Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nomato products - tomato free pasta sauce, salsa, barbecue sauce and ketchup

Nomato Gluten-Free Pasta and Pizza Sauce (No Tomatoes)Since I've essentially been away for two and a half weeks now, the contents of my refrigerator are getting kind of scarce. On the upside, searching through it last night for a jar of roasted red peppers led me to discover that I still had an open jar of Nomato sauce that I had picked up in upstate New York earlier in the year. Unfortunately, the roasted red peppers had seen better days and were discarded but I did boil up some pasta instead. For those that don't know, I really can't eat too many tomatoes. Ketchup for some reason doesn't bother me in the least but as far as pasta sauce goes, more than a couple tablespoons or so and I'll be sick.

Nomato is a small company in PA that produces four tomato free products: Pasta sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce and salsa. They sell online at http://www.nomato.com or at a small list of regional stores: http://www.nomato.com/stores.htm

I've only ever tried the pasta sauce and it wasn't bad. They seem to use a blend of carrots and beets and the sauce itself is the right color. The pasta does get a slight purplish tinge to it however. It wasn't as good as Mom's tomato sauce and to be honest since I can tolerate small amounts of her sauce, I won't be switching to Nomato's product. I did however, want to share the existence of this company with anyone else who may be avoiding Tomatoes completely. Since their distribution is so small, I doubt I'll be trying their other products, although if you do, please note it in the comments below.

And as a side note, their product line is dairy and gluten free as well.

Update (3/6/08) - this is now also available online from the Gluten-Free Mall here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cruising Gluten and Dairy Free with Princess Cruise Line


For those of you who noticed a lull in posting here, I was away the week after Thanksgiving on a cruise on Princess Cruise Line. (I was then stuck commuting into NYC for a training class for a week - my was it wonderful to go from 80 degrees in San Juan to 18 degrees in Manhattan!)

Anyhow, before booking the cruise I poked around online and found that Princess seemed to be one of the better lines for those following a GF diet. Overall it was a pretty positive experience with just a few caveats.

In the main dining room, any time you mention a food allergy to a waiter, he immediately summons the head waiter who then takes your order. I had selected any time dining which meant that at each dinner I had a new waiter, but always the same head waiter. The head waiter also brings the following night's menu and recommends the dishes that could be modified to accommodate your food issues (in my case, mostly gluten and dairy).

The down side to this approach is that the waiter (the person who picks up the order in the kitchen and delivers it) is sort of out of the loop. My second time eating in the dining room, I had veal cutlets (without the Marsala sauce) that had been dredged in flour. It was hard to be sure there was flour on it, until I took the first bite. Thinking it possible they had a GF flour (such as brown rice flour) on board, I decided to double check. Nope, turns out the chef had removed the sauce but not the dredging. They replaced the dinner and the head waiter became even more attentive to details afterwards. Mistakes do happen, but I think had the waiter been involved in the ordering, he may have caught the mistake before it was brought out.

At my third dinner in the dining room, I had GF spaghetti in garlic and olive oil as an appetizer. The waiter brought the plate out followed by a second waiter with a bowl of Parmesan - the head waiter intercepted him and waived him off. Again, their hearts are in the right place but in having the head waiter as the only point of contact, the other staff isn't as informed as they could be.


On one of the days we weren't getting into port until late, I decided to try the dining room for breakfast. Since they had GF pasta at dinner I figured I'd ask the breakfast head waiter what my options were. Other than bacon and eggs (I can't really eat pork or any more than a fraction of an egg) he offered an assortment of Kellogg's cereals with Rice or Corn in their names. I explained the joys of "Malt" and the fact that this ruled these cereals out and returned to the breakfast bars I brought from home (thank you EnviroKids) and the many fruit options at the breakfast buffets.

