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A Piece of Cake

31 Oct

The last thing I want to do is to start posting yummy gluten -free recipes. That’s just not me. Complaining about the gluten-free lifestyle is much more me. But once in a while a really good recipe comes along. And even more rare, a really good recipe with a story.  I have made this cake three times. I remember each time I’ve made it because it’s so good!  But before I give you the recipe, I must give you some important information.

  • The recipe is from a retreat center in Santa Barbara, CA, called Immaculate Heart Center for Spiritual Renewal. They have a great recipe book, called A Place at the Table that you should buy. (You are probably wondering what a bitch like me was doing at a spiritual retreat center, but I’ll never tell.)
  • If you make this cake for yourself you will want to eat it at every meal (see my previous post)
  • If you make this cake for a group of people, there will not be any left, so make two.
  • If you do not have a heavy-duty food processor, you may not want to make this recipe.
  • I suggest you invest in a heavy-duty food processor just so you can make this recipe.

A Cake Story

My daughter just returned from a cross-country road trip with her friend. I made a delicious dinner, pork tenderloin with fig sauce (also from A Place at the Table) mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. Yum! And flourless chocolate cake with goat cheese-whipped cream on the side. Double yum!

The recipe calls for 8 oz of dark chocolate, which you break up into littleish pieces and process in the food processor with some of the sugar. What they don’t tell you is that your food processor will shake violently as it tries to pulse that chocolate into a semi-fine powder. I was a little a worried about the shaking but I kept on with the processing, and turned out the most delicious cake. There were only two pieces left in the morning. I was tempted to eat a piece for breakfast but decided to practice restraint and ate it an hour later when I got to work.

When I came home there was a note from my daughter, with a tiny screw next to it, explaining that the screw was in the piece of cake. I checked the mixer, no missing screws. Then I remembered the shaking food processor. I checked the blade. Sure enough, two little screws missing. My first thought, who ate the other screw?

The moral of this story: THIS CAKE IS DANGEROUS

Flourless Chocolate Cake

For Cake

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cup whole raw almonds

8 oz. dark chocolate

5 eggs separated

1/2 tsp. orange or lemon zest

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

6 oz. butter, melted

powered cocoa or sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the sides.

In a food processor; process about 1/3 cup sugar with the almonds, pulsing until fine. Remove to a medium bowl. Process about another 1/3 cup of the sugar with the chocolate, pulsing until fine. Check for screws.  Add to the bowl of almonds, mix, and  set aside.

In a mixing bowl, mix egg yolks with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar for a few minutes, until thick and pale. Mix in zest and extracts. Fold in almond/chocolate mixture and melted butter.

Whip eggs (with clean dry beaters) until they hold stiff peaks. Gently and completely fold egg whites into cake mixture (this takes patience as the dough may be quite stiff). My dough was not that stiff, so patience was not an issue, but I appreciated the warning.

Pour mixture into prepared cake pan, leveling the top. Back until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist bits, 45-55 minutes.

Let rest on cooling rack for a few minutes; then remove from pan and cool completely. Dust with sugar or cocoa and serve with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

3-5 Tbls fresh goat cheese (chevre)

1-3 tsp sugar

1/2-1 cup whipping cream

You can experiment with the proportions on this. I like it more goaty so I use more goat cheese and less whipped cream. You can sweeten to taste, but remember the cake is already sweet.

The Ugly Truth

27 Sep

I recently overheard a woman telling another woman that she had lost a lot of weight by eliminating gluten from her diet. I am skeptical about such claims and I wanted to set the record straight. Also I am jealous and annoyed by people who lose weight easily by eliminating anything. And it appears that I have become the kind of person who enjoys bursting people’s bubbles. That’s what celiac disease has done to me. So here it is, the ugly truth: The gluten-free diet that people lose weight on is simply a no or low carb diet. I know I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating. To illustrate my point I present you with two meal plans. The first plan is for someone (me) who can never again eat gluten anything, ever; the second is for someone (not me) who wants to lose weight, and be cool ( gluten-free is a lot hipper than weight watchers).

my gluten-free diet plan:

The basis of my plan is this flourless chocolate cake. I made enough so that I could incorporate it into my meals during the week.

Breakfast: 2 pieces of flourless chocolate cake and on cup of strong black tea with lots of milk and honey

Lunch: 1 piece of flourless chocolate  cake and a V-8 juice

Dinner:  hashbrowns and a half a bottle of white wine (because it was the only GF thing around) and for dessert, you guessed it, flourless chocolate cake

Bed time snack: flourless chocolate cake

Someone else’s gluten-free diet plan:

The basis of this plan is eliminating all carbohydrates.

