Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Larchmont Bungalow- Yum!

Is anyone else tired from cooking Thanksgiving?  I have the perfect remedy to what ails you: get out of the kitchen!  Well at least for one night.

Eating out can be very hard for allergics and specialty eaters like myself.  At least I used to think that before I was invited to try the delicacies at Larchmont Bungalow.  Oh yeah folks, I'm now a believer in the charming spot and all the magic it has to offer.

Upon entering the bungalow, you feel like you're in a more authentic version of Urth Cafe frequented by neighborhood fans and foodies alike.  When the first bite of any dish tip-toes across your tongue, you'll know why.  The casual atmosphere does not prepare you for the serious food you are about to eat.  The quality is high and the ingredients are carefully chosen and mixed together for choice results.  This is the kind of food you would expect to pay more for too.  The prices are easy on the diner for Los Angeles, and that is always appreciated.

I was invited to try Larchmont Bungalow's new Vegan menu, which offers many choices from breakfast to dinner dishes for the hungry animal-lover, not animal eater.  I love vegan food, but it usually presents a tricky ingredient list for me being allergic to nuts, several legumes and soy.  As I had suspected, almost all of the items in said menu had soy in them including the Tofu Scramble Sensation, Vegan Cobb Salad, and "Chicken" Tostadas.  But no matter!  Larchmont Bungalow takes food allergies seriously and said they could work with it.  Hallelujah!

They made me the wonderful Vegan Enchiladas (without the soyful meat sub) which was sparkling with flavor, yet milder than expected.  The "cheese" was all allergy-free, melty, and delicious!  The dish was hearty, packed with black beans and veggies.  I'll go vegan for this dish any day of the week.


But just so I knew where the Bungalow stood, I did happen to order non-new menu items:  the Bison Chili and the Mango, Papaya and Cucumber Salad.  (Now I was assured that many things on the menu could be prepared GF, including these before I ate it.)  This chili, which is so good that I might have to name my first born after it, is filling, bursting with flavor and just the right amount of heat.  It felt like being at home, wrapped in a blanket while candles flicker in the background as you watch your favorite movie.  This is a chili that creates sense memory.


The salad served as a refreshing counterpoint to the chili balancing its heat with juicy, fresh bright flavor.  They worked well eating bites of each at the same time.  This is certainly something that I want to repeat.


Full disclosure here folks: the kind people at Larchmont did invite me and so the meal was on them, but rest assured as always, I only write up places I truly recommend.  And the only words that are left to say are go thereNow.

Larchmont Bungalow (107 North Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90004, 323-461-1528)

Monday, November 21, 2011

YCEW Thanksgiving Round-Up 2011

It's that time again!  Thanksgiving is around the corner, and boy am I excited.  I've been cooking up delicious fall meals for weeks in anticipation of my favorite holiday table, and now it's time to share possible recipes with you.  In this year's round-up you'll find many vegetarian/vegan items for your specialty guests as well.

Please be safe whether you're dining at family member's and friends' homes or eating out at your favorite restaurant.  Remember, if you've been invited somewhere, make sure that the host knows what your concerns are.  If you feel hesitant about the kitchen or the food then bring your own Thanksgiving meal packaged for yourself.  They invited you because they love your company, not because of what you eat!

Enjoy any one of these easy recipes and add them to your GF, allergy-friendly Turkey Day table.  You'll stuff yourself more than the turkey!

First Course:
Butternut Squash Soup with Leeks

Quick Bread:
Savory Biscuits

Alternative Main (for veggies)
Spaghetti Squash "Pasta" Bake


Sides:
Thanksgiving Fruit & Vegetable Medley
Parmesan Mashed Cauliflower (within post)
Butternut Squash Fries
Cranberry-Apple Chutney

Desserts:
Cranberry Tart
Pumpkin Applesauce Bundt Cake

Drink:
Spiced, mulled wine (within post)

Leftover Ideas:
Chicken & Biscuits (sub turkey)
Turkey with Snow Peas & Pickled Ginger

So what am I cooking this year?  Many of my past favorites and two new vegan desserts; if they succeed, they'll be up on the blog soon after.  

A very hearty Thanksgiving to all my wonderful readers!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Best Side to Fall For

Genius blogger Cathy of What Would Cathy Eat? issued a Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge:  use her 10 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving to cook/bake our own healthy creation.

Now while Cathy is indeed calling this a "challenge" I was overwhelmed with all of the things I could make for this.  The tips which include ditching full fat dairies & meats, using whole grains, skimping on the salt, and using less sugar are tips I run my kitchen with on a daily basis.  I certainly wasn't stuck for recipes.

The tip I decided to enforce with this post was "Go overboard on veggies."  Considering my last two Thanksgivings had veggie only sides (no starch sides) I was ready to go crazy with the produce patch.  I decided to share the very best veggie Thanksgiving side that I've made.  It is full of flavor, color, and amazing fall staples, including fruit.  What it's not full of is fat, salt or sugar.  And though I do use oil, it's not a lot.  Here's a great tip for using less oil when cooking/sauteing: put your oil in a spray bottle and that way you can lightly coat your pan without dousing it in tbs of oil.

Although this side requires a few steps and a good deal of chopping, it only takes 35 minutes from beginning to end (chopping included.)  That's not bad for a Thanksgiving side dish!  The speed of this dish is due to my use of what I call flash sauteing: sauteing for only a couple of minutes until warm.

I recommend this be the last thing you cook and serve it up instantly.  I'd imagine the recipe below would be enough to act as sides for a family dinner.  Feel free to double the recipe to satisfy the company that undoubtedly comes with a holiday meal.  Also, you can mix the dish with green and serve up a hearty salad.

Thanksgiving Fruit & Vegetable Medley


Ingredients:
1/2 small butternut squash (You will only use half of 1 squash for this recipe.  Save the other side for another side dish or for soup.)
1 lb green beans, snapped horizontally in half
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 large gala apple, (peeled, core and cut into 4 sides.  Then length-wise, cut thin slices out of the sides)
3 oz pomegranate seeds
1/2 tbs lemon juice
herbs de provence to taste or fresh rosemary, thyme, sage blend
olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut butternut first in half horizontally, than each piece lengthwise to give you 4 pieces of squash.  

Peel the two squash pieces without the guts.  Be careful!  Squash is hard to peel and must be done with a sharp knife!
Cut the peeled squash piece into 2 pieces of about 1/2"-1" thickness.
Then cut pieces into small cubes of squash.  Repeat with other peeled squash pieces.
Spray/toss cubes lightly with olive oil and fold in a foil packet.
Place in oven for about 35 minutes.

