Thursday, February 6, 2014

Placeholder post

Kayleigh and Jason here. We're going to be a little quiet for the near future, because Jason got glutened a short while back, which compounded into a super flu of sorts. Since we can't trust his gut to say whether or not a restaurant really is gluten free right now, we're postponing trying new places until he's feeling better again. We'll be sure to keep you posted!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tips for the Holiday Host/Hostess



Kayleigh here. Continuing on with our Host/Hostess tips post from several months back, we thought we would get a bit more specific and talk about holiday dinners. Times where the hosting house does most of the cooking, but others may provide extra sides and desserts. How can these occasions be made gluten-free friendly, when so many of the dishes are tried-and-true traditions?

First off, figuring out who is making what dishes can really help the process along. See what dishes are already gluten free, and what can easily be altered. Simpler dishes like mashed potatoes, butternut squash, and steamed/boiled vegetables are almost certainly safe bets. One thing to watch out for, though, is the turkey. If you are putting the stuffing (or dressing) in before baking, then the turkey and the gravy from it will have traces of gluten in it. If someone is willing to bake a smaller turkey as-is, or even just a part or two of the regular bird to cook separately, then that solves that problem. You can always make a gravy out of a bouillon cube and some corn starch to thicken it.

Once you've nailed down the safe dishes, make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to safely preparing the food. Keep the gluten free dishes on a different prep space, and make sure all of the dishes, bowls, and utensils are thoroughly washed to remove traces. It may be easier to just put foil down on the baking trays, and use disposable dishware when possible. As my mother found out this year, you can get cutting boards and other hard to sanitize cookware at the dollar store for temporary use. Toasters should be avoided, but putting the oven or toaster oven on broil works just as well.

When it comes to serving, put the gluten free dishes first in line (or on a separate table), and let your intolerant friend get food first. That way, you do not need to worry about someone doubling back and getting some breadcrumbs in the cranberry sauce dish.

Jason here. I successfully survived Thanksgiving dinner without any issues thanks to my fantastic family. I’ve found it was easiest to go first, grab my meal and then sit down just in case. We were extra careful, and the gluten free food was placed on a separate table in the adjoining room. 

I even got to eat my favorite type of gravy, which Kayleigh described above. You can make it as thick as you want, and add bouillon cubes or powder to taste. On a related note, it is possible to add way, way too many bouillon cubes. The first time I tried this technique, I had never used bouillon cubes before. I added so many it literally hurt my mouth from all the sodium and made me feel ill after just a single spoonful. Don’t go overboard, and it will be an amazing, easy to make gravy. 

Cheers to a great Holiday season. I hope you find this tips helpful, and if you have tips your family uses, leave them in the comments below.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chipotle Review

Jason here. If you are gluten intolerant, you know it is hard to find a fast food restaurant to eat at. Perhaps you know a fast restaurant or special take out place near you, but that never helps when you travel. When it comes to finding national chains, you won’t find much. However one restaurant, Chipotle, has become our good to fast food place.

One makes me feel comfortable eating here is Chipotle’s official allergen menu, available right on their website. The only item on the menu which has gluten is the flour tortillas. This means I never have to second guess myself when remembering the allergen menu. As long as you stay away from a flour tortilla, you are good to go. In addition this really helps keep the menu diverse, so anyone can find something they will love.

I almost always order a bowl with a side of nachos. I’ve found I can pile items into the bowl, and it makes a great dip for the nacho chips. Personally, I usually go with steak, lettuce, the shredded cheese, rice, black beans, and the tomatillo-red chili salsa. I really enjoy the nachos. There is just something special about freshly fried chips. Occasionally, I will mix it up and order a hard-shell taco as well, with effectively the same ingredients. Ultimately, it’s not really about what specific item I ordered though, but the experience as a whole. The menu is fairly diverse, so as long as you like Mexican-style food you will find something at Chipotle.

While initially the price may seem high when it comes to check out, but I tend to get two meals out of a single order. It heats up fairly well, so I like to take my leftovers into work for lunches.

In addition to the good food, Chipotle always seems to have clean restaurants, with friendly staff. The one near our house can get a bit busy, but there is a quiet downstairs for when we want to sit and eat in. It helps a lot to have an upscale fast food restaurant to go wherever I might travel in the country.

