Friday, April 29, 2011

Product Review: Fosse Farms' Dressings & Marinades

Fosse Farms

Visit Fosse Farms Inc. for more information!

Elaine Fosse began making salad dressings in 1987 because she was dissatisfied with the current market offerings - and I can't tell you how happy I am! Certified gluten free, soy free, dairy free, salt free, vegan and free of additives and preservatives, Elaine's line of dressings are healthy and delicious.

With an ingredient list that reads "Pure Olive Oil, Cranberries, Vinegar, Sugar and Herbs" how can you go wrong? It is my understanding that as many ingredients as possible are produced on the farm, including the vinegar and berries, and Elaine sources her olive oil from California - creating a local and sustainable product grown and produced using West Coast ingredients.

While I had the luxury of trying all of Fosse Farms' fabulous dressings, my personal favorite was the extra-garlic Blackberry -- lightly sweet, tangy and with a garlic taste that was pungent without being overwhelming. We loved it on spinach salads with goat cheese and walnuts, as a marinade for barbecued chicken, and as an interesting way to add an extra kick to your sandwich. Definitely a new favorite!

Flavors Available:
- Raspberry (also organic)
- Cranberry (also organic)
- Marionberry
- Blackberry (also organic)
- Blackberry with extra garlic (my favorite)
- Organic Provencal

Available in-store and at farmer's markets across Western Washington and Northeast Oregon and of course online, Fosse Farms dressings are most easy to find at Whole Foods.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Product Review: Jones Mock Salt

Jones Seasonings

You may be thinking "Oh, just another salt-free seasoning alternative..." but that's where you're wrong! Jones' Mock Salt is a super delicious no-sodium seasoning blend that is gluten free, organic and produced in the Pacific Northwest. June Jones developed the seasoning over the past several years in an effort to help family and friends who suffer from heart conditions which require limiting sodium intake - and what a success!

With a fine texture and complex flavor, what could be better? This seasoning blend is anything but bland and includes a few surprises - like orange peel - which creates a subtle blend of flavors that packs a big punch and lingers on the palate.

For sure, Jones' Mock Salt is my favorite seasoning blend!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Product Review: The Good Cookie(s)

If you like (or love) oatmeal cookies, the Good Cookies are right up your alley! All five flavors are gluten free/dairy free, delicious and pretty good for you too! Sold by the dozen, they are baked fresh and are the perfect combination of soft 'n chewy + crunchy cookie awesomeness. Not excited yet? Just keep reading...

Flavors: "Pure and Innocent" (Peanut Butter & White Chocolate Chip), "Rais'n Shine" (Good ol' Oatmeal Raisin), "The Choc-o-holic" (Double Chocolate with Chocolate Chips), "Goodie Goodie" (Cranberry & White Chocolate Chip) and their signature, "The Good Cookie" (Peanut butter Chocolate Chip)

Overall Score - 4/5 stars

Becky: First, go buy a quart of milk (if you don't already have some).  Second, pour yourself a large, ice cold glass.  Next, open your package of The Good Cookies, and just start eating.  Trust me, you will be in cookie heaven.  The taste of each and every of the five flavors of cookies are so unbelievably delish.  My personal favorites?  The Choc-o-holic, and the "Goodie Goodie" (Cranberry White Chip).  All the flavors do have an overtone of peanut butter flavor (it's used in all the cookies - beware, those who are allergic), but it's not overpowering - except  in the Peanut Butter and White Chip flavor, where it's the main attraction! -  and honestly, all have unique enough personalities that the common ingredient makes no difference.  OH yeah - these are called "GOOD" for a reason!

Kelsey: As someone who never liked oatmeal raisin cookies (in fact, I avoided them like the plague as a child) I was awed by these cookies. I wasn;'t totally in love with the general peanut-buttery taste, but it definitely does not detract from the five distinct flavors and isn't pronounced unless you a) eat all of them in one sitting (which I definitely did not do... at all... stop looking at me like that!) or b) are on the lookout for those nutty undertones. My favorite? The straight up Rais'n Shine and the Choc-o-Holic - yum!

Becky: Homemade.  Need I say more?  Okay, yes, I'd better, because I feel like rhapsodising for a moment.  These cookies have the soft and tender crumb I've been working so hard for in my own kitchen since I was a child.  Each cookie is firm enough to not fall apart, yet delicate enough to literally melt in the mouth.  Oatmeal, along with peanut butter, is another common ingredient, and for me that adds a nice element of interest.  I also feel far less guilty eating these cookies (okay, okay, gorging on them, just keep it quiet) because I can convince myself that they're healthier for me!  I kept thinking I'd like to make ice cream cookie sandwiches with these, and the texture is definitely right for that use: soft and moist, yet firm enough to withstand a little melted ice cream. Additionally, it's important to note that I kept these cookies in my freezer until review time (moment of truth - I ate a bunch before putting them there) and they lasted like a dream with no issues.

