Monday, December 31, 2012

BOPS GF Potato Chips - On the Road Find #1

Visiting family is stressful but sometimes helpful.  The stress of cooking in a non-GF kitchen and finding restaurants that can cater to a GF diner is difficult.  Finding GF products that you are accustom to using is hard.

We usually pack some staples (pasta, snacks, oatmeal, etc) and send stuff.  This week we were visiting my parents in Florida and we sent down a box ahead of time with our favorites - peanut butter, risotto rice, GF quinoa, rice pasta and my pre-made flour blends.

Like all mothers with a son visiting - she felt the inner need to feed her child.

She did some shopping and understood how difficult it can be for someone who has to eat gluten free.  She visiting 6 different shopping markets and found some new items.  Some were good, some not so good.

First up.

BOPS oven baked Potato Snacks.  They are made by their parent company Good Boy Organics out of New York.  They produce non-GMO, organic, GF products.

They has an Organicasaurus cheddar snack that we will have to find for my kids.

We tried their BOBP potato snacks.  This looked and tasted like a ruffled baked potato.  It was made with potato starch, potato flakes, corn flour, sunflower oil, sea salt, sugar and yeast.  Sort of a GF Pringle.

We just arrived after a day of traveling and we were hungry.  The grill was on and we had steaks and baked potatoes cooking for dinner.  This bag of sea salt BOPS did not stand a chance.  It was devoured in record time and the kids and the adults wanted more.

We tried them again a few days later after visiting the shop where she bought them.  When we weren't starving they were not that special.  We picked up a bag of Cheddar flavor - and it tasted like cheddar flavor, not cheddar cheese.  It had a strange taste is all I can say - chemical-like.

If you are interested you can find them at Wegman's and Whole Foods Northeast.  As for the west coast I think I'll have to order them.  We'll order the Organicasauraus to give it a try but I'll stick with my Kettle chips when I crave a potato chip.

Crunch away,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Vitamin D and Osteoporosis in Celiac Disease

Osteoporosis can be a deadly disease.  Osteoporosis related fractures (hip, spine, wrist) may be preventable but currently account for 1.5 million fractures per year in the US in patients over the age of 65.  Many patients admitted to the hospital with a hip fracture may die or suffer medical complications in the year following their fracture, and many have a life-long deterioration in function.

So what does this have to do with Celiac Disease?

When I was diagnosed with celiac disease I had my vitamin D level checked.   It was low.   After going GF, allowing my GI tract to heal, and supplementing my diet with calcium and vitamin D I was able to bring my levels back into the normal range.

Some Signs/Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficieny

Fatigue
Muscle weakness or soreness
Joint Pain
Depression

Our body stores calcium in our bones and if we do not have sufficient stores of vitamin D we can not absorb the calcium from our GI tract.  When the small intestines are damaged due to celiac disease you can not absorb nutrients normally.  One of the nutrients that is not absorbed is vitamin D.  Vitamin D is absorb from food, supplements and the sun but must pass through the liver and kidney to become biologically active.

Foods that contain Vitamin D

Liver
Some fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel)
Egg yolks
fortified foods (cereals, milk and even some juice is fortified with vitamin D)

Kemppainen et al in Bone in 1999 stated that vitamin D deficiency occurs in 64% of men and 71% of women.  They also found the prevalence of osteoporosis to be 26%.

We absorb vitamin D from our diet, supplements and the sun.  Although the sun does play a role in vitamin D production (but I won't bore you with the physiology) sunscreen blocks about 95% or more of the rays needed to convert vitamin D.  I did a study looking at one years worth of patients undergoing total hip or total knee replacement in San Diego (lots of sun, right?) and almost 50% of patients were deficient in vitamin D.

Daily Recommendations

Current recommendations state that if you are less than 50 years old that you take 1,000 mg of calcium per day and increase it to 1,200 mg if you are a woman over 50 or a man over 70.  You should also take 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D per day.

The NIH has a good resource here.

I tell patients to assume your bones are a bank.  Instead of storing money, your bones store calcium.  Unfortunately, you can only make deposits for a period of time.  As we age we start to pull calcium out of the bones - we start making withdrawals on our investment.  So your goal as a child and young adult is to make sure you consume calcium, vitamin D, don't smoke, exercise and avoid excessive alcohol to maximize your investment and develop healthy, strong bones.

I take a daily vitamin (Centrum) every morning and at night I take an Os-Cal (400 IU vitamin D and 500 mg calcium).  This has brought me into the normal range.

Consult your doctor.  More is not always better.  You can overdose on vitamin D and there are side effects.   Before taking a high volume of supplements you should check with your physician and follow their advice.

Eat well,

The Un-Gluten Guy


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gluten Free Vegetable Soup

Come fall and winter, as the leaves change and the weather turns cold, nothing goes down as nice as a hot bowl of soup.  Soup can be a snack, side dish or a whole meal.  It is  great for leftovers (stored in the freezer) and is usually welcomed by neighbors (I always make a big pot which is more than we can eat).

This soup is super easy to make.  It can be tweaked many ways by changing what vegetables you use.



Ingredients:

garlic - 2-3 cloves crushed and finely chopped
large yellow onion - about 2 cups of diced (diced is going to be equal size of all ingredients)
celery ribs - 1 cup of diced celery
large carrots - 1 cup of diced carrots
bell pepper - 1 cup de-ribbed and diced
new potatoes - 1 cup diced, peeled potatoes
1 baby zucchini (optional but it was in my fridge and fresh) - diced but before to cut out the inner white part and leave the green skin and tougher meat underneath otherwise it will be mushy in the soup
beans - 1 cup cooked beans (slightly undercooked or undersoaked, canned beans work but may get mushy)
28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (I use San Marzano) - pour off and reserve the liquid (you'll add it with the broth) and then take the tomatoes cut off the hard ends, clean out the seeds and then rough chop
1 tsp each of GF dried oregano and thyme
64 oz of GF broth (homemade, vegetable or chicken)
2 bay leaves
EVOO
kosher salt and pepper

Preparation:

Take the time to wash and dice all of the vegetables.  By putting them out on the counter you make the cooking easy and more enjoyable.

Time to cook:


1.  Heat a large stock pot over medium to medium high heat.  Add about 2 tbsp of EVOO (enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot).  Add the onions, carrots and celery.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Don't cook very long because we don't want to overcook the vegetables - about 45 - 60 seconds.

2.  Next, add the garlic and the potatoes.  Stir.  Add in the peppers (I used 1/2 of a yellow and 1/2 of a red because that's what was left in my fridge.  Add the optional zucchini.

3.  Add the rough chopped deseeded tomatoes.  Pour in the broth and the reserved tomato juice.  Add the beans.

4.  Add the bay leaves.  Add oregano and thyme.

5.  Cover and let simmer about an hour.  Taste, taste, taste.  The difference between a good soup and a great soup is the seasoning.  Your tomatoes and broth with determine the amount of salt you need.  Add a bit of salt and pepper at a time and keep tasting.

