Menu of the Week Jan 5th: soup!

Vietnamese crab and squid soup

I love soup.  I could eat it more frequently than I do.  Eby really doesn’t care for soup unless it is full of meat and has almost no broth, or it must be more stew like.  Since that is the case, I will typically cook soups for my lunches if I am working from home that day.  Last week I was craving beans and greens (this week too).  This week I am craving a spicy Asian style noodle soup, like the one above, Vietnamese crab and squid soup.  I would make it, but I don’t think I wrote the recipe down or else I got it from a cook book long returned to the library.  Lessons learned.  Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness is hosting this week’s swap, so if you need some soup ideas, click on over check out all the menus this week, even if you don’t need soup ideas you should check out the menus.  If you haven’t posted your menu before, why not try it this week?  It is really easy once you get the swing of it and helps with grocery shopping as well as meal planning organization.  I have posted one every week since last Feb.  As a result, I can look back over old menus and get new inspiration.  Inspiration also comes from many cookbooks, magazines, fellow food bloggers and internet recipe sources.  Try it for a couple of weeks, you’ll see.

On to the menu.  I used the soup idea to clean out a few items from the freezer yesterday.  Soup is good for that.  It’s sunny, snowy and cold in MI today, and I wish I had some of last night’s soup left, sort of (see below). I have been trying hard to not have many leftovers and it is working finally.  I always want to cook something new the next day and can’t easily take leftovers on the road with me.  It looks to be a pork and chicken week, so I will work some extra veggies and seafood into my lunches (soups I hope).

Sunday: South American veggie and pork soup. This soup celebrates many of the ingredients that came to us via South America: potatoes, tomatoes, corn, chile peppers and would have been even better had I not scorched it while playing on Facebook. We topped it off with cilantro. Tomatoes and potatoes were local or from the garden, garlic too.

Monday: Roast 1/2 organic free range local chicken on a bed of onions, portabella mushrooms (on sale!) celery and parsley. Gluten free waffle stuffing (getting it’s own post tomorrow) with sage, thyme, parsley and garlic, rice (to go with the gravy I hope happens) and roasted brussel sprouts.

Tuesday: Hue (Vietnamese) style fried rice with lemongrass and black pepper or lemon grass chicken or tofu. Some of those pork spring rolls I froze last week will go nicely with this too. I wish you guys could taste them. If I posted the recipe, you probably could. Will work on that.

Wednesday: Company in town, spice him up! My dad is visiting for a meeting. Living two miles from Michigan State University gives us lots of opportunities to entertain out of town guests with meetings on campus. We like reasons to entertain. We are grilling some of our own pork center cut loin on the rotisserie and making risotto along with either broccoli or green beans in some form of healthy casserole, or just steamed. We will use the Fennel Fusion spice rub, oh how I love that stuff.

Thursday:  I am in Chicago for work, but won’t have a lot of opportunity to go out except in the near vicinity of the Sheraton by O’Hare.  Eby is on his own for dinner, which likely means dinner at Arbor Brewing Company, along with some beers.

Friday: Truffade and Pounti ala Auverge region of France and Saveur mag.  Eby picked these out to make.  I already bought the prunes so no turning back now.  Pork and potatoes are from us, green beans or broccoli are not.

Saturday:  Lunch Vietnamese crab soup with tomatoes.  Every since I posted that pic today, I have been searching for a similar recipe and have found 4.  Now I have to cook it again right?

Stop by here again next week and send me your menu swaps as I will be hosting.  The ingredient is “local”.  Source out at least one local ingredient, anything from your garden (fresh, frozen or canned this time of year) certainly counts.  If you need ideas of how to find something local, leave me a comment or email me.  Consider swinging into your local food co-op if you have one near by and those of you in warmer climates probably still have farmer’s markets to visit.  Local anything counts, cheese, meat, tofu, veggies, let your tastebuds and imagination do the cooking!

i’m out

Menu of the week: Watercress

This week’s menu swap is hosted by Cooking and Uncooking.  Since I have no watercress and am not a huge fan of it, I will just mention that I tried to grow some wild water cress last year.  It was pretty hot and bitter and didn’t live long.  So, no watercress right now unless my store suddenly stocks it.  If it does, I will use in in a salad.


Vietnamese lunch: Chicken pho – lots of Thai basil left from last week and the cilantro and mint need to be harvested.

Dinner: Over at a friends for fun!

Sunday:  Thai chicken bamboo curry with basil and coconut milk, fresh spring rolls with mint,dill, cilantro, basil and shrimp.

