December 28, 2008

Sausage Lentil Soup

My mom would be so proud of me....I made something with lentils in it! For my whole entire childhood and even up into my late teens, I absolutely detested anything with lentils in it. I thought that lentils tasted like cardboard, and as a child, I frequently told anyone who would listen that I was highly allergic to them. However, with the passing years I have grown to really enjoy a good lentil soup or better yet, a lentil burger toped with ripe avocado slices. This following soup was inspired after the reindeer stew that is always available back home in Alaska.

Now I have to tell you the process that I went through to create this soup, which is quite funny. Sometimes I buy my meats already packaged up at the store, but most of the time I walk down the street, literally about a block, and find myself at the local butcher. She is great and always seems to decipher out what I want from my horrible Italian and wild hand gestures. I had seen some good looking fresh sausage being offered from my butcher, so I didn't pick up any at the store when I was out getting all my other supplies. So on morning before I created this delicious soup, I headed down to Francesca's butcher shop and patiently waited my turn. There were a couple of mama mia's in front of me stocking up on meats, which I can only dream about what mouthwatering dishes they will be used for. Meanwhile, the old Italian women that is in line ahead of me decides that she wants all of the sausages left in the window for who knows what. I stare with utter disbelief, quickly wondering how I am going to ask if there are anymore in the back!!!! Francesca then finishes packaging up the 5 pounds of sausage for the hungry mama mia and looks to me for my order. I panic!! I just start pointing at the empty tray and foolishly saying questo(this) questo!! She looks at me with a look of pure confusion and points to something else. All I can do is reply no no, I want the sausages!! Well thankfully there was a HUGE tube of sausage behind some of the meats, although it wasn't the sausage that I wanted. So finally I agreed that that was what I wanted. I then inform her I would just like one, thinking she will give me one extra long piece of sausage. But no, she looks at me and asks where she should tie the sausage off. Well now I am just really panicking! I have no idea how much this piece of sausage weighs, nor am I the guy at the fair that guesses weights for a living. I tell her more and then decide I think that piece will merely have to do! I get home and unfortunately my soup could have definitely used some more sausage! But at least next time I make this soup, I will clearly know just how much sausage I need! So enjoy this hearty soup and don't panic if you don't have enough sausage to satisfy this recipe, because it still tastes just as me!

Sausage Lentil Soup

~1 can crushed tomatoes
~2 stalks celery, finely chopped
~1 carrot, shredded
~1/2 lb sausage
~fresh thyme leaves, about 1-2 tsp.
~1/2 tsp dried oregano
~1/2 tsp dried basil
~salt and pepper to taste
~4 cups broth
~4 cups water
~330 grams yellow lentils, uncooked

This soup is a little time consuming, so make sure you have a couple hours. Rinse lentils thoroughly. Brown sausage in soup pot, after 5 minutes add celery and shredded carrot. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Then add broth and water to pot. Add in lentils and spices. Cook for 2-3 hours covered or until lentils are completely cooked. Then serve with grated parm cheese. However, the longer you have to cook the lentils, the better the soup tastes. So be patient with this soup and cook it on a day when you have some time on your hands. Or better yet throw it all together in a crock pot for a couple hours and you have an easy soup on the table.

December 23, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls to die for

I had the most delicious treat of my life the other day, a treat that I never in my life thought I would eat again. I had simply just written this item off and erased it from my mind. I am referring to cinnamon rolls. Warm, sweet, gooey, freshly baked cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon rolls and I have a long history. I used to eat a pack of cinnastix from Cinnabon's every single time that I was in the airport during college. On many of these occasions I was going home for the holidays, or the summer, or headed back to school. I remember eating cinnastix in many different airports at many different hours of the day, but they always held some comfort for me. As a result, cinnamon rolls remind me of my college years. The years that I really grew up and became the independent, self assured person I am today. So you see, cinnamon rolls relate to a big part of my life. And when I found out I could no longer eat that delicious paper sack filled with cinnastix, I lost a tiny part of myself. Now my trips through the airports are lonely and usually filled with a growling tummy, since it is almost impossible to find something gluten free at the airport.

However, I came across this recipe for cinnamon rolls the other day while browsing the internet. When I first saw the recipe, I thought to myself, there is absolutely no way these will taste the same. But I decided to take a chance. Well low and behold I created something that I never thought my taste buds would get the opportunity to taste again in my life. These cinnamon rolls were crunchy, doughy, sweet, and simply delectable. I was in cinnamon roll heaven. I felt the comfort that I hadn’t felt since my college days. I shared them with everyone I could and not one person could tell they were gluten free. And for me that is the ultimate approval, when a non-celiac likes my treats I am as happy as can be. So I have to thank whoever came up with this recipe, because it definitely was not me. I found this recipe on a couple different blogs, so whoever is the true artist of this recipe....THANK YOU!!! You really are a cooking genius. Celiacs, go pre-heat that oven and whip these babies up, but make sure you whip up an extra batch because once you taste them; you won't be able to stop!

Cinnamon Rolls

~2 tablespoons butter
~1/4 cup sugar
~2/3 cup of milk, room temperature
~1 packet yeast (about 1 tablespoon)
~1 egg
~1/4 cup canola oil
~1/2 cup potato starch
~1 cup corn starch
~1/4 teaspoon baking soda
~2 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum
~2 teaspoons baking powder
~1/2 teaspoon salt
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract ***Note***

*1 - 2 tablespoons sugar, to use when you roll out the dough


~1/2 cup brown sugar
~1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
~1/3 cup chopped nuts - optional


~¾ cup powdered or confectionary sugar
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~milk to thicken

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.In medium bowl, combine shortening and sugar. Mix well. Measure warm milk and add yeast to milk. Whisk well to fully dissolve, then let sit for 30min. on stove as it is pre-heating. Add milk/yeast to sugar mixture after it has sat for at least 30min. Add remaining ingredients. Mix very well, being sure to remove all lumps. Dough will be incredibly soft, but that is perfectly normal. Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it out so it covers a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square. Sprinkle sugar on the wrap. Lay ball of dough on top of that. Then pull out another sheet of wrap and gently lay over the dough. Pat the dough down into a roughly squarish pancake. Lift the top wrap up and then reposition it. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough in between the two layers of wrap. Occasionally you'll have to lift and reposition the wrap because it gets "stuck" under the edges. You might have to occasionally flip the whole thing over. Make sure that when you're done you've got ABOUT a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square of dough. Remove top piece of wrap. Combine filling ingredients. Spread evenly across dough's surface. (Original recipe poster suggested leaving about a 1 1/2" sugar free edge because when you roll the dough all the sugar shifts and fills this in; otherwise all the sugar spills out).Use the bottom piece of wrap to lift the edge of the dough and start to roll it up forming a long cylinder. Start with the sugary edge, which will be the center of your roll and roll toward the sugarless edge. Then cut into 8 or 9 slices of similar size, about 1 1/2" wide. Place rolls into a greased round glass pie pan. Bake approximately 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned. Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make glaze. The amount of milk you use will depend on how thick you want the glaze to be. Stir until all lumps are dissolved. Drizzle over warm rolls if desired.
***Note***: I used vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract, as I had none at the house. I cut a whole vanilla bean open and used approximately 3/4's of the inside of the bean. Just scrape contents with a knife 2-3 times and that will be enough for the cinnamon buns. Be careful that vanilla does not clump together. Stir it evenly throughout the mixture.

December 19, 2008

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Last night was spent in the kitchen, where I baked like a mad women. The boys were on the road again, so I had some of the girls over to show them the ins and outs of gluten free baking, which in my opinion is similar to rocket science. I was really excited to teach one of the girls the scoop on how to perfect a gluten free treat, as she just opened up her own catering business in Canada. We decided to create some cinnamon rolls followed by some delectable sugar cookies just in time for the holidays. Since this is my first Christmas being gluten free and also my first Christmas away from home, I have decided to make as many cookies, desserts, sweets, etc, as possible.

For as long as I can remember, my family always had the tradition of making spritzer cookies with my cousins for the holidays. I remember sitting at my dining room table covered in dough, dumping every imaginable color of sprinkles all over my cookies. I even would toss a couple of red hots in there and if the cookie was lucky, I even placed a chocolate covered in sprinkles in the middle, or as I called it at the time, a band-aid cookie! My cousins would be sitting close to me creating a mess of decorations on their cookies as well. And if my brother was in an artistic mood, he would even join in. This tradition has carried on every single year, except this year where I decided to create my own tradition. So with my apron on and my oven blazing, I went to work. I had no cookie cutter or a spritzer for that matter, so I created my own designs. My boyfriend loves cookies, so I thought what better way to surprise him when he comes home than with cookies that are shaped into hearts! Well after about 5 cookies, I got frustrated with using my designer cutting skills and pulled out my ravioli cutter! So now I truly have Italian cookies, which are cut into ravioli shapes!

