Rebecca's Gluten Free Blog

Gluten Free in the Upper Midwest

Taste Test: Gluten Free Pizza Crusts June 16, 2014

there are so many gluten free pizza crusts available these days, that I know I’m no where near halfway through trying them. but since I have tried a lot of them, I thought I’d share what I’ve found, and help you go straight to the good ones :)

PREMADE CRUSTS

Udi’s pizza crust is my overall favorite. you can cook it on a pizza pan, on tinfoil, directly on the rack, it doesn’t matter. it’ll still turn out great! it’s a perfect level of thickness for me, and crisp without being too crisp. it holds any and all toppings wonderfully, and probably tastes the most normal out of all the crusts I’ve tried. when I make pizza using an Udi’s crust, goat mozzarella, Davanni’s pizza sauce, Hormel pepperoni, and fresh basil pieces cut up and sprinkled throughout, I’ve had multiple people tell me over time that it’s the best pizza they’ve ever had (and mostly from non-gluten free people!) so it’s got the stamp of approval from a lot of people! a supreme pizza with Italian sausage meat (available at Kowalski’s and SuperTargets and sometimes Cub’s freezer section), green pepper, and onion, is another favorite way that I make these. I usually do supremes only when I buy the crusts by the case (there’s a 10% discount to do so at most co-ops or Whole Foods). I make a pizza prep station and separate the two crusts that come in each pack with parchment paper, once prepared, then put them back in the package, label it, and throw them in the freezer. that way I can buy the fresh basil and other fun ingredients just once, and have a frozen pizza ready to go, whenever I want. my only complaint is that if these 9″ pizzas were 1-2 inches wider, it’d be a much better serving size for two people. it’s just a bit small for two, and leaves you wanting. but a whole pizza for one is a little too much. so it’s probably best to make it a personal pizza with a little bit of leftovers (if you can resist eating it all!) the crusts are two to a pack and are gluten, soy and dairy free.

Venice Bakery (available online) is the company whose flatbread supplies Biaggi’s (the variety pack is a great way to check out both the pizza crusts and flatbread). they have a few pizza crust options available as well, plain or seasoned, and 5″ or 12″. the pizza crusts are about the same “thinness” as the flatbread, and really, really good. this is my second-favorite crust (although a little too thin for some of my family). the only issue I have with them is that with the larger size, it can bake really limp in the middle. I’ve found that using a pizza pan with holes perforated into it really helps (make sure it’s a dedicated pan, otherwise gluten can get trapped in those little holes and contaminate you). the other thing that really helps is letting it sit for 3-5 minutes after removing from the oven, and it’ll be much firmer when you serve. once I tried brushing the bottom with olive oil~ that helped some, but not enough to make it worth the hassle. I’ve also tried cooking it directly on the rack, but this was a gooey nightmare, so I don’t recommend it. but with those two adjustments, I think it turns out quite well. another thing you could do is just order the small size, but it’s really small~ I’d probably make two of them for a one-person serving, unless it’s just a light meal or if you’ll have sides with it. I should also mentioned that these crusts are vegan, and therefore dairy and egg-free, and it’s also soy, corn, and, of course, gluten-free. my favorite way to eat these pizzas are with a mixture of different flavors of goat cheese~ about half mozzarella, with some cojack and/or cheddar thrown in, plus Davanni’s pizza sauce (my favorite), Hormel pepperoni, and a healthy sprinkling of Litehouse freeze-dried oregano (available at Target, just like fresh herbs but without having to spend a ton each time). this pizza combo tastes a lot like a regular restaurant pizza. and it’s large enough for two people to share, and be quite full afterwards.

Down in the Valley Bakehouse was my third choice (second favorite of some of my family). it’s a local brand, made by Valley Natural Foods. it looks similar to Udi’s crusts, both are 9 inches, come two to a pack, and are about the same thickness.  this one had a bit of a more homemade taste, as you could smell and taste a yeast flavor, for better or worse depending on your personal preferences.

Bittersweet Bakery is a local one that I finally tried. they do take & bake or just plain crusts, from their Eagan location. or you can find the crusts from a few places around town, such as Fresh & Natural. this crust is on the thicker side, has some seasoning in it, and all around tastes pretty good! plus, it’s nice to support local places, especially since we have so few dedicated gluten free bakeries. some pizza places around town use this crust, like Fresh Picked Pizza in Shoreview. they come in 8 or 12 inch sizes, and are gluten, dairy, and soy-free.

