Thursday, June 17, 2010

Strawberry (oat)shortcake

With summer here and friends coming over for weekend BBQs, one of my absolute favorite, refreshing things is strawberry shortcake. I mean, is there anyone out there that does not like strawberry shortcake....well except for my sister, who oddly got sick after eating them when she was little and still stays away from them to this day some 20 years later.

June in the midwest is the time to go strawberry picking and what better way to celebrate this delicious berry than by making decadent biscuits to go with it. I used to make it all the time before being gluten-free, but realized there is no reason this would not work gluten-free, just as I still enjoy all of my other favorite desserts. But I decided to put a twist on it this time, I decided to use some oat flour and flax seed meal in it. I thought some fiber wouldn't be bad, and I love the flavor of oats. These biscuits tasted like oat shortcakes, and I couldn't get enough, and hopefully you can't either. And of course, you must top it with real homemade whipped cream for the ultimate finishing touch.

1 cup gluten-free flour mix (I use Whole Foods 365 GF All-Purpose Baking Mix)
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tablespoon flax seed meal (I use Bob's Red Mill)
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon cream or buttermilk for brushing the tops of the biscuits

2 pints of strawberries, hulled and cut in quarters (sometimes I like to add some blueberries as well, you can't have too much fruit here)
1 tablespoon strawberry preserves
1/2 tablespoon sugar

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 425'

Combine the fruit in a large bowl with the preserves and sugar, stir well and let sit, covered, in the fridge.

Meanwhile the biscuits, combine the dry ingredients (saving 1/2 tablespoon of the sugar until later) in a large mixing bowl.

Add the butter and combine using clean, dry hands until it becomes the consistency of coarse meal.

Slowly add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber scraper until a dough forms.

Using damp hands form 3" balls and place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. Should make about 6 biscuits.

Brush the tops with the cream or buttermilk and then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until done. You can check with a toothpick through the middle of a biscuit.

Biscuits can be made ahead of time, up to 24 hours and kept at room temperature and covered until ready to use. Keep the fruit in the fridge until ready to use.

Before serving, combine the heavy cream, vanilla and sugar in a mixing bowl and using a hand-mixer at high-speed, beat until stiff peaks form.

When ready to serve, pour the fruit over a biscuit cut in half, and add a heaping spoonful of whipped cream.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interview with drummer Andy Robertson and gluten-free life on the road

Recently, I had the chance to speak with British drummer Andy Roberston and talk about how he manages touring and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle being gluten-free. Andy has been in the music business for 20 years and has performed with such acts as Roachford, Jocelyn Brown, Hamish Stewart, Jim Mullen, Siobhan Donaghy, Alexander O'Neil, Morcheeba and Jackdaw4, who is releasing their new album, The Eternal Struggle for Justice, next week.

When were you first diagnosed with celiac and what was your reaction to the news?

About 10 years ago. I have not been formally diagnosed as celiac but through a process of elimination discovered that I was definitely allergic to gluten. I did research into what gluten allergies were and what I could and couldn't eat as a result.

Drumming is a very physical job; did you notice a difference in your performance before and after you were diagnosed?
I noticed an instant improvement in energy and stamina after cutting out gluten from my diet. Before, I would eat a big bowl of pasta and go off to a gig and nearly be asleep by the time I got to the end of the road, pasta as energy food had the opposite effect for me.

Have you turned your home and kitchen into a gluten free zone? If so, how does your family cope with it?
The kitchen is pretty much a gluten-free zone, my wife sometimes has normal bread when I'm away, but she's been really cool about eating gluten-free bread and our diet being gluten-free so not having to cook two different meals everyday. My parents are really cool with it and my mom gets gluten-free bread when we go to visit and does gluten-free meals for me. My mom has always been very switched on when it came to food and diet so she helped me, I was allergic to dairy as a kid so had to have goat’s milk.

How do you manage your diet when touring in foreign countries, what countries have you had the most success eating gluten-free?
Touring can be a hassle especially when you're in the middle of America at a truck stop and the only option I can eat is fries, the salads are not worth bothering with, and the coleslaw is usually pretty bad and probably has flour in it. If I'm capital/major cities I'm ok, it's more provincial places where I struggle.
The band I play with are really cool with my diet, the tour manager always lets catering know I can't eat wheat and every country we've been to has had some sort of alternative. I was in Italy last month and you'd think they would be the worst but they had a great selection and even cooked stuff just for me.
Spain is great for gluten-free food, Hungary is also good and Japan and China, anywhere really that has lots of rice dishes.
If we eat out the band always makes sure we go somewhere I can get a good feed. If we take ourselves out for food we always have a good wander around first so that everyone is happy.
The tour manager always makes sure the rider contains plenty of extra fruit, rarely is there nothing for me to eat.

Do you feel that the caterers on tour are well aware of a gluten-free diet, and how to avoid cross-contamination?
I don’t think caterers are aware of cross contamination, as we do have to explain, a lot, what we mean by gluten-free food. They are getting much better. I still do sometimes get the feeling that caterers think I’m being a showbiz diet ponce.

What are some go-to snacks that you carry with you when on tour?
I travel with loads of natural bars and peanuts, the biggest problem for me is flying. The options for gluten-free can be terrible, and if the agent hasn't informed the airline it's back to the snacks, but then sometimes I'm really not missing much!!

Have you toured or worked with other gluten-free people in the music business?
I've just started playing with a bass player who is gluten free, and his wife, the singer, is dairy-free, I worked with Dannii Minogue for a while, she is gluten-free but not celiac. I do get a lot of people say they think they're allergic but don't do anything about it.

What is the most interesting reaction you get when you tell people you can't eat gluten?
The most common funny reaction is, can I eat rice and potato, when I say yes they sometimes say ‘are you sure?’

