Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Review of Two New Gluten Free Books, Some Buns and Two Giveaways

Demos Health has recently published two revised editions of books of interest to the gluten-free community and sent me two review copies to look over. The first book I examined is Kim Koeller and Robert La France's "Let's Eat Out Around the World: Gluten Free and Allergy Free" (4th edition, 2014).

I think that this book will be most useful to folks who travel a great deal for work or who frequently dine in restaurants AND for restaurant professionals who want to understand how to prepare meals for the increasing number of guests who require safe meals. The book not only provides information about gluten-free dining, but offers extensive data about other common allergens, like peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, dairy and others. The 45 pages of introductory material about the author's experiences and backgrounds seemed overly long, but the rest of the book is a great resource about how to make traveling abroad and eating out much easier for those on restricted diets. The information about how to pack healthy, emergency snacks is detailed and there are a number of other travel tips, and nice lists of online and mobile applications.

I found the chapters on how certain dishes are prepared in various types of restaurants (steak and seafood, Mexican, Thai, Italian, French, Indian, Chinese) the most interesting and helpful. The authors break down what types of ingredients are used in standard recipes for these mainstay dishes and where the pitfalls in contamination with unwanted ingredients or preparation techniques might occur, so that diners can easily communicate their requests to their servers. They describe typical menus in these different restaurants and it is enormously heartening to see that it is possible, if equipped with knowledge about what might be offered at these venues, to eat both adventurously and well on a gluten-free, allergy-free diet.

The book is written in a very matter-of-fact tone, reading much like a business book, and is well-illustrated with many color photos. Koeller has posted a number of video posts back at the Demos Health website, including gluten-free snack ideas, gluten-free alcoholic beverages, and tips on how to effectively communicate your dining needs to restaurant staff.

The second book out from Demos Health is Marlisa Brown's "Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back to Health" (2nd edition, 2014).

This book is a great choice for anyone who has just been diagnosed with a gluten-free condition, as it provides easy-to-follow, comforting advice on everything from how to restock one's kitchen, how to read food labels, a 30-day gluten-free meal plan, entertaining tips and sample menus, and many other topics. The focus is on ease and simplicity: whether it's switching out certain ingredients or favorite brands, or choosing from a long list of menus and recipes for dishes that are naturally gluten-free. Brown provides constant encouragements and has a friendly, reassuring writing style, certainly most welcome when one is first confronted by a diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten-intolerance, but equally valued by this reader who is now cooking and eating gluten-free with her family after seven years.

There were many nuggets of information I gleaned from reading the pages and many unusual recipes to try, not just the old standards. How about Arepas stuffed with cheese and roasted red pepper and baked until golden and gooey? (p. 98) Or Quofte (Albanian Meatballs)? (p. 263) Or Spinach and Feta Pie? (p. 306) If you would like to test drive one of Brown's recipes, this recipe for carrot cake  or this recipe for Turkey-Avocado Melt might do the trick. I tried a batch of Brown's hamburger buns, which use mashed potatoes, were very chewy and had a great taste and texture.

As with Koeller and LaFrance's book above, Brown devotes many pages to advice on how to dine out without glutening or stress, and even includes translated text on dining out cards in fourteen different languages to provide to restaurant servers. From Polish to Greek to Mandarin, this is a wonderful bonus.

Demos Health has also launched a revised publisher's website that is a good resource for health information of all kinds, with blog posts (written and video formats), on everything from celiac issues to elder care for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease, so be sure to check this out as well.

And now for the giveaways! Demos Health has graciously offered a complimentary copy of each of the above titles. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below by March 5, 2014, midnight Eastern Standard Time, about which book you would be interested in receiving and why and I'll pick a randomly generated winner from them. Giveaway limited to United States residents.

*Note: I received complimentary copies of the above titles from the publisher, but as always, I was not obligated to post a review of them and my comments about them are completely my own.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cooking from Babette's Feast: A Movie Review and some Easy Aioli

Every month the hosts at Food 'n Flix pick a movie and participants then cook up something in its honor. This month the film is truly wonderful: Babette's Feast, an Oscar-winning 1987 Danish movie based on an Isak Dinesen short story. I won't give away any plot spoilers (a great synopsis and film commentary can be found here), but it is a fantastic film on so many levels. The acting is superb, the cinematography makes even the most desolate Nordic shoreline or humble kitchen scene seem fascinating and inviting, and the costumes and sets of the 19th century Danish estates and humble cottages are splendid. Babette, the French live-in servant to two elderly Puritan spinster sisters, has the most fabulous hooded cloak designed by Karl Lagerfeld, which shields her from raging seaside storms and adds a mysterious allure to even the most mundane of her household chores.

