Archive for September, 2009

After the Rain: Helping Local Farmers

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

As most of you know, Atlanta was hit really hard by the rain a week ago and Georgia farmers are still assessing the damage done to their farms because of the flooding.  Farmers not only lost their fall crops, but irrigation systems, expensive compost, and there could be permanent damage to the soil.

Love is Love Farm in Douglasville, and other small farms feel the impact of Mother Nature much more than large-scale agrobusinesses.  It’s heart breaking to see these farmers who work so hard to bring us delicious, organic food experiencing such loss and devastation to their land in the last week.

Nature is unpredictable but we want these farmers to keep doing what they’re doing and providing us with all of the colorful produce at farmers’ markets each week.

How can we help?

There are many things that we, as members of the community can do, including giving directly to Georgia Flooded Farms Relief Fund.

Field of Greens Festival on Sunday, October 4th from 11 a.m.-6p.m. at Whippoorwhill Hollow Organic Farm will be donating proceeds to the Relief Fund.  Tickets are $15 for adults and free for children under 12.

Rosebud Restaurant (who serves great gluten-free food!) is hosting a “Here Comes the Sunshine” dine-out during the week of October 5-11.  They’ll be donating 15% of their proceeds to the Georgia Flooded Farms Relief Fund.  So you can enjoy delicious gluten-free food, support a local business AND offer help to local farms.

Check out this article about the effects of last week’s flooding on local farms.

I’ll keep you posted on other ways to help.

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken, Potatoes and Tomatoes

Posted in cooking, meals, recipe, travel on September 30th, 2009 by Betsy – 2 Comments

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While the name of this dish  isn’t all that exciting, I find Jamie Oliver’s “Chicken Potatoes and Tomatoes” to be a delicious and flavorful meal to share with others.  My sister-in-law, Alden, and I made this delicious meal when I visited them in Newport, RI a couple of weeks ago.  Both Alden and my mom discovered this Jamie Oliver recipe in The Week Magazine a while ago.  I appreciate that my family members are always on the lookout for naturally gluten-free recipes to make.

I love that there are so many meals and recipes that don’t need any changes made to make them gluten-free and this is one of those meals.  It seems that more and more in the cooking world, chefs are realizing that gluten-free food is better and more flavorful.  So when you’re looking for recipes to make, don’t feel like you have to look for meals and recipes labeled gluten-free.  I use ‘real’ cookbooks all the time and I’m always amazed at how many dishes are naturally gluten free.

This is a great recipe for entertaining because all of the hard work can be done in advance so when your guests arrive, the meal’s in the oven and most of the dishes are already done.  I also like this meal because it’s truly a ‘family-style’ dinner.  One dish in the middle of the table that everyone uses to serve themselves.

When Alden pulled out the recipe card, she described the recipe as easier than it looks and she was definitely right.  It seems like there are a lot of steps, especially browning the chicken in the dutch oven and boiling the potatoes before you bake, but it’s really pretty simple.  Don’t be intimidated!  I made this meal again last week once I got back to Atlanta and I was able to recreate it mostly from memory.  When I made it most recently, David was late getting home so I had to let the meal sit for a while before I baked it and it didn’t affect the dish at all.

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken, Potatoes and Tomatoes (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

1 ¾ lb. new potatoes (I used small red potatoes and cut them in half)

12 chicken thighs, skin on (I left the bone in because I think it makes for nicer cooking…a little messier eating but that’s alright)

1 ½ lb. cherry tomatoes

Fresh oregano (I’ve used rosemary instead both times I made this and it was delicious)

3 T. Olive oil

1 T. Red wine vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Preheat over to 400

Boil potatoes until cooked.  Cut each chicken thigh into 3 strips.  (Again, I left the bone in on one of the strips so mine weren’t evenly cut…it didn’t seem to make any difference).  Place in a bowl and toss with 1 T. olive oil, salt and pepper.

Heat a large frying pan or dutch oven on medium high heat and brown chicken, skin side down.  Turn chicken so you brown both sides.  This should take about 8-10 minutes total.  Remove and put chicken in oven safe dish.  (You might need to cook chicken in two batches if it doesn’t all lie flat in the pan.)

Drain cooked potatoes and lights mash them.  Add to chicken.  Add tomatoes.  Mash oregano/rosemary with salt and olive oil and red wine vinegar and pepper.  Pour over chicken.  Toss.  Make sure that you use a big enough dish so that all of the ingredients should fit in one layer.  I used a Pyrex casserole dish.  (Jamie Oliver uses a dutch oven, but it would have to be a huge dutch oven.

Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve at table.  We also served a simple arugula salad with a homemade vinaigrette at our dinner table.  You don’t need to worry about making lots of side dishes with this one.  Chicken, Tomatoes and Potatoes is a hearty meal but very light and healthy.  It feels like ‘comfort food’ without the post-dinner discomfort.  We had lots of leftovers both times I made this and it’s great for lunch the next day.

A versatile, easy and yummy meal…if only we could just come up with a better name for it.

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Roasting Peppers: How to & Uses

Posted in cooking, local food, recipe, side dish, Uncategorized on September 29th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

This weekend I had an abundance of sweet peppers of all shapes, sizes and colors.  I had never roasted peppers before so I decided to give it a try.  It’s really easy to do and there are so many things to do with the roasted peppers.

Turn on broiler.  Wash peppers and lie them on a baking sheet.  Put the baking sheet with peppers closest to the broiler heat source.  Let cook for about 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally so that they brown on each side.  The peppers are done when they darken begin to collapse on themselves.

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Remove from oven and wrap in tin foil and let cool.  Remove the skin, seeds and stems from the peppers.  It helps to do this under running water, but it’s really a lot easier than it seems.

We enjoyed roasted peppers at multiple meals throughout the weekend as they keep well in refrigerator.  I served them on salads and by themselves, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper.  They make a great side dish as they combine well with different meats and entrees.

The best dish I made with the roasted peppers was breakfast Saturday morning.  I made omelets with  farm fresh eggs, roasted peppers, goat cheese and basil.  Yummy!  The peppers were such a nice addition to the eggs and the goat cheese made it quite a filling meal.  You could even make breakfast for dinner with this hearty dish.

Roasting peppers is another great idea if you get some in your CSA and aren’t quite sure what to do with them.  Also, if your peppers are looking a little bruised and not all that beautiful, you do not need perfect peppers for roasting them.  Next time I roast peppers I’m going to experiment with making hummus.

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Cooking with Acorn Squash: A Hearty Rice Dish

Posted in cooking, local food, side dish, Uncategorized, vegetarian on September 28th, 2009 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Fall is on its way and while I’m sad to see the last cherry tomatoes at the farmers’ markets, I’m also excited about the cool weather produce and all of the different things to make with them.  The method to my cooking lately has been to find an ingredient that I want to use and then create (with guidance from my treasured cookbooks) recipes that use that item.  This weekend I went on a cooking spree, and the result was healthy, flavorful, gluten-free food.  The first item on my list was acorn squash.

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I had been eyeing the acorn squash at The Local Farmstand for a while, wondering what I could make with it.  I’ve cooked a lot with other members of the squash family, including zucchini, butternut and summer squash.  Acorn squash looks like its name and can be found in a variety of colors.  A pretty vegetable, I had only ever seen acorn squash on display at holiday times, never actually in a dish.

I found a seasonal rice recipe using acorn squash in Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day cookbook and I tweaked it to make it gluten-free.  The recipe also interested me for a couple of reasons beyond having acorn squash in the title.  This rice dish included shallots and they have recently become one of my favorite things to use when I cook.  Shallots are in the onion family, but their flavor is complex and delicious.  Many cooks praise shallots, but I had never truly appreciated them until the last few weeks.  A nice touch for many dishes!  I also chose this recipe because it’s dairy and egg free and our friend, Chris, was coming over and has to stay away from dairy and eggs.

Here’s what I made:

Brown Rice with Roasted Acorn Squash, Spinach and Satueed Shallots

Ingredients:

About 1 pound of acorn squash, peeled and seeded (I used 2 ½ smaller acorn squash…I actually don’t think you can have too much of this ingredient!  If you find you have too much squash you can refrigerate it once you’ve roasted it and serve it as leftovers.)

2 T. olive oil

2 t. sea salt

½ t. ground pepper

1 T. unsalted butter

4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup brown rice

2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

4 oz. spinach, washed (about 3 cups)  I just used what I had left in the fridge from a meal earlier that week; you can use as much or as little as you’d like

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400.  Cut the squash into ½ inch cubes and place on baking pan.  Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Roast spinach for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until squash starts to brown and become soft.  Allow squash to cool a little.

Melt remaining tablespoon of olive oil and butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add shallots and cook about 5 minutes to soften.  Add the rice and cook and stir for about 2 minutes.  Stir in all of the broth, 2 teaspoons of salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.

Remove pan from heat and add roasted squash and spinach, tossing gently until spinach starts to wilt.  Season as needed and serve warm.

Between the brown rice, spinach and squash, the colors were beautiful and definitely looked like a seasonal, fall dish.  This might have been one of the best tasting rice dishes I’ve ever eating, and there wasn’t any cheese adding to the rich flavor.  I served it as a side dish with a roasted pork loin.  There were four of us at dinner and not a bit of the the rice was left at the end of the meal so if you’re entertaining a larger group, you might want to double the recipe.

