Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan for week of August 8, 2010

This is part of the Gluten Free Menu Swap, hosted by Heather of Celiac Family this week. Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness has the details for the swap.

All of the sudden summer has become really busy, especially with Jon's birthday coming up.  We have lots of great meals out in the next 5 weeks, so I'm trying to plan more vegetarian meals at home.

Not related but I updated my blog to link to my food photo albums from the last three years.  We photograph a lot of meals that I never blog about.

California-style okonomiyaki,  sauteed padron peppers and cherry tomatoes, peach crisp

Substitute grated zucchini for the leek and add a little bit of finely minced onion.

I used just a little bit of mayo mixed with sriracha as a dipping sauce.  It was wonderful.  I think it'd be great to mix the sriracha with sour cream instead and use that.  The okonomiyaki is a bit bland otherwise.

101 Cookbook's version is more like a potato cake than okonomiyaki but I still like it very much. Most any gluten free flour blend is fine.  I don't bother to add any xanthan gum.

Baingan bharta, rice, quick pickled cucumber

Freeze leftovers.

out to dinner at Doña Maria

macaroni and cheese, boiled broccoli

Halve the recipe for mac 'n' cheese.  Make in indvidual ramekins.

tamale pie

Do it as leftovers remake: Use the Italian pork, rinsed and shredded and black bean from the black bean chili, drained.   Maybe add some frozen corn and/or cooked onion and garlic.  Top with skillet cornbread.

We weren't thrilled with the vague orange-y flavor of the pork or the soupy-ness of the black bean chili, so we haven't really wanted to eat the leftovers.  This will hopefully make them more appealing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Grilled summer veggie and chickpea salad

We're so lucky to live near the Mountain View Farmers Market.  It's one of the largest farmers markets in Bay Area and has a great mix of Californian and Asian produce, organic and non-organic.  It even includes an amazing fresh seafood vendor--Mission Fresh Fish!  But. This is post is not about fish.  It is about a really tasty, not too complicated, vegetarian, very filling, peak of summer dinner.  Jon, a good Texas man, grew up loving meat with every meal, and even he raves about this, feeling quite satisfied without a bit of meat in sight.

(Although I, too, love my meat, fish, poultry, and game, I'm a huge fan of vegetarian both for taste, health, and environmental reasons, so I try to make sure we have at least one vegetarian meal per week and another one or two meals that are either vegetarian or meat lite.)

There's summer sweetness from the corn and tomatoes offset by the creamy eggplant which soaks up the dressing and releases tangy bursts on each bite.  The summer squash adds smokiness, sugar snap peas gives it some crunch, and of course the chickpeas are sure to fill you up.  Basically, a perfect summer main course salad.

1 Japanese/Chinese eggplant, about 1/2 lb, cut into thick slices*
1-2 small summer squash, any kind, cut into thick slices. Pattypan are really nice for this.
1 ear sweet corn, unshucked
handful sugar snap peas, ends removed, cut into 1/2" pieces
handful cherry tomatoes, cut in halve
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed**

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2-2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the ear of corn in water while the grill heats. Brush the eggplant and squash slices lightly with olive oil. Heat the grill on high.

Start grilling the corn first.  It will take 20-25 minutes.  The husk will look charred on all sides when it is done. After the corn has grilled about 10 minutes, add the eggplant and squash slices.

While the vegetables are cooking, make a red wine vinaigrette.  We add everything to a small, plastic container with a tight lid that we then shake until well mixed.  You can whisk the olive oil into the vinegar instead if you prefer.  A tart dressing is great for salads like this to balance the sweetness from the corn. As the only salt is in the dressing, we usually make the dressing a bit saltier than tastes good on its own.

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl. Remove the eggplant and squash from the grill and when cool enough to handle, dice them and add to the chickpeas.  Add about half the vinaigrette to the bowl.

When the corn is done and cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob, adding to the bowl.  Add the sugar snap peas and tomatoes and the rest of the vinaigrette. Mix everything together and taste to see if the seasonings need to be adjusted.

Makes 2 large, filling servings.

*Japanese/Chinese eggplants are long and thin with fewer seeds.  If you don't have access to these, use a small eggplant, about 1/2 lb.

** With all the posts about black eyed peas recently, I'd be tempted to try fresh beans (cooked of course!) if I found them at our farmers market.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu Plan for the week of August 1, 2010

This is part of the Gluten Free Menu Swap, hosted by Wendy of Celiacs in the House this week. Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness has the details for the swap.

I'm very torn at the moment: The farmers markets are stuffed with the most gorgeous summer produce and I want to buy it all. At the same time I'm feeling really busy in the rest of my life and not wanting to do lots of cooking. So I'm trying not to be too ambitious in our menu plan, instead making more repeats and things that require little or no recipe.

We're off to a good start this week: we made Jon's dad's baked beans for the first time and they were so good and summery, especially with the coleslaw. It's been a relatively cool summer in the Bay Area this year, but at least we can still eat this and dream of hotter days.

hot dogs, Jon's dad's baked beans, coleslaw (the mayo version)

Grilled summer veggie and chickpea salad
We made this two weeks ago and loved it!  Post coming later this week.