Now for the positives:

1) Eating at a different table each night, I met a lot of different people, including one woman who is allergic to milk. No, not intolerant, actual "rush me to the hospital" allergic. She was thrilled with how careful everyone was being and at the fact that she was being fed so well. If she felt safe, then that is a pretty solid endorsement.

2) The grill out by the pool had a menu on which the only fried food was french fries. This meant by default these french fries were fried in a dedicated frier! I see nothing wrong with a large bowl of french fries as a snack! :-)

3) There were three buffet rooms on the ship, at least one of which (and as many as all three of which) was open at all times 24 x 7. The staff at the buffet instantly knew (or, if as was rarely needed, instantly found out) the ingredients of all of the buffet items. There were certainly some items I couldn't eat (lots of rice dishes had butter) but plenty of others that I could.

Overall the dining on the cruise was a good experience. No, not perfect, but then again my own mother tapes her flour canister shut before I visit for dinner so she doesn't accidentally gluten me!

As with dining out anywhere, make sure you ask and double check on everything. I would certainly consider another cruise with Princess in the future!

And then Gluten Free Sesame Chicken for lunch today!

My GF tour of the Bergen County area continued at lunch today. I stopped by Peter Wong's Homemade Ice Cream & Asian Cafe in Montvale today. Unfortunately, the woman who greeted me at the front of the restaurant didn't speak English very well and had no idea what I meant when I asked about eating gluten free.

Luckily, before I left, the owner came in and assured me that there were a number of GF options on their menu. They are even working on an actual GF menu, but it hasn't been published yet. In addition to anything not breaded, one of the dim sum dumplings was made with rice flour and he mentioned that they could even make Sesame Chicken using a corn starch coating. I stopped him at that point as I was sold and ordered the Sesame Chicken for lunch. It was quite good and I can't wait to return and try some of their other menu items. (Note: the soy sauce on the tables has wheat but the take out packets are from WY Industries and do not.)


Here are some important details:
Peter Wong's Homemade Ice Cream & Asian Cafe
26G Chestnut Ridge Road
Montvale, NJ 07645
201-391-2797
(located in the strip mall with The GYM)
BYOB

Hours:
T-R: 11:30am - 9:00pm
Fri: 11:30am - 9:30pm
Sat: 12:00pm - 9:30pm
Sun: 12:00pm - 9:00pm
Closed on Mondays

Yet again, if you work or live in this area (or at some point are passing through) stop by and give them a try!

I ordered a sandwich for lunch yesterday!!!

I ordered a sandwich for lunch yesterday! No, I didn't just order the contents of a sandwich (as I usually do), I ordered an actual sandwich! I had roast beef with mixed greens and roasted peppers on Sunflower seed bread. It was pretty good and it was reasonably priced. It turns out that yet another GF option has opened here in Northern NJ. This one is a brand new GF sandwich shop/GF store in Westwood:

Livin' Gluten Free
419 Broadway
Westwood, NJ
201-383-0392
(there is a large yellow Livin' Gluten Free sign in the window and they are across Broadway from Iron Horse.)

Hours:
M-F: 10am - 6pm
Sat: 9am - 4pm
Sun: Closed


Unfortunately for me, all of the desserts in the display case had dairy in them (although they did have Arico Cookie Bars so lunch wasn't dessert free!). They do have a limited amount of gluten free groceries for sale as well, and assorted frozen items in a large white unlabeled freezer. For sandwiches they have a full line of Thumans products with a choice of different Schar breads and rolls (not sure what brand the Sunflower Seed bread was but all their breads were dairy free). Everything in the store is gluten free and quite a bit was dairy free as well.

They've only been open for about two weeks now and they still have some kinks to work out. The signs from the old Panini shop are all still up (including the main outdoor sign over the shop) and supplies do seem to be limited, as is the menu. However, they are trying and it can't be easy to run a sandwich shop that is completely gluten free.

I would recommend to anyone who lives or works in the area, do try to get over and check this shop out!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Manicotti update - gf/df/vegan

Just a quick update on my quest to make Manicotti for Christmas. I made them again last night and this time added a little Xantam gum and baked them uncovered. The tops came out perfect but the bottom was a touch gummy. They did hold together better than the last batch. I think the shells are still a little too thick. I'm pretty sure I'll get this on the next go around (which may be Christmas itself!) I'll post the recipe once I'm done.

The original post is here: http://gfdfadventures.blogspot.com/2008/11/manicotti-gluten-freedairy-freevegan.html

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Lasagna attempt


Last week I made another attempt at making a gluten-free/dairy-free/vegan lasagna. It wasn't as bad as the first time but not as good as last time either. I used Debole's No Boil noodles and boiled them first. For those who don't already know, the first time I used Debole's No Boil noodles I didn't boil them and my lasagna was crunchy! More on that and the recipe I use are in this old blog post: http://gfdfadventures.blogspot.com/2008/09/gfdf-lasagna-adventure.html

So anyhow, after boiling for 10 minutes the noodles were still pretty al dente. I made two improvements to my process. First, I boiled the noodles in a large saute pan in which they could lie flat while they cooked. After I drained and rinsed them I returned them to this pan with some cold water. This made building the lasagna much easier.

I also subbed out the soft tofu for silken tofu. To be honest there isn't too much of a difference here other than it takes less effort to get a Ricotta like consistency (you can get it by stirring with a spoon for the Silken, but need to use a whisk for the soft.)


After baking for 30 minutes I cut the lasagna up into 3 large pieces and proceeded to eat one. That one was still a little hard (noodle-wise) so I returned the other two pieces to the oven for another 30 minutes while microwaving the piece I was eating (it was late and I was too hungry to wait another 30 minutes!) When they were done, I froze both of the other two pieces for future lunches.


Today at lunch I had one of the frozen pieces and to be honest the noodles didn't hold up too well. I think this means (as much as I don't really like them) that I'll have to go back to trying Tinkyada lasagna noodles next time. I'll just have to boil them even less than the previous time (after 10 minutes the wavey edges were falling off). I also think I'll try to buy a 10" square pan to bake this in. That will save me having to cut the noodles to fit my 8" pan.

Ah, someday I'll get this 100% right!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Beef Rouladen and Spaetzle - gluten free/dairy free

I had a friend of mine and her husband over for dinner Sunday night. She's very supportive of my diet (as a matter of fact she was the first to convince me that Celiacs may be the cause of my digestive problems) so I was fairly comfortable asking them to taste my first attempt at GF/DF Spaetzle. Growing up Spaetzle was always the side dish accompanying Mom's Beef Rouladen so I made both (along with asparagus). What a mess!

Mom made making spaetzle look pretty easy but to be honest it isn't. I think I added a little too much water to the dough (which was pretty thick) so it dripped off the spoon in between me cutting the spaetzle off. I ended up with some pretty oddly shaped spaetzle (so odd, I didn't photograph them) and lots of angle hair thin short noodle pieces. They tasted great so I'm not deterred. I do want to perfect the recipe (and maybe even try them vegan) before posting it.


The rouladen wasn't as big a mess, although I did forget to add mustard until I was rolling the last one. Oh, how fun to have to unroll all of them and start over! Also, even if it does end up costing more, I will never again by a bottom roast and cut my own, I'll buy the meat sliced already.

Anyhow, dessert was delicious. I made Key Lime Squares (listed under Lemon Squares) from Gluten-Free Baking Classics. Next time I try these I think I'll add a little green food coloring (note to self: I need to buy green food coloring) as the Key Lime juice has a yellowish/brown color and so did the finished squares. They did taste great so being the wrong color wasn't too big of a set back!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Manicotti - gluten free/dairy free/vegan(?)

Every year at Christmas there are always Manicotti on the menu. I haven't had these since I was in high school (18 years ago, ouch!) I decided this year I would try making GF/DF manicotti (if I had time, I would try Vegan as well, but at least at first I planned on including some egg.)

Anyhow, my first attempt was on Friday night and they didn't turn out half bad. The recipe was fairly simple and a quick conversion from Mom's gluten and dairy inclusive recipe. I even made one before I added the egg to the filling and to be honest it wasn't that different from those with egg in them. I think next time I'll keep them all vegan.

So, why isn't this posted as a success and where is the recipe? Ah, the joys of trying to make thin crepes without them sticking, or folding over on themselves! I had a couple of 'disaster' and oddly shaped manicottis! I also included all the spices from my tofu lasagna filling and I'd like to try it without the basil next time. The real mistake however was that I baked them covered and the dough ended up gooey. I'm going to try the recipe again uncovered to see how it turns out. If everything sets fully then I'll be posting the results (complete with photos) so stay tuned!

Ener-G Hot Dog Buns - new shape


Last week I bought a package of Ener-G Tapioca Hot Dog Buns. I've had these before but I wouldn't have called them a hot dog bun in the past. Previously, they were more of a small hero (hoggie/grinder/sub) roll. I didn't mind, I would just put two hot dogs on them (or use them to make a meatball parm hero or a roast beef sub for lunch). Now however, they are more cylindrical in shape and much more like a hot dog bun (they still taste exactly the same). Check out the photo I took and you can see what I mean. Not sure which shape you'll get if you order them online somewhere but if you know of a local store that sells them you may want to stop in and check them out.

While I'll miss the old small hero rolls, I certainly like the idea of being able to take a couple of these to a bar-b-cue and have hot dogs on a bun just like everyone else!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Best Laid Plans for a Gluten Free Weekend

I had planned on trying a lot of new gluten/dairy free foods this weekend. While, obviously I always eat GF/DF, often I do it by just removing certain foods (hamburger buns, pasta, skipping dessert, etc.). Of course, the best laid plans often go awry. I did manage a couple of new items however . . .

I started Friday night with Steak, rice and green beans (see, the usual gluten/dairy avoidance). Since I broiled the steak (and the oven was warm) I made a batch of Gluten Free Pantry Chocolate Chip Cookies. I used whipped silken tofu in place of eggs so these were vegan as well. [Just a quick note, I eat some vegan foods, not to avoid meat but rather to avoid dairy and eggs, I can tolerate some egg, but not much.]


Saturday night I had been invited to a friend's for a dinner party. I offered to bring dessert (dinner was already gluten/dairy friendly as nothing on the menu contained either). I made an Apple Crisp from Annalise Roberts' Gluten-Free Baking Classics. It turned out great, and everyone was asking for the recipe! (This recipe is in the original edition of the book, but the revised edition adds over 40 new ones!)

Sunday morning I got up early and made Apple Carrot muffins from Gluten Free Gobsmacked one of the blogs I read. They were a great start to the weekend. They were also vegan as I replaced the butter with olive oil (should have used Earth Balance in hindsight as I can taste the olive oil in the muffins) and I replaced the eggs with whipped tofu. Other than taking longer to bake, they were quite moist and delicious.

I had invited my cousin and his fiance over for dinner Sunday but she was sick so unfortunately they couldn't make it. I had planned on making Turkey cutlets and Fettuccine Alfreado. This was one of Mom's staple dinners growing up and one that I've been able to duplicate perfectly both gluten and dairy free. Dessert was going to be Key Lime Squares also from Gluten-Free Baking Classics. I ended up getting busy with errands and chores, so these will have to wait for next weekend.

In the mean time I have left over muffins, cookies and crisp to finish off!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Importance of Support Groups

I attended a meeting at one of the five Celiac support groups I'm a member of last night. [One of the joys of living in a populous area is the number of options for anything you want to do - there are six Celiac groups within 15 miles of my house.] Anyhow, the meeting got me thinking about how much I get out of these groups. Now, each group approaches their meetings and agendas in a different way. Some are just discussions, others restaurant outings and others have set structured agendas. The one thing they all have in common is the camaraderie. It is nice, no matter the event or structure of the meeting, to spend an hour or two with people who completely get what I go through in having food restrictions. I would highly recommend (especially for those of you reading because of GF children) to find and join a support group. I know how much I feel like an outsider as a 35 year old man, I can't image how tough it must be on children. Even if you don't match the topic exactly (wheat allergy at a Celiac meeting for example) emotionally you'll get quite a bit out of the experience.

So where to look for groups if you aren't already in one?

  1. Check with your local hospitals. A good number of them offer support groups and if there is enough interest may add more.
  2. Try Meetup.com. They list all sorts of local support groups here: http://www.meetup.com/topics/health/ The nice thing about meetup is that you can do a zip code search on your issues and they will point you towards the closest groups.
  3. If you are GFCF for autism try http://www.gfcfdiet.com/ towards the bottom they have links to support groups for both children and parents.
  4. There is a list of R.O.C.K. chapters (Raising Our Celiac Kids) at celiac.com: Link to ROCK Chapters
  5. Celiac.com also maintains lists of Celiac disease support groups: Link to Celiac Support Group lists
  6. Ask around at your local health food store.
  7. Google it! (or use any web search site for that matter.)

And remember, if you can't find one you can always start your own. You may just be surprised at how many others in your community have similar problems!

Edited 11/05/08

Celiac Sprue Association - they have a list of local chapters organized by state.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Restaurant Review: Janice's in Hohokus, NJ

A buddy of mine and I had lunch at Janice's in Hohokus, NJ on Friday. I've been to Janice's before and it is one of the only really Gluten Free restaurants in Northern NJ. They offer GF pasta, GF flour (for breading and sauces) and GF bread (which unfortunately isn't Dairy Free). Lunch was great, I had a grilled chicken sandwich (without bread) and GF french fries. I cheat like crazy on French Fries and eat them anywhere they don't add a batter coating (I know, I know, cross contamination). Janice's has a dedicated frier for GF foods so the fries are ok even for those who are symptomatic. I also had a cup of the lentil soup without worry of hidden flour or dairy.

I've been to Janice's before (I took a date there over the summer) and really like the place. The food is good and in addition to having a good number of GF menu items they also offered to make me anything I wanted from the regular menu or (daily specials) both GF and DF. (Unfortunately, the bread is baked in advance . . . ) The entire staff is very allergen aware and you don't get that typical blank waiter stare when you start to list your restrictions. I certainly like being able to order without a long drawn out explanation (especially after coming back from Spain where it was the norm).

They've got a menu on their website (http://www.janiceabistro.com/) but don't be deceived, at least for dinner, they had a long list of additional specials. If you find yourself in the NNJ area I would definitely recommend you check Janice's out! (I for one hope to be heading back for dinner there soon.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Celiac Friendly Spain!

Wow! What a trip! I couldn't believe how Celiac friendly Spain was. I arrived Friday morning (10/10/08) and after checking into my hotel I walked a couple of blocks over to Mana, the GF store of the Asociacion de Celiacos de Madrid. There I purchased a loaf of Schar sandwich bread that came in two sealed pouches (so while you are eating one the other doesn't go stale). I figured that would be enough to get me through a week of breakfasts.

Later that day I stopped off in an Irish pub for lunch, as I started to explain my needs to the Irish bartender (in English), and he interrupted to say "oh, you've got Celiacs, ok." It was the first of many times I was shocked that people knew what that was. That evening at dinner, my waiter was Spanish so I braced myself for a struggle to get him to understand. As I started to explain, no dairy, no wheat, he also interrupted "¿Celiaco, no?" I couldn't believe it.

The following day I attended the first of two weddings of distant cousins on Mom's side of the family. I sat with cousins from the village my grandfather was born in, none of whom speak English. While they were helping me work with the waiter on what I could eat, another of our cousins over heard and offered to introduce me to her daughter - who also has Celiacs. She wasn't particularly impressed with Celiac awareness in Spain and was surprised to hear how much worse it is here in the US.

We spent the next two days out touring with no issues (Spaniards don't really cook with dairy or wheat so as long as I avoided the bread on the table I was fine). Finally we arrived in the village my grandfather was from and stayed with one of my mother's cousins. Her two brothers lived next door and across the courtyard respectively. My uncle (who I was traveling with) explained my food concerns to the three of them and combined with having seen my issues at the wedding we were in good shape.


The following morning, I left my loaf of GF bread in the kitchen and headed out sightseeing for the day. Now mind you, one loaf of bread is more than enough for me for a week and the amounts of food my cousins were putting out on the table at dinner could feed me for a two days! When we returned home that evening, I discovered that my cousin had gone out and bought another loaf of GF bread. This time a full loaf (not the half loaves we get here in the US) from a company called Porcelli. She had also bought a bag of GF ziti. Needless to say I ate until I was stuffed at every dinner that week!

Saturday morning I ended up in a supermarket and found a number of other products by Porcelli - baguettes, pitas, croissants and muffins. Since I was leaving Monday morning and mistakenly believing I could get Porcelli here in the US somewhere (I googled and googled but couldn't find them) I didn't buy anything (but would have loved to try the croissants).

Finally, we arrived at the second wedding Saturday night. With the help of one of my cousin's wives (who is a teacher, and teaches part of her class in English) I again discussed my needs with our waiter. He brought out the manager, who assured me that everything would be ok and that he would replace my bread. Since my cousin's wife had walked away at this point (and my Spanish really isn't that great) I wasn't sure I heard him correctly. Sure enough 15 minutes later, he brought out this GF dinner roll. I didn't get a chance to ask if it was dairy free but decided to risk it (we were staying at the hotel, so if I got sick, my room was only two floor away.) It was amazing! Crispy on the outside, soft in the center and delicious! I couldn't believe it! (oh, and best of all, I never did get sick so it must have been dairy free as well!)

So all and all, I was impressed by the level of awareness of Celiacs in Spain. Now, if I could just get them to accept that I can't eat pork . . . .

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Traveling with a food allergy

I’m heading off for Spain tomorrow and it got me thinking about traveling with food allergies. I speak enough Spanish to explain that I can’t have dairy or gluten and since I’m asymptomatic (at least for gluten), I’m not as careful of cross contamination as I should be. Spaniards don’t cook with a lot of dairy so that helps as well. Anyhow, whenever traveling I like to see what resources are available to Celiacs where I’m going (and patronize them). Here in the US, I use these three websites to find GF dining options:

Gluten Free Registry - this site has lists of gluten free restaurants by state. They’ve recently added a searchable map but that map lists all the chain restaurant locations and makes it hard to really find the independents (I can certainly eat at a Charlie Brown’s at home). There is also an option to add reviews to the restaurants (although you should note that those for the chains are grouped together and not specific to any particular location.)

Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program - the grand-daddy of them all, this site lists and ranks GF restaurants that have gone through GFRAP training. Best part is a Zip Code search which will display results by distance from a particular zip code!

Celiac Handbook Restaurant List - Another list of restaurants by State. Again, you’ll need to investigate how close these are to where you are going to be.


Going overseas is a little more difficult especially with the language barrier. There are resources out there specifically for Celiac Disease (Triumph dining cards I believe) but those are only useful for gluten. Since I have a number of other issues, I prefer the Food-Info Allergy Dictionary - this site allows you to access a list of common food allergies and phrase inter-translated into 30+ languages (most major world and European languages). What I mean by inter-translated is that it just isn’t English-Spanish but also Spanish-Chinese and Russian-Japanese. Just choose your base language (English is at the top) and then select the other language from a little pull down menu. The result is a pdf file with roughly 200 phrases and allergens listed in both languages. I like to just print out those I’ll need for a trip and highlight my allergies and phrases!

I also did a quick web search for “Gluten Free Spain” and found the AsociaciĆ³n de Celiacos de Madrid . Large portions of their website are in English and the site includes lists of restaurant and stores carrying GF products. Turns out the association has their own GF store in Madrid so I booked a hotel that isn’t too far away and will stop by to get some bread (and cookies maybe) at the start of my trip!

My final advice would be to do a web search on both Celiac Disease and Gluten Free and the name of the place you are going and see what comes up. I found some discussions about traveling in/to Spain on some forums as well as some support groups. And of course, you can always post a comment here and I’ll try to help!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

GF/DF Baked Ziti (Success!)




Since I had half a package of Vegan Gourmet Soy Mozzarella left from making Lasagna last weekend, I decided to make some baked Ziti this weekend. I used Bionaturae penne. My favorite pasta is Ancient Harvest Quinoa but they don't make a ziti or a penne. Bionaturae held up pretty well and tastes good. It is one of the more expensive gf pastas unfortunately. Overall, this recipe is almost identical to the Lasagna recipe but I've split them out for easier searching.


GF/DF Baked Ziti

Ingredients:
1 package of gluten free ziti or similar pasta (12oz.)
1 block Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese (enough shredded to cover top, about 1/3 to 1/2 the block)

Tofu Mixture:
1 package soft tofu (14oz)
1 tbs dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp oregano
1/2 cup sauce (I don’t eat a lot of tomatoes and therefore use much less then most)
Salt and pepper to taste


Boil the pasta as directed being careful not to over boil. Remove when still very al dente (they will continue to cook while baking).

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl combine tofu, ½ cup of sauce, parsley, basil, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Hint: crumble the dry spices in the palm of your hand before adding to increase their flavor. Use a whisk to crumble the tofu until it resembles the ricotta cheese used in real baked ziti. (Do not use shredded mozzarella in the mixture; it will not melt like real mozzarella unless it is broiled on top.)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Combine the drained pasta and tofu mixture an oven safe casserole dish. Bake, covered, at 375 for 20-30 minutes until heated through. Remove from the oven and cover with shredded soy mozzarella. Place under the broiler and broil – watching carefully until shredded cheese begins to bubble. Remove promptly once the cheese is melted as shortly thereafter it will blacken and then burn. (Note – Soy cheese will not melt unless it is broiled in this fashion.) [Warning, if you bake the soy mozzarella on top of the lasagna it may dry out and not melt as much when you broil it, it is better to add after baking.]

Serves four. (or for me: dinner, lunch the next day, dinner again, etc. etc.!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

GF/DF Lasagna (Adventure)


Ok, this one is definitely getting better but it still isn’t 100%. The first time I tried Gluten Free/Dairy Free lasagna I used no-boil noodles by DeBoles. Apparently, real ricotta must have more moisture in it than did my tofu mixture as the noodles didn’t cook in the oven and my lasagna came out crunchy. (Crunchy really isn’t an adjective one wants to use to describe lasagna!) Anyhow, the last 2-3 times I used Tinkyada lasagna noodles which were better. My pan is 8” by 8” and the noodles are about 10” however so after boiling them those that are too long I have to cut (with kitchen scissors). I find that Tinkyada pasta isn’t really that good and I find that the lasagna noodles fall apart a bit too much and in the wrong places (the frilly edge came off most of them!) Next time I try this I think I’ll use DeBoles and just boil them first. (As with all Tinkyada pasta products, do not boil for the suggested cooking time or you will have mush, start testing about halfway through their recommended time.)

GF/DF Lasagna

Ingredients:
1 box gluten free lasagna noodles (Tinkyada or Deboles) 10oz
1/2 cup sauce (at least ½ cup - I don’t eat a lot of tomatoes and therefore I use much less sauce then most)
1 block Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese (enough shredded to cover top, about 1/3 to 1/2 the block)

Tofu Mixture:
1 package soft tofu (14oz)
1 tbs dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp oregano
1/2 cup sauce (again, I don’t eat a lot of tomatoes and therefore use much less then most)
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the noodles for 10 minutes (Tinkyada says 15-16 min but this is way too long) or until done. Drain, rinse with cold water and lay out flat before they crumple and/or stick together.



Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl combine tofu, ½ cup of sauce, parsley, basil, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Hint: crumble the dry spices in the palm of your hand before adding to increase their flavor. Use a whisk to crumble the tofu until it resembles the ricotta cheese filling of real lasagna. (Do not use shredded mozzarella in the mixture; it will not melt like real mozzarella unless it is broiled on top.)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Coat the bottom of a lasagna pan with ¼ cup sauce.

When the noodles are ready, add a single layer to the pan topped by a layer of the tofu mixture. Alternate layers until you are out of noodles (hint preserve some of the better [unbroken] noodles for the top). Spread the remaining ¼ cup of sauce on the top layer of noodles. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes until heated through. Remove from the oven and cover with shredded soy mozzarella. Place under the broiler and broil – watching carefully until shredded cheese begins to bubble. Remove promptly once the cheese is melted as shortly thereafter it will blacken and then burn. (Note – Soy cheese will not melt unless it is broiled in this fashion.) [Warning, if you bake the soy mozzerella on top of the lasagna it may dry out and not melt as much when you broil it, it is better to add after baking.]

Serves four. (ok, technically, it serves me four times! Ah, the joys of living alone . . . )

Variations:

Meat Lasagna – include cooked ground beef either in the tofu mixture or in a layer on top of the lasagna but below the shredded cheese. (I used ground up meatballs on top of the last one I made.)

Baked Ziti – use the tofu mixture tossed with cooked pasta (ziti, etc) place both in a casserole dish and cover w/ shredded soy mozzarella. Bake for twenty minutes then broil while watching carefully until the cheese melts.

Lasagna rolls – Haven’t tried this yet but should be able to use tofu mixture in individually rolled Lasagna noodles.

Stuffed Shells – I’ve used this same Tofu mixture to stuff shells. Bake once stuffed (one could add shredded soy cheese to the tops of these and broil as well I suppose.)


If you try this recipe and have success please let me know by leaving a comment below!

Monday, September 29, 2008

How I label posts

I've decided to flag my posts with one of three labels - Success, Disaster, or Adventure


  • A Success post is any thing that worked out well be it a: new product, recipe, or restaurant.

  • An Adventure post is for recipes that didn't go too badly but still need work, products that are ok (but not great), and restaurants that are trying but not fully there yet.

  • A Disaster, well, this label is for anything that goes horribly awry be it a recipe that flops, a product that is awful or a restaurant that just doesn't get it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Why this blog?

So why did I decide to write this blog? Well as you probably already know, adjusting to cooking without gluten (and to a smaller part without dairy) can be quite trying. The ingredients are more expensive, the recipes are more complex, and the results – well the results can be down right disastrous! Mostly, I decided to write this to give myself an outlet when something goes horribly awry
in the kitchen. My first instinct was to call this blog Disasters in GF/DF Cooking but I think Adventures has a slightly more positive spin to it. Sometimes laughing at yourself is better than crying. Whether it is a cake that didn’t rise (frosted brownies anyone?) a crunchy lasagna (more on this gem later) or GF wraps that crumbled apart - I’ll cover it all.

Hopefully those of you working with the same issues will finds some tips and tricks as well as see that your breads aren’t the only ones flopping. As they say – misery loves company! Since none of my non-Celiac friends deal with these issues it is nice to reach out to others that do.

Of course, I may actually have a success at some point and when (alright – if) I do I will be sure to share what went right as well!

Visitors (Counted on Gluten Free/Dairy Free Waffles!)

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