Archive for May, 2011

Gluten Free in D.C.

Posted in travel, Uncategorized, Virginia, Washington DC on May 26th, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment
Living Without's June/July Issue

Living Without's June/July Issue

As some of you know, I spent a significant part of my life calling the DC area “home.”  When I was diagnosed with celiac, I was living in Alexandria, Virginia, so my gluten-free journey started in our nation’s capital.  I recently had the opportunity to write another article for Living Without Magazine about traveling to Washington, D.C., in honor of the 4th of July.  This article (found in the June/July issue) highlights the festivities unique to our nation’s capital on this patriotic holiday, but is also useful for navigating the city any time of year.

My Article!

My Article!

Check out the restaurants and activities for yourself!  Doesn’t it make you want to take a quick trip to DC?  If you don’t have time to pick up a copy at Whole Foods, you can read “Happy Birthday America: Celebrate the 4th of July in Allergy-Friendly Washington, DC” online by clicking here.

We love DC: David and me at Obama's Inauguration

We love DC: David and me at Obama's Inauguration

Which of these restaurants and sights are favorites of yours?  Anything I left out?

Cupcakes, Cozy Dinners & Chris Rock: Another Day in NYC

Posted in bakery, travel, Uncategorized on May 24th, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

nyc2tulus

David and I continued our trip through New York City on Saturday afternoon with a stop at Tu-Lu’s Bakery.  I’ve written about Tu-Lu’s before, when she first opened, a year and a half ago.  What began as a bakery with a few cookies and brownies, has exploded into panninis, coffee cakes, muffins, cakes, croutons, cookies, and other treats. Tu-Lu’s bakery offers vegan and dairy free options as well, but everything is gluten free.  Owner, Tully Lewis, is gluten free herself and she understands the need for delicious gluten-free products.

Over the course of our weekend, we managed to stop by Tu-Lu’s twice.  Yes, twice!  I showed no restraint while in the Big Apple.  On my first trip, David enjoyed a chocolate chip cookie, and I bought one of their special cupcake flavors: chocolate chip.  It combined two of my favorite things: cake and chocolate chips!  Tu-Lu’s mix of rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour makes for a great base, but each of her goodies has been perfected and tweaked for the best flavor.  There are no funky after tastes with these treats and I would absolutely recommend Tu-Lu’s if you’re visiting New York City.  If you live in New York, consider ordering one of her beautiful cakes for a special, gluten-free occasion.  And of course, I purchased some treats to go, as well.

nyc2tulu

Tu-Lu's Chocolate Chip Cupcake...yum!

Since we enjoyed a late breakfast at Friedman’s and an afternoon snack at Tu-Lu’s, we skipped lunch on Saturday.  We also knew that we would be eating dinner on the early side because we were going to see a show that night.  (I love all things plays and musicals, so I couldn’t fathom being in New York and not buying tickets to a Broadway show.  David nicely complied.)

Il Buco

Il Buco

On Saturday night, we went to Il Buco for dinner.  This Mediterranean inspired restaurant feels warm and cozy on the inside, with pots and pans hanging from the ceiling.  I love the combination of rustic, yet elegant and I immediately fell in love with Il Buco when we stepped inside.  As I mentioned, we were early diners because we were seeing a play at 8:00 so we got to see the restaurant transform from a quiet hidden gem, to a bustling restaurant, full of good people watching.

Il Buco: So cozy

Il Buco: So cozy

Even during Il Buco’s transformation from quiet to hectic, over the next two hours, we were the recipients of amazing service the entire time.  I was so impressed by the attention we got and how much our server communicated with the chef about our orders.

While a significant amount of Il Buco’s menu involves some form of pasta, there were plenty of appealing options for me.  We started with the olives marinated in lemon zest, basil and rosemary that were meaty and delicious.  This mix of three different types of olives, was a perfect commencement to the meal, especially since I can’t enjoy the typical bread served at the beginning.

