Archive for October, 2009
In retrospect, Halloween was the ultimate indication of the woman I would grow into. My Halloween plans were thorough, and the execution fast & dirty. My goal, first and foremost, was to hit up as many houses as possible – sometimes this included a hand-drawn route, meandering efficiently through the neighborhood, skillfully skipping houses that “treated” kids with toothbrushes or raisins. The night before, my costume all laid out and ready to don come morning, I had already chosen the largest pillowcase in our linen closet, and also pulled out a back-up pillowcase, equally as large, in the event that the first one was filled or ripped (I was optimistic back then). The trick-or-treating itself was a mad dash across front lawns, around lawn ornaments or fences, over hedges, through cobwebs, under tree limbs heavy with autumn color. By the time I got home I was out of breath and exhausted, but eager to put Tier II of Operation Halloween into action: SORTING MY LOOT. Yes, dear readers, I was one of THOSE kids, who first sorted her candy by type, so I could mentally log just how many butterfingers and tootsie rolls I had collected. Once those statistics were recorded, I launched into a secondary sorting system in which I ordered the loot by preference and determined order of consumption. And with just a cursory glance over the piles of Delicious, Medium Delicious, Okay, and Mediocre candy I could calculate approximately how long I would be eating my Halloween candy. Usually it lasted me until the beginning of December.
These days we might not be able to be quite so carefree with our Halloween loot, and our piles might be called Gluten-Free and Glutenous instead of Delicious and Mediocre. Nonetheless, use this list of some of the more popular Halloween candies, compiled by Deborah Ceizler of the Celiac Foundation, to help sort your goodies.*
Big League Chew Gum (Original, Grape, Strawberry)
Boston Baked Beans
Bubble Yum gum
Cadbury candy bars
Candy Corn (only some; check with manufacturer)
Dove milk, dark and caramel)
Dum Dum Pops
Hershey’s plain chocolate bars
Hershey’s Skor Bar
Jelly Belly jelly beans
Jolly Rancher products
Lifesavers and Lifesavers Gummies
M&Ms (all except crispy)
Mike & Ike
Milky Way Midnight (original Milky Way is NOT GF)
Nestle Milk Chocolate
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Snickers and Snickers dark
Sour Patch Kids
Sugar Babies/Sugar Daddy
Tootsie Rolls and all Tootsie products
York Peppermint Patty
*This list is not complete and should be used only as a guide; ALWAYS read the label, even if you think the product is gluten-free, and when in doubt, call the manufacturer or assume the candy contains gluten.
Some of us are lucky enough to have friends & family that try really, really, REALLY hard to accommodate our gluten-free diets. And one of the most difficult ensuing conversations is to drill them on the ingredients…only to discover that there is a hidden culprit lurking within, and that all their efforts were for naught.
A close friend recently presented me with warm GF pumpkin muffins studded with chocolate chips. You might be able to see where this is going, but first a little background: this is a friend that closely monitors my food allergies, knows that I cannot eat wheat or corn, automatically makes me a GF lemondrop when he is shaking up a pitcher of regular lemondrops for the party, always tries out a batch of GF chocolate chip cookies when regular chocolate chip cookies are on the menu. So my trust level is high. And those warm GF pumpkin muffins smelled delicious. I tore into one and took a small bite, quickly noticed the texture and immediately asked about the ingredients, whereupon my friend showed me the “baking mix” he used. My thoughtful baker, it turns out, had mistakenly used PURE GLUTEN FLOUR in place of gluten-free flour. PURE VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN! I kindly suggested another appropriate GF baking mix and my baker promptly delivered another batch of warm GF pumpkin muffins that were delicious and actually gluten-free!
No need to mention that both the baker and myself were embarrassed; me for the wasted efforts, and the baker for accidentally poisoning me. The lesson learned? ALWAYS READ LABELS AND ASK ABOUT INGREDIENTS.
So in an effort to help GFers everywhere, The Gluten Free Lab has created a compact reference for you to print and keep in your purse, wallet and/or kitchen. We hope you’ll use it, add to it, pass it around to your well-meaning friends & family (surely they will appreciate having a guide!), email the PDF as a quick-reference for the people who want to cook you dinner. You’ll all be thankful for the resource. Go ahead. Share it. It’s our gift to you!
An added perk of our Meet & Greet on November 11? We’ll have a handful of these hidden culprit pocket guides already printed out, and free for the taking. We hope to see you there!
You’re familiar with the phenomenon of food always tasting better when eaten outside? Think back to camping trips, al fresco meals in your own backyard or sidewalk café, picnics on the beach…
This week we had a picnic on the beach as a final salute to the warm weather. Ironically, the weather was anything BUT warm, as we witnessed gale-force winds, the fog speeding toward the coastline & then just as quickly speeding overhead, moving inland. Here I thought we’d have a liesurely picnic on the beach – I even brought a beach blanket! – but it was more like a precursory walk along the bluffs, then QUICK! back in the car before we freeze to death!
