Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Chiles Rellenos with Goat Cheese



I know, I know, I've been on a major Mexican/Southwest/TexMex food kick lately, but bear with me - it seems like the perfect kind of cuisine for this time of year. Back in the days before we were diagnosed with Celiac and forced to adopt a gluten free diet, chiles rellenos was one of my favorite restaurant meals, but I never tried to make it at home. Now that dining out is significantly more difficult than cooking at home, this seemed like the perfect recipe to try

Chiles Rellenos with Goat Cheese

Ingredients
8 poblano peppers
1/2 pound mild goat cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 Tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 Tablespoon almonds, chopped & toasted
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
1/2 cup Jules Gluten Free flour
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions
Place peppers on a baking sheet and set oven on broil. Broil peppers until skins char. Turn peppers until skins are blackened all over.

Remove peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes. Remove charred skins and make a slit in each pepper leaving stems in tact. Carefully remove and discard seeds.

In a bowl, mix together goat cheese, jack cheese, parsley, cilantro, almonds, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper.

Divide mixture into 8 equal portions and stuff into peppers.

Heat about 3/4" of oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until temperature reaches about 375 degrees F.

Place flour on a plate and set aside.

Using an electric mixer beat egg whites and salt until they hold stiff peaks. Add 1 tablespoon flour and yolks, one at a time, beating in between each egg yolk.

Dip each stuffed peppers into flour and then into egg batter and then into hot oil. When they are golden turn them over and fry on other side. Remove to a paper towel with a slotted spoon. Cook them in batches so you don't overcrowd pan. Keep them warm as they are cooked by placing them in a 200 degree F. oven.

Top with pico de gallo salsa* and serve immediately.

For the Pico de Gallo
1/2 small white or red onion or 8 slender scallions finely chopped, rinsed, and drained
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded, if desired, and finely diced
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
1-2 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded and minced
1 medium garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Combine all ingredients.

Photo by mkorcuska on Flickr

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Monday: Spring Lunch Menu



The perfect menu for this week! In most locales, it's still too cold (and damp) to go out for a picnic lunch, so stay warm and dry with this menu that perfectly combines cozy comfort food with light spring flavors! Don't forget, Orange and Lemon Day is on Thursday so be sure to try out these delicious biscotti!

Salmon Chowder, garnish with a lemon wedge and fresh parsley.
Monte Cristo Sandwich, serve with a dusting of confectioner's sugar and a dollop of blackberry jam.
Orange Pecan Biscotti - especially excellent served with tea.

Photo by truk on Flickr

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Product Review: Glow Gluten Free Cookies


Ingredients by Cookie

Chocolate Chip
Garbanzo & Fava Bean Flour, Brown Sugar, Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Organic Palm Oil, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Eggs, Xanthan Gum, Pure Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt, Baking Soda. Contains Eggs, Soy Lecithin.

Double-Chocolate Chip
Garbanzo & Fava Bean Flour, Brown Sugar, Organic Palm Oil, Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Eggs, Natural Cocoa, Organic Coconut Flour, Coffee, Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum, Pure Vanilla and Chocolate Extract. Contains Eggs, Soy Lecithim, Tree Nuts.

Gingersnap
Garbanzo & Fava Bean Flour, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Palm Oil, Molasses, Eggs, Ground Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, Xanthan Gum, Sea Salt, Baking Soda, Pure Vanilla Extract, Natural Coffee Extract. Contains Eggs.

Snickerdoodle
Garbanzo & Fava Bean Flour, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Palm Oil, Eggs, Cinnamon, Xanthan Gum, Pure Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt, Baking Soda, Cream of Tartar. Contains Eggs.

Overall Rating - 4.5/5 Stars
These cookies are perfect for dunking - like a gluten free version of Chips Ahoy (yum!)

Taste
Becky: A blast from the past for a moment, please - my mother places before me a saucer holding three gingery snaps and a delicate teacup filled with piping hot lemon curd, homemade from lemons she's squeezed herself. My five-year-old fingers tenderly dip a cookie into the pudding, and together they form the perfect mouthful - the resounding "bite" of ginger, the zing of lemon, and the over-riding sweetness of both. Yes, Glow Gluten Free Gingersnaps are this delicious, and I admit I purchased a box of lemon meringue pie filling in an attempt to recreate my childhood passion. And it was heaven! The Double Chocolate Cookies didn't disappoint (make-your-own ice cream sandwiches, anyone?), and the Snickerdoodles were great, too. The cookies are made with garbanzo bean flavor, and while one really can't tell, if you are really looking for it the taste is there. But honestly, it's not a biggy for these - all three flavors are good, and certainly better than many of the gf cookies out there right now.

