Saturday, October 30, 2010

Raclette - October Unprocessed

Raclette? What? What's that? It sounds kind of .... French.

Well it is. Raclette is a semi-firm cow's milk cheese that is really good for melting. The dish began in Switzerland where it was originally left near the fire and it would start to melt and you would scrape ( the verb racler) it onto your plate to eat with items like small potatoes, gherkins, dried meat and bread.

There are 2 types, one that holds a large round of cheese and the other with a grilling top section and then little trays that slide in underneath that broil the cheese.  I wanted the grilling type.

In the summer, I went to a garage sale and they actually had one. Completely unused and they didn't have a clue what it was for. $20 later and it was mine.
My New Grill!!!

Have you ever fondued? Well I suppose this is kind of like that. You cook your own food.
I love fondue.

Anyways, I thought this would be good as October is Unprocessed Month over at Eating Rules and this is full of pure, simple foods.

I'm a mozzarella/cheddar girl and those have to be melted for me to eat them. I don't eat other cheeses except parmesan. I was in Quebec a few weeks ago to visit a friend and they had just had raclette the night before and told me all about it.   We visited the grocery store while I was there so I could pick up some snacks and they had  a ton of sliced fondue meats and also the raclette cheese which I decided to try.

There's no real recipe here.

Cooked food: 
Small potatoes - Steamed/boiled until cooked through. Placed in a bowl lined with a teatowel to keep warm.
Focaccia - I made Annalise Roberts' focaccia. Quick and easy

Raw food:
Shrimp - peeled and tail-off
Thinly sliced chicken breast
Partly steamed broccoli - just to give it a head start
Peppers - thinly sliced
Raclette cheese and mozzarella cheese
Onions - thinly sliced red onion
Ham - thinly sliced
Garlic butter

That's it.

Sit down to enjoy and cook.

Getting ready to move it all to the table
 I know you'll understand but I had to taste the focaccia to see how it turned out. Then I  ummm...had to try it with some olive oil and herbs. Then some olive oil, balsamic and herbs. Then others had to try it. So pardon it's shape  please.

Chicken, broccoli, onions, peppers and cheese

Okay so the focus is off but what do you expect? I have food in front of me. This is garlic buttered focaccia with cheese melted on it.
We had lots of extra trays so we could experiment. You can cook on top of the griddle or half on top/half broiled or fully broiled.

Some raclette ideas: 
Precook some chicken, broccoli, onions and peppers.  Add garlic butter to grill top if you like
Add these items to try and add cheese and broil until melty. Melty is a new word I use in cheese cooking.
Serve with bread.
You could even do it fajita style if you have some corn tortillas.


Garlic butter/focaccia/cheese

Shrimp/garlic butter/cheese - cooked until pink and cheese is melted

The true way: just cheese in the tray and then when it's melty, pour it on warm potatoes.
I did this just after I'd cooked the garlic shrimp so there was still garlic butter in my tray which drizzled on the potatoes. Oh my.
I wasn't expecting much from this. It's cheese. It's potatoes. But wow, cheese and potatoes...YUM!

A big salad started us off with my Greek Salad Dressing and I actually added a little bit ( 1/4-1/2 tsp) xanthan gum to help it stay in more of an emulsified state so it wouldn't separate as easily. Wonderful.

Simple. Pure. Good.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Scary, scary, Salsa

I've always been a picky eater. Sauces and toppings, not for me! Funny thing though, if I have a couple of cocktails, I become more adventurous. This would be how I came to try mushrooms and green peppers on pizza many years ago. Or black olives and sour cream on nachos a couple of years ago. I'm the farthest thing from a foodie in the world. Except that I love food. Just my kind of food, simple food.

So one night, I was at a restaurant, after a work event and this is how I came to try..... salsa.
I don't like tomatoes. I like ketchup. I like pizza sauce. I like tomato sauce. I like sundried tomatoes. But I don't like tomatoes. I grow them. But I don't eat them, plain, raw, whole etc. Food psychologist referrals can be left in the comments.

