Archive for November, 2009
On Friday night the GF Lab met at Pizzavino 707 on the plaza in Sebtown – prior to our December 3 dinner event – to taste what has become of our pizza dough recipe in the hands of Chef Andrew, in the environs of a commercial kitchen, and in the heat of a blazing wood-fired oven.
The pizzas were absolutely delicious – all toppings available and all GF. One thing to note for the ultra sensitive – this kitchen is not gluten free. It’s a pizza place, so wheat flour is about and the oven is not dedicated. But if you can handle some ambient wheat flour you should be fine – the celiac among us – had no ill effects.
Although delicious, the crusts were a bit inconsistent – still working out the kinks. And it tasted and felt quite different from the recipe we developed and make consistently at home (and that recipe you’ll find in our cookbook that is shaping up as I type). So when you come to Pizzavino on December 3 for dinner & thereafter to sample this delightful dough, remember it has been altered to work in a restaurant kitchen and to perform in a much, much hotter oven than we have at home – I’d venture to say at least 300 degrees hotter. Also, please note that the GF dough is an “add-on” which means it costs a little extra.
All that said, how killer is it to eat delish pizza that we didn’t have to make? (Fronting: I’m not GF, so I eat it all the time, but I could see on the bright faces of the GFers around me, how joyous it was to go out for good pizza).
So please, stop eating those leftovers and join us December 3, that’s this Thursday, for the maiden voyage of our GF pizza dough in the ovens of Pizzavino 707. (Call and let them know you’re coming so they make enough dough for the hoardes of us!) 707.829.9500
I’m not a big fan of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey? Mmeh. Mashed potatoes? Mmeh. Green bean casserole? Mmeh. But ask me about my mom’s famous ginger-spiked cranberry relish or a well-made pumpkin pie and I’ll start waving my arms around and jumping up and down, screaming “Yes, yes! Over here!”
This Thanksgiving holiday will be my third year of eating gluten-free. Well, technically it’s my fourth, but the first year doesn’t really count since I snuck a few pieces of deliciously spongy sourdough baguette (I was still learning). Every year has gotten exponentially easier, both in terms of knowing which recipes are really good, and what I can and cannot eat (the first year I forgot that gravy is thickened with flour, oops!).
As a whole, The Lab is thankful to the GF community that surrounds us; it’s the inventiveness of the chefs that came before us that have made our cookbook project possible. And in an effort to give back to our readers & to the GF blogging community, here’s a list of a few of The Lab’s very favorite GF blogs featuring their favorite holiday recipes.
Gluten-Free Girl is featuring recipes for pumpkin pie, dinner rolls, pumpkin mash & lots more autumn-inspired foods.
Gluten Free Cooking School has an exciting list of reader-submitted and author-provided Thanksgiving recipes.
And, of course, there’s our very own apple pie recipe, which is well worth putting on your Thanksgiving table.
So go! Cook! Make the words “delicious” and “gluten-free” an essential part of your Thanksgiving holiday.
These days I have a hard time even thinking the word “squash” without uttering under my breath “it’s decorative gourd season, motherf***ers” (and I’ll take this opportunity to issue a crude content warning for this hilarious McSweeney’s piece). Squash is a word that comes up frequently in our household, though, since we grew several varieties of winter squash in this year’s garden – one of them springing up completely on its own accord, which has been hereby dubbed The Strangest Mystery Squash Ever to Grow in Our Garden. So we have a lot of squash to eat this year. Last night’s meal was one of our standby favorites. It’s simple, it’s tasty, it’s naturally GF.
Spaghetti squash smothered with thick, sweet marinara & huge lumps of Italian sausage
1 large spaghetti squash
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 28-ounce can crushed plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine [drink the rest with dinner, or substitute water or broth]
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 small crown broccoli, chopped fine
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs [or a blend of oregano, basil and/or parsley]
12 ounces fully cooked Italian sausage, halved lengthwise, cut into bite-size chunks
Optional garnishes: handful Italian parsley, roughly chopped; grated Parmesan cheese; good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°F. Halve and seed spaghetti squash. Bake, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet, for about an hour or until strands are tender.
Meanwhile, make marinara. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally until onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, broccoli, Italian herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer until thickened, 20 minutes or until whenever you’re ready to serve dinner. The longer you simmer it, the thicker the sauce will become.
Remove squash from oven and use a fork to separate strands of “spaghetti.” Place a generous pile of squash on a plate, then spoon marinara sauce over. Garnish with coarsely chopped parsley, finely grated Parmesan and a drizzle of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.