In a large pan sprayed lightly with olive oil, saute green beans on medium heat until tender yet still al dente.  This should only take minutes.  Do not overcook!
Remove green beans from pan and set aside.


Saute red onion in same pan just until onions are sweating a bit and begin to get tender.  Do not brown!  You still want the onions to have tang and a bit of a crunch.  Remove onions and mix with green beans, set aside.

Toss apple with lemon juice and flash saute until apples are just warmed.  Do not overcook or you'll have another side dish- applesauce!
Remove apple and mix with other veggies, set aside.

Remove squash from oven when the 35 mins end (which should be around now.) 


Add squash to other vegetables and toss with care.  You don't want to squash the squash.
Sprinkle herbs and pomegranate seeds on top and toss again.

Finally you're done and ready to serve and enjoy!  Trust me, everyone will love this side dish.  It might even make you forget to reach for the stuffing first ;)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Breakaway Bakery

After constantly yelping, googling, and scouring the internet for local Gluten-Free options, I thought I knew all of them (and lack of them.)  This is why I am was in disbelief that I missed the gem that is Breakaway Bakery.  I can't believe this Los Angeles wonder escaped my radar for so long! 

There are so many things to love about this dedicated kitchen bakery.  To name just a few:  Gluten-Free, Organic and Kosher Pareve, no use of gums or transfats or preservatives.  Not to mention the wide selection of Vegan baked goods, which turned out to be my favorite of them all.  But most of all, I think the most lovable thing about Breakaway Bakery is the creator and baker, Janice.  Passion and love clearly fuel Janice's labors and flavors.  You can tell that she feels strongly about providing quality goods at respectable prices for a community of eaters that is more than often overlooked. 

Janice, GF herself, is one of those outcast eaters having allergies to many of the normal GF flours you and I would use for baking, which is why her bakery only uses Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice Flour.  Only using one flour is a feat in itself, but then add all of the other omissions and I don't know how she does it!  Further, it is a complete bakery also providing breads including loafs, bagels and challah.

 (clockwise from top left: Lemon Bar, Apricot Pinch, Picasso Cookie, Brownie)

I tried many of the items the bakery produces over a several day/several trip period, and I have to say I didn't find one thing that I disliked.  Some goods did jump out as my favorites though.  I am in LOVE with two of the vegan cookies:  The Apricot "Figaroll" and the Snowball.  Good G-d!  The Figaroll is play on what a Fig Newton would taste like if it were actually good.  The handmade gem, at a perfect dough to filling ratio, really just makes me go mmmmmmmmmm. 

 ("Figaroll" on the left, Snowball on the right)

Then there's the small vegan Snowball.  Visually unassuming, a small dough ball with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.  The second you bite into it, the sweetness and dough flavors combine perfectly for a foodgasmic result.  I LOVE the first bite of a Snowball.

I'm also a huge fan of the Lemon Bars and Cranberry/Cherry Crumble Bars, which are not vegan.  I enjoy the bagels which have been a treat when I take a break from baking my own bread or relying on Trader Joe's Brown Rice Wraps.

  (I recommend refrigerating the breads before cutting for an easier slice)

So many positives exist about Breakaway Bakery that I hate to reveal my two almost negatives:

-Even though special orders can be placed/picked up Monday-Friday, currently the bakery is only open two days a week for a few hours each.  Unless you working stiffs can skip out during lunchtime, you might miss out on the delicious goods that Janice is providing. 
 
-I feel like the baked goods, albeit scrumptious, are on the sugary side for me.  That's probably only because I don't use a lot of sugar when I bake, and I tend not to eat sweets on a daily basis.  Also, my use of milder sweeteners (i.e. Coconut Sugar, honey) have further mellowed out my taste buds.  I've shared the goods with several others who like the sweetness just where it is, so I think it's mostly my issue.  

I'll keep returning to Breakaway Bakery as long as I live in Los Angeles.  I encourage you to support such a loving endeavor by a conscientious baker who brings us delicious baked goods for almost every eater.  Angelinos rejoice!  This bakery will have you outcast eaters saying Hallelujah! in LA.

Breakaway Bakery (5264 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019, 310-968-9380)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Perfect Pumpkin Applesauce Bundt Cake

More fall food, you say?  Why yes!  Readers, as you know, in the fall I'm all about the awesome autumn ingredients!

I'm going to get a little reminiscent here; this cake means a lot to me.  When I was first leaping off the gluten train, I felt lost and overwhelmed.  First I had to mourn the loss of conventional baked goods, then I had to figure out how to make GF baked goods.  This led to much kitchen trauma.  Gluten-free living wasn't as well publicized 5 years ago (forget about those poor people who had to go GF 20+ years ago!  They had to search high and low for info.)  Even in the last 2 years, I have seen leaps and bounds in availability in products and awareness in lifestyle.

So after much confusion regarding mixing flours and figuring out substitutions, I started baked away and failing.  Not just failing- failing wildly!  Unbaked cakes.  Burned on the outside cakes, undone in the middle.  Brick heavy baked goods.  Tasteless.  Odorless.  Odor-full.

Frustrated, I reached out on message boards to experienced GF bakers for help and consolation.  One genius baker suggested a fix to my unbaked cake debacle:  She used bundt pans for cakes because there was no center, so everything baked fully and well.  Looking back, I'm sure there was a scientific fix to this disaster, but I thought that was a brilliant idea!  I bought a bundt pan and tried again.  Success!  Happiness flooded my tired, frustrated GF body, and I nearly cried.  It was the moment I realized I could do this.  I could bake GF, and it would be okay.  Everything would be okay.

This Pumpkin-Applesauce Bundt Cake is the very first cake recipe I made-up (based on a basic regular cake recipe) and it not only baked beautifully, it tasted fantastic.  In fact, it's my highest rated public posted recipe on Food.com.  It was the first time I felt truly proud of making something from scratch.  This cake defines the beginning of my GF journey.

As an added bonus, I recently had the opportunity of sharing this cake recipe on the brilliant site Eating Rules which marked another one of my firsts:  a guest post.

So get ready to bake up and enjoy this moist, delicious superstar.  Feel free to add some festive chocolate glazing for a fantastic Halloween treat!

NOTE: Do NOT try and make this cake in any regular pan. Because of its moisture level, it will only cook normally in a bundt pan.

Pumpkin Applesauce Bundt Cake



Ingredients:
2 cups sugar (I've been using Coconut Sugar these days, but any will do)
2 cups cooked/canned pure pumpkin
1 cup unsweetened natural applesauce
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 eggs
2 cups any all purpose gluten-free flour mix (I like to use a sorghum mix, yay whole grains!)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder (corn-free, Hain Pure Foods is great)
2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until fluffy.
Blend in sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, and oil by hand or with a mixer on low just until combined.  Do NOT overmix!
Add all dry ingredients, one at a time, blending together.
Pour batter into a greased, large bundt pan and bake for 1 hour.
Check with a toothpick/knife to make sure it's cooked through, cool, and enjoy!


