Friday, March 25, 2011

Gluten Free Food Seminar at Price Chopper HQ in Schenectady, April 13

Attention Capital District Crispy Cook Readers:

Price Chopper is hosting a Gluten Free Food Seminar on Wednesday, April 13 from 6-8 pm at their corporate headquarters, 461 Nott Street in Schenectady.  The Seminar features samples from various food vendors and cooking demonstrations by Elizabeth Barbone and Amy Rota-Poulin. Nutritionist Ellie Wilson will also be on hand to answer questions. The cost to attend the seminar is $10.

I have raved about Elizabeth Barbone before on The Crispy Cook (we really dig her lemon bars and banana bread) and can highly recommend her Easy Gluten-Free Baking book to you.  She really breaks down her recipes into easily understandable steps and doesn't get too wild with funky ingredients you can't find.

I haven't yet met Amy Rota-Poulin, who is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island and has become an expert on gluten-free cooking since her husband was diagnosed with gluten intolerance.  However, I have enjoyed reading her blog, Gluten Free with Amy, and will have to track down a copy of her new cookbook "Cooking Gluten Free with Amy".

To find out more about this event, contact Maureen Murphy, Manager of Consumer Trends, Nutrition and Lifestyles at 518-379-1617 or send her a $10 check to reserve your spot at 461 Nott Street, Box 204, Schenectady, NY 12308 by April 7.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mad Housewife Wine Contest at Girlichef

In the spirit of March Madness, my good blogger buddy Heather, of Girlichef fame, is hosting a really fun contest.  From now until March 26th, she is featuring the award-winning Mad Housewife wines, which include a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, White Zinfandel, and Chardonnay.  The contest asks the oenological question, "What type are you?".

Well, if I could have FOUND some Mad Housewife in a twenty mile radius of my house, I would have loved to answer that question.  I popped in to Tim's Liquors in South Glens Falls, where Tim was puffing away on one of his eternal cigarettes (despite this unpleasant smokiness he does have a good wine selection), and inquired about Mad Housewife.  "Never heard of it", croaked Tim hoarsely, but he promised to look into it.

Next I tried Diamond Plaza Wines and Liquors in South Glens Falls where I managed to pry the shop clerk away from her soap opera for a query about Mad Housewife for two seconds, before her eyes glazed over again. 

Okay, says I, they must carry Mad Housewife at Mohan's in Queensbury, which is a big discount wine and liquor supermarket, but nooooooo... I inquired after Mad Housewife and got a funny look from the lady at the checkout counter.  "Well", I pointed out, "you do carry Smoking Loon, Menage a Trois, Il Bastardo, Gnarly Head and Mommy's Time Out, so why no Mad Housewife?" "Good question", said the clerk, "I'll make a note of it".

So I did my best to try and enter Girlichef's fun contest, and I feel like I would have enjoyed a glass of their Merlot, since I am that type of spicy red Mad Housewife according to my dear husband.  To get in the spirit of the contest, I had my daughter doll me up with a boatload of lipstick and eyebrow pencil to resemble Ruby, the Mad Housewife Mascot, (that's Ruby on the right) and I made do with another Merlot-who-shall-remain-nameless in my wineglass.

Gotta go.  My second glass of wine awaits....

A Gluten Free Product Review and Giveaway: Love Grown Granola

I used to really like granola, but after cracking a chunk of molar off one morning while chomping on some, I turned to other breakfasty items (turns out the cracked molar was from clenching my teeth at night; who knew?).  Then the old man got the celiac thing, so since most granolas contain non-certified gluten-free oats, we just haven't had it around. Oats don't contain gluten per se, but they tend to be contaminated with gluten from the milling and processing of wheat, rye and barley, so you must buy certified gluten-free oats to avoid getting glutened.

Enter Colorado-based Love Grown Foods and their bewitching troika of Gluten Free Granolas: Cocoa Goodness, Raisin Almond Crunch and Sweet Cranberry Pecan.  Whoa!  They are really tasty.  Love Grown sent me a free box with a bag each of these three varieties and a couple of little packets of Raisin Almond Crunch (perfectly sized for tucking into the lunch sack with some yogurt for a delicious parfait later on).