Kelsey: The chocolate chip is just what I remember from childhood school lunches; the gingersnaps are gingery (although they could maybe use some more snap...); the double chocolate is chocolatey without being too sweet and the Snickerdoodle - while admittedly, not my favorite - was cinnamon, spice and everything nice. For being made with both garbanzo and fava flour - notorious for their notable aftertaste - these cookies are totally delicious and the only way you could tell is if you're reading the nutrition info.

Texture
Becky: These are not soft-baked cookies. They're crisp yet tender, and not at all hard as rocks as some gf cookies are. The crumb is delicate, but the cookies hold up well to dunking - in both milk AND hot lemon pudding. The Double Chocolate cookies have little chocolate chunks in them that melt away and coat the tongue - a nice textural addition for certain! Overall the texture for all three flavors was exactly like non-gf cookies, and honestly, I think no one would know the difference if these showed up on a dessert buffet or after school snack table!

Kelsey: Crunchy without being teeth-shattering, like a grown-up version of my favorite childhood snacks. The gingersnaps are the most texture-flavor appropriate, but aside from the Snickerdoodles - a flavor which should only be served soft-baked - the texture is perfect.

Storage
Becky: The seven cookies come in an adorable Chinese food container, with colorful labels and a cheerful logo. Storage is easy if more than one flavor is in your pantry or cupboard because they stack easily. Inside is a sheer plastic wrapper that keeps them extra fresh. I feel I must make a guilty admission here - I opened the three containers when they arrived and had a cookie from each (with a huge glass of milk), and then hastily wrapped them in their inner wrappers and tossed them into the freezer until review time. I certainly had my doubts about the freshness of the cookies, but guess what? After thawing on the counter overnight, the remaining cookies were fresh as could be, unbelievably tasty as I'd remembered, and impressively unspoiled in every way. Who can argue with that?!

Kelsey: The most darling packaging ever! The cookies are wrapped in cellophane and boxed up in an adorable Chinese food-style container. The bright colors, cute logo and - here's the best part - AD LIBS on the back! That's right, delicious cookies AND fun in every box. What's not to love?

Availability
Becky: Widely available in the U.S and Puerto Rico, although not all of the "50 nifty" yet. I suspect this is rapidly changing, but until they're available in your local area, you can find Glow Gluten Free cookies at www.glutenfree.com as well. I was pleased to find 5 retailers local to me - a miracle in my very rural area, so keep your eyes peeled for these in your town, too. And until then, I'll just sit here with my milk and cookies and glow(t)...

Kelsey: Surprisingly, there is only one retailer identified by their store locator in Washington State. That being said - at least it's available in person! Always available online, these cookies are (so I hope) spreading like wildfire to nearby markets and grocers.

Cost
Becky: Not a budget-breaker at about $5.50 per box. There are seven very large cookies in each container, and one cookie is pretty filling, so they're certainly worth the money. That's about seventy cents per cookie, and given the cost of the high quality ingredients, I'd say this is a decent buy. Don't forget to add in shipping costs if you're ordering from the website!

Kelsey: Not a bad price point at $5.50/box, but for only 7 3-inch cookies - delicious, satisfying cookies - they're still a little steep. Worth it for these delectable dunkers, but maybe as more of a special cookie than an everyday lunch box sort of thing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Fruit Smoothies Perfect for Spring

For many of us it is often hard to find the time to make time to make a nutritious breakfast in the morning. One great option is to whip up a quick, fruit packed smoothie. Smoothies are delicious, quick and provide a full serving of fruits (and vegetables, if you choose to include them) in one simple glass. All you really need is a blender and an assortment of fruit and you are in smoothie business!

Great tips for getting the most out of your smoothies

Keep an assortment of frozen fruit on hand in the freezer for smoothies. Frozen fruit is perfect for smoothies because it gives it a thicker texture, plus it is keeps for a long time and sometimes you just don’t always have fresh fruit on hand.

