Foreign Food Porn – Gluten-Free Travel in Spain

Thanksgiving at El Bulli

I recently returned from the most delicious trip of my life.  Full write ups to come, but the photos from my Spain and London food adventure can be seen here. (including an amazing Thanksgiving at El Bulli)

Happy Holidays!

Congratulations to the Little Lad’s Popcorn Winner

Puppy cuteness that will slay you

Congratulations to YuShan, winner of the Little Lad’s Popcorn sampler.

Now with Luca around, photos of my nephews will take a back seat to my little pup when winners are announced.

Happy Holidays!

Winner selected by random.org

Food Crush and Giveaway – Little Lad’s (gluten-free) Popcorn

web Little Lads Herbal Corn Gluten-Free Popcorn Appetizer (3)

I love popcorn. I mean serious, obsessive lurve. I’m pretty sure I could eat popcorn every day for a month without getting tired of it.  So when I find a new version of the snack that heightens my crush, it’s almost a magical experience.  I found Little Lad’s “Herbal Corn” when looking for a cheap way to feed guests at a happy hour I was throwing.

Their addition of “natural flavors and herbs” create little kernels of delight – explosions of flavors really. I brought this to a friend’s birthday party recently and another guest declared: “You just changed my life!” (no joking).  Not only is it tasty, it’s also labeled “gluten-free” right on the package which always warms my heart a bit.

web Little Lads Herbal Corn Gluten-Free Popcorn Appetizer

So far, I’ve only seen Little Lad’s at Whole Foods in NYC, but I’m offering a giveaway so at least one of you can try Little Lad’s even if you aren’t lucky enough to live in NYC.

One reader will get two small bags of Little Lads Herbal Corn. To enter, leave a comment telling us what your favorite topping for popcorn is by 6pm Eastern on Monday November 1st, you must live in the U.S. to be eligible. Blog or tweet about this giveaway and link to this post and you can comment twice (be sure to put @yumcat in the tweet) which will increase your chance of winning.

Easy Appetizers – Crunchy Wasabi Shrimp Spread

web Spicy Wasabi Shrimp Spread Gluten-Free Appetizer (1)

I didn’t taste wasabi for the first time until after I graduated from college. More than 20 years of my life went by without this delightful spicy horseradish passing over my lips. Yes it will clear your sinuses in large quantities, but it hurts so good. Perhaps I’ve been making up for lost time, for now it seems that I am drawn to anything that uses wasabi to heighten flavor. Yes it’s usually the unappreciated middle child on a plate of sushi, but in this recipe it is the star. Sure, you can throw the ingredients together without wasabi and it will be fine. But wasabi will take it from a forgotten dish you eat to avoid awkward conversation at a party to something you crave because it haunts your memories.

This may also be one of the easiest party dips you can pull together. I’m all about maximum flavor with minimum effort. Even my mom, who hates food and cooking, was able to prepare this for a recent party to rave reviews. This is an especially good one for the summer since no actual cooking is involved.

Crunchy Wasabi Shrimp Spread Recipe (serves 8-10 as a party appetizer)

One 8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained and diced
Two 4 ounce cans tiny pink shrimp, drained
3/4 cup wasabi mayonnaise
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
salt and pepper to taste

gluten-free crackers or toasted baguette for serving

In a medium bowl combine water chestnuts, shrimp, mayonnaise, relish, a dash of salt and pepper. Stir to combine completely. Add salt and pepper to taste (be generous with the pepper).

For a low-fat version, replace mayonnaise with non-fat greek yogurt and 2-3 teaspoons wasabi powder. You could also eliminate the wasabi if you can’t handle the heat, but what would be the fun in that?

Another super easy appetizer to pair with this? Tamari Roasted Almonds.

Friends and Gluten-Free Cookies

Mark's Ranger Cookies

My friend Mark, mentioned in my previous post on Annisa and Savoy, recently became very domestic. A man who previously avoided the kitchen, leapfrogged over a simple weeknight meal to dive right into the more complicated world of pastries. Then not satisfied with the relatively simple challenge of a ‘regular’ cookie, he decided to take on gluten-free baking as well. I’m not quite sure what has come over him, but I am happy to be a benefactor.