Olives marinated in lemon zest

Olives marinated in lemon zest

For an appetizer, David and I shared the beef carpaccio which I had never tried before but every bite was lovely. This dish included Niman Ranch grass fed beef fillet, marinated artichokes, and salmoriglio (whatever that is!).

As an entrée I branched out and tried the wreckfish with a tapenade and grilled artichokes, that came highly recommended by our server.  I tend to be a little nervous about ordering fish that I’ve never tried before, but I wanted to be a little more adventurous, and had enjoyed a fairly meat-heavy dinner the previous night at Perilla.

Il Buco's Wreckfish

Il Buco's Wreckfish

Il Buco was such a lovely dining experience and I will absolutely go back here the next time I’m in New York.  Even though it’s not a restaurant that advertises “gluten-free,” they were so hospitable and accommodating, that it’s definitely worth the trip.  You should make reservations, as it’s a very popular restaurant and not a large space.

After our dinner, we hopped back into a cab, and back to Broadway to see a production of The Mother F**ker with the Hat.  (Yes, you read that correctly.  That’s the name of the play.)  This intense, 90 minute show, stars Chris Rock and four other actors.  Recently nominated for a Tony for Best Play, “The Mother F-er with the Hat” is not the comedy you’d expect from Chris Rock.  It’s dark, emotional and quite depressing but David and I would both agree that we’re glad we saw it and it was very moving.  I grew up watching Chris Rock in Saturday Night Live and it was fun to see him on stage.  The other actors were gripping in their roles and I was definitely entertained.  (Note: While I loved the play, I would not bring children to this show or my in-laws, who I love dearly, but don’t think think it’s a great fit.  So, decide for yourself if it’s right for you.)  Get your tickets now because it’s only showing on Broadway for a limited time.

After the play finished, I made David wait outside the theater’s side entrance so we could watch the actors leave.  Nicely, David complied.  (David’s compliance is a theme, in case you can’t tell.)  For 45 minutes, we watched the actors leave one-by-one, and interact with the fans as they departed.  I’m not a big autograph person, but they signed autographs and thanked everyone for coming to the show.  I was quite star struck.

I couldn't help but snap a photo of Chris Rock!

I couldn't help but snap a photo of Chris Rock!

We then went out for a drink at a swanky hotel bar and called it a night.  Such a great (gluten-free) day for us in this fun city!  Stay tuned for our final 24 hours in NYC.

Recap:

Tu-Lu’s Bakery – 338 East 11th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenue) – New York, NY 10003

Il Buco – 47 Bond St # 1 – New York, NY 10012-2450 – (212) 533-1932

Mother F**ker with the Hat – Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre – 236 West 45th Street (Between Broadway and 8th Avenue)- New York NY 10036

Game, Set, Match, Gluten Free

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19th, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

Some athletes credit Gatorade, others hard work and determination, but recently tennis player, Novak Djokovic, attributed his most recent success to his gluten-free diet.  In the last year Djokovic learned that he is allergic to gluten and since altering his diet, his tennis game has consistently improved.  Last weekend Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal for the fourth straight time.

Novak-Djokovic

Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal, “The Diet that Shook up Tennis?” to learn more about Djokovic’s success on the court.  He’s in good company with Super Bowl champion, Drew Brees.

Apples are Gluten-Free: Visiting the Big Apple

Posted in Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized on May 18th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Recently, David and I made a trip to New York, and I must admit, I took advantage of every opportunity to enjoy this city that’s a gluten-free diner’s delight.  There were many places I wanted to try and sadly, I wasn’t able to get to all of them. Not for a lack of trying though!  We walked all over the city, exploring neighborhoods, checking out the sites and enjoying some delicious meals.  In fact, we did so much that I’ve got to split this trip into three different posts because I don’t want to overload you with information.  I don’t think I could ever live in NYC, but I plan on visiting more frequently than I have in the past, once every five years!