Monday: Mexican Jalisco

Carne en su Jugo, charred green onions, salsa and chips

Tuesday: Italian bistro

Grilled scallops with angel hair pasta and fresh herb pesto, garden salad

Wednesday:South American

Chimichurri steaks and mini arepas with avocado crema and maybe shrimp ceviche

Thursday :  On the road North for the Fourth

Friday:  Up North at the farm :Strawberries, pontooning, Lake Michigan and grilling oh, and the Polka Fest!

i’m out

Menu of the week: Oregano!

Herbs.  Herbs are a vital part of my cooking experience.  I just can’t cook without them.  It is always hard when I go up North for a weekend or to someone’s cottage and they don’t have the same stock of herbs as I do.  I love to cook wherever I go, so I have learned to snip a variety of herbs from the garden and bring them along with me.

Oregano.  I have two types growing in large pots in the potted garden.  Greek and regular.  I would like to get my hands on some Mexican oregano plants.  I keep them in pots as I learned long ago that both oregano and mint will overtake anything else growing in it’s path over the years. I use oregano a lot, both dried in rubs and soups and fresh in everything.
Below is a picture of my portable garden. Oregano is in the giant green pot and Greek oregano in the sky blue pot.  Keeping it in containers allows me to bring the pots in for the winter and use them all winter long.

the portable herb garden

Menu.  This week’s menu swap is hosted by Karen of Gluten Free Sox Fan and you may have figured out that oregano is the ingredient of the week already (the title of the post being the first clue).  Make sure you check out her blog and what everyone else is cooking, I always do!

Saturday: Smoke

Smoked pulled pork butt  with black pepper vinegar sauce (we still have our friend’s smoker) over hickory smoke.  This recipe is courtesy of Bobbie Flay – who makes great rubs (this rub has oregano).  I first noticed this recipe when I was looking for slaw recipes a long time ago.  My slaw will be different as I did a little experiment last week (I was out of town most of the week and didn’t bother with a menu – I felt lost the rest of the week) .  I used this recipe from except I didn’t grill the cabbage (and just used purple and half the sugar), I smoked it for about 15 minutes.  Incredible!  It was addictively smokey, tangy and crunchy.  I throw in some fresh green onion at the end for a bit of bite.

Sunday: Italianish

Polenta Sausage Mozzarella casserole from Elise and of course there will be oregano in the sauce.  Garden salad with fresh herbs mixed in.  I am really ready for a tomato or cucumber in my salad, but am trying to stand strong and wait for the garden to bring them in.  I am adding shallots and fresh oregano to the polenta for extra flavor.

Monday: East Coast

Crab Cakes with aioli.  I still need a side dish for this one.  Garden salad with fresh herbs for zing.

Tuesday: Flat bread of the week

Jim Lahey’s potato pizza altered to be GF and adding, creme fraiche, chives and bacon – that is as long as it isn’t 90F outside.  So I guess the only resemblance will be thinly sliced potatoes and onion to the original.  I suppose I could sprinkle some fresh oregano and rosemary on the flatbread after baking, in keeping with the theme.

Wednesday:  on the road for work

Perhaps I will make a wrap for the road, I guess as long as I am making a flatbread the night before I might as well, eh?  A corned beef wrap sounds interesting – Reuben in a wrap.  Probably not the best thing cold.

Thursday: Thai

Spicy chicken and basil fried rice or kao pad gkai gkaprow .  Really what I am trying to do is replicate my local Thai hole in the walls’ kau pad ped – but every recipe site spells Thai words differently.  This recipe looked closest to what one of my friends ordered.  Some sort of Asian themed salad to go along with this and of course, fried GF spring rolls.

Friday: Indian

I still have to flesh this one out, but I am in the mood for dosas (of course), a potato curry of some sort (perhaps South Indian) and a kofta curry made with our grass fed beef.

So, who’s coming over for dinner what night?

i’m out

Menu of the week March 24th: almonds!

Ginger Lemon Girl is again hosting this week’s menu swap. Swing over to her site and check out all the menus!

Sunday: Ethopian

Doro Wot from Saveur and red lentil stew on rice as my Injera bread did not work.

Monday: Classic French American

Grass fed steaks on the grill with bearnaise sauce (from scratch), tator tots (who doesn’t love a tator tot?), grilled asparagus and homemade easy Caesar salad dressing with romaine and croutons

Tuesday: Malaysian

Scallops Laska (a spicy tangy coconut broth with rice noodles and seafood) hum, still need a side dish for this one, perhaps…you guessed it: fried spring rolls!

Wednesday: Mexican coast

Fish tacos with tilapia, garlic, lots of red chile and lime topped with cabbage slaw, salsa, sour cream and some rice and beans on the side.

Thursday: Northern Italy

Orrechiette Carbonara with leeks and pancetta (instead of bacon) from April’s Bon Appetit and an arugula salad. I will be making some homemade wheat free, spelt (yes I know it has gluten) orrechiette for this one.

