Menu for the Week of October 3, 2011


Most of this week we need easy or make ahead meals. This is what I’ve come up with....

Monday: Crispy Black Bean Cakes with Guacamole, Cabbage Slaw & Corn Salsa

This Meatless Monday recipe comes from The Family Dinner Cookbook and looks amazing! It uses rice crispies in the black bean cakes, fun!

Tuesday: Moussaka with a Kale Salad

I’ve been craving Moussaka and will use eggplant from our garden and local ground lamb. This recipe has several time-saving steps and can be made ahead. For the salad, I’ll toss together kale with stems/veins removed, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, along with dried cherries or cranberries and top with Annie’s Artichoke Parmesan dressing.

Wednesday: Chicken & Soba Noodle Soup

It is soup weather again and I'm hoping the addition of soba noodles will draw in my kids.

Thursday: Gumbo & Rice with Cut Veggies from the Garden

This is my husband’s style of cooking & freezes well. While it seems like a lot of ingredients and steps, essentially once you get the meat and roux going, time does the cooking. It makes for a great Fall meal and can be made ahead or frozen.

Prep Time: 1 1/2 hrs

Total Time: 5 1/2 hrs

Ingredients: (Adapt heat to your family’s palate)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

kosher salt

2 1/2 lbs spareribs (or you can use chicken, shrimp, whatever you like)

3 quarts chicken stock

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed

1/2 lb unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 medium green bell peppers or poblanos, seeded and cut into medium-fine dice

2 medium jalapenos, seeded and cut into medium-fine dice

1 medium onion, cut into medium-fine dice

3 scallions, green and white, cut into medium-fine dice, plus extra chopped scallion for garnish

1 stalk celery, cut into medium-fine dice

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more)

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or more)

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 bay leaf

1/2 lb andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 pinch gumbo file

6 cups hot cooked white rice


Place the oil in a large, heavy stockpot over high heat. Lightly salt the spareribs and add them to the pot. Sear the meat on both sides until it's golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.

Add the chicken stock to the pot, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any crusty bits, Add the garlic clove: Bring to a boil, skimming top with a large spoon if needed, then turn the heat down to medium. Cook at a lightly rolling simmer for 2 hours. When done, the pork should be tender and you should have about 8 cups of stock. Remove the spareribs from the stock with a slotted spoon and reserve. Measure the stock; if there's less than 8 cups, add water to bring it up to 8 cups. Keep the stock hot.

Start the roux after the pork has simmered for about 1 hour. It will darken as it cooks, finally reaching a color like dark mahogany or rich fudge. Don't let the roux get too dark (as dark as black coffee), because it can burn. My husband uses Alton Brown’s oven baked method for the roux. (Directions are as follows - Place the butter and flour into a 5 to 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process.)

When the roux is cooked, stir the green peppers into the roux and cook for 30 seconds. Immediately add the jalapeños, onion, 3 scallions, and celery. Stir into the roux, and cook for about a minute. Add the stock to the roux and turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the roux melts entirely and thickens the stock. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add the thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, crushed red pepper, black pepper, allspice, and bay leaf. Remove the pork meat from the bones and break into pieces. Add the meat to the gumbo. Simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered. Then add the andouille sausage. Cover the pot, and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes more (can be made ahead). When you're ready to serve, add the gumbo file, and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with rice and top with scallions if desired.

Friday: Go Out, Skoogie’s Pick


if you've been following the posts lately, Skoogie has been slightly finicky with her eating. But we had a major break through on the eating front last tonight. Skoogie ate all of her gumbo... and it had some kick nonetheless! Shortly after we sat down, she left the table and was crawling on the floor, roaring. "I am a momma lion... roaaaaaaaaaar!" I said, "Well momma lion, you better come back and eat some food, your babies are going to need some milk." She thought a minute, ate the first bite on the floor, then crawled to her chair and said after each bite, "My babies need more milk." We'll see how long we can "milk" this one!

Buckwheat soba

Have you found 100% buckwheat soba noodles (no wheat)? I haven't searched yet.

Soba Noodles

Some buckwheat soba noodles also include wheat in the ingredients. Here are few gluten-free brands to look for:
King Soba Organic 100% Buckwheat Gluten-Free Noodles
Mitoku Organic 100% Soba - 7 oz. (88196)
Organic 100% Buckwheat Soba - MUSO Co., Ltd.
Eden Organic Soba Noodles - all buckwheat, but is produced on equipment that also handles wheat so it depends how sensitive you are to gluten.

We often stock up at an Asian Market in the Twin Cities. I can't recall if I have found them at Cub Foods in Duluth, but I would try there first.

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