going beyond mean & awful: damian cardone

I am just so sad (and mad) about the recent post that Damian Cardone has posted on his facebook wall (screencap above). After several years of trying to gracefully bow out of dinners at places where I was absolutely certain I would get glutened inadvertently, I came across this disheartening post by way of Gluten Free Girl. It's only been in the past year or so that I've actually started getting more comfortable with the idea of eating out, and this just... well, it makes me irritated-- irritated and scared that someone who is truly uneducated about food despite being a chef is working in a kitchen I frequent.

I understand that for some people, a gluten free diet is a decision reached through research and CHOICE. They choose to avoid wheat and gluten because of other health benefits they have experienced by making a dietary change-- not because it causes some, ahem, explosive ramifications or destroys their intestinal lining. Truth be told, I am actually happy about the popularity of gluten free diets (whether medically motivated or otherwise) because of what it means for me and other people I know with Celiac and wheat sensitivities-- more options, more awareness, and tastier (truly) gluten free food.

Having said that, if I could somehow change my stomach so I could be able to eat all those things I still miss (donuts, pasta, and pizza, for instance!) and go out to eat without any fear of getting sick, I would. For some of us, we really don't have a choice in terms of our diet. When we eat wheat or gluten, we get very, very sick. And for someone to deliberately feed you the thing that makes you ill to begin with, is just sick. It's wrong. It's terrible. And this guy is doing it with abandon at some (so far) unnamed restaurant in Colorado.



screamin' (green) bean casserole... gluten free!

So I learned something last year during Turkey day-- that my childhood feelings about brussell sprouts were totally en pointe. I hated them when I was tiny, and I hate them now. I thought that my love of all things cabbage-y, tart, and savory would lead me down the path to a love of them, but I should have trusted my 8 year old tastebuds. They taste terrible. For those of you with a penchant for these tiny, foul tasting veggies, I salute you.

So anyway, last year, after making this totally delicious dish that every one else adored and literally ate every last bit of, I made a pledge to myself... to remake it this Thanksgiving but to use a totally inoffensive veggie-- the infamous haricort vert/skinny green beans so I could eat the whole thing instead of trying to scrape the extra sauce from the bottom of the dish to slather on everything around.

I just finished prepping this and it's cooling on the counter as I type. I modified the classic Screaming Heads recipe... and, boy, it's TASTY. If you like prosciutto and garlic, watch out. I was thinking about just making the sauce as a coating for pasta... don't mind me slobbering over here...

screamin' (green) beans

2 lbs green beans (fresh or frozen)
4 or so oz of thinly sliced prosciutto (you will chiffonade this)
1 container of fresh crimini muchrooms (I like the smaller end of the mushroom size scale, here)*
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 roasted head of garlic (see step 1 below)
3 tablespoons all-purpose gluten free flour (I use Orgran)
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
.25 cup Sherry or White Wine Vinegar
1 cup grated parmesean + .5 cup for sprinkling over the casserole before baking
1 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated or ground)
1 tsp kosher salt
.5 tsp freshly ground pepper
.5 cup gluten free bread crumbs (I use Udi's and just put it in the food processor)

other thing you'll be needing: a casserole dish

1. Crank your oven up to 350 degrees. Take a whole head of garlic and chop off the top of the side that has the thin papery bits that taper... I sort of took a paring knife to gingerly cut off the tippy tops so I didn't lose any garlic. I love garlic and seeing the little pieces in the trash breaks my heart so I go FULL GARLIC. Lightly drizzle the top of the exposed garlic with olive oil, put it into a little foil tent, and let it get delicious in the oven for 45 minutes. You'll be adding this to the tastytown cream sauce you'll be cooking soon.

2. Make sure your oven is still at 350 degrees. Roll up the thinly sliced prosciutto and begin to chiffonade into thin pieces. I go thin since I like to have lots of little pieces throughout the casserole.

3. Heat your pan over medium heat, add the butter, and saute the prosciutto for about 2 minutes. Add the roasted garlic and green beans to the pot and let all the flavors mix together, about another 3 minutes.