Friday: Spanish  Portuguese Caldo Verde

Potato soup with kale and chorizo

Saturday: Lunch: Irish

Walk to our local pub for a hard cider (Strongbow) and their Moriarty’s mug (GF potato soup with bacon and broth), time to visit the local restaurants more (now that we are not moving) and focus on walking to them, good for them, good for us.

Dinner: Lebanese picnic

Stuffed Grape Leaves with rice, pine nuts and grass fed ground beef and a feta, greek olive, tomato (tenativly as my guilt of buying a winter tomato may set in) cucumber salad with fresh herbs from the basement greenhouse. Ooh, maybe some homemade hummus too! Yummus!

Baked goods of the week: Ginger Scones (spelt based), ginger snaps (spelt based) and lemon bars with an almond based crust. I know you were wondering how I was going to work almonds in this week……

For things that are spelt based, I have been thinking about starting an additional spelty blog to post those recipes so that non spelt eaters aren’t bothered by it. What do you all think? Separate or list them here? How many of you Celiacs out there also eat spelt?

i’m out

Pad Thai with crispy tofu and fried GF spring rolls

Tofu pad thai

 There are plenty of great Pad Thai recipes out there, so I won’t post this one, unless someone needs one. I tend to add cilantro to mine and it traditionally isn’t in there, but I like it.

Fried spring rolls (from rice paper) with dipping sauce

 Please do try making yourself some of these fried spring rolls (egg rolls) as it is so easy and tasty. I have made them many times and learned from trial and error. They freeze great for frying up later when you have an Asian cuisine craving. I freeze them in packs of 4 or 6 to have as an appetizer. Mine are Vietnamese style, which are traditionally made with rice wrappers. Thanks goes out to my old long ago Vietnamese grad school roomie Lan for teaching me her style of cooking.
Here’s what I do, keep in mind that I rarely measure, I just go by gut feeling and smell.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Dried rice papers – go for the ones that are 1/4 of a round verses the whole round. These will make spring rolls about as big as your finger. Check to make sure they don’t have wheat as there are a couple of varieties out there that do have wheat starch in them. Tapioca papers work fine too.

1 pound of ground pork – raw – do not cook (some people add ground shrimp)

large handful of sliced wood ear mushrooms reconstituted. It is easiest if you can buy them already sliced and dried, but if they are whole, just slice them up after soaking.

dried mung bean noodles – one small packet – these must be the thin tiny noodles, if you can’t find the mung bean (sometimes called lily thread) rice noodles will do – reconstituted and chopped up a bit so they are no longer in long pieces. I just use scissors to slice through them while they are in the bowl

finely chopped green onions
one medium onion shredded
one shredded carrots or more if it is a small carrot
shredded ginger – lots of it
minced garlic
lots of black pepper, i mean lots
dash of fish sauce

Mix it all together, you really shouldn’t need any egg to hold it together, but if you feel unsure, you could probably add an egg.

Smell it. If it smells nice and gingery and peppery with some garlic, then it is probably good.

Prep your area with a couple of cutting boards and something flat that has a rim to it. I use a pizza pan. Put a little of cold water in the pan – yes, it does not need to be warm, cold water works perfectly. Take your dry wrapper and dip it into the water and hold it in for a couple of seconds. Take it out and let it drip for one second and lay in on your cutting board. While that one is softening, dip a couple more and lay them out to soften. If you wait for the paper to soften in the water, it will be too late and will easily tear.

Now go to the first one you laid down and add a bit of the filling to the bottom of the circle or 1/4 circle (depending on which ones you are using). Add the filling in the form of a log and then wrap up from the bottom and roll a bit, then tuck the left and right sides over the center and roll it to the end (just like a burrito). Place it end piece down on another cutting board and let it finish adsorbing and dry out a little. Keep doing this until you are finished. Save some to cook right now – why wait? The rest, put on parchment paper or leave on your cutting board and put in the freezer to freeze individually and then package into freezer bags – food savers work great for these once they are frozen.

For frying: heat up oil of your choice making sure it coats the bottom of the pan thoroughly (or use a deep fryer if you have one). Add a couple of spring rolls and make sure they are not touching each other because if they do, they will stick to each other and tear. Fry till brown and then carefully flip them over and brown the other side. They will spatter, esp if any of the rice paper is torn and lets the filling juices out, so use a spatter guard and oven mitts.

Let them rest on some paper towel. Then start dipping!

Spring roll dipping sauce

1 part GF tamari or soy sauce

1 part rice wine vinegar

1/2 part toasted sesame oil

minced green onion – just the green bits

You will be so happy you went through the effort to make these. I take them right from the freezer and put them in the frying pan.

fried spring rolls from rice paper

Enjoy and let me know how they work for you!
i’m out