Make the okra nuggets for Thursday and freeze, uncooked.  I've been reading that okra only stores well for a couple days so this seems like a good way to simplify prep later in the week and have the best flavor.  I've only recently discovered that I like okra, but it is great!

Grill extra eggplant for the pesto.

Pesto (make a large batch) with pasta, grilled chicken, thin zucchini slices (like noodles), and eggplant

We learned the hard way that pesto only works in our food processor if we make a large batch.  It's actually pretty awesome because we freeze the extra and it makes future dinners super simple. No recipe for this one--well, I think Jon might use a recipe from Saveur Cooks Authetic Italian for the pesto.

Use the eggplant grilled the night before.  Reheat so that it absorbs flavors better.

Grilled steak, crash hot potatoes, baked okra nuggets

I didn't plan this so well since both the potatoes and okra need the oven. I may try making the okra in our toaster oven.  We'll see.

We're a huge fan of the crash hot potatoes: they get super crispy on the outside.

tom yum soup with leftover vegetables (zucchini, Asian greens, cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi)

We don't follow the recipe exactly. We make a much smaller amount, used chopped serrano chilis, substitute lime peel for the kaffir lime leaves, and end up using whatever vegetables we have on hand.  We try to make this only with homemade chicken stock.

We also have a bunch of strawberries and peaches that I couldn't resist.  Some we'll eat for dessert and the rest I'd love to turn into a cobbler.  I'll probably end up too lazy and instead just cut them up and freeze them for smoothies in the near future.

I also bought a bunch of zucchini with hopes of make zucchini bread.  That project will wait for Saturday morning.

And I just borrowed Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz from the library and am dying to make amaretti.  I think they'd be perfect with all this summer fruit.  But we'll see.  I guess I just can't resist cooking...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Bars

I really like to have something sweet squirreled away at home or else I end up a little sad, seeing the endless parade of tasty-looking desserts that I can't eat at work.

I have a weakness for the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, especially when oats are involved.  It's hard to keep peanut butter bars and no-bake oatmeal cookies around the house--they mysteriously disappear out of the freezer.  I just tell myself that oats and peanut butter are healthy...right?

I was thrilled to find this recipe for peanut butter bars on Whisk: a food blog.  I followed Recipe 2 almost as written, mostly just halving the recipe and substituting peanut butter for some of the light corn syrup.  Here is the ingredient list for half the recipe:

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup AND 2 tablespoon peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups gluten free oats, regular or quick cooking, uncooked
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter

Follow the directions for Recipe 2. Use an 8x8" pan.  Only bake for 12 minutes instead of 15.  The base will not look cooked at that time.  It's ok. I cut the pan into 18 bars.

    Based on my experience I would store these in the fridge--in the freezer they get too hard and discolor a little.  These were super popular with everyone that tried them, so easy to make, and a perfect cool summer treat.  They are my new favorite gluten free treat.  Jon thinks they are tie for first place with our brownies.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Doña Maria (our favorite!), Cascal (updated), and Xanh restaurant reviews

    Doña Maria (5/5):  Mexican. No website but they have a Google Place page. San Jose, CA.

    This is very favorite Mexican restaurant.  It's not a 'sit down, order a margarita' kind of place. Instead it's a 'omg the best chips and salsa ever', and I can order just one sope, perfectly fried, topped with al pastor meat, refried beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato and excellent crema.  It's the perfect amount of food and really, really tasty food at that. My husband loves the flautas.
    Cascal (3/5): Spanish tapas. Their website and Google Place page. Mountain View, CA.
    Updated 7/2010: I met friends here recently for a small dinner after work.  We stuck to sangria and tapas: the mixed plate, extra tortilla, and dates stuffed with a blue cheese and wrapped in Serrano ham.  I'd still recommend avoiding the paellas and other more fancy dishes, but it was a fun, if very loud, place to have a drink and catch up with friends.  I'd visit again for similar purposes.  

    They have a decent-sized bar space if you just want a drink and maybe a small bite.  There are also a lot of outside tables that are very popular on warm nights.

    Original review: The last few times I've been there the food has been terrible and pricey.  A bad combination.  With all the new restaurants in dowtown Mountain View, there is no excuse to eat at Cascal.
    Xanh (3/5):  Modern Vietnamese. Their website and Google Place page. Mountain View, CA.
    It's a very lounge-y, trendy atmosphere. 
    The Good: The service, cocktails, and food presentation were all excellent. They were also quite knowledgeable about gluten-free and the manager went through the menu with me and let me know what I could eat and made sure the kitchen knew as well.
    The Not-So-Good: Nearly all the meat dishes are marinated in soy sauce, so as a gluten free person you're limited to the vegetarian and some fish dishes. Additionally, the point out that their kitchen is very small so while they will do their best to avoid cross contamination, they can't guarantee it won't happen. I really appreciated their honesty! On a good note I wasn't sick later. I'm just a little sensitive to small amounts of gluten, though. 
    The biggest reason I may not come back very often except for drinks is just that the food was decent but not amazing. The prices are on par with Three Seasons but not nearly as good. I'd rather just save up and go to Tamarine less frequently. Tamarine has a much wider selection of things I can eat that are gluten free and excellent presentation and taste.


    Related Posts with Thumbnails