"Can you make a pasta dish?" "What if there's gluten free folk?"

Whenever someone calls for catering, my (and bossman's) first question tends to be "Are there any people who keep gluten free?" For some, it's the last question they'll ask. For us, it's the first. I tend to want to know early on, because if there's even one person who's gluten free, I'll try to steer the customer to get the entire menu gluten free. Why? Because then there are no awkward questions. There is no room for error, or mistakes. It's just all safe for everyone to eat, and that's the end of that. It's the same reason I err on the side of the strictest Kosher standards, because I want everyone to be comfortable. It's also why we stick to the strictest definition of vegan.

On that note, let's talk food, shall we? It's getting cold out (OK, so the past couple of days have been stunningly beautiful, but I'm anticipating cooler weather soon enough), and earthy, hearty flavours are perfect. The apples are coming in, and there's excellent local apple cider to be found at the grocery stores up here. This is the time to really take advantage of it.

Braised Red Cabbage & Fennel

2 TB canola oil
2 bulbs of fennel, sliced thin
2 lbs of red cabbage, sliced thin
1/4 cup sucanat
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider (or, 1/2 cup white wine and 1/2 cup apple cider)

In a large pot, heat the canola oil over high heat. Add the sliced fennel, and sautee until slightly browned. Add the sliced cabbage, and toss to combine with the fennel and oil for about three minutes. Add teh sucanat, salt, black pepper, cider vinegar, and apple juice. Let the liquids come to a full, rushing boil. Drop the heat down to medium, and let the cabbage braise until it's tender, and changes colour from light purple to a deep dark purple.
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