4. Add the gluten free flour and give this a really good mix-- you're aiming to get that flour coating all of your green beans. Once you get this going (be sure you get it done fairly quickly so the flour doesn't burn), add in the heavy cream, half & half, and your acid (vinegar or sherry), and the mushrooms. Let this come up to a solid simmer-- I find that the gluten free flour tends to suck up any moisture so this could happen pretty quickly.

5. Stir in your nutmeg, salt, and pepper... and the CHEESE!

5.5. Marvel at your handiwork and transfer the deliciousness into the casserole dish you've set aside. Top it with the reserved half cup of cheese and bread crumbs, bake it, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

6. Serve immediately and enjoy.

* I like to pop out the stems, clean them off with a damp towel, and cut them in half since we have mixed feelings about mushrooms in our house... if they're halved, they're easier for the people I love to pick them out and put them on my plate so I can eat them. YUM. But really, cut them however you like.



Last night I tried my hand at the pizza dough made by the lovely and wonderful Shauna and Danny from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. A couple of things first-- the flavor is great, the crust is chewy, and it is TASTY. I genuinely believe you should keep these 3 key things in mind if you decide to embark on a gluten free pizza making adventure. Another thing to keep in mind is that gluten free pizza dough does tend to be a bit sticky-- it is better to go into this baking adventure NOT expecting it to behave like a wheat based dough (remind yourself as you work!) despite your mind veering into the "I need to add more flour/use less water next time" train of thought you may find yourself mentally meandering through.

While I do have their fantastic cookbook where this recipe comes from, Shauna and Danny were generous enough to share their gluten free pizza dough recipe with Michael Ruhlman on his blog so you can taste test one of the many (and really, there are many) fantastic recipes these two have created.

The lead-in to the recipe will probably also make those of you living with celiac and gluten sensitivity a case of the chuckles... sometimes it's just funny to read about other people who are in the same boat. Anyway, enough blathering from me-- go check out the recipe here.

In terms of our experience with this dough, we rolled it out between two layers of waxed paper but I have read that other people have had more success rolling this out between layers of saran wrap. Next time we do this, we're going to try shaping the crust on parchment paper that we can put directly onto the pizza stone. We tried a couple of different ways to flip the dough onto our pizza stone and wound up with two pizzas with lots of... character. Another tip from Shauna and Danny is to let the dough hang out in the fridge overnight to help further develop some extra flavor. While we were both totally tickled with the flavor on the crust, we figure it's worth a shot! Also, this is critical, be sure to do a prebake on your crust-- it's a pretty important step in making a chewy and well cooked crust.



a new fixation: wheat and gluten in shampoo, conditioner, lip balm, hair goop... all of it.

I've been on something I can only call a beauty product making rampage recently. I did some quick copywriting work for a beauty products company that is totally fantastic (and vegan!) and I got real hung up on the ingredients. Don't get me wrong-- this company has an absolutely outstanding ingredient list, but lots of their products contain hydrolyzed wheat proteins in them. While I was writing out the directions for use, I made a mental note to check out the ingredients in the shampoos, conditioners, and body wash in the house later. Boy, was I bummed out.

I've been pretty vigilant about makeup and lip goop especially, but never thought to investigate everything else (duh on me!). Anyway, what I turned up was that nearly every single thing in the shower had wheat in it. Smack dab in the middle of the Bumble and Bumble Quenching shampoo was Hydrolyzed wheat starch. BLERGH! Imagine forking over 28 bucks for some liquid gluten that winds up all over your face and body when you rinse. And then imagine, following that up with the conditioner, that contains not only wheat germ extract, but also barley extract, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and hydrolyzed wheat starch as the 4th, 5th, 6th, AND 7th ingredient. DOUBLE BLERGH!

Anyway, I've settled into using the totally great Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle and Rose shampoo (no wheat! gluten free!) but have yet to find a great conditioner that doesn't use wheat in it. Tips, anyone?

