Posts Categorized: Guest blog

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!

she’s got the beat: Arvinda’s

Spice it up!

 

Arvinda’s Indian Spice Blends is an all-natural line of cooking masalas and unique spice blends derived from family recipes. Arvinda Chauhan developed these spice blends to help time-pressed home cooks prepare quick and easy authentic Indian meals. She initially sold her curry masala to her cooking school students in small pouches and jars, and soon her unique blends gathered a loyal following. Arvinda’s blends are all gluten free and contain no oils, additives, preservatives, dairy, nuts or MSG.

As an added bonus, most of the products (except for the Garam and Chai masala) contain turmeric, an orange-coloured spice from India that is bestowed with many health benefits. Arvinda’s daughter Preehan Chauhan, who along with her brother Paresh runs Arvinda’s retail line, touts turmeric as “India’s super-spice used for centuries all over the subcontinent.” She adds, “Many Ayurvedic home remedies use turmeric, as its health benefits are multifold! It’s an anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant, it aids in digestion, purifies and detoxifies the blood and also has antibacterial functions. This is why we say when you eat a curry, you’re healing yourself inside and out!” (Chicken Curry recipe to follow…)

Since 1993, spice girls Arvinda and Preena have been serving up a variety of premium Indian cooking classes. Voted by blogTO one of the top 10 cooking schools in Toronto, Arvinda’s healthy, easy-to-follow recipes make it easy to create home-style Indian meals. And check out the online video demos of classic Indian recipes! Arvinda’s also leads guided walking tours of Little India.

Arvinda’s Spice Blends are available online and at retail stores and specialty food shops across Toronto.

You can also spice up your life with Arvinda’s at the Gluten Free Garage on November 11th!

Read on if you want to make classic chicken curry…

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Q&A with: Sherry Torkos

At the Gluten Free Garage, holistic pharmacist Sherry Torkos will be at the femMED table providing info on the role of nutrition and supplements for people with celiac disease

 

GFG: Let’s start with the basics. What is celiac disease?
Sherry Torkos: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease triggered by consumption of gluten. In people with celiac disease, consumption of gluten stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that attack the small intestine and many other body tissues, causing widespread inflammation and damage. This results in digestive problems, impaired nutrient absorption, a variety of physical and emotional symptoms and serious health risks. In most cases, the damage is reversible once gluten is excluded from the diet.

Who is at risk and why?
Celiac disease affects nearly 1% of Canadians. Genetics plays a role in who will develop celiac disease. Studies have shown that the familial occurrence of the disease ranges from 10% to 22%. There are 3 things required for a person to develop celiac disease:

1. Genetic disposition – carrying the genes associated with the disease
2. Trigger – exposure to an environmental, emotional or physical event, such as adolescence, pregnancy, childbirth, infection, surgery, an accident or stressful situation
3. Diet – eating foods that contain gluten, such as wheat, rye and barley or their derivatives

What kinds of food contain gluten?
Gluten is present in many foods, including breads, pasta, cereals, cookies, cakes and pie. These are the obvious sources, but it is also “hidden” and not so obviously found in many sauces, marinades, spices, coatings and thickeners. It is also present as an additive in some drugs and vitamin supplements.

Speaking of vitamins, is it important for people with celiac disease to take vitamins or nutritional supplements?
As a pharmacist I am often asked this question. The answer depends on many factors: state of health, age, lifestyle, diet, use of medications and other factors that can impact nutritional status (such as stress, smoking, drug use).

