Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GF Diner just got Bigger and Better!

GF Diner on 82 ave. really just stepped it up a notch when it comes to their diner experience.  During the summer they were going through some hefty reno's to really enhance the diner experience.

So what changed?  What got bigger and better?  GF Diner doubled their seating area allowing more diners to enjoy their all gluten free menu at a time.

They are are updating their menu and will have new menu items offerings on an ongoing basis.  Be sure to check the GF Diner website, Twitter and Facebook account for daily and weekly specials.

GF Diner also now offers beer, wine and ciders now, as they got their liquor license.

But wait their is more!

They have a retail store area!  The retail section will be a mix of in-house gluten free products to be bought by customers to take home, such as baking and cooking ingredients, some gluten free mixes, ready to heat gluten free products like lunches and dinners, soups, etc.: Lasagnas, Pizzas, Pizza pockets, chicken fingers, burgers, perogies, pastas, etc. 

Gluten free meals will typically change often with staples such as pizzas and lasagna being available at all times. In addition to the these entrée type items, they will have in-house baked goods available, some breads, buns, treats, iced cupcakes cinnamon buns etc.

They will also carry top sellers from other gluten free suppliers like Kinnikinnick Foods, such as their complete soft line, some mixes, cookies. They will also sell Dr. Schaer line of gluten free products.
Not done yet, because GF Diner really wants you to stay, have a drink and have a good time!  Some activities, they are planning on a regular basis are:
  • Special reservation only dinners
    • Pizza and beer night , most likely every Friday evening
    • Perogies and Pasta nights
    • Pub night with Fish and Chips
    • Featured Country dishes
  • Nightcap concert series is once a month, typically on a Thursday night with a special meal item, these evenings will always feature a concert by professional music artists in a listening venue and a meal with desert, just like our last one.
  • Classical Concert Coffee time once a month on Sunday afternoons between 2-4, with professional musicians perform a concert.  Specialty cakes and tortes, like Sacher tortes, seasonal tortes, mocha tortes, black forest cakes etc. to be served as well.

Be sure to check their website for all of these great events.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

For my brother Dan - My Gluten Free Beef Wellington Experience

Today mark's the second anniversary of my brother's sudden passing.  The only way I can think of continuing honouring him is to try and love cooking half as much as he did.  Last year in honour of his Haggis and Herring blog I made Haggis and Herring.  This year, I decided to take on a Beef Wellington.

Dan, I miss you with all my heart!

The idea of a Beef Wellington all started with the release of Pillsbury's gluten free pastry dough.  The first thing that came to my head wasn't pie (because I'm not a baker), but Beef Wellington!  Why Beef Wellington?  Because Chef Gordon Ramsay has it as a staple on the Hell's Kitchen menu.  What a great challenge.  Try and make a Beef Wellington good enough that Gordon Ramsay won't be screaming at you telling you its RAW and throwing it down like it's garbage.

So task #1.  Find a recipe.  I opened up my Food Network App, search wellington, and spotted a recipe that looked good to me by Tyler Florence (recipe shared below).

Task #2, search out the ingredients.  The only unique ingredients was the tenderloin cut (filet mignon) and procuitto (yes the tenderloin was wrapped in yummyness).

Knowing that I needed to do this right and go to a butcher, I went to Ben's Meat for the tenderloin.  I knew the meat was going to be expensive for 3lbs, and $60 later I was about to work with the most expensive cut of meat I have ever worked with.  And to be honest, that was a good price for that meat.

task #4 tackle this bad boy of a recipe.  I spent the better part of a morning prepping the meat and the insides of the wellington.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy, so I even called in reinforcements when it came to working with the gluten free pastry.

So what was the end results?  A slight mess!  It actually tasted amazing, and the meat was perfect.  But there are two things I didn't do well that could have made this dish perfect.

As you can see the crust kind of fell apart
First thing, I didn't roll the tenderloin tight enough.  I found it a challenge to wrap the tenderloin with the prosciutto and mushroom stuffing really right with the seran wrap.  I knew it wasn't perfectly tight, but I thought it was pretty good.  If you try this recipe, make sure you wrap it really tight.  There should be no give so when you put the tenderloin in the fridge, it will do a better job at holding its shape before wrapping it with the pastry.

