Baby Goat

As you might have read several times in my blog(s), Trader Joe’s is one of my two favorite grocery stores (Wegmans being the other). The other thing you might have read is that I am a lactard (thanks Caroline for giving me that term, as you are also one), but can eat goat or sheep’s milk (cheese).

While strolling through TJ’s recently I was just really wanting some cheese. Stood there staring at the cheese section for several minutes then my eyes fell upon these ‘baby goat’ (as I like to call them) cheese discs. They are just the goat cheese logs divided into smaller pieces, or as they more appropriately term them Medallions. Each package is 1oz., very nicely sealed and there are about 5-6 per container. Of course I can’t remember the price, but I’m fairly certain it was less than $5.

Handy to have around and they will definitely be making it to my kitchen more frequently.

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Honey Goat Cheese

As you might have noticed I’m always on the lookout for new non-cow’s milk cheese.  Since I’m lactose intolerant and now know I can enjoy goat and sheep stuff, life is good!  Whole Foods had quite the displays out yesterday for Easter and the one that caught my eye was a Dutch goat cheese with natural honey flavor.  I love the proper name — Hollandse Honey Bzzz Chevre.  It was pretty good.  It was that nice sweet hint in it.  For goat cheese not too soft, which is what I prefer.  I would say it’s along the lines of a soft cheddar.  Worth checking out if you’re looking for something new.

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Brasserie Beck

I was very fortunate this week to be able to return to a restaurant I visited several years ago, though this time it was just for a basic corporate lunch.  It was nonetheless just as amazing.  The location, Brasserie Beck in Washington, DC.  It’s a “contemporary European style brasserie” with a basic yet widespread menu.  Both times I’ve been there they have made amazing accommodations for dietary restrictions (lactose intolerance).  The first time the chef wanted to make something totally new as a challenge.

They are well known for their beer selection, boasting 9 Belgium drafts and over 100 Belgium bottles.  Darn, why was I there on a business lunch this past time?

For my meal I enjoyed an amazing Diver Scallops Salad — Avocado, Citrus, Shaved Fennel and Rocket Salad.  This is where they used oil to pan sear the scallops vs. butter.

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My colleagues each enjoyed the Grilled Hanger Steak Salad — Mixed Greens, Charred Scallions, Warm Fingerling Potato Salad, Blue Cheese.

None of us had a bite of food left on our plates.  Would recommend checking this place out for lunch, dinner or just a nice happy hour.

Chocolat et moutarde

I’m in this French kick for some reason.   I spoke the language all through elementary school and it has correlated to my posts, so it’s not totally out of left field.

Anyway, a couple friends were recently in Paris and brought me back some treats from the well-known city in France.  They know me quite well and are fully aware of my lactose intolerance.  They did some good, deep digging over there to find some non-dairy-containing chocolate (considering the dairy loving area), along with some mustard.  The latter was not one I would expect.

The chocolate was super dark and had sesame seeds.  Wow — what a finishing taste.  For the mustard(s) — I received a pack of four Dijons, all with different flavors.  Talk about potency (in a good way)!  Absolutely amazing.  It’s great when people you know go away and bring edible souvenirs.

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Grown-Up Kids’ Food

I had my monthly supper club the other night and was excited as usual!  How can you not be excited about getting together with a bunch of people who love to cook with a changing theme every month?  This month’s theme — grown-up versions of kids’ food (based on foods you loved — at least that was my addition to it).

It took me awhile to decide what to make because a lot of kids’ foods that I think of have dairy (aka cheese) and I have to nix those because of the darn lactose intolerance. So I did some personal outreach and mental recap of what I liked as a kid (and what others would eat since I grew up eating almost everything).  So what did I come up with — Caesar Salad.  Ahh, Caesar Salad.  Come on, how could that not be a kid food.  Ok, ok, I’ll stop now.

The recipe I use is from The Washington Post in the ’80s.  It’s scribbled down though now I have it pretty much memorized.  Simple basic ingredients, combine, shake, taste, dress romaine.  And, in the interim, toast some bread for croutons to throw in there.

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Once at dinner, there was a great combo of other treats —

Chicken ‘lollipops’

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PB, Banana & J

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Spaghetti & Meatballs (a view of the sauce)

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There were also Chicken Fingers, Brownies and Wine (grape juice, right?).  It was Charles Krug Cab — DANG!