For many people, nutritional supplements can play an important role in optimizing health. The majority of people with celiac disease suffer for a long time prior to diagnosis. The intestinal damage caused by years of ingesting gluten can be quite significant. Since nutrient absorption occurs through the intestine, undiagnosed celiac disease can result in malnutrition and signs of nutrient deficiency, such as anemia, skin rash, fatigue, poor cognitive function and stunted growth of hair and nails. It may take several months for the intestines to heal on a strict gluten-free diet. Despite even the best efforts to follow the diet strictly, inadvertent ingestion of gluten can occur and this can compromise the health of the intestines and the ability to absorb nutrients. Lastly, the gluten-free diet, while healthy, can be lacking in certain nutrients. Gluten-free flours are typically lower in fibre and not enriched with iron and B vitamins. Nutritional supplements can help facilitate healing of the body, aid digestion and compensate for possible dietary deficiencies.

Click “more” to see what supplements people with celiac disease should consider taking…

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guest blog: Gluten Free Consultant

Sushi by Chef David Chung of Akasaka Japanese Restaurant. Guest blog post by JoAnne Bennett Mirsky, aka the Gluten Free Consultant.

 

My most rewarding gluten-free project to date was planning my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah this fall—a completely gluten-free affair for 140 guests. I was lucky to have Chef David Chung of Akasaka Japanese Restaurant working with me for this special occasion. There was an Asian-style hut set up in the foyer of Le Parc where people could help themselves to gluten-free sushi that was being prepared fresh by Chef David. The sushi was served with gluten-free soy sauce (tamari). When it was time for the guests to move into the dining room, Chef David got ready the Asian Station, one of the four stations for dinner. The Asian Station included pad Thai, fried rice and chicken yakatori. Not only was the food prepared gluten free, it was also made without nuts and shrimp. Chef David did an outstanding job of omitting the things that we couldn’t have in the food while maintaining the fantastic taste of all the dishes.

I love working with Chef David because he always figures out a way to make food safe while ensuring that it is delicious. He runs his restaurant like that as well, which is why Akasaka is one of my favourite restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area. Chef David and his staff are so accommodating and willing to make the changes that are necessary for people to feel safe while dining out. I helped Chef David make his restaurant gluten-free friendly over five years ago. Akasaka has a gluten-free menu that is plentiful and includes many great items to choose from and the staff is well trained on how to manage a gluten-free order. While dining at the Teppanyaki tables, you are served a miso soup that is gluten free and a salad with gluten-free dressing, and the chefs prepare the meal with gluten-free soy sauce (tamari) and teriyaki sauce. We always get a delicious meal when we go to Akasaka and I leave feeling like the gluten-free request was taken seriously and that they truly know what they are doing with respect to keeping the food safe.

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she’s got the GF beat: Pimenton

 

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the Toronto Underground Market. TUM is a social food market held at the Evergreen Brick Works that provides space for burgeoning home cooks/entrepreneurs to showcase their unique and delicious food creations.

On this crisp evening, I happened upon a wonderful chef named Jose Arato. He owns a Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant called Pimenton on Mt. Pleasant. I was lured to Pimenton’s stall by aromas of slow-cooking meat, seafood and rice and remained captivated by the spoon that was slowly churning the paella. This traditional Spanish dish—a Pimenton specialty—is made in a large paellera (traditional paella pan) and is rich and soulful. I devoured every last morsel of my steamy rice stew with fresh chicken, muscles, shrimp and squid. In addition to being tasty and hearty, paella is gluten free!

 

 

TUM might be over, but fortunately you (and three lucky friends!) can indulge in Jose’s paella at his gourmet food store or buy it by the pound on Saturdays to take home. Choose from Paella Marinara (fresh seafood), Paella Valenciana (chicken and fresh seafood) or Paella Vegetariana. Pimenton also offers paella cooking classes, where you will learn techniques to make paella like a pro. Better yet, why not host a paella party and have your own personal paella made right in your home?

Pimenton also makes delectable gluten-free baked goods—chocolate beetroot brownies, pumpkin chocolate loaf and ginger cake—and will be bringing them to the Gluten Free Garage!

Rebecca Feigelsohn is a recent graduate of McGill University who now works as a freelance writer interested in food, culture and social justice. Visit her blog at madaboutfood@tumblr.com to read about her gastronomic adventures.