This recipe was very simple and took no time at all. However, I did cheat a little because I used a flour mix for the cookies, as I am quickly running out of brown rice flour. And oddly enough, no one in Austria or Italy seems to carry brown rice flour, only white rice. I have found that Europeans like to use corn flour a lot more than rice flour in their products. These cookies were mostly made out of corn and were actually the best sugar cookies I have had in my life! Light, buttery, and full of flavor. If you are looking to create some holiday cookies for friends, family, and maybe even Santa, look no further.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

~1/2 cup butter, room temp
~1/3 cup sugar
~1 egg
~1 tsp. baking powder
~1/4 cup coconut flour
~3/4 cup flour mix(mine was corn flour, cornstarch, and carob seed flour)

Cream butter and sugar together. Add in egg, mix completely. In a separate bowl combine both flours and baking powder. Add flour mix to "cream" mixture. Stir thoroughly together creating a ball of cookie dough. On a floured piece(cornstarch) of wax paper, roll out the ball of dough until it is 1/4 in. thick. Then using a cookie cutter, cut out shapes from the dough and place on cookie sheet. Reuse scraps by rolling them out again and creating more cookies. Repeat this until all of dough is used. Bake for 5-8 min. at 375F, until cookie is barely starting to brown on edges. It is better to undercook these cookies than overcook them! You can decorate them before baking with sprinkles and other festive treats. However, I just used nutella as a frosting for some of the cookies. For the rest of the cookies, I used a chocolate icing made up of milk, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder for others. Feel free to decorate them however you want or even leave them plain. Happy Holidays!

December 18, 2008

Italian Stuffed Chicken

Pre-game meals are one of the most important meals in my home. Like any athlete, my boyfriend is concerned about his meal preceding his evening hockey games. Whether it is a home game or an away game, a massive carb oriented lunch is created that day. This past Tuesday I was trying to think up some ideas other than pasta, chicken parm, and roasted potatoes, which was turning out to be our go to meal. That was when this idea hit me. My boyfriend wanted stuffed chicken, so I naturally suggested something Italian, since we are living in Italy.

This recipe is great because it really is quick and simple. Not to mention you can pair it with almost any side dish. I served it with an Italian risotto mix I found that was actually gluten free. Normally I make my own risotto, but when in Italy, the mixes work just as well. This one was made up of freeze dried zucchini, peppers, olives, spices, and of course rice. However, cooking risotto is an art and you simply just don't dump this mix into bowling water. I patiently babied this risotto for a good 20 minutes. Stirring, adding broth, a touch of vino bianco, butter, and lots of love, because to me a good risotto is completely worth it.

Now for the chicken, I have to give complete credit to my boyfriend in executing this one. I had never created stuffed chicken before this and believed that if I just made a pocket in the chicken, everything else would follow perfectly. Well to my surprise making stuff chicken, like risotto, can be seen as an art form. I watched closely with grated asiago cheese in hand and fresh parma prosciutto crudo cascading its aroma around the kitchen, as my boyfriend taught me about the "portefeuille" technique, also known in English as the wallet technique. At this point I almost felt I should start taking notes. He cut the chicken with such finesse and precision, that I have to admit I was thoroughly impressed. But after that initial act was done, I butted back in, as I simply can’t let someone else do all the cooking. And is his words, I took back my kitchen! The meal turned out to be fantastic and I did take a picture of it, but realized to my dismay that my memory card was not in my camera. So, alas there is no photo. But I guarantee you this meal will become a pre-game favorite and in due time I will have a mouth-watering photo to display for everyone.

Italian Stuffed Chicken

~2 large thick chicken breasts(combined should equal a pound or more)
~80 g prosciutto(not ham)
~1 cup grated asiago cheese(or provolone, gouda, etc.)
~gluten free bread crumbs
~1 egg
~olive oil
~salt and pepper

Cut any excess fat from chicken breasts, then lay flat. While pressing your hand down on the chicken breast, cut chicken into a "wallet" being careful not to cut through the other side. Once the pocket is complete, stuff with prosciutto, followed by cheese. Then let the pocket close. You do not want the chicken stuffed so full that it is overflowing. Set chicken aside. Crack egg into bowl and stir thoroughly. Coat two plates, one with cornstarch and the other with bread crumbs. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip one chicken into egg, then place it on the plate of cornstarch. Completely cover with a light layer and then dip in bread crumbs, cover completely. Repeat with other chicken. Heat a skillet to medium heat and cook both chicken breasts in 2 tbs olive oil for 2-3 minutes on both sides. Then transfer them into baking dish and place in oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 350F. At this point, while chicken is cooking, you can make your risotto or other side dish.

December 15, 2008

Quebecois Shepherd's Pie

This past week my boyfriend made a request for a dinner of the infamous Shepherd’s Pie. The shepherd’s pies that I have grown up with in the states were comprised of a pie crust and then filled with potatoes, corn, peas, sometimes other veggies, and of course some sort of meat. I have to admit I am not a very big fan of these pies and frankly have only tried it once. I tentatively replied to his request, "so basically you want me to make you a pie with some meat and veggies in it??" He looked at me with disgust and stated that that is not a "true" shepherd’s pie. At this point I believe that he was actually very insulted with my idea of a shepherd’s pie. He quickly went into an explanation of what consists of shepherd’s pie and that our shepherd's pie is more similar to their meat pie, which is a pie originally made of meat from a bird that is now extinct in Quebec, thanks to all those lovers of meat pie. He also informed me that a correctly made shepherd’s pie has only three ingredients, mashed potatoes, corn, and meat. If it has anything else besides those 3 essential ingredients, it just simply isn't a real shepherd’s pie. So after my very informative class of shepherd’s pie 101, I began my search to create my own notorious Quebecois shepherd’s pie.

I was very skeptical on the evening that I created this dish as to whether or not I would truly enjoy this meal. After a touch of research, I was ready to begin. The meal itself took very little time to create, since there are very few ingredients. However, don't let the limited number of ingredients deter you from this meal. It turned out simply fantastic. It was one of the most comforting meals I have had in a long time. Simple and warm and covered in ketchup, you really can't go wrong. Not to mention my boyfriend was proud of my Quebecois cooking skills and stated that it was just like his mother's! Now that is a compliment. So for those in need of a simple, warm meal on a cold winter night, just turn to this shepherd’s pie recipe.

Quebecois Style Shepherd’s Pie

~1lb ground beef
~1 med. yellow onion
~2 cloves garlic, minced
~salt and pepper
~5 med. size Yukon gold potatoes peeled( you want enough for about 4 cups mashed potatoes)
~1 400g can of corn

Preheat oven to 350 F. Boil water in a big soup pot. Peel and cut potatoes into 3x3 inch chunks. Add chunks of potatoes once water is boiling. Cook potatoes until they are soft and are easily broken apart, approximately 5-10 minutes. While Potatoes cook, brown the beef with the onions. When beef is almost done, add in minced garlic. Continue cooking until grease is almost gone. If there is an excess of grease in pan, drain beef. Place beef in bottom of glass casserole dish. Pour potatoes and water into a strainer. Then place potatoes into a big bowl. Add 4 tbs butter to the middle and let sit until almost melted. Then add a splash of milk. Mix potatoes together with either an electric mixer or potato masher. Continue to add milk while mixing potatoes, but only add about 1-2 tbs at a time. You will want potatoes mashed into a creamy consistency, but not soupy. At the end add salt and pepper to taste. Drain corn and add layer of corn onto the beef. Then spoon in mash potatoes creating a layer on top of beef and corn. Place in oven and bake 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes barely start to brown on top. Serve with either gravy or a good helping of ketchup.

Slovenia, an ideal place to visit.

This past week we have accumulated an incredible amount of snow here, to the point that the hockey game on Thursday was postponed. I felt that with all this snow, I should head to the ski slopes. So on Sunday I made the drive to Slovenia to check out the skiing areas there. I went to the resort area of Kranjska Gora, which is about 45 minutes from where I am living in Italy. This resort area is complete with spas, a decent sized ski area, 5 star hotels, and numerous cafes and bars. I spent the afternoon skiing the powder filled slopes and finished with a wonderful Slovenian dinner. I have decided after my three visits to Slovenia, that I absolutely love it! I recommend this country to anyone and everyone. You can't beat the national parks, the coastline, the crystal clear blue rivers, or the mountainous areas. Not to mention this country is completely suitable for Celiacs. The Slovenian people are some of the friendliest people I have met in Europe.