The Crispy Crew and I all really enjoyed them. I've tried some other gluten free granolas, and they were alright but not praiseworthy. However, these three varieties from Love Grown are in the gourmet category, full of delicious ingredients, like little chocolate chips in the Cocoa Goodness, a hint of cinnamon and nutty little sunflower seeds in the Raisin Almond Crunch and pecans and dried cranberries in the Sweet Cranberry Pecan.  The Love Grown granolas are sweetened with agave syrup and are terrific when partnered with some thick Greek-style yogurt for a healthy breakfast or snack.  Even my persnickety teen daughter who typically doesn't like yogurt or granola scarfed down most of the Cocoa Goodness bag on her own in this fashion.

The good news is that not only can I heartily endorse all three flavors of the Love Grown granolas to you but the company has courteously agreed to send a box to one of you containing a bag each of each granola flavor. Just leave a comment below and I'll randomly pick a winner from them after April 5, 2011. This giveaway offer is limited to U.S. residents.

In the meantime, you can check out the Love Grown website to find out detailed information about ingredients, where to buy these tasty cereals and find out about their Love for Love promotion for Facebook users, where you can receive a package of their dee-licious granola if you post some pix and comments on the Love Grown Wall.

Happy Chomping!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cook the Books Review: An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof

As one terribly winter-weary North Country resident, I was glad to have an armchair sea voyage to warmer climes courtesy of Ann Vanderhoof in her book "An Embarrassment of Mangoes" (Doubleday Canada, 2003).  This fun book is the current selection of The Cook the Books Club , a bimonthly foodie book club and was chosen by my CTB cohort Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.

Vanderhoof's book is about the two-year sailing trip that she and her husband Steve made from their home in Toronto down through the Caribbean. Long distance sailing holds no appeal for my hobbity self, but I was glad to have this vicarious vacation in a dust jacket while foot upon foot of snow and other variants of frozen precipitation visited my home pretty much every couple of days these many long winter weeks. It was nice to imagine myself basking in sunshine, sipping a rum punch and bopping to soca, that combination of soul and calypso music that screams "party time!"

The author's prose is very descriptive and certainly lauds the wonders and beauty of cruising around the West Indies, but she doesn't gloss over poverty in the region or the down side of sailing.  I loved her passage about the day long chore of scrubbing, washing and repacking of foodstuffs when stashing new provisions to avoid bringing bugs on board. Vanderhoof was lucky to make friends with a Grenadian buddy, Dingis, who is a master in the kitchen and offered to teach her some of her cooking secrets.

I was entranced by the description of Dingis' lobster curry, so despite the very dear cost of the crustacean, I got one steamed at the fish counter of my supermarket and brought him home, scarlet and stiff, in a waterlogged paper bag.  I cracked the meat out and then stuffed the shells into a pot with some vegetable trimmings collected in my freezer stash and boiled it all up for a delicious lobster broth that was later cooked up into a lobster-scented rice.

The lobster rice served as my base for Dingis' Lobster Curry (recipe on page 127 of the book).  I was surprised that the lobster wasn't overwhelmed by all the seasonings in this dish; curry powder, peppers sweet and hot, garlic, onion, ketchup and vinegar.  The next time I would use poor man's lobster, i.e., chunks of monkfish, or maybe some large shrimp, because of the cost, but the sauce was really luscious.

A delicious Island dinner needed a toothsome ending, so I also made up some Mango Crisp (p. 133), which had a great zing from some chopped crystallized ginger.

There's still time to join in the fun at Cook the Books. Deb will be accepting entries from readers who like to head for the kitchen after reading a great book until Friday, March 25th. Be sure to stop back to CTB headquarters after the deadline to see the roundup of Embarrassing Mango posts and then to see which entry will be picked by our special guest judge, our esteemed author herself, Ann Vanderhoof!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Austrian Kale and Potatoes

Okay, so this is not a great photo, even for me, of what was really a wonderful dish. So my apologies for not having the patience to set up my traveling photo studio (two lamps and a popup white tent contraption which live in the basement) and snap a fab photo. But do try this awesome vegetarian stew if you would like a new way to cook up kale, which is so packed with nutrients and available pretty cheap this time of year.  

I dove into my shoebox recipe card file and retrieved this recipe, provenance unknown, for Austrian Kale, and it was a great blend of tender, frilled bits of kale in a potato and celery base. You can thicken up the stew with a bit of grated cheese, but I liked it on its own, with its delicate flavors.  It was even better the next day heated up for lunch.

