Wednesday, April 29, 2009

When Pigs Fly in Queens....

(photo from

Working in a high school in Queens, New York is not one of the safest jobs these days. Since the the "outbreak" of swine flu in the United States, I have been dealing with a hysterical school community. Since more schools have closed due to the Swine Flu, the hysteria has gotten larger. Lucky for us (knock on wood), none of our extended school family has gotten sick. And Mayor Mike and his staff have been unbelievable the past few days with all that has been happening.

We need to keep in mind that thousands of people die from the regular flu yearly across the United States with millions being infected by the flu virus. Those deaths are in our most vulnerable populations - the old, the young, and those with compromised immune systems. That's why many Americans receive flu shots yearly. Think about how you keep the regular flu at bay - washing your hands, staying away from the sick, keeping healthy, and not working when sick. We must keep this up.

If you are in a position that you must take one of the two anti-virals that treat the symptoms of the current swine flu almost-pandemic, keep this in mind:

  • Tamiflu (oseltamivir) from Roche Laboratories for ages 1 and up is gluten-free.
  • Relenza (zanamivir) from Glaxo SmithKline for ages 7 and up does not intentionally have gluten in their product, but cannot guarantee against cross-contamination.

Keep healthy (and gluten-free)

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Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 Gluten-Free Vendor Fair

Yesterday, my family and I attended the 2009 Gluten-Free Vendor Fair sponsored by the Suffolk County Celiacs. We hopped in the car and trekked over an hour to attend the largest gluten-free event in North America. And I think most of the New York City Metropolitan Area was there too.

I did find some new vendors that I have to have a standing order from like Jakes Bakes (both my husband and son love their marshmallows). Plus, I also found an incredible frozen gluten-free pizza - Bella Monica Flatbread Co. My son tried every pizza they had at the vendor fair and kept trying to go outside to the Bella Monica group for more!

The biggest issue yesterday was the crowd. There was too many vendors and visitors for the space. Because of the volume of people (and the ovens cooking food), it was scorching in the hall. It was hard to get to each vendor table - you had to push your way through or you just skipped them. I ended up skipping a lot of vendors.

I had two major pet peeves - strollers and people standing in front of vendors talking with their friends. I understand the need for strollers in events like these - even though we didn't bring ours in. There were people who had strollers full of goodies from vendors, but no child. Then people were bringing in a double-wide twin stroller and going up and down aisles that are just a little bit wider than the stroller is insane. All three of us have nicks and bruises on our ankles from strollers bumping into us.

When people eat, there is a natural inclination to socialize. When we picked up a sample, we either ate and ran or brought the sample (such as all the pizza and italian food my son ate) to a quiet corner and consumed it. Many people, including some of the Suffolk County Celiac volunteers (green shirts) ate their sample and socialized with their friends who were also eating samples in front of the tables. I had to strong arm my way through to get to a few tables.

The sad part is that we heard a lot of people (vendors included) complaining about the size of the crowd versus the size of the venue. Also, a lot of people were complaining about the heat.

We ended up leaving earlier than we wanted to since the heat of the fair was wearing out the wee one. In the end we drove 1 1/2 hrs to stay for about 1 1/4 hrs to drive home for over 2 hrs. Not the best use of our time. I hope when this event comes around again they have it in a space that is larger and cooler!

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Celiac/Gluten-Free Article in the Staten Island Advance

My local paper - the Staten Island Advance - did an article earlier this month about Celiac, the gluten-free diet, and the fantastic local gluten-free restaurant, Tuttoriso. Check out the article at

Interesting fact: Staten Island is the only borough with its own daily newspaper in the City of New York! The other boroughs only have weekly papers. The other daily papers are city-wide/national papers like the Daily News, the New York Post, and the New York Times.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lemon Buttermilk Cookies

Lemon Buttermilk Cookies

I ended up buying buttermilk the other day because I was planning on making ricotta cheese. Since I was off for Spring Break, I thought it would be the perfect time to try it. I never got around making the ricotta cheese.

Then I got my order of Domata Living Flour - a gluten-free blend, that I have heard a lot of buzz about from Navan Foods. On a side note, Navan Foods rocks. I ordered a five pound bag of Domata Living Flour and a bag of bread mix from Breads from Anna. Our friends at UPS punctured the box in transit, and it was sent back to Navan Foods. They felt bad and sent the shipment back with a pumpkin bread mix from Breads from Anna. When we opened the new shipment, we noticed that the Domata bag was punctured. Navan Foods sent a new bag, plus a Herb Bread mix from Breads from Anna. I love Navan Foods.

