Gluten Free Pizza: A Quest for Greatness June 29, 2011Posted by @Melonie in : Dining Out , 3comments
One of the major barriers for me to go gluten free was pizza. Pizza is more than just my favorite guilty pleasure; we have a well-established love affair that spans three decades. Despite the gnawing pain, chronic fatigue and other unmentionable digestive problems it caused, the thought of giving it up was unthinkable.
Luckily for me and my other gluten-challenged pizza addicts, gluten free pizza is starting to appear on several menus across San Diego including Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza , Leucadia Pizzeria and Z Pizza.
To say I was thrilled with this development would be an understatement. I had to go out immediately and taste test as many gluten free pizzas as possible. I started with Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Leucadia Pizzeria. I have to admit, Leucadia pizza is one of my all-time favorites. The semi-sweet, fluffy original crust was almost worth the pain of eating gluten. I had high hopes. However, both of these restaurants disappointed me. They offered thin, cracker-like crusts that reminded me of a dehydrated cracker with cheese on it. While better than no pizza at all, I didn’t find either of these crust options to capture the essence of pizza.
Feeling somewhat pessimistic, I headed to my last stop on the pizza tour, Z Pizza. I think perhaps I have found the holy grail of gluten free pizza. The location in La Jolla looks like a small mom-and-pop pizza place but they are actually part of a national franchise with four San Diego locations. They only serve the gluten free crust option in a personal 10” size and the wait for preparation is around 20 minutes.
I would have waited well over an hour for this pizza. Still a thin crust, the texture is soft, doughy and buttery, like actual bread. You can order the pizza in a variety of designer flavors including barbecue and Thai or go with their more traditional pepperoni or cheese. In addition, Z Pizza offers organic and vegan options including vegan cheese for the lactose intolerant. Gluten free pizzas at Z Pizza run about $12 – $15.
Meet Our Guest Blogger:
Amanda Sounart is a health care writer and former fitness journalist. She has been gluten free for four months after 10 years of stomach pain and several rounds of misdiagnosis. She maintains a gluten free blog, Mostly Gluten Free, as well as a dating blog, Slightly Serious. Follow Amanda on twitter @mostlyglutenfre
Magical Mujadara Recipe June 22, 2011Posted by @Melonie in : Dishing It , 4comments
Gluten free, dairy free, vegan
Lentils and rice might not sound very exciting but I’m telling you, you will be hooked. This is how my addiction began. The cafeteria in my building where I try not to eat at too often serves this dish. One of ummmm, none other, that I can eat off the menu given my gluten and lactose free requirements. I tried it one day and my avoidance soon turned into a once per week visit. Three words to describe it: healthy, fresh, and filling.
Up to the point of sitting down to write this I knew nothing about the origins of this dish. In summary:
- It’s Middle Eastern (see I’m exotic)
- It’s a meal staple (and practical, my Grandma would be proud)
- It can be served hot or cold, as the main course or a side dish (the ninja of beans and rice)
- Traditionally served with pita bread (not gluten free, skip that, who likes cardboard bread anyway?)
I experimented making this at home one weekend and my family loved it. My co-workers are now making frequent visits to the cafeteria because I got them hooked too. I think it’s that combination of hot and cold, plus savory that does it. The last batch I made was amazing and i can say that I’ve perfected my recipe for my taste. So you’re about to get mujadara with a little bit of Mexican, American, +yuppy food snob. Do not expect the traditional recipe but it’s close.
1 cup of brown lentils
1 cup of brown rice (the fat starchy kind)
1 tsp cumin
1 garlic clove
white pepper (sub fresh ground black)
a bay leaf
1/8 cup good olive oil or sunflower oil (no substitute, a cheap oil will ruin the flavor)
1/2 diced red onion or 1 leek thinly sliced (white part)
- Soak the lentils in water over night. Put them in a large pot, in water (follow the directions on the bag, I fill the water about a half inch above the beans), add oil, bay leaf, garlic clove, 1 tbs sea salt. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add rice, 2 cups of water, cumin and white pepper to the pot and simmer 20minutes.
- Caramelize the onions in olive oil. This technique just means cook it on medium heat and stir it frequently until the onion is transparent and slightly browned, not charred. Add it to the pot, stir and let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, ensure the rice isn’t hard and you’re all done. The more cumin and spices you use, the less salt you’ll need. And keep in mind you’ll be balancing the salt level with the salsa topping.
This is where the magic happens. Always store and prepare this separately from your mujadara.
1-2 medium to large diced tomatoes
1/8 cup diced parsley
1/2 chopped cucumber
1/4 of a finely diced red onion (sub white or yellow)
squeeze of lemon
1-2 sliced avocados
Mix together and serve on top of hot mujadara with slices of avocado. You can play with different toppings. I also like:
- Olive oil, tomato and basil
- Tomato, onion, cucumber and cilantro
- Tomato, green onion, avacado
The cost will put you out about $5 and it will feed you for a week. It is protein rich however if you need animal in your food this would be great topped with grilled chicken. Make that grilled cage free, hormone free, organic chicken if you don’t want to get kicked off the food snob wagon. Enjoy.