Don't forget to freeze left-overs, wrapping in parchment paper before storing.

I hope this cake brings you as much joy as it brought me :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cranberries & Apples- A Perfect Match

I can never get over the joys of fall produce; I nearly yelped when fresh cranberries lined the display of my local grocery.  There is only one way to celebrate the arrival of cranberries: my Cranberry-Apple Chutney!  Now it's not technically a chutney in the traditional sense, where vegetables are cooked down with spices, but it has the same consistency and would not pass as a sauce or jam.  That's why I call it a chutney- don't hate ;)

There is so much to adore about this sumptuous side:

  • The color is vibrant and immediately jazzes up every plate. 
  • The fragrance is to die for.
  • It's the perfect compliment to meats and veggies that need a little tang.
  • What better way to get loads of fiber and antioxidants?
As always, this chutney is an extremely easy fix.  It takes at most about 30 minutes from start to finish, and the ingredients are affordable.  A little also goes a long way.

The flavor is adjustable depending upon what your tastes are.  I like this quite tart, quite.  My recipe is based on those specific tastes.  Please feel free to use more sugar to your tastes.  The best way to do that is to add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach a preferred flavor.  Same if you're a spice-a-holic:  feel free to up the spices a teaspoon at a time.  This recipe is mild-medium spiced.  The cranberry has an overpowering flavor, so you may decide you need more spice for them to shine through.

Cranberry-Apple Chutney


Ingredients:
2 small gala apples, peeled and diced or rough chopped
12 oz cranberries, rinsed and dried
6 tbs desired sugar (I prefer Coconut Sugar, always try to use Fair Trade!)
1 tbs Earth Balance Soy-Free or comparable fat (butter, margarine etc...)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Melt the Earth Balance (or fat) low heat in a medium saucepan.
Add apple, and stir to coat, sauteing until the apples become slightly tender but not browned.
Add cranberries and all spices stirring to combine.


Raise to medium-high heat, stirring constantly to avoid sticking.
Add sugar 1 tbs at a time, while stirring.
The cranberries will begin to break down due to the heat.  Give the pot a stir, wait about 30 seconds, and then re-stir, repeating so that the cranberries will break down evenly.
When all the cranberries are broken down and the mixture looks like this:


Taste the mixture.  Too tart?  Add more sugar one tbs at a time.  Not spiced enough?  Add more spices one tsp at a time.  Stir constantly.
When desired flavor is reached, remove mixture from stove and transfer to serving dish.  I like to let the dish cool to room temperature.  Feel free to serve hot or chill for a colder dish.

Ta-da, you're done!  Now didn't I tell you that was easy?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall's Here! Butternut Squash Fries Anyone?

It's fall again which means it's time for yummy autumn produce to line the aisles of your favorite farmer's markets and grocery stores.  I for one have been getting increasingly excited as the apples, squash, pumpkins and cranberries start rolling in.  How many amazing things can you make with all of these delicious ingredients?  Countless.  But let's start with a personal favorite:  Butternut Squash Fries.

This recipe is ridiculously easy; the only things you need are a super sharp knife and patients.  Although I love these fries, I hate cutting up raw butternut.  Probably because until this year, I didn't have a super sharp knife.  Please make sure when you're cutting up the squash that you protect yourself by making sure the squash is stable against a cutting surface and that your fingers and body are kept away from the knife, because you will be pushing against the produce. 

The end result is more than worth it!  This is a super healthy, vegan-friendly and allergy-free alternative to the potato fry craving.  You'll want to eat them all at once, so the only real problem with these fries is saving some for the next day ;)

Butternut Squash Fries


Ingredients:
1 medium/large Butternut Squash
1 small bunch fresh thyme (leaves detached from stems and chopped up)
1 small bunch fresh rosemary (leaves detached from stems and chopped up)
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel the squash.
Cut in half and scoop out seeds/pulp; throw seeds/pulp away.
Cut the butternut into thin fry shapes.  Chunky steak fry shapes will need to cook longer.


Toss the fries in olive oil.
Transfer the fries to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet in one layer (or two sheets if they don't fit on one.)


Sprinkle with salt/pepper to taste.
Bake for about 25 minutes, flip fries over, then return to oven.
Bake for 10 more minutes and then sprinkle thyme and rosemary over the fries and return to oven.
Check in 5-10 more minutes.  When fries are soft (and they should be by then) remove from oven.
Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately.  If you cover them or reheat them in a microwave they will get soggier, just like real potato fries.

These are a delicious side dish for guests of all kinds and a vibrant addition to any plate.  It's also a great way to sneak in nutrients for picky eaters.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cauliflower Fiesta!

Since I've returned home, cooking has been one of the only things on my mind.  Traveling can be fun, but after a while, restaurant food just isn't going to cut it.  Not to mention that its sometimes just not as fun looking as what you can create at home.

Many people think that making healthy food appetizing is a labor intensive ordeal, or even worse, making healthy or Gluten Free/Allergy Free eats means putting nothing in the food at all.  Plain meats, plain steamed veggies, plain depressing!

I disagree.  Making healthy, GF and allergy-free foods can taste AMAZING only with the use of:
  • Colors
  • Textures
  • Spices & Herbs
Take today's recipe star ingredient for example:  Cauliflower.  Now I know many people who dislike poor cauliflower because they think its boring and tasteless and colorless.  Well, of course if you don't dress up cauliflower you might get that impression, BUT what if you took it to a party.  What if you said to the cauliflower, it's time to get jazzed up and have a little fun!

That's what I did today with my veggies.  I added colors with sweet long red peppers, some purplish hued shallots, some green chives, and a little sprinkle or sweet paprika.  Now I made my fiesta a little hot, hot, hot, because I like a spicy party in my mouth, but feel free to scale back on any ingredients or to saute the shallots and garlic first to calm them down a bit.  

Although this requires some prep work, it is a super easy dish that packs a pow of flavors!

Cauliflower Fiesta

 (Before its oven-baked)

Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, steamed until soft but not mushy, about 30-40 minutes, then chopped
2 sweet long red peppers, diced
1 handfull of chives, finely chopped
1 large shallot, diced or chopped (depending how much pow you want)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tbs Soy-Free Earth Balance, softened
sea salt to taste
sweet paprika to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix chopped, steamed cauliflower with all diced and chopped veggies, Earth Balance and seasoning.
Transfer mixture to a lightly olive-oil greased square pan.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes letting the ingredients get to know each other.
Serve it up! 