On Friday afternoon we arrived in NYC, checked into our hotel and immediately set out to explore, before meeting up for drinks at Extra Virgin Restaurant with our friend, CJ.  We wandered around the West Village, looking at shops and enjoying the people watching.  After a great visit with CJ, who mapped out the whole city for us, we set out for our first Big Apple dining experience.  We had reservations at Perilla, owned by Top Chef’s Season 1 winner, Harold Dieterle.  While I didn’t have any Harold sightings, I thoroughly enjoyed his restaurant.  Located in Greenwich Village, Perilla opened in 2007, and describes its cuisine as “Seasonal American.”  There are only eighteen tables in the entire restaurant and ten bar stools so you definitely want to make reservations.

nycperilla

We sat at our cozy table and devoured every bite of our meals. For an appetizer, I ordered the slow poached chicken egg that came on a very springy bamboo rice with arugula.  The bright green of the rice looked beautiful with the fresh yolk on top.  (They served mine without the mustard crumble on top, as it contains gluten.)  For my entrée I chose the lamb chop that normally is served with orzo.  Instead, the chef substituted some of the meatiest, most flavorful mushrooms I’ve ever eaten.  Those veggies could have been a meal in themselves.  The lamb chop was huge, amazing and perfectly tasty.  I definitely “out ordered” David.  Luckily, there was plenty to share.  Even though Perilla’s service was not the best I’ve ever had, we still left Perilla happy that we’d made the selection because of the food and the atmosphere.  (I thought the sub par service might just be an NYC thing, but all of our other dining experiences in NYC were accompanied with great service.)

nyc1chelsealogo

On Saturday morning, David and I woke up with no plans until dinner that evening.  We decided to follow Elaney’s suggestion and head to Chelsea Market, in the Meatpacking District, which originally housed the National Biscuit Company in the late 19th century. This industrial building now houses many shops, eateries and other cool spots.  Being that “sleeping in” for David and me is 8:00, we were some of the first people on the street that morning.  When we arrived at Chelsea Market, we enjoyed having the place to ourselves, and wandering about, peeking in the windows of the not yet opened stores. We enjoyed some Ninth Street Espresso coffee and the rare opportunity to just be together, with nothing else going on.  (Our lives have been a tad bit busy recently!)

Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market

We sipped our coffee and waited for Friedman’s Lunch to open at 10:00.  I had spotted this restaurant’s menu online and noticed that they star the items on their menu that can be made gluten free, and according to their menu, almost all items, including pancakes and cheddar waffles (wow!), can be created to accommodate a gluten-free diner.  So I had to check Friedman’s out for myself.  Of course we were some of the first customers in the door at 10:05.  (We’re obviously not trendy New York diners that eat brunch at 2:00 in the afternoon.  I was proud of myself for waiting until ten!)  Our server was very friendly, accommodating and willing to answer all of our questions.  She tries to eat gluten free too, so she had many recommendation and I felt comfortable that I was getting a carefully made gluten-free meal.

nycfriedmansmenu

nyc1friedmansexterior

I ordered the gluten-free pancakes and David sweetly ordered his pork flautas to be gluten free, so we could share.  We enjoyed more coffee and eagerly waited for our meal.  My pancakes were some of the most delicious pancakes I’ve eaten since going gluten free.  They were perfectly cakey and fluffy and they looked different enough from the gluten pancakes the diner next to me was enjoying, so I didn’t live in fear that I had eaten the wrong ones!  The berries on top were a fun touch that made me feel like I was dining out, and not eating pancakes in my house.

nyc1friedmanpancakes

David’s pork flautas, a Mexican dish, that’s basically shredded pork, wrapped in corn tortillas and fried (in a GF fryer, of course), were amazing.  They were accompanied with a beautiful egg on top and what seemed like an entire avocado.  A very hearty brunch dish that was perfectly savory while my pancakes were wonderfully sweet.

nyc1porkflatas

Friedman’s is a definite recommendation, whether you’re gluten free or not.  They have gluten-free bread, so all of their sandwiches can be made gluten free.  It was so good, we really thought about going back to Friedman’s on Sunday but decided to try other spots instead.

