Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Passover Menu

Passover is fast approaching, and I'm running out of breath just trying to keep up with my own menu. It isn't often that I host a seder, because I have the dinkiest dining room known to man. However, this year, the planets aligned, and I am hosting a seder at my gracious in-laws' house while they are snow-birding it in Florida. We'll be 18 people plus two babies, so a pretty good size crowd.

As is often the case, my guests will be guinea pigs. I get too bored making the same thing too often (or more than once), so I'm making up some new recipes (heavy on the roasting this year, for some reason). My family is somewhat in the middle about Passover kashrut observance. That is, we observe most of the Passover food restrictions, but we do allow eating seeds, which some Jews do not. With my long list of current food restrictions, I'll take all the allowances I can get!

Given that most of the menu is not tried and true, I will not post recipes until after-the-fact. Please forgive me ... but remember that next year, you can use these for you own seder, and if you celebrate Easter, you might still be able to use some of these this year!

Here is a sneak peak at the menu:

Soup course – Chicken Soup with matzah balls (and oat matzah balls)

Salad/Fish Course
– Cod fish fritter on a bed of bitter greens (dandellion greens, daikon greens, frisee) with shaved raw chioggia beets, shaved raw daikon, and sauteed wild mushrooms, with a horseradish dressing

Main course –
BBQ organic pasture-raised brisket
Roast free-range duckling with apricot honey balsamic glaze
Roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes
Quinoa and grilled asparagus salad with chopped, toasted hazelnuts, parsley, and currants
Roasted carrots and pistachios with fresh mint
Sesame kale

Desserts –
Chocolate almond chia mousse
Chocolate walnut cake with mocha coconut frosting
Date almond balls

Fruit contributions from guests

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sweet & Sour St. Patty's Day

I'm not in the least bit Irish, but my husband is a quarter Irish, which makes my kids an eighth Irish, so I'm out-numbered in my house. I need to do something to honor the day, but boiling corned beef and cabbage just isn't going to cut it. I would have actually made this recipe to include both corned beef and cabbage, but a pasture-raised corned beef eluded me, so I needed an alternative. I thought, Ah, Ireland must have plenty of sheep, and although mutton is fairly unheard of in this country, lamb certainly isn't. Alas, I couldn't find any lamb that would work either (I was looking for sausage). So, I settled on local, sustainably-raised pork sausage with cabbage.

This recipe might very well be the quickest (in prep time, not cook time) on this blog. It took me 10 minutes, if that, and then I turned the crock pot on and left the house. When I came home, dinner was ready and waiting. How do you like that?

Sweet & Sour St. Patty's Day
1 medium head green cabbage, shredded (sliced thinly)
1.5 lbs. fingerling potatoes
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1/3 cup currants
1.5 lbs. lamb or pork savory sausage (avoid hot or sweet Italian sausage)
2 Tbsps. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup beer, hard apple cider, or apple wine
1 tsp. peppercorns
2 tsps. salt

Combine the cabbage, potatoes, onion and currants in a slow cooker. Lay the sausages over the vegetables. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, beer, peppercorns, and salt. Pour mixture evenly over the contents of the cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve hot.

Serves 4-5

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Update: Eating with Allergies

It's now been more than 2 months since I started my new diet, which excludes wheat, dairy, eggs and cashews, thanks to my son's food allergies. Fortunately, his skin is clearing up nicely. He is off the Zyrtec and we're using very limited amounts of steroid creams to keep the eczema under control. He looks like a healthy baby again ... whew!

My battle with the un-foods has been mostly won, I'm happy to report! There are still three un-foods that I consume on a regular (though not daily) basis: oat milk, brown rice bread, and soy yogurt. But my diet is back to almost all real foods, and I feel much better. Yay!!!!

There are two things that I was battling with when I posted about this last (see here) that have since been resolved: pancakes and eggs. I've gotten rid of my box of egg replacer, which was a super-un-food and never worked anyway, and I've found a perfectly natural and extremely healthy alternative: chia gel! I use 1/4 cup chia gel to replace each egg in any baking recipe. Check out this video to learn about the benefits of chia and how to make chia gel.

For the pancakes, I've ditched the gluten-free mixes in favor of my own wheat-, egg-, and dairy-free recipe. Here goes:

Wheat-, Egg-, Dairy-Free Pancakes
1 1/4 cup barley flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 Tbsps sugar
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups oat milk
1/4 cup chia gel
3 Tbsps. safflower oil
1/2 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh (optional)
Safflower oil spray
Maple syrup

Preheat a cast iron griddle over high heat.

In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl combine the oat milk and chia gel, whisking together well. Add the safflower oil, and whisk well again. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir together until just moistened. Fold in the blueberries.

Spray the griddle with a thin layer of safflower oil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Spoon batter onto griddle, allowing pancakes to cook about 2-3 minutes per side. Serve drizzled with maple syrup.

Makes about 10 flapjack size pancakes.

Note: Barley flour pancakes will stick to your griddle more than wheat flour ones will, so take a little extra care in the flipping.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rosemary Apple Garbanzo Cholent

Cholent is a traditional Jewish Sabbath meal that usually includes meat, beans, grains (barley usually), potatoes, and maybe some other vegetables. My cholent is not at all traditional. Don't serve it your bubbe (grandmother) and expect her to dance with delight at your return to your roots (if you're Jewish). In fact, this cholent may send many a bubbe rolling in her grave. I call this a cholent only because the cooking method is the same, and the combination of ingredients follows the same cooking principles as that of a traditional cholent. For any observant vegans out there, this is your solution to Shabbat lunch!

Rosemary Apple Garbanzo Cholent
1 lb. dry garbanzo beans, soaked overnight
2 Tbsps. olive oil
2 Tbsps. coconut oil or Earth Balance buttery stick
4 carrots, cut into chunks
5 parsnips, cut into chunks
1 large red onion, cut into chunks
1 medium celeriac (celery root), cut into chunks
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 granny smith apples, cut into chunks (peel on is fine)
2 Tbsps. dried rosemary, crushed in a mortar & pestle
1 cup quinoa
5 cups weak veggie broth
salt & pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Drain the soaking water from the garbanzo beans, and set aside. In a large enameled dutch oven, heat the oils over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, parsnips, onion, celeriac, garlic and apples. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Remove from stove.

Cover the pot and cook in the oven for 2.5 hours. Let rest 10 minutes, and serve.

Note: To make this truer to the cholent method, you could make this one of two ways - cook in the oven at 200F for 12 hours or transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for 12 hours.

Serves 4-6.