Archive for May, 2010

I Heart Thursday Nights

Posted in cooking, local food on May 28th, 2010 by Betsy – 3 Comments

I love Thursday nights.  In fact, anyone who eats dinner with me on a Thursday night, inevitably hears me remark about how much I love Thursday nights.  Why do I prefer this particular evening?  You have almost the entire week behind you and the entire weekend ahead.  What a great moment in time with many things to look forward to.

I think part of my enthusiasm for Thursday nights goes back to my life teaching at a boarding school.  Wednesday nights were my dorm duty nights so I basically worked until midnight on Wednesdays, doing sign-ins, proctoring study hall and enforcing lights out.  Having a Wednesday night like that made Thursdays even more amazing.  Also, by Thursday evening I was usually finished with athletic events for the week as well as Dean’s meetings, advisory events, and all of the other things that come with dorm life.  Glorious Thursday nights…

I savor cooking dinner on Thursday nights because I can just relax and enjoy my time with David and whoever else we have in our home.  When I came home from work yesterday, my arms full of fresh vegetables, I smiled to see David on our tiny porch smoking his pipe.  (Yes, my husband occasionally smokes a pipe.)  I joined him on the porch for awhile, chatting and enjoying the fact that it was…Thursday.  Nowhere to be, nothing to do.

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Going with the “laid back, chilled out” Thursday night theme, I roasted a bunch of vegetables for dinner, including summer squash, carrots, and onions.  I served them with sautéed yellow snow peas and red quinoa.  A perfect meal for leading into Memorial Day weekend.  So easy.  So simple.

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Simply Sauteed Snow Peas:

Snow peas are great for cooking because they can stand up to heat well and still maintain their crunch.  David likes to eat them raw, but I prefer them sautéed, with garlic.

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  • 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed (I used yellow this time, but green are great too)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in pan on medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for a minute.  Add snow peas and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Snow peas will still be nice and crisp.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

I hope your Memorial Day Weekend is full of relaxation, cooking, and delicious food.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Posted in local food on May 26th, 2010 by Betsy – 1 Comment

IMG_0895 There has been no shortage of rain this year in Atlanta.  In fact, it has rained since we got here.  But I’m hopeful that we’ll start seeing the benefits from the down pours we lived through last fall and early this spring.  Flowers, vegetables and fruit galore.

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Spring is in full bloom and I couldn’t resist posting some photos of these gorgeous flowers from Crystal Organic Farm.

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Don’t they just make you want to play outside?

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From now through the end of the summer, gorgeous bouquets like this can be found at The Local Farmstand.  Isn’t nature amazing?

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‘LOST’ Finale Debrief

Posted in TV on May 24th, 2010 by Betsy – 9 Comments

After watching ‘Lost’s’ 4.5 hours of footage last night, I feel a little empty inside, and a bit of lingering ‘Lost’ hangover.  This ‘Lost’ marathon was worth watching but I can’t say that it solved all of the puzzles for me.  (Shocker!)  I don’t envy the task the producers and writers faced in wrapping up the show.

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While I really enjoyed the two hour recap of the past six seasons, I’m very disappointed that there was no mention of Mr. Eko whatsoever.  I know that things did not end well with the actor and the rest of the cast/production, but you can’t ignore that he was a huge part of the island for the second season.  Eko epitomized the whole idea of redemption, a theme throughout the show’s six seasons.  Pretending like he never existed seems to contradict the show’s entire premise.

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Some highlights for me included, the resolution of Jack’s relationship with his father and when Jack tells the “MIB” that he’s not Locke and what a ‘man of faith’ Locke was.  The moments when each character ‘remembered’ the island were beautiful scenes, especially between Jin and Sun.  Oh, and Vincent lying next to Jack as the plane flew over was just amazing.  (It actually made me want to get a dog.)

So a couple of questions that I would love for you to answer…

Was the sideways universe purgatory?  If so, is Ben still in purgatory since he didn’t go inside the church?  How long did Hurley and Ben stay on the island?  Why was Desmond ‘the one’ in charge of facilitating the characters memory of the island?  Was he the keeper of purgatory?

What are your thoughts on the finale?  What questions went left unanswered?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.  I will choose one person who comments at random and send you a gluten-free treat in the mail!

Ok, I’ve written way too much about television shows recently, and am even reconsidering the name of my blog.  Perhaps “Cooking, Reading & Reality TV?”  I promise there will be more food this week.  I promise.