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The plated look(a bit dark, I know):

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As usual, the food and company were spectacular.  Look forward to meeting again.

Making Simple (No-Recipe) Dishes to Pair With Amazing Wines

I’m catching up with some friends tonight who are more wine lovers than me.  They just received their shipment of Oregon wines and they need me to taste some of them.  Oh, the things we have to go through in life.  Can all things be this bad?  I told them I would provide the food this time (since last time they did both food and wine…come on, let me have at least some of the fun and play in the kitchen!).

I have been debating what to make to pair with the amazing adult grape juice I will enjoy in a few hours.  I’m assuming it’s Pinot Noir because of where it’s from (will keep you posted).  I wanted to make simple snacks/appetizers so we can swirl, sniff, taste, sip, nibble, sip, sip, sip, nibble, sip, and then, next wine…repeat.

I have decide on the following ‘menu’:

-homemade hummus
-homemade guacamole
-store bought (Trader Joe’s) salsa (yes, store bought)
-Manchego (since even those who are lactose intolerant can eat it!)
-veggies for dipping
-tortilla and pita chips
-chocolate covered pretzels

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Had a great time making the dips — short, sweet to the point.  For the hummus, today I just used the basics ingredients — chickpeas, tahini, garlic (yes, the cheater kind), lemon juice, paprika, S&P.

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After I open the can of beans I always put a tiny bit of the liquid from the can in the Cuisinart food processor before emptying the can and rinsing the beans.  Then I use ‘some’ of everything else.  Today I blended everything much longer than normal and it’s nice and smooth!

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  GuacIng

Next up, guacamole!!  One of my favorites.   Everybody has their own ingredients besides very important one — avocados.  Sometimes I switch it up, but my basics are  the avocados, lime juice, garlic, cilantro (though most of time I go for coriander because I just have it handy), cumin, onion powder, chili powder, S&P.

Then, grab a bowl, something to mix/mash with and go!

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I have everything prepared and packed and will be heading to my friends’ place in a few hours.  Will keep you posted on the wine we enjoy and how the food pairs.

Tasting…7,8,9…Cheers

As the food fun progresses (we know it will never end), I was able to check out another new place the other night (it’s been my true week of fun!).  After DC and Pizza Pi, I went to downtown Annapolis and per a friend’s suggestion checked out Red Red Wine Bar.  Hmmm, the name had me sold and when I knew what I was about to write, I had to pour myself a glass of such liquid to set the recap scene.

You walk in and see both beer AND WINE on tap…that’s one you don’t spot all that often.  Happy hour runs until 7 and includes a tap wine, ‘regular’ white & red (as in from bottles with corks or screws tops), beer and a unique sangria.  The atmosphere and decor are very nice and there are wine bottles for sale.

Wine menu-wise, you can get wine by the glass, flight or bottle.  They also have a full bar.

I sampled the sangria — super sweet, they had to add soda water to make it drinkable, had a flight of Pinot (CA, OR and NZ tastes) then had a wine on tap — interesting — a little too chilled, but worth the taste.

We had dinner and the food was good — I opted for seared scallops with couscous as did another at the table, while another opted for shrimp creole.  We then had a cheese plate for dessert.  Did you know even lactards (or those who are lactose intolerant) can eat, or should be able to eat, Manchego?  It’s from sheep milk!  I found this out last year…happiness.  Amazing Manchego plate with apples, dried cranberries, pecans and honey.

In the end, great overall evening, would definitely go back.  This is a great place to go when you have a variety of palettes, from drinkers to eaters.

Cheers.

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From blogs to lactose intolerance

After some suggestions from friends, I decided to finally start a blog for Mel’s Mosaic.  It won’t be overly frequent, but it will go from deep cooking thoughts to new recipes I find that I’d like to share.  What prompted to me finally put this together tonight?  Lactose intolerance, or the best thing I’ve heard “Lactards” — I will only accept that name since I am one.  I was making Mocha Rum Balls and Orange Cream cookies tonight and could not have a single bite.  I was worse than Movay, the Food Lab, drooling (not in the bowl of dough), just wishing I could have a bite.

Bake on…