So, I had a quart of buttermilk and some brand new all purpose gluten-free flour. So I searched for a recipe to use with both. I didn't want bread. I didn't want scones. I didn't want a pie. I really wanted muffins, but then I found a recipe on Gourmet's site for Buttermilk Cookies. I loved the fact that they said it was a southern cookie, since my sister-in-law is from the South. Then I noticed different bloggers have done their take on the Gourmet Buttermilk Cookie (you should look at Two Peas in a Pod's version)They looked and sounded good, so I tweaked the recipe a little (I love a strong lemon flavor) and I made these cookies. They are excellent, but you must keep them wrapped tightly - since they go stale quick.

Lemon Buttermilk Cookies
Lemon Buttermilk Cookies (adapted from Gourmet)


  • 3 cups Domata Living Flour (or any mix)
  • Zest of three medium lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
  2. Whisk together flour, zest, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until smooth.
  4. Drop level tablespoons of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes per batch. Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks.
  5. Whisk together all glaze ingredients and brush onto tops of warm cookies.
  6. Let stand until cookies are completely cooled and glaze is set.

Lemon Buttermilk Cookies

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Seven Things You May Not Know About Me (A Meme)

Maureen of Hold The Gluten and Healther of Celiac Family tagged me in a meme that's been going around the blogosphere. The rules are actually quite simple...Link to your original tagger and list these rules in your post. Then share seven facts about yourself in the post. Tag seven people at the end of your post and let them know they’ve been tagged. Here we go...

  1. I've been going to New York Giants games since I've been 10 yrs old. First game was Giants vs. Eagles in 1986 with my dad. Last game was the the Giants vs. Eagles Playoff game earlier this year with my sister-in-law Michelle.
  2. I'm not a fan of baseball. Living in the New York City area most of my life, you'd think I'd choose the Yankees or the Mets by now, but I haven't. And I probably won't. I come from a family of Mets fans, but married into a Yankee family.
  3. I never cooked/baked until I started eating gluten-free. My husband is an amazing cook. He even rolls out fondant like a professional. When I went gluten-free, I made it my mission to not just eat healthier, but to learn how to cook.
  4. Anytime the movie The Replacements is on the television (including TBS) I watch it.
  5. My brother and I look nothing alike. I have dark, auburn hair. He has sunny blonde hair. I have medium skin and freckles. He has fair skin. I have dark eyes - he has bright blue eyes. I look like my dad and he looks like my mom. When my parents moved when we were in college, our new neighbors thought I was my dad's child from his first marriage and my brother was my mom's kid from her first. Nice.
  6. I never have the energy to go into Manhattan. It's a hassle.
  7. Bacon should be one of the major food groups.

Now, time for some tagging....

Stacy at Guaranteed Gluten Free
Ginger at Fresh Ginger
Michelle at Taste As You Go
MT at the Bon Bon Gazette
Karen at Gluten-Free Sox Fan
Steph at The Gluten-Free Version of Me
Susanne at Susanne's Recipe Corner

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Monday, April 13, 2009


For those readers who have been subscribing to my feed, I would like to apologize. I've been having some Flickr/Blogger issues recently and it's been sending out some odd messages. I think I've gotten them fixed....sorry!!!!

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Pizza Rustica

Pizza Rustica

I hope everyone had an amazing Easter yesterday. We had a wonderful day surrounded by family and delicious food. The wee one loved coloring eggs and hunting through his Easter basket looking for candy (which he really doesn't eat) and Thomas the Tank Engine goodies.

All day, we were snacking on Pizza Rustica. A traditional Italian dish that signifies the end of Lent - a meat pie. This was a dish that I never grew up with or ever had the urge to eat/make until now. Pizza Rustica is traditionally made in a springform pan, but since we have enough trouble with gluten-free pie crust dough in a pie plate, I didn't want to chance it. Also, there is usually a top crust, but since I made enough filling for a large pie in a spring form pan, I had a ton of filling left over - so I made two pies without a top crust.

My father-in-law who doesn't like anything ate two slices of this.