6.  Remove the bay leaves and serve.

This goes great with a salad or sandwich.  It is even good on its own with all of the fresh veg and the added protein and fiber of the beans.

Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Friday, December 14, 2012

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Mac & Cheese

What American kid does not grow up eating Mac & Cheese?  Well, my daughter did eat it and love it.  One of the big concerns we had early on was what were we going to do about her Mac & Cheese now that she had to be GF.

We tried many different brands - Amy's, Pastaristo and Namaste.  But after many different attempts to find one that she liked we found Trader Joe's GF Rice Pasta & Cheddar


In a box just like Kraft (which used to be her favorite).  It comes with the same packet of bright yellow powder.  The pasta is rice pasta and the flavoring contains milk but no other allergens.  Its easy to make and fills a small shelf in our pantry.


Me, I prefer a homemade mac & cheese with cheddar and blue and gruyere topped with GF bread crumbs that are toasted.  But what my little one wants, she gets (sometimes).

Put on some water to boil and cook up some TJ's GF M&C,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Latkes - Gluten Free Potato Pancakes

Potato latkes are a favorite food during Hannukkah.  Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights and although they only had enough oil to burn their candles for one night it magically lasted 8 nights.  In addition to lighting the menorah and eating sufganiyot (jelly donuts) we eat potato pancakes or latkes.

These are great anytime of year and at anytime.  Make them for breakfast, have for a snack, this time of year they become a dinner time appetizer.  There are numerous ways to make them.  Many people add flour, some add eggs, some add cornstarch.  I have made them every way and I like them best made simple - potatoes, onions and salt.  Cornstarch or eggs are a simple GF binding agents and if you want to use eggs add 1 beaten egg for 3 large potatoes big.  But for a nice size, tasty latka you can get by with out it.

For this batch I grated 3 large russet potatoes after pealing them.  I also grated in 1/2 of a large yellow onion.  Next take it all and place into a heavy dish cloth, or cheesecloth and twist it into a ball.  You will wring out about a cup or two of water and potato starch.  Add to a bowl and add salt (pinch for each potato - for the 3 potatoes I used I added 3 pinches of kosher salt).


Next, get a deep pan and add oil.  Choose an oil that has a high flash point (olive oil is a no no); I usually use peanut oil or grapeseed oil.  Tonight I choose peanut, heat over medium to med-high.  Turn on your kitchen vents - the house will smell like oil.  Take you mixture (shredded potatoes, onions & salt) and pat and mold into little cakes.  Gently place in the hot oil.


Cook until the bottom is nice and crisp and then flip.


As I make the batch I place them on a sheet pan lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.  Alternatively, you can place on a rack and let the oil drop below onto paper towel.


Usually I lose a few as people walk by and eat them off the pan.  Once the batch is done I remove the paper towels and heat the batch in the oven at 350 degrees before serving.


These are good enough to eat plain.  Having something to dip them in adds some flavor.  My favorite is apple sauce.  A good runner up is sour cream.  I like to mix a finely cut bunch of fresh chives with about 1 cup of sour cream, alternatively you can use plain sour cream.

Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy



Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Gluten Free Lunch Box

What's in your lunch box.  Lunch is one of those things that I constantly deal with.  At work there are no safe food items at the cafeteria and if a company brings in lunch from a restaurant there is never a GF item on table.

So I bring my lunch - every day.  When I decide what I will bring for lunch it usually depends on how much time I have the night before to prepare my food for the next day.

Factors include - do you have a refrigerator, microwave or toaster at work?  Is there a risk of cross contamination?(such as in the toaster)  I luckily have a personal refrigerator and microwave in my office.

I decided to keep track of what I brought to work for lunch for two weeks.  Hopefully this helps you and gives you some ideas for lunch.  Please comment on what you bring for lunch.  We may all learn some new packable GF lunches.

Week One

Monday - Turkey salad (the last of Thanksgiving leftovers).  I brought GF Matzo crackers to eat the turkey salad with (since I do not have a toaster I try to avoid GF bread at work - doesn't taste as good).  I also brought in turkey vegetable soup (that I made with the turkey) and heated it in the microwave.

Tuesday - Red curry with chicken and vegetables over rice.  This was leftovers from Monday's dinner.

Wednesday - Risotto with vegetables (leftover from Tuesday night)

Thursday - Large salad with vegetables and beans.  I added a can of tuna fish that I pour over and mix into the salad.  I make a simple vinaigrette for the dressing (1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 4 tbsp EVOO)

Friday - Cold Quinoa Salad (quinoa is leftover from dinner thursday).  I add carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sometimes nuts but not today.  Add feta cheese and a vinaigrette (3 tbsp red wine vinegar, 4 tbsp EVOO with a pinch of oregano)

Week Two

Monday - Pulled Pork Sandwich.  Left over pulled pork from Sunday.  Udi's hamburger roll reheated in microwave and topped with Bone Suckin' BBQ sauce.

Tuesday - Soup and Salad.  I made vegetable soup over the weekend.  Salad was topped with carrots, cucumbers and beans topped with vinaigrette.

Wednesday - Spaghetti and meatballs.  Leftovers from Tuesday night.

Thursday - Sweet and sour chicken over rice.  Leftovers from Wednesday night.

Friday - Salad with fresh vegetables and tuna fish.

There you have it.  Two weeks of me eating lunch.  You can see I try to make sure that our dinner has enough for me to pack leftovers for lunch.

Add your lunch ideas.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix

A friend introduced me to Pamela's a while back.  I am not a believer that any one blend is perfect for everything, but this is good for many recipes.  I have tried many commercial blends and mixed up blends from various cookbook authors.  I have found I use my own blends for very specific recipes but sometimes you want something handy that you can go to quickly.

Her blend contains brown, white and sweet white rice flour, cultured buttermilk, almond meal, tapioca starch, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum.  So obviously you need to avoid it if you have dairy or nut allergies.

Pamela's baking mix is one that we keep handy in the large size.  We routinely make pancakes and her recipe of her mix plus egg, water and oil is very simple and produces breakfast quickly.  We usually make a large batch on the weekend and the kids reheat them during the week for breakfast.  They have the appearance of a pancake (some GF I tried in the early phases were quite flat), they are light and fluffy and disappear quickly.  The waffles turn out great in our waffle maker.  Not only do they make a great breakfast but I put some in the freezer and reheat them at night, cover it with ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate chips.


We also make her recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake.  When I don't have time to make a blend and bake this is a fairly simple preparation and produces a light, fluffy cake with cinnamon goodness.  The glaze is not our style (very thin) and the cake is good all alone.  Occasionally we make up a cream cheese glaze or confectioners sugar glaze like you would have on a cinnamon roll.


As for muffins - not so good.  I like to try many recipes because sometimes I find something I like but this recipe was something we will not make again.

She offers other baking mixes: cakes, cookies, brownies and pizza crust.  My kids prefer my cookies and brownies, but her mixes are easy to use.

