Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weekly Links: May 29th, 30th & 31st

Nosugar Cookies: I'm not recommending billing this cookies as sugar-free, just call them delicious. And use GF rolled oats and they'll also be gluten-free.
Dough Rai$er: Support a good cause at Uno's this weekend by following the link and printing out the voucher for 20% of your bill to be donated to the American Celiac Disease Alliance. I've never tried Uno's GF pizza, but this might be a good opportunity to try it.
King Arthur GF Mixes Review: I can't wait to see these in my local grocery store (I might even be impatient enough to order online). Everything I've been hearing about these mixes is really positive! P.S. Online, they're gluten-free flours are very reasonably priced.
Gluten-Free Pet Diet: My cat, Madison, is on a low gluten diet out of habit. I'm conditioned to read labels and I chose her dry cat food, Purina Pro-Plan, because it had a relatively low amount of gluten. Not that I think my cat is gluten intolerant or has celiac's disease, but I think it's funny how our habits/diets, influences how we treat our pets. Oh, and when I visited Purina's website just now, they offered me a $3 coupon if I filled out a form. It was more information than I cared to give Purina, but you might feel otherwise.
Debbie Downer is GF: Do I think it's funny or am I a little insulted? Still haven't quite decided . . .

Friday, May 28, 2010

Carb-Loading: Over-Achiever Style

I've been light on posting this week because Saturday (tomorrow, gulp) I'm running my very first 10K! It was something of a spur of the moment decision, Joe found a trail running festival at Pineland Farms near Freeport and while I had meant to do one more 5K before doubling my distance, I decided to go for it! Tomorrow will also mark the first camping experience of my adult life, as we're staying at Bradbury Mountain State Park so Joe can run the 25K Sunday morning (he was lured to sign-up by the promise a cowbell at the finish line).

In preparation for our runs this weekend (actually, a grand total of 35K for Joe since he's running the 10K with me), we've been eating a lot of carbs this week. One of my favorite things about running is the excuse and justification to eat lots of pasta! Earlier this week I made Pork Paillards with Sour Cream-Paprika Sauce from a Martha Stewart recipe and, because apparently paillards and sour cream-paprika sauce wasn't ambitious enough for me (and naturally GF, so maybe also not challenging enough), I also made my own fresh GF pasta. Honestly, I'm not sure I would do it again. The Pork Paillards with Sour Cream-Paprika sauce was delicious and I highly recommend purchasing smoked paprika (I hate the sweet stuff, but I want to put smoked paprika on everything!), but the pasta left something to be desired. The flavor was good, but the texture was a little gummy. And it was a lot of work hand rolling that dough for not a lot of pay off. With so many great GF pastas out there (Tinkyada, bionaturæ, Schar - love the multigrain penne, etc.) I think I'll stick to buying my pasta. Until I invest in a real food processor (I suspect that was a big part of the problem).

In case anyone is wondering, I used the fresh rice pasta recipe from The Wheat-Free Cook: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone, which I adore, but feel guilty about posting too many recipes from. Here's the recipe for Pork Paillards with Sour Cream-Paprika Sauce adapted for two:

  • 3 thin cut pieces for pork, flattened by whacking with a rolling pin between two pieces of plastic wrap
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (if using light, check the ingredients!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
The sauce was so good, I'm really glad I didn't half that portion of the recipe. Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook a few minutes per side (depending on the thickness) in the olive oil until cooked through. Remove from pan. Deglaze the pan with the the white wine, be sure to scrap up the brown flavor bits! Add the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half. Slowly add the sour cream and paprika. Serve with pork over pasta seasoned with butter and parsley. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekly Links: May 22nd & 23rd

This weekend I'm heading to my parents' house for my sister's bridal shower. No, there won't be any toilet paper fashion shows, clothes pins, or cotton balls because we're not into that sort of thing. But there will be gluten-free red wine cupcakes in honor of the bride-to-be! The guests don't know it yet, but they're all taking part in the Gluten-Free Challenge!