For dinner we went to a restaurant that was recommended by some of the other guys here on the team. I admit I was slightly nervous upon entering this restaurant and seeing on everyone's plate fried food, gravies, dumplings, and other inedible items for me. At this point I thought to myself that I would be enjoying a simple salad and maybe some potatoes if I was lucky! However, to my surprise the menu was great! I skimmed through looking for items that were suitable and found more than I could imagine. I always pick a couple items I believe to be gluten free and then will hand the server my celiac card (which unfortunately was not in Slovenian, but everyone in Slovenia speaks English, German, and Italian almost fluently), she took it and looked it over, consulted another fellow server, asked me a couple questions, and within 3 minutes I was set with a dinner of seafood risotto followed by trout served with boiled potatoes and spinach. The meal ended up being absolutely wonderful and was by far one of the best meals I have had so far this year in Europe. My seafood risotto was filled with fresh mussels, calamari, and even crab. My trout was baked to perfection in a salt filled pan, which is a very common way to cook fish in this area. The meat literally fell of the bones. The spinach was sautéed in garlic and salt and paired beautifully with the boiled potatoes. I must have said about ten times what a wonderful meal it was. And from now on I have no fear of eating in Slovenia!

I have begun to realize that food and meal times in Europe are very important. I have never gone hungry since I have been here. I have found that as long as you make yourself clear and have a nice little celiac card to take along with you, every restaurant will want to please you. I was very nervous the first couple times I ate out, but have begun to enjoy the adventure of going out to eat in different countries. Unlike Americans, who are often times uneducated with Celiac Disease and may think you are simply a picky eater; Europeans thrive on pleasing those that have restricted diets. Therefore, my advice to Celiacs is don't limit yourself, travel and experience what other cultures have to offer, because you may find their ways simply irresistible to your taste buds.

December 11, 2008

Just a couple more uses for Soy Sauce

This week has been full of snow and pretty chilly. I have been on an Asian kick after I created the most delicious GF sesame chicken ever, which will be posted soon. So I have been playing around with Soy Sauce attempting to use it for something other than our occasional stir fry and when I take it for our trips to the sushi restaurant in Austria. On Tuesday it was quite chilly here and I was thinking about how much I enjoy a good miso soup. Well thanks to my current condition, I unfortunately am very wary about miso soup. I can make it GF, but eating it out at a restaurant is pretty sketchy. Mostly because the staff at sushi restaurants can't explain to you what miso they are using and if they are using the barley infused miso....well I am pretty sure you have a good idea what will happen. I have made this mistake twice now and have greatly paid for it. Normally in an ambiguous gluten free situation, I just simply do not eat that food. I say to myself is it really worth it that you eat that item and it may be full of gluten? I simply just say no. However, I have a huge weak spot for that delicious salty brothy flavor of a mouth-watering miso soup before a huge meal of sushi. So on those two occasions, I have simply convinced myself that there is no way they can put barley in my miso soup, well I was clearly wrong both times! Therefore, I have stopped eating miso soup and miss it like crazy. Regrettably, I have not been motivated to test my Japanese cooking techniques and create a wondrous soup, I simply just have no desire to work with the tofu that is required for what I believe a proper miso soup. Now that brings me to my fulfilling Japanese soup I created the other day. I first thought about the things I love the most about miso soup, the broth, the salty flavor, the onions, etc. and then I came up with this creation. So for all you miso soup loving Celiacs, this may just curb your cravings.

Japanese Soup

~1 egg
~1 egg white
~1 tbs. white wine, I just used some random Italian white wine I had in the fridge
~1/2 tsp. sugar
~2-3 cups GF veggie broth
~1 cup mushrooms chopped
~3 green onions chopped, someitmes called scallions
~1/2 lb chicken chopped into cubes
~2 tbs GF soy sauce
~1 packet vermicelli rice noodles

Bring broth, wine, soy sauce, and sugar to a boil in a wok, or soup pot. While waiting for that to boil, combine 1 egg and 1 egg white together in bowl. Once soup boils, reduce heat slightly to a simmer, add chicken and rice noodles. Add as many noodles as you want to be in your soup. Add less if you want a broth based soup or more if you want barely any broth. If you do want more broth in your soup, add less noodles than you think, as they will expand and absorb quite a bit of the liquid. Then add in the egg mixture, but do not stir it in. Add mushrooms and green onions(scallions). Finally after 3-5 minutes stir egg mixture in soup with a knife. The chicken should be cooked now, make sure by fishing a piece out and checking that the inside is no longer pink. Then spoon soup into bowls and enjoy!

My second concoction was made for dinner after eating this soup for lunch. I was planning on making citrus chicken with risotto and then I thought well why not just add some soy sauce to zest it up a bit! So thus came my Asian influenced citrus chicken. It is a very simple and healthy meal that is actually one of my best tasting meals yet. So if you feel like you need to use up some soy sauce in the fridge, just pair up these two recipes for a day of Asian flare.

Asian Citrus Chicken

~1 cup risotto (uncooked)
~1 lb raw chicken breasts
~4 cups GF veggie broth
~juice from one orange
~1 med. yellow onion, chopped
~2 cloves garlic, minced
~5 basil leaves, torn
~salt and pepper
~1 tbs soy sauce
~1-2 tsp. lemon zest


~juice of one orange
~juice from half a lemon
~2 tsp. potato starch or cornstarch( I used potato) mixed in 1 tbs. water
~touch of salt

Drizzle olive oil in skillet and heat to medium high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan. In same pan add a touch more olive oil and sauté onions for 2-3 minutes, then add in minced garlic. Sauté for 1-2 more minutes seasoning with a touch of salt and pepper. Then add in half of the broth, soy sauce, juice, and rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer covered. Check the mixture every 3-5 minutes, when broth mixture starts to become absorbed in rice, stir in more broth. Once liquid is beginning to absorb into rice, add in lemon zest and torn basil leaves. After 10 minutes, add back in breasts of chicken. Cook chicken in rice for about 10 more minutes or until rice is completely cooked. Keep stirring in liquid even when chicken is added back in. I check risotto by every so often eating a couple pieces of the rice. Just remember risotto takes time and if it does not seem done, just stir in more liquid. The trick is to stir in liquid frequently and do not let risotto dry out. You should be left with a creamy rice mixture at the end. To make the sauce heat a smaller skillet or wok and add juices and salt to the pan. Bring to a boil and stir in starch mixture. Boil on high continuously stirring until sauce is reduced, then bring heat to low and keep warm until chicken and rice is done. Then plate the rice and chicken and drizzle a touch of sauce over chicken. And voila, you have put your soy sauce to good use!

December 4, 2008

My Italian Thanksgiving senza glutine

I know that I am about a week late on Thanksgiving, but this year I ran on Italian time, so naturally I had to be late. Actually the real reason for the delay was the boys rigorous hockey schedule kept getting in the way, not to mention I am the only American here. So we were finally able to have Thanksgiving yesterday. Now Thanksgiving in Pontebba was slightly different than my normal Thanksgiving routine, which is always in Maui enjoying a wonderful buffet dinner with numerous items to choose from. However, this year was very different because 1. I am now a diagnosed Celiac 2. I am living in the middle of nowhere in Northern Italy.

The preparation for Thanksgiving started about a week ago with me sitting down with my neighbor and fellow hockey wife to chat about the menu. She is a Canadian, but had no problem in celebrating her Thanksgiving a month late with American Thanksgiving. We spent some time coming up with items that were easy, I could eat, and big enough to feed a bunch of Canadian hockey guys. After coming up with a rough draft of items I went off in search of a turkey. My search began with inquiring as to whether our favorite local butcher, who I am now on ciao ciao terms with, would supply us with a fresh turkey and if she would who would order it in Italiano for me. Before trying this option out, I asked an Austrian if this would be possible. He simply laughed at me, called his friend and asked where this crazy American, me, could get a whole uncooked fresh turkey. He plainly told me after the phone call was over that I was crazy and to just buy a frozen one. Well I had remembered seeing some frozen turkeys at a grocery store in Austria, so I decided that that would be the best option. Then with the turkey taken care of, Thanksgiving was well on its way. After surveying some websites we finally came up with the rest of the dinner.

The morning of Thanksgiving I got up bright and early to bake my pie. I will admit I was a little nervous about my Betty Crocker baking skills, but I took a chance. My Mom is always the one during the holidays that bakes her delicious apple pie, but this year I adopted the tradition. After doing enough pie research to become a professional pie maker, I underwent the task of creating a gluten free master piece. While my boyfriend quietly slept, I became the mad scientist of cooking in our kitchen. Flours where being thrown everywhere, butter smeared on the walls, apples on the floor (I have never mentioned that I am not always the "cleanest” cook, but I get the job done!), basically a tornado hit my kitchen. After about ten minutes into this task, I realized it was time to put on the apron, which meant things were getting serious. Finally I took the last piece of rolled out pie crust and placed it over the top of the pie. I cautiously carried my "child" to the oven and quickly put it inside. After approximately 40 minutes and serious amounts of anxiety, it was done. Now normally I don't like to toot my own horn, but on this item I tooted it loud and clear and even followed up with a pat on the back! The pie turned out delicious and I got compliments from everyone on my Apple Pie senza glutine. Now there were other items on the menu other than the Apple Pie, but that was the main item I worried the most about. After it was cooked, everything else was a piece of cake!