Andy is currently touring through Europe with Morcheeba, before they come to the US for a few shows at the end of July.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

GFIW: Talenti Gelato, June 15

I know that with trying to keep weight off I should not be promoting something so decadent and not in line with my diet, but this is just too good. I bought this lovely Talenti black cherry gelato because 1) I love the packaging; and 2) the back clearly labels it not only gluten-free, but also HFCS free and hormone free, among other happy classifications.

I actually didn't even buy this for me, but for my daughter, and every night as I would give her dessert, I would sneak a spoonful, and the black cherry is just so delicious with a lovely creamy texture with crushed cherry swirled into the cream.

All flavors, except for the caramel cookie crunch are gluten-free. They also carry several flavors of sorbet.

Talenti can be found in many national grocery stores chains, including Whole Foods and Target.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Smoked salmon & zucchini alfredo, the remix

Because there are not enough ways to use one of my all-time favorite ingredients....Greek yogurt! I think I could put this in anything...well almost.

This is taken from a recipe I found years ago in one of my issues of Food & Wine, but I put my own spin on it with the smoked salmon. This is a bit "healthier" than an original alfredo and replaces the cream with Greek yogurt, I use 2%, but if you want to use the full-fat version, go for it! Plus, this dish is quick and easy, always a bonus, especially with kids. The shredded zucchini also makes it a sneaky way to get some veg in there for the skeptical ones. My daughter loved this and ate her entire bowl, my husband had thirds! We actually ate it so fast, I forgot to take a photo.

You can leave out the smoked salmon and replace it with prosciutto or bacon or leave it meatless and it will still be delicious! In our house, I tend to replace smoked salmon anywhere it calls for bacon. Don't get me wrong, I love me some bacon, but since we don't typically eat meat and M hasn't indulged in over 20 years...I go with the sea version of salty meat.

16 oz. pasta (I use either fettuccine or spirals)
4 oz. smoked salmon, sliced in small pieces
3 medium-sized zucchini, shredded
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Start a pot of boiling water, and add pasta when ready

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet at medium heat and sauté the smoked salmon for about 8 minutes until it is light pink and starting to get bacon-like

About 1 minute before the pasta is done, add the zucchini

Drain the pasta and zucchini, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water

While the pasta is in the colander, melt the butter in the empty pasta pot on low heat, then add the yogurt, parmesan and nutmeg, stir until smooth

Add the pasta and water and toss until well coated with the sauce, lastly add the smoked salmon and stir well

Buon Appetito!!

And 2 weeks later..

The past two weeks have been a very busy time, so I have sadly neglected my blog. There has been so much going on well as a hundred other things. Just like we all have, I'm sure. I have no excuse.

First of all, a few weeks ago, I went to retest my celiac levels. It has been almost a year and a half since I was diagnosed, and so I was little late going to get tested. I have tried so hard and been so careful about everything I come in contact with, I was really looking forward to how this test would come out. The original day I was supposed to get tested, I had actually had an accidental glutening the night before, so I decided to wait 30 days to try and get it completely out of my system, and it must have worked, because my tests came out great...and if any other doctor tested me without knowing I had celiac, they would think I didn't have it. I was ecstatic...finally a test result I like! I am thrilled to know that all of my efforts have worked and I have successfully eliminated gluten from my life. Phew! Now just to continue with it..FOREVER!

It is also interesting that as my body healed from being diagnosed last year, I have put on the pounds. Like my intestines must be working now because they are absorbing way too much and holding on to it like it is gold.

I am continuing to go to my Zumba classes, the gym, walking...and it seems like no matter how much exercise I do, the only way I see any bit of improvement on the scale is when I eat like a mouse...I have to literally eat the same size portion as my 5-year old does and no more. And it leaves me so hungry.

I also started eating a bit of meat. It has been the strangest thing, I have been craving it, like my body has been screaming for protein, and protein in the form of meat. When I was at the gym last week, I was craving Boar's Head cracked pepper-mill turkey. I have not eaten this in at least 10 years, but used to love it beforehand....but the craving was so strong it got me to the store and at the deli counter ordering meat. I felt like such a novice, I wasn't even sure how to do it. I did ask them to clean the slicer in case something with gluten was used previously. I got home and within five minute made my self a sandwich on corn tortillas with my turkey, muenster and sliced cucumbers and thoroughly enjoyed it!! I love my Udi's bread that is sitting in my fridge, but thought the tortillas would be less calories than the bread.

I told myself not to think about it, to just eat it. And it worked, and it was good. Today, I even bought some Applegate Farms turkey and will try it out tomorrow. What is wrong with me?? I am just starting to think maybe eating this protein will tide me over more and save me from filling myself up with calories from items that contain rice and potato flour. I think the whole key is getting the protein in, and I know this can be done with veggie sources as I have been doing it for years, but it is not working with the weight-loss, and my cravings got he best of me.

A new rule I made for calories after 7:30. This is quite a feat for me since we used to dinner at 9pm nightly. I am sure I will have a couple of nights where I fail because of being out with friends, but I am really going to try and stick with this 99% of the time.

And again, I ran into someone who is a diagnosed celiac since childhood yet chooses to ignore it and told me that they don't get symptoms like most people so they don't want to get all "crazy" about it. They told me what their favorite cereal was, and that they never even checked if there was gluten in it....and trust me, this is a very gluten-filled cereal. I was in shock once again, but choose not to say anything. They can live their life as they want. Part of me thinks as long as one is constantly getting gluten they won't have the symptoms anyway, it is not until they take it away that some people will feel me. I ate it daily, never an issue...I eat it now...I am fetal under the covers. 'Whatever' I say to them.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...