Definitely consider having some of this around.  Her website offers many recipe variations and you can always use it as a base for your own creations.

Get Cooking,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gluten Free Spices

When it comes to spices you have many options.  We initially went through our spice cabinet and threw out many things when I was first diagnosed.  We have found some things that were okay and technically did not contain any gluten ingredients.  But when you look into many companies that produce many products and state that they clean lines but do not test batches to verify that they are GF.

Then I ran across Spicely.  They are a company out of Fremont, California that produces spices and extracts.  They are certified organic, vegan, kosher and GF.  Yes, certified GF.  This always reduces my anxiety level, especially if I am making a dish and adding a lot of spice.

It was time to clean out our spices anyway - they all tend to lose flavor over time so we picked up a bunch of things that I commonly use.


I have used the chili powder and smoked paprika on chili and taco seasoning.  The dry chili flakes are great on pasta and pizza.  Garlic and oregano on garlic bread.  Herbs de Provence is a great blend if you have never tried it before - try it on chicken - you'll really like it.


I will definitely continue to support this local California company. Their seasoning are really good and certified GF.  I just made up a rub because I'm making pulled pork tomorrow so I'll rub the butt tonight.

Spice up your food,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gluten Free Caesar Salad

I have a few salads that we make and this one is always a favorite.  Caesar always sounds hard but it is really easy.

What you will need:
Anchovies or anchovy paste (optional)
garlic
GF Dijon Mustard (I use Grey Poupon)
GF Worcestershire Sauce (I use Lea & Perrins)
lemon
greek yogurt
EVOO
pepper
parmesan cheese
GF Croutons (I place some EVOO, salt, garlic powder, oregano and paprika on GF bread and toast.  I then remove and cut into cubes and put back in the toaster at 200 until dry and crispy.)

1.  In a bowl add a few anchovies or about 1 inch of anchovy paste, 1 clove of garlic and some fresh ground pepper.  Mix it all together, crushing the garlic and anchovy until it is a mash.

2.  Add 1/2 tsp of GF Dijon Mustard and 1/2 tsp of Worcestershire and continue to mix.  Add the juice of 1/2 of a lemon and mix some more.

3.  Add a large tablespoon of plain greek yogurt and keep mixing.  Then add 3 tablespoons of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and keep mixing.

4.  Add in some fresh romaine lettuce that you pre-washed and dried and toss to evenly coat the lettuce with your dressing.

5.  Add in your GF croutons and grated parmesan cheese (I use 1/4 to 1/2 cup).  Toss and serve on plates that you placed in the freezer before you started so they are nice and chilled.

6.  Enjoy as a side salad or add some grilled chicken or shrimp and call it a meal.


Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gluten Free Brownies

Update 4/17/13 - I found that using chips to melt left a oil residue.  I switched to using chocolate (you can use any chocolate bar or baking chocolate) I use Endangered Species.

Brownies continue to be a favorite in my house.  When I make them they usually do not last more than a few days.  We have made some changes and this is my latest version.



1.  In a bowl combine
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup black bean flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp xanthan gum

and mix with a whisk or place in a sealed tuberware container and shake.

2.  Over a double boiler combine
12 tablespoons of GF butter or butter substitute
4 oz of GF chocolate (I use Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet)

melt and turn off heat and do not let it burn.

3.  In a bowl whisk together
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon of GF vanilla extract
4 eggs

whisk for a few minutes until the graininess of the sugar is gone.

4.  Add the melted chocolate/butter to the sugar/egg mixture

5.  Fold in the brownie mix

6.  Fold in 4 oz of chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli semi-sweet)

7.  Pour into a well buttered 9x9 pan and cook in preheated oven at 350 degree for about 45 minutes.


Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pan Seared Trout with Fall Vegetables


This is a dish that was adapted from a meal I had in Colorado.  I liked it then and I love it now.  It is light, fresh and gluten free.  The veg is good on its own.

For the fall vegetables

1 cup pine nuts
1 cup yellow raisins
1 cup cauliflower cut into bits
1 clove garlic

1.  Heat the pan.  Toast the pine nuts and then set aside.
2.  Add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil to the pan and add cauliflower and garlic.  Cook until it starts to brown.
3.  Add the pine nuts and raisins and toss.  Salt and pepper to taste.
4.  Add 1-2 tablespoons butter toss and serve.

For the fish

Trout Filet
GF white rice flour

1.  Heat the pan.
2.  Season the filets with gluten free white rice flour, salt and pepper.
3.  Place the filet meat side down until you have a nice brown sear then flip onto the skin side.

Plate the fish and cover with the fall veg mixture.

You can see it here on You Tube


Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gluten Free Thanksgiving 2012

I find the most important thing is having a plan and cooking whatever you can ahead of time.  Everyone knows that come Turkey Day there is never enough room in the oven or on the stove.


Sunday
I made my ice cream.  Cinnamon ice cream consisted of 1 Cup of sugar with 1 1/2 Cups Half and half heated over the stove until it bubbles on the edges.  Pour it into a bowl with two mixed eggs and mix together then back to the stove and add 1 Cup Heavy Cream, 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Continue to stir until it has a slightly thickened consistency.  Cool overnight in the refrigerator.



Kids also wanted mint chocolate chip ice cream (I usually would do vanilla).  This is a Philadelphia Style ice cream (therefore no eggs or cooking).  2 Cups 2% milk and 2 Cups Heavy cream, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp peppermint extract.  Mix and through into ice cream maker.  When ready pour into a container, mix in 1 Cup mini chocolate chips and freeze.

Made my gluten free turkey brine.  This year I used 1 gallon vegtable broth, 1 Cup salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp sage, 5 bay leaves and bring to boil.  Then add 1 gallon cold water and 1/2 cup apple cider and place into refrigerator.

Bought a bag of cranberries (I'll make that wednesday),  and two loaves of Udis bread for the stuffing (not baking bread this year).

Monday
Finished the cinnamon ice cream but placing in ice cream maker then into a container and into the refrigerator.

Tuesday
Picked up our turkey and other groceries (potatoes, onions, leaks, herbs, etc)

Wendsday
Put the turkey in the brine.

Made my cranberry sauce.  Heat 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup OJ and 1/2 cup of sugar and one 12 ounce package of cranberries and heat until they all pop.  I then mash them so there are only a few large pieces remaining.  Place in a jar and into the refriderator.


I cut up two loaves of Udi's bread and slow cooked it in the oven at 200 degrees to dry them out.


Thursday

Made cornbread.  I was baking and cooking enough so I leaned on Bob.  Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free cornbread saved me some time.



Gluten Free Stuffing.  We were going to try Whole Food GF Stuffing and I made my own.  For the Whole foods I simply added some cooked onions and celery, butter and broth and it went on one side of my baking dish.