For added nutritional punch you can also add in flax or a gluten-free protein powder as well. Add in some carrots or even some spinach for some additional sweetness and added nutrients. This month we created several delicious fruit smoothies that will surely brighten your early spring mornings. This delicious drink also makes a great snack (my daughter often prepares them for herself after school).


Black & Blue Smoothies
(serves 2)
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup blueberry pomegranate juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon honey
1-1/2 cups crushed ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Note: you can also use frozen blueberries and blackberries in this recipe. If you choose frozen fruit cut the crushed ice down by 1/2 cup.

Orange, Pineapple & Coconut Smoothie
(serves 2)

1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh pineapple
1/2 banana
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons shredded coconut
1-1/2 cup crushed ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Note: you can also use frozen fruit in this recipe. If you choose frozen fruit cut the crushed ice down by 1/2 cup.

Mixed Berry & Banana Smoothie
(serves 2)
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1 banana
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 Tablespoon honey (or more to taste)
1/2 cup crushed ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Note: you can also use frozen fruit in this recipe. If you choose frozen fruit cut the crushed ice down by 1/2 cup.

Photo by realSMILEY

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

GFCF Weekly Roundup: Lemon Polenta Cake


In honor of Oranges and Lemons Day next week (March 30th), I thought this would be the perfect recipe to feature! The whole thing comes together really quickly and the bake-time rivals a pan of brownies. Polenta, reconfigured as grits in the South, comes in both an instant and original varieties.

GFCF Lemon Polenta Cake
Ingredients
2 cups gluten free flour
1/4 cup polenta (coarse ground cornmeal)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lime zest
Powdered sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9" springform pan on the bottom and sides.

In a medium bowl, combine gluten free flour, polenta, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small, separate bowl, combine oil, lemon juice and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar on medium speed until thick, about 3-4 minutes. Gradually beat in oil mixture and lime zest. Gently fold in dry ingredients until just blended.

Scrape batter into prepared springform pan. Bake for about 50 minutes or until center springs back when lightly pressed. Let cake cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Release cake from spring form pan and let cool completely. Cut into wedges and dust with powdered sugar.

Photo by avlyxyz on Flickr.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recipe of the week: Beets with Mixed Greens

This week's recipe features fresh beets - still available at farmer's markets across the nation at the tail end of their season. Because they are root vegetables, it is pretty important that they are organic -- they are definitely on the Dirty Dozen list. To add a little bit of interest, feel free to use golden beets instead of, or in addition to, standard beets - they are much less messy, guaranteed not to stain your tablecloth and hands and hardly taste any different. Now the recipe calls for boiling the beets, but I'm a big fan of roasting - so if you have some extra time, I would recommend trimming off the greens (set aside to use later!)

Beets with Mixed Greens
Ingredients
2 beets (preferably organic)
1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 cup English cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced red onion
6 cups mixed greens
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon stone ground mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 oz thinly sliced aged Gouda cheese

Directions
Cut the stem and leaves off the beets and quarter. Place beets in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove beets from water and let cool. When cool enough to handle, slice.

Meanwhile, place carrots, cucumbers, red onion and mixed greens in a large salad bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, and stone ground mustard. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add cooled, sliced beets to salad and drizzle half the dressing over the top and toss. Leaves should be just nicely coated with dressing, not drenched. Add more dressing if need be.

Divide salad among 6 salad plates and top with aged Gouda slices. Serve immediately.

Photo by Ralph Daily

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Monday: Early Spring Casual Entertaining Meal


This menu highlights the incoming warmer weather and fresh produce hitting grocery stores and farmers markets across the country. This meal is elegant and can be at least partially prepared ahead of time - definitely the endive appetizer and asparagus salad. The meal is light and fresh, but still hearty and sophisticated. Omit the steak and you can have a tapas-style picnic lunch for some al fresco dining!

Early Spring Casual Entertaining Meal
Smoked Salmon Stuffed Endive
Asparagus Salad with Toasted Walnuts
Potato Galette
Steaks with Shallots & Madeira
Marinated Strawberries with Sweet Mascarpone Bruschetta

Grilled Asparagus Image by Missy and the Universe on Flickr.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Product Review - Eena Kadeena Mock-Zah Ball Mix


Produced by Eena Kadeena, LLC.
2095 NW Aloclek Dr.
Suite 1114
Hillsboro, OR 97124

Tel. (503) 705-3007
info@eenakadeena.com
Twitter @eenakadeena // on Facebook

Ingredients
Organic quinoa flakes, organic potato flakes, dehydrated onion, salt, organic dehydrated garlic, guar gum, vegetable mono diglycerides, black pepper.

