Saturday, January 28, 2012

0 Gluten-free Tips for Restaurant Dining

Good day to you.  I've been given the remarkable opportunity by T. R. Crumbley to post a guest blog about providing tips in regard to gluten-free restaurant dining.

If you're like me, you've had a sense of dread when the prospect of restaurant dining has been mentioned in your presence.  Don't despair.  With communication and knowledge you can overcome the obstacles celiacs have in regard to dining safely at a restaurant.

As with any other aspect of your gluten-free life, preparedness is essential in regard to restaurant dining.  This is inclusive of researching the restaurant's menu and determining if the restaurant has gluten-free menu options.  Here's an example of gluten-free menu options via Outback Steakhouse: .

If you are unable to determine if a restaurant has gluten-free offerings on-line, you will need to contact that restaurant's chef or manager via telephone or in-person prior to your imminent dining experience.  How do you do this?  Approach the restaurant you will be dining at with the following in mind:
  • Are gluten-free menu options available?
  • How are basic menu items prepared?  Example: are mashed potatoes a 'box mix' or "made-from scratch, gluten-free?"
  • Are there croutons in the 'house salad?'
  • Is the salad dressing made in-house, or bottled with unknown origin?
  • Are cross-contamination issues addressed so that gluten-free items remain just that?
  • Are soups based upon fresh-cooked gluten-free stock or canned stock of unknown origin?
  • Are baked potatoes covered in flour to provide an extra crispy texture?
  • Is oil used for frying potatoes the same oil used to fry breaded shrimp?
You get the idea.  The same "gluten-free kitchen questions" you would ask in regard to your own household need to be asked of the restaurant you will be dining at.  While in contact with the restaurant, please be sure to exchange names with the chef or manager you speak with so both of you are familiar with each other once you arrive for your dining experience.

Now, you've done your homework and you've educated yourself in regard to how this restaurant will treat you in a safe manner, gluten-free.  The time has come to be a patron of that restaurant.  When greeted, you should advise the waitstaff of your name and request the chef and/or manager be alerted of your arrival.  Knowledge of your arrival should sharply decrease cross-contamination issues with gluten per your prior research and conversation with the restaurant personnel.  Please request confirmation the chef and/or manager is aware of your presence as a patron with the waitstaff.  Also, advise the waitstaff independently of your status in regard to Celiac Disease.  This is the perfect opportunity to present your gluten-free allergy restaurant card (reference for additional info) should you have one.  Note, no need to go in great detail with the waitstaff in regard to this matter, as most will not know what a gluten-free diet entails.  That said, if you state to the waitstaff "I have a severe allergy to wheat and gluten" they should take extra care, along with the manager and chef, to make sure your dining experience is optimal.

I understand what a daunting task eating at a restaurant can be as a celiac.  I also understand why some may not want to expend the energy to have such a safe, gluten-free experience.  However, social interaction with people sometimes requires us to be in a dining experience in a restaurant. I hope the tools and education I've provided will assist you in such experiences.

With education, communication, and practice, I feel you will thrive with preparedness in a restaurant setting.

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free.

Peace be with you.

If you would like to read more of my gluten-free tips, please check out my blog via and on Twitter via!/gfdougie.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

3 Gluten Free Pork Meatballs and Sauce

Here's a wonderful gluten free roasted tomato sauce recipe with pork and apple meatballs. I hope you enjoy!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours
Servings: 4

3 lbs tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh oregano
drizzle of olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 bayleaves
1/2 tbsp fresh sage, minced

1 lb ground pork
1/4 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 red apple, diced
1 tbsp thyme
1/2 tbsp fresh sage, minced
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the tomatoes cut side up on the sheet, and drizzle olive oil over top. Sprinkle with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Bake for 50 minutes.

Once removed from the oven, press through a fine strainer to remove seeds and flesh.

In a medium pot over medium heat, add a tbsp of oil   with the garlic and onion. Sautee until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato sauce, oil, and sage to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the meatballs are ready.