When he first came to me for advice on how to adapt his Ranger Cookies recipe to be ‘Catherine-friendly’ I sent him a link to this gluten-free cookies post and told him he needed to experiment along the way. He was meticulous in making sure that none of his ingredients or supplies were cross-contaminated in his care or in previous processing. When he brought them to a BBQ I threw earlier in the summer, no one could believe they were gluten-free. My friend Erica even got nervous when she saw me eating them, because “they are too good to be gluten-free.”

Gluten-Free Ranger Cookie Ingredients

I am lucky to have such caring friends, so I feel the need to pay it forward by sharing the recipe with you. He tells me this version is even improved from the batch he brought to the BBQ; they were a resounding success with his coworkers. He’s offered to make some for my upcoming birthday. I can’t imagine a more delicious way to celebrate.

Gluten-Free Ranger Cookies (makes 12-14 three-inch cookies)

Ingredients:
1 cup Gluten-Free Pantry all-purpose flour mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups gluten free corn flakes (crush them to lessen the air in the
measuring cup)
1/8 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I find about 1/2 cup starts
getting too sweet)
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats (quick oats work better but can’t find gf version)
1 cup flaked coconut (packed into the measuring cup since flakes have
lots more air than shredded coconut)

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (8 Tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs room temperature

Directions:

Preheat oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir in corn flakes, flax seeds, chocolate chips, oats, and coconut. In a large stand mixer combine sugar, butter, salt, vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry mixture 1/2 cup at a time while beating on low speed until thoroughly mixed.

On a slightly greased cookie sheet place heaping tablespoons of cookie dough at least 2″ apart.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until golden brown around the edges, be careful not to overcook, checking at 10 min for doneness.

Photos (and cookies) by Mark Chen.

Gluten-Free Guide to London

London Phone Booth

Traveling somewhere exotic for Thanksgiving may be my new obsession. Ok, so maybe it can’t be an obsession if it only happens once a year. But I had the chance to go to London for Thanksgiving this year and it was incredible. I know, you may be thinking, “but Catherine, you’ve done so much work getting your gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes just right. You can’t always leave – what about your family?” Well, I do love a traditional Thanksgiving but it sometimes seems silly to go all the way back to CA for one big meal when I am going to head there again in December. Though I must admit, I didn’t abandon the Holiday entirely since my friend Christos, who lives in London as an ex-pat, hosted an American-style Thanksgiving dinner to give his British friends a taste our most gluttonous day.

Gluten Free Thanksgiving in London

The UK in general is a gluten-free dream. During a trip to Scotland and now two trips to London since going gluten-free, I found everyone to be so well-educated about the gluten-free diet it made eating out simple. I had incredible meals this year at The Fat Duck and St. John but we also got gluten-free take out from Imli Indian and satisfied my curry craving again at Masala Zone.

Imli restaurant London Gluten Free (76)

If you are looking for a classic English High Tea – you can book a gluten-free tea service at The Ritz or The Savoy. Small tea sandwiches service on gluten-free toast and gluten-free pastries tasty enough to make your gluten-eating companions look longing at your plate.

web 2009 Thanksgiving Dinner Gluten Free (14)

During my first gluten-free trip to London in 2006, I went to Wagamama noodle shop. They have a gluten-free menu. Not a huge number of options, but since I wouldn’t normally expect to be able to eat at a noodle shop I wasn’t terribly disappointed.

wagamama restaurant London Gluten Free (53)

The list of restaurants in London with gluten-free menus is constantly expanding. Though I would feel comfortable eating in many places without specific gluten-free menus because they are so much better educated about Celiac disease.  And if you are cooking for yourself, almost every grocery store, even small urban markets, has a dedicated gluten-free section with a plethora of products.

web London Gluten Free (55)

The “Genius” gluten-free bread, launched at Tesco, is getting lots of hype over there. I must say, it was as good of a pre-packaged gluten-free bread as I’ve ever tasted. Soft and chewy right out of the package – no toasting necessary. The stay-at-home mom who came up with the recipe when baking for her gluten-intolerant son is now a self-made millionaire.

web London Gluten Free (66)

I planned my trip to London as a food adventure and was not disappointed. Though, I think the raclette at Borough Market alone was enough of a reason to book a ticket.

Raclette at Kappacasein stall Borough Market
[side note: Yes I realize it’s May and Thanksgiving is far from everyone’s mind, but it took me a little while to get this post done - I've had a new addition to the family and his name is Luca : ) ]
It's tough to leave this face

It’s Finally Spring – Enjoy a Gluten-Free Treat!