Researchers find a connection between celiac disease and c-sections: Beyond the shared first letter. In a recent study, researchers found that "compared to children born vaginally, children delivered by c-section were 80 percent more likely to develop celiac disease." Researchers hypothesized the difference could be caused by the missed opportunity to pick-up microbes in the vaginal canal. I'm a c-section baby, but so are my three siblings and, so far, I'm the only celiac . . .
One more reason to love Bob's Red Mill: As I've mentioned before, I love Bob's Red Mill products and admire Bob's flair for accessorizing. Who wouldn't? I mean, they make a wide assortment of gluten-free products and maintain strict GF standards. And Bob? Look at him! He's adorable. And, apparently, one of the nicest guys ever. Recently, he gave his multi-million dollar company to his employees. Let me repeat that: HE GAVE HIS MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR COMPANY TO HIS EMPLPOYEES! That act, coupled with a view of the Blindside this week, gives me a little more faith in human decency. I'll just try really hard not to think about so-called "tea partiers," Wall Street, insurance companies, all the finger-pointing related to the BP oil spill (would someone just act like an adult and accept responsibility?), bail-outs - if I'm really serious about this I should probably stop making this list and watch this video again:

The Gluten-Free Challenge: Are you ready for the gluten-free challenge? A joint project by Pamela's Products and the Gluten Intolerance Group, the Gluten-Free Challenge challenges everyone to spend one weekend (May 22nd and 23rd) living gluten-free. The idea is, that by spending one weekend GF, those people lucky enough to not have to spend every day GF will gain a little appreciation for those of us who do and the difficulties and frustrations we face. Encourage your friends and family to participate! There's a sign-up on the website and everyone who successfully completes the challenge gets a certificate. Pretty cool. I'm kind of thinking this challenge should be mandatory for all waitstaff, who's with me?
Study Refutes Link between Gluten-Free Diet and Autism: Unsurprising in my opinion, despite Jenny McCarthy's claims, there's never been any scientific evidence a gluten and casein-free diet improves autistic behavior. But considering how frustrating caring for an autistic child must be, it's no wonder parents will seemingly try almost anything to cure their children. Hey, if it works . . .

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gruyere, Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Chicken Breast with Two Yolk Hollandaise

I've made enough changes to this recipe, I'm starting to think of it as my own. It originated from a We Are Not Martha rendition of a Cooking Light recipe. My changes mostly result in it not belonging in Cooking Light, but it's delicious, fairly easy to make and a good dish for impressing company. It's also one of Joe's favorites.

The first alteration was the replacement of arugula with spinach because that's how We Are Not Martha made it and what would I do with a whole bag of Arugula? The bacon was swapped for the prosciutto because Joe didn't care for. The original sauce is good, but still a bit of a sore spot with me. The recipe makes a lot and I had the brilliant idea of freezing the leftovers to thaw the next time we made this recipe. It was working out brilliantly until I dropped the sauce container and ended up with tomato and shallot mixture all over the kitchen. So, the hollandaise sauce was a last minute addition and one that worked quite well. I'm a hollandaise fan to begin with, but I also think it blended nicely with the flavors from the cheese and bacon. This has become a permanent adaptation. I adapted the Betty Crocker hollandaise recipe to two yolks because three yolks just made too much sauce. Two yolks is much better suited to two people.

Gruyere, Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Chicken Breast with Two Yolk Hollandaise
Adapted from Cooking Light

two boneless, skinless chicken breasts; butterfiled
two pieces of bacon (cooked)
four pieces of Gruyere cheese
a handful of spinach
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Pile the cheese, bacon and spinach on one side and fold the other half of the breast over the filling. Secure with toothpicks. Cooking Light calls for sauteing the chicken and finishing it in the oven. I can't be bother with this. The filling fall out and it's just generally annoying. I toss it right in the oven, usually for about 20-25 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and serve with hollandaise.

Two Yolk Hollandaise

two egg yolks
5 tablespoons of butter
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice

With a whisk, beat together the egg yolks and lemon juice. Add half the butter and place over very low heat, whisking continuously. Once the butter melts, add the rest of the butter. About a minute of whisking after the second addition of butter melts should result in a lovely, thick hollandaise. Just enough for two.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sweet & Savory

Before becoming gluten-free I had, in my own humble opinion, perfected the pie crust. I started with the classic Betty Crocker recipe calling for just all-purpose flour, shortening, salt, and water with just a few little tweaks that I've now completely forgotten. Why? None of those tweaks worked with GF ingredients. I tried numerous GF recipes and mixes and I experienced some success (see here and here), but nothing was ever quite the same. Things have changed.