If there's not enough crunch for you, think of sprinkling some GF bread crumbs on top or adding some sunflower seeds.  This makes the perfect everyone friendly side dish and you can even add beans to make it a main affair.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Traveling is Nuts

Hi all,

It feels like I've been anywhere but home this entire summer as I jumped from location to location for many different reasons.  I've been to 6 states alone in the last couple of months, and now that I'm back in my own home and kitchen I am thankful.  Traveling may be hard on the tummy, but that's just one problem.

It's nuts.  It's those damn peanuts on planes.

I know, I know what you're thinking: Another whiner and complainer trying to take away my plane peanuts.  Doesn't she know that those peanuts are the only reason that I get on a plane?  If they switched to pretzels, I'd damn near drive everywhere!

It's not as if I truly care what anyone eats as long as I don't have to eat peanuts, but in such a small, confined space complete with re-circulated air, flying becomes a dangerous gamble.  Depending on the amount of nut-eaters around me, I may have a very small reaction.  Recently though, I've had several bad experiences on planes.

We'll start with a big problem I had flying Southwest- they gave every passenger about 3 or more packets of peanuts.  There was such an overwhelming amount of peanut dust and smell flying through the air because of Southwest's "generosity" I couldn't breathe.  When a passenger starts to turn green, has trouble clearing her airways, and feels like she's going to pass out, I think it's time to re-evaluate the worth of other passengers' beloved peanuts.

Now what would those peanut fanaticals say in response to my plight?  Don't fly lady, if you're allergic!  For some people who don't travel as much, that may be an option.  But it's not for me.  I wish those nut zealots would just consider that if they could just make peace with pretzels, I could breathe.  Another human being could breathe normally.

I've signed countless petitions for airlines to fly nut-free throughout the years.  Although some have definitely complied, others, like Southwest have not.  I had no control over what airline I flew when I had to get on that Southwest flight (because of the location), but they had control of what they could have chosen to serve on the flight.

It's not just the people eating the peanuts that causes a problem either.  I flew Delta as well during my months of travel, and when I boarded one of my flights there were peanuts all over the floor and riddled about everywhere.  Because of tight airline schedules, companies don't really clean anymore between flights.  So now, its not only the peanut air, it's the peanutty chairs, tables, and even windows.  Getting rashes from sitting on a flight isn't any better than not being able to breathe.

Listen, whenever I can I fly peanut-free airlines, but it's not always an option.  The economy has changed the competition and less airlines fly to less places.  Sometimes, you only have nut airlines to choose from.  It seems like an age-old complaint: stop serving peanuts on airplanes!

It's just too easy to not serve peanuts, and that's why I don't understand why they still do.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Taste with a Twist: Kim & Scott's GF Pretzels

Do you miss soft pretzels?

I do too.  Or I did, that is, until one magical day I heard that Kim & Scott's Cafe Twist in Chicago was serving up a mythical GF Soft Pretzel.  Now anyone who has read my blog knows that mimicking specialty bread products to taste exactly like their gluten-filled counterparts is not my strong suit.  Nor is it the strong suit of many companies that also attempt to mimic them.

Of course, when I read that Kim & Scott's was saying they made a Gluten Free Bavarian Pretzel at first I was skeptical.  Then the reviews of visits to the cafe broke out into the blogosphere, and raves were traveling faster than you can say "hot mustard."

But I don't live in Chicago, and I hadn't actually planned a trip anytime soon to the area.  And so I resolved sadly to take my salivating tongue and roll it back into my deprived mouth.  I would have to wait until I could make it to Cafe Twist in person.  Or would I...

About a year after hearing about Kim & Scott's, I nearly plotzed as I passed a Whole Foods Freezer case that had their fantastic GF pretzels.  It seemed to be surrounded by a halo of light while angels sang a choral, but then I reasoned it was probably just the fluorescent lighting and the smooth adult contemporary and my excitement was playing tricks on me.

Then, I saw the price tag.  $6.99 for two, yes TWO frozen pretzels?!  Ouch!  Well, I was no closer to Chicago than I was a year ago and decided if I wanted to taste the legend that was the real GF Bavarian Pretzel, I would choke down and swallow my bargain hunting pride, buying the expensive treat.


I opened the box and unwrapped the brown, twisty goodness and decided I would first try it microwaved.  They do offer salt packets for the more ballpark inclined, but I like my pretzels without all the fuss.  Don't worry though, if you skip the salt, the pretzels is anything but bland!

The consistency, smell, texture, and flavor nailed it, just NAILED it for those of us who have been waiting in vain for such a reminder of childhood outings to the city or ballpark.  Of course, the oven heated version was a little bit better than the microwaved one, but only because whenever you microwave a bread product is has the occasional tendency to get harder in one part than another. 

I also added a little Soy Free Earth Balance on one for a little extra flavor- and BAM- heaven from a freezer aisle.  Who knew?

More importantly, Kim & Scott's is very allergy aware using a nut-free production facility and offering dairy-free, egg-free, and GF options in their cafe for those seeking alternatives for themselves and their loved ones.

The only downside of this whole review is that I really can't purchase the pretzels more regularly because of the price, but I entered this relationship with my eyes open and *sniff* I guess we'll just have to part until a special occasion pops up!

Look out for Kim & Scott's in your freezer aisle or if you're in Chicago, go to Cafe Twist (2218 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614.)  But don't tell me about; I'll just get jealous ;)

Friday, May 20, 2011

True Food Kitchen: A Stomach's Best Friend

Who would have thought that one of my new favorite restaurants would be in a mall?  Santa Monica Place, the completely new, gutted and remolded replacement for the old mall at the start of the 3rd Street promenade is a far more upscale experience than it previously was.  High fashion stores, lots of bling, and much better restaurants.

I was fortunate enough to dine at one of these restaurants before it opened and let me just tell you- get there, get there fast!  Also, so you know, my meal was complimentary, but that in no way colors my judgement of the restaurant.  If I didn't enjoy my meal, you would not be hearing about it folks.

True Food Kitchen's concept was born from Dr. Andrew Weil, my new favorite culinary hero.  Why is he such a cool guy?  He's based his menu on the principle that food should be a nutritious, healthy, and an anti-inflammatory experience.  "According to Dr. Weil: 'Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help counteract the chronic inflammation that is a root cause of many serious diseases, including those that become more frequent as people age. It is a way of selecting and preparing foods based on science that can help people achieve and maintain optimum health over their lifetime.'" (from the TFK website)

Personally, these are principles I take very seriously being an allergic & gluten-free eater living a healthy lifestyle.  Eating out at True Food Kitchen makes dining an enjoyable experience, even for the most sensitive of us.  I suspect that this has something to do with the extremely extensive training program that the staff was required to go through in order to work there.  My unendingly helpful server, Gary, explained that all staff went through a couple of weeks (not hours, not days) but weeks of training.  They learned all about food allergies, intolerances and food related diseases like Celiac, veganism, vegetarianism, food preparation, safety practices and so much more.  Gary knew the answer to all of my questions instantly, and that's never happened in a regular restaurant before.