Schar’s pizza crust is probably a good option for people who like thicker crusts. I won’t say that it’s quite like a fresh deep-dish or anything, but maybe comparable to the Red Baron Singles Deep Dish (frozen pizza). I’ve never been a fan of deep dish or too thick of a crust, so this wasn’t my favorite, but my family said that it was decent, particularly for gluten free. I usually love Schar products (Dr Schar in Europe), so this anomaly was just due to a personal preference. I will say that with such a sturdy crust, it will easily hold any and all toppings. so if you want to pile your pizza high, this could also be a good option for you. it’s also a really nice size for a personal pizza, at 8″ (2 per box), it’s gluten, soy and egg free.

Kinnikinnick makes little rectangular pizza crusts. they looked small to me at first, but they’re actually a really good personal pizza size~ it’s like one really large slice of pizza. this crust is also on the thicker side, so it filled me up before I even finished. it’s actually just a bit thicker than I like, but many people prefer a thick crust. I think it would be much better with more toppings to balance it out, so I think I’ll make a supreme pizza on this crust next time (instead of just pepperoni). the bottom of the crust is a cornmeal dusting. I like the thought of the cornmeal more than I liked it in practice. the little pieces ore corn were falling everywhere, and they cut up my mouth a little. next time I’ll probably use that as the side I top, to avoid the mess. the crusts come 4 to a pack, and they are gluten, soy and dairy free.

Against the Grain: I liked the texture and the size of this crust (12″), and also the sturdiness to hold any toppings. however, with 3 cheeses in the crust (mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan), I must say that I got a little cheesed-out. I likened it to the cheese-stuffed pizza crusts at Pizza Hut, except none of the fun goo, and you can eat around it if you don’t want it. maybe next time, with less cheese of my own on top, it could taste great (and more economical), I don’t know. I also thought about the possibility of just making it into a flatbread, but I think it may be too thick for that. anyway, I was a bit overloaded, but if you really love lots of cheese, it could end up being the right pizza for you. this is gluten, soy, corn, and yeast-free.

Nature’s Hilights’ Brown Rice Pizza Crust is the ultimate allergy-friendly crust. the ingredients are literally brown rice flour and water. beyond being free of everything in the world except brown rice, I’ve found that it’s one of the few I’ve found that is yeast-free. but for the bad news, if you can eat other alternatives, you may opt for those first. the crust usually turns out quite gummy. unfortunately I didn’t have a perforated, dedicated pizza rack back then. that probably would’ve helped, and I also should’ve let it sit for a few minutes, now that I’ve since discovered that trick. and unless you have no other options with preventing cross-contamination, do not use tinfoil underneath. it seems to exacerbate the problem. if I made them again, another thing I’d try would be to quarter the pizza and cook in smaller pieces. because once you can get it crisp (like the edges), it’s actually surprisingly good. and for those who can’t find gluten, dairy, egg, soy, corn, and yeast-free pizza, it tastes amazing :) I made these with just tomato sauce, some veggies, and pepperoni back when I was avoiding more allergens, and appreciated them very much! Whole Foods carries them, and they come two to a pack.

I hope this helps you make your pizza crust decisions easier to make! and don’t be afraid to do a little taste-testing of your own~ there are a lot of options these days!

 

Travel: London Gluten Free May 29, 2014

I recently travelled to London for a few weeks, and wanted to share what I learned about gluten free restaurants, in case anyone else plans to travel there.

one of the main things I found was that as common as it is in the Minneapolis/ St Paul metro to find a restaurant with a gluten free menu, in London it’s vegetarian menus and dishes that get that sort of attention. but although there aren’t as many restaurants with gluten-free menus (percentage-wise) as Minnesota, they definitely knew what celiac disease was, and took the “gluten free” label quite seriously, and knew what they could and couldn’t make offhand, more often than not.

first there are the nice, expensive restaurants… as in most cities, these restaurants are usually quite easily able to adapt a meal to be gluten free. they often consist mainly of protein and veggies, and have excellent chefs. I don’t feel that these restaurants need too much attention cast on them. if you go to a nice steakhouse, for instance, you should have no issues. I dined at Goodman Steak House in Mayfair, and it was amazing. and even more amazing was Gordon Ramsey’s Maze. I also had drinks and the most amazing scallops appetizer at Claridge’s in the Mayfair area (a hotel where many American celebrities stay). it was fun to get a good splurge for fine dining, with such amazing chefs in London.