View from the Highline

View from the Highline

After a truly indulgent brunch, and now completely wired on caffeine, we set out for a walk along the Highline, on Manhattan’s Westside.  Originally designed in the 1930s, to keep freight trains off the streets of New York, it’s now a public park.  This beautiful walk above the city, will ultimately be a mile and a half, upon completion.  The Highline truly is a breath of fresh air in the middle of the city.  I was amazed by the greenery planted between the railroad tracks, the beautiful benches, and that it was open to everyone.  You have to see the photos to understand this unique “park.”  This walk was the perfect way to get a different perspective of the city, and move around after our yummy breakfast.

nyc1highlineflowers3

nyc1highlineflowers2

For the remainder of our Saturday, we walked endless miles around the city, going in and out of shops, checking out the neighborhoods and learning to navigate our way around the city.  We were just biding our time until our next meal…

nychighlinetreepurple

Most Dramatic Premier Ever? Ashley debuts as the Bachelorette next Monday

Posted in TV on May 17th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

I tried to fight the urge but I couldn’t…

This time next week we will have met the 25 dudes that are vying for Ashley Hebert’s (Brad Womack’s reject) love in the fifteenth season of Bachelor/Bachelorette.  I’ve got to admit, I’m not as giddy as I normally am about Monday night’s premier, but I’m not a quitter, so I’ll give it a try.  Ashley annoyed me last season and it really irks me that ABC describes her as a dentist, even though she’s yet to finish dental school.  (It’s as if I’ve convinced myself that The Bachelor is a really honest program and Ashley’s profession is the one aspect of the show that’s a lie.)

Ashley, do blonds or brunettes really have more fun?

Ashley, do blonds or brunettes really have more fun?

I do find that 25 bachelors can be a bit refreshing after 25 crying, shrieking, annoying bachelorettes.  Let’s just hope that none of these bachelors are trying to “guard and protect their hearts.”  And I’m SURE they’re all on the show for the right reasons.  Go to The Bachelorette page on ABC’s website, to start placing your bets and picking favorites.  It looks like these boys are all much closer to Ashley’s age than Brad.  And ABC still gives you their tattoo count.  (Come on, ABC, give us something a little more creative.  Tattoo count is like so season 10!)

Some easily answerable questions to get you ready for the premier:

  • Will Monday night give us the most dramatic rose ceremony ever?  Probably not, but ABC will do its best to convince us otherwise.
  • Will Chris Harrison continue his upward trend of getting more and more personality each season and sharing his snarky comments with us, the viewers?  I sure hope so!
  • Will Ashley cry at least once an episode?  Most likely.
  • Will at least one of the bachelors have a fledgling music career?  Almost definitely.
  • Will it be revealed that one of the dreamiest guys has an old flame at home who he still has a texting relationship with? I’d be willing to place bets.
  • Will I be watching the premier on Monday, May 23?  Chris Harrison, you had me at hello.
Please don't cry Ashley. It's not like you're actually going to end up with any of these guys.

Please don't cry Ashley. It's not like you're actually going to end up with any of these guys.

Who are your early favorites for Ashley?  Any clear duds after reading the Bachelor bios?

And, just to get you in the mood:

Bachelor Nick

Bachelor Nick

From Nick’s Bio (age 26, personal trainer/former Yankees player):  What is a typical Saturday night like for you? A pair of tight jeans, cowboy boots, country music, good friends, and line dancin’!

I would like to follow up with this question: Nick, does your typical Saturday night involve you in the hip huggers or a female sporting the tight jeans?  It’s a little unclear.

Bachelor West

Bachelor West

From West (age 30, lawyer from South Carolina).  Yes, there’s another dude named West on the show.  It went so well with the first one:

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring with you and why? A boat? Why does no one ever say boat or a radio transmitter? Okay, I’d bring a lifetime supply of pizza, Mila Kunis, and a volleyball. Mila and I could play volleyball and if something ever happened to her I could name the volleyball Wilson and talk to it.

Really good way to pick up chicks, West.  Talk about how you want to be stranded on a desert island with one of the hottest girls in show business who happened to have a hot and heavy girl-on-girl scene with Natalie Portman, the next hottest girl in Hollywood.  That’s your sure ticket to get a rose, West.

