Gluten Free Foodies
Celebrate the foods that you can eat!
Well, I am here to tell you they are really great! It is so easy to look up info and to carry with you. These guides are updated annually with such useful information.
In 2004, Ross and Kay Cohen of Philadelphia came up with a great idea while trying to figure out how Ross could live a happier Gluten Free lifestyle. Ross actually avoided social situations around food because it was just too hard to navigate the strict gluten free guidelines to stay healthy. His wife said, "Let's make dining cards to teach restaurants how to make gluten free foods", so that he and others who are Gluten Free do not avoid a social life. They dove right in and began to meet with chefs and restaurants. They also studied labels and cookbooks to discover pitfalls that may occur in a restaurant kitchens. Each of the cards has 3 translations. The cards are laminated and can be folded up and carried in your wallet or purse for easy spontaneous use! The cards explain the gluten free diet quickly and accurately. The 10 pack of cards has 10 different languages including - American, Chinese, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese - ready to travel with locally or internationally.
I know, when I heard Tequila, I thought ... yikes! I do not like Tequila! I use it to cook but I do not like to drink it. I don't even like Margaritas. I actually hate the smell of it!
So the other night, as I was getting dressed, I reminded myself to have an open mind about this special event. I thought, who knows, maybe I might learn something new? When I arrived I gave Fernanda a big hug and we sat down to catch up before the festivities. She also assured me that everything on the menu was Gluten Free, just for me! How sweet is that?! A really handsome and nice waiter, Andrew, came over and introduced himself to me and asked about what type of cocktail we wanted to start the night off. I thought to myself, yikes! how am I going to do this? Both Fernanda and he recommended a refreshing Grapefruit Cocktail with Cazadores Blanco, perfect for the summer. When it arrived I took a small sip and realized this is not the flavor I remembered. This was smooth and floral. I only had a few sips as I ate my favorite freshly made salsa and chips. I get really distracted when this is in front of me. The salsa has roasted tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onion and I am not sure what peppers. I tried to get the recipe but no luck! The corn chips are perfectly crisp with such flavor. They sprinkle sea salt and squeeze fresh lime juice on them while they are still hot from the fryer. I just about polished off the chips and salsa, the first course arrived. I did notice, however that the combination of the drink with the chips and salsa went really well together. The flavors were fresh and bright.
In between, Tania told us about Reposado, made from 100% Blue Agave, rested for over two months in new small American white oak casks. Rich aroma, floral and slightly sweet. It goes really well with - Oranges sprinkled with Cinnamon! It was so good and I was so shocked that it was sweet and creamy, two words I would not think of using when describing ... Tequila!
Carne Tampiquena - A northern Mexico favorite from Tampico - Grilled Painted Hills steak served with cheese enchiladas topped with the absolute best mole sauce I have ever had! I think the server said it had 24 ingredients! The creamiest rajas (roasted, peeled poblano peppers and onions) and refried beans were on the side.
A few weeks ago I was itchin' to take a short day trip across the water. The weather around here has not been the best and I am so ready for summer sun! On top of it, I just get in these moods where - I just have to go to one of my favorite areas around the Puget Sound to just let the ferry winds blow across my face and through my hair. This trip took 4 ferry rides but well worth it. Anyway, I was looking on line to see what new things were happening on Whidbey Island. I love the little towns - Clinton, Langley and Coupeville on the south end of the Island. So, like I said, I was looking to see if I could find some place cool to eat a special Gluten Free lunch because my birthday was at the end of the week. So I kept looking and then got busy with some other chores. Later that evening I got back on line and opened my email inbox and there was an email from Kim at Pickles Deli in Clinton, WA on Whidbey Island! She very sweetly told me that she had some new Gluten Free bread, meats and cheeses and wondered if I would go out for a visit to try them. I immediately replied with a great big YES please.
Ohhh! well ... let me tell you that my birthday wish came true this year!
The name Paella refers to the metal pan that the dish is made in. It has 2 small handles and is somewhat shallow. This type of pan is usually very wide and flat on the bottom which allows for even heating over the fire. I have always wanted a traditional paella pan but do not have one. Luckily for me, my friend Gail let me borrow her two Paella pans. If you don't have one, I would suggest going to The Spanish Table in the Pike Place Market in Seattle. They have everything, I mean absolutely everything that you could ever want or need that has to do with Spanish cooking and Paella. They have Paella pans that range from 22 cm to 115 cm! I can't even imagine making Paella in a 115 cm pan ... but oh how fun would that be?