While enjoying my margarita, some chips and salsa were delivered to the table. This was not your regular salsa. It wasn't chunky with peppers and onions floating in it. It wasn't overly thick and red like a sauce. It was fresh and light and smooth. So I dipped. Just slightly. Hmmm, this wasn't bad. A slight citrus tang. A kick of spice from cumin. A lingering heat blended in stealthily. Is that a word? As we drank, the chips diminished. The salsa diminished. The chips were refilled. The salsa was refilled. Freshly made chips, lightly sprinkled with salt. My new heaven.

I started making this at home and would bring it in to work and set it in a bowl on the big center island filing cabinet. 6 or 7 of us would stand around munching. The slight heat of the jalepeno wasn't enough to make you stop but rather it just made you want more.

Since then I have tried other salsas. Too thick, too thin, too tomatoey, too chunky. I'm just not happy with
anything else. We tried making salsa from fresh tomatoes and it turned out more pink than red, more like applesauce than salsa. Canned is the way to go for this. And I'll always have the ingredients on hand.

  • 1-2 jalapenos- depending on how spicy you like it, roughly chopped and seeds removed
  • 1/2 medium red onion, roughly chopped
  • 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of sugar
Combine jalepenos and onions in blender or food chopper and pulse or lightly process until chopped.

Add remaining ingredients and process until tomatoes are at your preferred consistency.
For best flavour, chill covered in fridge for a few hours before serving.

*Optional* After spooning into serving bowl, add about 1 tbsp diced red onion and a little lime zest to the top as a garnish

In the Ninja chopper

 Serve with Guacamole

If you're scared of any other food, check out Scared Silly over at The Whole Gang. Diane is hosting this month's Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free originally brought to you by Naomi Devlin. Enjoy!!!!!


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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gluten Free Caramel Apple Pie

Back in the day, I used to bake a lot of pies. A LOT. Hundreds per day. Of course, they were frozen at the bakery I worked at, so we egg-washed and sugared the top and then baked until golden brown. I never really liked pie then though. I enjoyed pecan pie and pie crust but I was never big on fruit fillings.

A couple of years ago, I wanted some apple pie and found a really well-reviewed recipe on All Recipes. I picked up some Pillsbury rollout pie crust dough which was fairly new to us and went for it. It was unbelievable. Probably because it was more of a caramel version than cinnamon and nutmeg and if you've read any of my other posts, you know I love caramel.

The recipe is fairly simple to change over, but I had to make some pie dough.
Thankfully, I found Donna Jo's Dream Pastry from Bette Hagman online.
You can find it by a quick search but I find that a few of them either omit the water or have very little or just have the wrong ingredients.

I do not use shortening or butter substitutes because well, butter's better and I can't do soy without a lot of pain. You could also use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup butter flavoured shortening.

Gluten Free Pie Pastry

 Adapted from Donna Jo's Dream Pastry which lacks the sweet rice flour  and Donna Jo's Dream Pastry from here.
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1 rounded tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash sugar optional
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg cold
  • 1 Tbsp. GF vinegar
  • 2 - 4 Tbsp cold water

 sweet rice flour for rolling

Blend together the flours, xanthan gum, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter in small dabs until you have pieces the size of lima beans (not cornmeal).

Beat the egg using a fork; add the vinegar and ice water. Stir into the flour mixture, forming a ball. You may knead this a bit, since rice flour crusts can stand handling. Refrigerate the dough for an hour or more to chill.

Divide dough and roll out on a sweet rice-floured board (or on floured plastic wrap, for easier handling). Place in a pie tin. If using plastic wrap, remove it to the pie tin and invert the dough into the pan. Shape before removing the plastic. Bake as directed for the filling used.

For a baked crust, prick the pastry with a fork on sides and bottom. Bake the crust in a pre-heated 450 oven for 10 - 12 minutes, or until slightly browned. Cool before filling. Makes enough pastry for a 2-crust 9" pie plus 1 pie shell.