Like I said earlier, I just sort of eyeballed the spinach and the squash as I added them to the rice so it’s definitely not an exact science.  I’m sure you could make this same recipe with delicata or butternut squash.

Let me know if there’s anything else you like to make with acorn squash or other winter squash.

Simply Roasted Okra

Posted in cooking, local food, meals, recipe, Uncategorized on September 25th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Okra is everywhere in Atlanta right now!  People tend to be intimidated by this veggie, thinking that the only way to prepare okra is to fry it.  I’ve learned that frying is not the only way to serve okra and it can make for a simple and delicious side dish.  My new favorite recipe for okra is to simply roast it.  It’s so easy and my dinner guests love it!

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Just preheat the oven to 425.  Wash okra, pat dry and put it onto a baking sheet.  (I don’t even cut off the tops.)  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat okra in olive oil.  Make sure all of the okra is flat on the baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then toss the okra to make sure it browns evenly.  Cook for another 10 minutes.  Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Last night we ate roasted okra with a fresh micro green salad, grilled chicken and quinoa.  A great combination for a warm (and finally not rainy!) fall evening.  Stay tuned for quinoa recipes.

Gluten-Free Options at Inman Park Restaurant Week

Posted in Atlanta, event, local food, Restaurants, Uncategorized on September 24th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

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Inman Park’s Restaurant Week lasts through September 27th with participating restaurants offering a  three course menu for only $35.  Unfortunately, those of us with celiac disease often avoid those fixed price dinners because everything tends to be prepared ahead of time, making it more difficult to ensure gluten-free options.

Here’s the good news!  Shaun’s Restaurant’s menu for Restaurant Week has noted what’s gluten free on their menu and each course has a GF option.  These items include:

Eggplant soup with garlic pickles and organic micro basil

Grilled Scottish Salmon with mustard mashed potatoes, organic okra, and creole sauce

Micro brew root beer float with homemade vanilla bean ice cream

Sounds delicious!  I would still make sure to tell the manager when you call for reservations about your dietary needs and remind your server once you arrive.  You can never be too cautious!

I also checked out Wisteria’s Restaurant Week menu which is another celiac friendly restaurant.  Their menu has about five choices for each course so I think they would be willing to accommodate as well.  (The more options, the better on a fixed price menu.)

Certain items on Wisteria’s menu that look GF or modifiable to be gluten free include the arugula and grilled apple salad, the pork tenderloin and the shrimp and grits.  Definitely make sure that you ask about gluten-free preparations when you call to make you reservations.  When I’ve been to Wisteria in the past, they’ve been great about meeting my needs and making me whatever I wanted.

Let me know if you hear of any other Restaurant Week locations that are gluten free!

Lunching at Legal Sea Foods

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants, Uncategorized on September 23rd, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

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If you have not yet been to Legal Sea Foods, you must check it out.  I ate lunch yesterday at their Atlanta location with Jennifer from The Examiner and I enjoyed every bite.  (And I have lots of leftovers for lunch tomorrow!)  Legal Sea Foods might be the most professionally I’ve ever seen gluten-free food produced at a restaurant.

Legal Sea Foods has a nice gluten-free menu that is clearly written and organized.  The wait staff and management were extremely helpful and friendly, making me feel very well looked after.  I felt like I had a dialogue with our waiter about what to order, what was safe and how things were prepared.

There were many highlights of the meal for me, but the best part was the fried calamari.  Yes, I ordered gluten-free fried (and battered!) calamari.  Legal Sea Foods has a dedicated gluten-free fryer so you can get any of the fried things on the menu.  They use chickpea flour for the batter and it was delicious.

Legal Sea Foods also serves warm gluten-free rolls while you wait for your meal.  What a rarity in the world of a celiac!  For my entrée I ordered the Jasmine Special, which is a bowl of rice, steamed shrimp, broccoli and melted cheese.  While this appears to be a meal of simple components, it was flavorful and the ingredients worked well together.  Next time I think I’m going to try the scallops.  Jennifer ordered the lobster salad and they served it on top of gluten-free rolls.  (They’re getting GF buns soon!)

There are many options on the gluten-free menu including clam chowder, many types of fish, crabmeat salad and filet mignon.  Definitely something for everyone!  They even have a gluten-free children’s menu.  On the GF menu, they also list some things that do have gluten that you might think would be GF, such as their cocktail sauce and balsamic vinagarette. I felt comfortable and confident eating at Legal Sea Foods as everyone was knowledgeable and understand my needs as a gluten-free diner.  It looks like pretty much all Legal Sea Foods’ locations have a gluten-free menu, so even if you’re not in Atlanta, hopefully you can find a location near you.

