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Culinary Corner, week of December 5-10th

The soup of the week is Beef Chili. This is a good one for cold weather, and we keep it real simple, ours is ground beef, tomatoes, beans, spices. We try not to make it too hot, but spiciness is relative, so if you have concerns ask for a taste.

The appetizer of the week is a simple Tomato Bruschetta. Composed of diced fresh tomatoes tossed in olive oil with garlic, basil and sea salt, we serve it over toast points, with balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top.

The Cheese this week is Emmentaler, a type of Swiss cheese, made from cow's milk. Originating in Emmental, Switzerland as far back as 1293, it is recognized as a protected origin, but is very much imitated around the world by an entire family of "Alpine Style" cheeses; sometimes very well [as in Jarlsberg], sometimes not [as in American-style "Swiss" cheese]. At any rate, we are serving this with Kirshwasser: a cherry-based schnapps style liqueur, that just so happens to be wonderful with this cheese.

At Dinner, we are serving Herb-Seared Tilapia, topped with lemon-ginger vinaigrette, over sautéed arugula and Basmati rice. Tilapia is a fun fish, originating in Africa, It is mentioned in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and there are hieroglyphics showing early farming of the fish, as it is easy to raise, has delicious mild flesh, and helped control mosquitoes. It was sometimes referred to as St. Peter's fish, from the Gospel story of St. Peter catching a fish with a coin in its mouth (although I don't think the species is mentioned in the Book of Matthew. It is a great fish, particularly if you don't think you like fish. Try this one.

We have Double Braised Beef Brisket, with onion gravy, green beans, and corn pudding. "Double braised" simply means that we cook the beef in rich broth for several hours until it is tender. Then we take it out, slice it, put it back in the broth and cook for another hour or so. It will be really tender and really flavorful.

Slow-Roasted Airline Chicken Breast will also be offered this week, with cider jus lié. Now jus lié is a fancy culinary term that means the same thing as gravy, but cider gravy just sounds strange. It is accompanied by roasted butternut squash and goat cheese- mashed potatoes. Airline breast simply means that we slice away the breast from the carcass, while leaving the wing portion attached. They are cooked slowly until tender, and then the skin is crisped before service. The sauce is simply composed of fresh apple cider with chicken stock (from the carcasses), and a few spices.

As a vegetarian special, we have a Quinoa Cake with Tomato Marmalade. What? What's wrong with tomato marmalade?? Tomatoes are fruits aren't they? Trust me, it will be delicious, and as long as you're eating a healthy plant-based diet, you may as well be adventurous. This one goes with baby carrots and toasted garbanzo beans.

Finally at dinner we have Saffron Spaghetti tossed with chicken confit, garlic, spinach, olives, and lemon juice. We had to do something with the rest of the chicken, and confit is just so wonderful. As always, if you would like to omit any of these ingredients, just ask.

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