For my homemade Gluten Free Stuffing I cut up two loaves of Udi's bread.  I cooked a package of chopped pancetta until crisp and removed the pancetta.  In the oil I cooked leaks, onions, celery until it softened.  Add 12 tablespoons of butter then add finely chopped thyme, rosemary and sage.  Pour this mixture over the breadcrumbs and add enough chicken broth until the bread was moist.  Then add in the pancetta and some cubed roasted butternut squash (I roasted it on Wedsnday).  Let it sit about 20 minutes then add it to a well buttered baking dish.  Into the oven at 350 degrees covered with foil for 30 minutes then remove the foil to brown the top.


The Turkey was removed from the brine and dry it.  I stuffed it with apples, onions, sage and thyme.  Butter it well and season with salt, pepper and paprika.  Into the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes to crisp the skin then cover with foil and drop the temperature to 325.  Cook 15 minutes per pound until the inside temperature is 160 degrees.  Remove and let rest about twenty minutes then carve.


Well, after a lot of cooking I am full and looking forward to leftover turkey sandwiches and turkey vegetable soup. Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Day Before Gluten Free Thanksgiving 2012

Its the day before the big feast.  Here are a few things to consider.

Brine your turkey.  I made my brine the other day.  This is what I did

I used 1 gallon of vegetable broth, 1 Cup salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp sage, 5 bay leaves and bring to boil.  Then add 1 gallon cold water and 1/2 cup apple cider and place into refrigerator.

I added my turkey today and will remove it tomorrow, rinse it, season it and put it in the oven.

Today you can make your cranberry sauce. This is how I make it.
In a sauce pan add 1 Cup water, 1 Cup OJ, 2 cups sugar and the two packages of cranberries.  Cook until all the berries pop then add a bit of gluten free maple syrup and a handful of dried cranberries.  Put this in the refrigarator until tomorrow.

Need a fall side dish?  Try this cauliflower pine nut raisin mixture.

Get equal parts pine-nuts, yellow raisins and cauliflower.  Cut up the cauliflower so the pieces are slightly larger than the raisins.  Heat a pan and toast the pine-nuts then set aside.  Add a bit of grapeseed oil to the pan and add the cauliflower and one clove of minced garlic.  Saute until the cauliflower and garlic just barely begin to brown.  Then add the toasted pine-nuts and the raisins.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add 1 - 2 tablespoons of butter.  Toss.  Serve. Enjoy.

Wishing everyone a healtly and happy Turkey Day (or Tofurkery Day for those vegetarians),

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gluten Free French Onion Soup Recipe

Yum!  Soup is great when its cold outside.  Soup is something I always tend to avoid when I go out unless I am 100% sure that they are aware of gluten issues and those with Celiac disease.  There are too many ways to contaminate the pot - broth, thickeners, etc.  Add a nice piece of french bread topped with cheese and my GF cells cringe.


So, just make it yourself.  I've been making it for years and it is quite simple but it does take some time. You only need a few ingredients, a large stock pot and some time.

Ingredients:

Onions (lots of them)
Shallot
Leaks (optional)
Bay leaf
Thyme
Red Wine
Beef Broth
Comte cheese
GF Bread

Directions:

1.  Slice the onions into thin (1/4 inch or less) slices.  For a 3 quarts of broth I will use about 8 medium size onions.  Slice one large shallot.  For some added flavor I will also use one or two leeks.  For the leak you need to rinse thoroughly to get all of the sand out.

2.  Heat a large stock pot and add olive oil to coat the bottom and about a tablespoon of butter.  Then add all of the onions, shallots and leaks.

3.  Turn on some music, a tv show or have a conversation and let the onions render.  This can take up to an hour.  The longer and slower you cook them the more tender they will be.  When they are ready they will start to be translucent, sticky and some have browned and caramelized.  You will see your big pile of onions shrink in height by over 50%.

4.  Add a cup of red wine.  I usually use a nice Chianti and simmer until it is almost absorbed.

5.  Next add the gluten free beef broth, 2 bay leaf, 1/2 - 1 Tbsp dry thyme, some salt and pepper.  Let simmer.

6.  The longer you let it simmer the more the flavors will meld.  I like to make it a day before and let it rest in the fridge overnight.  The following day I'll reheat and adjust the flavor (salt, pepper, thyme).

7.  Before serving I cut some nice slices of GF bread and toast.  Then ladle the soup into a bowl (make sure to pull out the bay leaf), top with the toast, then lay a slice of Comte cheese on top and place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling.

8.  Sit back and enjoy you creation (careful, the bowl will be hot).  There should be plenty for tomorrow and extra to freeze so you can enjoy it later.

Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy
Ungluten.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Colorado Springs - Gluten Free

I had to travel to Colorado Springs for a meeting and we took the whole family.  The Broadmoor Hotel is a beautiful 5 star hotel in Colorado Springs surrounded by beauty.


As with any trip I had to look into the Gluten Free options.  When I called to speak with the hotel they told me that they do not have a GF menu but each restaurant would be able to accomodate us.  They did an amazing job.

We ate at some other places too and there are many GF options around Colorado Springs.  In downtown Colorado Springs we stopped at The Olive Branch, which has been in buisness for 32 years and offering GF options for just as long.  They have an extensive GF menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and have GF baked goods.


My daughter had their rice pasta (Tinkyada) with homemade marinara sauce and liked it so much we went back a second time for lunch during our trip.  The first time I had a chicken breast braised in a basil tomato sauce over spinach with rice.  The second time I had the chicken with homemade chili verde sauce.  They offer a GF corn tortilla (it was from cisco) but I choose to go without it - i'm always concerned about cross contamination.

Both of my dishes were good.  It is a home cooked meal atmosphere and we had good service.  As far as the baked goods - we tried the GF chocolate cake and GF brownies.  I would pass on dessert but as far as food goes a great, safe place to eat.


We visited Pike's Peak and while we drove throught Manitou Springs we stopped at Coquette's.  They have been in business for 3 years and 100 % GF.  The owner's mom is gluten sensitive, thus the push to go GF.  They make their own flour blend and make crepes, muffins, bisquits and cupcakes.


My son had a hamburger on a GF bun.  He ate it but it was nice to be able to help hold his food for a change.  He does not have any food issues but I do not handle his food when we go out due to fear of cross contaminating my food.  My daughter wanted pizza and they were able to put some sauce and cheese on a GF baquette.  My wife and I had a GF crepe.  These were delicious.  I also had beet soup made with parsley, chicken and bacon.  It was very tasty and filling.

At the hotel we had breakfast at Charles Court.  They were great.  The manager, Robert, was super helpful as well as the servers.  I am simple when it comes to breakfast so I had eggs and toast each morning. They have Udi's bread and a separate toaster.  My daughter had pancakes each morning.  They have their own rice batter and she ate it and loved it.  They were very aware of our food concerns and took every precaution.