PS: Does anyone know what’s going on with Brad and Emily?

Whole Foods Market Hosts 3rd Annual Gluten-Free Expo

Posted in Atlanta, event on May 16th, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

If you’re in town this weekend you should check out the following invitation from the West Paces Ferry Road Whole Foods…

Join us for a day of all things GLUTEN FREE! Our 3rd Annual Gluten Free Expo will be held on Saturday, May 21st from 12:00pm-4:00pm at Whole Foods Market Buckhead.  We are hosting a diverse roster of gluten free vendors and representatives from the Atlanta Metro Celiac Society, as well as will feature the plethora of gluten free products from around the store.

Whole Foods Market – 77 West Paces Ferry Road Northwest – Atlanta, GA 30305 – (404) 324-4100

“It’s a marvelous night for a Moondance”

Posted in bakery, dessert, GF product on May 13th, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

md box

Recently, the folks at Moondance Gluten-Free Desserts sent me a package with a variety of their treats.  The first time I ever tried a Moondance goodie, was in California a few years ago on wine tour vacation with David.  It was the one year anniversary of my celiac diagnosis and I remember my Moondance fudge brownie being perfectly chocolatey and a yummy treat on an afternoon in Sonoma, between vineyards.  (Ah, what a vacation.)

Just feeling a little nostalgic about our trip...

Just feeling a little nostalgic about our trip...

My most recent indulgence in Moondance did not include brownies but three other sweet items: chocolate chip cookie bars, Mexican Wedding Cookies and chocolate crinkle cookies.  Delicious!  All three of these goodies tasted homemade, or fresh from a bakery, not straight from a box, like so many store bought items.

mdblondies

Of course I immediately went for their chocolate chip cookie bar, which is a blondie bar with mini chocolate chips.  While I can’t say it’s better than my homemade version, these bars are pretty darn good.  Moondance manages to make these bars with a hint of butteriness (is that a word?) making them taste so fresh and not processed.  Perfect with a bowl of ice cream or by themselves.  I like to heat mine up in the microwave for about ten seconds before indulging.  Mmm…

md wedding

The Mexican wedding cookies, butter cookies with pecans and coated in powdered sugar, didn’t handle the trip very well and were in pieces upon arrival but this didn’t stop me from eating them.  Perfectly buttery and not overbearingly sweet.  These treats are perfect with afternoon tea, reminding me a little of shortbread, but with the added bonus of powdered sugar.

md crinkle

Lastly, the chocolate crinkle cookie, a fudge cookie rolled in powdered sugar.  David claimed these cookies as his favorite of the bunch and asked for them with ice cream each night.  (I tried not take it personally that he chose these over my monster cookies.)  The chocolate crinkle cookies are lightly crisp on the outside, yet chewy on the inside.  I love the use of powdered sugar on both the Mexican wedding cookies and the crinkles.

md blondcrinkle

I would highly recommend heading to Whole Foods (their Paces Ferry location has Moondance goodies) or the nearest location to you, that sells Moondance Desserts, and sampling these treats for yourself.  They also make brownies and cheesecakes, so you have a variety of options to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Have any of you tried Moondance Desserts?  What are your favorites?

Spring Pesto

Posted in cooking, recipe, vegetarian on May 11th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

basil final

Last summer I wrote “An Ode to My Food Processor.”  As sad as it was to say goodbye to my mini-food processor, we upgraded to the next level.  This past weekend we broke out the new, bigger, shinier, and improved food processor, to make one of our favorite recipes: pesto.

basil process We were particularly excited to make pesto because we’ve been growing our own basil.  I have many dreams of being a farmer, but sadly our backyard doesn’t have great sunlight.  In attempting to develop our green thumbs, David and I are growing basil, rosemary and thyme in pots.  And boy are they growing.  (I don’t think we can take any credit for it though…mother nature’s pretty amazing.)

basil plant

This was our first time to really dig into the basil and we had enough leaves for a beautiful batch of pesto.  We used it for pesto chicken pasta with tomatoes and chicken.

