Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pamela's Cookie Review: Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chunk

I have to confess something.  I have been meaning to write this review for a long time and I'm only doing it today because I wanted to eat a cookie.  My camera was handy so I thought I'd take a few shots of the cookies before I indulged.  Boy, do I feel industrious today!

I'll be doing reviews of Pamela's Ginger Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies in due course - probably on a day when I feel like eating a ginger cookie or a peanut butter cookie.

I really like the Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies that Pamela's Products makes.  They are soft, not crunchy - I like that.  The chocolate chunks are big and of a nice-quality chocolate for a packaged cookie.  In fact, I would say that these are better than most packaged cookies you can buy in the store, wheat or no wheat.  The only criticism I have is that they are a little inconsistent from package to package.  The most recent box of cookies I bought was a little drier than usual.  Usually they come out of the bag almost moist.
Pamela's cookies are all wheat-free and gluten-free.  Many of them, including the Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies, are also dairy-free, although the ingredients list does specify that they may contain traces of milk.  They are not vegan as they contain eggs.

As for value, I think that they are priced appropriately for high-quality gluten-free packaged goods.  There are nine cookies per box.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Petunia's Gluten-free Vegan Pastries at the Farmer's Market

Craving fresh-baked gluten-free pastries in Portland?  Check out Petunia's Pies and Pastries, a local Portland bakery that specializes in gluten-free, vegan, and delicious treats.

I had seen this bakery at the market a few times.   I didn't get a chance to try anything out until last Sunday when I caught them at the King market.  Almost everything in the display case is gluten-free.  I really enjoyed the Lime Coconut Square I tried.  The gluten-free crust was tender and light, and the coconut lime filling had just the right amount of tartness.  I enjoyed photographing it almost as much as eating it.  All of Petunia's pastries are beautifully decorated and displayed.  I'm sure to go again to indulge in a cookie, cupcake, or tart.

Getting gluten-free goods from a new vendor is always a little nerve-racking for people who are very sensitive to gluten.  When asked about the degree to which her baked goods are gluten-free, Petunia's owner Lisa Clark  wrote to me that she bakes in her home kitchen, which is licensed and inspected for food preparation.  She adds,  "There is almost never gluten in my home since I can't eat it, and if I ever bake with gluten it's at separate times, separate equipment, separate storage...etc."

Lisa also added that she would be at the PSU market next week, but may not be there again until September unless she gets called to fill in for a cancellation.  You can regularly find her at the King Farmers Market on Sundays.  You can also find these delicious pastries at the Interstate Farmers Market on Wednesday afternoons, and sometimes at the PSU Farmers Market on Saturdays.  In addition to the markets listed above, Petunia's will also be at the Pioneer Courthouse Square market when it opens June 21st.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Quick and Cheap Gluten-free Meal: Lamb and Asparagus

Springtime is the season for Lamb.  It's tender and flavorful now, and because it's the right time of year you can sometimes find a bargain.  I got this lamb shoulder on sale for $4.49/lb at Whole Foods (it's usually at least $6.50).  I picked up the asparagus at the Portland Farmer's Market.  I wouldn't call it a bargain at $3/bunch, but there was plenty of asparagus in there and it was just how I like it: the stalks were thin and very fresh.  I only used about half the bunch for this dish.  The whole meal cost me about $4.

I cook some variation of this meat-and-vegetable meal on a regular basis.  It takes about 10 minutes to cook, but if you have more time you might consider taking the lamb out of the fridge ahead of time to bring it up to room temperature before cooking.   This makes it easier to cook it medium-rare without getting a rare-rare spot around the bone.

Lamb shoulder steak
Olive oil

Turn on your stove to medium-high under a large cast-iron skillet.  Sprinkle the lamb shoulder steak with salt, pepper, and sage to taste.  Rinse your asparagus and cut off about 1.5 inches off the base.

When your skillet begins to smoke slightly put about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and spread it around.  Place the lamb in the oil and let it sear for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Turn it over and do the same.  Turn down the heat to medium-low and turn the steak over again, placing it off to the side.  Put the asparagus in the pan and sprinkle with salt.  After about 2 minutes (less if the cut of meat is thinner than 3/4 inch, more if the cut is thicker) turn the meat over again and stir up the asparagus.  After about two minutes more your meat is about medium-rare.  Make sure the vegetables are done enough and if so remove everything to a plate.  Scrape up any browning from the pan and drizzle the resulting sauce over your lamb and vegetables.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Gluten-free Gourmand Has a New Kitchen!

I haven't posted in a while, and I'd like to share with everyone my exciting reason why.  I moved!  I now have, among other things, a much nicer kitchen. 

I have plenty of ideas for new posts and recipes coming up, so stay tuned!