The meal started with antipasti items such as, fresh cheeses, olives, GF chips, salami, proscuitto, etc. It was then followed by the main course, which included 2 cooked to perfection turkeys, GF cornbread stuffing, mashed potato casserole, green beans with proscuitto, home made cranberry sauce, GF gravy, and of course rolls for all those non-celiacs attending, i.e. everyone else. I will include the recipes for the items I made and encourage anyone and everyone to seriously make this Apple Pie.

GF Cornbread Stuffing

Now this recipe gets a little complicated, as you must first make your own cornbread or muffins for this since all store bought ones are injected with gluten. For the muffins I used the recipe of the website, but you can use any simple plain cornbread/muffin recipe. Then for the stuffing I used the recipe off of Oprah's website, however, I changed it very slightly since there is no GF cream of mushroom soup in this area!

Cornbread from

~1 cup corn meal
~1 tsp salt
~1 cup white rice
~1/3 cup oil
~1/4 cup sugar
~1 egg
~2 tsp. xantham gum
~1 cup milk
~2 Tsb baking powder
~1 more cup of water

Mix all ingredients together and then bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until done. Let bread cool and then crumble onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 F until dry and just starting to turn brown.


~Olive oil
~6 tbs butter
~2 yellow onions
~5 celery stalks
~3 big carrots
~all the cornbread "croutons" previously made
~1 cup orange juice
~juice from a lemon
~3 cups broth
~1/2 cup white wine
~1 cup scallions
~salt and pepper

Heat 2 tbs olive oil and sauté scallions, celery, onions, and carrots with salt and pepper until they start to soften. Add white wine and sauté for 5 more minutes. Place cornbread "croutons" in a bowl, add veggies with wine, broth, orange juice, lemon juice, and a bit more salt. Bake in oven for 45min-1 hour.

My newly famous Apple Pie

~1/2 cup brown rice flour
~1/3 cup potato starch
~1/4 cup tapioca starch
~3-4 Tbs sweet rice flour
~1 tsp. cornstarch
~2 Tbp sugar
~1/2 tsp. baking powder
~1 1/2 tsp. xantham gum
~1/2 cup butter
~1 egg (you can also use another egg to brush the top of the pie)
~1 Tbs lemon juice

Combine all flours, cornstarch, baking powder, and xantham gum into bowl. Cut the 1/2 cup butter into chunks and place in bowl. With a fork cut the butter into the flour until the butter is pea sized. Combine 1 egg and lemon juice in separate cup/container and then pour into dough. Gently combine the liquid with the dry ingredients using a fork. Once combined dough should hold together well, if it is to dry add just a tsp. of water at first, if more is needed add another. If dough is too wet, sprinkle white rice flour onto ball of dough. Place the ball of dough onto wax paper and wrap together, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour before making the pie. Repeat this whole processes to make another ball of dough for the top of the Apple Pie. However, if you only need one crust, then do not repeat. Once dough is refrigerated for one hour, unwrap the dough and place between two nicely floured (with white rice flour) wax paper sheets. If dough starts to stick to paper add a touch more flour. Roll out the dough until it is about an inch longer all around than pie pan. Remove one wax paper and place pan on dough. Flip the dough over and you are set with the first crust. Then place the filling in crust, recipe located below, and repeat the rolling process with the other ball of dough. Remove one wax sheet and flip dough onto top of pie. Then crunch the sides together with your fingers making whatever design you please. Before placing into the oven brush a beaten egg over top and sprinkle with sugar, then cut 4 slits into pie in a design or simply poke a couple holes with a fork and put that masterpiece in the oven. Cook at 350 F for 40-45 min, or until golden brown on top.

Apple Pie Filling

~4 chopped apples, skin removed, I used Galas
~1/2 cup brown sugar
~2 Tbs cornstarch
~1-2 tsp. cinnamon
~dash of nutmeg
~2 tbs butter
~spoonful of lemon juice

Mix apples with sugar, cornstarch, and spices. Then add butter and lemon juice. Combine well and add to pie.

Italians secretly love French desserts

This past weekend was full of cooking. One of my friends from my high school days came to visit us in Pontebba with her boyfriend. She currently lives in Rome and has Italianized herself complete with with a Roman boyfriend. It was so great to see her and I relished our time together, which was spent reminiscing, watching hockey, and of course drinking some vino from the Rome region. Her boyfriend was wonderful and wanted to learn everything about being Gluten Free. I of course wanted to cook for them, which was slightly nerve wracking as I am absolutely sure they have wonderful Italian food all the time. However, I sucked it up and presented them with a wonderfully spread dinner. I cooked manicotti followed by a French dessert called a clafloutis. My friend and her boyfriend helped throughout the process, which was a learning experience. Her boyfriend even taught me a couple tricks and we were all able to sit down relatively quickly to the meal and say Buon Appetito before digging in! I at the moment, sat motionless trying not to be obvious that I was waiting for the two of them to take their first bites. Breathless I watched Federico take his first bite and immediately he began to gush with praises. I can't tell you how close I was to crying. That is the ultimate compliment to my cooking when a born and raised Italian raves about my manicotti, although numerous times teased my accent and said it was canelloni, he ate my food with gusto. He literally licked his plate clean! After that I kissed my fingers together and said Mama Mia!

After dinner, dessert was a plum clafloutis complete with a vienetta cake(as I had no ice cream). The two of them simply loved this treat, especially Federico. Now the story of how I am knowledgeable in the art of clafloutis making goes back to last year in Scotland when I was visiting a friend I grew up with in Alaska. She was a gracious host to me for many days and we enjoyed that time with sight seeing, discussing matters in America, and most importantly eating. She made this dessert, clafloutis, that I had never seen or heard of in my life before. It is a French dessert that is normally made with cherries, but I like to spice it up a bit and use whatever fruit is in season. I took her recipe, along with a couple others, then removed the gluten and voila'! You have a delicious gluten free dessert perfect for entertaining.


~6 Plums, or 2-3 cups of whatever fruit you please; apples, raspberries, blueberries etc
~1/4 cup sweet rice
~1/4 cup brown rice
~1/3 cup coconut flour
~3 eggs
~1/3 cup sugar
~1 1/3 cup milk, although as my friend taught me you can use milk, yogurt, water, apple juice, etc. I used milk, but it turns out just as good with a combination of liquids too.

Chop fruit into smaller pieces and cover with 1-2 Tbs honey. Let that sit in a bowl while you mix the rest of the ingredients. In a blender combine the eggs, liquid, and sugar together. In a separate bowl combine the flours together. Add 1/3 of the flour to liquid, then blend. Repeat this until all the flour is gone. It is important that you do this or the flour may clump or not be completely absorbed in the liquid. For those of you who have frequently cooked with GF flours, you will understand. Finally pour batter into a greased glass baking pan. Then scoop fruit with honey evenly onto the liquid. Bake at 180 C( around 350 F) for 10-15 minutes or until the "cake" has risen and when poked with a toothpick shows no residue. Top it off with slivers of almonds or for an even sweeter cake sprinkle powdered sugar on the top. Now cut it up and serve it with some ice cream or better yet a vienetta!

November 26, 2008

Thought you were done eating Chinese food forever?? Well think again!

Personally, I find that I have a huge taste for ethnic foods. I used to eat Chinese food quite often growing up, from take out, to the grocery store selection, to the Chinese Buffets, and even the occasional sit down meal. I even used to walk with a couple friends in high school down get some Chinese food for lunch from a nearby hot spot. Upon being diagnosed, it registered in my mind that I would never be able to have some of my favorite Chinese Foods ever again in my life! Well this fact wasn't dominating my mind as much as the thoughts about ALL of the foods I could never again it. It wasn't until I was watching Sex in The City that it really hit me. For those of you who have seen this movie, you know what I am talking about. There is a scene in which Carry is at Miranda's house and they are sharing a special moment on New Years Eve eating delicious Chinese food. I kid you not; I stared at that scene with anger, pity, sadness, jealousy, hatred, and about a million other terrible feelings. As I drove home from that wonderful movie, I started bawling and continued to bawl the whole entire way home because I knew I could never eat Chinese Food again in my life. I had a huge talk with myself that night about how things potentially could be worse and finally over some time have come to terms with a lot of things in this challenging situation, I realized that there is hope for us Celiacs! There is a wonderful invention called....Gluten Free Soy Sauce!!! And let me be the first to say that you will never know the difference. So don't fret because all Chinese Food is not lost, the only thing that is lost is possibly the fact that you may not be able to enjoy your favorite Chinese Food at the local Golden Gate restaurant anymore, but that doesn't mean you can't replicate the majority of that experience at home!!!