Cook’s Illustrated’s pesto recipe involves roasting garlic and some other involved steps.  It was late Sunday afternoon and I wanted to make the batch quickly, so I bypassed the complicated parts and just through all the ingredients into the food processor.

basilfinal3

Simple Pesto (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basil leaves tightly packed
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Salt & pepper

Place all ingredients into the food processor and mix until smooth, or about a minute.  You may need to stop occasionally to scrape down the sides.  It’s also good to taste as you go.  I ended up adding a little more olive oil and parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If you’re making the pesto ahead of time, transfer pesto into a bowl and put saran wrap tightly over the actual pesto so that air can’t get to it, causing it to lose some of its beautiful bright green.

basil proces2

We grilled bone-in chicken breasts on the grill and cut them up.  (You can also cook boneless chicken breasts on the stove top but I found the flavor of the grilled bone in to be far superior.)  Cook pasta according to cooking instructions.  Once cooked, drain immediately and transfer pasta to a bowl.  Add chopped baby tomatoes, chicken, and pesto.  Toss gently until pasta is covered with pesto.  Dig in!

*We used bionaturae gluten-free spaghetti for this dish.  It’s one of my favorite brands.

basil final2

Enjoy!  What do you like to make with your food processor?  We definitely don’t use ours enough and I would like to put it to more use.

Thoughts on Grilled Chicken

Posted in Uncategorized on May 6th, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

When I recently hosted a little dinner party and made wild rice casserole, I also fired up the grill and prepared grilled chicken.  Normally when David and I grill chicken, we use bone-in chicken breasts.  David’s sister, Heidi, introduced us to the beauty of the bone-in chicken breast on the grill.  It’s pretty hard to overcook those suckers and the skin crisps up so nicely.

I do understand though, that the bone-in chicken breast can be a bit intimidating so I wanted to experiment with grilling boneless chicken breasts, which seem to be more of the norm in Americans’ backyard cooking.  (It’s amazing to me how we tend to avoid cooking chicken or other meats that include the bone…cooking bone-in meat results in a much more tender, moist and flavorful final product.) sara_foster

I referred to Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day cookbook for a guide to grilling boneless chicken breasts.  This cookbook always has recipes that are manageable, easy to follow and don’t require a bunch of random ingredients.  While the recipes are fresh and simple, Foster’s food always looks gourmet.  I used her basic grilling marinade, which involves lemons, white wine, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs.  Simple, easy and naturally gluten-free.

chickgrill

Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts (From Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day)

Serves 4 (I doubled the following recipe.)

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I used rosemary and thyme we’re growing in our front yard.)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

Rinse chicken breasts, pat dry with paper towels and put them in a shallow glass dish.  Drizzle with the wine and olive oil, sprinkle with the herbs shallot and garlic.  Turn several times to coat the chicken evenly.  Place the lemon slices on top of the chicken, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.  Bring chicken breasts to room temperature before cooking.

Prepare a hot fire in charcoal or gas grill.  (We now have a fancy-dancy gas grill…once you go gas, it’s hard to go back!)

chickgrill4

Remove chicken breasts from the marinade, season with s&p, and lay on the hottest part of the grill for 5 to 7 minutes.  (This was a little tricky for me since I was grilling two times the amount…I rotated locations throughout the cooking process.)  Spoon the marinade on the chicken while it cooks.  While the chicken is grilling, cook the lemon slices for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until slightly charred.  Transfer slices to a platter.

Move the chicken to the side of the grill, away from direct heat, close the lid, and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, until juices run clear when cut with a sharp knife.  Cover loosely with foil and let rest for about 5 minutes.

chickgrill2

Sara Foster also provides a variety of ‘topping’ recipes to go with the grilled chicken such as tomato sauce with basil and Chipotle Ceasar dressing, but I left this chicken plain, as I wanted the rice casserole to be the star of the meal.  The chicken went nicely with the wild rice casserole and grilled Brussels sprouts.

