Eating Out


As I mentioned in my last post, I have been awaiting an opportunity to try a number of recipes from Living Without Magazine.  I have had fresh pasta exactly twice since going Gluten-Free and both were delicious.  First, I had homemade corn pasta at Cafe DeVille in Edmonton, AB and second I had homemade rice pasta at Pagliacci’s in Victoria, BC ever since then, I have wanted to try and make my own.

I followed the instructions for Gluten-Free Handmade Pasta exactly as they are listed, using the flax seed egg replacement (so that I could share with my little man who doesn’t eat egg whites yet), however I didn’t have the patience to go over to my parents to borrow their pasta maker.  Instead, after reading a bunch of ravioli recipes, I decided to divide the dough and roll it out as thin as possible using a rolling pin between pieces of saran wrap.  This worked reasonably well, but I need a LOT of extra cornstarch to ensure the dough didn’t stick and to be able to transfer it to parchment paper.

I rolled each piece into an elongated rectangle and then placed 3-4 teaspoons of filling (depending how well I rolled the pasta) in a row along the pasta sheet, dabbed watered down egg yolk around each dollop of filling and then folded the dough over, gently pressing the dough together.  I did not use a fork or anything fancy to mark the edges, I just used my fingertips and the dough stayed together well through the cooking process.

The end result was delicious, if a bit chewy, however I’m pretty sure that if I had rolled my pasta thinner using a pasta machine that chewiness may not have been an issue.  I’m also positive that the ravioli was delicious and as good as I could have hoped for considering that it was my first attempt EVER to make pasta.  I did have to cook the pasta for a good 15 minutes, flipping the ravioli a few times, which is considerably longer than I expected based on the recipe citing the noodles would cook within a few minutes.

All in all, a good recipe and a delicious meal…and my little boy liked it too!!  Good luck making pasta, I hope yours also turns out great.

As for filling, I decided to make my own up, here’s what I used:

  • 1/2 pound lean ground turkey
  • ~3 oz of frozen chopped spinach (defrosted)
  • ~1/4 onion diced fine
  • 3/4 of a 500g package of feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp goat cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Brown the turkey over medium heat, until no longer pink.
  2. Add onion and chopped spinach, and ook until the onions have softened and the turkey is fully cooked.
  3. Remove meat mixture from heat and stir in the cheeses (I had goat cheese on hand and it really helped hold everything together, you could also add one egg yolk.)
  4. Use to fill your homemade ravioli and enjoy!!

ps. I also used the leftover filling on a pizza!! Yum yum!

Advertisements

My little man had his first fever and cold/flu this weekend and its been lurking for a while, so I’ve been busy.  I have some recipes I’m hoping to post soon, but for now I just wanted to talk a little bit about eating out.

When I first went gluten-free I didn’t eat anywhere and I didn’t eat anything.  But slowly that has evolved.  I now have certain meals that I eat at certain restaurants (including the mall food fair) that I know satisfy my hunger and cravings without wrecking havoc on my body.

I first visited Cravings when I still ate gluten and was impressed; the restaurant (which used to be a sandwich deli in another lifetime) had a great atmosphere, helpful servers and delicious food.  Nestled in among old apartment buildings it seemed a rare find.

I went back for my 27th birthday, I was now gluten-free, but noticed that their website mentioned that they were able to accomodate Celiac’s.  When I made the reservation I indicated that I would like to take advantage of their gluten-free options.  When we arrived I was a little dissapointed that no one seemed to know what I was talking about when I mentioned that I had requested gluten-free items, but the situation was quickly remedied.  A woman, I assume was a manager or owner, came to the table and walked me through the menu; she let me know which items were naturally gluten-free and which items could be made gluten-free.  I enjoyed the West Coast Bouillabaisse (“A selection of West coast seafood (salmon, sole, halibut, ma hi ma hi, prawns, shrimps, scallops, and mussel) cooked in a tomato broth flavoured with saffron”) and it was absolutely delicious.