Kayleigh here. I often opt for the salad myself, since the lettuce adds a nice freshness, and the extra toppings can be loaded off onto the tortilla chips. In the past, I would just throw any or all of the veggies offered onto it, but more recently they have added a delicious tofu sofrita option for vegetarians/vegans- it is amazing how much flavor that side has just on its own! And if you don't mind paying a bit extra, grabbing a cup of guacamole for any leftover chips is never a bad idea.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Christmas Scones Recipe



Kayleigh here. Round two of our Christmas recipes this year is arguably the most important- the breakfast of Christmas morning. Now, of course the focus right now should be on the presents, but here's magical idea- start mixing and prepping while the others are rubbing sleep from their eyes and remembering the date, then bake and let the oven waft out delicious scents while everyone is gathered around the tree and having a grand time. Just remember to take a quick break to check on them, and they should be cool enough to eat when people get around to breakfast.



What is in store for them? Red and green scones, ready to split, butter, and enjoy. And for once, making this pastry gluten free really did not change the flavor or texture- the dense, hearty crumb is left intact!

Christmas Scones

Ingredients:

5 TB Butter, refrigerator cold
2/3 Cups White Rice Flour
2/3 Cups Millet Flour
1/3 Cups Tapioca Starch
1/2 ts Xanthan Gum
1/2 ts Baking Soda
1 1/2 ts Baking Powder
10 drops Red Food Coloring
1/2 Cups Sugar
1 ts Raspberry extract
2 Eggs
1 Cup Sour Cream

Topping:
1/4 Cups Sugar
1 Drop Green Food Coloring

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flours, Xanthan Gum, and Baking Soda/Powder. Cut the cold Butter into small pieces, then mash it into the flours with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture becomes coarse crumbs.
2) Add the rest of the ingredients (minus topping) and stir well. Now, it should come together into a wet dough- fairly sticky and soft, but it still holds its shape. Add more Tapioca Starch or cold water to thicken/thin it as needed.
3) Grease a cookie sheet, then begin forming the dough into individual scones ( 7 large or 14 small is what we got). Circular or triangular is normal, but you could just plop them down in random, rough biscuit shapes. Give plenty of room, since they expand to almost double. Alternately, use a portioned tray like a Hamburger Bun Pan.
4) In a small bowl, mash the drop of green food coloring into the sugar until it is uniformly green. Sprinkle this liberally across all of the scones. Bake for 20 minutes with large scones, or 12 minutes with smaller ones, checking towards the end to make sure they don't burn.

Side note- The scones are still edible if you do not space them out enough on the cookie sheet. They just become...scone.

 

Jason here. To start, be careful with the food coloring. No matter how careful I try to be, I always seem to end up with just a bit on my fingers. Next these scones are delicious. A single scone is exactly the right size to enjoy as a quick Christmas breakfast. 

The taste is delicious, but what I really enjoy is the texture. The scones have a crunchy exterior, with a delicious almost fluffy interior. They are dense, but I can easily finish a scone and not feel like I over ate.  The scone taste will depend on how much sugar you added on top, and how much butter. I like to add a small pad of butter, but extra sugar. This makes my Christmas breakfast almost like a cookie. 

As an added benefit, the scones heat up nicely in the microwave, which makes them an excellent breakfast to take into work the following week. Reminding yourself of the wonderful holidays you had spending with your family baking scones for breakfast.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Juliano's Italian Pizzaria Review

Kayleigh here. For this past Thanksgiving, Jason and I went across the country to New Hampshire and enjoyed a family dinner at my Grandmother's house. Not only did everyone succeed in pulling off a delicious full gluten free spread, but we also got the chance to try a couple gluten free restaurants that had popped up since we were last in the area. One particular place that seemed to get a lot of attention in the Celiac community was Juliano's Italian Pizzaria in Derry, New Hampshire.

Just going by their website, it was a comfort to see how seriously they seemed to take keeping everything allergen-free. They acknowledge that their gluten free items are made in the same building as their standard menu, but are careful about keeping the foods very separate, and make sure to thoroughly clean and sterilize the designated equipment. Their gluten free menu is very extensive, including pastas, breaded items, and even a good selection of desserts, but what most people seemed to be raving about was the gluten free pizzas. So, we figured, let's start there.