For dinner we dined at the Summit.  The Manager, Desiree, was excellent.  I am a creature of habit and if I eat out and have a good and safe plate I stick with it.  I had their ceaser salad (without croutons, of course), they mix it fresh in a metal bowl (wood could harbor bread crumbs.  It was served with a cheese crisp (like the ones we make at home (see my recipe on this blog)) that my kids promptly stole, but they were quick to bring a few extra crisps to the table.  For dinner I had the angry trout.  This was a beautiful presentation with cauliflower, pine nuts and yellow raisins.(My picture does not do it justice but I only had my phone and not my camera at dinner)  It was served over sauteed spinach (usually it is done with bacon and swiss chard but they were not sure if the bacon was GF so we omitted it.


We also had dinner and lunch at the Tavern.  They have a really cool room in the back that makes you feel like you are eating outside.  I had the trout and my daughter had steak.  They put on a special pot of oil and made her french fries as their fryer is not gluten free.  They had lunch there one day when I was at my meeting.  They toasted up some Udi's and we travel with supplies and my wife made a PB&J at the table.

I did get some time away and spent a half day on the Platte River to do some fly fishing.  I was able to book world class guide Landon Mayer.  Not only was he super friendly and taught me some great things but he put me on some big fish.  We fished what was previously known as the Dream Stream but now called the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area.  It was cold but super fun and I can't wait to go back.


If you are traveling to Colorado Springs you definitely have some options.  We are already talking about going back this summer.

Safe Travels,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gluten Free Food Labeling

I do not think I could state it any better so here is information from the NFCA.  This is our attempt to get the government to make it mandatory for labeling allergens.  Please sign the petition.

You can get to the government website here.

This is what they said:

Dear Friends,

In 2004, the historic Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) was passed, making life significantly easier for individuals with food allergies to manage their potentially life-threatening health condition. The celiac disease community worked for those requirements understanding that the benefits would flow to them as well. 

Today, only one provision of FALCPA remains to be implemented - setting a standard for gluten-free food labeling rules. 

To help educate decision-makers about the need for this standard, the celiac disease community is taking advantage of a new forum to make sure its voice is heard loud and clear. 

A "We the People" petition was launched earlier this month, urging government officials to complete the gluten-free food labeling rules. Located on the White House website, it has already garnered 16,000 signatures, and officials will be required to respond if 25,000 signatures are gathered by Thursday, November 1st.  

We are reaching out to all stakeholders who serve the needs of those with gluten-related disorders, including patients and their families, healthcare providers and gluten-free businesses, to join us in this important effort. By adding your name, you will help to reinforce the strength of our unified voice. We aim for officials to understand that gluten-free labeling rules matter in the lives of thousands of Americans. You can help to support the government in its ruling process by signing the petition today.

With the storm on the East coast this week, our thoughts and prayers are with our community members who are in emergency conditions. The rest of the national community will redouble efforts to shoulder the petition effort in support, and seek ways to help after the storm.

We hope that you will take a few minutes to read and sign the petition. Once you have signed your name, we invite you to share the message with others who are committed to ensuring that individuals with celiac disease have safe gluten-free food options. Additional background can be found here.

Thank you in advance for supporting the needs of the gluten-free community and helping its members achieve optimal health.

Best,

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Jsix Restaurant - Our Gluten Free Experience


Back to Jsix last night.  As usual they were very helpful.  Sous Chef Leland Heaton came out to our table to double check with us after we ordered to make sure that everything would be safe.  This time the kids came with so we needed something GF for my daughter too.

I had the garlic thyme grilled shrimp with grilled watermelon.  This was delicious - I could have eaten a dozen of them.  They added a bit of heat with some jalapenos.



For dinner my daughter ate the GF short ribs and devoured them.  I guess they were good.


I had the grilled pork chop for dinner.  It was served with a mustard vinegar sauce that was made from scratch in house.  On the side were roasted potatoes with rosemary.  The pork was cooked perfectly and the potatoes were crispy and seasoned well.

For dessert the little ones had creme brulee and lemon sorbet - both GF and very good.

On the way out we ran into the Red Bull girls as they pulled up in a Red Bull car.  What do you know, its Gluten Free.  The one girl said she has celiac too.

A fun night out with the kids.  Definitely check out Jsix, we have always had a good experience.

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gluten Free Ratatouille Recipe

Ratatouille - you may know the Disney film by the same name.  Possibly you have seen a recipe for it in a book such as Julia Childs' cookbook.  It can be made as a side dish or eaten as a meal.  It can be served in layers or all tossed together.


I had actually never made ratatouille and actually I do not think I had ever eaten ratatouille until recently.  My little guy, after watching the movie, decided he wanted Ratatouille and it had to be in a circle just like the movie.  Well, as Gusto says in the movie - "Anyone can cook!"


So I read through a bunch of recipes to get an idea for what I was going to make and this is what I put together.  Not only was it good - but the kids ate it up.

Ingredient list:
roma tomatoes
tomatos
zuchinni
yellow squash
bell peppers (I used red)
onion
garlic
salt & pepper
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil - if you weren't sure)
optional - bay leaf, herb de provance

Notice I did not specify how much.  If you were making it for 2 I would use one of everything and you may need 3 roma tomatos.  Make more instead and use if for leftover lunch and dinner the next day.

Time to cook:

Heat a pan, add some EVOO and add some diced onion, finely chopped garlic and saute until soft.
Next, add some diced tomatoes (I used heirloom becuase we had a bunch in the house) diced red pepper.
Salt and pepper to taste, add a bay leaf and other aromatics (herb de provance or thyme and/or oregano (I used oregano and thyme)) and simmer over low until it forms a nice thick sauce like consistency.

While it simmers slice the zucchini, yellow squash and roma tomatoes so you have three bowls of similar sized circles.

My little guy wanted a circle so I plated the tomato sauce and the spread it out over a pizza pan.  Next I created a circle.  Starting from the middle I rotated out, alternating the tomatoes, zucchinis and squash.

I brushed a little olive oil over top and sprinkled some salt and pepper.

Cooked in the oven about 40 minutes (until the vegetables started to brown) at 375.

We had ours with a side of rice and salmon.

Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Three Pepper White Fish Stew Gluten Free Recipe

This is a dish I have not made in a while.  It is actually quite easy once you do the shopping.  It does require a few steps but it is not complicated.  I usually prepare it over a flat, crispy potato pancake, but you could easily serve it with rice or eat it on its own.


You'll need:
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Orange Pepper
1 Can whole tomatoes
1 Onion
1 lb white fish that is a thick filet (I like halibut or monkfish)
rice flour (optional)
2 potatoes

To make the base:
1.  Slice the peppers and onions into thin slices
2.  Strain the liquid from the tomatoes (reserve for later) and cut the tomatoes into quaters
3.  Add about a 1/2 TBSP coconut oil to a pan over medium heat and add the peppers & onions.  Saute until they just start to soften.
4.  Add the tomatoes and simmer over low heat.
5.  Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the fish:
1.  Optional, but I season some rice flour with salt, pepper and paprika and set aside.
2.  Wash and dry the fish.  Slice into cubes about 1/2 on each side.
3.  Dredge the cubes in the rice flour mixture.
4.  Heat some coconut oil in a pan.  Get it nice and hot.
5.  Sear each side of the fish squares then place them over top of the tomato-pepper mixture.  Cover and allow the steam to finish cooking the fish through.  It will only take a few minutes.