Well, now that that is over with.
Let's make pie!
Caramel Apple Pie

 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie- unbaked
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons gluten free flour mix
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 Golden Delicious and 3 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced and placed in separate bowl

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Place the bottom crust in your pan.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in gluten free flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

Pour half of caramel mixture over apples and toss gently. Return caramel to stove.
 Fill pie crust with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven on a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
So it's not a perfect lattice but it was getting a wee bit warm. This is before I added the last half of the caramel

Mid way through baking. Definitely need a tray underneath.

Mmmm pie. I may or may not have pulled off pieces of crust to munch on.

Just as good as my old version

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays at The Gluten Free Homemaker and also to A Gluten-Free Holiday, hosted by Amy of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free with this week's event Thanksgiving Favorites being hosted by Shirley of Gluten-Free Easily.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

This is what I do on my day off...

So many ingredients for Gluten free bread

My new mixer. What should we name her?

Dan Lepard's Gluten Free White Bread  - resting

Jeanne's (@fourchickens) Sourdough

White Bread Rising!

1 batch of English Muffins in a pan

Making some English Muffins in the skillet

The sourdough WON'T stop growing!

English Muffins - millet, sorghum, brown rice, potato starch, tapioca starch

Oh, how I've missed you...

Holey Bread. So yum.

Can't wait to toast this.

Sourdough monster - I don't have a Dutch oven so I used my high sided round pan

Sourdough - delish with garlic butter

Getting ready to BBQ on the deck

The neighbour dog taking herself for a walk

Chicken Thighs, Grilled Broccoli and Cauliflower, Carrots, Onions, Peppers in Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto

Buffalo Wing and BBQ

Grilled Veggies

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gluten Free in Banff, Alberta

For over 2 years, I lived in a park. Filled with wild animals, bears, elk, moose, coyotes, cougars and many more.





More Elk

Big-Horned Sheep


I lived in Banff National Park in the town of Banff. It was here that I discovered that I could no longer eat wheat, rye, barley and oats. This didn't mean that my days of eating out were over though. There were still many places that I could go.

Elk and Oarsman - The Elk has always been one of my favourite places to go. It's the perfect apres-ski/sports watching kind of place. Extremely popular on Tuesdays for Steak Sandwich night, they also have other nightly themes every day. Recently, they published their Gluten Free menu with a few items on it and as well, their main menu also lists that they have gluten free bread for sandwiches as well as gluten free pizza. Quite of a few of their other items can be served with rice crackers as you can see on their Gluten Free Menu . They seem to have a good solid staff that doesn't have an extremely high turnover rate as in some restaurants in Banff.  My favourite here has always been the Tin Plate Nachos.

St James Gate - Normal Menu - Located on Wolf Street across from Cascade Plaza. St James Gate has always been a favourite for after work drinks as well. My favourite here - again,  the Nachos.

I see a pattern here. I eat a lot of Nachos.

Keg Steakhouse Gluten Free Menu - The Keg Steakhouse is a Canadian chain that is extremely popular. They are located inside the Banff Caribou Lodge. They have always had a strong fantastic serving staff who know their stuff. They have nachos. BUT, I also get other items!

Recently, they have published a gluten free menu online which is fantastic. Many choices here. They serve the table a big loaf of bread and butter but you can push that to the side obviously or watch as your fellow diners enjoy. I think for this reason, the garlic cheese shrimp that I usually have ordered is not on the GF menu. It comes with a side of bread to put the shrimp on. I've always just had the shrimp on it's own without the bread but perhaps this requires a little more research now.

My other appetizer of choice is the bacon wrapped scallops.
I also enjoy their prime rib and baked potato or garlic mashed ( no au jus) or the steaks are also fantastic.
And in the summer, it's LOBSTERFEST!

Somehow I ended up with 3 butters!! Life is good!
The Grizzly House - Normal Menu - The Grizzly House is a Banff legend with a very interesting history. It's fondue! Gator and elk and kangaroo, oh and chicken and beef as well. You can also choose to do a hot rock instead of fondue. We usually do the full meal which is salad ( I don't think it comes with croutons, but check), the veggie fondue for me and the cheese and bread for my friends since they are built for 2 people so we get one of each with the full meal.