I started my meal with a Cucumber Refresher drink.  It's a mixture of fresh cucumber & honey lemonade, all fresh from their fresh juice bar.  Though I chose a pre-suggested drink from the menu, diners can make up their own juice combinations that delight them.  The drink was very refreshing, a little sweet and very cucumbery!  It was a nice way to wake my palate up before the meal.







As a starter, I ordered the soup of the day, Immunity Soup.  This soup featured an ingredient I'd never heard of- astragules root- which when eaten regularly can help protect the body from stress, diabetes, and even cancers.  All I was thinking about was how delicious it was!  The root was complemented by an earthy, umami happy broth, mushrooms, broccoli, and carrot coins.  The soup was very warming; the perfect remedy for any sick day. 


I debated what I should choose as my main course.  You see, the menu offers many, many Gluten Free choices, including pizzas.  There were so many choices (which never happens when you go out) that I had to ask for the staff's advice.  The several people who checked on me during my seating were all asked what their favorite meal was.  Although each agreed they liked almost all the dishes, most raved particularly about the Panang Curry.  Now, I have never been a huge curry fan, but how can that many people be wrong?

When the curry arrived, piping hot, the scent I breathed in was simply intoxicating.  My first bite was foodgasmic.  Did the chef sprinkle angel tears on this bad boy?  I didn't want to speak.  I didn't want to drink.  I just wanted to eat this curry, possibly forever. 

 tell me that isn't gorgeous

The curry which sat in a creamy coconut broth could have very easily been too rich.  But everything about it was perfectly balanced:  spicy yet smooth, rich yet not too thick, perfectly sized vegetables to meat ratio.  The brown rice buried below the broth was not soggy, instead absolutely perfect consistency.  How'd they do that?!  The rich coating of the curry would slide off my tongue and a touch of sizzle would linger politely on it to remind me that I wanted more.  This is a curry you dream about.  True Food Kitchen, I am now a curry convert.


When I had to choose a dessert, I was still mourning my empty bowl of curry.  Could I do that course again?  No, no.  I had to be practical and move on.  I looked at the dessert menu; again, several choices for the GF and Vegan eater.

I chose a very simple, light finish, a Low-Fat Lemon Ginger Frozen Yogurt, made fresh on premises.  I'm such a whore for ginger, and the delicious and subtle fresh flavors of the yogurt adorned with blueberries was really the perfect ending to a perfect meal.


Now what was the best part.   Was it the food?  The friendly staff?  The modern and clean atmosphere?  Well all of that was great, but my favorite part is that I can go back to True Food Kitchen and try several other combinations of dishes over and over again because the menu is riddled with GF friendly fare!  I don't feel trapped in a box at True Food Kitchen, and although I ate quite a substantial meal, I didn't feel gross when I left.  I felt very full, but not heavy.  I felt satisfied and clean, and my stomach did not hurt.  I ate curry and had no stomach ache?  Points again for you, True Food Kitchen.

When you visit the now open True Food Kitchen (and if you live in LA or near other locations, you really should,) you are likely to find me sitting at a table there, devouring whatever delicious delicacy I can. 

True Food Kitchen (395 Santa Monica Place, Suite 172, Santa Monica, CA 90401, 310-593-8300)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Grown Folks Bakesale & Lemon Meringue Cookies

I've just returned from traveling some more and with mixer in hand(s) I was ready to start preparing my treat for today's Food Blogger Bakesale, raising money for the amazing organization Share Our Strength that dedicates itself to ending childhood hunger.  SOS does amazing work, and I encourage you to either add them to your yearly donation list or volunteer to help in any way you can.

One of their fundraisers, the Great American Bakesale, translated last year to a local Food Blogger Bakesale in Los Angeles with others all over the country.  Hopefully lots of hungry people will join us today, May 14th at 11:30a-2p at BLD restaurant (7450 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90036.)

Last year I made some almost allergy-free apple muffins.  They were delicious, but not a big seller compared to the delicious dripping goodies.  It's hard to compete at a bakesale with a healthy product that scares some non-allergics.  I thought I would try to appeal a little more to the masses this year by going in a completely different direction: Lemon Meringue Cookies.

Meringues happen to be one of my specialties (probably because they're not so hard) and I think they're a nice fat free palate cleansing opportunity next to the brownies.  Fingers crossed people like them!  Will you like them enough to make them at home?  I would.  The bright lemon flavor really meshes well with the sugary goodness of a meringue and adds a subtle back bite.  And really, what's a better marriage than lemon & meringue?

I started with my basic recipe and went from there.  Remember meringues are easy, but they are for the patient!  Read my previous post before embarking so you can see why drying is an important step.

Lemon Meringue Cookies

Makes loads of cookies, half if desired

Ingredients:
4 large egg whites
1 tbs of fresh squeezed lemon juice
splash of vanilla (or 1 tsp if you're measuring)
a dash of salt (or about 1/4 tsp if you're measuring)
1 1/3 cups evaporated cane sugar (fairtrade if you can)
the zest of 1 medium sized lemon


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, beat the first 4 ingredients together using an electric mixer on low-medium speed, until you reach a foamy, barely soft peak form.
Pour sugar in slowly while beating the mixture until the sugar is incorporated.
Beat carefully on medium-high until you get stiff peaks (if you remove the beater from the mixture you'll notice a peak that can stand on it's own).  Go slower than faster.  If you over-beat, the meringue will not come together.
Fold in lemon zest.
Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Either put meringue in pastry bag and pipe a million cookies OR use a tsp dropping cookies.  Note: the smaller your cookies the less time they take to dry, and this becomes easier & faster for you.
Place cookies in oven on low and middle racks and immediately switch oven temperature to 200 F for 1 hour.
To make sure your oven is at an average temperature (and not a higher heat oven) watch your cookies (10, 15, 25 minute marks) and the second you see any golden goodness appearing or if you touch them and the cookies feel like they're firming, turn the oven back up to a high temperature for a moment, close the oven door, then SHUT OFF the oven.
If you've piped small cookies, dry for 1 hour with the oven door shut and test.
If it's ready take them out, if not, turn oven on to 250 for about 5 minutes (watching the cookies) and then shut oven off and dry for another hour.
Repeat drying as many hours as needed.

