Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My very talented, and dear friend Cathryn Delude has just written an article for the LA Times on possible treatments for celiac disease. http://ping.fm/a2EZ6

Friday, December 4, 2009

Annie will be at the Westford Academy Holiday Bazaar tomorrow. 9am-3pm. Cookies, Focaccia, Tri-chocolate cranberry pecan bark and cupcakes. Buy or order for the holidays.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Learn to make gluten-free pies! Sign up here:
http://ping.fm/elV5b

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Westford Academy Holiday Bazaar

I will be having a booth at the Westford Academy Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, December 5, 2009. I will also be scheduling some classes for the holidays on baking gluten-free pies, cookies, cheese biscuits and focaccia. Let me know if you want to receive my newsletter.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I will be at the Westford Farmers Market today (10/20/09) selling gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and focaccia. Last time this season! Come see me!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gluten Free Pizza Class

I love to teach cooking. I just realized it last week when I had my first ever gluten-free pizza class. Four people attended the class. It was an interesting mix of two teenagers, (a boy and a girl,) and two women. They were all their for a variety of reasons (only one person was celiac), but mostly, they wanted to make a good gluten-free pizza!

The class was hands-on. It was more about technique than recipes. Everyone’s pizza was different—a variety of flavors, shapes and thickness. The pizzas were all good!

When polled, everyone said they would like to do a bread baking class. There was also interest in French fries! I will set up another class in the next few days and will post it everywhere if you want to sign up.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Learn to Make Gluten-Free Pizza

I will be holding a Gluten-Free Pizza class on Thursday, October 8, 2009 from 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. It is a hands-on lesson in my board of health approved, gluten-free kitchen. All the ingredients are easily attainable. NO ONE will be able to tell that it is gluten free...it's that good! I will provide the recipe. Class is limited to 8 people. Registration is required. The cost is $45.00 per person and that includes the ingredients. To register call (978) 501-3304 or email me at arc55@comcast.net.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Gluten Free Advisor

What the heck is the Gluten Free Advisor? Have you been wondering where I have been? Well…I’m back! And I have some explaining to do.

First, I will explain the name. Another company trademarked my old name, “Enjoy Life Gluten Free”. So I had to change it. I like “advisor” better than “consultant” so that’s what I am going with for now. If I come up with a catchy new name, I will let you all know. If you have any great suggestions for a new name, let me know.

Second, where have I been? Well, I have been to Farmer’s Markets in Chelmsford and Westford selling gluten-free baked goods. And I was at the Western Avenue Studios in Lowell (http://www.westernavenuestudios.com/) giving out samples of the gluten-free goodies. I’ve made some great connections and I am really feeling energized about the business.

I will be at the Westford Farmer’s Market Tuesday, September 29. The market runs from 2:00 until dusk and it is held at Westford Common. Come by and say hi!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Legal and Sanitary Kitchen

The Westford Board of Health representative was just here and approved my kitchen for cooking non-potentially hazardous food for sale/sample. I am sooooo excited. This means I am free to peddle my wares at Farmer's Markets in the area and give cooking lessons here or at a public place. I am very grateful for the guidance and advice I got from Arnie Price, the Board of Health rep. My next step is the Farmer's Markets in Westford, Chelmsford, and Acton. Watch this space for dates and times.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Peaches Bakery and Deli

If you are newly diagnosed with celiac disease in the Nashoba Valley area, one of the first resources you are going to hear about is a place called Peaches Bakery and Deli. It is located on Ayer Road (Rte. 111)  in Harvard, Massachusetts, very close to Route 2. Last week my husband and I stopped in to check it out.

I love muffins. I have tried to make gluten-free muffins numerous times and they are awful. Peaches has awesome gluten-free muffins. We got one of each flavor, split them in half and tried them out.   We had blueberry, chocolate chip, cranberry almond, and banana nut chocolate chip. My favorite, hands down, was the blueberry muffin. It tasted the way I remembered blueberry muffins tasting (it has been at least 13 years since I had one.) The texture was great. (Note: the biggest problem with my muffins is they come out with a rock-like texture). My husband, who is not gluten-free, thought the texture was a bit different, but thought the muffins were very good.