It is a period drama and yet full of humor. The Danish sisters Martine and Philippa that take in the French Civil War refugee Babette seem to subsist on reconstituted outdoor-dried flounder and a horrendous concoction, Ale Bread, that involves more reconstituting, this time of dried bread hunks, into a unappealing porridge. The household cuisine gradually takes on more flavor and variety when Babette enters the scene, a change which is most eagerly welcomed by the shut-ins that Martine and Philippa bring food to as one of their charitable good works. When Babette leaves for a short time at the end of the film, the look on one of the invalid's face when he sees Ale Bread back in his house is priceless.

And then there is the metaphor of food and feasting as a way of celebrating life and good friends and even honoring God, as the sisters and their fellow elderly congregants find out at the end of the transformative meal that is the centerpiece of the film. I loved the change in the diners' faces as they go from grumpy to positively ecstatic (certainly the multiple glasses of fine wine helped) by the end of the meal. One of them, a pink-cheeked, bright-eyed woman named Solveig, steals the scene in this regard, taking a sip of water to refresh her palate before knocking back another glass of burgundy, taking care to lick every drop from her lips.

Scene stealer Solveig is third from the left

For my culinary tip of the hat to this outstanding film, I wanted to make something French. Babette is the wise heroine that has found peace in her new homeland and with gentle Martine and Philippa, and wants to give them the gift of a fine meal to honor their dead father and religious leader. She spends all that she has to give them this present, brushing aside the sisters' protestations when they learn of it, with a simple declaration: "a great artist is never poor."

Husband Dan has recently discovered an insanely easy way to make homemade aioli, which we have been slathering on our sandwiches, dolloping on top of salads, and love alongside steamed artichokes.

Dan makes it in a drinking glass using an immersion blender. The trick is to choose the right glass. You want something with tall sides and that is just a little bit wider than the immersion blender so the tool can go up and down easily and you can see that the aioli is emulsifying and getting to the right creamy consistency. Here's his recipe:

Dan's Easy Homemade Aioli

1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. water
Juice of one small lemon (about 2 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup canola oil
2 cloves roasted garlic (peeled)
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients except salt in your glass. Blend with immersion blender moving slowly up and down the glass until all ingredients have been mixed together and it is a creamy consistency. This takes a minute at most. Season with salt to taste.

Makes 1 cup aioli. Store tightly covered and use within a week or so. Not a problem in our house.

That's it!  A remarkably easy recipe and one which adapts to other mix-in flavors, like Chipotles in Adobo sauce (that's the red in the photo above) , roasted red peppers, curry powder or fresh chopped herbs.

Many, many bravos to Babette's Feast! Thanks to Culinary Adventures with Camilla for picking this great film for Food 'n Flix. Stop by later this week to see the roundup of other Babette's Feast posts.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

An Indian Inspired Vegan and Gluten Free Feast

The North Wind just keeps on blowing this winter here in upstate New York, but rather than feeling housebound here at the Crispy Casa (and watching too many icy sports in the Sochi Winter Olympics) we've warmed up with books, films, music and foods focused on more sultry climes.

The subcontinent of India has beckoned with the wonderful travel memoir by Tahir Shah "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" about his days learning the tricks of magic and illusion in Calcutta. I've also devoured two of the four witty mysteries by Tarquin Hall featuring chubby Delhi private investigator Vish Puri and his motley gang of operatives.

India was the theme of a recent dinner and a movie date with one of our favorite couples, Joe and Lisa, last week. Joe's a vegan and Lisa, like my husband Dan, must dine gluten-free, so there was some planning involved in getting a menu for a delicious feast for us all. I consulted with my cookbook library (Madhur Jaffrey was most helpful, as was Isa Chandra Moskowitz) and found some great recipes and inspiration. We had recently had a trip to the Asian markets in Albany to stock up on edible supplies, so our menu came together very nicely:

A Vegan and Gluten Free Feast

I buy these packaged chickpea (or gram) flour disks and then puff them up individually in the microwave for about a minute and a half, rather than frying them in oil, as the package instructs. They come in a variety of flavors and brands, but be sure to read the ingredient labels to make sure no wheat flour is added.