Meringues really are a delicious treat and they keep well so use leftover to decorate desserts or pack in bagged lunches.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Getting Campy

Picture it: Angelus Oaks, 2011.  90 of the most gorgeous food bloggers you ever laid your eyes on deep in the mountains, all tweeting, blogging, and gabbing about food.

gorgeous right?

Where do I even begin?  So much was packed into Camp Blogaway: panels on everything from vlogging to building a community to the pressures of blogging.  Breakout sessions designed to answer everyone's burning blogging questions.  Did I learn a lot at Camp Blogaway?  Yes.  Did I learn a lot at Camp Blogaway that also has nothing to do with blogging?  Yes.

I was always a little scared to go to camp when I was younger.  I was never the instantly popular kid, or the beautiful girl, or even the brainiac.  Mostly I was just the awkwardly inappropriate loud kid, and that doesn't always earn you friends.  Plus, other kids don't always understand your "sense of humor" and think you're weird.  

But when you have the fortunate opportunity of being surrounded by adults of all ages, from all walks of life whom all share a common interest, a magical thing happens.  You feel in your element.  You also feel like you belong to a community of pretty interesting people.  I appreciate meeting different bloggers at these retreats and conferences; this is perhaps always my favorite part.  

Also, I think that some 10 year-old part of me always gets nervous in big social situations, especially surrounding the subject of food.  I'm always worried that people will view me differently because of my diet restrictions and limitations.  Food is a very social animal.  Will I stand out as the freak of the crowd?

The one universal thing that always happens is that I learn intimate details about people and their loved ones upon meeting them.  I think that people feel they can share with me because when I introduce myself, I'm laying all my medical food issues bare.  I learn within seconds of Mr., Mrs. or Child X in their life who too faces food/medical difficulties.  We are not alone out there.  And I am not a freak.  (Some of you who know me may still argue I'm a bit of a freak, but we can agree it's for different reasons other than this.)

Connecting with others is the main reason I began blogging.  And attending a wonderful weekend like Camp Blogaway is the ultimate way to connect.  When you reach out over the internet to other bloggers, you form online friendships.  But what if you had the opportunity to make those real in-person friendships too?  I think Camp Blogaway invites you to find this out while improving your food blogging knowledge.

Aside from all the warm & fuzzy people meeting I was doing, I enjoyed particular highlights of the weekend, and I will tell you why:

Presentation by the California Avocado Commission 
  • I'm a bit of a whore for avocados, and in my opinion the only avocados worth eating come from California.
  • I learned a lot about the avocado's life, from conception to fruiting.
  • Tips and tricks regarding ripening and serving the fruit were flying left and right.
  • They gave us beautiful avocados to take home; I'm making ice cream with them!

Presentation on Cake Decorating by Wilton
  • People would probably assume that because I'm GF that I don't like cake decorating, they'd be wrong.  I freaking love it.
  • My table doing the decorating was AWESOME!  I can only imagine we were the table that other tables at camp wished they could be.
  • The presenters, Nancy & Gretchen, were extremely helpful in teaching decorating techniques to a room full of chatty food bloggers, some of whom avoid baking and decorating like the plague.
  • We didn't decorate on actual cakes, so I felt comfortable participating.  (Side note: Wilton edible products are not labeled as GF; I hope one day they will be.  Until then, I will look forward to continuing to use their baker's tools.)

The Panel on Building a Blogging Community
  • I know that everybody is always stressing about their scores & numbers, but let's remember we're blogging for people out there.
  • It was refreshing to go to a Blogger Conference and hear from bloggers like Cheryl at 5 Second Rule and Susan at Food Blogga talking about connection rather than just dollar signs.
Needless to say, the staff was quite friendly and organized (Big shot out to Patti-pictured right-at Worth the Whisk), the kitchen always had plenty of food for me to eat that was GF, and my roommates were pretty awesome.  Wente Vineyards also provided all the wine for the weekend, and Andrew, their ambassador was well loved by all.






So if you feel like getting away into the mountains, with good food, good company and good learnin' sign up to go to Camp Blogaway next year.  And remember, they're GF, vegan, vegetarian AND allergic friendly.

 See?  Look at that gorgeous plate of GF pasta and veggies.




Friday, April 29, 2011

Hey, Where'd My Blogger Go?

I'm off to Camp Blogaway in a couple of hours, and I couldn't be more excited.  Not only for the fun location in the San Bernardino Mountains, or the good company of other food bloggers, or the food (there will be GF options for me, yay.)  All those things are great reasons to go, but I'm ready to learn a ton and bring back some knowledge for y'all and improve my blog.

But don't worry, I'll be back next week! 

Have a great weekend; I know I will :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gluten Free NYC! Part 4: Risotteria

Welcome to my Gluten Free NYC Travel Series!  Stay tuned for fantastic suggestions for GF and Allergic travelers :)

As I look through my photos documenting my meal at Risotteria, I am inclined to tell you it was the best GF and allergic dining experience I've ever had.  So much so I even had a dream that I had returned to NYC to partake in it again.  When restaurants that you've eaten in and meals that you have start to creep into your REM cycle, you know they're just that good.

Risotteria opens daily at 12p, and I had to be somewhere in the early afternoon, so my dining companion and I decided to arrive a little early and be the first ones in.  We arrived in the West Village a little too early (11:30a) and walked around a bit until opening.  When we returned at the restaurant's doorstep at 11:50a, we were third in line to enter.  I guess I wasn't the only one eager to eat there that day!  It was a good thing we had shown up early too; Risotteria is a small eatery and seats go fast in this GF oasis.

Once the family and couple in front of us sat, the restaurant was half full!  We took up the other 25%.  Now seated, I was eager to get underway in asking one of my millions of questions when I eat out:  I see that you offer GF pizza.  I'm allergic to some GF flours; what's in your pizza crust?...  Without batting an eye the waitress put me at ease right away.  She explained that the restaurant was fully aware of preparation issues and allergy concerns.  She made sure that I knew she was going to take care of me, and I trusted her immediately.  She knew her stuff and was so warm as she recounted the minimal ingredients in their pizza flour, and I was able to partake.  This was good news as I had just planned on eating one of the many risottos the menu offered up.

My companion and I decided to do what we do best and ordered a lot of food.  After much deliberation, we ordered the Gruyere & Green Onion risotto and the Parma Ham & Mozzarella pizza, both GF.  She chomped away on breadsticks while we were waiting; only after the meal arrived did the waitress comment that all the sticks were GF and I should try them too, but by then I was too distracted by the beauty in front of me.

Isn't it pretty?

The risotto was perfect, creamy and very mild do to the qualities of the Gruyere.  It was a good companion to the pizza we chose.  The crispy, thin crust was perfectly NY style AND GF.  I took a bite and *sigh* le happy tongue.