traditional English food: I didn’t end up a many of these types of restaurants/ pubs. the food is often heavily breaded, and while I heard that they can work around the allergy quite well, it didn’t seem like I could get much of the fun stuff that I wanted anyway. I found online that there was a restaurant in Leicester Square called Mermaid’s that made gluten free fish & chips. I walked around for an hour searching and searching, and found nothing. later I discovered that they’d closed down. so don’t make that same mistake! instead, if you’re there on a Wednesday, there’s a place called Oliver’s Fish and Chips that’s just a little north of the main tourist areas in the Chalk Farm area (easily accessible by the Underground, or a taxi isn’t too expensive either). when I went there, I was amazed at the list of fish options to choose from to make the GF fish and chips (which are huge!). it was such a treat. they do that every Wednesday now.

mid-range restaurants: Caffe Concerto is another chain (lots of locations scattered across London), it’s a bit more of just a normal restaurant. but I was very pleased to find that I could have the chips (fries) there, as they had a dedicated fryer, and the entrees were really tasty and not too expensive either. I found that by just walking down the street and popping in, most places knew what gluten was, knew of a few items that could be made gluten free, but didn’t have a specific menu. but don’t be afraid to go in and ask, you might find something amazing!

Italian: what I ended up eating most frequently was Italian food: pizza and pasta. there are several chains that you can find all over the tourist areas. I’ll skip to the best one first: Rossopomodoro. the gluten free pizzas taste like they’re on homemade dough! it’s Napolitano-style and absolutely amazing. unfortunately I only tried this restaurant a few days before I left. but to make up for it, I went all 3 days in a row until I left :) it’s a must-try! other pizza chains, which are nice to have, but with a standard pre-made GF pizza crust (“base”) are Pizza Express and ASK Italian. and Bella Express was my second favorite, they had GF pizzas and pasta both.

quick eats: Port-a-Manger and EAT are sometimes literally located on every block. both have shelves of soups that are gluten free, and labelled as such on the placards. I tried many of these soups, and they were amazing. the Mushroom Risotto soup at Pret-a-Manger was my favorite (and I don’t usually like mushrooms!). then there are random ones all over the place, Hermann ze Germann near Leicester Square/ Covent Garden area. also near there is a Five Guys! it must be fairly new, as lines were often out the door and along the street a ways.

American restaurants~ there’s a Hard Rock Cafe, a Planet Hollywood, etc in the Piccadilly Circus area (not far from Leicester Square), they had a surprising amount of options (though mostly just bunless-burgers and salads and such), but the waits can be upwards of an hour, so plan to put your name in and walk around or something if you’re wanting to go to one of these.

restaurants I wanted to try, but never made it there: Gourmet Burger Kitchen~ from what I’ve read, they may vary from location to location, but some have gluten free burger buns and dedicated friers for the french fries. La Tasca~ a Spanish tapas place with many locations, looked really good, had a lot of options, and wasn’t too pricey (relatively), but I never made my reservations! My Old Dutch Pancakes~ there are a few locations and the menu looked reminiscent of a Pannekoeken, wish I could’ve tried it! also, there’s a bakery not far from Buckingham Palace that also has several GF treats, including savory pies that are GF, made ready to serve there, called WAGfree Bakery. just popping into some cupcake shops, I found that many, if not most, had at least one gluten free option.

also worth mentioning are Indian restaurants, as they’re really prevalent in London. I didn’t go to any, as I had a way-too-spicy experience at one on my last trip to London (years ago). but a few that I saw mentioned as knowing what their gluten free options were, were Namaste (near Camden Town Underground stop) and Masala Zone in the Soho area.

there’s also a Whole Foods if you prefer to find groceries, but it’s not exactly in the middle of the tourist area.

and finally, there are a lot of fun Gelato shops, so definitely ask what you can have when you see one, because it’s such a treat to have fresh, homemade, authentic Italian ice cream

feel free to leave comments of other great restaurants in London that you’ve found!

