While Jamie’s Italy was the main inspiration for our meal, we did wander away from it for a few courses, namely fish and dessert. My roommate had just picked up a nice piece of salmon, and suggested that we incorporate it into the meal. We wanted something easy and flavorful and so we turned to Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food. This recipe is hidden away as a variation to her “Baked Wild Salmon with Herb Butter.” And all I have to say, is if this kind of genius is hidden in the variations, I’m going to have to start paying more attention to variations. The slow roast technique cooks the salmon perfectly: it remains moist and tender without any rawness or fishiness. We can’t wait to try this again

Slow Roasted Wild Salmon with Herbs (from Art of Simple Food)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds wild salmon fillet with skin on
herbs (we used basil, oregano, and parsley)
olive oil
1 lemon
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Oil a baking dish, and sprinkle the bottom with herbs.
3. Place salmon skin-side down on top of herbs. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper.
4. Bake for 30 minutes until just set.
5. Make a lemon vinaigrette: combine juice of a lemon with a tablespoon of zest. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and three times as much olive oil. Adjust to taste and add salt and pepper. (I didn’t measure while making vinaigrette and Alice Waters doesn’t give a precise recipe either, just taste frequently and you will be fine.
6. Serve fish at room temperature, topped with lemon vinaigrette.

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of, dare I say it, fun? Fun is a little dangerous in my world, with my PhD exams looming and a lot of reading on my plate. But it is refreshing sometimes to just let loose and live a little. Still, I haven’t been spending much time around the blog, and I realized today that I’m late to two blogging events I signed up to participate in: Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger (hosted by the Book of Yum) and Kate’s gluten-free barbecue.

When I signed up to Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger, my plan was to make Naomi Poe’s croissants. Coming off of the Daring Baker challenge, croissants seemed suddenly doable. Also, Shannen was visiting me, and she and I share a love of croissants and a fascination with making them. Unfortunately, while last weekend involved a lot of food, it did not involve croissants, and I can’t bring myself to make them today. Call it sugar over-load, or just an excess of rich food, all i want to eat are salads and veggies, and I have so many leftovers in the fridge that I can’t. So I’m sorry Naomi, and I’m sorry Book of Yum, eventually I will make those croissants but not for this event.

For the gluten-free barbecue, I pulled the letter “G.” Try as I might, I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted to bring more than guacamole (perhaps with an accompanying margarita). On a very early post, I mentioned that the guacamole I grew up with, was a bit, untraditional. It involves serious quantities of mayonnaise. Most days, now, I make cleaner, more classic guacamole: avocado, garlic, onions, lime juice, tomatoes (rarely). But every once in awhile I crave my mom’s: extra-creamy, decadent version. It is great comfort food, and highly addictive. So, don’t blame me if you eat an entire bowl.

Recipe after the jump

So this post is officially almost an hour too late… But Kristen, I love you, and I wish I was there to bake you another cake like this:

Happy birthday darling! For those of you who are curious, what you see pictured is a chocolate cheescake, on a chocolate wafer crust, with chocolate chunks and a chocolate ganache. The raspberry is just there for color, after all, my Kristen is a chocoholic. Can’t you tell from her face?

One of the reasons that I started this blog was because, while there are many other great gluten-free blogs out there, there are not any that are Atlanta based. When you first get a diagnosis, or decide you need to eat gluten-free, the learning curve is steep. It takes awhile to learn what you can eat, what products you like, where to shop, and even longer to learn where you can eat out. So, in addition to sharing my own gluten-free cooking with you, I also want to highlight some good options for gluten-free eating in Atlanta.

Last month I schlepped out to to the suburbs for a gluten-free meetup at Lavender’s Asian Bistro in Lawrenceville, GA. Lavender’s serves Thai and Chinese food and they are able to offer almost all of their non-fried food to the gluten-free customer. The secret is, they keep wheat-free Tamari on hand. If you go with a large enough group, they might also be willing to dedicate a fryer for you, opening up even more of their menu. When the gluten-free meetup group met, we had 18 people, so we got a fryer, and we were in heaven. Most of us hadn’t been able to have real Chinese food since our diagnosis, let alone calamari, and sesame chicken (which is what I ordered…or at least what I consumed…somebody else actually ordered the calamari).

One thing you have to be careful not to do, is accidentally order something not on the gluten-free menu. Even though our whole table was gluten-free, the woman sitting next to me asked if they had a vegetarian spring roll. What she expected, was a fresh spring roll, what she got was a fried Chinese spring roll that was not gluten-free. It was an honest mistake on the waiter’s part, and he did realize and come take it away, but not before the woman had eaten a few bites. So, do make sure that as you order you reinforce the fact that you are ordering gluten-free. You might also want to chat with the owner about your dietary restriction and concerns, as he was very friendly and helpful. Some members of the group eat their weekly with great success, so the owner, at least, is very knowledgeable about what is allowed and what is not.

