Friday, March 26, 2010

foreign adventures in gluten-free food

A hard part about cooking with restrictions is staying motivated and inspired. I'm not sure if it is the same for people who choose dietary restrictions but being forced, for health reasons, to eat a certain way can be difficult. Sometimes you just want to order take out and eat with the 'regular' folk.

In Seattle, you can enjoy being one of the regular folk.

Romios Pizza & Pasta is fantastic with the longest gluten-free menu I have ever seen. The owner is gluten-free and believes everyone deserves hot, fresh pizza, pasta and tasty garlic bread. I'm not sure I have ever been that happy in a restaurant - before or after diagnosis.

The garlic bread was so fantastic that even the non-celiacs in the group couldn't tell the difference. The pizza options were amazing and I am already thinking about what I will have next time.

If you live in Washington state or British Columbia, it is definitely worth the trip. The two local bakeries only a few blocks away also carry gluten-free options.

Romios Pizza & Pasta
8523 Greenwood Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98103

Thursday, March 4, 2010

tomato fondue

All good cooking starts with great basics.

Thanks to my favourite cookbook, Healthy Gluten-Free Cooking by Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearny, gluten-free basics are easy to master. I also have to thank a dear celiac friend for passing along the cookbook. Without it, I probably wouldn't have eaten for weeks following my diagnosis last year. The recipes are easy to follow and are a great launch pad for inspiring new recipes. Without the cookbook, I wouldn't be writing this blog and I definitely wouldn't be enjoying experimenting in the kitchen.

Tomato fondue be a side vegetable dish, sauce for pasta, filling for an omelet or a base for stews. It will make you never want to eat pre-made pasta sauce ever again.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
8 medium very ripe tomatoes, peeled, in summer, or 2.5 x 14 oz cans tomatoes in winter
salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar to taste
1 tablespoon any of the following: freshly chopped mint or torn basil or a mixture of thyme, parsley, lemon balm, and marjoram
balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless steel saucepan. Add the onions and garlic, toss until coated, cover and sweat on gentle heat until soft but not coloured. It is vital for the success of this dish that the onions are completely soft before the tomatoes are added. Slice the peeled tomatoes and add with all the juice to the onions and garlic.

Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, and sugar (canned tomatoes need more sugar because of their high acidity). Add the herbs. Cook, covered for 10 minutes more, or until the tomato softens. Cook fresh tomatoes for a shorter time to preserve the lively fresh flavour. Canned tomatores need to be cooked for longer depending on whether you want to use the fondue as a vegetable, sauce, or filling.

Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking to greatly enhance the flavour.

Enjoy any way you like! I cooked mine as a side vegetable to accompany homemade crab cakes. Delicious!

Monday, March 1, 2010

shitake mushroom, shredded zucchini and bacon risotto

After an amazing Olympic Games filled with golden moments and amazing new friends, I'm back at it in the kitchen. I can now live a long life without seeing another untoasted gluten free bread sandwich after living off of them for the past month.

When I thought of what I would make on my first day off, the thing that came right to mind is my favourite shitake mushroom, zucchini and Canadian back bacon risotto. Before my diagnosis, I never made risotto. Pasta seemed like an easier dish for great meal. While rice and corn pasta exist, I have barely eaten it over the past year. Instead, I have discovered a love for risotto. Like pizza, it is a base that any food can be added to for a delicious dinner. It always seems to work out and tastes fabulous.

So for my first home cooked meal following the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, I decided to make risotto.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 white onion
Bacon - I use half a package of Freybe Canadian back bacon
1.5 cups chicken broth - I use Pacific Organics
1.5 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
1 shredded zucchini
shredded romano cheese

1. Boil chicken broth in separate pot. Let simmer on low heat once boiled
2. Pour olive oil into a heated wok or pan. Add bacon and thinly copped onions and cook until soft.
3. Add arborio rice and toast in pan until liquid is absorbed
4. Add 3/4 cup of chicken broth to the onion, bacon rice and stir until absorbed
5. Add shredded zucchini and mushrooms and another 3/4 cup of chicken broth. Stir until absorbed
6. Add the rest of the chicken broth and stir until absorbed
7. Add romano cheese when almost all of the broth is absorbed. Keep stirring.
8. Serve topped with romano cheese

Serve with a glass of chilled white wine and enjoy!