Kelsey: The only thing stopping you from believing that you baked these amazing cookies yourself is that your kitchen is not perfumed with the aroma of freshly baked cookies and they aren't quite fresh-from-the-oven-warm, but really, that's it. They're just like homemade (because they are) and as far as I'm concerned, that's a win right there. They're just the right amount of soft & chewy and crunchy-cookie, perfect for light dunking, straight-up devouring or whatever else you could think to use them for.

Becky: I felt like my Aunt Irma and Uncle Ollie had arrived for a visit when these cookies showed up on my doorstep.  You see, they always brought these really delicious baked goods from a bakery near their house, and I always looked forward to tearing open the tissue paper to see what goodies they'd brought.  The box arrived from The Good Cookies, and lo and behold, inside were two lovely bakery boxes.  And inside the bakery boxes?  Jaunty pink tissue paper.  And inside the paper?  Neatly packaged cookies, with really cool stickers detailing the contents, ingredients, and all the other necessary information.  I've previously divulged that I tucked into a bunch of cookies before freezing them, so some of the plastic wrappers were opened already.  Guess what?  It didn't matter to the freshness of the cookies at all - they stayed fresh as the day they were baked, and as tasty, too.  The only thing I'd hope to see happen in the future is a resealable wrapper, for those who aren't gluttonous like me.  Who needs to worry about storage, though, when these won't really last that long anyway?! 

Kelsey: Bakery boxes. Pink tissue paper. What else do you need?! Oh, right, cookies. So of the remaining half that I didn't inhale (ahem), I put a few in a ziploc-type bag in the freezer, a few just in a baggie on the counter and left the rest in their unsealed cellophane wrapper (blasphemy, I know) and guess what? They all held up almost equally well. The freezer didn't work for me at all because when I want a cookie, I am not about to wait for it to slowly and delicately defrost but I also recognize the horrors of microwaving a frozen cookie (or at least, I do now!), and while those in the sealed baggie did stay fresh after two weeks (my mandatory waiting time for baked goods), those left in the opened cellophane held up remarkably well. Obviously you probably won't just leave them out the way I did, but even if you do, they'll stay pretty darn fresh for at least a week. Wowza!

The Good Cookies website offers all the cookie flavors, sold by the dozen.  They may also be found in various stores in the Los Angeles, CA area (including Malibu), and two stores on Long Island, NY.  Hopefully word will spread (I've already started alerting my local stores) because these are a worthwhile addition to the gluten free bakery section of any market.  Oh, heck - they're a worthwhile addition to ANY section - unqualified - of the baked goods aisle!

On the website The Good Cookies sell for $8 per dozen.  I think that for the home-baked quality and gorgeous custom packaging of these delectable (and generously sized) cookies, that's a pretty decent deal at sixty-seven cents per cookie!  Shipping always adds more to the cost, if you are unlucky enough to not live in L.A. or Long Island, so be sure to budget for the added expense.  Overall, definitely one of the most cost-efficient gluten free cookies I've tested to date.  And well worth it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

GFCF Weekly Roundup: Orange Almond Cake

Also our GFCF feature for the month, this recipe is perfect for spring when most citrus fruits are just past their peak and are no longer quite at their peak. The almond meal is super healthy, low glycemic and low carb, and the only fat is from the delicious and heart-healthy olive oil - yum!

The olive oil keeps the cake moist (perfect for leftovers) and is sweet enough for dessert, but not so unhealthy you couldn't enjoy some for breakfast or brunch. By grinding your own almonds into a meal, you can control both the texture and certify that the product is 100% gluten free.

Serving Suggestions

Ganache or chocolate glaze, Sabra glaze (orange-chocolate liqueur), confectioner’s sugar. Honestly, our house isn’t huge on super-sweet desserts and we love it plain. Next time, I’ll probably press sliced almonds into the top of the cake half-way through baking for a more elegant appearance.

For storage, keep at room temperature and cover tightly with plastic wrap to maintain moisture. This cake improves with age and is best on its second or third day.

Orange Almond Cake
Serves 4-6

1 small/medium orange*
1 lemon*
6 ounces whole almonds**
1 cup gluten free flour (like Jules Gluten Free Blend)
1 Tbsp baking powder
4 large eggs (or 5 medium), at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup olive oil (the higher quality the oil, the better)
Confectioner’s sugar, for serving (optional)

First things first, get started on preparing the citrus. Put the orange and lemon in a saucepan and fill with enough water to cover. They’re going to float, don’t worry about it. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

In the mean time, preheat the over to 325F (one rack in the center) to toast the almonds. Distribute the almonds on an ungreased sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes until they look golden and smell all roasty and delicious. Err on the side of over-toasted, just make sure they don’t burn! Let them cool completely, (I dumped mine out onto a tea towel to expedite the process) then toss ‘em in the food processor until finely ground, like corn meal. Set aside and don’t worry about cleaning out the food processor.

Bump the oven temperature up to 350F and grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan. The baking time will differ depending on which size you choose/have on hand.