Pizza Rustica

Pizza Rustica


  • Pie Crust Dough
  • 1/2 pound of ricotta cheese (preferably fresh ricotta)
  • 1 pound of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup of shredded Romano cheese
  • one stick of dried salami, small dice
  • one stick of pepperoni, small dice
  • one stick of dried sausage, small dice
  • three large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Romano, salami, dried sausage, pepperoni, and egg yolks. Stir in the salt;
  3. Take two pie plates and roll out the dough on each;
  4. Fill each pie plate with the ricotta filling;
  5. Bake in the center of the oven till crust is golden (about 50 minutes)
  6. Serve either warm or cold.....excellent for breakfast!

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pastiera Napoletana aka the Easter Grain Pie

In my adopted Italian family, there are traditions and foods that I have learned to embrace that I never experienced in my Irish family. From having family over for a big dinner on New Year's Day to the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve to the idea that pasta and potatoes make a great dish, my mind and tastebuds have broadened.

One food that is a must at this time of year in any Italian family is Pastiera - and in my family Pastiera Napoletana. Pastiera is a traditional pie that is eaten during Easter time that screams Spring. It is traditionally made with pre-soaked wheat grain (pre-soaking wheat grain takes two weeks), but we subbed rice for the wheat and I used Carol Fenster's Basic Pastry Crust for Double-Crust Pies as the crust for the Pastiera. My husband and in-laws couldn't tell the difference between the gluten-free and the traditional Pastiera.

Pastiera Napoletana (Easter Grain Pie)

Ingredients for Crust:

  • 1 cup of Carol's Sorghum Blend (35% sorghum flour, 35% potato starch, 30% tapioca flour)
  • 3/4 cup of tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup of sweet rice flour
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon of guar gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of shortening (I used Spectrum)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 200 grams of long grain rice (I used American Basmati)
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 750 grams of milk
  • 30 grams of butter
  • zest of two lemons
  • zest of two oranges
  • 500 grams of fresh ricotta
  • 300 grams of sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 100 grams of candied citron
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla
  • 2 fluid ounces of Orange Blossom Water (purchase at an Italian Specialty store that carries items from Naples)

Directions for Crust:

  1. Combine Carol's flour blend, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, xanthan gum, guar gum, salt, baking soda, and shortening in a food processor. Mix till crumbly;
  2. Add milk and vinegar to the processor. Blend until dough forms into a ball. Scrape down sides and blend again;
  3. Take dough and knead with hands until smooth;
  4. Shape the dough into two 1 inch thick disks, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Directions for the Pastiera:

  1. In a pan, combine the rice, 500 grams of milk, 2 teaspoons of sugar, butter, and the zest of one lemon. Heat up the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes till the rice softens.
  2. In another pan, heat up the rest of the milk with one teaspoon of orange zest, two whipped egg yolks, 60 grams of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Keep on low heat till milk sauce is thickened and the sugar and cornstarch is dissolved.
  3. Blend the fresh ricotta with 200 grams of sugar, 2 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon, and the rest of the lemon and orange zest. Once mixed, add the candied citron. Fold in the rice and cream mixtures. When mixed add in the orange blossom water.
  4. Take the two pie dough disks out of the fridge. Massage the disks of dough between your hands until they are warm an pliable. With a rolling pin, roll out one of the disks between two sheets of plastic wrap in a clockwise fashion to a 10 inch diameter;
  5. Remove the top plastic wrap, invert the crust, and center it on a 9 inch pie pan. Take off the rest of the plastic wrap and press crust into place.
  6. Pour in the pastiera filling'
  7. Take the second dough disk, and roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap to a 10 inch diameter. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips. Place dough strips in a criss cross pattern on the pie;
  8. Shape crust edge;
  9. Brush crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar;
  10. Bake in a 350 oven for 1 hr 3o minutes on the bottom rack and 20 minutes on the top till amber.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Favorite Products Friday: Turtle Mountain Purely Decadent Coconut MilkCookie Dough Ice Cream & the Giveaway Winner!

I can't get enough of Turtle Mountain's Purely Decadent Coconut Milk ice creams - especially the GLUTEN-FREE Cookie Dough. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough has always been my favorite ice cream and thanks to Turtle Mountain, I can have it again! And once you've tasted coconut milk ice cream, you'll never go back to dairy again....
And now, the winner of the my blog-o-versary giveaway, according to Random.Org is.....
Marlow from Gluten Hates Me But I'm Surviving. She stated "Happy Birthday!! I want to win because not only am I gluten free BUT my birthday is April 8th!!" Again, Marlow congrats and please email me at to work out the details.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesdays

Spoons, originally uploaded by gfshaolin.