Growing up I was not a huge fan of stir fry, but in the recent years have come to love that dish. It wasn't until I was over here in Italy that I really started experimenting with this dish. I have now found the ideal stir fry recipe through trial and error and the help of my boyfriend. I do have to give him credit for part of this dish, as he made the initial sauce; I just jazzed it up a bit in the end. So I hope that all of you enjoy this very easy, quick, and most importantly absolutely delicious recipe! Light some candles to set the ambiance, make a pot of tea, perhaps wear your Chinese slippers purchased in China Town, and then sit down to some relaxing authentic stir fry.

Chinese Stir Fry

~1 yellow bell pepper chopped
~1 cup mushrooms chopped
~1/2 cup snow peas broken in half
~1/2 cup bean sprouts
~1 small yellow onion chopped
~1/2 cup broccoli chopped
~1lb chicken sliced into small pieces or beef
~olive oil
~2 cloves garlic

Sauté chicken or beef until cooked and remove from skillet or wok. Add olive oil to pan and sauté onion for 1-2 minutes. Then add in garlic, bell pepper, snow peas, and broccoli. Cook for 4 more minutes and then add mushrooms and bean sprouts. Then stir in soy sauce, honey, and ginger until completely mixed. Add chicken and cook for 2-3 more minutes until veggies are cooked, but still crunchy and chicken is heated through. Serve immediately over a bed of rice or cooked vermicelli noodles.


~1/3 cup GF soy sauce
~2-3 tbs honey
~1-2 teaspoons fresh ginger grated(add more if you love the taste of ginger)

~Optional: hot pepper flakes or GF spicy Thai chili sauce to taste

*Note: Sometimes I will add more sauce if there isn't enough for me to pour over my rice. Feel free to add more or less depending on how much you like sauce. Also you may want to alter the sauce slightly adding more honey if you like a sweeter sauce, less soy sauce, etc. It is all up to you, honestly each time I make this I never measure it out and every time it tastes different, but that is what I like about it.

November 21, 2008

A trip to Greece....In your kitchen!

Ah Greek Food. The endless amounts of tzatziki sauce, fig leaves, and hummus. I grew up with quite a few Greeks back in Alaska, apparently once one of them decided that a barren land of ice and snow would be better than the sun and crystal clear blue water, all the rest of the family thought it was a great idea too! However, it made for some delicious Greek food growing up. I have fond memories of making it a point to be at one of my friend's houses during the Christmas holidays. I would walk in the door to a heavenly scent of freshly baked baklava. Her mom would immediately usher me in the kitchen stating "EAT EAT EAT!!" and would shove at least 5 baklavas in my direction, to which I obviously did not object to. Now those were in my pre-diagnosis days that I find myself often dreaming about...But I keep myself from pining about those days with a promised vow to myself and others that I will make a gluten free baklava one day. It is one of the many cooking tasks sitting on my list of to do's before I die.

The other night my boyfriend was talking about how much he loved a good tzatziki sauce, so I thought it was definitely time for a Greek Festival in our kitchen. Now unfortunately we did not have the whole entire Greek Klan to attend our dinner, but we made do with ourselves, a bottle of Italian vino, and some seriously strong tzatziki sauce that you could smell for miles.

Greek Night!
Chicken and Rice Pilaf w/ tzatziki sauce

~1 lb thinly sliced chicken breasts
~4 tbs. olive oil
~1/2 red onion chopped
~the juice of half a lemon
~3 tbs. white wine vinegar
~1 tsp. dried oregano

In a glass baking dish, combine marinade. Once combined, place chicken in dish. Marinate overnight. When you are ready to cook chicken, place dish in oven 180 C and cook for 15-20 minutes or until cooked completely through.

Rice Pilaf

~2 C. white rice
~1/2 C. crushed rice vermicelli
~2 tbs. butter
~4 cups veggie or chicken broth
~1 tsp. fresh thyme

Sauté the rice and vermicelli in butter over low heat until brown. Add in thyme and half of the broth, bring to simmer, and cover. After 5 minutes check rice and stir in more broth, about another cup. After another 5 minutes check rice and add more broth if necessary. Rice will be done once broth is evaporated and rice is soft. I personally like to test my rice throughout this whole cooking process. Once done remove from heat and serve alongside chicken.

Tzatziki Sauce

~1 cucumber grated
~1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
~2 cloves minced garlic
~1 tsp. white wine vinegar
~2 tsp. parsley chopped
~salt to taste

Grate cucumber and squeeze out any excess moisture. Combine the all ingredients in a bowl. I made mine the night before with the chicken, so it could sit in the fridge, which led it to have a delicious taste. Serve sauce on top of chicken and rice.

November 18, 2008

Girls night in...

Last Saturday I got together with a couple of the wives here. The boys were all away at a hockey game, so we thought it was a good chance for us to have some much needed girl time! So of course I had to make something delicious and gluten free for the occasion. I had yet to make a true dessert from scratch, so I took this get together as an opportunity to put on my baking apron and get serious. I borrowed a recipe from one of my gluten free cook books and tweaked it to be suitable for Pontebba. One of the other girls made two dips that I will also include on here. So here are a couple recipes great for evening get togethers or appetizers.

Game Night Cake

~3/4 cup sweet rice flour
~1/3 cup potato starch
~3 tbs. tapioca flour
~1 tsp GF baking powder
~2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
~1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
~3 eggs
~1/2 cup sugar
~1 tablespoon plain yogurt

~75 g (about 5 oz.) mascarpone
~1/8 cup whipping cream
~1 tbs. confectioner's sugar
~1/4 cup raspberries, fresh or thawed

~100g (1 bar) 70% dark chocolate
~ 100 ml (3 1/2 oz.) cream
~2 tsp. confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F, then grease the bottom of a glass baking dish (I believe mine is a 15" by 10") with butter. Mix all dry ingredients, except sugar, for the cake together; flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and xantham gum. In a separate bowl whip eggs and sugar together, then add yogurt. Once this is mixed stir in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time. Then add the cake mixture to pan and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until done. Allow cake to cool, or as I did put it outside in the cold for a good 5-10 minutes. While cake is cooling, whisk mascarpone, whipping cream, and confectioner's sugar together. Once this creates a thick creamy mixture (add more mascarpone if not thick), add raspberries. Put filling aside and in a small pot or sauce pan melt cream and chocolate together at a very low heat. Once icing is melted together add confectioner's sugar to taste, then remove from heat and set aside. Retrieve cake from wherever you put it and cut in half. Carefully pull one half from the pan and place on a serving plate. Spoon filling onto cake, once filling is spread evenly set the other piece of cake on top and spread icing evenly on top and over sides. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Fruit Dip

~1/2 cup cream cheese
~1/4 strawberry yogurt

Mix together until smooth and serve with fresh fruit.

Pizza Dip

~3/4 cup sour cream
~1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
~Can of GF pizza sauce
~GF pepperoni stick

Fill the bottom of a round pie pan or shallow baking dish with sour cream. Then add cheese to the top of the sour cream. Once cheese is evenly spread, drizzle pizza sauce onto cheese covering completely. Top the sauce with slices of pepperoni. Bake in oven, 300 F, until cheese is melted and dip is hot, about 10-15 minutes.

November 15, 2008

Heilbut, aka Halibut!

A couple nights ago we made the drive to go to Villach, Austria, so we could really get full advantage of this grocery shopping trip. On the way there it was decided that that evening I would prepare some sort of fish. Now I wanted to visit my friend at the fish market in town to obtain the ultimate fish for the evening, but alas my Italian fishman was not in Pontebba that morning. I had to settle with whatever looked enticing in Austria. Once we reached the fish part of the grocery store I got my regular order of skewers of shrimp from Malaysia. Now who knows exactly how these shrimp got to the country of Austria, but I will give it to them the fact that they are delicious. I then took a look around at the selection of fish for the day. We had decided earlier that I would prepare a white fish; it was now just a matter of what white fish I would choose! I luckily speak pretty good German, however my vocabulary for fish is quite lacking, as I did not know 80% of the fish sitting in front of me. Finally after some serious deliberation I chose the halibut. Now I am especially spoiled since I was born and raised in the paradise of halibut, but I figured this one from the Atlantic Ocean would do. As I bought this fillet, my brain quickly flashed back to one of my best friend's magnet on her refrigerator door. This magnet has all the fish listed that are in the green area, the yellow area, and yes the red area. I tried to see that chart in my mind and thought OH NO! I think the Atlantic halibut is definitely in the red zone! So I vowed to myself at that moment that I would value that magnet and not eat this fish again for at least 3 months. I also informed my boyfriend of the dangers of mercury and that next time if we are going to eat halibut it can only be from my homeland! I then walked around the store pondering what to do with this mercury saturated fillet. Finally after serious contemplation I designed the recipe listed below. It is by far one of my better creations, although I highly recommend using fresh Alaskan halibut instead. However, if that is not possible use another white fish, such as tilapia or cod. Next time for this recipe, I will be only buying fresh Sole from my Italian fishman and supporting the local Pontebba economy.