 

McCoy’s Public House May 6, 2014

I recently discovered that McCoy’s Public House has an amazingly large (and robust) gluten- free menu.

it starts off slow, with a few starters, dips mainly. nothing that gets me too excited, but it’s nice that there are some choices. particularly if you go for a happy hour or something (they also have gluten free beer!)

and there are of course many salads to choose from, which don’t generally excite me too much either. however, the BLT salad was actually quite delicious. I may have to pick this up for lunch once in awhile. and it’s great that there are a couple of soups, especially for those cold winter days (tomato basil and bison chili).

and then from here, it really starts to pick up and get to the good stuff :)

the burgers have great varieties: beef, bison, turkey, chicken, salmon, even short rib! and great toppings: bacon, avocado, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms, aiolis and other fun sauces, tons of cheeses, etc. and they also come with gluten free buns!! the bison burger that I tried last time was amazingly juicy (for such a lean meat), and amazing! I think this will be my go-to, since I still dream about it!

they’ve also got several pizza options that are gluten free (margherita, pepperoni, carbonara, and bbq chicken).

and then for an amazing twist, they also serve gluten free mac & cheese! I haven’t tried it, but it looks rather gourmet and super cheesy. they give the option for you to add-in a ton of fun items too: caramelized onion, broccoli, peas, artichoke, spinach, roasted garlic, bacon, ham, white truffle oil, and that’s only about half of the options available! yum!

then come the entrees, like chicken, fish, short rib/ beef, etc. along with a nice list of veggie sides.

and it all ends with a sweet dessert of (gluten free) cookies and milk!

it’s such a robust gluten free menu that it feels like you’re reading the regular menu! it’s the epitome of accommodation, having options in every category of the menu, plus specialty noodles, pizza crusts, buns, cookies, etc. they go the extra 10 miles and make it a regular restaurant experience for their gluten free guests, and I very much appreciate it. plus it helps that their food is amazing, the atmosphere is great, and it’s in a prime location~ borderline suburbia (located in St Louis Park’s Excelsior & Grand) and just outside of Uptown and the lakes.

 

May (Celiac Awareness Month) is full of events! May 2, 2014

Filed under: Getting Started/ General Info,News — rebeccagf @ 12:38 pm

for those of you who are newly diagnosed or didn’t know/ remember, May in the Minneapolis area has lots of celiac events going on!

it starts on Monday, May 5th. the Celiac Center of MN is hosting it’s annual gluten free barbecue. it’s located at a church in Bloomington, 8400 France Ave S. this year the burgers and hotdogs will be served on Canyon Bakehouse buns. I’ve yet to try them, but I’ve heard people rave about how good they are. Crazy Puppy Gourmet Workshop will be there with their food truck again, serving cheese curds and mini donuts. and it looks like they’ll even have live music and face painting for the kids. the BBQ has been a lot of fun in the past.

next on the docket is the annual celiac walk hosted by R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids) on Saturday, May 17th. it takes place at Holy Family High School in Victoria. the 5k run begins at 9am and the 2 mile walk at 9:20am. my favorite part of the day, though, is the gluten-free expo, which runs from 8:30-11am. it costs $10 (children 7 and under are free). there are tons of vendors with samples, and also local businesses/ restaurants set up booths with menu information, samples, coupons, etc. I like to stay apprised of gluten-free offerings, but I still learned quite a few things the last time I went.

and then last, but not least, Wildfire’s annual gluten-free dinner will be on Tuesday, May 20th. I’ve never actually made it to one of these dinners, but I absolutely love Wildfire, so I can only imagine how great they are. you can do the 4-course dinner with wine pairings at each course for $70, or without the wine at $55. this year’s menu includes GF potstickers, crab & broccoli rabe bruchetta appetizers at the reception, which begins at 6:30 (dinner begins at 7pm). then it features sea bass as the first course, rib-eye as the second course, and a chocolate raspberry parfait for dessert. if you wish to attend, RSVP at 952-914-9100. and if you’ve never been to Wildfire, go!! even if you can’t make this dinner. it’s such a great restaurant!

so if you haven’t been to any of these, try and get out to at least one! it’s the best time of year for celiac/ gluten free events!

 

Falafel King April 30, 2014

I checked out Falafel King recently, because they opened a rather new location near Lake Calhoun that I was interested in.

I love gyros, even if I can’t have the pita bread. although it turned out that the gyro meat was one of the only things that DOES have gluten in it (bread crumbs). upon recommendation of the manager, I ventured out and tried a lamb dish called Kofta. and it was really good! it came with a little tomato and cucumber salad (one of my favorites!) and it was only $1 extra for yellow rice on the side. the Kofta was like uncased sausages. I’m not particularly a fan of sausages or lamb, but this was really tasty. I’d definitely order it again.

the chicken shawirma and/or lamb shawirma are next on my list, also per his recommendation. it’s sliced pieces of chicken or lamb with garlic tahini sauce. tsaziki sauce can be substituted if you prefer it.

other things that are gluten free are the hummus, salads (no croutons or bread, of course), the baba ganouje, and I think the kabobs. make sure to stay away from the tabouli and spinach pie though, and all of the obvious breaded items.