Breakfast: fruit and yogurt, instead of the usual bagel with cream cheese.

Lunch: A gigantic salad, instead of the usual Panini

Dinner: Chicken, asparagus and greens with lemon water, instead of the usual large pepperoni pizza

Dessert: ice chips

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

10 May

As a person with celiac disease I find that there is a fine line between things I want to know and things I don’t want to know. For example: I frequently eat at a local restaurant whose menu consists of paninis, soup and salad. They have a very yummy, naturally gluten-free tomato red pepper soup that I always order, but it’s still feels like a consolation prize when I look around at the buttery sandwiches oozing with cheese, onions and turkey.  One day when I couldn’t take it anymore I casually asked the chef if he would consider a gluten-free panini option. He replied that they could make any of the sandwiches with gluten- free bread. I asked him if this was something new. “No”, he said, “We’ve been doing it for several years”. “Does the menu say anything about this option?” I asked. The answer was no.  I don’t know why it took me so long to ask but why should I have to? Gluten-free, as far as know, and especially in Santa Cruz, is not on the down low. It seems like a small thing, but I find many of life’s greatest pleasures are simple; like the joy of looking at a menu and ordering from it without having to ask a zillion questions.

On the other hand, I was at another local restaurant where I asked if the French fries were gluten-free (I’ve taken to ordering fries before I even sit down so that I don’t have to watch my dining companions tear apart soft pieces of bread and dip them in oil or generously slather them in butter while I patiently wait for the main course. Maybe this is why I’ve also recently gained five pounds.) Anyway, the waitress went to check with the cook and came back to cheerfully tell me YES, they’re gluten-free…but they are fried in the same oil that we fry our breaded calamari in.  Here’s the thing, if I am going to eat at a restaurant I know there is a chance of “cross contamination” a fancy term for getting unintentionally “glutened”, a made up term, for accidentally eating gluten. The only way around this is not to think about it, because if I think about the fact that even one crumb of gluten that comes in contact with my small intestine will set off an auto-immune reaction in my body that may take weeks to repair, I will go crazy. Not the kind of crazy that I already am, the real kind of crazy.

Sushi, What’s the Point?

6 Mar

I used to love sushi. Not the raw fish sushi.  The kind that comes in a roll  covered in rice and avocado and macadamia nuts and tempura anything and sweet sauce.

Last night we ordered in from our favorite Japanese restaurant. At this point I would like to remind you (and myself) that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. “I’d like a nutty shrimp” I said to the man on the other end of the phone, my voice full of regret. “But instead of tempura shrimp I will just have ebi (steamed shrimp) and a yummy yam, but instead of the tempura yam, just steamed yam, oh, and can I have those made with brown rice?”

Thirty minutes later I was dipping rolls of sticky brown rice into my wheat-free tamari and wasabi mixture, coveting the eel soaked in a sweet gluteny sauce that my husband was enjoying.  My shrimp was chewy. Have you ever noticed that shrimp on its own as no flavor whatsoever? The yam was yummy, naturally sweet. And who doesn’t love a yam wrapped in brown rice?

This morning I woke up feeling nauseous. Maybe I was unintentionally glutened.  Or maybe it was intentional.  Either way it wasn’t worth it. I’m thinking of giving up on food all together.  Can’t I just take a pill for that? I would happily go for weekly intravenous meals.

When I’m feeling blue, I sometimes call a friend, or buy a lot of shoes, or search the internet. It was too early to call anyone and my bank account is on empty so I googled.  I searched gluten-free sushi just to see what somebody else had to say on the subject.

I found one blogger extolling the virtues of sushi when dinning with friends, “… I didn’t need to do as much research upfront and I knew there would be SOMETHING I could eat (even if it was just steamed edamam). ” http://aglutenfreeguide.com/eating-sushi-is-a-gluten-free-dream.html . This made me realize I have been setting the bar a little too high. If I only had her glass-half-full attitude why I could go to any restaurant knowing that at the very least I could have a plate of lettuce.

And then this from Gluten Free: The Celiac Site

“Every celiac should develop a taste for Sushi. Consider one blogger’s  suggestion:  “Once I was diagnosed with Celiac, sushi restaurants became a haven for my gluten free dining. It’s so much easier to ask someone if they want to go for sushi than look for other gluten free friendly dining establishments. I can just grab my bottle or packets of gluten free soy sauce and head to the restaurant.”

