Posts Categorized: Guest blog

You can call me Al(fredo)

Spinach and bacon spaghetti alfredo

Alfredo gets a shake-up with the addition of bacon, spinach and GF spaghetti.

 

Gluten-Free Spinach and Bacon Spaghetti Alfredo
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
1 pkg (340 g) Italpasta Gluten-Free Spaghetti
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream (35%)
3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
1/3 cup (75 mL) grated Parmesan cheese (approx.)
4 cups (1 L) fresh baby spinach
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until crispy; transfer to paper towel. Wipe pan clean with paper towel, discarding fat.

Add cream and butter to pan; bring to boil. Boil for 2 minutes; add pasta, cheese, spinach and bacon. Toss for 2 minutes or until well coated and spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.

Tip: Substitute pancetta or prosciutto for bacon if desired.

Italpasta is a Gold sponsor of Gluten Free Garage.

 

 

the art of cooking gluten-free pasta

Our go-to gluten-free pasta: Italpasta's Gluten-Free Spaghetti, made from a mix of rice and non-GMO corn.

Our go-to gluten-free noodle: Italpasta’s Gluten-Free Spaghetti, made from a mix of rice and non-GMO corn. For pasta lovers who don’t want to give it up. (We love it with our turkey meatballs.)

 

If you’ve ever cooked gluten-free pasta, you know about its tendency to end up a mushy, sticky mess. We’ve been there, done that. So we turned to the pros—Italpasta—for some advice on how to cook gluten-free pasta.

5 tips for cooking gluten-free pasta

#1: Always cook gluten-free pasta in lots of water, preferably 5 to 6 quarts per pound of pasta.

#2: Season your pasta water with one tablespoon of salt per pound of pasta after it begins to boil. Gluten-free pasta gets a boost of flavour from properly seasoned pasta water.

#3: Stir pasta immediately after adding to water and continue to stir for the first 30 seconds to avoid sticky noodles or pasta stuck to the bottom of your pot.

#4: Undercook and test. Some gluten-free pastas will become mushy if overcooked. Start testing your pasta 2 minutes before it is fully cooked (according to package instructions) and check every minute until al dente. Italpasta Gluten-free pasta is made from a delicious combination of rice and non-GMO corn that helps to ensure you get the perfect plate of pasta every time.

#5: Never rinse your pasta. Rinsing gluten-free pasta not only cools down your cozy meal, it can also give noodles a gummy texture.

Made in Italy and approved by Canada’s Gluten Free Certification Program, Italpasta has become a go-to for gluten-free fusilli, penne and spaghetti.

#GFGsponsor

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guest blog: the Mother of all Mavens

 

Quinoa Bites

Quinoa Pizza Bites

 

Guest blog by the Mother of All Mavens (aka Carolyn Drebin)

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a Delicious Dish cooking class with occupational-therapist-turned-self-taught-chef Carolyn Cohen. I’d heard about her classes for years. The menus were hoarded secrets. Sharing recipes was considered to be horribly bad form. Verboten? Forbidden fruit? I wanted in!  After managing to coax a few tidbits from some willing rule-benders, I tried a couple of recipes.

They were, indeed, delicious dishes.

It wasn’t long before I was on Carolyn’s email list. Schedules were listed, but menus were not. And while I debated whether to sign up, the classes would fill up and sell out within hours of being posted. Who was this Carolyn Cohen? And, more importantly, what was she dishing out? Finally, a friend asked if I wanted to join a private group she was organizing and I jumped at the chance.

The class was designed to be healthy, family friendly, good for entertaining and “gluten-free optional”—meaning, the recipes could be made either with or without gluten. I am not so healthy, though I try to start off the week that way. My family rarely eats the masterpieces I cook. And I am nothing if not a glutton for gluten. I was in.

A week before the event, the original organizer had to drop out, along with half of the class. After a mad scramble to collect a minimum of 10 bodies—10 $95 pre-paid bodies—we ended up with 13 rarin’ to go.

Carolyn called me to plan the menu. At her suggestion, we swapped some of the original planned mains and agreed to go completely gluten free because we had a celiac among us, as well as the founder of the Gluten Free Garage. Carolyn was used to all kinds of special dietary requests, so going GF didn’t faze her in the slightest.