The Gluten Free Lab is walking on sunshine! Starting Thursday, December 3, our GF pizza dough will be on the menu at Pizzavino 707 in Sebastopol. Come join us for the pizza’s debut, we’ll be there from 6–9 p.m. Just call ahead and mention The Gluten Free Lab to reserve your table.
ALL of Pizzavino 707′s pizzas are available in a GF option, and they are deliciously wideranging, from expected favorites like the margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella & fresh basil), to stand-out flavor mash-ups like the spicy potato, mozzarella, fontal, soppresatta, arugula & parmesan. Add to that a light wild arugula, cucumber, lemon-chili vinaigrette, toasted almonds & pecorino salad and finish with a flourless chocolate cake that’s to die for, and you have yourself a tastebud-bursting, completely gluten-free dinner! Pizzavino, you have our hearts.
Please note: While the restaurant makes every attempt to keep gluten-free ingredients separate, this is not a gluten-free kitchen.
I’m not sure why I continue to make the choice to drive anywhere in town. As soon as I leave my parking space, I immediately regret the seeming convenience, cursing myself for not remembering that walking is infinitely easier (and faster) than trying to maneuver a hulking auto through a town where the pedestrian clearly rules. It was the very slowness of driving, though, that pointed my head in the right direction, my eyes following the string of west-bound pedestrians crossing illegally toward Screamin’ Mimi’s (our town’s favorite ice cream shop, which also happens to be completely addictive. Hence the string of people crossing illegally and lining up out the door. IT’S WORTH BEING ILLEGAL FOR.). With my head pointing in the right direction, I spotted a delivery van parked at the curb – legally, I might add – with three very magical words: Gluten. Free. Goodies.
OMG, what is this? Curse on the flow of traffic, which has now sped up to an unreasonable 35 MPH, the pedestrians safely crossed, the road wide open. Before barreling out of the intersection and away from the delivery van, I managed to mentally capture the van’s verbiage in its entirety: McNish’s Gluten-Free Goodies.
Mmmmm. Yes, please.
McNish’s is a baby of a bakery, having started their business at the Cotati Farmer’s Market in June 2009 and meeting the demand of growth by making deliveries to clients in Sonoma and Marin counties. And, thanks be to the gluten-free gods, McNish’s goal is to open an exclusively gluten-free bakery in the near future. Think small, simple and fresh baked. Woo!
. stuffing (available as a mix or ready-to eat)
. cookie dough
. graham cracker crust mix
. stuffed mushrooms or cucumbers
. brazilian cheese bread sticks
. pumpkin muffins or scones
. veggie or breakfast quiche
. carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
. pumpkin spice bundt cake with spice glaze
. New York cheesecake
. apple, pumpkin or pecan pie
. Thanksgiving meal for one (just think: your loved ones who JUST DON’T GET IT don’t have to worry about contaminating you this holiday!)
Think it can’t get any better? THEY DELIVER. McNish’s is taking Thanksgiving orders only until this Sunday, November 22, and they’ll deliver for free to local homes & businesses (check in with them to make sure your location is in their delivery area).
Let’s take a moment to give thanks for goodies that come in all sorts of packages! And a warm thanks to McNish’s Dawn Graves, the woman with a passion, who baked and delivered a moist, tender and not-too-sweet pumpkin bread pictured above. I just love a happy ending.
Remember earlier in the season when The Lab was all optimistic about canning? I had envisioned rows upon rows of jewel-toned jams, rich ruby tomato sauces, half-moons of peaches…and that pleased me. But come September when no canning had been done, I started to panic. I flashed-forward to bleak winter nights stretching on endlessly (and this is California we live in, so I use the term “bleak” with a heavy dose of relativity), my husband and I chewing on a bland stick of potato with nary a burst of fresh flavor in sight.
Let me just point out that we are SO not in danger of that happening. For onesies, every week I pick up a just-harvested box of produce from our nearby Laguna Farm, and for twosies, once a month I pick up my meat subscription from the Sonoma County Meat Buying Club, which is eight pounds of locally, humanely & deliciously raised chicken, pork, beef & goat. So that scenario of chewing on only a bland stick of potato that I fear? It’s never going to happen.
Still, irrational as the fear may be, it inspired me back in August to put up at least a few jars of something for me to fall back on during the coming “bleak” winter. And although we’re not even a day into winter yet, last night I broke down with the need to have a little taste of summer.
One jar of tomato onion sauce down, three to last me through winter.
