Monday, March 31, 2008

Gluten Free Food Find of the Week: New and Improved Rice Chex

It's true, kiddies! You can have Rice Chex again!

I saw on another gluten-free blog recently that Rice Chex has been reformulated to remove the diabolical malted barley and when I popped into the supermarket today, there it was in all its Gluten-Free Glory---one of Dan's well-loved breakfast cereals with the magical phrase "Gluten Free" emblazoned right on the front of the box.

Now, last year I was canonized in Dan's pavilion for bringing home a surprise six-pack of gluten-free Redbridge after a long celiac-induced beer drought, so I was confident that I was "packing heat" today when I lugged in the groceries and showed him this lovely box of Rice Chex. Sure enough, he busted out in a wide smile and ripped open the box immediately to snack on this much-missed breakfast staple (note open package top in the photo below). I was frankly, a little jealous of this Rice Chex love-in, but after all, he was reared on the stuff and his mom always made Chex Mix at Christmas time to pass around the family. I guess I can begrudge him a little passionate time with his Chex-mistress. Gotta go. Dan's out of milk.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Foodie Blog Roll Announcement

I have come to the realization that I am a foodie - not defined in my trusty Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary, but a term I understand to mean someone who enjoys and thinks about food every day. Food ain't just fuel, it's something to savor. I have been enjoying many other food blogs and websites since becoming savvier at this Internet stuff and am proud to announce that I am now an official member of the Foodie Blogroll, starting by her Royal Highness, The Leftover Queen. It's a great way to troll for new dinner ideas, slaver over food photos and check out fun recipe contests. I have posted the Foodie Blogroll listing on the right-hand sidebar for you to drift into.

I immediately got lost in the blogroll and found lots of recipes to bookmark and even downloaded a free Italian cookbook which helps fund America's Second Harvest, a nonprofit organization which helps fight hunger. Click on this link by the end of this month to download a nice little cookbook with recipes by Mario Batali and gorgeous table settings by David Tutera inspired by Natalie (Chickpea Fritters!) Portman, Marisa Tomei, Stanley Tucci, Chris Daughtry, and Debra Messing. Every download nets America's Second Harvest a $1.00 donation, so we all win.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Gluten-Free Kitchen Cupboard

As if her post on Fried Chickpeas wasn't blogworthy enough, Gluten-Free Gobsmacked has another recent post on how to stock your gluten-free cupboard. The plethora of baking products that has sprung up in my kitchen to replace two bags of flour (white and whole wheat) is just out of control these days and I will have to absorb Gobsmacked's educational post several times.

The good news is that the Wheatless One, Dan, has been hard at work to create a built-in corner cupboard in our kitchen. Here's a shot of the venerable bead-board under construction.

I anxiously await filling it with my heavy food processor and stand mixer and various other appliances and dishes that lurk around in odd corners, needing hefting and dusting whenever I ratchet up the dinner preparations. The plan is to then have a separate couple of shelves in the other cupboards in our kitchen devoted to gluten-free baking supplies.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl

We eat a lot of broccoli in our house and I make a lot of broccoli-tofu-soy sauce combos, but tonight I broke out of the rut with some quinoa and crumbled up gluten-free veggie burgers to make a really delicious and FRUGAL supper. The kids weren't as impressed as Dan and I, but they are at the age where I can point them to the peanut butter jar if they don't like the main meal at my restaurant.

A lot of veggie burgers are not gluten-free, so make sure you read labels religiously. I used Franklin Farms burgers which I find next to the tofu in the refrigerated case at the grocery store.

Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
Olive oil
2 stalks broccoli, broken into florets and stalk diced coarsely
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 gluten-free veggie burgers, crumbled
2 Tbsp. brown miso

Place quinoa, water and salt in pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork.

Saute garlic in 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add broccoli and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water to pan and cover and simmer 3-4 minutes, until broccoli is tender-crisp. Add veggie burgers and miso and stir until heated through.


Serves 4.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger Event #2

The Book of Yum is again hosting an Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event. From now until April 7th, bloggers are encouraged to pick a food blogger that has lots of gluten-free recipes and "adopt" them by trying out a recipe, blogging about it, and linking back to the Book of Yum so she can make up a roundup of recipes.

Last time around, I had a lot of fun making Gluten A Go Go's Cola Cake and this time, I am adopting a U.K. blogger, Jeena's Kitchen, and plan to try out her Onion Bhajis recipe. This has been a good way for me to actually do something with all those great bookmarked gluten-free recipes.

See you in the test kitchen!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Saratoga Gluten Free Goods Blog

Capital District residents can now check out the newsy blog about Saratoga Gluten Free Goods. I've written before about this new gluten-free vendor and their delicious baked treats and now you can find out what new products they are offering and where to purchase and order them by checking in with Head Bakers Jeanne and MaryAnna directly. Check out their new Spring Cookie Boxes here.