Veggie Fondue

Then we also get either the fondue or the hot rock with whatever meat choice we've opted for. Be warned: At this restaurant, the cooking smell will permeate into your clothes so don't wear anything too nice!
Hot Rock - Chicken, Beef, Lobster with Garlic Butter
Magpie and Stump Another favourite is the Mexican restaurant, the Magpie and Stump. Home to a peanut-covered floor, this eatery on Caribou street serves a mean margarita and lots of tequila. They have a gluten free menu and I often have the fajitas with corn tortillas. When I visited in the summer, I parked the rental car, visited my friend at work and went to meet another friend at the Magpie, which meant I had a margarita within 10 minutes of parking the car. Nice.

Boston Pizza Gluten Free Menu - Boston Pizza has recently rolled out a new line of GF pizza which is based on Kinnikinnick pizza crusts. Check with your server to ensure they will be making it in a proper GF area.

Nourish Gluten Free Menu - This is a small restaurant in the Bear Street Mall which features Vegan, Raw and Gluten Free/Wheat Free menu items.

Edo Japan - This was my lunch spot in the Cascade Mall Food Court. They saw me coming and they would start to clean the grill. Chicken Teriyaki, no sauce, no mushrooms. They would scrape down the hot flattop grill, and pour water on the hot surface which helps to steam it clean. Keep in mind:
Q – Are any of your meals gluten free?
A – As our signature teriyaki sauce contains a wheat based soy sauce, none of our meals prepared to recipe can be considered gluten free. Keep in mind however, you can always request your meal be specially prepared with no teriyaki sauce or soy sauce, hence eliminating gluten.

As a general rule, this does not eliminate the trace gluten on the grill. They got fresh chicken and fresh utensils for me and I never had any issues. Rice, broccoli, carrots and cabbage. Yum! I did however have a bottle of soy sauce in my big purse whenever I went for lunch.

Wild Flour Bakery - They have a few items at this artisan bakery on Bear Street. Website is under construction at this time.
Banff Ski Lounge - This is also a new place. The website says they have gluten-free cupcakes. I'm not sure if they come from the Wild Flour Bakery or not since I never saw GF cupcakes there.

There is another bakery in town who does do cupcakes and cakes. We ordered a cake for a birthday and it was utterly amazing. Chocolate, caramel filling. Delicious. The next month, we ordered another. But it wasn't gluten free. Malabsorption issues galore. I starved for 2 weeks. Couldn't get enough food to rid my stomach of that empty feeling. Lunch was steak, chicken, pork, sausage and potatoes. Second lunch was a repeat of that even though it was supposed to be the next's days food. And so on.


Iron Goat - In Canmore, up in the Benchlands, there is the Iron Goat Restaurant named after the train that used to travel through. They have a number of items that can be made GF. I ordered their pizza and they brought out a wheat one by mistake. It looked too good to be true. They took it back and made me a new one. They made the dough from scratch and only one bake with the toppings on which meant  parts of it were not quite done when they brought it out. Par-bake!!! Freeze!! It would have been great if it was was done like that.

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company Nutter's Bulk and Natural Foods - If you are looking to stock up on treats like cookies, granola bars, and other items, check out Nutter's.

As always, these are subject to change. There are certainly hotels such as the Hidden Ridge Resort with kitchen facilities to prepare your own meals. There is always an inherent risk in dining out.

One other note: If you are travelling from the USA, you're in luck. While the US has malt-based coolers such as Mike's Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice etc, the Canadian version is made with vodka. Which means..... You get to drink it!!!!!!!!!!   We also have a lot of ciders in different flavours such as pear, raspberry, peach, apple etc!!
My favourite lake  - Moraine Lake

A favourite backyard meal

Sunrise on the ski slopes

The view driving towards Banff

The other lift said there were wolf tracks.

The Banff Springs Hotel on a snowy day

Me. On a mountain.

Sunset one night walking home.

Mount Rundle - reflected in Two Jack Lake

Hiking at Sunshine Meadows


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