Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Glutened at Paparazzi - Framingham

I normally have nothing but good things to say about eating gluten free at Paparazzi, but tonight did not go so well. I ordered the veal parmesan, which comes with gluten free pasta. The veal is battered in gluten free bread crumbs, and they swear that they're good about cross contamination.

Unfortunately for me, as I was eating the gluten free ziti, I noticed a spaghetti strand mixed in. When I called the server over, she let me know that the spaghetti meant that my pasta was not safe. Whoever cooked the pasta either cooked the pasta in the same water as the very gluteny pasta or strained it in the same strainer. The manager immediately came over, gave me his card, asked for my info so that he could follow up, and comped our meal.

I am truly not that upset because it's part of the risk of eating out, I'm just disappointed. The server and manager could not have handled the situation any better, of course. I do not blame them at all, as the server definitely noted that my meal should be gluten free and the manager was very kind and quick to act. It's just disappointing that I will probably never return there because now I know their kitchen staff is not well-trained in food allergies. It's frustrating to me that the line cook knew enough to use gluten free pasta, but didn't know to cook it in different water. So either Paparazzi doesn't train its chefs, or he/she just didn't care and thought I was one of those people who aren't REALLY gluten free.

Sigh. The headache is starting now, as are the abdominal cramps. This is going to be a long night.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pureed cauliflower -- Awesome ingredient to keep just in case

I can't even believe how long it has been since I've posted. I've been super busy, but that's a conversation for another day. I was having a conversation with the moms today at the dance studio on healthy swaps for food. One of my favorites is pureed cauliflower in place of cream. It adds an awesome rich nuttiness, and since I've also been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, helps with creamy items.

You can work with either frozen or fresh cauliflower. If frozen, all you need to do is defrost, boil, strain, and puree in a blender with chicken broth and a little olive oil. If fresh, cut it up, boil until soft, strain, and puree in a blender with chicken broth and a little olive oil and salt. The trick in either cases is to make sure the cauliflower is really soft, so that it purees well and doesn't get gritty. I have a blender with a heating element directly built into it, so I just boil the cauliflower directly in the blender and then puree. It's a great buy, I highly recommend it: http://www.cuisinart.com/products/blenders/sbc-1000.html. The amount of chicken broth you use is entirely up to you based on what you're using the cauliflower for. If you have a lot of cauliflower, plan on using a lot of chicken broth. You can always use vegetable broth as well if you want to keep vegetarian.

It works as a great side if you puree it thick (not too much chicken broth) like the consistency of mashed potatoes, add salt and pepper, then scoop it into a roasting dish, spritz with cooking spray or drizzle olive oil/butter on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stick in the oven at 425. Once the top has browned, take it out and serve with your favorite meal. You could also top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. This preparation could be used in place of mashed potatoes, like in shepherd's pie. 

On a cold day, you could puree it thin (lots of chicken broth) and make a nice cauliflower bisque! This is where bacon salt would come in handy, as it adds a nice smokiness. Add a lot more chicken broth, some Greek yogurt, and keep simmering on the stove. Add a flavored salt, like seasoned salt, adobo, or my all time favorite, bacon salt. You can chop chives or green onions and add as well. Stir in some grated Parmesan cheese, then serve with a sprinkle of chopped chives and a crusty piece of gluten free bread. If you really want to get fancy, you could cut up some pancetta or proscuitto and crisp it up, then sprinkle on top.

The real potential lies in what you could use it for in other dishes. I love using it for mac 'n cheese! Replacing half of the cream with pureed cauliflower and the other half with Greek yogurt, you end up with a lowfat replacement that honestly tastes better than the real thing. You're ending up with more fiber and more flavor. It is much more filling and no one's noticed the difference so far. It's delicious!

Pureed cauliflower also is great as a soup or gravy thickener. However, you need to make sure the cauliflower is REALLY smooth if you're using it in this capacity. Just stir it into the broth of whatever soup you're making to make it more hearty and stew-like.

The best part is that pureed cauliflower freezes really well. You could puree it relatively thick then freeze it for future purposes -- you could always add more liquid when you defrost. I like to freeze it in bags and lay it flat to save freezer space.

Any other pureed cauliflower ideas out there?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gluten Free Review: Lola's Italian Groceria's Subs in Natick Center

Lola's Italian Groceria has become my new favorite place in the world. On top of being super affordable and tasty, they now cater to celiacs with gluten free sub rolls and gluten free cannoli.

We're not talking mass produced crappy sub rolls, either. They're fresh baked. FRESH BAKED!! They're crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and honestly, not all that different from regular sub rolls. The only problem with them is that they're a bit small, but I honestly don't mind because they're so damn tasty.

The cannoli are amazing. They're crispier and less flaky than traditional cannoli, which I personally prefer. Of course, the filling is a lactose-intolerant person's nightmare, but I always order a sandwich with cheese so I have to take a Lactaid anyway. But they're sweet, crispy, and all around wonderful. Admittedly, these are a little pricey at $4 each, but I love that they make them at all. And the price keeps me from ordering 3, since I probably would eat that many if I could.

My go to sandwich? The proscuitto. Holy crap. Simplicity is a wonderful thing. Proscuitto, mozzarella balls, pesto, tomatoes. That's it. But the quality of the ingredients really make the sandwich, and it is only $6.50!

I'm also obsessed with the vegetalian. Tender eggplant, briny artichokes, and sweet roasted peppers with sliced mozzarella. I, of course, add proscuitto, and order the sandwich hot. I personally usually hate eggplant, to be honest. Few places know how to cook it! It always ends up bitter and not the right texture, but not Lola's. They do amazing things with eggplant. I hear their eggplant parmesan is absolutely killer, though I wouldn't know as it is not gluten free. But the combination of the flavors and textures makes this sub fantastic, and I don't feel that guilty eating it since it's full of veggies.

I really don't feel like I miss out when I'm ordering gluten free subs from here because I know they're as good as the regular subs. If anything, the bread is heartier, so wet sandwiches are even better on gluten free bread than regular bread!

This is a must stop for ANY celiac or gluten free eater out there. The service is great, the prices are fair, and the food is delicious.