Almond Encrusted Halibut with White Wine Sauce and Roasted Potatoes

~3 8 oz. fillets of white fish
~Bag of ground almonds
~Bag of bread crumbs GF ( I use finally ground bread crumbs)
~1 egg
~1/4-1/2 cup cornstarch
~olive oil

Wash fillets and pat dry. Fill a plate with the cornstarch. Then fill another plate with half bread crumbs and half ground almonds, mix together. If either cornstarch or almond/crumb mixture get low, just simply add more. Then beat egg in a bowl. Dip fillets into cornstarch, coating with an even layer. Then brush fillets with egg, after coated dip into bread crumb almond mixture coating evening. Repeat this with each fillet. Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in frying pan and fry fish 2-3 minutes on each side. Then remove from skillet and place in baking pan and bake another 2-4 minutes, or until down. Just place the fillets in with the potatoes as they are finishing.

Roasted Potatoes
-For this recipe you can make more or less depending on your family size. I made enough for the two of us that night.

~8 small yukon gold potatoes
~2 cloves minced garlic
~2 Tablespoons olive oil or enough to coat potatoes
~1 tsp. fresh rosemary
~1 tsp. fresh thyme
~1 tsp. dried oregano

Cut potatoes into chunks. Place in bowl. Add olive oil, minced garlic, minced rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper. Toss together and then place in glass baking dish. Sprinkle dried oregano over the top of potatoes. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 230 degrees Celsius, or until completely soft inside and slightly brown on the outside.

White Wine Sauce

~2 shallots
~2 tbs. butter
~1-2tbs. olive oil
~3 tbs. cornstarch
~1 cup GF veggie broth (you can also use chicken)
~1/2 dry white wine
~1/4 cup parsley chopped
~7 fresh basil leave shredded

Sauté shallots for 3-4 minutes in the butter and oil. Add cornstarch little by little making sure it is not clumping. Then whisk in chicken broth until smooth. Add the wine, herbs, salt, and pepper. Simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you feel sauce gets to thick, which I did, add more broth. Then pour sauce over cooked fish and serve with roasted potatoes.

November 11, 2008

Thai Town

As the weeks have past here in Italy, I have begun to realize that as much as I love a good Italian meal, you just can't have it seven days a week. So I started to wonder where I could find some other ethnic food, besides the massive amounts of risottos, raviolis, manicottis, etc. Looking through the grocery store in Italy, I realized that Italians really don't even eat anything else besides Italian. I have yet to see any other food places besides Italian cafe's, Italian trattoria's, Italian restaurants, Gelato shops, etc. Italians do have some of the best food in the world, but really how do they eat it 7 days a week and 365 days a year? Well I guess when you grandma and mother both are Mama Mia's, then there really isn't much to complain about is there?! So my quest for ethnic food began about a month ago. I searched high and low in all the nearby Italian grocery stores before the light bulb finally went off. Italians may only eat Italian food, but Austrians eat everything! So I drove out to the store in Austria and was delighted when I found an ethnic food section full of Indian sauces, Thai curries, rice noodles, tacos, and the list goes on and on. I decided my first creation would be something Thai, as I miss that food more than anything. I ate Thai almost every week this summer because it is very Celiac friendly. I was more than overjoyed that I could sit down in a restaurant and eat most of the same dishes as my neighbor. So standing there in the store I decided I would get a green curry paste, that of course I made sure was GF, some bamboo shoots, coconut milk and some red curry paste for later. My inspiration for this first dish comes from the Thai restaurant that I frequented every week in Alaska. They make a mean green curry chicken there and I miss it like crazy. I have made this dish three times now and after playing around with the amount of curry versus chicken broth I think I have it mastered.

Green Curry Chicken

~1 can regular or light coconut milk
~2-3 teaspoons green curry paste GF
~1/2-1 cup bamboo shoots
~1 lb chicken, chopped or Shrimp, cleaned and de-veined(uncooked)
~1/4-1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth GF
~3-5 fresh basil leaves
~Fish Sauce GF (optional)
~1-2 tablespoons olive oil
~dash of sesame oil

In a large saucepan add olive oil and cook chicken until it is almost done. Remove chicken from the saucepan and place aside. Add the curry and the sesame oil to medium heat and stir constantly. Add in a touch of coconut milk until it thickens a bit, and then dump the rest of the coconut milk in the saucepan. Bring to a boil and add in chicken broth (only 1/4 cup to start), return chicken and add bamboo shoots and simmer for 5-10 minutes. At this point you can also add fish sauce. I have yet to add fish sauce to my concoction over here, as I am still a little weary that the one I bought isn't gluten free. So I have omitted the fish sauce and believe that the chicken broth gives it the necessary salty taste and that you really don't even need the fish sauce. You can also taste the sauce at this point to see that it is spicy enough for you, if not add more curry. If it isn't salty enough, add more broth. Once the dish is almost done tear the basil leaves and add them to the sauce, simmering for a couple more minutes. I personally like to serve this over basmati rice.

Now if you are using shrimp, do not add the shrimp until you have made the sauce and placed the bamboo shoots in it, as the shrimp only takes about 4-5 minutes to cook. Once the sauce has simmered for 5 minutes, add the shrimp and cook until pink all the way through. If you are using cooked shrimp, cook them for about 3 minutes in the sauce to reheat them. The sauce will not be thick, and you do not want to reduce it. It is meant to be thin and delicious so that it is a soupy mix when poured over rice.

My next recipe is inspired by the restaurant Ginger located in downtown Anchorage. If you are a huge Thai fan, you absolutely must go and try their red curry beef! It is the best I have ever tasted, and as with the green curry, I miss it dearly. However, I was able to concoct something that I believe is very comparable.

Red Curry Beef

~1 lb stir fry beef or strips, cut them into thin strips
~2-3 teaspoons red curry paste GF
~button mushrooms, chopped
~1 can coconut milk
~1/2 -1 cup spring onions thinly chopped
~Dash sesame oil

Cook the beef in a saucepan until almost done. Remove from the pan and remove excess grease. Add the sesame oil and curry paste and stir continually while adding in a couple tablespoons coconut milk. Once this mixture becomes slightly thickened, add more coconut milk, thickening each time until the whole can is added. The sauce at this point does not have to be completely thickened. Add mushrooms and chicken back to sauce and heat over a higher heat than that of the green curry chicken. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until sauce is reduced and thick. Spoon red curry beef over basmati rice and top off with uncooked chopped spring onions.

*Note: These two recipes are basic Thai recipes that can be changed in many ways. Feel free to substitute or even add in different vegetables. I, myself find that I enjoy less veggies in my Thai food and leave the excess amount of veggies for stir fry nights. However, everyone has a different palate and therefore adapt these recipes to your own palate; they are merely just a foundation meant to be tweaked and finessed. Enjoy!

November 8, 2008

Biscottis that will make you forget you are Celiac!

Now I never considered myself to be a baker. I would occasionally schluff out the homemade chocolate cupcakes or a good chocolate chip cookie, normally though I would just head to the store and buy a mix, which only needed very little of my attention to create. I always admired my friend Leah, who is a baking machine. I don't know anyone else of my age that gets up at 7:30 in the morning a couple days before Christmas to spend the whole day baking for parties. Now that is pure dedication to the baking world. Well now times have changed and I am forced into testing out my baking skills. I use Leah as my inspiration and think if she can do it, so can I! Gluten free baking mixes are basically non-existent in Europe, so I am forced to either follow a homemade recipe or create my own. I have been drinking a lot of tea and coffee over here, so I thought how much I would enjoy an excellent tasting biscotti. Well that led me to my first concoction. I pulled some ideas from other recipes, but highly limited with my ingredients over here, I had to use some creativeness. I was laughing to myself as I created these at 10 o'clock at night waiting for my boyfriend to get back from a hockey game. I had different bags of GF flours strewn about my tiny Italian kitchen and I was literally covered in every GF flour you could think of. At that moment I thought to myself, jeez how easy do non Celiac’s have it, they only have to use a single flour to bake with, whereas I am over here up to my knees in flours half of America probably can't pronounce! But at least our GF baking experiences are literally unforgettable in many ways! In the end the biscotti actually turned out fantastic!