But more about the food: I agonized over what to cook. It would have to be delicious, both at room temperature and after traveling windy roads to the coast. And the ultimate challenge for me – always – is to make use of the mounds & mounds of fresh produce in my fridge, which I pick up weekly at Laguna Farm. Inspired by the hunk of halibut my cousin caught in Alaska this summer and the two bunches of beets staring me down from the produce drawer, I settled on Epicurious’ halibut with roasted beets, beet greens & dill-orange gremolata. A mouthful, but a delicious one at that!
Halibut with roasted beets, beet greens & dill-orange gremolata
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
3 medium (1 1/2- to 2-inch) beets with green tops attached; beets trimmed and scrubbed, beet greens very coarsely chopped (4 to 6 cups)
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
4 6- to 7-ounce halibut fillets or mahi-mahi fillets (about 1 inch thick)
Roast fish and vegetables until fish is just opaque in center, about 8 minutes. Divide fish and vegetables among plates. Sprinkle with remaining gremolata and serve.
We ate our halibut after the sun went down in the cozy darkness of the car, windshield pointed toward the edge of the cliff, foamy white peaks the only suggestion of the ocean that we could actually see. On my second-to-last bite I was already dreaming of dessert.
Apple betty squares
For shortbread base
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For apple filling
1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 lb tart apples
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons white or brown rice flour
1 cup GF oats
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make shortbread base:
Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces, then pulse in a food processor with flours, xanthan gum, brown sugar, and salt until it begins to form small lumps. Sprinkle base into a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and press evenly onto bottom. Bake in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes.
Prepare filling while shortbread is baking:
Melt butter and keep warm. Peel, quarter, and core apples and thinly slice quarters crosswise. Stir together sugar and rice flour in a small bowl.
Assemble and bake squares:
Sprinkle half of sugar mixture over hot shortbread, then top with apples and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. Top with GF oats and drizzle all of butter over them.
Bake in upper third of oven, pressing down on filling with a metal spatula halfway through baking, until apples are very tender and bread crumbs are golden, 50 minutes to 1 hour total. Cool 20 minutes in pan on a rack.
Now go. Make a plan with your family to have one last meal outside before the weather turns utterly sour!
Internet, we know you’re out there, and it’s time to represent. Because we heart you, and because we want to support your gluten-free lifestyle, and because we want to make sure you eat well – now and always – The Gluten Free Lab is hosting a meet & greet on Wednesday, November 11, from 5–7pm in Sebastopol. We hope you’ll drop in, say hello, and chat with other GFers about your favorite recipes, products, restaurants. And most of all, we hope you’ll make some lasting connections with people in the community! We promise it will be well worth your time. There will be tons of sample products from our beloved sponsors: Mary’s Gone Crackers, Pamela’s Products, and Oliver’s Market; we’ll also have home-baked goods to share with you (recipes that are in-the-works for our cookbook); and, of course, delicious beverages to sip.
Post your comments or questions here to make plans with other GFers or to ask The Lab any lingering questions you have about the event. Can’t wait!
It’s educational, sure, but the Gluten Free Cooking Spree is also a deliciously public event challenging media folks, doctors and top chefs to make the best gluten-free dish.
WHEN: this Friday! October 30, 6:30-9pm
WHERE: Treasure Island, Building 1, San Francisco (that’s the island in the “middle” of the Bay Bridge)
WHY THE HECK…? First off, attendees will be tasting the dishes that each team – consisting of one media person, one doctor, and one chef – create together. It’s like a standing tapas dinner! There will also be a GF buffet (dessert & hors d’ouerves) and beer & wine. YUM! Plus, you’ll get to take home a goodie bag stuffed with treats from a variety of gluten-free vendors.
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is hosting this event in an attempt to merge the medical, culinary and lifestyle aspects of Celiac Disease. The hope is that both doctors and chefs will garner more awareness about the disease & will have an easy entry-point to learning more about it.
Want to attend? Check out EventBrite for ticket info. Ticket costs range from $35 (kids) to $75 (adults at the door).
It’s a weeknight. I’m tired. And I have no clue what to make for dinner. After rummaging through the fridge for a while, sighing several hyperbolic sighs, and cursing the random nature of the local CSA (community shared agriculture) box to which we subscribe, I resolve myself to make something Italian. This decision stems primarily from the fact that I have two bunches of fresh basil to make use of, and while I may not be sure exactly what’s for dinner, I make a batch of pesto. The simple kind. With garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and, of course, basil.
While the pesto is whirling away in the food processor, I’m inspired to make an easy tart a la my college years, the type of tart I used to make with your run-of-the-mill buttermilk baking mix. I remember tossing in whatever veggies I felt like, maybe some chopped lunchmeat or pre-cooked sausage, cheese, eggs and baking mix. Yummmmm.
The result? A surprisingly simple, satisfying and tasty weeknight meal.
Easy Italian tart
1 pound sautee greens, wilted over medium heat in a large pan
1 can stewed tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1 small zucchini, grated
2 large green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced
2 ounces parmesan cheese, diced
1/4 cup pesto (storebought or homemade)
1 1/2 cups Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix
Salt & pepper to taste
[optional: chopped lunchmeat or pre-cooked Italian sausage]
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8×8 glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix wilted greens, tomatoes, zucchini, green onions, cheeses, pesto, and sausage/lunchmeat if using. Add eggs and stir until vegetables are coated. Add Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix, stirring until just combined. Pour mixture into greased 8×8 baking dish and place on middle rack in oven.