While I was there, I also picked up a couple of cupcakes. One was a chocolate cupcake with butter cream frosting that was delicious. The other was a mostly allergen-free carrot cake with a dairy-free frosting. They were both delicious. It was nice having the lactose-free choice since so many people diagnosed with celiac find out they are lactose intolerant too.

If you are in the area, check them out. Their website http://www.peachesbakery.com/index.html has their menus, directions, and a short history of the bakery. If you want to stock up on muffins (they freeze well), call the day before and let them know because they go fast.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Questions About Celiac Disease

You want to know something amazing about celiac disease? It is entirely controlled by diet. No pills, no shots, no invasive procedures, just a gluten-free diet. There are very few chronic conditions that are that easy to control.

That said, celiac is one of the most misdiagnosed conditions around.  I have read and heard of people being diagnosed with a myriad of different diseases (IBS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Crone’s Disease) over a long period of time before a medical professional thinks of testing for celiac. The numbers I have seen cited are 1 in every 100 people in the US has celiac disease and 90% of them don’t know it.

So, with those facts in mind, I have a few questions. I will start with this one:

1)   Why aren’t more restaurants catering to the gluten-free diet? I was recently at a celiac support group where a member shared that she was asked to leave a well-known chain restaurant because they were afraid to serve her. And as part of this question, why aren’t more restaurant workers being trained about food allergies and sensitivities? It is irritating when servers think that gluten is sugar.

The good news about restaurants is there are some that aware of the gluten free diet, and actually cater to people who are on it. Stone Hearth Pizza and Pizzeria Uno both offer gluten-free pizza. Carraba’s Italian Grill and Outback, both in Tyngsboro have a gluten-free menu. Most Ninety-Nine restaurants have one too, and they have a deep fat fryer that is just for French fries at the one in Westford.  Do you know what a treat it is to get fries! If a restaurant prepares other fried food in the same fryer as French fries, the breading contaminates them.

For years, the only place I felt REALLY comfortable going out to eat was Legal Seafood. No matter which one I went to, the chef would come out and talk to me when I said I had celiac. Well, it is still one of my favorites. They have a very good gluten-free menu that I highly recommend. You can actually get a good fried shrimp or scallop dinner.

I will keep you posted on other restaurants where you can feel safe and get good gluten-free meals. Please tell me if you know any…I will check them out and report back here.

Next blog: Why aren’t grocery stores carrying a good variety of gluten-free products?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quinoa Salad

It’s barbeque time and this is a good, colorful salad to serve or bring along as a side dish. I make quinoa in my rice maker.

 Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

4 cups cooked Quinoa

One 15 ounce can black beans

1 cup canned or frozen corn

1 medium to large red onion, chopped

1-2 large tomatoes, chopped

¾ - 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro (to taste)

4 tbs Olive oil

2 tbs Rice vinegar

2 tsp ground cumin

Cook quinoa according to directions. Drain and rinse beans and add along with corn. Mix in all other ingredients. This is a very flexible recipe. You can add a chopped bell pepper or if you want it a little spicier, add some chopped jalapeƱos. If you are going to store it for a few days, I suggest leaving the tomatoes out until right before you are going to serve it. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was browsing through a Gourmet Magazine the other day and I came across an article about gluten-free baking. There were two recipes, one for a lemon cake (stay tuned, I am trying that next) and another for chocolate chip cookies. Gourmet’s quote about the cookies was “…we dare anyone to detect that these weren’t made with traditional wheat flour.” Okay now I’m interested.

The recipe calls for a flour mix using extra finely ground brown rice flour. Any kind of rice flour gives food a kind of sandy feel, and the extra grinding takes care of that. I was only able to find it online at Authentic Foods (www.authenticfoods.com) where it sells for around $12 for 3 pounds.  

