Monthly Archives: July 2010

A Fabulous Weekend

The Red Rock Martini

I spent the past weekend at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, AZ with some friends. We were celebrating a couple of birthdays and I couldn’t resist the chance to cook for everyone. I was the only one eating gluten free and a few were not vegetarians, but I made the best of it and decided that if I cooked dinner for everyone, I could be assured of its safety. I tried to keep it purely GF but a few people snuck in the dreaded flour products. A loaf of bread here, a cupcake there. But all in all, it was a grand, GF weekend.

On the menu? GF, roasted veggie frittata on the first night and a beautiful zucchini Parmesan the second night. The frittata recipe is truly simple. In a large baking sheet, mix the following with olive oil, salt and pepper: one bag of cubed buttnernut squash from Trader Joe’s, one chopped onion, two chopped zucchini, one chopped yellow squash. Roast in oven at 375 for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until golden and softening.

Add veggies to a large saute pan that can go in the oven. Add a cup of shredded cheese (I used swiss and parmesan) Mix 4 eggs and 5 egg whites with a pinch of salt, nutmeg and pepper, then add to the veggies in the pan. Cook on the stove until the eggs are just starting to firm up and then stick in the broiler for about 5 minutes to puff up and finish cooking the eggs.

I like to add a little goat cheese also, but I left it out since I knew there were some in the group who were not so fond of it. Let the frittata sit for about 10-15 minutes to settle, then serve with a salad.

Also on the menu, the zucchini Parmesan, was a big hit. Easier still, just slice zucchini in thin, long pieces. Grill on a grill pan with just a little salt and olive oil. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet and bake for just 2-3 minutes and remove. These are now the “noodles” for the Parmesan. Layer the zucchini in a springform pan with marinara and mozzarella. Add a little Parmesan cheese and voila! Bake for about 30-40 minutes, depending on whether you’ve made it the night before or you’re cooking it right away. I made it the night before and it was wonderful. We paired both meals with salads using fresh, local ingredients and home-made salad dressings using fig balsamic, blood orange olive oil and more.

The ending to the perfect weekend was a dessert that made us all smile. Cookies, all GF and fabulous, from Cookies from Home in Tempe, AZ and a delicious, gluten-free cheesecake baked by my dear friend, Laura, using just five ingredients: eggs, sugar, vanilla, cream and cream cheese. It was fantastic and we’re still eating the leftovers (slowly, to make it last).

Thanks to everyone for joining us on our birthday weekend. The food was fantastic and the company was even better!

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July 4th Taste Test…Beer and Brownies!

An Independence Day celebration and a good friend’s house seemed like the perfect time for a GF beer tasting. I rounded up the guys and asked them for their opinion (along with mine of course.) Daughter, unfortunately, didn’t get to participate, although she tried. Being 14 means you have to wait just a few more years.

The tasting was a blind taste test for all the guys. I knew which was which but I wanted an honest opinion from some serious beer drinkers.

 Jim, Matt, Jeff, and Al give the first beer a try

First up, Bard’s. It’s made from malted sorghum, the company’s site says it consists of sorghum, yeast, hops and water. It’s light in color, something like a Budweiser in color. Although it starts out with a nice beer taste, it ends with a very metallic/medicine finish that the guys picked up on right away. I made sure both beers were cold and that didn’t seem to help this one. Bard’s Tale Beer Co. has a great story of how the founders were Celiacs and wanted to enjoy beer with their friends. Makes sense and I so wanted to like this one, but the finish was just too metallic for my taste.

 Second verse, same as the first…Redbridge this time.

On to number two, Redbridge. Brewed by Anheuser-Busch, it’s a little darker in color than Bard’s. The company site says it’s made from sorghum, yeast, water, hops and corn. The flavor is a little stronger, less watery, and no aftertaste to speak of. In terms of beer, it has a more decent beer taste. The flavor comes off as a beer with a little more kick.

There are a lot more barbecues in our future this summer and it looks like Redbridge will be joining us. Now if someone would just make a nice, dark, GF beer, I’d be in heaven. But for now, I’m sticking with Redbridge. Thanks for your help, guys!

Since we were in the taste-test mode, we happened to have two versions of GF brownies at the barbecue. On the left, Pamela’s Chocolate Brownie Mix. On the right, Betty Crocker’s version. As you can see, or maybe you can’t, the Pamela’s version of the brownie is more cake-like and held together well. These were made by our hostess and were quite lovely, light and cake-like in texture. The cocoa flavoring was not overpowering, but the texture did have a bit of a grainy feel.

The other brownies, which I made, were made using Betty Crocker’s GF brownie mix. I added a TBS of virgin coconut oil and a tsp of blood-orange olive oil. These were much more moist in texture and more gooey in parts. They were also much more chocolaty since the mix comes with small chocolate chips that give it a more intense chocolate flavor. The olive oil gave it a slight citrus flavor that was quite good, although I think I would use one or the other, not both oils next time. I usually use just the coconut oil but I was trying to be festive.

All in all, great brownies on both plates. I would take either one. I tend to use the Betty Crocker mix since I like the more gooey version of brownies, but this was the first time I had Pamela’s version and they are great for a light dessert. Give them a try. We ate our brownies with Almond Dream vanilla ice cream, which happens to be gluten and dairy free. Yum!

I wonder what’s next on the taste test front? Waffles anyone???

Enjoy!

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