Spicy Eggplant in Tomato Sauce
I adjusted a great recipe I found in beautifully illustrated coffee table cookbook. "The Food of India" (Bay Books, 2002) which called for fried wedges of those cute little round Indian eggplants simmered in a tomato sauce redolent with ginger, garlic, fennel, and coriander.

Steamed Basmati Rice
I sauteed a handful of curry leaves in oil for a few minutes before adding them to the rice cooker.

Punjabi Cabbage
Another riff off a recipe from "The Food of India", very similar to this recipe link here. Basically, you saute chopped cabbage with your whole spice cabinet.

Tamarind Lentils
I used the recipe from Moskowitz's epic "Veganomicon", linked here. The recipe recommends that the regular brown lentils not be used as they might get too mushy, so I used horsegram, which is a kind of legume popular in India that is lentil-y but remains very firm after cooking. My guests liked this recipe a lot, remarking that it was sort of like Indian Baked Beans.

Chopped Cucumbers with Coriander, Salt and Lime

Mango Pickle and Apple-Raisin Chutney
Mango Pickle was store-bought and extremely salty. Just need a little dab on the plate. Apple-Raisin Chutney was homemade from my recipe here.

Baked Curried Tofu
Veganomicon's recipe used here. Very easy to make with the added bonus, that unlike with a meat marinade, one can pour off the marinade from the tofu before baking to reuse as a  base for another sauce or salad dressing.

Chopped Fresh Mango Cubes

I wish I had remembered to take a picture of our beautiful feast as it lay unmolested on our dining table, but alas, I was in full entertainment mode, and only remembered to snap a photo of our leftovers. Just imagine some brightly colored table linens, bhangra music in the background and the smell of exotic spices wafting over us.

To cap off our "trip to India", we all snuggled into the couch to watch a DVD of "Today's Special", a charming foodie flick about an impatient young first generation Indian man who learns how to cook great food, not from being a sous chef in a fancy Manhattan restaurant but from learning how to passionately appreciate life when he helps his ailing father reinvigorate their Indian restaurant in Queens.

I am linking this post up with Weekend Cooking over at Beth Fish Reads, where each Sunday great cooks share their foodie musings and recipes.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Eating our Way through Albany, New York on a Cold Winter's Day

Playing tourist in our own backyard during this interminable winter is one way to beat the cabin fever blahs. It was also the perfect cover for my ruse to lure my husband to a surprise birthday dinner with his favorite loved ones.

The epic journey started with two hours of snow shoveling at home and wrapping up orders at the bookstore, but then finally got our day underway around 1 pm. I told the old man that I would have a bunch of surprise events all day long, nothing expensive, or wild like hot air balloon ride, so he wasn't too suspicious.

We started with lunch out at Casa Dominica (260 Central Avenue), which offered just the sort of soul-satisfying food that rewards a morning of snow drudgery. The restaurant is bright, clean, and welcoming. We didn't speak Spanish like most of the other patrons that day, but we warmly welcomed and then each item in a steaming hot lunch counter was explained to us, always a good thing when you must dine gluten-free. I had cautioned Dan that I had made dinner reservations to cap the day but both of us couldn't help ourselves as we nodded when the proprietor heaped our plates with pork chops, baked and stewed chicken, rice, sweet plantains and roast pork. The latter was particularly wonderful with a wonderful CRISPY crust, all served with a spicy garlic and cilantro sauce on the side.

Leftovers were cheerfully wrapped up (we knew spoilage was no problem in our refrigerated car) and the owner was most gracious to offer his tips about making the roast pork at home: 400 degrees F for three hours covered with foil and then uncovered for an hour more. Water should be added to the roasting pan and replenished as needed to keep it moist. We plan to be back again and again to try all the other tasty-sounding things on the menu (Alcapurrias (Stuffed Plantains), (Mofongo de Pollo (Mashed Plantains with Chicken), Majarete (Corn Custard). Two big thumbs up for Casa Dominica!