Polenta Fries

Kate over at the Gluten Free Gobsmacked has a great recipe for polenta fries. You make up a batch of polenta, add in seasonings (I added 3 Tbsp. of nutritional yeast for a little extra vitamin power and flavor and used gluten-free vegetable broth instead of chicken broth), slice and bake in the oven. Here's the link to her wonderful recipe.

Everyone in the family (two omnivores, one vegetarian, one vegan) loved them and I did a happy dance having to only plan and cook one dinner meal. We tried them out with an artist's palette of dipping sauces: ketchup, our beloved Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce, Creamy Dill Dressing, Sweet and Sour Sauce and Marinara. Consensus: Tomato-Based concoctions rule.

Try them out soon; this is easy if you have time to let the polenta cool and harden.

**Side note: With a vegan diner in the family now, I went back and tagged a bunch of recipes on this blog, so you can check them out in the right-hand side bar.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sea Breeze Slice

Another Aussie/Kiwi recipe we tackled this week is a layered dessert called Jelly Slice. I found a recipe a Joyce's Fine Cooking Blog and played around with it to make a gluten-free version. We had some wild flavors of jello laying around from the Youngest Girl Child's recent science homework project, so I substituted cranberry jello for raspberry and I also had no lemons around, so used limes for the middle layer. The result, a probably more tart version of this dessert, but one reminiscent of the Sea Breeze Cocktail, was pronounced delicious by one and all.

I realize that gelatin is not meat-free in the least, and is in fact, derived from yummy slaughterhouse leavings, like bones and cartilage. I just am not at the stage in my culinary prowess where I can sling around agar-agar or guar gum or some other gelatinous vegetable substitute. Until sometime in the future when this happens, here's a hoof-in-mouth dessert that was pretty, tasty and a treat for adults and young 'uns alike:

Sea Breeze Slice

Top Layer:

1 (3 oz.) pkg. cranberry (or other red) jello
1-1/2 cups boiling water

Middle Layer:

1 (14 oz.) can condensed milk
Juice of 2 limes
1 Tbsp. (one packet) plain unflavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water

Bottom Layer:

50 gluten-free vanilla cookies (I used 2/3 of a 9 oz. box of Envirokids vanilla animal cookies
1/4 lb. butter (one stick), melted

Dissolve cranberry jello in boiling water. Let cool.

Crush cookies in food processor until they are fine crumbs. Mix in melted butter. Press into a 7x11 (2 quart) glass baking dish and place in refrigerator to set until firm (about 10 minutes).

Dissolve unflavored gelatin in boiling water. Add lime juice and condensed milk. Stir to blend. Pour over cookie crumb crust once it is set. Let middle layer chill in refrigerator until set (about 45 minutes).

Gently spoon cranberry gelatin on top for the final layer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator until set (1-2 hours).

Serves 8.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Grandma's Iced Tea

The bedraggled, grimy snow crust must be banished from the lands and so I make my Grandma's famous iced tea recipe. The taste of summer; iced tea and freshly squeezed oranges with a hint of mint. In season, I use crushed spearmint from the garden but now a few mint tea bags suffice.

Grandma's Iced Tea

One pot boiling water
A mix of your favorite teas (I use 6 Lipton's tea bags, 2 mint tea bags and 4 orange-spice tea bags)
Honey or sugar to taste
Juice of 4 oranges
Juice of 1 lemon

Boil water and brew up your tea. Sweeten with honey or sugar and add in citrus juices. Mix in a large pitcher with ice water. In summer, crush a handful of mint leaves and add in. Let stand at least 1-2 hours to meld flavors.

Waste Not Cheesy Chiles Pizza

In the continuing saga of trying to pare down the cost of the gluten-free diet, I attempted to feed my family on a recipe found on the back of the Arrowhead Mills brown rice flour bag. It was frugal, yes, but not warmly received by the gang.

I will relay the recipe below, which was somewhat of a bland spoon bread sort of thing, but it scored a hit when I split it, dolled it up with tomato sauce and cheese and toasted in the oven for a pizza-like concoction. Frugal dining restored! (By the way, given these recessionary times, I went back and tagged all the frugal gluten-free recipes on this blog so they are easily accessed on the labels link on the right-hand side).

Cheesy Green Chiles Casserole

1 small can green chiles, diced (I drained the juice)
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1-1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch flour (don't confuse with plain potato flour)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups milk
2 eggs, separated (beat egg whites until foamy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix chiles and onions with the grated cheese. Lay in a 8x8x2 baking pan (I used a 2 quart glass baking dish).