For the bottom:
1.  If you are in a rush make some rice in a rice cooker.
2.  Otherwise shred two large potatoes and 1/2 onion.
3.  Drain off the excess liquid.  This is best done by placing the mixture in a dish towel and wringing it out.
4.  Mix in one egg, salt and pepper.
5.  Get a pan hot with oil (peanut or grapeseed - something that won't burn).
6.  Flatten our a plate size potato pancake and gently place in the hot oil.  Cook each side.  You can make smaller pancakes or flatten it with a spatula once it hits the oil.
7.  Remove from oil and let it drain on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

To prepare for serving:
1.  Plate the potato pancake or rice.
2.  Spoon the pepper and tomato mixture on top.
3.  Top it all with your fish.

Sit back and enjoy your meal,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ocean Vodka

Ocean Vodka is a family owned vodka maker on the island of Maui.  Although all vodkas should be gluten free secondary to the distillation process I want to be extra safe.  I gave away all of my wheat distilled vodka.  Even if the distillation process rids the vodka of the gluten protein I could not be certain that cross contamination did not occur in the factory.

So I recently found Ocean Vodka at my nearby BevMo.  It is a vodka made from organic sugar cane.   It is distilled off site with water from Hawaii and then sent back and bottled in Maui.

As far as taste it is a great vodka - clean, crisp and no stinging alcohol on the back of the throat.  Enjoy it on the rocks or with your favorite mixer.

Cheers,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Watermelon Drink

It can get hot in the summer.  Sometimes a nice cool drink is what you need.

We make this from time to time and it is easy and delicious.

All you need is a watermelon, mint, a mesh strainer and a blender.


Cut or scoop out the watermelon making sure not to get the bitter white rind.  Place into a blender.

For a full blender of melon I add about 5 to 6 mint leaves.  Add more or less to your liking.

Hit the on button a let the blender do its work.

Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to get rid of excess pulp and seeds.

Pour into glasses and enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, September 9, 2012

GF Kid Friendly Food #1

This is a group effort by me and my daughter.  She also has gluten issues and is 100% GF.

One of the issues I have is knowing how difficult being a child is and the added difficulty of having to watch what you eat is an addition burden to her just being a kid.  At school, friends houses, parties and camp it is always a challenge to make sure she has food and does not feel the stigma of being different.

I made some gluten free thin mints and do-si-dos and her and the other girls in her girl scout troop loved the do-si-dos (the thin mints were not so good).  We look at this as an opportunity for other kids to enjoy her food and think it is special and good.

At home we have made some simple GF things are fun to eat.  This is the first in hopefully many posts that will show you what she likes so that you may develop some ideas to share with your kids or yourself.

Apple-Cheddar Sandwich

This one is simple.  We toast two slices of Udi's bread or any one of your favorite GF breads.  Slice a block of cheddar cheese and then slice a few slices of apple.

Once the bread is toasted lay a slice of the cheese on each piece, it will melt a little into the bread.  Add the apple slices to the bottom and place the other slice with the cheese on top, slice in two or four or eat it whole and enjoy. (If you do two slices apple and one slice of cheese she will let you know that you made it wrong.)

I add a bit of honey dijon spread, but that is optional (it's my adult version).

Vegetable Plates

Veggies are good but sometimes its hard to get kids to eat them.  I try to make up a plate when I'm preparing dinner.  If the kids are getting hungry and bonkers before we are ready to sit down I can throw them on the table and it will hold them over until dinner time; otherwise they get it when we sit down.

She likes them because they are fun and different.  We usually have carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, and tomatoes.  Other additions can be cheese, apples and fresh berries.


I will pile them up like a pyramid, arrange them in the shape of a face or some animal, other times i'll cut the veggies in strips and make a box (even hiding a tiny treat inside like a strawberry with whipped cream).

Occasionally, I'll add a dipping sauce like ranch dressing or a bit of oil and vinegar.


Use your imagination and think outside the box.  It is amazing how easy it is for them to eat something that looks cool.

Get creating,

The Un-Gluten Guy & Daughter

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gluten Free Tempura Recipe

I never ate a lot of fried foods.  I even passed up deep fried pickles and other strange concoctions at the county fair.  But on occasion I enjoyed tempura if I went out for sushi.  Now it is rare to find a dedicated GF fryer at a restaurant and I have never found one at a sushi place.  So I had this craving for tempura and looked into it.

Well, this is what I came up with and it was pretty damn good.


Sauce.  You need a dipping sauce.

Add 1/4 cup tamari, 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar to a small sauce pan.  Heat to dissolve the sugar.  If you cook it down, it will become more concentrated so adjust to your liking.

For the tempura you'll need rice flour, xanthan gum, salt and cold club soda.

Heat some oil in a bowl.  I used peanut oil heated to 375.

In a bowl mix 2 Cups of rice flour, 1/2 tsp xanthan gum, 1 tsp salt and about 2 cups of cold club soda.  It should be the consistency between paste (remember that from grade school) and Elmer's glue.  Start with about 1 1/2 Cups of the club soda and add a little at a time to get to the right consistency.

Dip your vegetables in the batter and then add to the fryer.  I sliced up some onions, red peppers, broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes.

After you get a nice brown color, remove and drain well on some paper towels.

Sit back and enjoy with your favorite GF sake or beer,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gluten Free Life

I received a new magazine subscription as a gift - Gluten Free Living.

The third issue of 2012 just arrived, but the magazine has been around for decades.  The editor, Amy Ratner, has a daughter with Celiac Disease.  The magazine is a great source of information, articles, recipes and living.  They have a board of physicians and dietitians.  I also for the first time ever find myself looking at the ads.  I have found some new GF products that I had not heard of, and turned out to be pretty good.

 I learned about Whirl butter substitute.  Avoid it.  It is a butter substitute that contains gluten.  It is mainly a European product - be cautious when abroad.  I have asked restaurants if they use it but have never come across it in the States.

This month is pizza month.  They have dough recipes and different pizza combinations to try.

The also have a section called In the Mix.  I give special attention to Pure Tacos.  The magazine featured this 100% GF taco stand on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ.  They just opened another site in Center City Philadelphia.  It was started by a lawyer who was diagnosed in 2003 with CD and opened the restaurant.

They also had a story about GF Food Trucks - yes, Food Trucks.  In San Diego, we have lots of Food Trucks.  One thing I miss is the inability to walk into a store or up to a truck and order a taco, burger, etc.  It is great that Food Trucks are going the GF route.  The only one in California is Soho Taco in Orange County - but hopefully we will see more.

They now have an app for your iphone or iPad or you can sign up for a new subscription.  This is a magazine that will be useful to you in many ways.

Keep Reading,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Simple Gluten Free Breakfast - Steel Cut Oats

Breakfast during the week is quick - hard boiled egg, a yogurt, sometimes instant oatmeal.