Second thing I messed up on, was cutting the vents in the pastry.  I could not have wrapped this damn thing, without the help of my pastry loving mother'n'law.  I just had no idea what I was doing.  We then cut the vents, but I think we needed to cut the vents deeper, or cut more of them.  This particular recipe had a mushroom stuffing and mushroom contains lots of water.  So, although the top stayed crispy (and damn that Pillsbury makes a good gluten free pastry crust), the bottom got really soggy because the moisture couldn't escape to well.

So here is the recipe:

The Ultimate Beef Wellington - From Tyler Florence

For the Duxelles:
  • 3 pints (1 1/2 pounds) white  button mushrooms
  • 2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the Duxelles: Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add butter and olive oil to a large saute pan and set over medium heat. Add the shallot and mushroom mixture and saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

For the Beef:
  • 1 (3-pound) center cut  beef tenderloin ( filet mignon), trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  • Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
  • 1 pound  puff pastry, thawed if using frozen
  • 2 large  eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse  sea salt
  • Minced  chives, for garnish
  • Green Peppercorn Sauce, recipe follows
  • Roasted  Fingerling Potatoes
  • Warm Wilted Winter Greens, recipe follows

To prepare the beef: Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil - about 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile set out your prosciutto on a sheet of plastic wrap (plastic needs to be about a foot and a half in length so you can wrap and tie the roast up in it) on top of your cutting board. Shingle the prosciutto so it forms a rectangle that is big enough to encompass the entire filet of beef. Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin layer of duxelles. Season the surface of the duxelles with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard. Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the duxelles covered prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight. Tuck in the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely encompass the beef. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together. Remove beef from refrigerator and cut off plastic.  Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold over the longer sides, brushing with egg wash to seal. Trim ends if necessary then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef - saving ends to use as a decoration on top if desired. Top with coarse sea salt. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet.

Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife - this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and rest before cutting into thick slices. Garnish with minced chives, and serve with Green Peppercorn Sauce, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, and Warm Wilted Winter Greens.

Green Peppercorn Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh  thyme, leaves only
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 box  beef stock
  • 2 cups  cream
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup green  peppercorns in  brine, drained, brine reserved
Add olive oil to pan after removing beef. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme; saute for 1 to 2 minutes, then, off heat, add brandy and flambe using a long kitchen match. After flame dies down, return to the heat, add stock and reduce by about half. Strain out solids, then add 2 cups cream and mustard. Reduce by half again, then shut off heat and add green peppercorns.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and place a baking sheet inside to heat.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh  Herbs and Garlic:
  • 2 pints fingerling potatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 cloves garlic, left unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus for  sheet pan
  • Salt and pepper
Add potatoes, rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic to a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Remove sheet pan from oven, lightly coat with olive oil, and pour potatoes onto pan. Place potatoes in oven and reduce heat to 425 degrees F. Roast for 20 minutes, or until crispy on outside and tender on inside.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Essential Baking Company - Gluten Free Bread

Amanda and I noticed a new gluten free bread at Costco, but never picked it up.  That didn't stop one of readers to try it and send in her review of the product.  Check out Neva's review of The Essential Baking Company gluten free bread found at Costco.

I found a new gluten free bread made by "The Essential Baking Company" at Costco, 50 Street location, last week and it is absolutely the best bread I have tasted since being diagnosed Celiac. This bread remains soft even after bring toasted or grilled. One would never believe it is gluten free! It sort of reminds me of the Silver Hills Squirrelly bread I used to eat prior to being diagnosed. I highly recommend if you enjoy a bread with sunflower seeds and flax, plus a huge benefit is the 5 grams of fiber each slice provides.  The cost is $8.99 for a 2 loaf package. In my opinion, the competition is going to have to step up, alot, to beat this excellent gluten free bread.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Great Sweets and Savoury Treats! (gluten free of course)

Amanda and I contributed this article to the Celiac Circular.  Become a member of the Canadian Celiac Association Edmonton Chapter to receive all the great Celiac and gluten free related articles in their newsletter.