Mix dry ingredients. Add milk and egg yolks, mixing only until moistened. Fold in egg whites. Pour into casserole. Mix lightly. Bake 40 minutes.

Serves 6-8.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

K D's Fish Fry - A GF Restaurant Find

A hearty thank you to Suzanne over at Gluten Free Saratoga for alerting me to the pleasures of KD's Fish Fry in Ballston Spa. This restaurant offers gluten-free breading and a dedicated fryer so there's no contamination worries. Their cole slaw is awesome and does not contain the egregious addition of pineapple. Although we were too full from the gigantic portions of fried calamari to sample anything else, they have a nice selection of gluten-free desserts.

The restaurant is located at 418 Geyser Road in Ballston Spa, just off Route 50 near the entrance to Saratoga State Park. You can check out their website for directions and the menu. KD's is open every day 11 am to 9 pm (Sundays noon to 7 pm) so there's no excuse not to plan a road trip for some gluten-free goodness.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Book Review: The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide

Triumph Dining sent me a review copy of their third edition of "The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide, 2008-2009" and overall it is a very good reference.

The book is organized into clear sections: The first details practical advice to avoid being glutened when dining out. Not all of these ideas are obvious, common-sense strategies and I absorbed some new ways to communicate our family's special diet needs in different kinds of restaurants.

The second section makes up the bulk of the book and is a state-by-state listing of restaurants that at the very least are aware of gluten-free diners' needs and can offer up something more than just a "hold the croutons" attitude. The publisher notes whether a gluten-free menu is available, whether specific gluten-free baked goods or pastas are on hand, and offers a guide about entree prices. This second part includes chain restaurants as well as individually owned restaurants and special notes are included where managers and owners offer tips about gluten-free specialties or the need to call ahead for certain dishes.

The final section of the book details menu items from chain restaurants that are gluten-free, although there is always the need to confirm that dishes are prepared in a gluten-free manner and that ingredients and suppliers have not changed since the publication of this book. Chains from Taco Bell to Cold Stone Creamery to Panera Bread Company are included.

This book is a great resource for business travelers and families who travel a lot so that they can save time and anxiety and focus on other things. The restaurants with gluten-free dining options are mostly centered in larger cities and this book will be most useful for trips to these urban centers. I was pleased to see several restaurants from our corner of upstate New York included in the book, including Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Bakery and Cafe in Brunswick and will be advising the publishers of several more eateries which can be added to the next edition. No doubt I will be dogearing and annotating this book quite a bit when we are on the road.

The book can be ordered on Triumph Dining's website for $23.95. They also feature a gluten-free grocery guide and dining cards tailored to restaurants of various cuisines to help make ordering safe and healthy.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sherry Lynn's Bakery Now Online

The good folks over at Sherry Lynn's Gluten-Free Bakery and Cafe in Brunswick, New York now have some of their gluten-free treats available for mail-order purchase at their new website. I can vouch for the yumminess of their apple fritters and chocolate chip cookies, having sampled them at their cafe at our visit last October.

Coca-Cola Cake KO'd by Canine

I made a delicious Coca-Cola Cake as per Gluten A Go Go's wonderful recipe. This cake is moist, chewy (as most gluten-free cakes I bake don't seem to be) and has a great, exotic flavor. The Turbinado sugar crystals also give a nice crunch to the cake. I substituted equal amounts of cornstarch for arrowroot powder and xanthan gum for the kudzu powder called for by Sheltie Girl, Head Baker at Gluten a Go Go, and this seemed to work out just fine.

All humans in the family gave this cake a thumbs up when I served it for dessert. Unfortunately, a certain thumbless member of the pack

got her snout under the cake cover during the night and gobbled up and licked a third of the remaining deliciousness. It is a testament to the delectability of Sheltie Girl's creation that we all just cut off the dog-slobbered part and chowed down on it the next day. It's that good.

This chapter in my Adventures in Gluten-Free Baking was brought to you by Sea over at the Book of Yum who is hosting an Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger Event to get us all trying out some new recipes. Gluten A Go Go has lots of great recipes, particularly for baked goods, as well as wealth of interesting links and articles, and I would urge you to check it out. Thanks Sea and Sheltie Girl!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Rice and Parsley Pottage

The wintry mix continues to belabor us here in upstate New York, so we're fighting back with hot pots of soup. Here's a cheap and nourishing soup to warm your innards:

Rice and Parsley Pottage

3 Tbsp. corn oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
4 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
2 quarts water
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. gluten-free vegetable broth base
3/4 cup uncooked rice
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup grated Romano

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft and golden. Add potatoes, half of the parsley, water, salt, pepper and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat and cover. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until rice is cooked.

Remove from heat and stir in remaining parsley, butter and Romano.

Makes 6-8 servings.