Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Cascadia (Soy Free) Vegan Vanilla Cupcake

New Cascadia Traditional has a new vegan vanilla cupcake.  I haven't liked all of their vegan pastries, but I've been avoiding dairy so the last time I was there I thought I'd give the new one a try.  I noticed that this one is soy-free, unlike many of their vegan fare, so I suspected they may have tried something new with this recipe.  I got halfway through it before I realized: it's amazing!  So amazing I need to take a picture!

It's nice and moist on the inside, with a really delectable crumb.  The frosting is topped with coconut.  Need I say more?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Petunia's GF Pastries in Portland Whole Foods

Good news!  There are now more gluten-free options in select Portland Whole Foods.  Petunia's Pies and Pastries will be available in the Pearl, Hollywood, Fremont and Laurelhurst locations. 

I went to visit the Petunia's booth at the PSU Farmers Market yesterday and picked up a slice of the Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap crust.  This is a gluten-free and vegan dessert like almost all of Petunia's offerings.  I loved the crust, and the "cheese" portion was nice and pumpkiny.  This one was a little on the sweet side for me, but I was not disappointed as far as flavor went.  Petunia's never ceases to surprise me with what can be created without dairy, eggs, or wheat.  Check out my other review of Petunia's here.

I'm really excited to be able to get some beautiful gluten-free desserts right in my local Whole Foods!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Iorio Restaurant Review

"I had given up on finding gluten-free Italian food in a restaurant," my dining companion said as we both perused the menu at Iorio's.  The server had just finished explaining the gluten-free options, which was practically everything on the menu.  They serve gluten-free pasta as well as gnocchi, and most of their battered dishes were GF as well.  (I apologize for not thinking to ask whether the frier is shared with gluten-containing foods).  It was difficult to choose from the menu.  I'm more accustomed to having only one option per restaurant!  We ended up splitting some dishes so we could try more things.

The calamari appetizer was excellent.  It was cooked just right - still tender inside - and the GF breading was nice and crispy.  I ordered the Eggplant Parmesan, which was also breaded with a different crispy breading.  While my pride will not let me say that it was better than my own recipe for the dish, I thought it was good.  My friend Deanna ordered the gnocchi, which was very tender and served in a tomato sauce.  Both dishes were a bit on the salty side for me, although Deanna told me later that she didn't notice, and she's used to salty foods.  I like salt, and with things that are deep fried I expect it. I don't mind salt to a point, but when it starts to interfere with tasting the tomato, I find that the dish loses balance.   On the other hand, I remember sauces being very salty in Italy, so I can't in good conscience dock them points for saltiness.  It's authentic!

I learned about Irio's gluten-free dining options while checking out the interactive map on  I made a reservation even though it was a Wednesday, which I would recommend doing as they were busy.  They were very friendly on the phone and asked if there were any food allergies they would be accommodating for the meal.  Our server was very knowledgeable about the menu and the ingredients of the dishes.  However, the service was a bit haphazard in other respects.  They lost my reservation, and it took them some awkward moments to recover from that.  It also took the server a long time to take our drink and meal orders.  I got the impression they may have been short-staffed that night.  In spite of these small hurdles, I would absolutely go there again.  The atmosphere was warm and inviting, and I felt confident in their knowledge and ability to prepare delicious gluten-free Italian food.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lamb Pot Roast with Gluten-free Gravy

I consider this one of my all-time best recipes.  It's gluten-free and dairy-free, and I could eat it all the time.
Recipe for Lamb Pot Roast with Gluten-free Gravy:
In a large heavy pot, heat:
2-3 Tbsp oil

When oil is heated, brown in the pan:
1/2 lb carrots
1 lb potatoes
1 small onion, halved

Remove these to a plate and set aside.  Add more oil to the pan if needed.  Add: 

2 lbs lamb shanks, legs, or blade steaks

Brown the lamb on all sides.  Add:  

2 tsp coriander (preferably whole)
2 tsp cumin (preferably whole)
2 tsp black peppercorns
Toast the spices for a moment, then add:
1 cup wine
2 cups chicken stock
half the potatoes that you've browned

Add water or more chicken stock if needed to bring the level of liquid up to an inch or so.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for several hours, covered, turning the meat and potatoes occasionally to cook both sides.  When the meat is fork tender, remove it and the potatoes to a plate.  Be sure no coriander or black pepper corns stick to the meat.  Strain the sauce with a fine-mesh seive into a bowl, and strain it again through a cloth if you'd like a really smooth sauce.  Turn the heat up and reduce the sauce for a  minute.  Then, reduce the heat and take the potatoes that are fully cooked and mash them into the sauce with a potato ricer or a potato masher.  Stir the fine mashed potatoes into the sauce to make a gravy.  Add water or chicken stock if the sauce is too thick.   Add the meat and the rest of the potatoes back to the sauce and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the carrots back to the pot and cook until just tender.  Serve hot with some good gluten-free bread.

Check out the Gluten-free Homemaker's blog carnival for more recipes featuring potatoes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Harvest Time

It was a rough year for vegetable gardens here in the Pacific Northwest, but I'm finally feeling like I am reaping a good harvest.  I found myself in the vegetable section of the store today, realizing that I didn't have to buy a single vegetable, and I hadn't for over a month.  I stopped by my community garden patch later and harvested this:

From the left, there are parsnips, a lemon cucumber, rainbow carrots, a big zucchini, a large crookneck squash, a chocolate bell pepper and some lemon drop peppers, which I've never had before but which are supposed to be spicy.

We've been lucky to have temperatures stay pretty warm so far this fall so I'm keeping my tomatoes out until next weekend.  Here are some tomatoes I picked last week:

The seeds strewn about are coriander.

I'm not sure what to do with these.  It's not quite enough tomatoes to make sauce, but it's too many to just eat in salads.  Maybe I'll roast them to make sun-dried tomatoes.  Then again, I did that last year and never used them!  Does anyone else have ideas?  How is your fall harvest?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Teff Sandwich Bread at New Cascadia Traditional

If you haven't been to New Cascadia Traditional yet, you should go.  If you have gone but you haven't tried their teff sandwich bread yet, you should try it!
It was the first full-sized sandwich I made in a long time.  I really liked the texture - it was very spongy and not at all dry.  The flavor is a little different, and very pleasantly whole-grain.  The bread has flax seeds on top which gives it an even earthier flavor.  The best thing about this bread is that it stays good for several days.  It doesn't get completely hard like most gluten-free bread products.  I've heard that it also freezes pretty well, although I tend to eat the whole thing once I get a loaf.

Have you tried the Teff Sandwich Bread at New Cascadia?  What did you think?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hawthorne Fish House Gluten-free Restaurant Review

 I have been hearing about the Hawthorne Fish House for a long time, and I finally got over there to try some gluten-free fish 'n chips for the first time in August.  Almost everything on their menu is gluten-free! The deep-fried fish is coated with some tasty rice flour.  I got the halibut.
My friend got the Chile-fried Catfish, which was even better than mine, but I didn't have an opportunity to get a shot of that before it was completely devoured.  I really liked the spicy breading.  They have several gluten-free beers in bottles - including all three styles of Green's.

Hawthorne Fish House has a very clearly-marked menu that has notes on what is and isn't gluten-free.  The restaurant has a very clever strategy for presenting their fish as not only the healthiest, but also the best in Portland.  Here's a little of what they say about their food:

"It's no accident we have Portland's Best Fish & Chips. Besides top quality fish and the best French fries on the market, we use 100% rice bran oil. The tastiest of all the cooking oils, it's not hydrogenated and contains no trans-fats. We filter the oil twice a day to keep it clean."

Overall, I think the food here was very good.  I ate out on the patio because it was summertime, which I was glad of.  The atmosphere inside was a bit on the drab side.  The food was really worth it, though.  I recommend it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gluten-free Gourmand's 100th Blog Post!

I haven't been blogging as much this summer due to good weather, but I'm finally here at my 100th post!
It's going to get pretty autumnal in Portland so I'll be doing some cool-weather cooking.  Some recipes I'll bring you this fall will include:

- Gluten-free pie crust
- Gluten-free butternut squash pie
- Lamb stew
- Home-made bread
- New GF pasta reviews
- Restaurant reviews
- More Gluten-free beer, of course

That's right - bread!  I've been baking up a storm and making headway on a new gluten-free bread recipe using my own special blend of flours.  I'm pretty excited about it, but it's not quite ready yet.  This is a teaser:
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This loaf collapsed a little; not enough xanthan gum, I think.  I'm trying to do this without eggs, so it's a bit of a challenge.

Well, wish me luck!

xoxo Gina