This weekend I went on an fuled cookbook buying spree. Well, I only purchased two books, so it wasn't much of a spree. I had intended to purchase one book I saw in a shop and rather liked, but the review for The Wheat-Free Cook: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone convinced me I just had to have it. And I'm so glad I followed the impulse to purchase this book, with 240 pages it's a steal at almost $13 and the pie crust recipe alone is worth the purchase price.

This pie crust is phenomenal. It's light and flakey and tastes like I remember pie crust should taste. As printed, it's a perfect accompaniment to sweet fruit filling. With the sugar omitted, it's a perfect foil to savory quiche. The recipe is easy to follow and results in a remarkably pliable dough. I mean, I made handpies with it people! This GF dough is amazingly easy to maneuver.

Long story made short: I recommend this book. I'm looking forward to recipes like chocolate eclairs, fresh rice flour egg noodles and an assortment of new quinoa recipes.

Rice Flour Tart Shell
The Wheat-Free Cook: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone, Jacqueline Mallorca

1 - 1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (if you want, I always use table salt in pie crust)
1 tablespoon sugar (omit for savory tarts or quiches)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg

Sadly, I am not in possession of a food processor large enough to make the entire dough in as Mallorca recommends. But, I do have a mini food processor and I've achieved good results using this method:

Place half the rice flour and half the butter into food processor. Pulse until combined. Pour into mixing bowl and repeat with remaining rice flour and butter. Add to mixing bowl along with the cornstarch, xanthan gum, salt and sugar (if using). Combine with fingers. Beat the egg and add it to the flour mixture with pastry fork (or fingers, whatever works best). Add one tablespoon cold water and mix. The first time I made this, one tablespoon was just enough liquid. The second time, I needed a little more. Form dough into two balls. Follow cooking directions for pie or tart or quiche.

I used this dough for two Smitten Kitchen recipes: Spinach Quiche, Revisited and Bourbon Peach Hand Pies. I really wanted to make blueberry pie, but fresh blueberries were not to be had at the grocery store. I'll be at my parents' this weekend and I'm planning a pie with fresh rhubarb from their garden. I love rhubarb and I can't understand why they insist on devoting precious garden space to tomoatoes and cucumbers and things of that ilk. Someday, when I have more than a postage stamp backyard, I'll have a rhubarb plantation!

Anyway, the Smitten Kitchen Spinach Quiche was delicious and I've been enjoying leftovers all week in my lunch. Although it had cream cheese, half & half, Gruyere and Parmesan, I don't think it was too decadent paired with a big salad. I just made one tiny adaptation to the Smitten Kitchen recipe, I added a big clove of garlic.

The second recipe wasn't quite a good as I had hoped. Peaches were a last minute substitution when blueberries proved unavailable and they weren't of the highest quality. But, with some goof quality peaches, I'm certain this recipe would be a winner. I love the hand pies concept, so easy to grab in the morning and add to your lunch box. I like something sweet in the afternoons. If only I could get my hands on some blueberries!

I'm obsessed, apparently.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Witch Hill Spring Ice Cream No Longer BYOC (Bring Your Own Come)

Monday evening, Joe and I found ourselves at my parent's after his Portland appointment and in need of an after-dinner snack. We hopped in the car and drove across the bridge (enjoying an extra-lovely sunset behind the church steeples of Bath) to Witch Hill Spring Ice Cream for, obviously, ice cream. My Mom handed me a box of Let's Do GF Ice Cream cones so I could enjoy my first cone of the summer. The folks at Witch Spring Hill have been awesome in the past about BYOC and always very careful to avoid cross-contamination when scooping my ice cream (something very much appreciated!) as I wrote about last summer. This time, when I got to the counter clutching my GF cone the woman behind the window told me they now carry gluten-free cones - awesome! Now we can enjoy spontaneous ice cream stops, no more planning ahead!