Overall Rating - 5/5 Stars
With Passover coming up, keep these in mind! They are sure to be crowd pleasers and make for a gluten-friendly holiday for everyone. Not traditional, but allergy friendly - I'm down.

Taste
Becky: Delicious. Period. Okay, not really, because I'm not known to be a woman of few words, and leaving my review at "delicious" just wouldn't cut it where Mock-Zah Balls are concerned! I do believe that this will be the first time my review will be an unqualified, no-questions-left-to-ask "Five Stars." I'm not Jewish, and matzah balls have never been in my culinary repertoire, so this was a whole new world for me. My only experience with matzah balls was when I was very young, and I just don't remember anything spectacular about them. That all changed when I made them from this mix. These are truly wonderful - tasty on their own (yes, I ate two right out of the pot), and even more so after dropping into my homemade chicken soup. I will add these to my grocery list from now on because they are... I'm repeating myself... DELICIOUS!

Kelsey: I was actually rendered speechless by these little pockets of perfection. Really and truly! I was incredibly skeptical after the "dump everything in a bowl and combine" instructions, and when the balls floated to the surface of the boiling water only a minute after I first submerged them, I feared for the worst: "25 more minutes? Are they nuts?" But as with every product review, I always follow the instructions to the letter - and were my (non)efforts rewarded! This mix came together so easily, the most difficult part was waiting while the mix chilled in the refrigerator and boiled merrily on the stovetop! They were perfect - better than the "real deal", if you ask me. Perfectly seasoned (not too salty, just enough garlic and spices to taste like they have been simmering in Bubbe's chicken soup all day!), they soak up just enough broth to taste like whatever soup you're serving them in without becoming flavorless themselves - so perfect!

Texture
Becky: It's hard to be critical when something is as tasty as these are! The texture is NORMAL. Yep - totally, utterly, dumpling-y NORMAL! Perfectly chewy and full of the broth flavor of my soup on the outside, tender and flavorful on their own inside. There's nothing more to say here except "perfection".

Kelsey: I swear, better than their gluten-filled counterparts! Not in the least bit dry or mealy, the quinoa and potato flakes combined into the dynamic duo of deliciousness! They weren't gummy or soggy or chewy or crumbly or anything less than unbelievable! Now, I didn't finish all of mine in a single batch, so I took one of the dozen or so that wound up in a tupperware container in the refrigerator and ate it. Cold. Standing right in front of the fridge, door open. It was amazing. They were still moist, 36 hours later in a container that, admittedly, does not seal very well (I'm a broke post-grad, ok?!) and they were still perfect. How do you top that?!

Storage
Becky: This is the most gorgeous, space-saving packaging I've ever seen. There's little waste here - the box is small - about the size of a box of tea - , and I actually held a nagging doubt that there was enough mix in the box to be worth it. There is, and the box is so pretty I might just want to store it on the counter! Inside is a clear plastic liner that I really like - easy to see exactly what I'm getting in that pretty box, and such thin plastic that there's little waste inside the box, too.

Kelsey: Cutest. Packaging. Ever. "Mock-Zah Balls" and "'Chai' our pancakes" - stylish design, conveniently sized box, trendy colors and punny titles - love it!

Cost
Becky: On the Eena Kadeen website this mix sells for $7.95 - not out of the realm of realistic for such a high-quality gluten free product, and I will certainly be purchasing these to have on hand. Also, from what I can glean about the making of gluten-rich matzah balls, the simplicity of making these in comparison makes the cost well worthwhile. I hope the price doesn't go any higher, though - that might put them into the category of "special events food," instead of the category they belong in for me: "staple".

Kelsey: AMEN.