Final Verdict: I still prefer bone-in chicken breasts on the grill, but these birds were yummy and you could really taste the citrus, garlic and herbs from the marinade.  I made extra so that I could enjoy the leftovers, in the form of open faced chicken sandwiches with melted cheese and mustard, for the rest of the week.  Definitely a good decision.  I’m always planning my next meal…

Bone-in chicken...the grilling champion

Bone-in chicken...the grilling champion

Wild Rice Casserole & Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

Posted in baking, cooking, recipe, vegetarian on May 3rd, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

One of my favorite foodie writers is Heidi Swanson, creator of the blog, 101 Cookbooks.  I love her photographs, recipes and writing style.  I feel like she and I would be friends…if she knew me.   All of Heidi’s recipes are vegetarian, yet filling and full of flavor.  In the past, you’ve seen me make her Brussels sprouts and chunky lentil soup, two of my all time favorites.  One of my most tattered, well-loved, cookbooks on my shelf is Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking.

swansoncover

For the last year, I’ve been following on 101 Cookbooks that Heidi was hard at work on a new cookbook.  Of course the moment it hit shelves, I ordered a copy of Super Natural Every Day: Well Loved Recipes from my Natural Foods Kitchen from Amazon.  Heidi’s personality and flavors are pervasive throughout the book.  The formatting and style is similar to her first cookbook, but she organizes it differently and of course, the recipes are new.  Because she cooks vegetarian, Heidi uses a lot of unique grains and flours, which appeals to the gluten-free girl in me.  While not everything Heidi makes is GF, it’s easy to navigate around those pages and even the recipes I can’t copy verbatim, I find to be inspirational in my own culinary endeavors.

Last week I had my “Fight Club” over for dinner.  This group of girls that I meet with weekly has played a huge role in why I love Atlanta so much.  It’s hard to believe that 18 months ago, I didn’t know any of them!  Since it was a Ladies’ Dinner, I decided this would be the perfect time to break out Super Natural Every Day. I also knew that I wanted to use the grill and didn’t want to be running back and forth between the kitchen and the back yard.  Heidi’s wild rice casserole stuck out to me because all of the prep can be done ahead of time and then it just bakes in the oven, leaving me to do my thing on the grill.

swanson2

The wild rice casserole involves quite a few steps along the way and some chopping but it’s worth the work.  AND, when your guests arrive, you’ll no longer be laboring away, but looking relaxed and ready to sit and chat with friends, not slave over the stove.

This yummy recipe makes rice flavorful and adds depth to a grain that, in its most traditional state, can be so bland.  I didn’t change a thing about the recipe and it turned out really well.  I might add a little more salt, but other than that, it was delicious.  And, even better the next day, and the next day, and the next day, for leftovers!  The cottage cheese, sour cream and gruyere cheese complement the rice but also don’t overpower it.  You don’t feel like you had a sour cream and cheese casserole with rice, if you know what I mean.  While this is a hearty dish, it doesn’t feel ‘wintry.’  In fact it was perfect for a spring night on the porch.

Wild Rice Casserole (from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook)

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice and/or brown rice (I used a combination and I really liked the different textures)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped  fresh thyme

swanscheese

Preheat oven to 350 with oven rack in top third of oven.  Rub a medium to large casserole/baking dish with butter or olive oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, mustard and ½ teaspoon salt.

In a large skillet over high heat, combine the olive oil and a couple pinches of salt.  Stir in the mushrooms.  Stir them once to coat with olive oil, then let them cook until liquid is released and evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Continue to cook and stir every few minutes, until mushrooms are browned.  Add the onion and cook until translucent and tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.  Remove from heat.  Add cooked rice to the skillet and mix.

swansononion

Add the rice mixture to the cottage cheese mixture and stir until well combined.  Put entire mixture into your casserole dish.  Cover with 2/3 of the cheese and cover with aluminum foil.

swansprecook

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove tin foil.  Cook for another 20-30 minutes until cheese looks brown but not burned. Top casserole with remaining cheese and thyme.  Serve warm.

Enjoy!  What’s your favorite Heidi Swanson recipe?

swanson2