So, back to my new obsession-- lip balm. Since the weather started turning (for a brief moment there, since yesterday we hit 90 degrees?) my lips have been getting VERY dry and chapped. In my hunt for a good gluten free lip balm that wasn't going to set me back too much, I started thinking about making my own-- and I did it. I'm super tickled with how it all came out... I absolutely adore all things honey related (due to a serious bee obsession) so the lip balm I've made uses local Santa Barbara honey, beeswax (sadly, not local-- yet!), lanolin, sweet almond oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and right now, organic orange essential oil. It's smooth and wonderful-- not too thick, not too shiny... it's just right. Anyway, I've got it for sale in my Etsy shop-- Charles Vintage-- if you want to take a gander and maybe buy one.


the trouble with food allergies and sensitivities... being gluten free in santa barbara

When I first went gluten free, I struggled with the idea of losing my favorite foods and the satisfaction that went along with eating them... the donuts, pasta, and assorted sweets I tend to obsess over here on this blog every so often especially. I didn't fully realize how it would affect me socially. I was raised in a food-centric Mexican household where sharing a meal and cooking were inextricably linked to family and love-- we always gathered around the table to eat and talk... always.

Now that I'm older, the convenience of ordering up a pizza in 20 minutes or less, dropping into a restaurant during road trips, the absentminded food grazing at parties, the family get-togethers... all of my social 'food freedom' ended in a snap. Sure, I went through a period when I would have some pizza because I missed it so much (terrible, I know) and suffered the consequences immediately and for two weeks after... but it's the commitment my GF diet requires that sometimes has me daydreaming of a stomach that can handle gluten... if only to have an unguarded experience with food out in public. To talk about a recent party experience that involved platters of crazy deliciousness from C'est Cheese where the wheat crackers were spread around chunks of cheesy goodness and knives that had been used to spread the soft cheese on wheat causes me great pain-- it was like food hell... you can look and smell but can't eat it. BLERGH! Side note: GO TO C'EST CHEESE! It's cheese heaven... don't even get me started on the Burrata.

While my health has improved infinitely since I cut gluten out, I do miss the freedom of wandering into a restaurant and ordering anything off the menu without fear of the repercussions. There are some restaurants here in town that I have never had a problem with, but there have been some that are hit and miss, and some I just avoid like the plague-- even refusing to go for the "I'll have the salad" route... yikes.

Anyway, enough of my rant... and onto my gluten free chicken noodle soup.


a donut fail is the saddest fail.

I was going to take a picture of the dough I made from Donuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to make at Home but I wound up so impressed by how far OFF from any sort of dough (gluten free or otherwise) that I resisted recording it for eternity. If I was being forced to comment on it, I would have to say the only thing it was good for was sticking to my hands and not coming off until I busted out the dish scrubber.

I'm not sure exactly where I messed up (could have been in all the liquids I was mixing? the humidity here in town?) but the sticky round blobs that wound up in the frying oil did come out fairly tasty-- at least the small pieces that I cooked all the way through... most of them, well... they weren't cooked in the middle.

It was sort of a production to make them... lots of waiting (which requires patience that I lack when donuts are involved) for yeast to do its magic, reserving of this, 110 degrees that, blahdeblooh. And now, I have nothing to show for it. I can tell you this much... if you aren't patient, this recipe might make you a little frustrated.

I'm going to try again and give a full recap. Maybe if I document the process I'll be less likely to mess it up. Hmm.



It has just come to my attention that there are some new cookbooks out there... and one is devoted exclusively to my first food love-- donuts*. As I've mentioned before, the loss of donuts in my life is akin to some people's feelings about the loss of Sassy magazine (when Jane Pratt was still the editor)-- a mix of longing, regret, and misguided optimism that maybe, maybe, it would be resurrected.

The book is called Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home

I just did a quick preview on Amazon (love that feature) and it sounds like you pick your dough type and then select glazes and potentially donut flavors-- albeit I imagine there is some tinkering that will need to happen to adjust to gluten free. I just ordered a copy
and a donut cutterand I'm going to test these babies out this weekend.

To say I'm excited is an understatement. I'm quickly approaching a frenzied manic state-- I'm already thinking about maple glazes... sprinkles, bear claws, eating too much, and then the inevitable stomachache. YES!

* is it donuts or doughnuts? Am I like Homer Simpson that I spell it donut? Please advise.