Jason here. We ordered the pizza on our way to Kayleigh’s grandmother’s house. She was driving so she opted to eat hers when we arrived. However, everyone else ate theirs in the car, including myself. I sat the pizza box on a paper plate on my lap, and dug in slice by slice. It was thin crust, like all other gluten free pizza’s I’ve had. I prefer thin crust, so this was right up my alley. If I had to take a guess, the crust was made from rice flour, as it did not have that signature taste of corn bread I usually expect from gluten free pizza. The crust tasted just fine, and was crunchy on the edges- just how I like it. The toppings we ordered were feta, and pepperoni. And I’m happy to say, it was just fine without any grease blotting with a paper towel like we usually do. Ultimately, the pizza itself was great, although I think I personally prefer a corn flour based crust.

I noticed on the menu that gluten free pizzas were only available in small at the time of writing this review, so take that into account when ordering for a large family. I ate exactly half the pizza and felt full, and Kayleigh did the same for the rest.

Next time we drop by, we hope to venture out again and try different items on the menu ( gluten free cannolis?). Their pizza definitely lived up to the hype, so please let us know if you've got anything to share about your experiences at Juliano's. We would love to hear your take on what we should get next time!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Creamed Salmon Sauce with Peas Recipe



Kayleigh here. Starting up another round of Christmas tradition recipes this year, I thought it would be appropriate to start with another Christmas dinner. This time around, we have a recipe that is quick to put together, amazingly rich and satisfying, and still looking quite festive. Really, MUCH more simple than the Christmas Day raviolis, but still keeping in theme with the colors and the cold weather.

My parents, as I have found out, sort of experimented around with creating their own holiday traditions once they got together, and decided to make them more permanent once my sister and I came along. That way, we would have something to look forward to every year, as well as an occasion to fondly remember once we were grown up and moved out of the nest.

All said and done, here is the recipe for one of the easiest holiday dishes I know- Creamed Salmon on biscuits. I'll just give the recipe for the topping here- we just can't improve upon the biscuit recipe from Gluten Free Baking Classics, so we suggest trying a double recipe of that. Savory, buttery biscuits go perfectly with the rich salmon, but rolls or even toast can do in a pinch. Just add a bit of extra salt in the sauce, and a pat of butter on the warm bread before you serve.

Creamed Salmon Sauce with Peas

Ingredients:

1 Can Salmon in water (get red Salmon for a nicer color)
4 TB Butter
1/4 Cups Corn Starch
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1 1/2 Cups Frozen Peas

Directions

1) First off, DO NOT drain the water from the canned salmon. If it really looks off, then drain and rinse, but fill the can back up with the same amount of water.
2) Put a pan onto Medium heat, then melt the butter completely. Add the cornstarch, and stir until it forms a paste and just starts to brown.
3) Add in all the milk, then stir constantly until the sauce has begun to thicken- let it get almost to the consistency of a thick gravy.
4) Add in the canned Salmon, liquid and all, then stir until the sauce heats back up. Add frozen peas, then let warm again.
5) Once the sauce is back up to temp, and the consistency is again like a thick gravy, take it off the heat. Serve on halved biscuits.

OPTIONAL- Spice things up with a pinch of your favorite salmon herb. We had ours this year with a dollop of fresh wasabi root mixed roughly in- it was fun to have random full-heat bites cutting through the richness of the dish!

Jason here. Since we have moved Washington state, I have learned to enjoy a well-cooked salmon.  I’ve never been a fish person, but something about the meatier flavor, and rich texture of salmon allows it to stand out. Even more so, having the salmon as part of the sauce further hides any bit of the fish I would not enjoy.
The biscuits recipe really goes perfectly with the cream sauce. I found all I needed was a fork, as it crumbled just perfectly to get a scoop. The biscuits are moderately crunchy, which compliments the creaminess of the sauce.
As Kayleigh mentioned we found it was nice to add a bit of fresh wasabi root. I also found out it was fun to not mix it in, and then have a surprising bit of an entire dollop. The fresh wasabi has a way of building to a quick heat, and then dissipating into a fresh almost minty aftertaste.