Monday, July 23, 2012

living the dream

I did it. I finally had my dream meal.

For over 4 years I have been pining, experimenting, tasting (sometimes wanting to spit said taste out), tinkering, hemming and hawing, all over pizza.

Last week I went to Risotteria restaurant.

You need to look past the late 90s geo-cities themed website. You must prepare yourself for dining in a sardine can. It helps to have friends who know how awesome a gluten-free restaurant is and who offer up their order to you, so you get to try more things. You should walk around and work up an appetite... because you will need it.

Gluten free bread sticks arrive at the table and the glutenmouths eat them up and go for seconds. A very solid sign and the first time in 5 years I HAD a bread stick! (They had a little bit of gummy-ness in the middle, the only real tell that they aren't the real thing.)

Gluten free beers - check
Surprising wine list - check
Knowledgable servers - check
Solid vegetarian options - check
Menu full of things you can eat - check

I ignored most of the options because I had come for the pizza. The generous friends, noted above, allowed me to sample several types - we got two that were thin crust, one Scicilian. Honestly, skip the thick crust it really didn't work and tasted like a gf knock-off. The thin crust however - actually tasted better than the gluten option one fellow dinner ordered. Everyone noted that the gluten pizza (which is made off site, and shipped in) wasn't nearly as crisp or flavorful.

At the end of the meal my face actually hurt from smiling. I never thought I would get to have New York-style pizza again. Not only did I, it was truly the best pizza I have ever tasted!

I cannot wait for another reason to visit New York!!!!!

(The desserts were nothing to write home about. They weren't bad, they just weren't great. Save room for another slice of pizza.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

NGR in Living Without

Hot off the presses, No Gluten Required is in this month's Living Without magazine. Ok, so it is just a small photo, but it is still very cool.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Michael Ruhlman's gluten education

It is great when anyone is willing to listen and learn more about gluten and celiac disease. It truly is. Information and knowledge is the first step to a lot of things. While I like the intent about Michael Ruhlman's "What I didn't know about gluten" blog post, I found it left me wanting. Part of me was screaming out:

  • not all of us get symptoms in 30 minutes!
  • not all of us feel better after 3 days!
  • it is NOT an inability to digest gluten, it is an autoimmune disease!
  • there are significant long-term side effects of continuing to ingest gluten, even accidentally
  • it is harder because in the US there is no legal definition of "gluten free"
  • it is not JUST food! there is medications, toothpaste (I am staring at you Sensodine), and bath products that are not necessarily properly labeled and are sources of gluten
  • think of the children!

I am serious about the last one. Having a child with an intolerance, autoimmune disease, or allergy is a minefield beyond wishing you could go out to eat and not being able to all the time. 

I am trying to keep my "no one can do everything in one article" hat on, but I am more frustrated with this piece than not. But again, it is a step forward, and Ruhlman has a following and boy oh boy are the comments section of this piece heating up!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits

They really should not work. Light, fluffy, buttery, biscuits are a thing of beauty, that seems to defy gravity. They are made with some of the richest, densest ingredients, but the end result - when they are good - is ethereal. Ok, I sounds like a commercial, but come on. You know when you break into a REALLY good biscuit that it is something at least a little magical. Little domes of goodness can couch savory or sweet - or both! They can be a delicious side, or a whole meal. There is really little a fantastic biscuit cannot do. So without much more floral language, I give you the very best gluten-free biscuits...

Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup glutenous rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt (double if you are using unsalted butter)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
8 tbsp very cold butter, cut into cubes
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425F
Have 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment, and an ice cream scoop at the ready
1. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, set aside.
2. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs and buttermilk together. Set aside.
3. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients, the goal is for pea-sized bits of butter throughout the mixture.
4. Pour the liquids into the butter/flour mix and mix until combined. (You don't want to over mix - not because of gluten - but because you don't want to beat up or melt the butter)
If the batter is sticky, that means you are doing it right. These are "drop" biscuits, which mean you literally drop the dough onto the baking pan rather than rolling and cutting them like scones. 
5. With the ice cream scoop (1-2oz, your choice), drop the biscuits onto the cookie sheets. Allow 1-2 inches of room for them to spread.
6. Bake at 425F for 8-20 minutes. Basically you are looking for them to nearly triple in size and brown evenly. This bake time is going to depend on how big you make the biscuits.
As they bake, you are going to see some butter melting and oozing out. This is OK and normal and is a sign of the deliciousness that is to come.

If you happen to have leftovers (ha!) they make great strawberry shortcake bases.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gluten free pumpernickel

"Wait, you can eat this?!"
"I would believe you if you said they didn't have wheat in them, but NO RYE?!"

These are the sounds of success.

It is great when people kindly nod their heads and say that your gluten free offering is "not bad" or "pretty good" but when you can pull the preverbial wool over their tastebuds, well then I know I have won.

I have been messing around with recreating pumpernickel ever since I found teff flour in an Ethiopian mini-mart in Maryland. Now back in Boston, it is a bit harder to find, but the Bob's Red Mill teff flour stuff is pretty close. It is significantly less fermented, so it smells different and requires more yeast - or a longer proofing time - to get going.

This recipe was hard to post and share since a very dear friend, who has passed, helped me develop and perfect it. It was around her dinner table, where so many amazing meals were had, where we discussed what this recipe needed: cocoa, coffee, and molasses. Those three ingredients took this from good to great. I will think of her lovingly every time I make a batch.

Gluten free pumpernickel
2 1/2 cups teff flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup arrowroot starch (+ 1/2 cup in reserve)
1/2 cup rice flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp psyllium husk
1 tbsp flax seed meal
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp espresso powder
2 tsp instant yeast
3 cups water
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup molasses

1. Combine all of the wet ingredients, and yeast, into a mixing bowl.
2. Combine all of the dry ingredients.
3. On very low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet.
4. Mix to combine.
5. Allow the mixture to sit for 20-30 minutes (overnight is even better). You are looking for the batter to go from a chocolate pudding consistency to something almost as thick as warm frosting. 
6. Now comes the tricky part. If you let it rest for 20-30 minutes you are going to need to see if it has set up enough. Again, you are looking for it to be much thicker, and fall off in plops off the beater or paddle. If it is a bit runny, slowly mix up to 1/2 cup more arrowroot starch. If this scares the baking pants off you - just cover the mixture with plastic wrap and put it in your fridge over night, and skip to #7.
7. Preheat the oven to 425F.
8. Grease 2 muffin tins.
9. Scrape down the batter, and then scoop it into the muffin tins (22-24)
10. Bake at 425F for 30-45 minutes, or until you can pierce the rolls with a toothpick and the center comes out clean.
11. Cool and eat!

This is a bad photo, but you can see the awesome crumb structure and that they do not deflate. I recommend serving them with butter and salt, goat cheese - I am not in any way suggesting you should forgo the pastrami.

Let's chat about the NYT, again

Ok friends, here we go again. The NYT is at it, writing about dietary restrictions. At least this time they threw in a two line paragraph about those who NEED to restrict their diets, but "R.S.V.P. P. S. - No Gluten, fat or soy please: The picky eater who came to dinner" in this week's Times has got me again.

Can we talk about the intimacy and social space that eating is and provides? Can we talk about WHY this is a problem (multiple dietary restrictions) rather than pinning it on an us vs. them model? Can we talk about what a "good host" is? Also, why are you feeding people you don't like enough to make happy?!

Am I being too "picky"? What do you think?