On the weekend its pancakes, waffles, eggs or sometimes - Steel Cut Oats.


What I do is cook the Steel Cut Oats (we use Bob's Red Mill GF Oats).  When they are done I remove the pan from the heat and mash in a banana.

I heat up some butter and blend in some honey or agave necter.

To plate, pour the oats with the mashed banana into a bowl.  Top with your fresh berries (add granola if you wish).  Then drizzle the honey butter over top and grab a spoon.

Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Monday, August 20, 2012

Urban Solace

Urban Solace in North Park, San Diego was one of the first restaurants I went to after being diagnosed.  They offer a GF menu, and that was my main reason for going.  Our first trip out was educational too, because the waiter let us know about the fryers and cross contamination and even avoiding salads that are dressed in wooden bowls (they can be contaminated from croutons).  So obviously we have been back.

Look for their GF menus on their webpage on the bottom right.

We stopped in for lunch.  I let my server know about my dietary restrictions and got the GF menu from the hostess as we were seated.  I also spoke with the manager and he let me know that everything is GF except those main ingredients that are not.  For example, they use no soy sauce.  They also switched their worstechires sauce to a GF and vegan (no anchoivies) version.

I had the Creamy Tomato Fennel soup.  As always it was delicious.  It is topped with a bit of creme fraiche.  The non-GF version comes with a crouton (obviously, mine did not).  It is warm and filling.  A thick texture like a nice bisque.

For my entree I had grilled marinated chicken.  It is marinated with garlic, herbs and olive oil and not cooked on a surface that has any contact with bread.  It was accompanied by fresh roasted vegetables and quinoa topped with goat cheese.

It was delicious as always.  I also have been to and recommend their sister restaurant Solace.  They do not have a separate GF menu but I have been told that almost everything is GF and what is not GF can be made GF.  You need to work with the waiter and/or manager to get everything right.  I have been there only once but did not have any issues.

You can see other reviews on findmeglutenfree.com/urban.

Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mrs. Crimble's Cheese Bites

We are always on the lookout for new food or treats.  We stopped into our local Fresh & Easy to look around.  In the GF section we found a new brand of snacks.

Mrs. Crimble's is an English company that has been around for 25 years.  Looking through their website I saw other cakes and cookies that all appear to be Gluten Free.

We found a bag of their Cheese Bites.  They are made from cheese, potato starch, egg yolk, yeast extract, milk protein, salt and cheese flavoring.  Obviously, not good for those sensitive or intolerant to dairy.


They were light, crispy and tasty.  The bag only lasted a few hours on a Sunday afternoon between the four of us.  We will have to go back and pick up another bag and try some of their other products.


Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Test your Gluten Free IQ

Answer these 4 questions


1.  Celiac disease is a genetic, auto-immune disease that is triggered by glucose.  True or False?

2.  Gluten is a protein found in what 3 common grains?  Can you name all 3?

3.  What kind of oats can be used in a gluten-free dish?

a. Steel-cut
b. Irish
c. Organic
d. All of the above
e. None of the above

4.  Look at the list of pantry items.  You have read the labels, but some ingredients might contain gluten.  Find the trio that most likely needs verification by the manufacturer or distributor.

a.  Cornstarch, Romano tomatoes, lentils
b.  Olive oil, oregano, walnuts, apple cider vinegar
c.  Rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, curry paste
d.  Canned pears, basmati rice, tomato juice


This was a test given by the NFCA at the 2012 National Restaurant Association Show.  They quizzed 150 chefs and restauranteurs and only 95% of them passed the test.  Less than 50% of chefs could name a gluten-containing grain other than wheat.

You can read the entire bulletin here.

The answers are at the bottom of the press release but for instant gratification
1.  False
2.  Wheat, barley, rye
3.  e
4.  c

Alice Bast, the founder of the NFCA, summed it up best "It confirmed our fears...They don't know what they don't know."

The Un-Gluten Guy

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What's for Dinner (Gluten Free)

Guess?  Really, guess?


So, its summer.  Time for fresh food.  Simple is sometimes better.  So what is it?

Locally caught rockfish and asparagus.  Yes, asparagus.

What you need:
Fish
Capers
One lemon juiced
Asparagus
Walnuts
1 Clove garlic - minced
Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil
Butter
Salt and Pepper

The Fish
1.  Make sure to remove any bones from the fish and season with salt and pepper.
2.  Heat a skillet and add a bit of olive oil.  Cook each side and remove to a plate.
3.  Wipe the pan clean and add 1 Tbsp butter and about a tbsp of capers then add the lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.
4.  Return the filets to the pan to coat both sides.
5.  Plate the fish and pour a bit of the remaining liquid and capers over the fish.


The asparagus
1.  Using a peeler, peal off shavings of the asparagus.  You could also use a mandoline.
2.  Heat a skillet and toast some walnuts then remove and set aside.
3.  Add some oil to the skillet and add the garlic.  Before it browns add the asparagus and toss to coat and cook until it is al dente.  Season with salt and pepper.
4.  Add the toasted walnuts and toss.
5.  Plate and grate some fresh cheese over top.

Enjoy,

The Un-Gluten Guy

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Addison Restaurant (Update 8.8.12)

Addison Restaurant at the Grand Del Mar is the only 5 star restaurant in San Diego.

DO NOT go there.

I have been there before and had a great dining experience and food to match.  The last time I was there they were working me up for Celiac but I was still eating without restrictions.  This time we called in advance, informed them the day before and when we arrived that I had Celiac Disease and therefore a gluten allergy.  Each time I was informed that it would be taken care of.

Although Chef William Bradley has high acclaims for his food and menu.  I think he and his kitchen brigade need some serious education about allergens and Celiac Disease.  I did hand the manager a flyer for the GREAT Kitchen education program from the NFCA.  I carry them with me when I go to any new restaurant hoping that some places in San Diego will take the course.  The manager had a smug expression as if my request was no problem - he was very wrong.

If you don't know, this is a french restaurant.  You can choose from the menu a four course dinner or let the chef prepare a six or eight course meal.  We choose the six course tasting.  Each dish is brought out with a server from each patron and presented.  One server that explains the dish.  I specifically told my waitress that I will have questions and I will want to know the ingredients of the sauces and how things were prepared.  The servers were not prepared and appeared to have the knowledge base of a GED equivalent.  It appeared that they memorized what they were told but did not really know the menu.

Four bread courses.  For each course spread throughout the meal I received nothing.  They did not offer a GF bread product, they did not substitute it with a vegetable or fruit.  So for those courses I sat, watching my party enjoy their bread.

Amuse bouche.  This was a grape juice with raisins.  My waitress brought this out, knew the ingredients and it was good.

A crab dish poached in butter with asian pears.  This they knew and it was good.