Making Toasted Marshmallow Peeps

Did you know that you can roast Peeps just like you would a regular marshmallow?  Only when you roast a Peep, the sugar crystallizes into a sweet shell of delightful crunch.

Toasted Peeps

And they are “naturally” gluten-free.

Peeps Are Gluten-Free
Happy Holidays!

Gluten-Free Restaurants NYC – Pizza at Keste

Opus Pizza web

Starting this week, Keste Pizza & Vino will be serving gluten-free pizza every Monday and Tuesday.  The gluten-free pizzas are prepared with a special gluten-free flour mix and cooked in a separate electric oven dedicated to the gluten-free pies. Gluten-free diners will have the option of three different pies – margherita, marinara or lardo-topped mastincola.

A fellow gluten-free food and pizza aficionado went to check out their offerings yesterday and  the praise is high.  He proclaimed it to be “the best gluten-free pizza in NYC, followed by 2. Mozzarelli’s and 3. Pala.”  And this is from someone who had made it his mission to sample all of the gluten-free pizza options including Risotteria, Uno’s and Opus.

Keste Pizza & Vino

Address: 271 Bleecker St., nr. Morton St.;

Telephone: 212-243-1500

The Gluten-Free Diet and Tax Deductions

money

One of the frustrating things with Celiac Disease is how expensive ‘gluten-free’ versions of mainstream products are. $5 for a box of Italian gluten-free pasta, $7 for a bag of gluten-free bagels, $8 for a loaf of decent tasting gluten-free bread. It can quickly become quite a burden to a family or even an individual to live on a diet with gluten-free replacements. Well there is some good news at tax time, you may be eligible to deduct some of that extra expense on your taxes.

Suzanne on the NYC Celiac Meetup message board and Celiac.com were great sources in helping me to pull together this guide to tax deductions and the gluten-free diet.

If you refer to IRS ruling 02-19 & IRS medical pamphlet 502 & COMPLY with their REQUISITES you can include your gluten-free food, toiletries, cosmetics, even envelopes with gluten-free glue as part of a medical deduction.

A few things you need first:

  • This will be part of your medical expenses deduction so you must have sufficient medical expenses (as a % of your earnings) to itemize your deductions.
  • A doctor’s letter to substantiate your condition as DIAGNOSED Celiac Disease.
  • Receipts.

What you can deduct:

  • You can claim mileage expenses, and postage/shipping fees for special needs shopping.
  • The price difference between regular and gluten-free products. If you were buying wheat pasta for .99 and now buy gluten free pasta for $5.00, you have to deduct the difference and that amount is used for the deduction. If you eat cereal, for example & regular corn flakes are $3.50 but gluten-free corn flakes are $5.49 for a box half the size, you have to figure the cost per ounce then calculate the difference.
  • The full cost of some replacement items such as gluten-free flour and xanthan gum. Some items are not interchangeable i.e. rice flour is not a one-to-one replacement for wheat flour the way pasta or cereal is so the entire cost is deductible.
  • Restaurant surcharges – any extra fees that restaurants charge for gluten-free bread or pasta can be completely deducted.

According to Celiac.com:

“After you file, your IRS office may refer you to Publication 17 and tell you these deductions are not permissible. IRS representatives have ruled otherwise and this is applicable throughout the US Refer them to the following Citations:

Revenue Ruling 55-261
Cohen 38 TC 387
Revenue Ruling 76-80, 67 TC 481
Flemming TC MEMO 1980 583
Van Kalb TC MEMO 1978 366″

I am not an account or a tax attorney so please read all of the pamphlets carefully to check for updates and be sure that you are following their guidelines correctly.  While it’s not super-convenient or easy, it has the potential to provide substantial savings each year.  And if you are already tracking your spending with one of the many tools now available for free online it may not even be that inconvenient.

Udi’s Gluten-Free Bread in NYC!

Udis gluten free bread and muffin sampler

Good news, thanks to Fresh Direct, New Yorkers can now get Udi’s gluten-free bread, muffins and pizza crusts delivered with the rest of their groceries.  Each loaf is priced a full $2 cheaper than the Food for Life gluten-free brown rice bread and Udi’s is so much tastier.  I swooned over their bread last year when I enjoyed amazing gluten-free toast using Udi’s gluten-free bread.

I feel so lucky to be in NYC right now, in spite of the freezing weather. Brrrrrr!