Venison braised in tomato-onion sauce
2 cups tomato onion sauce (recipe here)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound venison stew meat (or use your preferred red stew meat here)
salt & pepper to taste
Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat for about 3 minutes, or until screaming hot. Decrease heat to medium and add olive oil. Immediately add stew meat, and season generously with salt and pepper. Sear until a rich golden brown crust appears on all sides of stew meat, about 8 minutes. Add tomato onion sauce and bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat can easily be shredded with two forks.
Shred all of meat and serve in tacos, with rice & beans, cheese & greens as a tostada, or over brown rice with greens & red peppers on the side (as pictured).
If Trader Joe’s were a man I would want to be his woman. Apologies to my husband, but it’s Joe that fulfills my GF snacking needs. One taste of these brand-spanking-new sesame seaweed rice balls (I like to call them space balls on account of the wacky packaging) and I was hooked.
Remember cheeze puffs? The ones that came in a can and stained your fingers bright orange with “real” cheeze? You may not have eaten them for half-a-lifetime, but these sesame seaweed rice balls fulfill that sort of snacking need. It’s an airy crunch akin to the longtime favorite, PiratesBooty, but the taste is slightly sweet, slightly salty, and has a delectable undertone of seaweed (note: if you’re not a seaweed fan, the flavor will certainly not overwhelm you. This is seaweed for the people, people!). Just one piece of advice: try not to judge yourself too harshly if you munch it down to the very last space ball. Yum!
We know people read the blog – we have a graph that tells us that — but hosting an event for a virtual (and virtually invisible) audience is an experience we’re not soon to forget. As the three of us known as The Gluten Free Lab set up for our maiden event, the gluten-free meet & greet, we had no idea what to expect. And soon enough we discovered that you’re a warm and friendly bunch, full of life, and excited by the possibility of a new community. We saw long-time celiacs, newly-diagnosed celiacs, gluten intolerants, kids with gluten intolerance, husbands who eschew gluten for their spouse’s benefits and individuals who just choose to eat cleanly. We smiled, we introduced, we chatted, we coached, we munched on goodies, we packed bags with a variety of gluten-free products donated by some of our favorite suppliers (thanks Mary’s Gone Crackers, Oliver’s Market and Pamela’s Products, we heart you!).
It was a real pleasure meeting, talking and eating with all of you, and after last night’s festivities, I’m stuffed. WE’RE stuffed. And we’re so happy to have met you all.
We’d like to send special thanks – again, because we can’t possibly say “thanks” enough – to Mary’s Gone Crackers, Oliver’s Market and Pamela’s Products, and also to Apron Thrift Girl for helping us spread the word on her blog!
A toaster displays a postcard announcement for The Gluten Free Lab’s next event. Thursday, December 3, the Gluten Free Lab and Pizzavino 707 are debuting the GFL’s very own gluten-free pizza dough, which will be a permanent addition to their menu. More details are forthcoming, but please call ahead and mention us to reserve your table!
We sincerely hope to meet you tomorrow TODAY!! at The Gluten Free Lab’s maiden event, the Gluten-Free Meet & Greet, in Sebastopol. If you need more than one reason to hit the town (which you shouldn’t, because our event will rock your gluten-free world!) here are some other GF happenings scheduled for tomorrow night – that’s Wednesday, November 11. We encourage event-hopping!
The Gluten Free Lab
a gluten-free meet & greet: enjoy snacks, wine, meet other gluten-free folks, enjoy samples from Pamela’s Products, Mary’s Gone Crackers and Oliver’s Market.
108 Petaluma Avenue
Sebastopol, CA (just off the Sebastopol plaza)
pop in anytime from 5–7 p.m.
Relish Culinary Center
hands-on gluten-free Thanksgiving class featuring a variety of side dishes including gluten-free stuffing.
14 Matheson Street
call for availability: 707.431.9999
free bi-monthly talks covering a range of health concerns, including being gluten-free.
7064 Corline Court
call for details and availability: 707.829.5900
I don’t have a particular affinity to any one cocktail. Dry martini, up, olives; Maker’s Mark, neat; margarita, on the rocks, salted rim. Each one fills a niche on my personal tongue map of flavor. But after a day spent outside – hiking half the time, working around the property the other half – only one type of cocktail would do. It would be a juicy refresher-of-an-adult-beverage, cool and languid over the tongue, slightly warming as it eases down the gullet. Come five o’clock, my husband invented the Ruby Tuesday.
Mind, you may drink this any night of the week, but the Ruby Tuesday just might help ease you into Wednesday.
1 part vodka (we used Roth)
2 parts Trader Joe’s Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice Rio Red Grapefruit Blend
1 part berry-flavored bubble water
1 slice orange
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in vodka, juice and bubble water. Stir. Float slice of orange on top. Sip and repeat.