The flag denotes it's a GF pizza.

The risotto would have perhaps been a better match for a spicier pizza since it was rather mild, but no matter.  I swear we had stopped talking once the food arrived and both of us began chowing down.  Sitting in silence, I was so happy.  This was the first time I had eaten pizza out in 3 years.  And it was perfect.  I missed pizza, and with each bite, I knew it was going to be harder and harder to leave Risotteria.


I stopped mid-scarf to look around the small yet buzzing hub.  The small family with GF children had a one-stop shop to feed everyone so easily and in such a friendly environment.  The couple next to us could both be happy: one GF pizza, one non-GF pizza.  It was the perfect haven for GF patrons and their loved ones of all kinds.  It was peaceful and easy.  I wished more than anything we had a restaurant this understanding and helpful near me.

With our bellies full and my heart singing, the waitress returned to gather our spotless plates.  Would we like dessert?  Ah, dessert.  I don't know why, but I had somehow assumed that I would have been allergic to dessert.  I think that's because many commercially produced GF desserts include, nut, soy and legume flours.  As my friend patiently waited to see if we could split something, I began to ask many questions, pointing to items and asking for ingredients.  One second, the waitress left and came back with laminated sheets.  Ingredient lists for everything on the dessert menu.  Full disclosure!  I don't know why, but it's sometimes very difficult to get full ingredient disclosure (which always makes me worry that there's something they're hiding.)  I think that traditional restaurants/bakeries are worried that you're somehow going to take the ingredient list and magically duplicate the product they're selling.  Real restaurants/bakeries that understand concerned eaters understand that full disclosure only makes us feel safer and happier about them.

Well with that list, I found I was spoiled with options!  We finally choose the Tiramisu.


And yes, it tasted as good as it looked.  Blissfully, we went up to pay the check and that's when I saw take-out bakery items.  I admittedly went a little hog-wild and took away another small dessert, The Little Fudgie.

 

Aside from it's regrettable name, the mini chocolate chip cookies sandwiching the chocolate cream was decadent, delightful and the perfect size!
After begging everyone at Risotteria to relocate to Southern California, I left with only the memory of how eating out should always be for the GF and allergic individual- normal.  If you're in NYC and don't make your way to the West Village for some Risotteria, you're just plain nuts!

Did you miss Parts 1, 2, or 3?

Risotteria (Open 7 days / Noon - 11pm, 270 Bleecker Street, between 6th / 7th aves, 212-924-6664.  No reservations, and only parties of 6 or smaller.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gluten Free NYC! Part 3: Tu-Lu's Bakery

Welcome to my Gluten Free NYC Travel Series!  Stay tuned for fantastic suggestions for GF and Allergic travelers :)


A stone's throw from one of my other favorite East Village eateries, S'MAC, a charming bakery resides.  Tu-Lu's is clearly a labor of love from one Celiac to another.  Tully, the friendly owner and creator, brings you in with a sweetly decorated case full of lots of tempting treasures.  Row after row of sugary goodness, just waiting there for you and me.

 

Tu-Lu's has options for all kinds of eaters: You have several GF choices and you can bring your Vegan friends who have many choices too:
  

Tu-Lu's also whips up special treats for holidays and occasions, updating loyal customers via Twitter.

The most difficult part of visiting Tu-Lu's was certainly choosing what to sample, and how much to bring back.  You see, my friend and I were traveling back with the goods on the subway in the hottest days of summer.  This would certainly not only be a test of how good the treats were, but how well they stood up in the dismal, crushing NYC heat.

Challenge accepted.

We made it back to my hotel in one piece.  The mini cupcakes did well, however, the frosting definitely drooped.  No matter.  My favorite was the Chocolate w/ Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting.  I also tried the Vanilla w/ Chocolate frosting, Strawberry, and Red Velvet.

 a little droopy, but delicious

The flavors were all there.  In terms of full disclosure, I purchased a brownie which didn't make it back to the hotel.  I got too excited on the way back and relished it accordingly.  I would also like to mention that my non-GF friend was chowing down happily on all of her cupcakes (she tried the Peanut Butter one that I couldn't eat) remarking that they were quite good and she would gladly eat them again and again.

 her box definitely had less frosting meltage

I have to apologize both to Tu-Lu's and to you, reader, as you'll notice these may be the worst pictures I've taken to date in terms of my horribly focused camera.  Since then, I have corrected the problem as best as I can, but you'll notice the pictures are a bit blurry.  Please note that Tu-Lu's baked goods are not blurry in person ;)

Make sure that if you want a GF sweet treat when you hit the big apple, that you don't miss Tu-Lu's.  They're perfect for dessert after GF Mac & Cheese.

Stay Tuned for Part 4: Risotteria.
Did you miss Part 1 or 2?

Tu-Lu's Bakery (338 East 11th Street New York, NY 10003, Phone:212-777-2227,
tully@tu-lusbakery.com)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gluten Free NYC! Part 2: People's Pops

Welcome to my Gluten Free NYC Travel Series!  Stay tuned for fantastic suggestions for GF and Allergic travelers :)


As we near summer, tourists and city-dwellers alike are going to be looking for a sweet treat to cool them down while the sidewalks cook their feet.  The perfect solution is People's Pops.  Upon the suggestion of my brilliant friend who had "heard good things" I made a stop at People's Pops store space, also located in Chelsea Market.

A modest counter with a beautifully decorated chalkboard behind it and a very friendly, helpful worker; People's Pops creates temptations with the help of local and sustainable fruits and herbs.


The biggest problem by far with visiting PP is that it's only socially acceptable to eat one popsicle at a time.  I was extremely tempted to order every flavor, which rotates depending on what is in season and available.  I eventually, after much hemming & hawing, went with Plum & Tarragon.


A more perfect marriage couldn't be orchestrated by Hollywood.  Delicious, in every way.  This deceptively simple offering will please your palette accordingly.  My friend opted for another flavor, I believe it was a Peach & Chamomile (this is definitely the drawback of blogging about places long after you visit.)  They also offer shaved ice if that's more your bag.  If I had my way, with no public stigma or calories attached, I would probably just stick around and eat all the flavors.  Purely as a scientific experiment, to get the best overall impression ;)

Though it seemed silly for me to even ask, I did mention the Gluten Free of it all.  I was assured, as I had imagined, that the popsicle ingredients were fine & fresh local produce (naturally GF of course.)  And I don't worry about the possibilities of contamination in a setting where no gluten is used at all (personal choice.)  Furthermore, the only feeling I had after my consumption was euphoria, so I'm going to say that it was definitely a safe treat!

