Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Product Review: Udi’s Pizza Shell (gluten free / dairy free, contains egg)

Let me start by saying that I’ve never made a pizza shell before (gluten free or otherwise) so this was a new experience for me. I also haven’t had gluten containing pizza in about 20 years (I’ve only been on a gluten free diet for about six years but have been on a dairy free diet for over twenty!) so I’m comparing to memory mostly. I have had GF/DF Pizza at Pizza Fusion and occasionally have frozen GF/DF pizzas by Amy’s.

Udi's Gluten Free / Dairy Free Pizza Shells
with Boar's Head Dairy Free Turkey Pepperoni
On to the review: I’ve had a package of Udi’s GF Pizza Shells in my freezer for a couple of weeks now. I was on a hunt for pork free/dairy free pepperoni. While I found plenty of turkey pepperoni they all contained lactic acid starter culture which is often derived from milk (not sure exactly which part of milk makes me sick). I even considered meatless pepperoni but these were all made from wheat protein. I finally settled on Boar’s Head gluten free turkey pepperoni that claimed it was also milk free (even though it also contained lactic acid starter culture).

Just a quick tangent on Boar’s Head. I gave them a call and their lactic acid is not sourced from dairy. As a matter of fact, as of this writing, only four of their meats contain dairy (Mortadella, Chorizo, Pesto Parmesan Ham, and Italian Style Roast Beef with Braciole Seasoning). Oh, and they make these at the end of the day so they are sure nothing else is cross contaminated!

Ok, back to the pizza. I defrosted one of the shells (I let it sit out for maybe 10 minutes, it fully defrosted pretty quickly) and a small container of sauce I had frozen for eventual use on pizza. I covered the center of the shell with about 3 or 4 tablespoons of No Tomato Pizza sauce (of course, those who can, can use tomato sauce) and baked it for the recommended seven minutes at 375.

I then covered it with shredded Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese, a couple of slices of Boar’s Head Turkey Pepperoni and broiled it for 3-5 minutes more. In hindsight this was a mistake. The package instructions are for regular cheese that melts, I should have only baked the shell and sauce for 3-4 minutes before adding the vegan cheese and broiling. The edges of the crust were a touch more well-done than I had hoped. [That’s the nice way of saying – burnt!] I made the second shell two days later and these reduced times worked perfectly!

One other tip, don’t layer the shredded vegan gourmet too thick or the pieces underneath will liquefy and not melt correctly. Besides this not being the correct texture, you could burn yourself. I used about half the package but probably should have only used a third or so.

The pizza itself was great! The crust was thin but dense and chewy. It held together perfectly. It is a hair thicker than I remember thin crust pizza being but it is much more pizza-like than the Amy’s frozen pizza crusts (by-the-way: I do really like the Amy’s, I just accept that their crust is thicker and fluffier). The crust is also thicker than the Still Riding gluten free crusts most NJ pizzerias seem to be using but it was more malleable. If you don't over cook the crust (see above) it even folds like real pizza! (But, at 8” round, you really don't need to.)

Overall, I really liked them and will most likely buy them again. Dinner was ready in about 20 minutes (including defrosting, shredding, etc.) which on a busy weeknight wasn’t bad at all.

I’ve seen these in a lot of places that carry Udi’s other products. If you can’t find them you can order them at the Gluten Free Mall here: Udi's Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts.

Other product reviews you may be interested in:

 Feel Good Foods Asian Style GF Dumplings

Using Udi's GF Hotdog Bun to make a sub sandwich

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Restaurant Review: Bellizzi (153 Main Street, Mount Kisco, New York 10549 and 1272 Boston Post Road, Larchmonth, New York, 10538)

I recently had lunch with a friend of mine at Bellizzi (1272 Boston Post Road, Larchmont, New York, 10538). (For some reason they have separate websites, if you’d like to check out Bellizzi in Mount Kisco click here: Bellizzi Mount Kisco.) The menus are extremely similar but do have slight differences.
Mama's Gluten Free Chicken Soup with Rice at Bellizzi

The GF entrees are all gluten friendly – grilled chicken parmigiana, etc. but some are served with a side of GF pasta (le veneziane brand).  They have a number of pasta dishes and they also have GF pizza from Still Riding Pizza.