“Lost” Finale & Beer Koozies

Posted in event on May 21st, 2010 by Betsy – 7 Comments

You know you’re old when…a former student sends you beer koozies.  Yes, I’m officially old enough to have past students that send me koozies and it’s ok, in fact welcomed.  These aren’t your typical beer koozies that my advisee, Becca, sent me, not even personalized wedding reception beer koozies.  (I do love those too!)  These are Dharma Initiative beer koozies.  If you have no idea what that phrase means, you have either never seen the show “Lost” or haven’t yet finished the first season.  If that’s the case, I’m very jealous and you should immediately put this amazing series in your Netflix queue.

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If you’re like me, however, and know exactly what Dharma is, then you’re:

1)    jealous of my awesome koozies.

2)    anxiously awaiting the 2.5 hour finale on Sunday night.  Oh, wait, the 4.5 hours, including 2 hours of recap (which I will absolutely watch), or as David figured out, the 3.1666 hours of actual “Lost” (when you fast forward through ads on your Tivo).

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Yes, I talk about “The Bachelor” and “Top Chef” but the show that I’m most fascinated with is “Lost.”  If you, too love “Lost,” just thinking about Sunday night evokes many emotions for you.  The emotional roller coaster for me includes:

  • Eagerness to know how it’s going to end, as well as worry that I just might not understand the final moments.  (More time travel?  Ugh.)
  • Overwhelmed by questions: Can “the black smoke” die?  Will Jack really be the protector of the island?  Where did Anna Lucia come from?  Are we going to see Libby again?  (I hope so!)  How is Desmund going to reconnect everyone in the parallel universe?
  • Sentimental about the show and the many memories I have watching it.  Basically my whole married life we’ve been watching “Lost,” spending many dinner table conversations as a couple and with friends talking “Lost” theories.
  • Concern that I’ll be disappointed with the ending.  I’ve invested so much time into the show over the years.  How can they possibly explain everything?
  • And of course I can’t help but be sad that like all good things, “Lost” must come to an end.  I mean, I love this show.  The twists and turns and time changes have been endless, but I’ve kept watching nonetheless.

Even when I get frustrated with some of the plot ridiculousness (Seriously, Jack has a son now?) and formulas that only my math-minded friends, Patrick, Mindy and Mimi, understand, the show always brings me back.

I had to go with a Season 2 cast photo because Echo was one of my favorite characters.

I had to go with a Season 2 cast photo because Echo was one of my favorite characters.

Once Sunday night has come and gone, I don’t know what I’m going to do without Sawyer’s cynical stares, Jack’s desire to save everyone, Hurleys’s visions of dead people, and Clare’s whacked out hair.  Any bets that at least three new characters will be introduced in the final episode?  Maybe Jack and Locke are brothers in real life?

What are your thoughts about the finale?  Any predictions?  Concerns of your own?  Please share!  I’m always eager for more “Lost” theories.

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Thanks to Becca for sending me these awesome Dharma koozies.  Of course, I’ve got New Grist, a gluten-free beer made with sorghum and rice, in my koozie.  They will be with me during the finale.  Enjoy the final 150 minutes of glory!  (If you’re in search of a show to watch now that your relationship with “Lost” has come to an end, and you’re ready to move on, may I suggest HBO’s “The Wire?”  I promise, it won’t be sloppy seconds.)

“Bachelorette” Premier: Why Not Throw a Dinner Party?

Posted in Atlanta, cooking, meals, recipe on May 19th, 2010 by Betsy – 9 Comments

I have a little obsession with “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.”  I think it’s because in college we made a big deal about “Bachelor” nights and viewed it religiously, season after season.  Watching episodes of this program was always ‘an event’ for us and of course, that’s what you do in college: use anything, even a TV show, to have an event.

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As I’m getting older, I find myself holding onto things that make me feel like I’m still in college and this nostalgia for my youth tends to manifest itself in the form of television shows that I like to watch.  While sadly the “OC” ended a long time ago, fortunately for me, MTV keeps airing new seasons of “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” and ABC continues to set single folks up on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.”  Yes, it’s shameful, I know.  (I must admit, I’ve given up on “The Real World” as its trashiness factor is too high, even for me, but how can I resist T.J. Lavin’s awkwardness and my washed up old favorites, like Paula and Wes on ‘The Challenge?’)

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Ali: The next 'bachelorette'

Can these shows be defined as quality television?  Absolutely not.  Do I identify with the people? No.  Is there anything valuable to learn?  Not unless you count “don’t ever go on a reality TV show” as a lesson.

