Saturday, July 24, 2010

I love July.

I love July. It has become my favorite month. I love lots of things about July, but some of the things I love most are: my anniversary, heat and sunshine, and veggies.

Tonight, I made this. I don't know what to call it, except delicious. Grilled corn on the cob, basted with olive oil while it cooked. Quinoa flat bread (grilled) topped with grilled green and yellow zucchini topped with a 3 tomato salad. All fresh, mostly local, all good. No gluten required.

I've been making the flat bread more often than sandwich bread this month. I haven't wanted to devote an evening to bread making and this flatbread is fast, easy, and tastes pretty good. It's not the best thing I've ever eaten and I'm still experimenting with how to make it as good as it can be. Grilling it was a nice touch and the nutty flavor of the quinoa was a great contrast to the veggies. I'll post the recipe when I get it more consistent.

The 3 tomato salad is a celebration of my flower beds. Instead of flowers, most of my flower beds are full of herbs, tomatoes, and a couple of pepper plants. I picked two types of tomatoes from my own plants, and had grape tomatoes from the farmer's market. I cut them into small pieces, added some peeled, diced cucumber, and cubed Monterey cheese from the farmer's market. Tossed all that in some EVOO with salt, pepper, and shredded freshly picked basil leaves. I let it all sit while I grilled everything else and YUM. I'll be making that again. Really, it's taking a lot of will power not to eat the rest of it before Ben gets a chance to try it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The title of this post says it all. It's the word that can bring a newly diagnosed Celiac to her knees. The word I cried over at mealtimes those first few months. Bread.

Now I've never been huge into sandwiches. I did the low-carb thing for a summer. I know that bread isn't really even that "good" for you. But nothing can compare to that fresh out of the oven buttery goodness of homemade bread with some of my mom's elderberry jelly. or a BLT. It's BLT season and it's just not the same without some toasty bread.

So, as most GF-ers do, I began my quest for bread. I found a bakery in Toledo, Ohio that sells delicious GF bread... and they ship, too! It's pricey, but a worthy treat. And good bread for me has always been a treat. I'm not a Wonderbread kind of girl.

Still, there was something about not being able to bake by own bread (from scratch, no mixes) that bothered me. My mom is famous for making bread. She and my aunts make wonderful rolls and breads for holidays and family gatherings. So, I tried to make my own. Many were abysmal failures. One the dog wouldn't even eat.

For my birthday I asked for a King Arthur Flour GF bread pan and some flour. I was ready to try again. That same time a friend posted her latest grain free recipe on Facebook. That settled it. I came home from work that Friday night and set my attention to making bread.

The First Loaf.

Using my King Arthur GF Flour, bread pan and their recipe, I made my first batch of respectable gluten free bread. Not quite as light and airy as the pictures on their web site, but delicous and buttery. So good my husband ate a grilled cheese sandwich out of it and hugged me.

The Second Loaf.

The second loaf was totally different in ingredients and techinque. The dough was much less manageable. In fact, after the dough engulfed my hand mixer, I had to finish by hand. The resulting loaf was edible. The flavor was good, but the texture was dense and the loaf misshapen. I am confident that if I had used a stand mixer it would have been better. I also ground my own bean four for the recipe and using purchased bean flour might have helped, too. But, I was feeling ambitious and had read that white bean flour ground fresh in your coffee grinder is more delicious than chickpea flour you buy in the store. I am not a fan of the chickpea flour. I am one of those people who notices the "beany" taste in bean flour recipes. But, the bread did not have that taste, so maybe grinding my own beans helped... I won't know till I try it again. But I won't be trying this recipe again until I get a stand mixer.

The Moral of The Story. (or) Abbie Needs A Stand Mixer.

I am pretty confident that for gluten free bread baking, a stand mixer is a big help. But, if all you have is a hand mixer, you can still get a good loaf of bread. It's worth the trial and error when you have that first grilled cheese, or BLT, or almond butter and jelly...

If you have any suggestions for gluten free bread recipes, tips, or tricks (or stories of comedic failure) please share them in the comments section!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

White Wine Cream Sauce

We went to The Refectory for our anniversary dinner. If you've been to The Refectory, you know that it was amazing in every way. If you haven't, put it on your list of places to eat. If you don't live in Columbus: Come here. Eat there.

The gluten free menu was almost as robust as the regular menu, and just as impressive. I had scallop pomponnette (a light and creamy scallop mousse in white wine cream sauce with leeks and tomatoes). That was followed by mussel soup. Now, I had thought for the past two years the the fennel soup at Handke's was the best soup imaginable. I was wrong. The mussel soup at The Refectory is a perfect blend of complex and simple, light and rich, and all that is good about life. Do I have to mention that it had a white wine cream base? For my main course, I had sauteed lake walleye. I'd never had walleye, and was pleasantly surprised with how light it was. The sauteed leeks, jasmine rice and white wine, butter, red pepper and sundried tomato cream sauce was divine. Finish that up with creme brulee, espresso, and a sample of the most amazing dessert wine and I was a a happy, happy lady. Ben had pretty much the same thing, except he had the rack of lamb. It looked fantastic, but had a bit of flour in the sauce, so I didn't try it. He raved about it, though.

The service, the atmosphere, the food: everything was perfect.

And the VERY BEST PART was that I got to share it all with Ben. I'm a happy, lucky lady.