Just one more reason to love Witch Hill Spring Ice Cream: great local product (Round Top Ice Cream is made in Damariscotta), a locally owned business (my sister used to work with one of the owners), great prices and super generous servings (just ask Joe . . .) and, now, gluten-free cones! If you're in the Bath area, I recommend planning a stop. Check out their website for a list of flavors (I recommend the black raspberry) and some fun local history, especially if you're curious about the name.

Witch Spring Hill Ice Cream
60 State Road, West Bath, ME

View Larger Map

Monday, May 17, 2010

Update on the Blackberry Gluten Free App

This weekend I figured out my paypal password again and purchased the Gluten Free for Blackberry App. Actually, my ad proceeds from Foodbuzz covered the $2.99 price tag, so . . . thanks! I'm really loving my Blackberry, it's such a handy tool for living gluten-free. I love being able to look up ingredients where ever I am, having internet on my phone allows me to easily be more diligent about my gluten-free diet when I'm out and about. This app is especially handy and I recommend it. It's much faster than doing a google search and, as far as I can tell at this point, the information seems very accurate. You can search GF products by caregory or search by brand name.

Here's an example of where I imagine this app would be super handy: say you're at the movie theater and feel like a sweet treat. But, you can't remember is Skittles are GF (and sometimes it's HARD to remember what's safe and what isn't). All you need to do is pull out your blackberry and search candy (although the list is LONG and takes awhile to scroll down to Skittles) and discover that yes, Skittles are gluten free. And so are Junior Mints. And Snickers Almond. Sweet, right? Because some of the lists are long, I would recommend using the search feature if you're checking on a specific product and using the categories if you want to explore your options.

The resources and community features still need to be filled out, hopefully an update is coming soon, but the gluten-free restaurant search brought up a Scott's Bakery near Belfast, Me that specializes in gluten-free cookies and whoopies pies. Bummer, I was in Belfast this weekend! I'm sad to have missed out on GF whoopies pies, but excited to add them to the agenda the next time we head towards the coast! I wouldn't bother with the gluten-free shopping list or the foods to avoid (unless you're newly diagnosed), most of this information is basic celiac knowledge.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekly Links: May 15th & 16th

For the weekend blogging, I've decided to do weekly links. My interests are varied and I expect the weekly links to reflect that. I often discover fun websites that aren't big enough for a full post, but that I'm still eager to share! Plus, I'll be able to throw the post together before I leave work on Friday. The main theme will be gluten-free, but I'm also planning to include links that reflect my other interests, like history, knitting, travel, Maine, sewing, running, etc, etc, etc!

Weekly Links:

Tartlette Gluten-Free Rhubarb Financiers: Two gluten-free recipes from Design*Sponge (a favorite blog) and one includes rhubarb? Be still my heart! (This gorgeous photo is from the site.)
Gluten-Free Maine: Again, because it's that cool!
Gluten-Free App for Blackberry: This doesn't look quite as cool as the iPhone Is That Gluten Free? App, but I'm planning to download it to my brand new Blackberry and will report how well it works. And, for those of us unwilling to get an iPhone until it's not an AT&T exclusive, this website does the same thing as the Is That Gluten Free App? and will work with all smart phones. I just discovered this NYC yarn, fabric and notions website with an amazing selection of fabrics, including the hard-to-find Anna Griffin fabric I feel in love with for the new duvet cover. I ordered my fabric yesterday afternoon and it shipped Friday morning!
Nothing But Bonfires: I adore this blog. It's incredibly well-written, witty and I found my new favorite week-night recipe from on of her posts. Reading it, I often laugh out loud. I even wasn't annoyed by the months of wedding planning posts (and that's a huge feat for me). I highly recommend adding Nothing But Bonfires to your list of regularly read blogs.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Gluten Free Resources: Just for Us Mainers

About a month ago, gluten-free Mainers were treated to the establishment of! A website filled to the brim with Maine products that are GF, Maine restaurants that are GF and so much more! I'm particularly enjoying the "top gluten-free stories section" of the site. I'm connected enough to the GF community to be well-aware of the addition of gluten to the Starbuck's Light Frappuccino (if you aren't, read this), but if I wasn't, the top stories section would have alerted me very quickly. I've been making a point to read the top stories every morning. Much of the information is a little Southern Maine-centered, but to be expected with both the creators being Portland residents and I've been diligently emailing them about some of the great GF options in the Bangor area. I recommend adding Gluten-Free Maine to your bookmarks right now.

