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If you look at your calendar, you might notice that Valentine’s Day is less than a month away! Am I really so into that holiday that I avidly await it’s return? No, but when I was still directly involved in the food industry it marked the beginning of the end. The beginning of actually having some work (and hence much better pay cheques) after the slowness of January that immediately follows on the heels of the big New Year’s bashes. Business starts to begin to pick up again because many people want to take their sweetheart out for a nice romantic supper.
To me, one of the absolute WORST traps for a BTD-er is a holiday. Holidays often have special foods associated with their celebration. Those foods are most often riddled with avoids which can be particularly hard to stay away from because of the hold they can have on us because they are associated with emotions as well as taste preferences. Holidays that are often marked in restaurants are tricky because of the lack of control a BTD-er has over the menu.
Yes, I know that some people say that all you need to do is ask for something different that you can have be substituted. In my AB experience that is not always that easy - especially for menus that are for a special holiday menu. Many times the kitchen staff just will not have the ingredients available to them because everything will be geared towards that special menu unless you make your special requests in advance when you make your reservation.
Another idea is to just skip the restaurant scene all together and have your meal at home. You control the menu that way. Most people go out to eat because they are rushed for time, are traveling and have no choice (which hopefully, isn’t you) or they are out for the change of pace/entertainment value of their night out. With that in mind, here are some ideas I’ve come up with that might appeal to you.
Borrow from the low-carb people: Make egg “crepes”. For each crepe you will need, beat 1 egg and then let it cook over medium heat in a preheated small nonstick sauté pan with a little neutral flavor complaint oil (I use canola) or clarified butter. Let the egg cook for a bit. After about 5 minutes, check to see how much it has set. It may even be done cooking. If you would like, you can flip it over and cook it some on the face up side or you can just cook it all the way through without ever turning it over. Next, take your “crepe” and place your choice of prepared compliant veggies down the center of it (or over one half of it). Then, either carefully fold the two sides in (or fold the other half over the veggies covered side). If you want to pretty it up or add more flavors or both, spoon some sauce that you like over it. Examples: tofu cheese sauce (Cook Right Four Your Type, page 320 of my copy) or grated cheese or a tomato sauce. Sprinkle it with some green onion or chopped parsley. If you know you will be especially pressed for time, you can make them in advance, let them cool completely, and then put them in your ‘fridge to use later on in the week.
For a side dish, prepare whatever grain dish you would like to have. I’m going to use rice pilaf for my example. To make it snazzy like they do in the restaurants, gently, but firmly, pack it into a cup, small bowl, or custard dish that you have lightly oiled with neutral flavored oil. Unmold the pilaf over the plate exactly where you want it on the plate by simply turning the cup upside down. NOTE: I would try doing this a couple of times over a plate you do not intend to actually serve on because sometimes it can take several attempts at unmolding to get this right.
If you are planning to serve your O or B a nice grilled steak or your AB a baked potato, then you might want to consider making a compound butter. Compound butter is butter (or clarified butter) that has been softened and then had various herbs and or spices mixed into it and then chilled. As the butter melts over the food, the flavor of the herbs goes with it because, in addition to many other things, oil acts as a flavor carrier.
If you want to fancy it up some more and have a small candy mold in an appropriate shape, it can be used to shape butter or clarified butter without ruining it for use in making candies. Use room temperature butter* or clarified butter so that it is easy to work with. Pack it into the mold(s). Chill it until it is solid - time will vary according to the thickness of the mold used - and then invert the mold with a little pressure to loosen it. I you do this and use one of the clear plastic type molds do NOT clean it with any type of detergent. The chemicals in the detergent can ruin your mold. Instead, run it under lots of clean hot water. The heat will melt the butter. Since oil and water do not mix the stream of water will wash away the remaining film of oil left by the butter.
Don’t forget some music for atmosphere. If you are preparing an ethnic menu, how about choosing some music from the foods point of origin? Italian or French or if you don’t know where it comes from you could pick something classical.
How about a gift of some extra good quality (read expensive) green tea or red wine? All the blood types can have both of these. If you can afford it, dress ‘em up with some cellophane wrap and curling ribbon or box ‘em up with nice cups and/or a teapot or wineglasses (maybe get some engraving done on the glassware).
*If you are tired of having rock hard butter or clarified butter to spread on your compliant grain products (breads, pastas, and so on) here’s two things I do to avoid the problem entirely. For butter: get yourself a butter bell. It’s a two-piece ceramic item that you put chilled clean water in one half of and a whole stick of butter in the other half. The whole thing sits out of the refrigerator. The water seal keeps the butter cool so it doesn’t spoil, but the lower temperature keeps it soft. The only time the butter bell will fail is if your kitchen gets really warm and stays really warm - like during the hot summer months if you don’t use an air conditioner. Many places make them and they are easy to find online. For clarified butter: if you refrigerate it, it not only gets rock hard, it also can get gritty textured. Instead of refrigerating it, just cover it and let it sit out in your kitchen. As long as it doesn’t get wet or contaminated with stuff you wouldn’t want in it anyway, it will be fine. The stuff that you removed from it when you clarified it (the butter solids) is what spoils quickly. Since they’re gone, they can’t spoil.