I tried the recipe and was pleasantly surprised. My husband even liked the cookie dough, which is his favorite part. The recipe used all vegetable shortening which I found a little odd so I tried the recipe twice and used half shortening and half butter the second time. I also increased the brown sugar and decreased the white sugar. I did an informal poll with the guys who are working on our house, and the women who work at InStyle Hair Design.  NONE of these people are celiac. I consider that to be a good test as the complaint about gluten-free food is that it doesn’t taste like “real” food. No one knew they were gluten-free cookies until I told them. The overwhelming favorite has been the altered recipe. The comment I heard over and over was “they taste just like Tollhouse cookies”.

So give it a try and let me know what you think.

Brown Rice Flour Mix

2-cups extra finely ground brown rice flour

2/3-cup potato starch (NOT potato flour)

1/3-cup tapioca flour

Put all ingredients into a sealable container and shake until all the flours are combined.

 Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Makes about 6 dozen cookies)

½ cup vegetable shortening

½ cup butter (1 stick)

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon xanthan gum

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1-tablespoon vanilla

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

(optional: 1 cup finely chopped walnuts)

  • Put oven in middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Lightly grease two baking sheets.
  • Whisk together flour mix, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum in a small bowl.
  • Beat together shortening, butter, and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
  • Add vanilla
  • Reduce speed to low and add in the flour mixture until just incorporated
  • Stir in the chips (and walnuts if using)
  • Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart
  • Bake, one sheet at a time, until golden, around 9-15 minutes (I did it for 10 minutes)
  • Take the cookies out of the oven, let them stay on the sheet for one minute and then transfer them to cooling racks. Continue making cookies using cooled baking sheet.

·     Cookies keep in a sealed container about 1 week.

 

 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Risotteria and Gillian’s Foods Gluten Free Frozen Pizza Dough

One thing I really missed being celiac was good pizza. Any dough I tried to make just didn’t work. It had bad texture, weird taste or was soggy. So I just went without.

A few years ago, my husband and I went to New York to see a play and we went to a restaurant I had heard about in Greenwich Village. It’s called Risotteria (http://www.risotteria.com/) and it’s the first gluten free restaurant I’d ever been to.

There are tumblers filled with breadsticks on all of the tables. Not trusting that anything that looked so good could possibly be gluten free, I had my husband try one first. He took a bite, shook his head, and said no way were they gluten free. The waiter stepped up and told us they were indeed gluten free. I proceeded to eat the rest of them and asked for more.

As you can tell by their name, Risotteria’s specialty is risotto, but I have been making that at home for years so I didn’t order any. Instead, I had meatballs in sauce, Redbridge gluten free beer, a brownie and…pizza. All of it was delicious. Please check it out if you happen to be in NYC.

Here is what I discovered about the pizza. The crust was VERY thin so the flavor of the toppings really came through. Hmmm…maybe I could do this.

Around that time, Wild Harvest at my local Shaw’s Supermarket began carrying pizza dough made by Gillian’s Foods. It came as a frozen ball (about the size of a softball) in a plastic bag. I’d used it a couple of times, and liked the taste, but found it seemed soggy, like it wasn’t getting cooked through. After coming back from New York, I tried using half the ball. SUCCESS! It was fantastic. I serve it to friends and family and no one realizes it is gluten free (except for the fact that I am eating it).

Hints about rolling it out (thanks to my Sicilian friend Joe Lapiana for helping me out): Use two pieces of wax paper and dust them with a gluten free flour or flour mix. Roll the dough very thin.  Transfer to your pizza pan or stone. Then put on your toppings. I use fresh tomatoes as well as canned. I also do a white pizza that uses Ranch dressing as the base. I will include that recipe in a future blog.

Here is the website for locating the pizza crusts: 

http://www.glutenfreegilliansfoods.com/Store_Locations.html

Try it out and let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Starting a New Business

The idea for Enjoy Life Gluten Free came to me about 2 years ago. The decision to get off my butt and do something about it came 5 months ago. Here was my plan:

1) Get a logo done (hey, I was a graphic designer for a long time). I actually had my friend Debi Gardiner design it and she also helped me come up with the business name.

