Sunday, October 12, 2014

La Riviera's Gluten Free Dinner - Monday, October 27

For those who don't know, a couple of times per year, La Riviera Trattoria (Clifton, NJ), opens on a Monday night for a family style meal that is entirely gluten free! (And as you can see from the menu below, ~75% dairy free as well.) Maria (who is gluten free herself) does an amazing job of juggling everyone's other food issues as well; just make sure you inform her when you rsvp. Here's this time's menu:
A platter of Gluten Free Calamari from a previous
Gluten Free Dinner at La Riviera in Clifton NJ

1st Course (Family style)
Fried Calamari (DF)
Surprise Appetizer
Surprise Appetizer
Meatballs (DF)
Pizza (can be DF)

2nd Course (Family Style)
Pasta Fagioli (DF)

A platter of Mussels Marinara from a previous
Gluten Free Dinner at La Riviera in Clifton NJ

3rd Course (Individual)
Salad (DF)

4th Course (Family style)
Veal Parmigiana
Chicken Milanese (DF)
Eggplant Siciliana no mozzarella (DF)
Basa in a scampi sauce (DF)

5th Course

An entire five course, gluten free meal with sodas, gratuity and tax included for only $55 per person! (There is also a cash bar for alcohol if you want.)

You'll need to email Maria to rsvp and then mail a check to the restaurant. (Email and street address are on their invite here: La Riviera Invitation.) The dinner is Monday, October 27th with an overflow night of Monday, November 17th.

I've been a number of times since they started offering these, in fact, I reviewed one of the dinners back in 2011 - the menu varies a bit but the food (and especially the sauce) remains as amazing as ever: Review of the Gluten Free Dinner at La Riviera.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

No Cook Tomato Free Ketchup

I've been working on a tomato free ketchup for about a year now. I tried to base this on my tomato free sauce but it was a lot more work and wasn't quite as good as this one. I loosely based this on a couple of other recipes I found that contained pears, carrots and cranberry sauce. Pears have a gritty texture that remained in the final ketchup.

No Cook Tomato Free Ketchup
Originally, I was using corn syrup as I thought the sugar wouldn't dissolve fully. It is much better with the sugar and if you mix it with the vinegar it dissolves. Finally, if you don't want to use beet juice you can use 8-10 drops of red food coloring (but you can't taste the beets).


1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

1 14oz can of yams (drained and reserved)
1 14oz can of cranberry sauce3 tsp salt
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8-1/16 tsp ground clove (less than two heads)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder

Juice from a 8oz can of beets (or red food coloring) as needed

How to make No Cook Tomato Free Ketchup:

Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar.

Drain the yams, reserving the liquid for later.

Place all ingredients except the beets/food coloring in a blender and blend until smooth. If needed add the reserved liquid from the yams in small amounts until you have the correct consistency.

Stir in beet juice in small amounts until you get the color you would like (I use less than half the liquid in an 8oz can). (If not using beet juice, 8-10 drops of food coloring should be about right.)

Chill before using.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. (Each batch of mine lasts for months.)

Make 3.5-4 cups.

Other tomato free recipes you may be interested in:

Tomato Free Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

Mango, Cucumber, Jicama, and Avocado Salad Recipe

All other Tomato Free Recipes

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dairy Free Penne alla Vodka Recipe (Tomato Free/Gluten Free)

Penne alla vodka (or penne a la vodka if you prefer) is the trifecta of food intolerances for me: it's main ingredients are gluten, dairy, and tomato. I had tried making it years ago (when I was just gluten and dairy free) but I used soy milk. Soy milk has a very distinct flavor that is difficult to hide in any dish and my dairy free penne alla vodka was no exception.

Dairy free Penne alla Vodka (gluten free and tomato free)
I recently saw a coconut milk creamer in my local supermarket and decided to try again. Now plain coconut milk creamer (sold in a 16oz carton with the other coffee creamers) has a very slight coconut flavor to it, but that flavor (unlike the soy) was completely undetectable in the final dish.


