoc cham dipping sauce.  I love these coconut rice crepes!

Tuesday: Lunch:  beans and greens – let the bitter begin! I have to make this for lunch as Eby will never eat it with beans in it.

Dinner: 1/2 organic free range chicken (raised by my bro) roasted on a bed of leeks and served with a dijon cream sauce, brussel sprouts (also a bit on the bitter side)and salad.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday lunch:  At a convention – crossing my fingers the chef pulls through with GF meals for me.

Friday:  My birthday!  Giant shrimp with dill butter as an app or maybe dinner and perhaps a gluten free pizza from the new place on the other side of town.  Feuerzangenbowle for after dinner – a German version of hot spiced wine with kick.

i’m out

Thanksgiving week Menu Swap: sweet potatoes

heritage turkeys

Sea of Book of Yum is hosting the swap this week and has chosen sweet potatoes as the ingredient.  It took me a long time to realize that sweet potatoes are great.  As a kid they were always coated in marshmallows and brown sugar, not having a sweet tooth and not liking marshmallows much, the dish was never for me.  I really like sweet potatoes in a more savory dish.  Or in sweet potato fries.  Speaking of fries, that reminds me that soon we will start a new post series called Deep Fry Fridays, although I seem to deep fry more on Thursdays for the record.  Friday rhymes better.  Since we celiacs typically can’t eat any deep fried foods in restaurants because of cross contamination, I thought I would push our limits and have a deep fry fest month.  I am thinking January might do.  That gets us safely behind the busy holiday season, albeit everyone seems to diet in January.  Deep frying doesn’t have to be super fattening.  Sauteeing can be just as bad.  So stay tuned for some great ideas to dip into your fryer.  Send your suggestions this way too.  We will do a menu round up and see what is frying around the country.

Saturday: Porchetta, leftover from the freezer, ancho chile, cilantro new potatoes, roasted broccoli

Sunday: Szechuan beef (using our grass fed beef) and broccoli stir fry

Monday:  Pizza!!  I will be trying out Whole Foods 365 GF pizza crust mix.

Tuesday: Chicken ala Veracruzana from one of Rick Bayless’s books, arepas (chicken raised by my brother)

Wednesday:Grilled salmon, ethnicity to be determined, sides to be determined.  Leaving this one up in the air for now.  Maybe an Indian theme.

Thursday:  Thanksgiving!  Our menu this year is mostly based on Gourmet’s Come Together menu, very modern Mexican/New Mexican.

Apps: shrimp cocktail with cilantro and lime, chipotle meatballs, guacamole, chips and fresh salsa using my canned tomatoes and adding fresh cilantro, onion and serranos.

Salad: Clementine Jicama Salad

Main course and sides:mango salsa with pomegranate, spiced roasted sweet potatoes, adobo turkey with red-chile gravy (brined and charcoal grilled), corn-bread and chorizo stuffing, poblano potato gratin, green beans with a brown butter shallot sauce, center cut pork loin with rib on the rotisserie (with my homemade Mexican rub), rice (to go with the gravy),  and cranberry sauce (you have to have it)

Desserts:lattice apple pie with mexican brown sugar (although GF it probably won’t be latticed), chocolate cinnamon cream pie, with Pamela’s chocolate cookies used as the crust vs graham crackers, Haagen Daz Swiss Vanilla Rum ice cream

No, I am not cooking all of it, a good friend of mine and her hubby are bringing the meatballs, the stuffing and apple pie and making them all GF, another set of good friends (my aunt and uncle) are bringing sweet potatoes to roast and cranberries.  Both are bringing lots of wine. Both are coming from far away to join us.

Localvore part: We are using our ground pork in the meatballs, skipping the veal, the heritage turkey raised by my brother, the pork loin that we helped raise and butcher, tomatoes that I raised and canned, apples from the farm, potatoes from the farm and all garlic used is from my brother and sister in law.  The tortilla chips are made localy in Ann Arbor and are addictive. Oh, and our bubbly and several wines are local from LMawby Vineyards and 45, a new winery in Suttons Bay, both with great winemakers.

Friday : Brunch with the house guests: Sausage and Egg Casserole with slow roasted tomatoes and mozzarella (using pomodori al forno tomatoes instead of sundried) – this is naturally GF and I made it years ago and finally found the recipe again, recovery bloody marys, home roasted coffee.

Dinner:  Pork Pozole Party: our good friend Dan is in town (as well as our Thanksgiving guests) and we are hosting a party for him so that he has a chance to see everyone.  Pozole sounded like a tasty crowd pleaser and is comfort food for me when it is cold out and it is already cold cold cold out.  Radishes, shredded cabbage and onion for toppings.  We will use our pork for the pozole and red chiles from NM.  Margaritas will flow.

So, a wonderful week is on it’s way and once again, we have a lot to be thankful for!  Happy Thankgiving to all of you!

pigs and apples Ginger with her sides of porkour thanksgiving turkeyheritage turkeys purple potatoes in the gardenripe ready to can tomatoes garden fingerling potatoes apples apples

i’m out

Scallops Laska and Asian shrimp salad

Scallops Laska

This was a tribute to a similar dish that I had at Wild Ginger in Seattle this winter.  I used Jamie Oliver’s Laska recipe (tumeric, lemongrass coconut milk, tamarind were just a few of the ingredients – the book is already back at the library, sorry!) and made up the salad recipe based on memory taste.  This was a really tasty dish, but I wanted the coconut flavor to be more prominent, so I must figure that one out.

Asian shrimp cucumber salad on arugula

The salad was just right.  Shrimp, cucumber, cilantro, chopped peanuts, green onions and crispy fried shallots on top of arugula and dressed in a sweet chile, fish sauce with lots of lime.  Very fresh.  Of course I forgot to write down the dressing recipe, so I will be recreating it from scratch again next time I whip this up.

scallops laska

I love scallops!  For those of you near a Trader Joes, they have the best deal on frozen scallops, unless maybe you live on the coasts.  $10 for a pound. The scoring technique makes them fun to look at too.

i’m out