Then it was time to walk off some lunch. We headed over to the Historic Albany Foundation's Architectural Parts Warehouse (89 Lexington Avenue) and spent a great time perusing buckets of old doorknobs and porch spindles, bathroom fixtures in a range of styles and hues, tons of old doors and windows and some other intriguing bits of old buildings.

A lot of the most beautiful and unusual items already had SOLD stickers on them, including a magnificent, wall-sized wooden commercial ice box, circa 1910s-20s with great old brass fittings, an entire Victorian interior staircase with ornate carvings, and great chunks of old carved stone.

The Parts Warehouse also offers

but I settled for a kiss from my beloved near some buckets of stair parts.

Our next stop on the Albany Tour was going to be Dnipro Deli, a Russian-Eastern European market on Central Avenue in Colonie that I have shopped at and reported on before, but they were closed and I've since discovered that they have moved to yet another location in Latham. So, we redirected our efforts to checking out Parivar Spices and Food (1275 Central Avenue), where we had never shopped. We stocked up on a ten-pound bag of basmati rice, curry leaves, besan (chickpea flour), and some packaged snack mixes of roasted beans, chickpea "straws" and spices that we like to sprinkle on our curries and rice dishes. The produce selection is not as great as at the nearby India Bazaar, but the owners were helpful and friendly and noticed that I had picked out basmati sella (a yellowish parboiled short-grain rice product) instead of regular long-grain basmati, so I was pleased that they were looking out for me. There's also a cafe in back which we hope to return to in the future. We were there in mid-afternoon, so there were only a handful of folks knocking back the delicious-looking and -smelling plates of food, but it is apparently a local hot spot for Indian food.

The Asian Supermarket (1245 Central Avenue) was the next stop to replenish our supplies of fresh tofu, kimchee, peanut oil, various kinds of gluten-free noodles and other ingredients. Dan was super-psyched to find some gluten-free ramens and we always have fun perusing the massive selection of fruits and vegetables. They had pomelos as big as my head, squeaky fresh bags of snow peas, beautiful round Indian eggplants, and my favorite roasted seaweed snacks. We always buy a few new things, and the prices are so reasonable that it isn't a problem if we don't like them. I got a bottle of gluten-free dumpling sauce in hopes that Dan will whip up some of his great Thai veggie wraps soon and we will be trying to cook up a chayote and some yu choy soon in the Crispy Kitchen.

It was time to lure my husband out to dinner at New World Bistro (300 Delaware Avenue) where our surprise crew awaited. I had to kill some time by pretending I needed to use the restroom at a fast food joint and then insisting we stop at another store to stock up on the GF corn pasta that Dan really likes, so I was thinking fast on my feet. Our Chevy's dashboard lights are in an intermittent state these days too, so I couldn't keep tabs on the time there, so I had to keep surreptitiously flipping open my cell phone to monitor the countdown to surprise time. This is highly suspicious in my case, since I hate my cell phone--AKA pay-as-you-go electronic ankle monitor-- but Dan was oblivious to my actions and to the New World Bistro hostess who announced that our party of 8 was waiting at the bar when we checked in (Argh! This despite my instructions over the phone).

But it was all worth it to see my Dear One's face light up when he saw his buddies. We all had a grand time and enjoyed our meals (okay, my daughter didn't realize a garland of beet cubes would be draped over her scallops) and the cozy ambience and service. They also have an extensive gluten-free menu.

So here's to Staycations in Albany in mid-winter!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2014 List of Gluten Free Blogs That Caught my Eye

There are so many great gluten-free blogs nowadays When I first started this list several years ago, I had fifty or so bloggers listed and then the list ballooned on over 150. I've trimmed it back since then so I can update it more easily and now the list reflects the blogs that I think most effectively cover a certain point-of-view or lifestyle.

There is probably a gluten-free blogger that shares your cooking style, whether you are an adventurous cook who likes to dip into a variety of international cuisines; a mom in need of kid-friendly recipes; a budget-conscious gourmand; someone who loves to bake and is in need of retooling for the gluten-free kitchen or someone who is all of the above! I hope this list and summary helps ease you into the GF lifestyle. I know I am grateful for all the camaraderie, recipes and information I have gleaned from the fantastic and supportive Gluten-Free blogging community.

