Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekly Menus: May 11

Our menu this week comes mostly from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. Recently, he's inspired me to cook my own beans instead of buying canned. I never realized how easy it is. With a 12-hr soak, the beans are usually cooked in less than an hour. I plan to use them in a few meals and freeze the rest. For the price of two cans of Progresso chickpeas (about $2.50), I get 2 lbs of cooked beans, or over nine cups. And their taste is immeasurably better than canned.

Tips for cooking dried beans: When cooking your own beans, add 5 inches or so of kombu to make the beans easier to digest. Don't add salt until the beans start to become tender.

Our Mother's Day meal--sushi bowls--consists of brown rice topped with pickles (in the small bowl), Japanese omelets, braised veggies, and avocado. Mmm! What more could a first-time mom want? I've included the recipe for spicy 2-hour pickles. Don't be too scared by the amount of sriracha called for--my palate doesn't tolerate very hot chiles, but I don't have a problem with these.

The Gluten-Free Menu Swap is being hosted by Faking It Gluten-Free Style this week so head on over there to check out what other GF bloggers are eating.

Question of the Week:
What do you do when you're invited to a wedding (or similar event)?
Take your own food? Call the restaurant ahead of time? Talk to the caterer?

Sunday: sushi bowls with Japanese egg crepes, pickled daikon (see recipe below), and braised carrots and parsnips

Monday: stewed chickpeas in their own broth with tahini and bread crumbs, kale

Tuesday: chicken soup, yet-t0-be-determined veggie

Wednesday: chickpea redux

Thursday: Dinner at my in-laws'

Friday: my cousin's rehearsal dinner

Saturday: my cousin's wedding

Spicy Quick-Pickled Daikon (a variation on Bittman's Asian-Style Quick Pickles)

1.5 lb. daikon sliced into quarter circles
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 tbsp. chili-garlic sauce (sriracha)

Place the daikon in a colander. Sprinkle the salt over it and rub it around with your hands. Put a plate over the salted daikon (still in the colander and in the sink or over a plate to catch the liquid) and a weight on the plate (I use my iron tea pot). Let it sit for 30 min. Mix the rest of the ingredients together. Put the daikon in a bowl and pour the chili sauce over it. Let it still for at least one hour before eating.


~M said...

Here are some thoughts re: your question:

celticjig said...

Kombu? I haven't heard of that, please do tell more. I have heard of epazote for Mexican beans. I think if I were going to a wedding, I would find out who the caterer is and give them a call to find out what is on the menu and if any of it can be altered to be GF./ If it seems too much to ask, then pack lots of snacks. Good luck!

Gluten Free in the Greens said...

Celticjig: Kombu is a variety of seaweed. I buy it at our local natural foods store.

I actually just emailed my cousin to find out the caterer's phone #. She said something about the salad being ok, but, jeez, I want to dance. Salad isn't going to cut it!

Esther said...

Over here (UK) it seems pretty common now to ask for dietary requirements on the invite so when you reply to say you are going you also tell them that. Even if not such events pretty much always cater for vegs at least so there will be at least two options.

I normally add a note saying I will happily talk to the caterer/chef to answer any queries and then I check with the catering staff when I get to the venue. I also tend to always have some snack food with me unless I really trust the person running it just in case.

Mary Frances said...

We attended my brother's wedding two weeks ago and had to deal with the same issues. For the rehearsal dinner, we talked to the restaurant ahead of time and chose a vegetarian pasta meal from the menu that they cooked with our gluten free pasta. For the wedding we ordered the vegetarian meal and hoped that it would be GF. For all the meals, we stashed a ton of snack food in the diaper bag and nibbled from that (discreetly) as needed. It was disheartening at times, but we didn't starve and still had a good time.

glutenfreesoxfan said...

I haven't dealt with this at a wedding, but at two formal, sit down dinners that were held in hotel ballrooms and catered (work-related). For one, I called the event organizer to ask who I needed to speak with. She was able to take down all me information and told me who I then needed to speak with once I got there. She assured me that they were used to dealing with special dietary needs. The other time, I just called the hotel directly and spoke with their event coordinator. Once at the event, I sought out one of the waitstaff to introduce myself and then spoke with someone in charge. Both meals were fine: I was able to eat the salad, a main course of meat, potato and vegetable.

I'm always of the opinion that it never hurts to call and ask if they can accomodate. If they can't, or seem unsure, then pack extra food in your purse.

Gluten Free in the Greens said...

Thanks for the thoughts, everyone! I contacted the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner is being held--they seem pretty saavy about and responsive to dietary issues. I think I'll be good to go with broiled fish and steamed veggies. The caterer for the wedding was sketchier. She knew how to help me avoid flour, but as we all know that's just the tip of the iceberg. When I asked her whether the marinades had any soy sauce, she said yes and asked me whether I wanted or didn't want soy sauce. Yikes! I explained, of course, and she offered to grill some chicken and shrimp for me that are plain and put them aside. I realized later that I hadn't asked about whether they'll be grilled on a clean grill. I guess I'll call back today or just bring my own food. So many things to think about!

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

I'm a bit belated on this, but if I am close to the couple that's getting married and know they are using a decent caterer, I'll get in touch with the caterer to see what my options are. But I also either take food with me to eat before or after the reception in case there isn't enough there for me to have---especially at buffets, which have terrible cross-contamination issues from people moving serving spoons and such.

For one wedding, I took a baggie of toasted nuts, dried fruits, feta, etc., to toss onto my salad to make it into a bigger meal.

Gluten Free in the Greens said...

Sally: I never thought about taking add ins to make my salad more substantial. That's such a great idea!

Wedding Update: The wedding was a success (both as a marital and gluten-free event :-). The rehearsal dinner was pretty straight forward: there was she-crab soup made from a roux (not GF), salad with a homemade dressing and no croutons anywhere (GF), broiled salmon and lump crabmeat (GF), and various desserts (not GF). I mentioned I wasn't sure about the wedding caterer, but everything seemed fine. She prepared my kebabs without the marinade and had them in a separate container in the kitchen when I went to ask. No reaction, so I'm assuming things were okay.

In retrospect, I realize that there were a ton of other questions I should have asked about the cooking surface, etc. Live and learn. Thanks for your comments everyone!

Rachel @ Old Saratoga Books said...

Just found your blog and am enjoying it.

Wish I had your Pickled Daikon recipe last year when I innocently planted a whole row of daikon radish seeds and ended up with a bushel of those babies. We made some pickles, but this recipe sounds even more tasty.