There is never a shortage of new products to try out thankfully, but finding room in your tummy is another question.  Luckily I am always posting great finds to the Gluten Free Edmonton Facebook Page and our Gluten Free Edmonton blog so it sometimes makes it easy to go back and find what to write for the product report.

This month we found some great sweets and savoury treats, some are new and some have been around awhile.

Gluten Free Post Cocoa & Fruity Pebbles - Okay let's be honest, this is not exactly new, but it is still fairly new to Canada.  The kids love it, and so do many adults as well and they make awesome squares (think rice krispie square but a bit different) Yum.  Not to mention, we found it at Dollarama for two dollars!  In the past we have found it selling for $4 per box.

Club House Brown Gravy - Approved by the Canadian Celiac Association Gluten Free Certification Program, we tried this gravy with fries and it was so delicious, you wouldn't even know it as gluten free.  Be sure to look at the packaging because not all of the Club House gravies are gluten free.  You can find these gravies at most supermarkets.
All But Gluten Chocolate Sandwich  - Who didn't like these growing up? We won't plug the popular brand name, but we all know what these really are and they also taste really good.  Can you tell we had a sweet tooth this month? You can find All But Gluten products at Superstore and Wal-Mart

RioVida's Perogies, Cheese Balls & Donuts - Najah, owner of RioVida is often too kind.  If you've been to the RioVida Bakery in the west end, you know what I'm really talking about.  She is always happy to offer up some samples to try before buying her home made delicious creations.  Try the perogies, donuts and Brazillian cheese balls just to start.  Heck try everything!

Catelli's Gluten Free Macaroni - Catelli's gluten free line of pasta is not new, but they recently introduced a new gluten free macaroni.  We have enjoyed their pasta.  It is a corn/rice mix and typically holds pretty well leaving you with a great non-mushy pasta to enjoy.

Explore Asia- Gluten free Organic Black bean spaghetti-  This product is found at Costco stores. We have not yet tried it but the packaging claimed to be super high in protein, gluten free, soy free  and vegan friendly.

Judy G's Gluten Free frozen pizzas (various flavors) -These product can be found at many Sobeys  & Coop stores throughout Alberta.  Awhile back we had the opportunity to meet Judy herself. Her pizza's are excellent and very easy to make. She had told us that she started out making them in her own kitchen in Calgary, so they are essentially a locally made product (well local to Alberta).

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Famoso's Gluten Free Stone Oven Pizza

This is something to get really excited for, all Famoso locations have a gluten free crust!  Amazing, because now you can have a gluten free pizza made in a stone oven.

They first tested the gluten free pizza crust at the Whyte Ave location to work on how to best prepare the crust and reduce cross contamination as much as possible.  After a few months, they rolled out the gluten free crust to all locations.  We ventured off to the West Edmonton Mall location beside Cactus Club to try out the gluten free crust.

It really lived up to the standard of their regular crust.  What sets Famoso apart from the other pizza places is the fresh ingredients.  Famoso's sauce is made from fresh tomatoes, and they use fresh mozzarella cheese instead of the processed shredded cheese that fast food pizza chains use.  So yes, you do pay a premium not only for gluten free, but for quality ingredients.  We ordered a small regular pizza for our daughter, so we were able to compare the two side by side, and the only difference was that the gluten free crust edges didn't puff out as much as the other.  The crust was a little wet, but both pizza's were, and that is probably because of the fresh tomato sauce being used instead of a jarred sauce that is usually thicker.  I forgot the name of the pizza we ordered below, but it was topped with fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, mushrooms, red onion and Italian sausage.  They don't over do it on the ingredients and you get just the right amount with every bite.

Remember to always ask the server and kitchen staff about the preparation of your food.  Be comfortable with the food you are eating and how they are preparing it.  Trust yourself and instinct and if you don't feel they are preparing the food in a safe manner for you, don't eat there.  If you are disappointed with their process to limit cross contamination, let them know in a respectable way.  They want your business big time and will listen.

  Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria (West Edmonton Mall) on Urbanspoon
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