Austrian Kale and Potatoes

1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. oil

2 cups vegetable stock
4 potatoes (not russets), peeled and cut into chunks
2 stalks celery, chopped

2 bunches kale, chopped into 1 inch ribbons

Heat oil in large frying pan. Add onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until lightly browned. Add vegetable stock, potatoes and celery and bring to a boil.

Lower heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add kale and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and then add to the potatoes and simmer 10 minutes longer.

Season with salt and pepper.

This was a hearty vegetarian main dish supper for 4 with a couple of lunchtime leftover servings.

I'm sending a bowl of this great dish over to Real Sustenance for her weekly Seasonal Sundays roundup of delectable dishes using foods in season.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Gluten Free Nosh of Newsy Bits

Things are always changing in the Gluten Free Blogosphere, so here's a couple of interesting things that I have found over the past week:

Gluten Freely Resource

General Mills has rolled out its revised Gluten Freely website, and it's full of health information, coupons, recipes, lifestyle articles, monthly news from several GF bloggers and an online store where you can purchase hundreds of gluten-free products, including a couple of great gluten-free gift packs for the GF newbie or for chocolate lovers.

The recipes are naturally heavy on using General Mills products (there are many, many variations of Chex Mix and snacks involving Chex), but overall this is a great resource for anyone who is new to the gluten free lifestyle or who wants some fresh cooking ideas. Gluten Freely is endorsed by the University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Celiac Research and University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, so you can trust the medical and health information on the site.

No Need to Hold the Mustard

I did a major Christmas faux pas this past December when I tucked a bottle of Nance's Sharp and Creamy mustard into my husband's stocking. I had remembered that it was his favorite mustard of yore but didn't remember that it contained wheat flour as a thickener. I didn't read the label when shopping, though Dan thankfully did before ingesting it and gently reminded me that he couldn't eat it.

I emailed the company that makes Nance's mustard, BR Foods, and asked if they would consider reformulating their product to make it gluten free. To my surprise, they said they already had done so for all of their mustard products. I hot footed it to the market where I picked up a new and definitely improved jar of Nance's mustard to present to my hubby. He is a happy sandwich eater once more. That's the gluten-free Nance's Sharp and Creamy Mustard on the left in the photo below. There might still be some older stock of the glutenous mustard on grocery shelves, so do read your labels.

Gluten Free Rice Krispie Treats in the Near Future?

Gluten Free Appetite reports that the Kellogg's Company is planning to roll out revised versions of its popular breakfast cereals, like Rice Krispies, to be certified gluten free by June 2011. I will be on the lookout for that so I can make him up a batch of Rice Krispie Treats. Right now I make up Cocoa Pebbles marshmallow treats, but he's not a chocoholic and wants the traditional Rice Krispie treats of his youth.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gluten Free Product Review: Lundberg Brown Rice Couscous

Couscous, I have missed you. Your quick cooking time, your delightful nuggety-ness, your ability to soak up tasty dressings and sauces. But alas, couscous is made of little bits of gluteny semolina flour and so we haven't enjoyed it at our house for the last five years.

Until now.

Lundberg Family Farms, a family-owned rice farm in California, has launched a new product line of Brown Rice Couscous. They take their organic brown rice, grind it up into small pieces, roast it and then package it up plain, or with seasoning packets to make three other flavors: Savory Herb, Mediterranean Curry (my favorite) and Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil.

Lundberg Farms sent me a package each of their four flavors of Brown Rice Couscous to try and I can enthusiastically endorse it. What a great product. It's got great fiber from the brown rice, it's kosher and vegan in addition to being gluten-free, and it can be used as a quick side dish to zip up simple dinners or as an ingredient in a casserole or main dish salad. While this rice couscous is not quite as quick cooking as wheat-based couscous which I used to throw into boiling water, cover, take off the heat and let steam for 5-10 minutes, it is only a little more time intensive, with a fifteen minute cooking time after tossing in the brown rice couscous into boiling water.

I found all four varieties of Lundberg Farms Brown Rice Couscous at my local Hannaford's supermarket where they were selling for $3.19 a box.  I also noticed that Lundberg Farms is  the source of the brown rice in the Hannaford Bulk Foods Bin, so that was interesting.