A Baking Life - There's lots of gorgeous photography and plenty of gluten-free baking going on at Tara's blog about GF living in Maine.

ATX Gluten-Free - ATX stands for Austin, Texas, and Jessica is the amazing cook and GF personal chef who offers news and stylish GF recipes for such cool eats as Caprese Salad Skewers, Spicy Roasted Okra and Red Quinoa with Artichokes, Cranberry and Mushrooms.

The Baking Beauties - Jeannine is a Manitoba Mom who knows her way around the kitchen and is navigating a new gluten-free lifestyle just, well, beautifully! Great baking recipes and photos.

Book of Yum - Vegetarian with some fish and seafood recipes added, this blog features a lot of Asian recipes and recipes that are not only gluten-free, but dairy and egg free. Book of Yum also has a lot of raw food and vegan recipes to try and is the home of the monthly Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger Event.

Brittany Angell - Brittany is a gluten- and dairy-free cook with lots of Skills (that's a capital S there) in the kitchen. Gotta try that won ton dough recipe and soon!

Cannelle et Vanille - Just the most gorgeous food and photography blog you'd ever want to spend hours perusing. The hostess is Aran, a Basque ex-pat living in the U.S. and all the sumptuous recipes are gluten-free.

Celiac Chicks - These New York City gals know where all the good gluten-free restaurants, delis, pizzerias and foodie havens are and also dish out good gluten-free advice about travel. If you sign up for their email newsletter you can also enter contests for free gluten-free products.

Celiac Teen - Lauren's a Canadian teenager interested in good food and fashion and she is one fabulous baker!

The Crispy Cook - Hey, that's my blog! Gluten-free and mostly vegetarian recipes, with the occasional fish and seafood recipe. Some product reviews, gardening posts and other fun stuff.

The Culinary Life -  Culinary Wordsmith Stephanie Stiavetti blogs about gluten-free food, photography, organic cooking, and health issues from her computer in San Francisco.

Diet, Dessert and Dogs - Ricki's the author of "Sweet Freedom: Desserts You’ll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar" and has a great vegan and gluten-free blog with lots of baking and healthy recipes. And the occasional canine photo op.

Flour Arrangements - Sophie's got a sweet tooth, and you'll find plenty of gorgeous photographs of her gluten-free baked goods with mouthwatering recipes.

For the Love of Food - Noosh is the host of this gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and soy-free blog with excellent recipes, including Persian culinary delights.

The GFCF Experience - Blog host Thomas is a Montana father of four who feeds his family a gluten-free, casein-free diet. You'll find lots of great recipes, information about Autism Spectrum Disorder and parenting anecdotes.

Ginger Lemon Girl - Carrie is from North Carolina and has a particular penchant for gluten-free baking. She also hosts a Gluten-Free Girl interview feature which showcases other gluten-free bloggers and a Kid-Friendly Fridays event for gluten-free goodness that kids will lap up.

Gluten Free A-Z - Judee's got some great vegetarian and gluten-free recipes on her blog, as well as health tips, information and resources.

Gluten Free Baking - Elizabeth Barbone is the Gluten Free go to person in New York's Capitol District, and she's the author of several great cookbooks of recipes that are GF versions of old favorites with a dash of new favorites added in too!

Gluten Free Easily
 - Shirley is a dynamo who leads a celiac support group in her native Virginia and is a wealth of information about how to cook with naturally gluten-free and unprocessed foods.

Gluten Free Philly - Get the scoop on new GF products, events and restaurants in the Philadelphia area.

Gluten-Free Cat - This self-described fitness fanatic, health nut, wife, teacher and GF foodie has lots to say about navigating the GF life and offers many awesome recipes too.

Gluten Free Diva - Ellen is a musician and excellent cook, judging from the delectable range of gluten-free recipes on her popular blog.

Gluten Free Frenzy! - This Utah gal has plenty of recipes, giveaways and health tips for the GF community and some great photos to boot!

Gluten Free for Good - Melissa is a nutritional therapist who blogs about the healthiest gluten-free recipes. Wonderful advice and information with the added bonus of lovely food photography.

Gluten-Free Fun - Erin is a New York City resident who has lived gluten-free with gusto for 25 years! You can find product and restaurant reviews, recipes, and other information.