2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup of vodka
1 cup plain coconut milk creamer*
1 pound gluten free penne
1 cup tomato free sauce**
1 small bunch fresh chopped basil***
Vegan Parmesan topping

* can also use soy milk creamer but coconut has a less noticeable flavor (both are found with the dairy coffee creamers; be sure they are unflavored/plain)
** substitute 1 cup tomato puree if not tomato free
*** omit if using tomato free sauce that has already been seasoned.

How to make dairy free penne alla vodka:

Saute two chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil in a large saute pan until starting to brown (about 5 minutes)

Measure 1/4 cup of vodka away from the stove. [WARNING: do not pour directly from vodka bottle into the pan as the bottle could catch fire and explode.] Add to the pan bring to a low boil. Boil for about 5 minutes.

Add the cup of coconut milk creamer, bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for about 20 minutes (sauce should reduce by about half).

While the sauce is simmering prepare the penne according to directions.

After the simmer, add 1 cup of tomato free sauce and the chopped basil. [Note, you can use the un-herbed sauce prior to step 7 or the finished sauce after step 8. If using the finished sauce, there is no need to add more basil here, but you can if you like.]

Cook until heated through (about 5 minutes) being careful to not overcook (the beets in the sauce will brown if you do).

Toss the cooked and drained pasta in the sauce and serve! Garnish with Vegan Parmesan topping if desired.

Other dairy free sauces (gluten and tomato free as well) you may be interested in:

Dairy Free Swedish Meatball Recipe

Dairy Free Alfredo Sauce Recipe

Or check my full list of recipes and the allergens they are free of.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Restaurant Review: River Edge Pizza Kitchen (River Edge, NJ)

My first Meatball Parm Sub in years!

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Meatball Parm Sub
I recently had lunch (and took home dinner) from River Edge Pizza Kitchen (830 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge, NJ 07661) and enjoyed it greatly. I first heard about the restaurant from the Northern NJ Celiac Meetup. I was particularly drawn to the fact that they also offer dairy free / vegan cheese. In addition, they have gluten free pasta, gluten free pizza crust (imported from italy), gluten free fries, gluten free fried calamari (both in a dedicated frier), gluten free heros, gluten free bread crumbs, gluten free wraps, gf garlic bread, and gluten free meatballs.

The restaurant is a store front with a couple of small tables upfront to eat in. The food is some of the best Italian food I've had but a bit expensive. The pizza crust was soft and came in its own foil lined pan. The hero rolls are Schar and the vegan cheese is daiya. There is a $3 surcharge for gluten free items (and a $5 surcharge on the gluten free dinners) [not sure if there was an up-charge for the vegan cheese].
Gluten Free French Fries

The grandchildren of the owners (husband and wife) are gluten free and dairy free and even the husband himself is now finding he has issues with gluten.

If I lived or worked closer this is somewhere I would go back to – especially for gluten free / dairy free meatball parm, gf/df chicken parm or a gf/df pizza!

River Edge Pizza Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Here are some other gluten free Italian/Pizza options:

Pizza Fusion for GF/DF pizza

La Riviera Trattoria (no dairy free cheese but amazing food)

All NJ Restaurants with Gluten Free Menus

Monday, April 28, 2014

Restaurant Review: eat healthy deli (Fairfield, NJ)

100% Gluten Free!

Last Friday I had lunch at the recently opened eat healthy deli (24 Little Fals Road, Fairfield, NJ 07004) [Their website may not be up yet, so here's their facebook page]. They offer three brands of gluten free breads (No Way! It's Gluten Free, Get Fresh Bakehouse, and Schär) [not all are dairy free] and Applegate Farms cold cuts. All of their soups are gluten free (one was vegan the day I was there). They have a U shaped 'bar' with seating but no tables if you want to eat in.
When was the last time you saw a sign this welcoming?!?!

They also have a 100% gluten free bakery onsite and full lists of ingredients for each of the baked good. Only some of the baked goods the day I was there were also dairy free but the baker will accommodate any request she can with advanced notice.

eat healthy is open for breakfast and lunch six days a week (closed Sundays). A lot of the breakfast items can be made dairy free and they even have vegan butter! They are looking to expand eventually to offer dinner and offer grab and go dinners as well.