There are some great recipes for all kinds of rice dishes on the Lundberg Farms website as well as other information, including a printable coupon for 75 cents off the Brown Rice Couscous so you might want to stop over and check it out.

* Disclosure: Thank you to Lundberg Farms for sending me these four boxes of couscous to sample.  I received these items for free, but was not compensated otherwise.  My opinions are completely my own and I was not influenced by this company to write a positive review.  And that's always the way it is on The Crispy Cook with my product reviews.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Consider the Rutabaga

As the mom and head cook of my household, there are little food sacrifices that I make all the time. I constantly DON'T cook things that only I like to eat, like Pasta Puttanesca (caper and olive phobes in the house), Scalloped Oysters (now that my mother-in-law is no longer with us, I'm the only one that likes that Thanksgiving favorite), Pasta with Anchovies (don't get my husband started on defaming them as hairy, stinky eyebrows), Beets?  Fuhgettaboutit. And I only buy those delectable little jars of pickled herring for parties when my buddy Lisa, she of Finnish extraction, is going to be around to nibble with me. I figure it's not frugal or fair to make up up a whole pot of something that only I am going to enjoy.

But I ask you, dear readers, is it wrong to occasionally cook up something I crave from my pre-finicky family days? No, I say! Everything in moderation, as my wise Grandma used to say. There must be payback for all those sleepless nights walking my ear-achey babies around and being the only one that can find things in the refrigerator for my appliance-challenged husband.  (there's a finite amount of space in the fridge, so I don't know why he can't find stuff).

And so I splurged on a rutabaga.

A little one, comparatively. About 1.5 lbs.

Rutabagas can be much larger, but I picked up this very cute purple-topped beauty, gleaming in its skin of wax.  The wax keeps the 'baga from wilting away during storage.  It's a member of the Brassica family, closely related to the whiter, smaller turnip, but with a mellower flavor.  Once stripped of its skin, the flesh is a pale golden color that deepens into a yellowy-orange when cooked.

My grandma, she of the moderation exhortation above, would make mashed rutabaga for holiday meals and she and I always partook of it, but my nuclear family will have none of it, so I chomp it down myself and subsequently only buy a rutabaga every few years. I think it is very earthy and tasty, steamed in chunks until tender and then mashed with salt, pepper and butter.  It is a great source of fiber and Vitamins A and C.

The rutabaga is also known as a Swede (if you are English or Australian), a kalrot (if you are a non-vegetable Swede),  or a neep (if you are a Scot).  I find it curious that it has so many funny sounding names.  Apparently this root vegetable inspires a lot of humor, because it is also the star of the annual
International Rutabaga Curl, an annual end-of-the-season Ithaca Farmers Market event.  The vegetable has even inspired a fabulous Handel-inspired Rutabaga Chorus.

So I cooked up my rutabaga and then decided to try a recipe for a Rutabaga Souffle from my shoebox card file.  I don't know where I got the original recipe, but I halved it and tweaked it a bit and the result was so good that I was even able to tempt Mr. Crispy into trying it on his dinner plate.  He said it was better than eating it plain mashed, so while he might not be a Rutabaga Convert, I think I might step up to buy a rutabaga each year!

Here's my recipe for Rutabaga Souffle, which can be easily doubled for rutabaga loving folk:

Rutabaga Souffle

1 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks (about 2 cups)

3 Tbsp. softened butter
1-1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs, separated

2 Tbsp. sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

Lightly grease a small casserole dish with softened butter, reserving remaining butter for rutabagas.

Place rutabaga chunks in a small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low, cover and simmer until rutabaga is fork-tender (about 15-20 minutes).  Drain.

Mash rutabaga with softened butter and try to get most of the lumps out.  Add onion powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Beat in egg yolks.

Beat egg whites in separate bowl until stiff.  Fold in gently but thoroughly into rutabaga mixture. 

Turn into buttered casserole dish and bake in a 325 degree F oven for 45-50 minutes.  Sprinkle souffle with grated cheese and bake another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Makes 4 servings.

I will be sending this post over to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Yasmeen Health Nut. Weekend Herb Blogging is a popular food blog event, now in its fifth year, headquartered in Melbourne, Australia by the lovely Haalo of Cook Almost Anything (who has yet to cook a rutabaga judging from a quick search of her blog!)