It’s only 8:00 and I’m already thinking about my leftovers for lunch today!  Check out Legal Sea Foods’ gluten-free menu.

Legal Sea Foods
275 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30313

Phone: 678-500-3700
Legal Sea Foods on Urbanspoon

Making Macaroons in Newport

Posted in baking, recipe, Uncategorized on September 22nd, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Macaroons are a naturally gluten free dessert but I’d never made them until this past week.  Alden found this recipe in Martha Stewart Living and it was so easy and delicious!  We made a couple of changes to the recipe as we used less sugar because we could only find sweetened coconut.  I’m not usually a huge fan of coconut but these ingredients work well together and the crunch from the browned edges makes for a nice texture.  This was a great and low-stress dessert and I already made a variation of it yesterday, that made more cookies.

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Ingredients:

¼ cup sugar

1 egg white

1 cup unsweetened coconut

½ t. vanilla

¼ cup almonds, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix ingredients in a bowl with hands.  Make balls of dough and drop them on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until browned on top and bottom.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet.  (Makes 8 cookies.)

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Variation on macaroons: When I made macaroons yesterday, I decided that I wanted to make a larger batch and was craving a little chocolate.  Here’s what I used:

1/2 c. sugar

2 egg whites

2 ¼ c. sweetened coconut (I still haven’t been able to find unsweetened coconut; if you use unsweetened, then I would add 1/4 c. extra sugar.)

1 t. vanilla

¼ c. almonds, chopped

¼ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Follow the same baking instructions given above.DSC01703

(This recipe makes about 15-20 cookies.  I made mine a little bigger this time so it made 15 cookies.)

‘A Market’ & Liz Lovely Cookies: Gluten Freedom’s Visit to New England

Posted in bakery, GF product, travel on September 21st, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Last week I had the opportunity to leave the Atlanta rains and humidity behind and go to New England for two family trips.  The weather was beautiful, cool and sunny and I did not get any gluten contamination during the entire 8 days of my trip.  As you know, travel (and especially weddings) can be very scary for those of us with dietary restrictions.

During the first part of my trip, I got to spend a few days in Newport, Rhode Island visiting my brother, sister-in-law, and new nephew, Chip.  We had a great time, shared many delicious meals and wandered around Newport.  It was the perfect vacation.  (I’ll write more about our meals and kitchen creations later.)

For any of you that spend time in Newport or are going to Newport, you must go to ‘A Market.’ This cute store has one of the largest variety of gluten-free products I’ve ever seen.  I wandered in because I was looking for the makings for our dinner, but got distracted by the abundance of gluten-free items.  After two years of eating gluten free, I feel like I know about most GF goodies, but their cereal, cracker, and cookie aisle gave me many new ideas and options.  A Market also serves coffee in the mornings and it looked like they had yummy pre-made foods as well that you could order.

While I try not to make impulse buys and just stick to the grocery list, I could not resist buying Liz Lovely cookies.  I had never heard of these giant cookies but the employee at the store told me they were delicious!  Liz Lovely makes GF and non-GF cookies.  I purchased her GF Snickerdoodle cookies and chocolate chip.  I also bought the non-GF chocolate chip cookies for my brother, Rob who loves cookies.  These cookies are big so they’re perfect for sharing.  Alden, Rob and I all preferred the GF Snickerdoodle but I thought the GF chocolate chip were delicious too.  We made Rob do a blind taste test of the two chocolate chip varieties and while he could pick out which was gluten free, he continued to eat more of the GF cookies which is a good sign to me!

Not only does Liz Lovely make gluten-free cookies in many varieties, including German chocolate cake, chocolate fudge and ginger molasses, but you can also go online and read about how they test them for gluten and make their gluten-free products on different days from non-GF cookies.  I have not tried Liz Lovely’s small GF cookies but I’ll sample them as soon as I get my hands on some.  Liz Lovely’s cookies are certified vegan, making them egg free and dairy free as well so when entertaining others with food allergies, these treats will be my go-to dessert.  (Side note: I usually don’t like sweets that are also egg free and dairy free, but these cookies are delicious!!)

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Liz Lovely is a Vermont company but the good news is that you can order these cookies online at their website.  They also have a store locator on the website where I found they sell these cookies at four Atlanta area locations: Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe, Return to Eden, Life Grocery (Marietta) and Six Beans (Marietta).

Olive Garden Now has Gluten-Free Menu

Posted in Restaurants on September 21st, 2009 by Betsy – 3 Comments

Even though I haven’t been to an Olive Garden in awhile, I’m thrilled that more and more chains are getting gluten-free menus.  This means that word is spreading about celiac and gluten allergies, and that restaurants realize what an important market we are.  Hurray!

Check out Olive Garden’s gluten-free menu (They even have gluten free pasta!)