Availability
The Mock-Zah Ball mix, along with a range of other gluten free mixes, is available on the Eena Kadeena website for now. Those living in California, Washington state, and Oregon will find the mixes in a small handful of stores as well. I still give this a five star rating because the web ordering through the company is so safe and easy, and also given the number of people who own computers on which to do their ordering!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Recipe Roundup

Because no food-related holiday is complete without a recipe roundup! Here are a few of our favorite St. Patrick's Day appropriate recipes - including a different take on the traditional corned beef brisket!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

GFCF Weekly Roundup: WAFFLES

That's right, WAFFLES - in all caps. I love waffles; I miss waffles; and with this allergy friendly recipe, now they can be enjoyed by everyone around.
Perfect for breakfast in bed or a weekend brunch, these gluten-free and dairy-free waffles are a crowd pleaser. Even though berry season is still a few months away, the beauty of this recipe is that it works best with frozen fruit! While dairy free pancake and waffle recipes are easier and easier to come by, they don't always make for the most traditional-style breakfast - but not these! While they are deliciously GFCF, these waffles will bring back memories of your favorite weekend brunches. No matter what time of year, these waffles will make you feel like spring is right around the corner!

Gluten free, Dairy/Casein free Waffles with Berry Syrup

Ingredients
For the waffles

1-3/4 cups gluten free flour (like Jules All-Purpose)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 Tablespoons Earth Balance butter, melted
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1-1/2 cups soymilk up to 1/2 cup water (to thin batter, if needed)

For the syrup
1-1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1-1/2 cups frozen unsweetened raspberries
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
For the Waffles


Preheat a waffle iron.

In a large bowl, combine the gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, melted Earth Balance butter, canola oil and soy milk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until the mixture is just combined. (If the batter is too thick, thin with a little water. You may need to thin the batter between waffles - it tends to thicken as it sits.)

Spoon 1/2 cup of the batter onto the hot waffle iron. Close the lid and bake until the waffle is golden or the waffle iron indicates it is ready. Repeat process with remaining batter.

For the Syrup

While waffles are cooking, combine the berries, maple syrup and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated and some of the berries have broken down. Serve syrup over waffles.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Pasta with Tuna, Capers & Golden Raisins

I know what you're thinking: "Capers and raisins? I'm all for sweet & sour, but this seems a little much..." and that's where you're wrong! Give it a shot; I know pickled flower buds and dehydrated grapes sound like unlikely bedfellows, but this recipe is perfectly unusual - maybe our first foray into the world of flavor-based gastronomy? Bon appetit!

Ingredients
Prepare the tuna

2/3 cup sake
1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce/tamari
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tuna steak

For the pasta
1 cup asparagus tips (2 inch pieces)
1 lb. dried gluten free pasta (we recommend Bi-Aglut/Le Veneziane or Orgran pastas)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, tender green and white parts only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons drained, bottled capers
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

Directions
First, prepare the tuna by placing the sake, gluten free soy sauce, fish sauce, red wine vinegar, ketchup and sugar in a large zip lock bag. Add the tuna steak, seal and turn to coat. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Prepare a grill. Remove the tuna from the marinade (discard marinade). Grill the tuna for 3-5 minutes per side. Cut into large chunks and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus tips and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the asparagus tips from the water and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water then drain pasta and return to the pot.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic; cook until tender and golden, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the capers, raisins, parsley and reserved cooking water. Add the mixture to the pasta along with the grilled tuna and toss to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Product Review: Feel Good Foods' Asian-Style Dumplings



Ingredients
Dipping Sauce
Low Sodium Wheat Free Tamari (water, organic soybeans, salt, organic vinegar), sugar, white vinegar, ginger, garlic, and ground black pepper.

Wrapper sweet rice flour, water, potato starch, rice flour, soybean oil, salt, xanthan gum, corn starch.

Chicken Dumplings
Filling chicken, cabbage, sesame oil, green onion, sugar, salt, garlic, ginger, cilantro, yeast extract, black pepper

Pork Dumplings
Filling cabbage, pork, potato starch, water, sugar, green onion, garlic, ginger, corn/soy bean oil, sesame seed oil, salt, yeast extract, black pepper

Shrimp Dumplings
Filling Shrimp, cilantro, carrot, green onion, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, salt, garlic, yeast extract, black pepper

Vegetable Dumplings
Filling Cabbage, yellow onion, vermicelli (pea, mung bean, corn starch, water) carrot, green onion, corn starch, sesame oil, dry shiitake mushroom, sugar, salt, yeast extract, ginger, black pepper

Overall Rating - 4.5 out of 5

Kelsey: While the cooking instructions are very particular (and must be followed to the letter) and they retail for ~$8.00/box, these are much easier and tastier than any homemade gluten-free potsticker/dumpling/gyoza I've had in the past 8 years!