The highlight (for me at least) were their gluten free soups! It’s rare enough to find a restaurant that doesn’t use a gluten containing stock for their soups but Bellizzi even serves Galbusera gluten free crackers along with them!

We each had a cup of GF soup to start and I had the Chicken Milanese (grilled chicken under arugula and red onions with balsamic vinaigrette (I left off the tomatoes). It wasn’t what I was expecting but a welcome surprise. Since I’m usually so limited on a menu to find something GF/DF it is always nice to have something I’ve never had before!
GF/DF Grill Chicken Milanese at Bellizzi in Larchmont, NY

This is definitely somewhere I would recommend and return to if I again find myself in that area.

Looking for other gluten free places in NY to eat?

Gluten Free at 97lake Sports Cafe in West Harrison, NY

Or check the handful listed on my Gluten Free Restaurant List:
Bellizzi Restaurant - Food, Family, Fun on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dairy Free / Gluten Free Swedish Meatball Recipe

I started making Swedish meatballs years ago after realizing that tomato sauce doesn’t really work for me. Now that I have a Tomato Free Sauce, I get to have spaghetti and meatballs again but I like to make Swedish meatballs as well.

A couple of quick notes on the recipe:

If you can have dairy replace the almond/hemp milk with heavy cream. If you are DF don’t use rice milk as it is too thin. If you have to, then you may want to add a little additional flour to the gravy.

Why add bread/bread crumbs to meatballs? It turns out, bread or bread crumbs in meatballs makes them significantly softer. In this recipe, use a middle slice of bread, not the end (I usually save the ends of GF bread to make bread crumbs) as the end may not fall apart as easily.

Gluten Free / Dairy Free Swedish Meatballs
1 slice gf bread
1/4 cup almond/hemp milk
olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped fine

1# ground beef
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Gravy Ingredients:
1/4 cup almond/hemp milk
2 cups gluten free beef broth
1/4 cup gluten free flour mix
dash nutmeg
dash allspice
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Lingonberry, (cranberry, currant, blackberry, raspberry)

How to prepare GF/DF Swedish Meatballs:
Soak bread in milk using the bare minimum of milk (you can always add more).

Sauté chopped onion in olive oil (about 3-4 minutes) in a high rimmed sauté pan.

Whisk milk/bread mixture until bread fully falls apart (again adding more milk as needed).

Mix bread/milk ingredients, onions, ground beef, allspice, nutmeg, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form into 1” meatballs (recipe should make 20-24). If you used too much milk on the bread the meatballs may not hold their shape well. If so, cool in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Fry meatballs in batches until browned on the outside, transfer to a paper towel lined plate as done.

Drain off some fat as needed/desired.

To make the gravy:
Combine the milk and gf flour in a covered container and shake well. Deglaze the sauté pan with a bit of the beef stock/broth before adding the rest. Stir in the flour/milk mixture. Add the nutmeg, allspice, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Return meatballs to pan and simmer until gravy is desired consistency and meatballs are cooked fully through.

Serve over Gluten Free noodles with a bit of jam (lingonberry is traditional, but currant, cranberry, blackberry or raspberry jam can all be used in a pinch.)


Note: the jam can be mixed into the gravy as well.

If you make this recipe and enjoy it, let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Restaurant Review: Chick-fil-A (various NJ locations)

If I’m going out after work I really don’t like to stop home first. Once I’m home it’s too tough to overcome the inertia and head out again. Therefore, if I need to stop somewhere for a quick bite, the Chick-fil-A on my way home fills the bill nicely.
Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken with Polynesian Sauce
on Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bun

As those who have previously read my article on Gluten Free French Fries already know, Chick-fil-A’s french fries are fried separately from their breaded chicken items in a different frier. (As always, make sure this is the case at your local Chick-fil-A.)