So we heated up the grill and started to roast the poblano peppers. Once the peppers started to blister on all sides we put them into a paper bag to let them sweat. Then we put the Roma tomatoes on for just a few minutes on all sides. At this point we began to work in shifts, the tomatoes went inside the house with Ana and Cynthia so they could puree them into a smoky sauce. Dave, Marla's husband, helped me with grilling the chicken, just enough to get the flavor started and toget all sides with grill marks. While the chicken was cooking, Sandy was a trooper and cut up 4 big onions - 2 red and 2 white, no tears! When the chicken was done we took it off the grill, put it on a plate, covered it with foil and put it to the side. We added a tad bit more of olive oil, the onions and the chorizo to the pan. I used Isernio's chorizo because it is Gluten Free. I removed the casings and added small pieces, about 1.5 - 2 inch pieces into the pan with the onions. In the meantime, Marla and Gwen took the poblanos from the bag, removed the blistered skin and cut them up. Once the onions were translucent and the chorizo was cooked, we added the poblano peppers. Then the tomato sauce went in and the rice. We used a brown rice but there are various types that you can use. I also added some Pacific Foods Gluten Free Chicken broth to both pans to allow the rice to cook. A traditional Spanish rice for paella is Matiz short grain rice, which you can also purchase at the Spanish Table.
Yes, I said 20 lbs. of NW Cherries!
Make lots-o-cherry food and drinks!
This week has been all about pitting cherries, by hand. I started off just cutting the cherries and using my fingers and then got wise to the tool. The first thing I wanted to make is
Cherry Syrup because I thought it would be a great basis for all
sorts of recipes to add a beautiful cherry red color and intense sweet, slightly tart flavor.
It is so easy, once you get past the pitting ...
2 cups pitted NW Cherries
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cane sugar
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Nielsen-Massey pure almond extract
1 tablespoon of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla paste
Keep an eye on it an stir so it doesn't burn. Just as it begins to boil
slowly add the cherries. Lower the heat to a simmer. Stir for a few minutes and cover. Reduce the heat to low to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and recover.
After 10 minutes turn the heat off and add the lemon juice, NM pure almond extract, NM Madagascar Bourbon vanilla paste. Stir well to incorporate all the flavors. Cover and let it meld for 15 minutes.
Take the lid off and let it cool on a rack. Use a funnel to pour into a bottle that has a tight seal. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
Great to use to top anything Gluten Free - pancakes, waffles, frosting or use it for drinks.
Stay tuned ...
I have met so many amazing people this year, virtually and in person. So this morning when I woke up with birthday surprises, besos and bacis (kisses) from Mac (my dog, he's trilingual) and Eddie Vedder ( I heart Eddie) ... I had to share.
Strong cup of coffee in hand and a new little Cherry Bomb cupcake that I just had to make! If you want the recipe send me an email.
Thanks for all the Birthday wishes ... looking forward to a weekend with friends at a Paella Party ... Ole'!
Lisa ... A Very Happy Gluten Free Birthday Foodie!
Just a few things to think about while enjoying this season's best of the NW ...
- Store unwashed cherries in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and wash just before eating.
- Keep the stems on the cherries to increase shelf life.
- Bing, Tieton and Chelan Cherries are all available right now. Bing should be available until mid August.
- Rainier Cherries are a cross between Bing and Van - sweet and tart yet creamy with a golden and blush hue. The Rainier Cherry was named after our Mt. Rainier. 20 brix (sweetness level) or more and no less than 17 these are the best naturally sweet Gluten Free candy you can find this summer. Make sure you get some for outdoor concerts, movies and a day at the beach!
- Did you know that cherries are naturally low fat, low carb, and are a high fiber super food? They taste so sweet while providing vitamin c, antioxidants (from the dark color) and micro nutrients. Cherries also provide an excellent source of melatonin which is a hormone to help us sleep. One cup of cherries is only 90 calories!
- Cherries have been proven to fight inflammation and help ease the pain of arthritis, gout and headaches from the abundance of antioxidants, isoqueritrin, queritrin and other compounds. In addition they help fight cancer and heart disease.
- NW Cherries account for two thirds of the nation's crop and ship to 62 countries which brings $600 million into the Northwest annually. Northwest Cherries are from WA, ID, UT, OR, MT.
What are you waiting for?
Go get your cherries .... and I will show you how to make some fun things to last all season long ...
I spent an amazing day yesterday with some fellow foodies in Yakima learning all about one of my absolute favorite foods - cherries!
So in honor of my mom and Yakima Cherries I made Gluten Free waffles with almonds and perfectly ripe Bing Cherries ... just a little bit of syrup and non-dairy earth balance butter ...
This is a first, albeit short posting, in a series all about the "Life of a Cherry" from Yakima, WA.
Happy Father's Day! and thanks Mom!