Taste
Becky: So out of the four flavors of these potstickers (chicken, pork, vegetable, and shrimp) I first chose to cook the chicken and shrimp for a seafood-loving (and non-gluten-free) friend, and my extremely picky gluten free daughter. We sat down together to have these as our meal, along with some homemade fried rice as an accompaniment. WOW! These dumplings are delicious: full flavored, savory and tasty, and oh-so-Chinese-food-satisfying! The dipping sauce that's included is gluten free and perfect - when I warmed it up a bit, it was just like the sauce that comes from the Chinese restaurant, minus the little plastic container. We decided to cook the pork and vegetable flavors the following night, and we were equally satisfied with these. To pick a favorite flavor would be impossible - they're all delicious, and would be a terrific appetizer or hors d'oeuvre to serve for guests. Not only will no one know they're gluten free, they won't care: these are worth the effort! Besides, you could tell a little white lie and say they're homemade!!!! Five stars!


Kelsey: Three words: oh my gosh. These potstickers/dumplings are delightful! They come in four flavors (Chicken, Pork, Shrimp and Vegetable) but due to a very severe shellfish allergy, I could not try the shrimp - but the other three were fantastic! The chicken was my personal favorite, but it was a tough contest to be sure. The vegetable was a little cabbage-heavy and tended to be the most delicate in terms of holding its shape, but they were all DELICIOUS! 5 stars!!!


Texture
Becky: Once I got the directions down pat, the texture of these was wonderful - soft and chewy melded with just enough crispy counterpoint to feel like a dumpling just prepared and served at a restaurant or dim sum bar. The key is to follow the directions to the letter - in my excitement to eat, I plopped the dumplings into a cold pan of water and oil, and the first three were a disaster, literally dissolving before my eyes. But once I actually slowed down and read the box, the dumplings that came out of the pan were cooked perfectly. Given the sensitivity of the directions, one needs to keep an eye on these so the texture isn't crumbly or falling apart. But OH, the perfect yumminess of these once I got the hang of it! Without reservation, five big ol' stars! BC


Kelsey: Aside from some minor melting issues with the vegetable variety (probably because I added too much water -oops!), they steamed up perfectly and fried up in a minute without any added oil, becoming the perfect combination of crispy-crunchy and soft'n'chewy. It IS incredibly important to follow the directions to. the. letter., otherwise you end up with a mushy dissolving mess - but really, for all of their specific instructions, these dumplings are so worth it! Be really careful though, the "non-stick pan" part is crucial to proper texture! 5 stars!


Storage
Becky: My potstickers arrived on dry ice, and they need to remain frozen right up to the point of putting them in the pan. This was how I achieved the best results in cooking them. The box is small, and holds 8 dumplings plus sauce, and the four boxes I was sent were perfect to fit into my already crowded freezer. I wonder, though, how long I'd actually need to store them, since they disappeared the night after they arrived! Five stars!


Kelsey: The boxes are petite, smaller than most frozen meals and hold 8 dumplings + sauce packet. They store beautifully in the freezer, but it's really important to keep them frozen until you begin cooking (again, from frozen) - the product itself is raw and defrosting could pose some unpleasantness. Five stars.


Cost
Becky: Yeah, well - these are pricey little packages of heaven, so watch out for the sticker shock. But I'll qualify that by saying that for a real treat, and worth every penny, the flavor and ultimate satisfaction far outweigh the price per dumpling. On the Gluten Free Mall the price is over $8 per box, and then one needs to allow for shipping costs on top of that, so with 8 dumplings per box these are well over $1.00 per dumpling. I say they're worth the splurge because two boxes are a filling meal for three hungry people, so when that's totaled up, the cost is far less than a take-out meal. AND it's totally and safely gluten free! Four stars.


Kelsey: I'll be honest, at over $1 per dumpling I was a little bit skeptical, but really, they are so worth it. Even when we used to be able to go out for dim sum, it would cost just as much (and you had to deal with chicken feet...) and, obviously, was not gluten free. While the sticker price may first seem a little ridiculous, keep in mind the price of take out and remember that you can't put a price on peace of mind... right?