I was told via email that the Falafel was gluten free as well. I don’t know much about falafels, but I thought that they were deep-fried, in which case it’s likely in the same fryer as the onion rings, chicken tenders, and cheese curds… so please check that out before ordering them.

they were very knowledgeable at the restaurant, as they make most of the items there. I will probably ask for the rundown each time I go for the first few visits still, as I usually do, before I’m sure that I have accurate information (sometimes different people tell you different things).

also, a quick note that they have breakfast items as well, which look largely gluten free!

it’s nice to have more quick food options that are gluten free! especially something a little different from the norm!

 

Butcher and the Boar November 18, 2013

 

the pork chop

the pork chop

 

I just went to Butcher and the Boar this week, and had one of the best meals I’ve ever had!

I wasn’t too sure how much I’d like it, as I’m not a huge sausage and meat eater. but I’d heard great things about the place, including that it was a James Beard semifinalist for Best New Restaurant. and after finally trying it, I loved it!!

the long rib

the long rib 

we tried so many things, it was great. and there were only very few items that I couldn’t have, out of all that we ordered (the appetizer crackers, one of the sausages, and the french fries). and a few things had to be slightly amended~ taking tortilla strips off of a couple of plates, for instance. so there is plenty to choose from, just ask when you get there.

we started with a plate of accoutrements, which included a homemade braunschweiger (hard to eat without the crackers though), a really tasty rooster item that looked like tuna salad to me~ it had the faintest hint of cinnamon in it, though it was not a sweet dish, and the homemade pickles were really good. I wasn’t daring enough to try the pickled shrimp. then we had a plate of three different sausages, two of them spicy. and I loved all three!

and then for the main dish, it was really hard to decide what to order.. there was some maple-glazed chicken (I think they said that this was a full chicken that they serve!), a gigantic pork chop that was like 4-6 inches high, and the long rib, which is what I ultimately chose. it was one rib, with I think they said 16 ounces of meat on it!! and it was amazing.

then we had side dishes galore… the biggest shocker was that the corn bread is gluten free!! and delicious. the mashed potatoes were mixed with sour cream (amazing), as were the grits. out of the red hot brussel sprouts, the caramelized broccoli, and the blackened cauliflower, I’d have to say that the broccoli was my favorite.

the online menu is pretty small, but the one you actually get at the restaurant is much more robust.

I can’t say enough good things about Butcher and the Boar, not only was the food good, but so was the atmosphere, and the people working there seemed to really love it as well. it’s definitely on the pricier side, perfect for special occasions or a night on the town. but I’m just trying to figure out when I can get there again!

 

Nadia Cakes November 10, 2013

Filed under: Bakeries — rebeccagf @ 3:36 pm
Tags: ,

Nadia Cakes isn’t a dedicated gluten free bakery, but they have a lot of great, unique, gluten free items, so they’re definitely worth mentioning!

On weeknights, they usually have chocolate and vanilla cupcakes on hand. but weekends are when the fun flavors come! (I’ve heard that that’s when they have time to scrub down the kitchen to reduce cross-contamination, though I haven’t verified that for myself).

the fun weekend GF flavors change all the time. one weekend when I stopped by, they had “lucky charms”, which had some sort of marshmallow filling. and a special Breaking Bad cupcake for the finale weekend, with some blue rock candy on top. the second time I stopped by we tried a raspberry cupcake, which had a cream cheese frosting and a raspberry filling, which was amazing!! I also tried the salted caramel one, which had, of course, a caramel filling. all of them were absolutely delicious, and I always wish that I’d bought more! the calendar of flavors is here.

they also had a little gluten-free cookie case. I missed it the first time, but on my second visit tried the butterscotch chocolate chip cookies. they were a little thin for my taste, but still tasted great. while the cupcakes cost $3 each, the cookies are only $2 each.

Nadia Cakes started in LA, and the owner, Abby, has appeared on several cake/ cupcake shows. she was even a winner on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. so they’ve got national attention. in fact, they only opened their second location, here in Maple Grove, MN, in 2012. but they already have quite a following!

if you check out their facebook page, you’ll see how fun and creative they are, but be warned that it’ll make your mouth will water :)

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers