Monday, February 23, 2009

Resources and Updates

I was talking about wanting to possibly change the way I post or the frequency with a friend this weekend and he said "oh I bet there aren't a lot of gluten-free blogs out there because so few people have [Celiac Disease]."

I was quick to respond that in fact there ARE a ton of blogs and resources on the web for that very reason - the lack of adequate information has push people to use the web as a means of communicating about symptoms as well are recipes. I feel incredibly lucky to have found so many sources online and owe a huge debt of gratitude to the members of the Gluten Free Forum for their knowledge and patience - without which my discovery and diagnosis would have been a much more difficult process.

For that reason, I added to new sections: "Celiac Disease Information & Resources" and "Gluten Free Blogs" to the right hand tool bar. There are many more resources out there, but these are my go-to websites.

I was hesitant to originally list all gluten free links because when I was first diagnosed all I wanted was some normalcy and fun. I felt that there was an overwhelming sense of how hard eating gluten free is and how unfair it was to have to do so. Don't get me wrong, I still feel that way about having to live sans gluten, but I started No Gluten Required mainly because while eating gluten free is not always easy (or cheap) it doesn't have to be all negative.

I have been very lucky to have very supportive people in my life who have made eating and living the way I need to, to be healthy, both part of their lives and fun. Being able to blog about kitchen adventures and mishaps has been humbling and so rewarding when a recipe works out.

As for now, I do not think I am going to change the frequency of posts or style - I actually like the fact that most of the recipes are works-in-progress, not polished, finished products. I do want to try to see if I can get a photo in every post... well from here on out.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Food & Wine recipes

Intrigued by the a-photo-with-every-recipe cover story, this month's Food and Wine magazine had me flipping past the story on eating pig head to reach their color-coded spread on "The Twenty+ Best Healthy Recipes Ever." The feature offers up how-to recipes ranging from Chicken Curry with Squash (yellow) to Black-Sesame Salmon Balls; an overwhelming number of the dishes were gluten free.
2 of the dishes called for wheat-based ingredients (linguine and panko bread crumbs) but they could easily be modified. A few more included soy sauce - easily swapped out for wheat-free tamari. 18 out of 20 recipes, being gluten-free, not bad!

Admittedly the Sake-Steamed Halibut with Ginger and Cabbage - also with shaved cauliflower- was a weird, bland white on white on barely green dish that made me want to turn the page not run out to the fish monger, but the majority of the dishes were quite the opposite. The grilled Asian Eggplant with Ginger Sauce was smartly plated atop a purple platter and the Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard both made me rethink sitting home on this dreary day.

Tom Yum Soup

Spicy, sweet, sour, crunchy, soft and comforting, Tom Yum soup has become my all time favorite soup. (Pre-gluten free life it was my mom's Italian wedding soup, but I have yet to successfully recreate a gf version of it... yet.)

I having gotten over a fever, but not quite feeling 100% I thought I would make some soup to help kick the remainder of this cold to the curb. The recipe I made came out pretty well, except for the fact that lime zest is not a decent substitute for lime leaves - the resulting broth was a bit bitter. Otherwise it hit all of the other notes of a good tom yum soup and hopefully will have me back up and running again in no time.

Tom Yum Soup w/Noodles
1 carrot, cut
1 rib of celery, cut
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion, quartered
[zest of 1 lime] - made bitter, omit
homemade chicken stock
roast/pan fried peanuts
bean sprouts
fresh cilantro
5 sliced scallions
sliced mushrooms
1 diced carrot
1/2 diced onion
1 diced rib of celery
rice noodles
lime juice
fish sauce

1. Place cut carrot, cut celery, bay leaves, garlic, onion in a pot. Cover with chicken stock. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer.
2. In a separate pan, toast the peanuts. Place a handful of the bean sprouts in the bottom of a bowl with a few peanuts and a few cilantro leaves. Set aside.
3. Add the mushrooms and diced veggies to the stock pot.
4. In a separate pot, boil water and cook rice noodles as directed. Make sure to follow directions and rinse noodles in cold water (if you are not going to use them immediately, you can store them in the cold water).
5. Add the sugar, lime juice and fish sauce (to taste) to the stock pot.
6. Assemble - pour the soup atop the bean sprouts/peanuts/cilantro leaves and rice noodles. Top with additional peanuts and cilantro.
7. Enjoy!

A spoon and chop sticks help with the delivery.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gluten Free Event in Cambridge, MA

A friend passed this along...

Celiac Disease & Gluten Free Focus Group
Hi! I'm looking for Celiac individuals who would like to attend one of two gluten free focus groups me and my boss are running next week in Kendall Square.

To sweeten the deal, we're offering those who attend our focus group FREE gluten-free pizza from ZINGS in Porter Square as well as gluten free cupcakes and other gluten free snacks from GLUTENUS MINIMUS in Arlington, MA. There will be a Celiac-friendly snackfest for 30 minutes then our focus group will follow.

The focus groups are next week on Tuesday February 24th and Wednesday February 25th and he entire event will last from 6pm-7:30pm. (We're located in Kendall Square less than a block from the T stop)

If you're Celiac or are the parent of a child with Celiac interested in attending please email me at letting me know the following information.

*your full name
*your profession
*when you or your child were diagnosed with Celiac Disease
*your preferred focus group date (Tuesday February 24th OR Wednesday
February 25th)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chocolate Truffles (Vegan!)

I have had it in my head to make a gluten free and vegan chocolate truffle with coconut milk for a while. Apparently there are others out there who feel the same stroke of genius as well... see vegan chocolate truffle recipe.

That said, I set out to embark on my own truffle making endeavor. Since the even became comical, I will take you step-by-step through the process so that you can laugh at my folly, but hopefully I will make these again and formulate a concise recipe.

8.84 oz. dark chocolate (85%)
1/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup coconut milk
pinch of salt
2 tbsp vanilla extract
plus more sugar and coconut milk
plus dark chocolate for dipping
2 tbsp cocoa powder for rolling
1 tbsp coconut flour for rolling
1 tbsp powdered sugar for rolling

Tools: heavy bottom sauce pan, 2 glass bowls, cookie sheets, parchment paper, rubber spatula, rounded table spoon, small metal spoon

1. Heat the coconut milk, salt and sugar in a sauce pan over medium high heat.
2. Place the chocolate in a separate glass bowl.
3. Once the coconut milk comes to a boil, pour over chocolate and stir.
Not all of the chocolate melted so I...
4. Place the bowl of chocolate over a double boiler on low and kept stirring until chocolate was well incorporated.
5. Stir in the vanilla extract.

*This is the point where I tasted the truffles and they were really really bitter, so I knew they needed more sugar. I made slow additions of sugar melted in coconut milk.
First I added:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk
It still wasn't enough, so I added:
2-3 tbsp coconut milk
3-4 tbsp sugar
This ganache still tasted a bit sour, but I was afraid if I added any more fat it would not set up, so I stopped.

6. Put the ganache in the refrigerator to set up.
(After an hour of it not cooling sufficiently, I took the advice of the author vegan recipe posted above and through it into the freezer.)
7. After a few hours in the freezer, the ganache has set up (the glass bowl is cold all the way around), and its time to roll. Using a rounded tablespoon, portion out each of the truffles and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Do not worry about forming them into balls, just portion them into blobs.
8. Place the cookie sheets with portioned truffles into the fridge for 30 minutes to set up. (Its easier to work cold ganache than warm, which will stick to your hands.)
9. Melt dark chocolate for dipping. (I used approximately 2 bars, but to be fair, I mixed a few different types, using up odds and ends I had in my pantry.)

*Melting chocolate is tricky because for the nice shiny finish and a good snap, the chocolate needs to be in temper. Tempering chocolate is the act of raising and lowering the chocolate's temperature to get all of the chocolate crystals in the same formation. This is important because if chocolate is not in temper, it can bloom - the act of cocoa butter separating and coming to the surface of the chocolate causing the outside to look powdery and discolored - and the final chocolate will not have a nice snap or shiny exterior.

I do not have a food-grade marble slab for working chocolate, nor a chocolate tempering machine, nor the patience for hand tempering at home... so I employed the "don't get the tempered chocolate out of temper" method of just barely heating the chocolate enough that it melts, but not hot enough that it goes above 91F, where it could be at risk of getting out of temper.

To do this, I grated all the chocolate as uniformly as possible and placed it in a glass bowl. I placed the bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds, removed and stirred with a rubber spatula. I then put it back in the microwave for 10 seconds, removed and stirred and continued the process until most of the chocolate had melted. Towards the end, I put it in the microwave for 5 seconds at a time, and was very careful to scrape down the sides and mix well between heating sessions.
This sounds like a lot of work, but its a lot less work than hand tempering - trust me.

10. With the melted chocolate ready, remove the cookie sheets from the refrigerator. Quickly roll the blobs into balls and place back on cold cookie sheet. Once the balls are formed - they do not have to be perfectly round - you are ready to dip.
11. Dip the rubber spatula into the melted chocolate, then allow the excess to drain off. Place 1 truffle on the spatula. Dip a small spoon into the melted chocolate, allow the excess to drain off and then use that spoon to roll the truffle around the spatula, coating each side.
12. Push off most of the excess chocolate off the spatula and use the spoon to push the truffle off onto a clean piece of parchment or into cocoa powder or coconut flour mixture to coat.
13. If you are rolling the truffle, gently toss in coating and then allow it to rest for a minute before placing it on a clean peace of parchment to set up.

Chocolate dipped:

Dipped & rolled in coconut flour & powdered sugar:

Dipped & rolled in cocoa powder:

Overall, these turned out better than I expected. Some of the chocolate dipped ones did start oozing a bit - the middles pushed through the chocolate shell. Some of the cocoa powder dipped ones completely collapsed the next day. So if I made these again I would either make a firmer ganache (less fat added to the chocolate) and/or I would dip the truffles a second time in chocolate to give them a firmer shell.
A friend also suggested using a fork to transfer the truffles from dipping to drying area, which would help decrease the excess chocolate on the bottoms or "feet."

Overall, this recipe needs some work but was delicious. With the exception of the coconut dusted truffle, they did not taste like coconut and were rich, creamy and much to my surprise the chocolate stayed in temper!
I will be making these again.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Stone Hearth Pizza

I have said it before, but I will say it again, and again and again...

Last week a friend mentioned that the Stone Hearth Pizza in Cambridge had a sign in the window about a new gluten free menu options. Another opportunity for gluten free pizza?! I was ecstatic.

I went last night with two gluten-eating dinner companions who were up for the challenge of dining gluten free. We ordered the antipasti (flatbread crisps on the side), Homemade Sausage & Caramelized Onions gluten free pizza, the Prosciutto & Pineapple gluten free pizza, and the Meatball Lovers gluten free pasta.

Prior to ordering I was really impressed by the waitstaff. I asked how the gluten free pasta options came and when she said she did not know the ingredients for the gluten free pasta, she went out back and brought the bag of Tinkyada to our table for me to look at. She also informed us that all of there pizzas, not just the 4 indicated on the menu, were available gluten free. I cannot tell you how giddy I was that there were more things that were options for me than not on the menu. It was so exciting! They even carry gluten free beer (Bard's) but I passed in order to have more stomach room for pizza.

The antipasti was nice, a few slices of prosciutto, really fresh mozzarella, marinated olives, red and yellow bell peppers, and marinated artichoke hearts, a nice spread. The prosciutto and pineapple pizza slightly upstaged the homemade sausage and caramelized onions. The crust was thin, crisp and held together, but needed more salt, which is why I think the saltiness of the prosciutto made it the table winner. The house made meatballs were a bit overcooked and rubbery, but the fresh basil throughout the baked fusilli with ricotta, tomato sauce, topped with bubbly mozzerella cheese was delicious. Again, this dish needed a sprinkling of salt as well, but the pasta really held its shape - a rarity with rice pasta. Too full for the dessert menu, although I was very very tempted by the idea of gelato, my first experience at the Stone Hearth Pizza will by no means be my last.

I am typing away and eating the leftover now. I am shocked at how well they pasta held up to reheating - in the toaster oven, not microwave - with the addition of a few pinches of salt, it has to be one of the best lunches I have had in a long time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tom Yum Cashews

I haven't seen them yet, but I was very lucky that someone else spotted and decided to share one of Trader Joe's new products, Tom Yum Cashews.

Upon opening the pouch I was met with a strong hit of fish sauce and lemon grass. The first bite was oddly reminiscent of soup (Tom Yum Noodle Soup is my favorite soup of all time). The clusters are softer than I expected; when I think of nuts I assume a good solid crunch, but these were more chewy. I don't think I could eat a lot of them, the flavors were really strong and the lemongrass was almost overwhelming, but perhaps if these were chopped up and added to a dish they would be really good.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chicken in red wine (not-quite Coc au vin)

I was thinking about Coc au Vin for dinner. I like the idea of one-pot meals and using red wine with chicken. Not having access to a roster, I don't think I can call this a true French coc au vin, but I made the following:

2 chicken legs
2 tbsp vegetable oil
kosher salt
2 medium or one large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 large carrot diced
1 rib of celery diced
1 bottle of red wine
1 cup of water
1 tsp Italian seasonings

One pot and one heavy skillet (cast iron is great for this).

1. Heat the heavy skillet over high heat.
2. Add 1 tbsp of the oil.
3. Sprinkle the chicken with kosher salt.
4. Once the oil becomes shimmery, add the chicken. Brown over high heat on both sides.
5. Place the other pot over medium high heat and add in the other tbsp of oil.
6. Sautee the onions in the oil.
7. Once the chicken has browned, remove the pieces and place in pot with onions. Add the garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, carrots, celery and wine.
8. Add enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
9. In the skillet, add the sliced mushrooms and sautee until golden brown.
10. Add the mushrooms and Italian seasonings to the pot with the chicken.
11. Cook uncovered, simmering until the vegetables are tender and the chicken begins to fall off the bone.
12. Remove the chicken and veggies from the pot. Add just the liquid back to the pot and simmer until it has reduced by at least half.
13. Add the chicken and the veggies back to the pot with the sauce, heat through and serve.

This was good. A solid dish. It was not Oh-my-goodness-delicious. It just came out a little flat - I wanted more garlic and more wine flavor. I am hoping the flavors will improve overnight and it will be even better as left overs.