In a medium bowl, mix the meatball ingredients together until well combined. Form the meat into balls the size of your palms and cook in a pan over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, prepare your favorite gluten free pasta to serve.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, sauce, and meatballs, and serve! I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

5 Favorite 2011 Recipe and Giveaway

Hey everyone! I hope that y'all have had an enjoyable week so far! I wanted to thank everyone by letting y'all choose your favorite recipe of the past year, while presenting the opportunity to win a prize!

Before January 31st, If you:
- vote for your favorite recipe in the comments of this post, and 
- share your favorite recipe on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. 

I'll be giving away 2 items:

1. Cuisinart Immersion Blender with Whisk & Chopper - My favorite Food Tool that I've gotten in the past year.
2. The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam

Saturday, January 7, 2012

29 Citruslove: Gluten Free Chocolate Orange Crème Brûlée

Hello everyone! I have participated in the love bloghop event for the past few months (for more information check out last month's #cookielove event). This month we're showing our love and adoration for citrus! Here's my contribution with Gluten Free Chocolate Orange Crème Brûlées.
I want these in my mouth. Right now. All of them.
Citrus is a magical food gift from the gods. Each species of citrus fruit has its own aroma, flavor, and acidity levels. I love using fresh citrus in both savory and sweet dishes to deliver acidity to a dish, and create amazing flavor combinations. My favorite sweet application is the beautiful marriage of chocolate and orange. Infinite Yums. That's where we come to this sinfully delicious crème brûlée. 
I made this dessert this past New Year's Eve for a party, and it may be my best decision of 2011. To say this recipe was a hit is an understatement. You know a dish is a success when you lose count of the number of times that people steal someone else's dessert just to get one more guilty bite. If there's anything you try to make on this blog, make this. Believe me, you won't regret it. 
NYE one of my friends referred to this as a culinary lightsaber. 
crème brûlée translates to "burnt cream," and is a rich custard covered in a layer of hard, caramelized sugar. (Sounds delicious right?) After cracking through the hard caramel layer of this chocolate orange crème brûlée, what lies underneath is dessert utopia. Each spoonful delivers a smooth, rich bite of decadent dark chocolate infused with the sweet, tart essence of orange zest. The textural contrast is amazing, but nothing can compare to the rich creamy marriage of dark chocolate and vibrant orange. This here is food for your soul. 
Also, who doesn't love the opportunity to pull out the blow torch? I know I do...

For those who haven't heard of the terminology "tempering eggs" before, here's a short description vital to the success of the recipe. Eggs can be very temperamental when it comes to sudden changes in temperature. If you were to dump eggs into a warm or hot pot of chocolate, you'll end up with little bits of scrambled eggs in your chocolate mix rather than a smooth, creamy solution. You resolve this by slowly bringing the eggs to temperature. By adding small amounts of a warm liquid to eggs, you'll temper them, slowly bringing them to the same temperature as your liquid. Here's a Food Network video that illustrates ( Note that in this recipe once we add the eggs to the liquid, the liquid will not be on the burner (unlike in the video where it stays over heat).

This month's #citruslove co-hosts:

Astig Vegan ~ Richgail
Oh Cake ~ Jessica ~ @jesshose

There's sure to be tons of culinary genius across all the blogs for this #citruslove event. Thank you to all the co-hosts and be sure to check out the recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate Orange  Crème Brûlées below the  bloghop.

Gluten Free Chocolate Orange Crème Brûlée

Servings: 8 4" ramekins
Prep Time: 20 minutes before baking, 5 minutes before serving
Bake Time: 35-40 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 3 hours

11 egg yolks
1 quart heavy whipping cream
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 oz unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa powder
1 oz Ghirardelli 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate
zest of 2 navel oranges
granulated sugar for caramelization

In a large bowl, add the egg yolks. Whisk the egg yolks for about 30 seconds. Set the bowl aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Add the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the cream is warm.
Add the cocoa powder and chocolate to the pot. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the cocoa powder has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for a little bit. Once the chocolate is warm to the touch, but not hot, it is time to temper the eggs. Add about 1/4 cup of the chocolate to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Once they are combined, add 1/2 cup of the chocolate to the eggs, whisking constantly. Once they are combined, add the rest of the chocolate to the eggs. Add the orange zest to the creme, and whisk until distributed throughout.
Pour the creme into the 8 ramekins. Place the ramekins into a rectangular pan that is about 2 inches high. Create a water bath for the ramekins that comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in a 350F oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cremes slightly jiggly when gently moved. Remove them from the oven, and immediately remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool to room temperature completely. Refrigerate the cremes for 3 hours or until ready to serve.
How they appear out of the oven
Once you are ready to serve, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator. To caramelize the sugar, you have 1 of 2 options:

1. If you have a propane torch: Cover the tops of the cremes with sugar and caramelize with the propane torch until you no longer see white sugar crystals.
2. If you do not have a propane torch: Set your oven to broil. Cover the tops of the cremes with sugar. Place in the broiler and check every 10-30 seconds to make sure that the cremes do not burn. Remove them from the broiler immediately when the sugar has caramelized.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

14 Ratio Rally: Gluten Free Lemon Basil Biscuits

Hi everyone! It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for a Gluten Free Ratio Rally. This month, biscuits are the food theme we chose to adapt as gluten free. Between hearing commercials for Red Lobster's cheddar biscuits (which I've heard are awful for you, I know they're definitely awful for me!) and avoiding breads at restaurants, I've had some degree of a craving for bread or biscuits. Biscuit ratios by weight are fairly easy to remember, 3:1:2 flour:fat:liquid. Not only that, but this should be a light, savory addition as a side to any dinner with family!

Thank you to Gretchen for hosting this month! Check out her blog kumquat for her sweet buttermilk biscuits. Be sure to check everyone's posts this month:

Amanda | Gluten Free Maui Classic Biscuits and Gravy
Amie Valpone | The Healthy Apple Gluten-Free Wasabi Parsley Biscuits
Caleigh | Gluten Free[k] American Style Biscuits
Caneel | Mama Me Gluten Free Whole Grain Pecan Drop Biscuits
Charissa | Zest Bakery Eggnog Biscuits with Grated Nutmeg
Erin Swing | The Sensitive Epicure Scallion Biscuits with Sausage Gravy
Heather | Discovering the Extraordinary Almond Coconut Tea Biscuits
Jean  | Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes Jammers
Jonathan | The Canary Files Vegan Sesame Shiso Biscuits
Karen | Cooking Gluten Free! Biscuit Template with Dairy Free Substitutions
Lisa | Gluten Free Canteen Fluffy Biscuits, Gluten Free
Mary Fran | FrannyCakes Gluten-Free Espresso Orange Biscuits
Mrs. R | Honey From Flinty Rocks Turkey Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping - Gobbler Cobbler 
Rachel/ The Crispy Cook Hummus in a Biscuit
Silvana Nardone | Silvana's Kitchen Gluten-Free Sausage-n-Cheddar Bialy Biscuits

Servings: 6 biscuits
Active Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes

4 oz white rice flour
3 oz potato starch
2 oz tapioca flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp basil
zest of 1 lemon
3 oz (3/4 stick) of cold butter, cubed
6 oz milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix the flours, powder, salt, pepper, basil, and zest. With a pastry tool or your fingers, work the butter into the flour mix until it has the texture of small pea-shaped balls of flour throughout the dough.

Stir in the milk just until combined, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Line a cutting board with parchment paper, and lightly flour the paper. Remove from the fridge, and turn over onto the board, and roll out to about 1/4 inch-1/2 inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter or a round glass to cut out the biscuits, and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes, and enjoy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

1 Happy New Year!

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year! It's great to be back from vacation (hence the lack of posts in the past week) and I'm excited to share a variety of delicious new recipes this month!

Look forward to the following recipes/events this month:
Homemade tomato sauce with pork meatballs
Gluten Free Ratio Rally - Biscuits
#citruslove (with my Chocolate Orange Creme Brulee)
Guest Blog Posts
4-6 other gluten free recipes

Also, I'll be continuing my Food Blog of the Month event where I share my favorite food blogs. I'll also revive my Culinary Challenge event, where I make gluten free variations of recipes that people request. If you have any gluten free variations on your favorite foods, use the Contact Me form to make a request!

Finally, Thank You to everyone who follows this blog. Its amazing talking to people who've tried recipes I've posted, and getting feedback from the community. Here's to 2012!