Both owners (who are brothers) are gluten free which is why the entire deli is gluten free! [They both limit their dairy but aren't dairy free themselves. For dairy free they had to double check a number of items but were happy to do so and happy to accommodate however they could.]

Gluten Free Panini and GF/Vegan Cookie
at eat healthy deli in Fairfield, NJ
In addition to gluten free the owners are big on non-GMO, offer organic where they can, and even have compostable flatware and plates. There are a number of gluten free products for sale (Ancient Harvest, Bob's Red Mill, Canyon Bakehouse, Contes, Feel Good Foods, Get Fresh Bakehouse, Gratify, Jovial, Kind, Namaste, No Way It's Gluten Free, and Schär) as well as a number of grocery items.

So, how was the food? Amazing! I had 'The Butcher' a grilled ribeye steak on a No Way! It's Gluten Free sub roll. They pressed the sandwich in their panini press and the roll held together through the whole lunch. And that is the nice thing about a 100% Gf restaurant, the panini press is dedicated gf, the toaster is dedicated gf, the prep area is dedicated gf, etc, etc! This is definitely somewhere I'm hoping to go back to quite often.

Eat Healthy Deli on Urbanspoon

Looking for other gluten free sandwich options? (None of these are 100% GF)

Try Pascarella Bros in Summit

or the Bologna Deli in Sparta

or Plum on Park in Montclair

And of course, check out the full list of restaurants with gluten free menus.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Restaurant Review: Cinders Wood Fire Grill (Mine Hill, NJ)

I had a great all around experience at Cinders Wood Fire Grill (319 Route 46W, Mine Hill, NJ 07803) last night. For starters, Cinders flags the gluten free items on their menu with a small green diamond. There were nine tapas (appetizers), eight entrees, and six sides. There is also a note that any item without the sauce or without bread would be gluten free.
Woodgrilled Half Chicken in a Cilantro Lime Marinade

Their specials list wasn't flagged but I figured I'd ask about an interesting sounding swordfish with peaches and sweet barbeque glaze since I needed to inquire about dairy free anyway. The waiter was very helpful and offered to check with the kitchen without being asked (always a good sign). They couldn't make the dish both gluten and dairy free as written but the chef offered to prepare the swordfish with a gf/df garlic wine sauce instead!

In the end, I decided to try the Woodgrilled Half Chicken (naturally both gf/df), with a side of grill asparagus and gluten free shoestring fries!

Overall a great time and somewhere with enough gluten free variety on the menu that I'm sure to go back!

Cinders Wood Fire Grill on Urbanspoon

Other restaurants you may like:

Opa Greek Cuisine (Wayne, NJ)

Pandan Room (Hackettstown, NJ)

Or search my full gluten free restaurant list!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Restaurant Review: China Sea of Absecon (Absecon, NJ)

On a recent day trip to Atlantic City, I decided to stop for dinner at China Sea of Absecon (662 White Horse Pike, Absecon, NJ 08201). It is fairly rare to find a chinese restaurant that has a gluten free menu and even rarer to find one as extensive as theirs. (The full gf menu is on their website.)

Gluten Free Sesame Chicken at China Sea Absecon
One of my favorite meals at a chinese restaurant is Sesame Chicken so I had to try their and I wasn't disappointed. It was just as good as I remember from before I gave up gluten. The food was so good I ended up ordering another two dinners to take home and eat over the following nights. Even as left overs, the gluten free chicken and broccoli and the gluten free beef with asparagus were terrific.

China Sea has a large eat in dining room and also does a brisk take out business. It is located in the Marketplace of Absecon strip mall (right past the Arby's). There's even a note on their website that for orders of $50 or more, they will deliver to AC casinos!

It's a bit far of a drive for me, but this is definitely somewhere I would return if I were in the area.

China Sea of Absecon Restaurant on Urbanspoon

There are a couple of other chinese restaurants offering gluten free food:

Lo Fatt Chow (Lebenon, NJ)

Panda Asian Fusion (Freehold, NJ)

Pei Wei (Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Paramus)

As well as other asian cuisines:

A Taste of Asia II (Chatham, NJ)

Bangkok Kitchen (Caldwell, NJ)

Pandan Room / Pandan Asian Fusion (Hackettstown, NJ and Long Valley, NJ)