Gluten-Free Girl - Shauna James Ahern married the Chef, published a book and had a perfect baby girl, all in one year. Her blog is more essay than recipe heavy, but when the recipes come, they are perfect and seasonally fresh. Make sure to buy her book, "Gluten-Free Girl" and make your local library buy it too.

Gluten Free Gobsmacked - This girl Cheekalina can cook! Lots of great recipes for everyday comfort foods to the wildly exotic to all kinds of baking.

Gluten Free Goddess - Karina is the Gluten-Free Goddess, whose blog reflects her background as an artist and writer, with lots of gorgeous food photography. Karina's gluten-free and other allergy-friendly recipes have a Southwestern flavor and a focus on fresh and natural ingredients.

Gluten Free Goodness - Cheryl is an Alexandria, Virginia dietician whose blog features her tasty experiments in gluten-free and other allergen-free cooking.

Gluten-Free Gourmand - Get the skinny on gluten-free options in Portland, Oregon and lots of other great posts with recipes and good advice.

Gluten-Free Guidebook - Hilary Davidson is a professional travel writer who was diagnosed with celiac disease five years ago. Her blog has information about celiac-safe dining in cities across North America, as well as Spain, Turkey, Peru and other countries.

Gluten Free in Georgia - I guess I can't say it any better than Ginger in describing her blog, "Adventures in Gluten Freedom with a Crazy Southern Blogger Chick". Decadently good gluten-free and sugar-free recipes, witty writing and lots of fun and useful GF information.

Gluten Free on a Shoestring - This lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mom-of-three really knows how to write. Plus she's funny. Plus she's a creative and frugal cook. Don't miss a chance to visit this blog.

Gluten Free Portland - Dave provides the dish on gluten-free products, eateries and news in the Portland, Oregon area.

Gluten Free Saratoga - Suzanne in Saratoga Springs, New York, dishes out great recipes, tips on gluten-free eateries and groceries in Saratoga County and other interesting tips.

Gluten Free Spinner - Mary is passionate about entertaining friends and family with good food that's gluten-free and kissed with her well-stocked spice shelf.

Gluten Free Taste of Home
 - A blog packed with GF product reviews and giveaways, restaurant reviews, recipes and more from Cinde in Washington State.

Gluten Freeway - Navigating a gluten free life in Los Angeles is the focus of Stephen's new blog, with lots of product and restaurant reviews.

Gluten Hates Me, But I'm Surviving -Marlow is a Southern gal who's having way to much fun in the kitchen cooking great gluten free foods and inventing cool new kinds of martinis.

The Good Eatah - Life with this Massachusetts native involves gluten-free, dairy-free cooking, in between skydiving and biking trips.

Hey, That Tastes Good!- Jill lives in Connecticut and blogs about local gluten-free eateries and has some excellent recipes, as well as the occasional gluten-free travel report from Slovakia.

Hold the Gluten - Maureen is a New Jersey mom with lots of witty information and mouthwatering recipes about life on planet celiac. She even does podcasts...whoa!

Jenn Cuisine - Jenn is a chemist living in Switzerland with a GF husband and an arsenal of awesome photography and culinary skills. Just a breathtakingly delicious site.

Kat's GF Kitchen - Albany, New Yorker Kat has a husband who has recently gone gluten-free and this blog chronicles her cooking adaptations and experiments.

Life Gluten Free - A gluten-free blogger mom with an emphasis on sugar-free and healthy cooking and eco-friendly lifestyle tips. Plus cool crafts!

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures - After suffering from undiagnosed gluten-intolerance for most of her life, Oklahoman Lynn is reveling in retooling her family favorite recipes into delicious foods that are free of gluten, tree nuts, peanuts and sesame.

The Mommy Bowl - Deanna is a Wisconsin mom who blogs gluten-free and dairy-free recipes and information on her blog. Wonderful photographer, too!

No Gluten Required - Kristina has a Master's Degree in Gastronomy, a custom set of Gluten-Free wooden utensils and a whole lot of great recipes, product and restaurant reviews and good advice.

No Gluten, No Problem
 - Kelli and Peter Bronski blog about recipes and gf living and are the authors of "Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking."

No One Likes Crumbley Cookies - Terence Crumbley gives out some great GF recipes as well as the occasional post about health and fitness and Nintendo games.