The Best Gluten Free Cake at Home June 17, 2011Posted by @Melonie in : Dishing It , 1 comment so far
Dessert is a challenge when you’re gluten free, and to add to that lactose intolerant. The only option I’m often left with in a restaurant is sorbet. I hate sorbet! So, I save my sweet tooth for my own kitchen where I whip together cakes, cupcakes and muffins.
I love cooking but I’ll admit that I’m not great at baking. It’s too exact, takes too long, it’s messy, plus becomes more complicated with gluten free flours. Cake batter is all about texture which requires mixing different GF flour to get the right one down. I prefer someone else do that for me. When I crave dessert I grab a box of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cake Mix. I heart cake in a box! It takes less than ten minutes to mix and throw in the oven. I also appreciate cooking from home because I can control the ingredients by substituting milk based ingredients for water, soy milk, or vegan margarine (I like Nucoa it is milk, casein, and whey free). Among the flavor choices chocolate wins over vanilla because it has stronger flavor to cover up the slightly off taste of the GF flour. The Bob’s Red Mill cake texture is light and a bit spongy, yet it holds up well and does not turn into crumbs as many GF flour products do. It’s a favorite and so is Betty Crocker’s great gluten free yellow cake mix. Betty Crocker is available in mainstream grocery store baking aisles, where Bob’s is more of a specialty store item.
If you’re looking for texture there are a lot of options out there for vegetable based recipes, including my favorite carrot cake. Since I avoid baking from scratch, I have a box of Simply Organic Carrot Cake mix in my cupboard waiting for me to try. I have to warn you, my fellow lazy bakers, that it calls for fresh shredded carrot. I don’t care to cut my finger so I’ll pick up a bag of shredded carrots at the store. Bonus – it’s also organic. My carrots will be too.
These products can be pricey, ranging as much as$6-8 a box off the shelf. I order in bulk from Amazon to get the best deal.
What about frosting?
Most pre-made frosting products are gluten free and labeled accordingly. I don’t care for grocery store frosting. I think this is the element that really makes the cake. The best frosting is homemade. I’ve been experimenting with milk free recipes like Tofutti cream cheese frosting and powdered sugar bases. I haven’t gotten the texture right and the powdered sugar recipes come out too sweet for my taste. If you have a favorite gluten free, lactose free recipe for frosting please share. This is the part I won’t laze out on.
Dining Out Gluten Free at Roppongi Restaurant La Jolla June 10, 2011Posted by @Melonie in : Dining Out , 2comments
Roppongi Restaurant and Sushi Bar, La Jolla in the Village
New Asian Cuisine
Gluten free menu: yes
Gluten friendly staff: yes
I was here last evening with a big group and it was a great experience. Roppongi has an indoor and outdoor dining area offering a modern intimate setting. The sushi is creative and full of texture and flavor. A favorite was a slice of cucumber stacked with ahi in a sweet sauce. This isn’t a little sushi restaurant they have a full menu ranging from lamb, fish to chicken in fresh, interesting combinations.
There is a full gluten free menu of which I tasted the BBQ mini lamb chops with white rice tapas (amazing), a green salad, and the grilled chicken breast with shitake mushrooms, hearts of palm, green beens and ginger pesto. It sounds good right? I pigged out! They were able to make adjustments to serve this menu lactose free additionally. As usual the mashed potatoes contain butter and milk so choose a different side if this is also your issue. The texture, taste, and presentation of each dish was superb.
I’ll be back for a nice dinner with my significant other soon. The front patio fire pit is a nice place for happy hour and the drinks are not only pretty (what you’d expect of La Jolla) and delish.
Unfortunately the gluten free menu is not online but you can browse the general offerings here. Many of the gluten free items are variations from the main menu. I hope you can try it out some time. And when you do, plan on taking an after dinner walk down to seal beach it’s just steps away.
Now You Can Eat Pretzels, Gluten Free June 3, 2011Posted by @Melonie in : Dishing It , add a comment
Welcome pretzels back into your life my friends.
I was shopping at Albertson’s last week and walked into half aisle stock full of gluten free goodies. I picked up this package of Glutino Pretzel Twists.
I’m not a huge pretzel fan and neither is my significant other. He can eat anything. But I am a big fan of snacking at my desk all day. I didn’t expect much out of this since most gluten free crackers taste like nothing with the consistency of tree bark. In the words of my other “These are the best pretzels I’ve ever tasted.” Light, airy, flavorful, just perfect. Plus points for also being lactose free.
I’m elated to see grocery stores giving us GFers shelf space. This is the first time I’ve seen this product in stores and I usually shop GF friendly spots like Trader Joes, Whole Foods or Henry’s Market. I wouldn’t count on every Albertson’s carrying Glutino so check the manufacturer’s website before making a big trip. Definitely try this. It’s a winner!