Bake until top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to rest 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
If you’re looking to improve your gluten-free baking chops, check out the San Francisco Baking Institute’s class schedule for 2010. They’re offering two in-depth classes that will convert even the most clumsy bakers to savvy handlers of GF dough. In addition to going over the basics of baking breads & pastries, the 2-day and 5-day workshops will also provide students with some basics for GF baking experimentation. Yay!
Gluten-free Baking: Bread and Pastry at Home*
January 16-17, Saturday – Sunday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, $398
This workshop is perfect for home bakers who want to bake tasty, satisfying gluten-free breads and pastries at home. Learn a variety of recipes and techniques to incorporate into your daily life…or just to make as special treats for the family. People with gluten intolerance can have spectacular breads and pastries again!
Gluten-free Baking: Bread and Pastry Foundation*
February 1-5, Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, $998
This five-day course delves into the how’s and why’s of gluten-free baking, teaching students how to begin controlling the process instead of just following recipes. In this course, we pay particular attention to ingredients and techniques that produce delicious flavors with enjoyable textures. While the main focus is gluten-free baking, this course also shows how to bake for other specific dietary needs, including vegan, diabetic, and low-sugar. Products covered include a wide range of artisan and sourdough breads (more than ten breads, from simple baguettes to sourdoughs made with ancient grains), breadsticks, crackers, English muffins, pizza dough, a variety of cookies and pastry bars, quickbreads, scones, waffles, pies, cakes, pôts de crème, and granita. This course is invaluable for anyone who wants to develop a well-rounded gluten-free repertoire.
*Please note: SFBI is not a gluten-free environment. We have a small amount of flour in the air, which may harm people with gluten allergies or intolerance—do not register for this class if ambient flour may hurt you. People with gluten allergies or intolerance should not eat products make during these workshops, but should apply the knowledge learned in a gluten-free environment.
*photo courtesy of SFBI.
the folks at hipp kitchen are making things happen in the northern california, food allergy restaurant scene.
“Hipp Kitchen, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is dedicated to creating fun, rich, and healthy dining experiences for people with food allergies and sensitivities.”
check them out and keep an eye out for their next event.
makes 6 stuffed peppers
3 medium bell peppers (red, yellow, orange or green)
4 green onions, white and green portions, chopped fine
1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat (or 1 tablespoon butter, ghee or olive oil)
1 pound ground lamb
salt & pepper to taste
generous pinch garam masala
1 cup finely diced zucchini (1 small)
1/2 cup finely diced feta or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fine gluten-free breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 thin slices Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish and set aside.
Cut peppers in half from stem to pole and remove seeds and membrane. Set aside.
Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add rendered bacon fat and add green onions. Stir until sizzling and heated through, about 1 minute. Add lamb, salt and pepper, and garam masala. Cook until browned and crumbly. Remove from heat and stir in zucchini, cheese, parsley, breadcrumbs, and red pepper flakes.
To stuff peppers, place approximately 1/3 cup filling into pepper cavity, packing slightly. Top with thin slice Parmesan cheese. Place in greased 8×8 baking dish and bake in middle of oven 25-30 minutes or until filling is a rich brown and peppers are soft.
Squash and sausage. Were there ever a more perfect culinary match? One of my favorite squashage dishes is rings of acorn squash stuffed with sweet, herby turkey sausage, baked, then drizzled with pomegranate molasses. But I’ll tell you about that another day. For now, because of the type of day it’s been – let’s just say the leak in the roof was only the beginning – we’ll discuss soup.
It’s creamy and a tad tangy. Easy enough to throw the into a pot and then stand back while the flavors of squash, turnips, carrot and curry mingle. If the buttermilk doesn’t work for you, coconut milk plus a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice would be a perfect stand-in.
1 medium ambercup squash, about 3 pounds (if you can’t find ambercup squash, look for buttercup or butternut instead)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 bunch turnips, halved
2 cups broth, vegetable or chicken
2/3 cup water
1 small carrot, diced
1/8 teaspoon red curry paste
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
4 links sweet Italian sausage (Niman Ranch’s is really good)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve squash and place cut-side down on well oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Bake 1 hour or until flesh is soft. Cool slightly, then scoop out seeds. Discard. Then scoop out flesh, chunk roughly, and set aside.
In a large stockpot, toast curry powder over medium heat 1 minute. Add olive oil and chopped onion, and cook until onion is soft and semi-translucent, about 7 minutes. Add squash chunks, turnips, carrot, broth, water and curry paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Continue to cook, uncovered, until carrots and turnips are fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and mash squash mixture in pot with potato masher, or use submersion blender to puree to a consistency you like. Add buttermilk, water and salt & pepper to taste. Keep warm over low heat.
Halve sweet Italian sausages lengthwise and place in cold pan set over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup water, then allow sausages to warm then brown as water evaporates.When both sides of the sausage are very brown, transfer to cutting board and slice in half on a bias.
Serve soup hot with sausage on top and a generous sprinkle of parsley.