My husband and I went back again this September for our 3rd Wedding Anniversary; our first “date night” since the arrival of our son.  This time when I arrived and asked about gluten-free menu items the server quickly rushed off and brought me back a “Celiac Menu”.  There was an entire page of options and they all sounded delicious; having a specific menu gave me some confidence that the food would not be contaminated that the chefs knew what they were doing.

This time I enjoyed the Roasted Squash Salad (“Roasted squash served warm with spinach leaves, carmalized pecans, and crumbled Feta, drizzled with honey vinaigrette and balsamic reduction”) and rice pasta pesto (rice pasta “and chicken breast strips tossed in fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan”).  The only thing that could have made it better was fresh pasta, but despite being dried pasta it still tasted WAY better than pasta I make at home.  We practically rolled out of the restaurant and into the movie theatre.

All is all, Cravings is a great gem of a restaurant that was able to provide a menu of delicious gluten-free options, a warm atmosphere and helpful service.  We went for an early dinner around 5pm, but by around 6 it was starting to get busy, so you may want to make reservations if you aren’t normally in bed by 9:30pm like I am.

I admit it – Summer is kicking my ass.  I haven’t posted in quite some time, but of course that doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating.  My sister got me a great cookbook (I can’t remember the name right now) for my birthday, that had the best pancakes I have eaten since going Gluten-Free.  The icing on the cake?  They were easy to make, they didn’t require any time for the batter to settle, and since it’s summer they were absolutely delicious with blueberries in the batter!!

I’ve made Gluten-Free Egg Bread a few times, and am continually impressed by the moist tenderness of this bread.  Although it is a little dense and definitely eggie, it makes great sandwiches, not to mention fabulous French Toast.  I made a few tweaks to the recipe the last time I made it, which I think were improvements, but I’ll wait until I have adapted it exactly to my tastes and then I can share all the changes at once.

As an individual of half-Asian descent, a lack of Oyster Sauce in my diet has made a lot of my favourite dishes impossible to re-create.  Of course I have wheat-free Tamari, but there are some recipes that just require some good old fashioned oyster sauce.  In truth, I swear I have read bottle after bottle of Oyster sauce in all the stores, every time hoping that maybe I had managed to miss the one Gluten-Free bottle in the mix all the previous times.  Of course, I continued to be dissapointed, time after time…until last week.  Upon the shelves of Wal-Mart (I’ve also found it at T&T Supermarket), I discovered Choy Sun Oyster Sauce by Lee Kum Kee, a little further investigation on the Lee Kum Kee Website and I also discovered that this particular Oyster Sauce is also MSG-Free!!

Of course I had my hesitations about a gluten-free oyster sauce, but I purchased it and promptly put it to the test.  Now there are many dishes I love, that require oyster sauce such as hot pot and steamed pork, but I wanted to test this oyster sauce, so I made some Gai Lan and spread some oyster sauce on top in the traditional fashion. OMG I thought I died and went to heaven.  Oyster Sauce is back and that means, Chinese Cooking is back.  I am currently thinking about wontons (which were fully not worth contemplation without oyster sauce) I think I’ll try sheets of rice noodles, cut into squares as won-ton wrappers.

To add to my smorgasbord of deliciousness, I went to a wedding for a close friend last weekend, and though I was ecstatic to see roast beef for dinner, I was instantly saddened to see the other meat dishes were a chicken with a wild mushroom sauce and a white fish and shrimp with a light herb and garlic sauce, both of which I assumed were thickened with flour.  Imagine my excitement when one of the cooks walked by and assured me that these dishes were thickened ONLY with cornstarch.  They were delicious and I felt so incredibly spoiled!  Unfortunately, this tidbit of information may have been untrue, or perhaps there was gluten in the salad dressing, flan, mousse or something else that I ate, but I was so disappointed the next day when I realized I had certainly eaten something contaminated.  But those are the chances we take sometimes, and in truth I take such chances so rarely, that this particular time, I would almost say it was worth it.