Wow, you make it sound so fun! But wait, there’s a catch…

“Sushi is gluten free, but (as always) there are cross contamination issues. This same blogger continues: “Unfortunately eating sushi gluten free is not completely care-free and there are still things you need to be wary of in order to eat safely. Ask for your fish to be cut with clean utensils on a clean surface. The rising popularity of tempura rolls has increased the chances for cross-contamination here. Tell your server no crab unless they can assure you it’s real, most fake crab meat used in sushi rolls is made with wheat. Most roe (fish eggs) used to top sushi has wheat as an ingredient. Also, ask for no sauce, albacore sashimi usually comes with a forbidden sauce and many white fish are sprinkled with a gluten containing culprit. Eel (unagi) comes soaked in a sweet sauce that is a definite no-no. Double-check the wasabi, ginger and rice to make sure that there are no suspect ingredients.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then more joyous news:

  • Even the sesame seeds that sometimes coat sushi rolls may be mixed with a wheat product. (WTF!)
  • And the sticky rice is sometimes soaked in vinegar containing gluten.  (now that’s just mean)

First, can we just all agree that gluten-free and carefree should not be used in the same paragraph?

Second, I am never going to utter these words in a restaurant, “please make sure my fish is cut with clean utensils on a clean surface” . It’s just not going to happen.

Third, I’ll just have a large sake.

Mascara, It’s Not Just For Breakfast Anymore.

26 Feb

Every morning  after I eat a gluten-free breakfast, I take a shower, I dry my hair and put on my face.  I learned that women put on their faces from my grandmother. (Thanks, grandma!)

Until recently I didn’t  think about whether or not my make-up was gluten-free. This is due to the fact that it has never occurred to me to eat my make-up.  But the other day, my friend Paula, (who does not have gluten issues but is lucky enough to have not one but two friends who do and therefore is gluten-sensitive) made the following comment to me in passing.  “So you might know, but I didn’t know, that there’s such a thing as gluten-free mascara.” Whew. What a relief, especially for those of us who like to munch between meals and will just grab for the first thing that’s handy.” Upon hearing this comment I decided I had better do a little research on the subject. So I googled the question “Do women sometimes eat their mascara?” Google responded with several pages of “Why women can’t put on their mascara with their mouths closed”.  Another Women’s Issue I had never considered. However upon reflection, I realized that I always open my mouth while putting on my mascara.

So once again, google unintentionally answered my question.  Obviously what happens is that while women are putting their mascara on with their mouths open, tiny particles of gluten are falling off the brush or the eyelashes and into their open mouths. Women are unknowingly being glutened* while  putting on their faces.  For those of us who may  unconsciously open our mouths while applying our make-up or forget to carry a snack with us  there are many gluten-free make-up options available.

Here’s one:

http://www.maybelline.com/

*glutened is a word I picked up while searching the internet. It was used in the following sentence: “…you may end up getting unintentionally glutened.”

Today’s  Treat:  Pure pressed mineral foundation in caramel garnished with pure pressed blush in cotton candy and topped off with a spritz of  D2O hydrating Spray.  http://janeiredale.com

The Daily Bitch…It’s Not the Gluten, Dummy

21 Feb

I’m not a real doctor, but I am a real bitch and I feel more than qualified to take on the subject of gluten and weight.

And, I am so tired of gluten-free weight loss stories!

  • Do people who go on a “gluten-free” diet for weight loss check every label, grill every waiter, and try desperately to find a delicious substitution for their favorite chocolate cake? Do they cry in the middle of the supermarket isle? I think not. I think they cut out bread, pasta and cake, for a couple of weeks and call it gluten-free. And guess what-they lose weight. Big surprise! It’s not the gluten, dummy,  it’s the no carbs, it’s the fewer calories.

  • Some people who have celiac disease gain weight once they give up gluten. Yup. That’s right. No, that’s wrong and so unfair.  It’s the dirty little secret about celiac disease. No one wants to talk about it.  Once that digestive system starts working again, those little cilia start standing upright again and doing their job. You start absorbing nutrients again, You start absorbing more fat.  Maybe your cholesterol goes up maybe you gain ten pounds.
  • Am I bitter? Possibly. Yes.
  • Chapter 15 of Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book, The G Free Diet; A Gluten-Free Survival Guide, is entitled G-Free and Slim as Can Be.  I would like to slap her.  Also, she’s a republican.

  • Am I bitter?  Possibly. Yes.
  • On the up side, I could eat donuts, cookies, bread and pasta and lose those ten pounds in a jiffy. It’s called the gluten diet.
  • On the down side, there’s the whole destroying my small intestine thing.
  • Oh well.

Today’s Treat: Ask Enid.

The Daily Treat….Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Roses and chocolate and pink champagne are gluten-free!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 from the GFBs

Today’s Taste Test Challange: These pink champagne cupcakes look yummy, but so did that hempseed coconut cake. If someone wants to test them for us we would be oh so happy!

http://www.theculinarylife.com/2009/gluten-free-champagne-cupcakes/

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