Only Sometimes Clever - An Arizona homeschooling mom who very thoughtfully blogs about the gluten-free lifestyle, books, GF products and hiking.

Pig in the Kitchen - This U.K. pig is one of the funniest food writers out there and her recipes for her family of many allergies are great to boot. Throw in some great food photos and it's a blog party!

Please Don't Pass the Nuts - This New York City psychotherapist and social worker shares recipes and lifestyle advice for gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free, lactose-free and other -free diets.

Rachel's Recipe Box - This New England homeschooling mommy's blog contains a wealth of gluten-free, dairy-free recipes and advice about healthy living.

Savvy Celiac - Amy offers a wealth of information for parents of celiac kids and their families, as well as news and Minneapolis/St. Paul GF recommendations.

She Let Them Eat Cake - Maggie is the baking diva that provides a ton of tasty recipes for GF and often dairy-free meals, with an emphasis on REAL foods.

Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
 - Amy's maintained a healthy weight loss by eliminating refined sugars and gluten from her diet, but that doesn't stop this blogger from creating spectacular recipes for the things that make life sweet. Amy hosts Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays to highlight fabulous foods made a little bit healthier.

The Spunky Coconut - A Colorado mom and food coach/personal cook that specializes in gluten-free, casein-free and sugar-free cooking dishes out some great, healthy recipes. She is also the author of the new "Spunky Coconut Cookbook".

Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried - Naomi is an English homeopath and her recipes for lovely, healthy and kid-friendly treats are spectacular. She also started the blogging event, Go Ahead, Honey, It's Gluten-Free, to inspire theme-based gluten-free recipe roundups.

Sugar and Spice - A Boston girl who likes to cook, read nonfiction, kick box and watch the Red Sox.

Sure Foods Living - Alison, a California mom, maintain a excellent informational blog about living gluten-free and avoiding other food allergens.

Tasty Eats at Home
 - This Texas mom knows how to put a great meal on the table quickly, even when it's gluten-free and from scratch.

La Tartine Gourmande - French ex-pat Bea (accent aigue in there over the e) is a food and travel writer/photographer, whose blog is achingly beautiful. Find over 100 gluten-free recipes in her recipe index.

Triumph Dining - The publishers of the "Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide" and Grocery Guide have a blog packed with tips about finding gluten-free food throughout the U.S.

Wheat Free Meat Free - Kalinda cooks for her vegetarian celiac husband in Chicago and this blog features her great recipes and wonderful food photos.

Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen - Husband and wife nutritionists and cookbook authors Ali and Tom have a wonderful blog about healthy, gluten-free eating coming to us from Bellingham, Washington.

A Year of Crockpotting - Stephanie is the hilarious, gluten-free chef who has a strong attraction to her herd of crock pots--but she's OK with that. A funny and tasty food blog which started on January 1, 2008 with a new crock pot recipe each day.

This list is just an appetizer, there are so many other great gluten-free food bloggers out there that I haven't had time to taste and more sprout each day. Let me know if you see any other great GF bloggers out there that you think I should check out.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lois' Versatile Vegetable Chowder Recipe: A Gift from a Good Friend

My friend Lois is amazingly optimistic and happy. She's always in a good mood. Even when there's terrible weather or some health issue crops up, she's upbeat and always ready to envelope me in a welcoming hug. She's the kind of person that you gravitate towards because she just radiates warmth and happiness.

Lois is a terrific cook. She and her husband used to own the art gallery next door to our bookshop and when they would have one of their self-catered exhibition openings, Lois would bake and cook for days before. When the nibbles came out on opening night, her creations were always the first to disappear into hungry art lovers' mouths.

Recently, Lois gave me her handwritten recipe for Vegetable Chowder. It's a versatile recipe that she makes with all kinds of vegetable variations. I of course wanted to make up a pot during our unusually frigid recent weather pattern, so I made sure to stock the larder with broccoli crowns. And sure enough, when I made this satisfying and thick soup, it made me smile almost as much as I do when Lois is around.

Here's Lois' recipe below. I didn't have cauliflower around and didn't add in any meat, so bulked up on the broccoli (2 full stalks).