Gluten Free almond chocolate biscotti
-adapted from The Gluten Free Guide to Italy

~1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
~1/2 cup potato starch
~1/4 cup tapioca flour
~1 cup sugar
~1 tsp. baking powder GF
~1 tsp. xantham gum
~3 eggs
~1/2-1 teaspoon almond extract ( depends on how almondy you like them)
*You can also use fresh slivers of almonds and then just a couple drops of almond extract
~1 teas vanilla extract GF
~3 tsp. orange juice, not concentrate

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Once ingredients are mixed roll into a rectangle shape or log shape on baking pan. Bake at 375 for 20min. Remove from oven and allow to slightly cool, about 10 minutes. Then slice the log into ½-1 inch pieces. Turn and lay pieces on their side. Place pan back into oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees for another 20-25 minutes. Biscotti should be hard in center and slightly brown.

Chocolate Coating
~1 GF chocolate bar, preferably 70% dark chocolate
~1-3 tablespoons milk

Heat a very small pot over low heat. Break chocolate into smaller pieces and place in pot. Continue to stir the chocolate as it melts, adding in tiny amounts of milk once the chocolate is almost melted. Continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is almost boiling. However, do not boil mixture as it will burn. If mixture appears too thick, add more milk. Remove from heat and immediately dip half of one end of the biscotti into melted chocolate. Repeat with all biscotti. Allow chocolate to dry before eating.

November 6, 2008

Croatia: A Safe Haven for Celiacs!

I just got back from a nice 4 day vacation in Croatia with my boyfriend, who had a couple days off from his rigorous hockey schedule. We stayed in a little town called Rovinj, which was built to resemble the city of Venice and let me tell you it does! It was amazing, complete with tiny little streets zig zagging all over the old city. At first I was very nervous that I would get glutenated while on this vacation, as I wasn't sure they would understand me with the language barrier. But I was completely wrong! Celiacs pack your bags for Croatia!! I spent the 4 days eating homemade risottos, fresh Istrian(Croatian) ham, delicious cheeses, and seafood to die for! I never went hungry and in fact left every meal absolutely stuffed. I had no problem explaining my Celiac situation. I printed off a card from the Croatian Celiac website that explained would I could and could not eat in Croatian. I simply just handed every waiter the card and they would promptly take it back to the chef to make sure the food I chose was safe, if it wasn't safe they changed it so that my choice was gluten free. The last day I actually forgot my card once and explained in English what I could and could not have. It was no problem at all because we found that everywhere we went in the Istria area of Croatia, they all spoke English. Now that brings me to my next recipe revolved around fish.

I actually tried this dish here in Italia with some minor adjustments to the original dish. Normally I use salmon, preferably silver, but as I have discussed before you have to get creative with your ingredients in this country! So I ambled down to the fish market one morning last week and looked at the array of freshly caught fish placed before me. I found a pink looking fillet that resembled that of a small salmon. I of course forgot to look up the word for salmon in Italian before going to the market, so pointed and asked salmon??? to the owner and he replied to me in incredibly fast Italian something I couldn't make out. So I just said Si! Due per favore!! Well upon inspecting my purchase once I arrived home, I realized I had purchased two lovely looking trout's. Now I am by no means an expert in trout, salmon maybe, but definitely not trout. So I figured the fish were some kind of rainbow trout, but would work just fine. I went a little easier on the sauce and the whole dish turned out great!

Asian infused Salmon

~2 8-10 oz salmon or trout fillets if you can't find a very fresh salmon fillet
~4 tablespoons olive oil
~6 tablespoons rice vinegar
~3-4 tablespoons GF soy sauce, less is better as some GF soy sauces are very salty, if possible used reduce sodium, then use 4 tablespoons.
~Juice from 1 orange or 2-3 tablespoons orange juice(not concentrate)
~grated fresh ginger, about 1-2 teaspoons depending on your taste preference, ground ginger can also be used as a substitute
~GF Asian/Thai spicy Chili Sauce or red pepper flakes, 1-2 teaspoons depending on how spicy you want this dish to be!

Combine all ingredients in a marinating dish. Add fish, the skin can be left on or removed, and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes allowing fish to marinate. Once marinated, heat skillet to medium heat adding 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Once oil becomes heated, drop fillets into the skillet skin side down if it was not removed. Cook for 4 minutes and then flip to other side, if skin was on gently take a spatula and remove skin from fillet. It should be easily pulled off. Cook for another 4 minutes on this side. Depending on how you like your fish cooked, I prefer medium, you can cook a little longer or remove after the 8 minutes. Sometimes the cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet. Then remove cooked fillets to plate and cover with foil. Add the marinade to hot skillet and cook at a very high heat allowing it to boil. Once it boils stir constantly until sauce reduces and becomes thick. Once it becomes thickened remove the skillet from heat. Plate fish and pour sauce over. I like to serve this dish with basmati rice and sautéed bak choy. However, you can use whatever vegetable you like. I have also used asparagus and broccoli. I like to sauté the veggies in a skillet with a little garlic, salt, pepper, and sesame oil. Also, depending on how much you like a good sauce, you may want to make more marinade, which will result in more sauce. Depending on the size of the fillets, I often times will make more of the marinade so that I have a good amount of sauce to drizzle over my rice, fish, and veggies. It is up to you! Make every recipe cater to your preferences!

November 1, 2008

Everyone loves a good soup in the fall.

I had never made soup before being diagnosed because I could just run out and buy whatever soup I felt like eating! I have found that many of my favorite and most comforting soups are polluted with gluten. So with much regret I have turned myself away from those delicious soups and created even better gluten free ones.

The first soup I created was a good comforting chili. Now many of these recipes are taken from the three very important gluten free cook books that I brought along with me, however, finding the correct ingredients in a foreign grocery store, in a foreign language, is a bit like trying to find a needle in a hay stack! The first couple weeks I was utterly distraught when I realized that Italians don't eat anything other than Italian based food. So my hopes were not relinquished when I realized that Austrians have a broader palate and carry a wider array of food within their grocery stores. However, I still do not find some of the simplest items and my time spent in the grocery store is hours longer than before, as I am constantly reading ingredients in Italian, German, and French trying to decipher if this item really does contain gluten or not! Thankfully the Europeans are more aware of Celiac Disease, and mark many of their products with a GF symbol or disclose to potential buyers that indeed their product does contain our nemesis gluten. So I have adapted the following soup recipes according to what ingredients I can find in the grocery store on any given day.


~2 pounds ground beef
~ 1 yellow onion, chopped
~ 500 g (usually 2 cans) kidney beans
~ 800 g (2 larger cans) crushed tomatoes
~ 2 green peppers, thinly chopped
~ 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
~ 1 teaspoon dried oregano
~1 teaspoon sugar
~ 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
~ 1 teaspoon ground cumin
~ 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
~ 2-3 cloves garlic minced
~ salt
~ 2 cups water

Sauté ground beef, onions, and garlic in large pot until brown and liquid has almost evaporated. Add all of the rest of the ingredients in pot, bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 2 hours. I personally like to test my food along the way making sure the seasoning is what I like. So after about an hour test the chili and if it needs more seasoning feel free to add it! You can also cook this chili in a slow cooker for 4-5 hours.


~ 300 g cannellini beans
~ 200 g shelled peas
~ about 5-6 plum tomatoes chopped
~ piece of parmesan rind, about half a finger long
~ 4 cups/ 1 liter water
~ 2-3 carrots chopped
~ 2 celery stalks chopped
~ 2 cloves garlic, minced
~ olive oil
~ 1 yellow onion chopped
~ 100 g prosciutto

Sauté onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until transluscent, then add garlic, celery, carrots, and prosciutto. Cook until the prosciutto is slightly browned. Then add tomatoes, water, and the piece of parmesan rind. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add in peas and beans. Simmer soup for 10-15 minutes more or until soup thickens. Remove from heat and place in fridge for 1-2 hours, or overnight. To reheat soup, bring to a boil, simmering for a couple minutes and then serve immediately. Make sure to find and discard of parmesan rind, as I forgot the first time I made this soup and had quite the mouthful of cheese!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

~ 1 pound chicken, cut into cubes
~ Can of corn, about 200 g
~ 400 g crushed tomatoes
~ 4 picadello peppers(or 3 bell peppers; red, yellow, and green)
~ 1 teaspoon ground cumin
~ olive oil
~ salt and pepper
~ 3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
~ chipotle powder to taste
~ 1 zucchini
~ 1 yellow onion

Options to add on top of soup:
~GF tortilla chips

Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in large soup pot. Add chicken and cook for until almost done, about 5 minutes. Then add veggies, except corn, and cumin powder and cook another 3-5 minutes, or until veggies soften. Add broth and crushed tomatoes and bring to boil. Add salt, pepper, and chipotle powder to taste. Boil for another 5-10 minutes and then serve immediately. I like to serve this soup with a dollop of sour cream.