And now, I'm going to hop up on my soap box for a moment: Starbucks, what the frap? I am not a regular Starbuck's customer, a location isn't convenient to where I live and I don't particularly care for their coffee. But, I'm still upset by this latest piece of news. In my opinion, this is much worse than the Valencia Orange cake debacle of last year, Starbucks added gluten to a previously GF drink without any notice. I re-check gluten-free products every couple of months. If I was a daily Starbuck's Light Frappuccino drinker, there's an excellent chance this would have gotten by me. Getting glutened can be serious business. An accidental brush with gluten a few weeks ago sent me the the emergency room twice. This post from Gluten Free Mom exhibits the cavalier Starbuck's has exhibited toward the gluten-free community, first with the Valencia cake and now with the Light Frappuccino. Although they know the reformulated Light Frappucino contains gluten, they accept no responsibility to inform their gluten-free customers. Well, I say, the gluten-free community should not accept the potential hazards of ingesting Starbuck's products. I'm starting a completely ineffective boycott (ineffective because I never go to Starbuck's anyway) and would encourage others, especially if you are a Starbuck's regular, to do the same. And, if you feel like, use the contact information on Gluten Free Mom's post to let Starbuck's know what you think.

Might I recommend Dunkin Donuts? I got this reassuring email from them today:

Dear Rachel,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. It's always a pleasure to hear from our Dunkin' Donuts customers. Our product nutritional information including allergy data is available on our website, you can also find information on our company as well as fun facts.

Our Dunkin' Donuts beverages are gluten-free.

At Dunkin' Donuts we value our customers and are committed to making your visits to our stores a pleasant experience. We look forward to serving you soon.

Thank you and have a great day.


Customer Relations Coordinator

That's the sort of customer service I expect with my coffee!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We've Been Hibernating . . .

. . . But we're back! Things have been busy the past several months and, while I've still been experimenting in the kitchen (and have some great recipes to share), I just haven't felt like blogging. I never wanted this blog to feel like work, so I've allowed myself to relax and not worry about neglecting it for a few months. Now, classes are over, I actually have time to relax and I feel like it's time to resuscitate the blog.

Since February I've been accepted into a full-time PhD program with funding, increased my weekly running mileage (but still have to be careful about my knees) and been busily decorating the condo Joe and I share.Of course, I've also been working full-time and taking classes part-time. Busy, busy, busy!

The beginning of this year marked five years living gluten-free. At first I ate only rice because I was too scared to explore options. Rice felt safe. In the five intervening years, I've embraced experimentation and trying new things in my gluten-free diet. One thing I thought I'd have to give up forever once I went gluten-free was bread. Most gluten-free bread leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, I believe bread is the hardest thing to recreate gluten-free. It was a tough adjustment, especially since growing up my Mom was an amazing bread baker. Readers, I have discovered something that has completely revolutionized my gluten-free life: this bread. I know the ingredients list and the instructions look complicated, but, trust me, it's so worth the extra effort. I cannot stop raving about this bread. Eating my first slice (without butter or jam or peanut butter or ANYTHING) I exclaimed to Joe four or five times, "This bread is SO GOOD!" And it is, it's so good as

Sandwich bread!


Cinnamon rolls!

I purchased the book book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which includes an entire gluten-free chapter with two master recipes that can be used to make most of the other recipes in the book. The gluten-free crusty boule is a fantastic all-purpose recipe, this versatile and tasty dough can be packed into crusty bread, thin crust pizza, and even naan (which I haven't tried yet, but I'm confident it will also be delicious). The Gluten-Free Brioche is just slightly sweet and bakes into the most delicious GF cinnamon rolls I've ever had. I make the dough on the weekend and put four balls of dough in the freezer that I pull out throughout the week to bake fresh bread for sandwiches or pizza crust or some yummy, gooey cinnamon rolls for a special breakfast. Making the dough is a little time consuming (and hard on the arms since I don't own a mixer), but the ease of pulling it out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator overnight more than makes up for that. I also really recommend using the method outlined on the website for the dutch oven, it makes for a delicious crusty bread.

Here's the bottom line: this bread has air pockets and texture almost just like gluten-full bread.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin