Monthly Archives: July 2011

True Food now offers GF pizza

True Food’s version of GF pizza

A dear friend took me to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in town, True Food. I’ve written a review of the restaurant before and you can read it here. But this time, I was surprised to see gluten-free pizza on the menu. The server said it was new and of course, you know I couldn’t refuse. We ordered one pizza with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes to split as an appetizer.

Since my daughter was with us, I knew we’d have the input of two GF eaters and one non-GF eater (my friend). The results? Lackluster on my part, so-so on my friend’s and pretty good on daughter’s side. Here’s the rundown…

The pizza is made in-house by the chefs. The crust came out much too overcooked on the edges for my liking but the server said they all come out like that since they are still working on perfecting it. It tasted burned on the edges and I wasn’t too impressed, but the inside and underside were not burned, so we passed on the offer of another.

The taste was bland and although the texture was crispy, I found it a bit dry. A perfect vehicle for spicy toppings, or strong flavors like pesto, as my friend pointed out. I still found it to be a little too bland, but my daughter said she found it to be quite good and ate most of it. The pesto was wonderful with a little bite of spice to it and the sun-dried tomatoes were just right. Sometimes they are too chewy on a pizza, but these were lovely. I love that it is a place you can trust will understand the needs of GF customers and I felt safe eating there.

True Food’s Spaghetti Squash Casserole

My daughter and I split our favorite Spaghetti Squash Casserole, which I highly recommend if you visit the restaurant. (See my previous review linked above.) The spicy tomato sauce and cheese create a wonderful little casserole and the squash is still al dente, just the way it should be. We ordered one for us to share and the kitchen made two little casseroles, how cute. For dessert, the always-wonderful GF chocolate cake and a citrus sorbet that was divine, tart, sweet and addictive.

My final call…I rate my four top GF pizzas in the Phoenix area as 1. Picazzo’s– lovely texture, best flavor, expensive. 2. California Pizza Kitchen– tasty crust, light and crispy, medium price. 3. PieZano’s– GF Creations crust, made to order, great toppings, much too far away, (I’ve never been to the Glendale store, only the Phoenix one that closed), medium price. 4. True Food– least amount of flavor in crust, overcooked edges, good toppings, medium price.

What’s your favorite Phoenix-area pizza? I have yet to try Naked Pizza, but I have tried Spinato’s and was disappointed by the canned mushrooms – I just couldn’t get past those rubbery, chewy bits of yuck. The server said even she hated them but the kitchen insisted on using them. Since they use GF Creations crusts too, it’s not worth it just for that.

Side note: If you’re in Tucson, I recommend Renee’s Organic Oven.

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Filed under gluten free, pizza, restaurants, spaghetti squash, vegetarian

Ice Cream Cake and Carrot Cake…Happy Birthday to Me!

My darling daughter bakes a cake, just for me!

I celebrated my birthday a few days ago, and I’ve been continuing the celebration ever since. Actually it’s been a birthday month for me. But more importantly, I gave myself permission to eat cake the entire month of July, with abandon. Good thing the month is almost up, I am going to need to lose a few pounds.

For the actual birthday, I made an ice cream cake similar to what my grandmother used to make when I was a kid. We would get to choose what kind of ice cream we wanted when it was our birthday, and then the celebration began. I wish there was a photo for you, but we ate it all so fast there wasn’t enough time. But let me spell it out for you and you’ll see why it didn’t last.

In the bottom layer of a springform pan, crush half a package of Kinnikinnik K-Toos (take the filling out of about half of them) and add about 2 Tbs of melted butter. Press into a pan you’ve sprayed with nonstick (GF) spray. Let your first ice cream soften on the counter for a few minutes (I used Baskin Robbins chocolate chip). Each layer took about a quart. Layer the ice cream evenly over the crust mixture and freeze at least an hour.

Layer the rest of the crushed cookies (without butter) on top of the ice cream layer. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips in there if you want. We used about a 1/4 cup of Enjoy Life mini chips. Freeze again for about 30 minutes. Spread the next layer of ice cream (Baskin Robbins Gold Medal Ribbon) and freeze again for about an hour. Finally, pour a jar of chocolate fudge topping over the top and freeze again till you’re ready to serve. And don’t forget the whipped cream. Oh, that was good….

The best carrot cake in the entire world

OK, cake number two I just had tonight. My daughter wanted to make me another cake before the month was out and who am I to protest? Using The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten Free once again, she made a carrot cake that is out of this world. I haven’t had carrot cake in years and even when I ate gluten, I couldn’t eat the nuts so I would have to pass on the cake wherever I went. I never made one myself. Now, I see what I was missing. This cake had just enough spice and flavor and the cream cheese frosting was sweet and tart. No nuts, and just the right amount of golden raisins and fresh carrots. I ate it while it was still warm, I couldn’t wait. My oldest daughter said, “It smells like Christmas in here,” as it was baking. It sure felt like Christmas to me!

I’d love to give you the recipe, but I don’t want to type it right out of her book. I urge you to get Anne Byrn’s book, you won’t regret it!

Enjoy!

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Summer means cherries & grilled corn and asparagus salad

Rainier cherries…get ’em while you can!

I love summer for one reason…the food. Living in Phoenix means we hibernate right about now and stay within AC at all times. And with the recent haboobs we’ve had (technical term for big damn dust storms), it’s getting to be a real pain to leave the house. Saturday morning outings to the farmers market is the only think I look forward to takes place outside. Asparagus, fresh corn, summer squash, oh my… Then the Ranier cherries hit the shelves and I’m in heaven.

Taking inspiration from the fresh veggies available right now, I searched for ideas on what to do with the veggies I had in the fridge. I had a large bunch of asparagus and 8 ears of fresh corn. I gave mom a few of the ears of corn and a handful of the asparagus, then set out to make a salad from the rest.

Grilled asparagus and corn salad

I decided to grill inside instead of standing outside in the 110-degree heat. If you’re someplace else in the country, you may be OK with standing outside. It still went pretty quickly. First, I grilled the corn a few at a time for just about 10 minutes…enough to grill and cook, but not overcook. Keep turning them and put a little olive oil and salt on it to keep it from burning.

Grilling brings out a fabulous smokey flavor!

Next, wash and trim the asparagus. These take a little less time and you just have to flip them once after about five minutes. Then another few minutes and they’re done. I did mine in two batches since I had so much. I love watching them get brown and lovely. It’s all I can do not to eat them right out of the pan.

Cut the corn off the cob, chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces and mix. I added about a Tbs of olive oil, the juice and zest of one medium lemon, pinch of parsley, oregano and basil. A little more salt and pepper to taste and you’re done. Dear chef, don’t fret over it, just keep tasting till you get the right mixture. This is a light summer dish, so go easy on the lemon and keep adding a little more till you get it right. This was wonderful a little bit warm, and even better the next day after it cooled in the fridge. The lemon had a chance to settle into the asparagus, which was smoky and grilled and still crispy to the bite.

Enjoy your summer.

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Filed under asparagus, corn, fruit, gluten free, salad, vegetarian

California Pizza Kitchen’s new GF Pizza fills a void, and my tummy.

CPK GF Margherita Pizza

California Pizza Kitchen has long been a favorite place for our family. The kids loved the pizzas and pasta when they were young and I loved the salads and pizza. When we were sidelined by the GF lifestyle so many years ago, we didn’t stop going, just stuck to salads and soup. We didn’t want to deprive the rest of the family, but no more pizza, although we watched everyone else indulge.

How thrilling it was to see that CPK had a new GF pizza on the menu. First order of business was to call and find out how it was prepared. I was assured that all utensils were color coded and not shared with wheat items and the pizzas were cooked in a separate place on separate foil. Yipee! We headed out.

After once again getting reassured by our server of the precautions, we ordered one Margherita Pizza (tomato, mozzarella and basil). When it arrived, I pulled out my camera to take a few shots, which piqued the interest of the manager. “I’ve never seen anyone take pictures of our food except PR people,” he said. I told him about the blog, and how excited we were about the pizza. He said his wife had also tried it and was quite pleased. He was curious to know what we thought since not many of the pizzas had been sold yet.

I respect him for mentioning that although the pizza crusts are pre-made, there is flour in the kitchen and cross-contamination can occur, although they try very hard to avoid it. That’s the case in any restaurant and I appreciated him repeating it. Make your own choice if you decide to go.

Now, on to the pizza… Yummy. The toppings were the usual cheese and tomato with fresh basil. The crust is light and crunchy. Although I would have liked a little more flavor to it, I will be trying it again. It’s perfect with spicy or strong flavors since it doesn’t have much flavor of its own, much like a lot of GF crusts. It tasted a lot like the Udi’s Pizza Crust, although with a little more flavor. It’s a blank slate for any toppings.

The crust is about the same size as the regular pizzas, which was so nice to see. So often, the GF pizza is more expensive and smaller than the regular pizza, right? That is so frustrating. These are the same size as the CPK regular pizzas and cost the same, which is even better. There are two pizza toppings that are not GF and they are listed clearly at the bottom of the pizza listings.

Although it was crisp on the edges, it was a little soft in the middle. I recommend ordering it a little overdone, which I’ll be doing next time. Since it’s on foil and not on the stone with the rest of the pizzas in the oven, it’s easy for it to stay a little soft and not crisp up as nicely as the regular pizzas. For that reason, tell them to leave it in a few more minutes. FYI, we took it home and heated it up in a frying pan with a little olive oil for dinner. Much, much better. It’s amazing what a little olive oil and heat can do. One pizza was enough for two of us for lunch and dinner. Fancy that!

Bottom line…I’m glad they have a new GF crust and are taking precautions to make it safe for us. I had no reaction and neither did my daughter, so we’ll definitely be back. Each time a restaurant tries to accommodate the GF lifestyle, it’s one step closer to making life a little easier. Make your own decisions and always be careful when eating out.

Now, when will they have GF pasta? Soon, I hope.

Enjoy

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Quick and easy Summer Soycutash and Quorn

It’s 118 degrees in Phoenix today. Not the kind of day that makes you want to spend hours in the kitchen. Check your fridge and see what you have that can be made quickly. No, barbecuing is not an option…that means standing outside in the scorching heat. Not my idea of fun.

Quorn and Soycutash

I found a bag of Trader Joe’s Soycutash (corn, peppers, edamame), quickly sauteed it with some Quorn “chicken” tenders, added a bit of garlic, parsley and olive oil and done! Yummy, light and full of protein.

Tomorrow…salad!

Enjoy

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Filed under corn, edamame, gluten free, Quorn, vegetarian