Shrimp with green curry.  The servers didn't know the specifics.  We asked what the sear on the shrimp was.  I was told it was tempura style.  WHAT?  Back to the kitchen they went.  Out came my waitress looking scared, took my dish away, returned later with a new dish with shrimp - no coating, no frying.  I ate it alone because my party had finished their dishes.  I was told it was a rice flour coating, mixed with what they would not tell me.  They could not tell me where the rice flour was from.  They said it was pan fried but could not tell me if the pan or flour or breading station was free of cross contamination.  Luckily I never tried the first dish - but really.  I did not expect that from this restaurant.

Fish dish.  My table mates had salmon in a dashi broth.  I'll assume that it included soy because I got a different dish.  A slice of white fish topped with a leek that was grilled.  I sat and waited and finally got a server to check.  Where was it grilled?  When they returned from the kitchen I was told that no bread products are cooked on the grill.  My party had finished their dishes at this point and I was unsure of the kitchen and therefore did not eat it.

Next was the waygu beef.  My dish looked different - no breaded mushrooms.  I asked our server how the meat was prepared.  Braised, they said.  Braised in what?  Back they went to the kitchen.  Out came my answer and it was okay.  What about the potatoe?  On top was a flat crunchy thing.  What is this?  Back to the kitchen they went.  Out they came to tell me it was a fried slice of potato in olive oil that was done for me.  Separate, I asked?  He believed so.  I didn't eat it.

Cheese course.  Out come crackers for the table.  They informed me they were not GF.  Really? as if I couldn't guess at this point.  Two cheese samples were presented.  One had a green coating.  I asked what it was.  I was told it was a vegetable ash.  What exactly is a vegetable ash and what did it contain.  Back to the kitchen they were.  Out they came and took my plate away and returned with two cheeses without any additional ingredients.

There was a dish with uni, oyster and caviar over creme fraiche.  This was good and all ingredients were safe.

For dessert I received a different dish from everyone.  My dish was a flan like dish with caramel that they prepared on site from scratch from sugar topped with orange.  I don't really enjoy flan or creme brulee but I do enjoy chocolate which is what everyone else enjoyed - I watched.

At 165 dollars per person it was not worth it.  I expected more from a 5 star restaurant.  They need some serious education from the top down.  To take dishes away that were already presented to me is scary.  They had ample warning that I was coming in.  I would have been more impressed if they said it would be hard to prepare the tasting for me and instead make me two or three dishes that were simple - a protein and a vegetable or starch.  For the experience of their guest, offering something to me while the other diners enjoyed their bread courses would have been a kind gesture.

As for my Star Rating
GF menu: 0 stars
Staff Knowledge: 0 stars
Presented the dish as GF: 0 stars (although some were presented GF others were presented as safe and they taken away due to lack of confidence of it being truly GF)
Food taste and presentation: 1/2 star (What I ate was good, some things I wasn't even able to taste, and some things that were served to me left questions as to the safety of the ingredients and I avoided)

1/2 star, my lowest rating for the highest rated restaurant in San Diego.

Strange.

The Un-Gluten Guy

P.S. I came home a had a slice of toasted Udi's with peanut butter and a glass of milk.

Update 8/8/12  After not feeling well for days I was trying to find out what it was that contaminated me.  After a number of emails the head chef emailed me an answer to my question.

He said that the green curry was not gluten free.

They poisoned me.

UGG!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Delicias

We went to Delicias in Rancho Sante Fe for dinner.  I had called in advance because I did not see a GF menu online but was told that they will work with me and can go over all of the ingredients and adjust almost anything to make it GF.  I spoke with Alex, the manager, and he said he would look for us when we arrived.

We were seated outside - the nice thing about San Diego is that it is always nice outside.  We were given menus and an IPad.  The IPad had the wine list, by the glass or by the bottle.   Click on the wine and you are treated to more info about the wine, where it was from and a description of the flavors.

Alex came out to the table and said that he spoke with Chef Paul McCabe about my food allergy.  Chef was voted one of the top 50 people in 2012 to watch by San Diego Magazine and previously worked at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar.  Chef came out to the table and told us about how he was willing to help make my meal safe.  This was so nice and reduced the apprehension that I get whenever I eat out.  We went through the menu, discussing things I was thinking about ordering.  Some dishes were made with items that were not GF but would have detracted from the overall dish if omitted so we moved on.  He even let me know that he was concerned they cook pizza and flatbreads in a wood burning oven in the kitchen and there is a chance that flour could be in the air.  This really demonstrated that he understood Celiac Disease and he cared about preparing a meal that was not only tasty but safe.

For my star rating which gives up to 1 star for a GF menu I give Delicias 3/4 star.  Yes, they did not have a GF menu to hold in your hand but the fact that the Chef was willing to come out and discuss the menu is a huge deal.  I do like some restaurants that have a key on their menu for vegan dishes, vegetarian dishes and GF dishes; that may be an option for them in the future without having to print out two separate menus.

As for the knowledge of the waitstaff I give them a 1/2 star.  He understood that I could not have the bread and items that were breaded but didn't know in depth details about the food.  For example, he thought I would be okay with the meat dish with potatoes as a side.  Chef Paul told me that the potatoes are pre-cooked in the fryer and therefore contaminated.  I still feel bad asking the server and manager and Chef the same questions but examples like this are why you have too.

I chose to start with the Hamachi crudo.  This was served with cubes of pickled peach and micro basil.  On my dish they left out the fried oats to make it GF.  It was also topped with frozen creme fraiche that gastronomically was put together with tapioca maltodextran.  Visually, you think you are going to bite into creamy goat cheese but the cold material melts in you mouth and coats the palate to enhance the fish and the pickled peach.

For my entree I chose the Mt. Cook Salmon.  This was a delicious piece of salmon cooked perfectly.  It had a nice sear with a bit of crunch, perfectly seasoned with salt and the cook was to perfection - medium rare with flaky meat.  It was served over a bed of greens, peas and a few confit tomatoes.  On the side was drops of what I think was a rhubarb puree.  The bit of acid in the puree with the sweetness of the peas pared perfectly with the fish.

I was served the appetizer from our waiter sans fried oats - a la GF.  When a server brought my entree he let me know it was the salmon "100% Gluten Free."  This completely puts me at ease - the fact that the kitchen is communicating with the servers.  That give them 1 star for serving my dishes stating that they were GF.

As for the overall food experience for a total of two stars for taste and presentation, I give Chef Paul 2 stars.  He said he would personally prepare my food and it showed.  Everything was cooked to perfection and the plating was impeccable.  Both of my plates were cleaned without even a bit of food or garnish remaining.

For my Ungluten Star Rating:
GF Menu:  3/4 out of 1 star.  Not an official GF menu but the time Chef took to go over the menu counts a lot.
Waitstaff Knowledge 1/2 out of 1 star.
Served Stating that food is GF:  1 out of 1 star.
Food Taste & Presentation: 2 out of 2 stars.
TOTAL: 4.25 out of 5 Stars

I will definitely go back and you should check out this restaurant - you will have an incredible meal,

The Un-Gluten Guy