They also offer three grilled chicken items that are gluten free (two salads and one bun-free sandwich)  Oh, and the best part? When you order a grilled chicken sandwich without a bun – they deduct the cost of the bun!

Update 2/6/12:

I had their grilled chicken nuggets on my way home Friday night.  They aren't just on the kids menu, they have  an 8-piece "grown-up" version as well.  The taste was very similar to the chargrilled chicken breast but I suspect you get more chicken with the chargrilled breast.  Even though the kid in me enjoyed dipping the nuggets, I think I'll stick with the chicken breast (smothered in Polynesian sauce of course!)
Chick-fil-A on Urbanspoon

Other quick serve/fast food reviews:

Gluten Free at Chipotle Mexican Grill

Gluten Free at Elevation Burger

Where to get Gluten Free Fries

And be sure to check out my list of Gluten Free Fast Food Restaurants.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Product Review: Feel Good Foods Dumplings

WARNING: You must follow the directions exactly as written on the packaging!
Cooking Feel Good Foods' Gluten Free Asian Dumplings

I’ve heard a number of people complain that these dumplings fall apart or that they just turn to mush. I had minimal issues with them but it is critical that you follow the directions on the box exactly. (They say shake frequently to avoid sticking, I found that means almost constantly!) They’ve even posted a video on their website showing exactly how to cook the dumplings.

Feel Good Foods produces four types of gluten free Asian style dumplings: Chicken, Pork, Shrimp and Vegetable. I found that they came out exactly like the traditionally prepared dumplings one would get at an Asian restaurant (not the deep fried type).

After their success with dumplings, I hear rumors they are launching a gluten free egg roll in early 2012!!!
Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Asian Dumplings

I’ve seen the dumplings at Corrado’s and Nature’s Pavilion. They are also available at a number of other small retailers across the state. If you can’t find them locally you can order them from the gluten free mall here: Feel Good Foods Asian Style Gluten-Free Dumplings.

Other articles you may be interested in:

Which Gluten Free Hot Dog Bun is Best?

Gluten Free Asian Food at the Pandan Room in Hackettstown, NJ

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gluten Free Holiday Cookies and Cakes by Schär and Mi-Del

Oh, how the times have changed!

Schär Gluten Free Dairy Free Spekulatius
It’s amazing how different both the product landscape and restaurant landscape has changed for gluten free food in the six years I’ve been gluten free. We now have sandwich bread that doesn’t fall apart, pasta that isn’t mush, and over 100 national chains and local restaurants in NJ now have gluten free menus!

And now, the gluten free market has gotten big enough that companies can launch targeted gluten free products for the holidays!

Schär – Wegmans is carrying a special line of Schär products for the holidays: Panettone (Italian Christmas Cake), Fantasia (yellow sponge cake), Cioccolini (chocolate cookies with a chocolate cream center), Fior di Sole (vanilla ring cookies) and Spekulatius (spiced cookies stamped with images of the traditional story of St. Nicholas from the West Germany/Belgium/Netherlands area). [For those who don’t also need dairy free – there is a chocolate chip version of the Panettone and a Lebkuchen (chocolate covered gingerbread cookies).] I’ve only tried the Spekulatius so far and they were good – crispy and a welcome change from the other cookies I eat year round.

Mi-Del Gluten Free / Dairy Free Gingerbread Men
Mi-Del has a box of GF/DF Gingerbread men.  (Be careful as they also sell gluten containing Gingerbread men.)  These are good as well although they taste suspiciously like their ginger snaps. (But then again, you can’t bite the head off a ginger snap!) I bought mine at Fairway but I suspect they will be available in most supermarkets where Mi-Del products are sold.

Hopefully, you can find these products in person as I have not seen any of them for sale online.

Other Gluten Free snack reviews:
Gluten Free Fig Newton Substitution

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Donut Review