Overall, I had a great experience, and will probably make the trip back out to Lawrenceville again. The food was good, maybe not the most amazing Chinese food I’ve ever had, but definitely far above average. It was a little far away for the traffic on a weeknight though, and if I go back it will probably be on a Saturday or Sunday night. Even though next time I go, I probably will have to forego the calamari (which was particularly fantastic), the menu offers such a wealth of choices that I’m sure I will find a new favorite.

Lavender’s Asian Bistro
1195 Scenic Hwy. Suite C8
Lawrenceville, GA 30045


menu after the jump

Yesterday I had pizza envy. I had dinner plans and wasn’t going to be home for dinner, so Maureen decided to have Katie over for dinner and order pizza. God, I miss pizza, and I was home while they were trying to figure out where to order it from and what toppings to get. I went to my dinner, had fabulous food, and came home still somehow jealous of the pizza. So I decided to try my hand at pizza today. But you have to realize, I’m nothing but an ambitious girl. Gluten-free pizza recipes don’t excite me. I’ve tried a few recipes, but nothing has come close to what I want. I’m convinced that to find a pizza crust I love, will require major innovations on my part, so I turned today, to the Sullivan Street Pizza recipe that the Baking Babes have been struggling with. I tried this particular recipe because it is a very wet dough, and you need an extremely wet dough in gluten-free bread making. So this recipe already bore a striking resemblance to gluten-free recipes, but with a few distinct differences. First, it used very little yeast, and second it had a very long rise time.

As I planned my attack, I realized that nothing I did was likely to approximate the recipe. For awhile I played with protein percentages in gluten-free flours, trying to match their 11.5%, only to realize that it wouldn’t really matter because gluten-free flours have the wrong type of protein. But, I decided to still go pretty high percentage on high-protein flours, using primarily sorghum and teff (at 10% and 11%). When I mixed the dough, mine quickly turned into that familiar looking batter that lies somewhere between cake batter and cookie dough, and no amount of mixing caused my batter to pull away from the edges of the bowl. At this point, I almost gave up, but I figured I might as well see what happened.

I let my batter rise for four hours, spooned it into a prepared pan (yes, spooned… no stretching was involved), scrambled to make the topping and settled in for failure. I hoped that it would be thin and crispy, but looking at the dough it really didn’t seem possible.

50 minutes later, I pulled this baby out of the oven, and immediately sawed into it with my knife. The crust was definitely crunchy, and the flavor was good, not exceptional but good. I wouldn’t make this the exact same way again, but I might try it again with an even split between teff, sorghum, and tapioca starch.

As far as the topping goes, the purple potatoes were fun, but the combination didn’t really satisfy my pizza craving. I also felt slightly guilty about the ridiculous carb overkill and the severe lack of protein. Still, with salt sprinkled on top, this would be amazing with eggs, and it was rather compelling even on its own.

Does anyone have a gluten-free pizza recipe that they think will revolutionize my understanding of the genre? I would love some help!

Recipe after the jump

“I actually cooked something I really liked!” Maureen exclaimed one evening, about a month ago, as I walked in the door around 9:30 after teaching a class for Kaplan. Now, Maureen and I do fairly even duty in the kitchen, at least when it comes to dinners. But she had made a string of meals that while perfectly edible, she considered failures, so cooking was becoming a little disheartening. This salad, however, was excellent, and has hopefully restored her confidence. We happily ate it for lunch several days in a row without getting tired of it, and we made it again for our cook-out this weekend, only this time I helped. Most of our guests had never had quinoa before, but they all seemed to enjoy their first excursion.

So assuming some of you, too, have never had Quinoa, here is a short introduction. Quinoa is a pseudo grain — it is actually a seed, but it behaves like a grain. To prepare it, you simmer the seeds in water (or broth) until they’ve absorbed all of the liquid, just like you do when you make rice. Quinoa has a subtle nutty flavor when cooked, and can easily be substituted for bulger in recipes like tabbouleh or it can be used in place of couscous. Because, quinoa is not really a grain, it is a great choice for passover, as well. Even better, quinoa contains a complete protein, is high in antioxidants, magnesium, and is a good source of fiber — making quinoa a healthier choice than wheat or rice. If you live in Atlanta you can buy it in bulk at the Dekalb Farmers Market both in seed and flour form. I haven’t actually played around much with quinoa while baking, but when I do you’ll be sure to hear about it.

But really, if you’ve never tried quinoa, this recipe is a great introduction. But don’t stop there: also try Heidi Swanson’s Lemon Scented Quinoa or her Delicious Big Bowl – Quinoa, both of which are sure to please. Or, be like me and substitute the couscous for quinoa in Smitten Kitchen’s Couscous and feta-stuffed peppers. These peppers were amazing (or maybe I just have a thing for quinoa and feta together).
Recipe after the jump