2) Enroll in Culinary School at Boston University. 

3) Come up with the money to enroll in Culinary School at Boston University.

4) Buy a URL (or 3).

5) Have business cards made.

6) Join a BNI (Business Networking International – essential for small businesses).

7) Start a blog.

8) Money would come pouring in.

As you probably can guess, #8 is not happening yet. Since culinary school ended I have been busy figuring out what a gluten-free consultant should do.

I love to cook, so teaching gluten-free cooking and baking seems a no-brainer. The next question is: Where do I teach? How about in my own kitchen?  Did I mention we are doing construction and since I graduated from BU my kitchen has been torn up?  I am in the process of making sure my kitchen is board of health approved, but this is taking awhile.

How about group classes in a commercial kitchen? This is fairly costly but doable. The problem here is the time it would take to make sure the kitchen is gluten-free each and every time I used it. I would have to bring my own mixers, cutting boards, cookie sheets, and anything else that could be cross-contaminated by gluten ingredients.

So my final option is to cook in a client’s kitchen. THAT I think would work. We could start by making their kitchen safe and gluten-free. Then I could show them how to cook pizza, cookies, or bread in their kitchen with their equipment. I think that would be more comfortable in the long run.

I am following up on some suggestions I have gotten from friends, such as community education, church groups, and the farmer’s market here in Westford. Do any of you have any suggestions? I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Celiac Foodie

After many years spent as a self-employed newspaper publisher and graphic designer, and a few more working for a large corporation, I decided to pursue my passion — cooking! Inspired by an article I read in “Edible Boston” magazine, I quit my job, went to culinary school at Boston University and started a new business.

I have always loved cooking, entertaining friends and family, and going to new and different restaurants to eat. This has been complicated for the past 12 years by the fact that I have celiac disease, an auto-immune disease that makes it impossible to digest gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley (and sometimes oats). When you think about ALL the foods that contain those ingredients, it felt like my food options were pretty limited.

But it’s been awhile since I found out about my celiac. I am pretty comfortable with my diet. I don’t really miss anything (well, maybe Burger King Whoppers). I try to prepare good, healthy, fresh food. I have found a wide variety of prepared foods geared toward the gluten-free diet and through the years they have gotten better. I also have learned to bake using a variety of alternative flours made from grains such as rice, sorghum and potato. I have gotten pretty good at restaurants educating servers and chefs about what I can and cannot eat.

A few years ago, I was in a Whole Foods Grocery Store stocking up on their gluten-free line of baked goods when I noticed a woman about my age standing next to me crying. When I asked if she were okay, she informed me that she had been recently diagnosed with celiac disease. She was angry, freaked out, and her words, “feeling cheated!” I proceeded to give her a short tour of the store to show her the most palatable gluten-free food. A light bulb went off…I could do this for a living! The best way to put it is I want to make people “not freaked out” about the gluten-free diet. I want to teach them to shop and cook so they don’t feel cheated.

I just finished the certificate program at BU where I learned so many new things. I think I taught my instructors and fellow students a few things too! So now it is time to be concentrating full time on getting this business going.

I am looking for two different types of clients. Adults and children who are newly diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance are the first type. I would offer them my expertise at shopping, cupboard clearing, and providing good informational resources both written and on the Web. I will also be offering cooking lessons, both private and in groups. I will share my techniques for a great gluten free pizza with easy to find ingredients, good high-fiber bread, and some pretty good chocolate chip cookies.

The second category of client I am looking for is restaurants that want to cater to gluten-free patrons. I can do a kitchen evaluation, educate wait staff and management, and help a restaurant make their gluten-free clientele happy, comfortable, and safe.

So that’s my story (so far). I am planning on posting here at least a couple of times a week. I will share recipes, reminisce about culinary school (one of the best times of my life), share resources and links, and let you all know how the business is going. Let me know what you think.