Availability
Because this is a new product, word is only just beginning to spread. This New York City-based company has just started distribution on the Gluten Free Mall, and is also branching out to health food and gourmet markets in the Northeast and eastern Mid-West. I imagine shipping will cause a problem with distribution, since the potstickers need to stay frozen, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this hurdle is an easy one to get over, because these are worth it! 3.5 Stars!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hi everyone!

In the Anaheim, CA area this weekend? Stop by the Natural Products Expo (aka Expo West) and say hello! We'll be at booth #4056 sample our burritos, oatmeal, granola and NEW pizza wraps (Chicken Pesto, Three Cheese and Italian Sausage- yum!) as well as gluten free cheesecake. Yes, CHEESECAKE.

We would LOVE to see you (and feed you!) but if that's not enough, we're in fabulous company!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Product Review: Jo-Sef Gluten Free Cookies

Jo-Sef Gluten Free Cookies


Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Taste
For the first time in my ever-lengthening life, chocolate was not my favorite flavor for these cookies. The Cinnamon-O's sandwich cookies are divine - a blast from the past that tasted like those pink-iced animal cookies from my non-gluten-free childhood - YUM! The more elegant (dare I say mature?) square version, without the sandwich, were equally great. Vanilla-O's, and their plain square counterpart were both good, too. The chocolate could definitely have been more chocolatey, and I admit to being disappointed, but then I freely admit that the one item I miss from my pre-gluten free life is a certain chocolate sandwich cookie that is way too good to be good for me. Ah, well - these are still satisfying with a good glass of milk! Be forewarned: the sandwich cookies are sweet - almost too much so, and I think the sandwich cream is the culprit. One cookie was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Oh, and the Animal cookies? Who needs the little circus-car-shaped box - these are perfection! BC

While I agree that the Cinnamon cookies are absolutely the star flavor, I didn't think the chocolate was quite so lacking - I don't have a huge sweet tooth and the composition of these chocolate biscuits was just perfect for me! A glass of milk, while maybe not a necessity, was an ideal partner for these great little treats and, for being gluten-free, dairy/lactose/casein-free, egg-free, corn-free, nut-free AND vegan, these cookies are unbelievably awesome! Sign me up! KG

Texture
These are a bit on the gritty side, and for some reason the Chocolate-O's and chocolate squares were more so than the Cinnamon and Vanilla cookies. The grittiness is a function of the rice flour, of course, and maybe a finer grind might do the trick here. It's nothing to detract from the great flavors, except in the chocolate cookies - again, they were much grittier, and the grit did make me pause and think about it - NOT something one wants to be doing while enjoying a sweet treat. BC

While the cookies could be a little "gritty", I'm all about keeping things in perspective -- as biscuit cookies, these are amazing! They hold up to being dunked without crumbling/falling to pieces/dissolving into mush at the bottom of my morning cup of coffee. While there is no major texture difference between any of the three shapes (O's, squares or animal cookies), this does mean that that O's are a little thick on the cookie and thin on the frosting -- perfect for dunking, but a little challenging for solo consumption. KG

Storage

The cookies are in a thin plastic tray (except the animal cookies) and the tray slides into a plastic foil wrapper. On all the boxes of cookies I opened, every single wrapper caught on the tray and ripped to shreds - I blamed myself at first, but after all the packaging did this while I was being mindful, I'm pretty sure it wasn't me. I think the cookies will be stale before I can eat them all, and this is disappointing, especially since I really like these cookies! It's too bad a different packaging method couldn't be attempted, or that the wrapper couldn't be made bigger. It all slides into a beautiful box, of course, but the box won't protect against freshness. BC

The freshness issue is a big one - to be fair, I didn't have quite the same issue with the wrapper but regardless, I did end up sticking all but one box of them in ziploc bags to keep them fresh. That one box - the Vanilla Squares - was kept out as an experiment and I have to say, after a week of sitting on the counter in nothing but their opened foil wrapping and cardboard box, they were still pretty fresh - maybe not exactly fresh, but not soggy or stale tasting either - I was pretty impressed! KG