But I continue to watch them.  I still enjoy making an event of watching “The Bachelor,” even in my old age.  When we lived in Virginia, we watched each week with my brother and his wife, Rob and Alden,  but now they live in Japan, I’m in Georgia, and I don’t own a TV.  Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to find a group of friends that also enjoys spending two hours on a Monday night watching what my mom refers to as ‘trash TV.’  I moved here in the fall just in time to watch last season’s ‘Bachelor’ starring Jake.  Those of you that watched (and I don’t think there are that many of us) will probably agree that it was terrible.  Jake lacked personality and can really only be described as a goober.  Also, minimal drama always leads to disappointment.  I could have told the show’s producers that Jake would be a less-than-mediocre bachelor after his super-cheesy, and even pathetic, role on Gillian’s season on ‘The Bachelorette’ but no one asked my opinion.  Even Vienna couldn’t save the season.

But I don’t let one season get me down.  I’ll be there, ready for the premiere this Monday night.  (It won’t be nearly as awesome/wonderful/amazing as the ‘Lost’ finale the night before, but more on that later.)  Since the producers of “The Bachelor” have adopted the trend of using a reject from a previous season for future seasons, next week Ali will be the new bachelorette.  Now Ali isn’t technically a reject since she chose to leave Jake’s season because of her job, even though she said, “I’m smitten with the boy.”  (Lame!)  Now Ali’s back and I guess her boss gave her the ok this time.

In honor of next week’s premiere of the new ‘Bachelorette,’ David and I hosted our viewing group for dinner this week.  We thought it would be fun to cook dinner and go through each of the 25 men that we’ll meet next week on the premiere.  Why not give even more time to the show than I already do?  You can go to ABC’s website to check out the bachelors yourself.  A word of warning: this group of men includes very little ethnic diversity, unless you count Canada.  Of course we thoroughly enjoyed analyzing each contestant and reading the comments that others had posted.

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So now to the food…For our dinner party, I enlisted David to make one of my favorite grill meals: Grilled Salmon from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School. I hesitate to order salmon in a restaurant now because this version of salmon is so good and David cooks it perfectly.  It’s so simple, fresh and beautiful.  I love the presentation.  An added bonus of this dish: We share a communal grill with all of the residents in our apartment building so the bed of oranges and lemons keeps the salmon safe from gluten contamination from the grill.  Perfect for a warm summer night and great for entertaining.

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Grilled Side of Salmon (Serves 8 easily)

Ingredients:

  • Sunflower oil or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 4 lemons, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
  • 2 oranges, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
  • 1 small bunch of basil
  • 1 bunch of oregano (use whatever herbs are in season…lemon thyme would be great too)
  • 2 piece wild salmon, (2 ½ – 3 lbs.)

Heat the grill to medium.  Once it’s hot, scrub with grill brush and lightly sweep with olive oil.

Arrange the lemons and orange slices on the grate, then add the the basil and oregano, making a bed for the fish.  Lay the salmon skin side down on the herbs and season with salt and pepper.  Cook salmon 20 to 30 minutes.

Use two large spatulas to transfer the salmon and bed of fruit and herbs to a large platter.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  (I prefer my salmon hot.)

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As a side dish, I served quinoa with sweet onions and roasted carrots.  I used regular quinoa and red quinoa, as well as both orange and red carrots.  Mary Stuart and Victoria made a delicious salad with greens, blueberries, beets, and even beet greens.

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And of course, blondies for dessert.

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So think of me next Monday night as I spend two hours watching Ali meet Chris H., Chris L., Chris N. (yes, there are three Chrises, not including host, Chris Harrison) and the 22 other bachelors.  There’s sure to be a plethora of cheesy lines, awkward moments, and maybe the most dramatic rose ceremony ever.  I’ll be loving every minute of it.

Strawberries

Posted in Atlanta, local food, recipe on May 17th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

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There are many great things about living in Atlanta.  Being surrounded by Top Chef superstars and not sharing my residence with 65 teenage girls are both at the top of my list, but another benefit of being in the dirty south is that spring and summer vegetables are ready to be harvested a little bit earlier here than back up in Virginia.  I feel spoiled already having access to summer veggies, like asparagus and snow peas, so early in the season.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve even been the beneficiary of beautiful strawberries from Woodland Gardens in Winterville, Georgia.  After enjoying these bites of goodness, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to purchase strawberries in the grocery store ever again.  I had no idea that strawberries could be so fragrant.  My entire kitchen smells of this fruit when left on the counter for an afternoon.