I have been eating out a fair amount lately.  For the most part, it has been unplanned impromptu lunches with the girls from work.  They are incredibly understanding about my food limitations and always take them into consideration when choosing restaurants.  In addition to ensuring that I have my enzymes handy, I try and make careful food choices and ask questions when necessary.  Although we can’t go for soup and sandwiches at the little shop in our building, we do manage to eat a variety of delicious food.  It seems that ethnic food is generally much safer for those of us trying to live the Gluten-Free life.

Although many of my favourite Asian foods, such as chow mein, are out, I am fortunately still able, to consume sushi.  As I mentioned in my last post, I am extremely sensitive to fermented soy, so unless I have planned ahead and brought some wheat-free Tamari with me, I usually enjoy my Japanese food sans-soya sauce.   Now, you may be thinking “but sushi has seaweed – doesn’t that have soya sauce?”. 

In short, the answer is yes.  I have read package, after package of seaweed and they all list soya sauce in the ingredients.  Exactly how much is not entirely clear, although in many cases it is close to the end of the ingredient list.  In general, I have been able to eat sushi without any problems, however I have found that at a few discrete locations, I get an upset stomach after consuming my meal.  In these cases, or when eating somewhere new, I will bypass the seaweed altogether, instead choosing to eat sashimi.  If you’re Gluten-Free and like sushi but haven’t been eating it, it may be worth a try.  I caution you however, imitation crab is made with wheat, so unless your restaurant can confirm that they are using real crab, stay away from the California rolls and such.  Personally, I like to get salmon maki, negitoro and edamame – delicious!

We also discovered a delicious Indian Buffet, less than a 10 minute walk from the office, where I can consume every item on the buffet.  The items that appear to be made with flour, are actually made from chickpea flour and thus safe for consumption (of course I still ask the waitress to double check every time).  In general, Indian food seems to be a safe bet.  Like much of the local population, I love butter chicken and matar paneer (peas and cheese) – I have even found a recipe for the latter that I can’t wait to try.

The third ethnicity on our celebration rotation is Thai.  Although I can’t eat the spring rolls, that come with the lunch specials, I can eat the salad and the hot & sour soup and those come with the special too.  Most of the curry’s are Gluten-Free but I can’t resist the Pad Thai. Mmmm!

And when I go to a standard steak & pasta joint with my Husband?
Why, I eat the steak of course!

I survived 10 days in Europe, without eating a single pastry. No flaky croissant, no baguette sandwich from the bakery on the corner, no delicious cookies or biscotti with my coffee. I did however, enjoy numerous cappuccinos and gelatos from various street corners. And although they don’t quite equate with pastries, they were delicious and my stomach didn’t suffer, so my diligence didn’t go unrewarded.
I was hard though, to watch my Dad devour chocolate covered croissants, fresh from a bakery window. It was even harder to keep my hunger to myself when I hadn’t packed myself a snack and everyone stopped to grab a sandwich. I refused to pay anywhere from $5-10 (CAD) for a few pieces of deli meat and a piece of cheese, as the sandwiches are definitely what we would consider stingy at home. Although from what I hear, they were delicious.
Our hotel in Barcelona had rice bread, so after the first day, I learned to make a salami sandwich at the buffet and smuggle it out so I could have some sustenance during our excursions (i.e. shopping). Once we started cruising on the Voyager of the Seas however, it took my another 3-4 days to realize that starving and getting cranky during 6+ hour port excursions really should not be considered an option. The next day I smuggled and apple off the boat. The day after that, an apple and a box of corn flakes.
In a small beach town, Viareggio, there was a fast food restaurant attached to the bakery where we were purchasing beer (for everyone else of course) and sandwiches and I was amazed with the girl working there. Somehow we managed to communicate and she made me a 100% beef burger with cheese, on lettuce. Hallelujah a hot lunch!!

Eating Gluten-Free was a struggle. And in truth, I was disappointed with the boat, I had expected a better selection of foods that I could eat and possibly even some sort of labelling – but I was likely being ambitious. There was enough food, meats, cheeses, vegetables, salad, all without gluten. With respect to desserts, I was very disappointed, it was ice cream pretty much all the way for me. I had a few treats, not eating crusts (eg. a panacotta).

And don’t even get my started on the plane food…maybe next post.