Lois' Versatile Vegetable Chowder

1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 oz. each broccoli and cauliflower, coarsely chopped
3 small carrots
2 cups milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup light cream
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh dill (I used frozen)

*Mix-in Protein Options:  1 lb. of boneless chicken cubes, scallops or peeled shrimp. If using chicken, add in as vegetables are cooking. If using seafood, add it at the end and just cook until done.

Heat butter/oil in soup pot. Add onions after 5 minutes. Add rest of veggies, milk and broth and cook until tender. Transfer to food processor and chop to little pieces. (I used my immersion blender only briefly, as Dan and I like our soup chunky).

Return to soup pot and add dill and cream. Just heat up. Don't let boil.

Makes 4 hearty servings.

I'll be sharing this wonderful chowder recipe with another friend, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. She hosts a weekly roundup of soup (and sandwich and salad) recipes at her Souper Sundays event. Be sure to stop by next Sunday to see what other wonderful cooks have in their soup cauldrons.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Our New Favorite Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe and a Review of Canyon Bakehouse Breads

Our house has always had a stuffing debate going on. I grew up in a Southern-style cornbread stuffing household and Dan's family was of the bread cube variety. Both families, however, approved of the theory that the stuffing was the central item of utmost importance to the holiday table and served as a sort of bready vessel on which to pile the roast beast and liberal lashings of gravy.

Since the gluten free fairy whacked our family with her wheatless wand seven years ago, I have tried various GF stuffing recipes to varying reception. Some of the stuffings were too crumbly and not gravy-absorbent enough; some tasted funky and some were too eggy. Over the holiday season I think I have finally hit upon a wonderful recipe that combined the hereditary taste profiles for the cornbread and regular bread factions and one which was sturdy enough to withstand an assault of gravy on the festive dinner plate.

So what did I do?  I combined the two kinds in one and gave everyone a taste of what they wanted. I made up a batch of gluten free cornbread (I am a fan of Gluten Free on a Shoestring's recipe) and saved two cups for my stuffing. For the white bread cubes that I mixed in I used a package of Canyon Bakehouse Rosemary and Thyme Focaccia, which had great, sturdy consistency.

I had received a complimentary package of Gluten Free bread samples from Canyon Bakehouse and the Focaccia was hanging out in our freezer, because Dan and I are not really focaccia fans. I mean, if I want a stunty little loaf of bread, I'll just bake one from scratch, because that's how mine always seem to turn out. I blame my old oven, but Dan says I'm just too impatient to be a great baker. The other Canyon Bakehouse freebies had already been scarfed up. Their white and whole grain breads were great and really make a lovely, crisp piece of toast. Kudos also to the GF hot dog buns, which had good crumb and didn't fall apart upon contact with the dog, like other hot dog rolls we've tried. Thanks Canyon Bakehouse!

Anyway, back to the stuffing, which really was a successful recipe. Here's what I did:

GF Cornbread, Sausage and Focaccia Stuffing

3 cups white bread cubes (I used 1 (1lb.) pkg. Canyon Rock Rosemary and Thyme Focaccia)

3 cups cornbread cubes

2 eggs, well-beaten

1 lb. bulk sweet pork sausage

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 carrots, peeled and shredded on box grater

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

4 stalks celery (plus leaves from rest of celery bunch) chopped

2-1/2 cups. vegetable broth

3 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1 Tbsp. crumbled dried sage

Salt and pepper to taste


Toast cornbread and focaccia cubes on a cookie sheet in a 300 degree F oven until toasted and dry, about 1/2 hour. Stir a couple of times during the cooking time. Let cool and set aside.

Grease 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish with shortening.

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Crumble in sausage meat and brown, stirring often, to break up clumps.  Add carrots, onion, and celery and toss until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, parsley and sage. Let cool to room temperature.

Mix corn bread and focaccia cubes together. Mix in cooled sausage-vegetable mixture. Mix eggs and vegetable broth together and pour over stuffing mix. Let stand one minute and then gently stir to combine.

Place in greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes, until stuffing is cooked through and golden brown on bottom (easy to see in glass baking dish) and top.

Makes 8-10 servings.

I'm sending over a portion of this delicious stuffing hybrid recipe to Weekend Cooking over at Beth Fish Reads. Stop on by to visit and see what others are cooking up in their kitchens this week.

**Note: I received a package of four breads free from Canyon Bakehouse, but as always, I was not obligated to post a review. My opinions in this post are completely my own.