Availability

Four stars! Widely available in most grocery stores and natural markets, and through the Jo-Sef website as well. Worth seeking out, that's for sure! BC

While what Becky writes is true on the East Coast, these cookies are a rare find in grocery stores out West. Available online from Amazon.com, Gluten Free Mall and the Jo-Sef website you can definitely still order them, but good luck finding them in a grocery store. Sorry guys, but I'm giving you a 2/5... KG

Price Point
With an MSRP of $4.89/box for the O's, $4.49/box for the squares and $3.99/box for the animal cookies, these cookies fall into the average price range for gluten free baked goods - on the upside, the boxes are pretty darn full so I felt, at least, that I was getting a lot of bang for my buck -- instead of just packaging!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hale's Kitchen: A New Spin on Bruschetta

This month, Hunter Hale show us how to take traditional bruschetta to a whole new level! Instead of demonstrating a few of the (probably) hundred variations on savory bruschetta, our young chef has developed several sweet adaptations that make for a simple, elegant desserts! Watch out Food Network, Hunter Hale is on his way!

Part I:


Part II:


The Recipes...

Sweetened Ricotta, Pistachio & Chocolate Drizzled Bruschetta
Ingredients
4 slices of Udi's Gluten free White Sandwich Bread, crusts removed and sliced on the diagonal, toasted
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup confectioner's sugarDash of vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pistachio's
2 Tablespoons chocolate sauce or chocolate shavings

Directions
In a small bowl, beat the ricotta with the confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract until incorporated.

Spread ricotta mixture on top of the toast triangles and top with chopped pistachios and drizzle with chocolate (or top with shaved chocolate).

Marinated Strawberries with Sweet Mascarpone Bruschetta

Ingredients
4 slices of Udi's Gluten Free White Sandwich Bread, crusts removed and cut on the diagonal, toasted
1 cup strawberries sliced
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Dash of vanilla extract
Mint leaf for garnish

Directions
Toast the bread triangles under the broiler until just browned.

In a bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese along with the confectioner's sugar and a dash of vanilla extract until incorporated.

Spread about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the mascarpone cheese mixture over a toast triangle and top with marinated strawberries. Drizzle the top with any reserved marinade and garnish with a mint leaf.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

GFCF Weekly Roundup: Coconut Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice

Fried RiceA naturally dairy/casein-free recipe, gluten free fried rice can be pretty difficult to come by in commercial kitchens. Using tamari or gluten free soy sauce, this is an incredibly easy recipe to duplicate take out at home! With the added twist of curry powder, coconut milk and - a personal favorite - pineapple juice, this is not on your traditional take out menu!

Coconut Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice

Ingredients
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 Tablespoons pineapple juice
3 Tablespoons gluten free soy sauce/tamari
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 onion, cut into 1/4" pieces
4 cups cooked long grain rice
1/2 cup cooked chicken meat, cut into ½” pieces
1/2 cup snow peas, cut in half

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine coconut milk through pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Place a wok or large skillet over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat sides. Add ginger and onion and cook until the onion is softened about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the rice. Add chicken, snow peas and sauce. Cook and stir until well blended and heated through. Serve immediately.

Photo: fakelvis

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Grilled Halibut with Mole and Pico de Gallo

This week's recipe is a hopeful gesture towards a summer that, at least for those of us in Seattle, seems so very far away! Even better, this recipe is naturally gluten free, dairy/casein-free, egg-free, soy-free and peanut-free - wow! Featuring fresh pico de gallo and homemade mole sauce, this dish will make you feel like summer sunshine is right around the corner!

Grilled Halibut with Mole & Pico de Gallo

Ingredients
Mole Sauce

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 yellow bell peppers, seeded & chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-1/2 cups gluten free chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt

For Pico de Gallo
1/2 small white or red onion or 8 slender scallions finely chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded, if desired, and finely diced
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
1-2 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded and minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

4 halibut filets
Olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions
For mole sauce


Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add sunflower seeds, garlic, bell pepper, onion, cumin and cinnamon and stir until blended. Cook until onions are translucent. Add chicken broth and season to taste with salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Transfer sauce to a blender and blend or process until smooth.

For Pico de Gallo
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Prepare a grill or coals.

Brush filets with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until fish is opaque, about 5 minutes per side.

To serve
Top fish with mole sauce and then salsa.