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I could eat these strawberries by the pint.  It’s a shame they’re so pretty, only to be devoured by me.  I’ve been finding as many different ways as possible to use my strawberries. There have even been days where I’ve managed to consume them at each meal: on my cereal at breakfast, mixed with yogurt and granola at lunch, in my salad at dinner, finished off with strawberry cobbler for dessert.

Yes, I said strawberries in salad.  For people like my brother, who work hard to keep everything on their plate from touching, the following recipe might not make your mouth water at first glance, but I promise…If you haven’t tried this yet, you must.  A great side dish that will make your plate beautiful.  I’ve been using fresh arugula because the sweetness of the strawberries goes perfectly with the ‘bite’ from the arugula.  Of course the goat cheese, sunflower seeds and homemade dressing provide added flavor and texture to the salad.  The final combination creates a perfect mix of salty and sweet.

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Strawberry Arugula salad (Serves 4)

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Pepper

Salad:

  • Bunch of fresh arugula
  • Goat cheese
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Fresh strawberries, chopped or sliced

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Combine ingredients for dressing in a bowl and whisk.  Set aside.  On individual salad plates assemble your salad.  Use the arugula as your base and top with strawberries, clumps of goat cheese and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.  Drizzle with salad dressing.  If you want to toss all of ingredients in a large bowl, you can.  It doesn’t look as pretty but tastes just as delicious.

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Delicious Mexican Food in Atlanta & DC

Posted in Atlanta, Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants, Washington DC on May 14th, 2010 by Betsy – 8 Comments

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I love Mexican food, in fact it’s one of my favorite genres of food.  It can be tricky to find good, Mexican cuisine that is safely gluten-free, as there are often language barriers and risks of contamination.  When we lived near Washington, D.C., I was lucky enough to find two Mexican places I loved: Tortilla Coast and Rosa Mexicano.  Much to my excitement, when we moved to Atlanta, I discovered that there’s a Rosa Mexicano in Atlantic Station, just a few miles from us.  David and I went to the Atlanta Rosa Mexicano last weekend and were just as pleased with our meal here as back in the District.

rosa_mexicano A word of warning: Rosa Mexicano is not your cheap, order by number, Mexican food.  Rosa Mexicano’s food is high-quality, with fresh, natural ingredients.  Not only does Rosa Mexicano serve great food, but they are gluten-free friendly, as they use corn tortillas and they fry their tortilla chips in a fryer that’s free from gluten.  If you check out Rosa Mexicano’s website, they even have a gluten-free menu.  The Atlantic Station restaurant didn’t actually have copies of the GF menu, but having perused the online version earlier, I had an idea of my GF options and what I wanted to order.  When going to Rosa Mexicano, or any restaurant, make sure that you double check with the chef about what’s gluten-free, even if they have a gluten-free menu.  Our waiter was very friendly and willing to run back and forth to the kitchen for us.  He double checked everything for us.

IMG_0841 If you go to Rosa Mexicano, you must get the guacamole that they prepare table side.  It’s so good, I want to lick the bowl.  Every last bit of guac gets scraped out of the dish’s crevices.  Their guacamole’s amazing, fresh, and you know exactly what’s in it because you see them make it.  (A celiac’s dream!)  As I mentioned before, the chips are gluten-free as are the tortillas so I can dip away!  David’s a competitive eater when it comes to guac, so I just have to make sure I eat quickly and/or hoard some of the avocado-goodness on my plate.  Normally I take my time when I eat, but it’s hard to maintain any manners when the guacamole is put on the table.  Every man (and woman) is left to fend for himself (herself).

IMG_0840 For my entrée, I usually go with one of the versions of the Tacos al asador: pork, steak or chicken.  These are actually more like fajitas than what I think of as tacos, and I love ‘building my own’ from the platter of meat, veggies, beans and rice.  On our most recent visit, David and I each got one order of tacos and shared.  I love being able to share at a restaurant!  David ordered the pork and I chose the chicken.  I don’t usually order chicken at restaurants, but Rosa Mexicano’s chicken tacos are delicious and I particularly look forward to the cheese, onions and peppers that are cooked with the chicken.  These dishes come with unlimited corn tortillas, and the black beans are speckled with cheese.  David and I splurged that night by ordering two entrees, but in the past we’ve just ordered the guacamole and one order of tacos, and it was plenty of food for the two of us.

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If you’re craving Mexican food and want a restaurant safe from gluten, you should definitely check out one of Rosa Mexicano’s locations in Atlanta, DC, Miami, L.A., or New York.  While the food’s a little pricier than most Mexican establishments, it’s worth the splurge.