When the fruit has cooled, cut the lemon in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds; discard. Cut the orange in half also and remove the seeds, leaving pulp in tact. Put the lemon rinds and orange halves in the food processor and chop until they form a really coarse paste.

Meanwhile, combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

In a mixing bowl or the base of a stand mixer, combine eggs and salt, then beat until foamy. Gradually beat in sugar. If using a stand mixer, switch to the blade attachment, stir in the flour/baking powder mixture. Beat in (on low speed) the fruit, almonds and olive oil, until just incorporated, but be careful not to over mix! Pour batter into springform pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean: 45-60 minutes for a 9-inch pan, 30-40 for a 10-inch pan.

Remove from oven and cool in the springform pan on a wire rack (I used the stovetop of my gas range– you just need circulation to facilitate quicker cooling). Remove the sides of the pan (by far, my favorite aspect of using the darn things) and serve.


* Because you are eating the whole fruit, rind and all, if possible, use organic fruit.

** You can substitute pre-roasted almonds but it turns out so much better with freshly toasted almonds.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Almond-Stuffed Prunes Wrapped in Bacon

Also known as "Devil's on Horseback" (don't ask me why), bacon wrapped prunes (or dates) are a delicious and elegant appetizer! The sweet and salty flavors compliment each other well, the crunchy bacon, soft and juicy prunes and chewy almond create an interesting texture combination that will please all of your dinner guests!

Almond-Stuffed Prunes Wrapped in Bacon
1/2 pound large pitted prunes
2 ounces blanched whole almonds
Thin, lean bacon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stuff each prune with an almond. Cut each strip of bacon in three equal pieces. Wrap a piece of bacon around each stuffed prune and secure with a round toothpick.

Bake on a foil lined baking sheet for about 15 minutes or until bacon is crisp.
Serve immediately.

These are best when made with very thin bacon.

Related Recipes...
Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake
Meatballs with Almond & Garlic Sauce
Pan Seared Red Potatoes, Snow Peas, Cilantro Vinaigrette with Almond Crusted Chicken

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Saffron-Limoncello Shandy

While you may be thinking that cider is only an autumnal treat, you would be soo wrong. First of all, in Early America, cider was the beverage of choice over ale and wine, and definitely instead of mostly-toxic water. Because it was fermented, there wasn't a risk of food borne illness and it would keep for months (versus fresh juice which, without refrigeration, lasted a few hours). In any case, as a young adult with Celiac who tries to make it a habit of being social, coming up with easy, readily available and relatively inexpensive alternatives to beer is a serious challenge - and thus, I discovered hard cider. Strongbow (imported from England) is my brand of choice because it's a dry cider and therefore not very sweet - perfect for a refreshing spring mixer.

Saffron-Limoncello Shandy
Inspired by British shandies — beer mixed with ginger ale or sparkling lemonade — this refreshing drink ups the ante with English hard cider and limoncello. - Creator Darren Creely, CafĂ© Nell, Portland, Oregon

1 oz. limoncello
1/2 oz. saffron sryup (see below)
4 oz. gluten free dry hard cider (like Strongbow)
Ice cubes

In a shaker, combine limoncello, saffron sryup and ice. Shake for 30 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with cider and garnish with a lemon twist.

To make the saffron syrup: Combine 1 cup of water, 1 cup of granulated sugar and ¼ tsp. of saffron in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and saffron. Remove from heat and chill before using.

Photo by Muffet

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

GFCF Weekly Roundup: Coconut Chicken Soup

One of my favorite things about this recipe (in addition to its refreshing flavor) is that you can set it up the day before. Roast a whole chicken, clean off the extra meat and set aside; boil the carcass with roasted vegetables to make homemade stock and voila - the main ingredients are already there, better tasting and healthier than store bought alternatives - yum!

Coconut Chicken Soup

3 cups gluten free chicken stock (ideally, homemade - see above)
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin disks
1 cup (canned) coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
6 ounces cooked (ie leftover) chicken
1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

In a medium-sized pot, bring chicken stock and ginger to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, sweetener (honey or agave), chicken, mushrooms and carrot sticks.

Just prior to serving, add lime juice and cilantro. Serve.

Photo by Edsel L

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Monday: Spring Dinner Menu

Everything about this menu screams "fresh!" and "spring is HERE!"so why not take it for a test drive this week? The crisp apples and creamy gorgonzola make a perfect pair, but instead of being set atop a fresh arugula salad with candied walnuts and a nice vinaigrette (yum...), here they make for bite-sized appetizers perched on crispy garlicky bread slices - oh and for something much quicker, easier (and maybe even a little better...) try using slices of Udi's Bread cut into triangles instead of baking a whole loaf of French bread just for the occasion.

And really, what says spring like these pristine coconut cupcakes?

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola & Apples
Spring Risotto with Artichokes
Chicken with Lemon Shallot Sauce
Coconut Cupcakes

Photo by Jamieanne