The night of our class, we descended upon Carolyn’s kitchen, where she commandeered 13 of the chattiest ladies in town. Pouring glasses of red, to go with the Quinoa Pizza Bites she provided as a starter, Carolyn got right down to business. She was a mountain of information both healthy and practical. Onion goggles to stop the waterworks. Kevlar gloves to prevent slicing off fingers. A list of suppliers and shops—and salts. Kitchen scales. Dough scoopers. Slicers. Pine nuts. Olive oil. She had it all covered, right down to the gluten-free breadcrumbs! We all laughed, learned and ate. A lot.

 

No more tears: Delicious Dish's Carolyn Cohen dons her onion goggles.

No more tears: Delicious Dish’s Carolyn Cohen dons her onion goggles.

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a pain in the gluten-free butt

Prunes

Yes, this blog post is about poo…and prunes.

Our daughter Lily, who has celiac, has been dealing with constipation problems on and off since switching to a gluten-free diet. Sometimes she doesn’t have a bowel movement for a couple of days and her tummy gets big and round and she complains about stomach pain. We’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this (pardon the pun) for quite some time. Yes, she loves rice but it’s not like she eats it every day. She does eat lots of fruit and veggies. We put ground chia seeds and flax oil in her smoothies. She takes probiotics. She gets plenty of exercise. Both her gastroenterologist and her pediatrician recommended that she take Restoralax, a gentle laxative that provides relief of occasional constipation by bringing water into the bowel and softening the stool so it’s easier to go. We mixed the powder in her water for a couple of months and it certainly did the trick, but who wants their seven-year-old to be dependent on a laxative? So about a month ago, we substituted Restoralax for a prune a day and some extra fluids and I can’t tell you the difference it’s made!

Gluten-free products are notoriously low in fibre, so we figure Lily’s not alone in her poo problem. We asked registered dietitian—and GFG guest speaker— Alexandra Anca for advice on what to do when you can’t poo. more…

guest blog: The Healthy Butcher

The Healthy Butcher‘s Queen West storefront. Their other location is on Eglinton Avenue at Avenue Road.

 

It’s that time of year again. The beautiful colours of autumn have vanished, leaving us with brisk temperatures and the craving for good ol’ comfort food. The delicate flavours we enjoy during the summer lack the oomph that our palates (and padding) require during winter. Enter the magical cooking technique called braising, the technique behind France’s famous coq au vin and boeuf borguignonne and Italy’s osso buco—chef talk for the slow cooking of cheap cuts of meat.

“Braising” sounds like a complicated culinary term, but really all it means is slow cooking in a flavourful liquid. The key is to start with a tough and inexpensive cut of meat—like a beef blade roast, cross cut roast, shanks or brisket or even pork shoulder roast. These cuts aren’t only less punishing on the pocketbook, they are best enjoyed through the braising method. The ultimate cooking pot for braising is an enameled cast iron pot like a Le Creuset; if you don’t have one, any heavy pot will do. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper and sear until browned all over. Remove it and set aside. Toss in chopped onions, celery and carrots (referred to as a mirepoix), then turn the heat down to medium to let the vegetables cook slowly and release their yumminess.

After about five minutes, deglaze with some wine or stock. “Deglazing” is the process of loosening those browned bits (the fond) stuck to the bottom of the pot after searing. Return the meat to the pot and add liquid to come at least three-quarters up the meat—a combination of flavourful stock and wine is perfect. Many recipes call for the addition of water; feel free to throw in spices, fresh herbs, garlic…you are limited only by your imagination.

Bring the liquid to a slow simmer (not a boil!). You can cook it on the stovetop or, if your pot is oven safe, throw it in the oven at 300°F. The meat is ready when it is “fork tender”—if you stick a fork into the meat and try to lift it, the meat won’t hold the fork and will just fall off. Total time: around 2.5 hours. (Hint: The meat will get much tougher during the cooking process before it gets tender; never fear, once the internal temperature is high enough it will fall apart.)

Our mothers may not have known the science behind their pot roast but it was still magic. At what point in history did the tradition of a Sunday pot roast with the family disappear? I think it should be mandatory.

 

Mario Fiorucci is the proprietor of The Healthy Butcher. He is also the founder of RealFoodToronto.com, Toronto’s newest and freshest source for Real Food, where you can learn about cooking and enjoy the food delivered to your door. Mario writes the Meet Your Meat column for KingWest.This article originally appeared in that magazine.

 

The Healthy Butcher will be bringing its meat and more (including Alba Lisa gourmet food products!) to the Gluten Free Garage!