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted in baking, recipe on May 12th, 2010 by Betsy – 3 Comments

Have you noticed that I haven’t been baking as much as I used to?  Still cooking, but not as much baking as I would like.  Life has been busy, which means less time in the kitchen for me.  Now that lacrosse season has finished up, and with the school year winding down, I’m hoping I’ll be breaking out the Kitchen Aid more often.

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Usually when I bake in my kitchen, I’m going for a moist (yes, I hate that word but I’m still going to use it) and gooey final product.  I tend to undercook my blondies and brownies, in order to ensure optimal gooiness.

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Sometimes though, I just want something a little different, like a crunch.  Chewy is yummy but last week felt a need for a little crunch in my sweetness.  I was inspired by Joy the Baker’s recipe for Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies and I decided to create a gluten-free version of this crunchy, chocolaty treat.  I cut her recipe in half and it still made about two dozen cookies. Plenty to take to our friends, Scott and Meredith, who cooked a great weeknight dinner for us, and more for the weekend.

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Delicious and an amazing crunch.  The texture of the oats and pecans was right up my alley. The cinnamon and nutmeg give your palate an added bonus.  The chocolate chips provide enough sweetness so you don’t feel like you’re getting robbed of dessert either.  David loved them and he’s not always a huge ‘oatmeal cookie’ fan.

Here’s what I did:

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies (Inspired by Joy the Baker)

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups gluten-free oats
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ¼ cup sorghum flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 and grease cookie sheet.  In a bowl, combine xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, oats, salt and spices.  Set aside.

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In a separate mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter with a mixer until creamy.  Add egg and continue to mix.  Add vanilla and beta until blended into the batter.  Add dried mixture to the mixing bowl and mix slowly until blended.  Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

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Put dough in balls onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes or until you’re satisfied with their doneness.  Cool briefly on cookie sheet then transfer to a wire rack.

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Enjoy!  If you’re feeling really indulgent, try these cookies with a creamy, sweet treat.  Scott and Meredith introduced us to the most ridiculous ice cream, Greater’s. This Ohio-based brand puts huge chocolate chunks in its various flavors for an absolutely rich and indulgent treat.  David and I are hooked.  Right now we have the mocha chip and chocolate chocolate chip in our freezer.  It’s absolutely worth a trip to the store.

Books are Gluten-Free!

Posted in advice on May 10th, 2010 by Betsy – 1 Comment

It always makes me chuckle when people ask for gluten-free gift suggestions.  Sure, they probably mean something involving gluten-free food, but there are many gift items that fall under the ‘gluten-free’ label.  Books are gluten-free but I wouldn’t suggest eating them.  I love reading just as much as I love cooking and I spend a good deal of time thinking about what I want to read next.  While I tend to be over eager, I’m hopeful nonetheless that I will read everything on my list.  I was inspired by Moxie’s post, “I Heart Books” so I thought I’d tell you what’s on my bedside table right now.

Some of these are just finished, others I’m halfway through, and a few are waiting to be opened.  I tend to read multiple books at once, so it’s no surprise that my list is lengthy, yet hopeful.  Have you read any on my list?  Thoughts?  What are you reading?  What’s on your reading list?

The Righteous Porkchop, Nicolette Niman: Niman addresses the history of the farming industry in America and the ethical (or lack thereof) practices in agriculture.

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A Place of my Own: The Architecture of Daydreams, Michael Pollan: One of the earlier books by the author of Omnivore’s Dilemma.

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Beatrice & Virgil, Yann Martel: The newest novel by the author of Life of Pi.  Finished it last week.  Completely fascinating yet quite disturbing.  Please let me know if you’ve read it because I’m yet to find someone to ‘debrief’ this book.

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Terra Madre, Carlo Petrini: Founder of Slow Food, Petrini discusses global solutions to the food crises.

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Local Flavors, Deborah Madison: I’m always reading cookbooks and this is my most recent love.  Great photos and beautiful stories.

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Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott: I genuinely don’t want this book to end so I’m slowly making my way through it.  If you like writing, this is a must-read.

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A Soft Place to Land, Susan Rebecca White: Young, local Atlanta author.  I’m reading this book with my summer book club.

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The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith: I’m reading this with my 8th graders that I tutor and really enjoying it.  A great summer read!

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Food Rules, Michael Pollan: Can you tell I love Michael Pollan? A great gift and easy read, this book offers simple tips regarding our relationship with and attitude towards food.