Unfortunately for us, People's Pops seems to only be available seasonally as of now, so make sure to follow their website and blog to find out where they will be setting up shop and when.  Don't forget to venture outside of the store-front (re-opening April 15th) to visit their market stops.  The best way to enjoy these suckers is on a stroll.  Do not, DO NOT miss out.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Tu-lu's Bakery.  Did you miss Part 1?

People's Pops (locations vary, seasonally, people@peoplespops.com)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gluten Free NYC! Part 1: Friedman's Lunch

Welcome to my Gluten Free NYC Travel Series!  Stay tuned for fantastic suggestions for GF and Allergic travelers :)


Having been to New York City several times, I can tell you it is possibly my favorite place to eat in the United States and is arguably my favorite place I've eaten in my world travels (I've been to a few European countries.)  This was true before I had gone GF, but it still holds up.  There are plenty of eats and treats for the savvy NYC visitor and resident, starting with a stop at Chelsea Market.


Chelsea Market is a top foodie destination for any NYC traveler; it houses several bakeries, restaurants, specialty food retailers and yes, even the Food Network studio is located in the market building.  Suggested to me as a great GF destination by Kristin of Gluten Free Crumpette, Friedman's Lunch is definitely what you're looking for when it comes to a hassle free breakfast or lunch.

Months before visiting, I emailed Friedman's to ask them about their GF goods: What ingredients were used?  Would I feel safe eating there?  They were extremely helpful and sent me a full ingredient list of all their GF breads.  Not only did I notice I had choices of bread even despite all my allergies, I could eat their bagels!!!!

I hadn't eaten a bagel since 2007, and I certainly hadn't eaten a bagel in New York since then.  Bagel eating in the city is a bit of a religion for me, so you can imagine my surprise at finding that I could partake safely in my favorite lost ritual.  Be warned: Friedman's instructed me that bagels are only available on the weekends and go fast!  Just in case, I was first in line on a Saturday morning to make sure I got one.  This is when I received another pleasant surprise; I had a choice of flavors!  So not only do they have bagels, they have different kinds of bagels.  I ordered my favorite type, Everything w/shmear, and waited with the anticipation of a giddy girl getting waiting to meet her first puppy.

What was delivered to me was a toasty warm miracle for my mouth, neatly wrapped in foil, marked proudly with a GF.


Here we go!  I unwrapped the bagel with cautious optimism.  Would this be as good as I remembered?  Surely it couldn't taste exactly like a gluteny bagel, but would it come close?  Would I mysteriously get sick even though I triple checked the ingredients and stressed to the cashier that I was gluten free, making sure that the necessary safety measures were taken?


This bagel was great!  It was a bit thinner than the traditional NYC bagel, but they certainly added the traditional amount of shmear (I removed a good amount of the cream cheese, less is more for me.)  Although the "everything" wasn't covering the bagel, there was enough flavoring that I could grasp the Everything concept and flavor, even though it doesn't look it.  It had the consistency of a slightly larger Lender's bagel, which being GF, soy free AND nut free, is high praise!  You win Friedman's Lunch, you win.

I did eat breakfast there a second day, ordering the B.E.L.T. sandwich (bacon, over easy egg, lettuce, tomato & herb mayo) on GF white bread and it was DELICIOUS.  In fact, it was so delicious, that I ate it all, forgetting to snap a picture of it for you.  Sorry!  But let that be a testament to Friedman's Lunch- So good, you'll forget all about your food blog picture-taking and just chow down.

Stay tuned for Part 2: People's Pops.

Friedman's Lunch  (Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave, New York, NY 10011, Phone:212-929-7100, info@friedmanslunch.com)

Stay Tuned for Great Things!

Hey all,

I've been back to having stomach troubles and eating very interesting and very little food because of it.  No recipes to share with you, so I'll be showing you some great travel, shopping, and product tips over the next few weeks.  You will not want to miss this!

Hugs,
Suz
aka Stomach Drama Rama

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pass the Biscuits Please

One of my least favorite things to make Gluten Free is bread.  Sorry, but it's true.  It's not that making GF bread is particularly difficult or that the results don't often turn out tasty, but working with GF bread dough is messy, sticky, and a pain in the butt.

I have tried all the expert tips, yet, I can't seem to get more bread in the loaf pan than what's stuck on my hands, in the mixer, on the mixing paddle, or in the rising bowl.  Plus, bits of dough usually end up in my hair, on my face and stuck in between my fingers (which I've even needed to use a scrub pad on, in order to get dough off.)

That's why this recipe folks is GOLD.  I wanted to make something quick and easy for an FBLA meeting I was attending.  Since our meetings are usually potlucks at brunchtime, I wanted to make something more brunchy, easy to serve, and portable.  For some reason, I figured that biscuits would really fit the bill.  I wasn't really taking into account the fact that biscuits would be a bread of sorts.  When I was searching for a great recipe, I picked one of the least complicated ones I could find.  Sometimes, I worry when I see an uncomplicated GF bread/quick bread recipe that it won't work.  As you'll find, that is not the case here!

Thank you Google for sending me to a Celiac.com article page highlighting biscuits and rolls.  I found this wonderful recipe which you just know I had to change ever so slightly.  If you stick to the original recipe though, you can make great biscuits entirely allergy free.  That's right, entirely allergy free.  I added some cheese (which of course is dairy) and I used dairy milk but you can add a cheese substitute like Daiya and any milk sub and make a fantastic allergy free and vegan biscuit.

These are not messy, easy to handle, quick cooking and delicious.  I used a greased mini quiche pan to make the biscuits smaller for easy sharing.  You can easily use an english muffin pan to make them a little larger.  If you want, to free form, you can roll a ball of dough with your hands and press down to a circle on some parchment over a cookie sheet.  I didn't cook them free form though, so I don't know if they'll keep their shape.

Alright, let's get southern up in here-

Savory Biscuits
with Cheddar, Garlic, and Thyme


Ingredients:
2 cups GF flour mix (I used my rice mix w/ guar gum.  I tend to use rice mixes for non-GF ppl)
1/3 cup + 1 tbs Earth Balance Soy Free Spread
2 1/2 tsp baking powder (I use corn-free)
1 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or non-dairy sub)
4 gloves sauted garlic or crushed garlic equivalent
1 tbs thyme or thyme to taste
3/4 cup milk (I use lactose and fat free; you can use a milk sub)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Combine all ingredients EXCEPT for the milk in a mixer with paddle attachment or food processor and blend until mixture looks like the spread is cut up into pebbles giving the same sand effect as when you make pie crust.
Add milk and mix until it looks like a dough.
Form biscuits however you choose by hand, in pan, drop, or cut.
Bake for 10 minutes.

That's it.  Trust me you'll love these.  For the girl who hates to make GF bread and quick breads, this may just have made me a believer!