Of Menus and Radishes

This was a big week, food-wise! Lunar New Year, Mardi Gras, and Valentine’s Day all within 7 days… Let’s dig in!

Meals and Radishes

Monday: Lunar New Year Feast!
In honor of the Year of the Monkey I decided it was a good time to look into Lunar New Year dinner customs and found a good resource at ChinaHighlights.com. Along with another site I failed to bookmark (oops!) I devised a 6-dish menu that, I think, hit the high points of the celebratory dinner. Everything about the Lunar New Year is about prosperity, so the food tends to either resemble symbols of wealth (like spring rolls resembling ingots) or have homophonic names (a lot easier in a culture whose language depends tremendously on inflection for meaning).

I steamed almost-whole catfish (head-on would be traditional, but I didn’t miss it–have you looked at a catfish face lately?) with a broth of chicken stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, and ginger. Then I used the same broth to cook and flavor our “Longevity noodles” with cabbage. The noodles were the small rice noodles sometimes known as cellophane noodles, the important thing is that they are long (see the play on words) and these definitely qualified. It was nice to see that leafy greens are synonymous with money and good fortune across cultures, too.

I purchased dumplings and spring rolls to reheat, as well as tangerines to serve as is. Then I made the sticky rice cakes from a Chow Hound recipe. They’re less like a cake, more like a cooked pudding, and reminded me of cream of wheat meets rice pudding. All these dishes, plus the baking for the next day, made for a late supper and a messy kitchen, but it turned out to be totally worth it. And we learned about cultural traditions in the process!

King Cake 2016!
King Cake 2016!

Tuesday: Sushi & King Cake with Friends
A friend of ours organized a dinner meetup at our favorite sushi place and of course we said yes, even if it was Fat Tuesday. Since we were meeting friends after work, I made an extra King Cake to bring with us. This year’s experiment used the brioche recipe from Gluten Free Baking Classics (by Annalise Roberts of My Gluten-Free Table) with the Bananas Foster filling recipe from Tasting Table. Not only was the brioche amazing on its own, the banana filling was a nice change from the cinnamon sugar we usually default to. Granted, I opted out of the cream cheese and just subbed a 4th banana for it, and I used frozen bananas from our banana bread-to-be stash instead of fresh. They cook down faster.

Wednesday: Maple-Mustard Pork Chops with Roasted Green Beans and Red Potatoes
I was so glad I had this one in the freezer to pull out for a relatively quick meal. When I got home I chopped up the potatoes and tossed them with olive oil and seasonings along with a bag of frozen green beans. In the oven they went, occupying half a cookie sheet lined with foil and pinched in the center to create a barrier. After half an hour the pork chops went onto the open half and back into the oven. Made for some easy clean-up to sort of make up for the mess from Monday.

Thursday: Coconut Curry Chicken with Basmati Rice and Not-Exactly-Naan
Another freezer meal, this one for the slow cooker. The house smelled divine when we got home, but I found the sauce to be a bit thin, so added more salt, garam masala, and an arrowroot slurry to pull it all together. Much better. I’ve been working on my gluten-free “naan” for a while and this one, while still not quite perfect, was a big hit with Todd. It was 3:2 GF Bisquik and Self-Rising cornmeal, an egg, a can of coconut milk, and seasonings (salt, cilantro, chives, and garlic oil), mixed and griddled.

Friday: Bacon Pancakes and Eggs
We’ve all seen these online, right? I hadn’t tried it and figured it would be a fun Friday-night supper. I tried laying the cooked bacon on the griddle and pouring the batter over it and the other way around. Pouring the pancakes first yielded prettier pancakes by far. Once again, Pamela’s pancake mix rocks!

Saturday: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce with a Green Salad
I knew we’d be working on the bathroom so I wanted something relatively simple and high on the comfort food meter for Saturday’s supper. Now, I’ve written about how a spaghetti dinner isn’t exactly cheap when you’re on a restricted diet, this time I avoided one of the major expenses (specialty marinara sauce) and threw together my own. Not something I always feel like fussing with on a weeknight, but on a weekend I will.

Sunday: Lemon Dump Chicken, Brown Rice, and Caramel Apple Tarts
Such an ignoble name for a tasty slow-cooker supper, we really enjoyed this freezer meal and I have no idea where I copied the recipe down from. Basically it’s chicken breasts, a couple of lemons (halved, but otherwise intact), carrots, Brussels sprouts, and seasonings. I hadn’t planned on a starch, but there was so much juice in the slow cooker that I decided some brown rice would not go amiss. The Caramel Apple Tarts were part of the Omaha Steaks gift package Todd’s mom sent us for Christmas. Very High-FODMAP between the wheat and apples (and we added vanilla ice cream), but just the right size for a splurge. I regret nothing. And in honor of Valentine’s Day I broke out grandma’s china and poured us a little wine, too.

When I was putting together our salads Saturday night, I remembered that I recorded a video back at the beginning of January about the neat little trick I use to get perfect radish slices. So I dug out the footage for you and here it is!

Direct link for the feed readers: Perfect Radish Slices!

Here’s to a tasty week, my friends!

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