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A Year Without ‘Made in China,’ Sara Bongiorni: The author documents the year her family spent challenging themselves not to buy products made in China.

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Kate’s GF Brunch Extravaganza

Posted in Atlanta, recipe on May 7th, 2010 by Betsy – 6 Comments

Last Sunday I went to my friend, Kate’s, apartment in Piedmont Park for an incredible Sunday brunch.  I have known Kate for a long time.  In fact Kate and I lived together our freshman year of high school at boarding school.  Yes, that’s us, in September 1996 on the first day of school in our dorm room.

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Fall 1996: First Day of High School

Even though Kate is a gluten-eater, she was not intimidated by the thought of gluten-free cooking.  Most people, when posed with the task of creating a gluten-free brunch, stick to eggs, bacon and maybe potatoes.  While I love all of those breakfast items, I must say that Kate’s brunch was by far the most “gluten-feeling” brunch I’ve eaten.  Not only did Kate make a ridiculously delicious blueberry crumb cake, but she also made a gluten-free version of a strata.  You might be thinking, “What’s a strata?”  A strata is that delicious egg, bread, sausage and cheese casserole that you often find at brunches or family get togethers.  The strata (or egg casserole) was a staple in my family growing up.   Whenever we had houseguests, Mom made the casserole a day ahead and would heat it for Sunday brunch.  Needless to say, I was eager to call my mother to let her know that the egg casserole can be done gluten-free.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m always moved and amazed when friends make gluten-free food for me, and are eager to experiment in their own kitchen.  Kate took culinary risks to prepare this meal and was genuinely enthusiastic about the endeavor!  Since I’ve known Kate long enough, I didn’t mind being tacky and taking photos of her food.  She even shared her recipes with me so that you too, can make her gluten-free brunch dishes.  If you’re dreaming about the weekend (aah, Sunday brunch) on this Friday morning, and looking for some culinary inspiration, I suggest you read further.  Hopefully you won’t drool on your computer.

Fruit Salad with Poppyseed Dressing (serves 6-8)
This dressing is amazing!  I wanted to drink it out of the bowl with a straw.  I might use it for an arugula, strawberries and goat cheese salad this weekend.
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Ingredients:
Any combination of fresh fruit (1-2 cups of each fruit, sliced)
For poppyseed dressing:

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

- In a blender of food processor, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt
- While processing, slowly pour in vegetable oil in a steady stream
- Stir in poppy seeds
- Just before serving, combine all fruits in bowl and serve with poppy seed dressing

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Turkey (or Chicken) Sausage Strata (serves 6-8)

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Ingredients:

  • 6 slices GF white sandwich bread, cut into cubes (Kate used Whole Foods GF Bakehouse)
  • 1/2 cup shredded low fat-part skim mozzerella cheese
  • 1/2 lb. of turkey (or chicken) breakfast sausage, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

-Lightly coat a 1.5 quart baking dish with GF oil / cooking spray
-Layer bread, mozzerella cheese, sausage in baking dish
-In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, mustard; mix well
-Pour egg mixture over sausage mixture and sprinkle with parmesan cheese
-Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least for 6 hours
-Heat oven to 325 degrees; uncover and bake for 60-70 minutes
-Let stand 10 minutes before serving

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Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake (serves 6-8)

Anyone who hung out with me in college knows how much I love crumb cake.  I have not eaten any type of crumb cake in the last three years so I was eager to chow down.  The combination of blueberries, crunch pecans and the yummy, crumbly topping was delish.

crumbcakeIngredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose gluten-free all-purpose baking flour + 3/4 tsp Xanthan gum
  • 2 1/4 tsp. GF baking powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • large pinch of nutmeg and cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

For the crumb topping:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour + 1/8 tsp. Xanthan gum
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pecans

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- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter and flour an 8″ round cake tin, shaking out any floury excess. Set aside
- Prepare crumb topping by using fingers to work in the ingredients until you get pea-size crumbles.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the cake (flour + xanthan gum, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg + cardamom)
- In another bowl, blend the egg, yogurt, and canola oil
- Add the wet to dry ingredients and lightly blend (Be sure not to do this step too far in advance of placing the batter in the oven to  bake – the baking powder mixed with the wet ingredients will cause the batter to dry out if it sits too long)
-Stir in the blueberries until mixed through
- Pour batter into cake tin and sprinkle crumb topping over top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool, slice, and serve.

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A delicious, gluten-free brunch.  Kate’s another example of a friend who went above and beyond in order to accommodate her GF friends.  Always a treat!  Thank you, thank you.