Comforting Chicken Noodle

~Olive oil
~ 3 celery stalks, chopped
~ 1/2 yellow onion chopped
~ 2 carrots chopped
~ pepper
~ dried oregano
~ 1 cup Bi-Aglut Fusilli, or Tinkyada
~ 1 pound chicken, cut into cubes
~ Italian flat leaf parsley, about 2-3 tablespoons chopped
~ half a fresh lemon
~ 6-6 1/2 cups Vegetable or Chicken broth

Sauté chicken in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil until almost cooked on outside. Then add celery, carrots, and onions. Sauté for another 3-5 minutes or until slightly crunchy. Add broth an bring to boil. Add all spices and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 10-15 minutes covered. Then add the noodles. Once noodles are cooked through, stir in lemon juice from the half of lemon and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Homemade Manicotti!

A week or so after my debut as an authentic Italian chef, I decided I would try my luck with gluten free Manicotti. I took a lot of ideas from different gluten free bloggers and cooking websites. I wanted at first to make only cheese manicotti, but was quickly informed by my boyfriend that meat must be in that manicotti. So after researching meat manicotti, plus coming up with some sort of gluten free shell, I created this masterpiece....

Homemade Gluten Free Meat and Cheese Manicotti

The Pasta
~ 1 cup Bi-Aglut flour (or other GF flour mix)
~ 3 large eggs
~ 1 1/2-2 cups water
~splash of live oil
~touch of salt

Mix ingredients together with an electrical mixer. Heat pan to medium low heat and add olive oil. Turn pan so olive oil coats the whole surface. Once pan is heated and ready add about a 1/2 cup-3/4 cup depending on how big pan is. I like to use a medium to large size skillet, although smaller skillets can be used, just reduce the amount of batter to be placed in skillet. You will want to cover the whole pan with a layer of batter. Let this cook until it appears to be almost cooked completely through. Then with a spatula carefully flipped to other side and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from skillet and set aside. Repeat this until the batter is gone. If you are pressed from time, the pasta crepes can be made the day before and placed in the refrigerator overnight or until you are ready to fill them and bake them.

The Filling
~Olive Oil
~1 lb ground beef
~1 yellow onion, chopped
~2 cloves garlic
~Salt and Pepper
~300 g ricotta cheese
~2 cups mozzarella
~1 cup parmesan cheese
~Chopped Italian Parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brown beef, onions, and garlic in pan. Remove any grease from mixture and add to large mixing bowl. Add in All other ingredients stirring until thoroughly mixed. Add a thin layer of mixture to one of the pasta crepes. Then roll the crepe up, placing the seam side down in large baking dish. Repeat this with all pasta crepes. Once all manicotti's are created and placed in dish, pour sauce over the top of the noodles. Grate thin layer of parmesan cheese over the top. Bake manicotti 30-35 minutes or until sauce bubbles around edges.

The Sauce
Any can of marinara sauce will do, however, if you want a homemade sauce follow recipe below.

~2 Cans of crushed Tomatoes
~1 clove garlic
~1/2 onion
~ dried oregano and basil to taste
~salt and pepper to taste
~teaspoon sugar
~fresh thyme, about 1-2 teaspoons

Add onions and garlic to pot, sautéing until translucent. Add crushed tomatoes and bring to boil. Add in all other ingredients simmer while you make the pasta crepes. Try the sauce after 5 minutes of simmering, then season to your liking.

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta!

One of the things I missed the most after accepting the gluten free diet was pasta. I have grown up eating as much pasta as the kids in Italy. Upon getting my diagnosis I was forced to switch to Gluten Free pastas. I went through the whole lot trying corn, quinoa, rice, brown rice...Every single one of them tasted like a disgrace to pasta for me. I would sit and eat my plate of gluten free spaghetti and just stare at my boyfriend who was eating his "full of gluten" spaghetti. Sometimes I even caught myself chewing along with him. However, in late June I discovered Tinkyada pasta, which actually is comparable to pasta, although I still missed a good wheat infused penne. Then upon my arrival into Italy I discovered the crown jewel of all gluten free pasta's. It is called Bi-Aglut pasta. It is a combination of both rice and corn, which helps keep its consistency after being cooked. It does not taste like eating rice, nor does it become a mushy glob after being cooked for only 30 seconds longer than needed! I now no longer crave the taste of "real" pasta. I have penne, macaroni, spaghetti, and the list is never ending. I am not sure as to whether you can get Bi-Algut pasta in North America, but here is the website

Now for some recipes...

A couple weeks ago I was staring out my kitchen window across our quaint backyard into the kitchen of an old woman, who I like to call Mama Mia. She was steaming up her windows from the pots of pasta I am sure she had just handmade, while bustling about her kitchen adorned in her Italian pasta apron. I got to daydreaming about Mama Mia's cooking and all the homemade ravioli, manicotti, gnocchi, etc. she would make me if I befriended her. However, I shortly realized that as much as I hope Mama Mia would cook for me, she probably won't, so I will have to become my own Mama Mia. That night I began looking for recipes on how to make gluten free gnocchi. I spent hours researching and finally came up with a gluten free concoction. A couple nights later I had my ingredients, a glass of wine in hopes to bring out the non-existent Italian in me, and a clean counter that I though may just roll out the gnocchi for me! After a half hour of complete experimentation and intuition, I had successfully created ricotta cheese gnocchi, which made me almost cry when I ate it. It was at that moment that I realized I no longer needed Mama Mia to help me and as my boyfriend said "You would make Mama Mia proud!"

Homemade Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi

~2 large eggs (3 small eggs can be used)
~500 g ricotta cheese
~Salt and Pepper
~Add flour as needed ( I used Bi-Aglut flour, which is comprised of corn starch, potato flour, rice starch, and carob seed flour) GF flour mixes can be used, but must contain starches.

Add ricotta to a mixing bowl and make a divot in the center for the eggs. Add eggs to divot and let the mix sit until it almost reaches room temperature. Then stir ingredients together, add salt and pepper. Once ricotta and eggs are mixed, begin to mix in GF flour. Add flour until you have a doughy consistancy that can be rolled and cut. If you are unsure whether the dough is ready, plop a little piece into bowling water, if the dough stays together and cooks you are ready to roll out the gnocchi. Roll dough around a floured counter, kneading with hands for about a minute or so. Then roll into a big ball and cut into sections, about 4-6 sections. Then take one section and roll out into a long snake piece of dough, the thickness of a finger. You will then cut that piece into 2 inch sections. Take one of the 2 inch sections and roll into a ball with hands, add more flour if it is sticking, then place lightly on the top of the back of a fork (fork should be placed upside down on counter). You will then delicately roll the ball down the back of the fork created ridges and almost a shell shape that helps keep the sauce around the gnocchi. This part is not mandatory, but it creates a nice appearance to the pasta. Repeat this with the remaining 2 inch pieces and the rest of the dough. Then place the gnocchi in bowling water, once the gnocchi rises to the top, they are cooked. Remove them immediately and add sauce of choice.

Living Gluten Free in the land of Pasta and Pizza

I decided to move to Italy because I needed some time off after spending the past four years of my life either working, in a library, in class, writing paper after paper, or getting what few hours of sleep I could. I needed a change of things. So after finding out that my boyfriend got an offer to play hockey in Northern Italy, I decided, hey why not take a year off! So this year has been dedicated to inventing gluten free recipes and traveling through Europe. At first I thought, What!!! I can not live in Italy and eat gluten free, all they do over here is eat Mama Mia's spaghetti and luigi's pizza. Well after some diligent research, I realized that Italy is full of Celiacs! That was heaven to my ears. Not only does Italy offer more gluten free food than you have ever seen in your life, but many restaurants offer gluten free options. It seems that almost all Italians are aware of Celiac Disease, as all children are tested for it at an early age. Upon arriving to Italy, I was completely prepared for the adventure, complete with my Gluten Free Guide to Italy book in hand and numerous sticky notes on food items and grocery stores. I have eaten out a couple times since being here and so far it has been a completely satisfying gluten free experience! I ate my first gluten free pizza in a restaurant while overlooking the bay of Trieste with tears of joy in my eyes. I also ate freshly caught fish complete with seafood risotto, that the owner of the restaurant kept reassuring me No Farina!!!, which means no flour in your food! He even made me a special dessert of fresh pineapple with Grand Marnier drizzled all over it, while the others got to eat tiramisu. Although I would have opted for the tiramisu, it was the gesture that made all the difference. It has been a wonderful, sometimes humorous adventure so far and I can't wait to share more.