The Garlic Sauteed Spinach That Changed My Life!

For as long as I can remember spinach has been one of those vegetables that I enjoyed raw, with garlic and olive oil in an Italian restaurant, or as creamed spinach. In general when I ate spinach I was left with a furry feeling on my teeth. I tried to make it with garlic and olive oil, but something wasn’t right. I tried using way more olive oil than I would normally cook with, but that didn’t work. Then I tried a recipe that uses lemon and butter at the very end. This recipe changed my life! This recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make, and is so good that my husband and my 15 month old daughter devour it. Ina Garten, I love you! Here is the link to recipe which can be found on the Food Network’s website. Garlic Sauteed Spinach Below is the recipe copied from the Food Network. My commentary is in ALL CAPS.

Again, this recipe has changed my life! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do in our house.

Garlic Sauteed Spinach 10 minutes
(Serves 4)

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons good olive oil (I USE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL) Spinach
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (6 cloves)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Lemon (I THINK THIS IS THE KEY TO NO FUR)
Sea or kosher salt, optional
Directions
Rinse the spinach well in cold water to make sure it’s very clean. Spin it dry in a salad spinner, leaving just a little water clinging to the leaves.(I BUY TRIPLE WASHED SPINACH THAT IS READY TO GO. THERE IS PLENTY OF WATER IN SPINACH)

In a very large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute, but not until it’s browned. Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pot, toss it with the garlic and oil, cover the pot, and cook it for 2 minutes. Uncover the pot, turn the heat on high, and cook the spinach for another minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the spinach is wilted. Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach to a serving bowl and top with the butter, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of sea or kosher salt. Serve hot.

Per Serving: Calories: 109; Total Fat: 6 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 3 grams; Total carbohydrates: 13 grams; Sugar: 0 grams Fiber: 5.5 grams; Cholesterol: 5 milligrams; Sodium: 821 milligrams

Happy Birthday To Me!

Jul252013_4028Yesterday was my birthday. This year I have an 11 month old daughter, and she helped make it so special. Instead of going out to a nice dinner with my husband, we decided to enjoy dinner a romantic dinner at home the night before and go to a lovely brunch the day of. That way we could have time just the two of us, and have our little lovey join the celebration. Yay, two celebrations for me!

D made me the most wonderful dinner imaginable. He started with sea urchin and oysters as appetizers, both of which were heavenly, then he steamed two beautiful lobsters and served them with corn. It was tremendous! I can’t think of a better birthday meal. lobster

Brunch at Top of the Mark was simply perfect. Not only did I have my two favorite people enjoying brunch with me, but we were enjoying it with a spectacular view of the entire city. When we arrived and the maî·tre d’remembered us, which is always nice, and brought me a menu with all of the gluten-free items on the buffet highlighted in red. After my freshly squeezed orange juice, sparkling wine and coffee I was brought a basket of beautiful gluten-free rolls. What a delightful surprise! The spread was exactly what I wanted, a variety of smoked fish, raw shellfish, cracked crab, caviar, a cheese platter, fresh fruit, several salads and prime rib. Having the bread was a wonderful treat when enjoying the smoked fish and cheese and of course the caviar. I also was able to enjoy dessert, one of my all time favorites, Crème brûlée.

What an incredible birthday I had this year. I wouldn’t have wanted to celebrate it any other way. It was filled with love, laughter and lots of delectable delights.

***Top of the Mark is located in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood, in the Mark Hopkins Hotel. They happily accommodate gluten-free diners and have menus with gluten-free items highlighted in red, just make sure your reservation states that there are gluten-free diners in your party.

Top of the Mark
InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco
999 California Street, San Francisco, California 94108
Contact: 415-392-3434

Cattaneo Bros Gluten-free Beef Jerky- Jerky that really tastes good

When you spend a bunch of time in the car, or however it is you travel, it is imperative to have snacks. When you are gluten-free your options are limited. Of course fruit, cut up veggies, and chips are all options, but sometimes I am looking for a bit of protein. I eat mostly low carb as well as gluten-free so beef jerky is a great snack to grab. Sadly I have found that most beef jerky is out of the question. Most beef jerky on the market uses soy sauce and caramel coloring. Soy sauce has wheat in it and caramel coloring, well I just don’t know what it is exactly. So far the gluten-free jerky I have eaten hasn’t really wowed me. That is until now.

wooden-boxI recently received an email from a company called Cattaneo Bros. Cattaneo Bros have been around since 1947 and their specialty is, yes you guessed it, beef jerky. They have a few different flavors (black pepper, hot pepper, original and mesquite) and a few different cuts (extra thin, cowboy cut, natural. After looking at their site, I was extremely excited that they tapped me to taste and review their jerky. All of there jerky is gluten-free, sugar-free and 100% beef. One thing to note is that the actually bags of jerky do not have the label GLUTEN-FREE and the ingredient list says “spices.” I just want to reassure everyone that I have been specifically told that ALL of their beef jerky is gluten-free.

When the big beautiful box arrived I dived right in. First I tried the original, then the mesquite, moved to black pepper and finally hot pepper. They were all delicious! Even though their best seller is the extra thin cut, I preferred the natural cut. This is all a matter of personal preference. I like that I had to tear in to it and that it took a bit to chew. That, to me, is the sign of a good jerky. I also really liked their saltiness as opposed to other jerky that uses something to sweeten it up.

This beef jerky is 100% beef and 100% delicious! I recommend it to gluten-free and non-gluten-free jerky lovers alike.

To order their delicious jerky, or any of their other snack items (nuts, dried fruit, candies and more) click the attached link Cattaneo Bros. Happy Snacking!

Motek Treats- Making gluten-free baked goods that others don’t

If it isn’t clear by now I love trying new things, and then giving my opinion. I’m pretty sure I mention it in almost all of my posts. As luck would have it, the boyfriend/girlfriend team that makes up Motek Treats, had some new baked goods they wanted me to try. I was so excited to see what was going to arrive. I love surprises!

Jen and I emailed back and forth a couple of times on a Thursday (I think) about a Monday delivery for the goodies. I went and did a huge workout Monday morning and waited excitedly for the afternoon to come. Monday afternoon finally arrived and I received a delivery of a babka and a box filled with a Belgian waffle, coffeecake and peanut butter cookies with Nutella centers (to die for!). Just like last time, the peanut butter cookies had my name all over them and I had one immediately. Divine! I opened everything up and photographed them at the peak of freshness. May202013_3616When it came time for the babka I felt to get the best picture I had to slice it open. The swirls of delicious cinnamon and chocolate needed to be showcased properly. When I finished taking pictures I grabbed the slice and ate it. I thought it was pretty good at room temperature. It was similar in texture to a cinnamon raisin bread.

babkaThe next morning I began my taste testing. Even though I had tried the babka when it arrived the instructions said, “best served warm.” I sat down with a cup of tea and a lightly toasted piece of babka for breakfast. It was a little slice of heaven. The cake was light and the swirls of cinnamon and chocolate were warm and melty.

coffecakeWhen Uri brought me the coffeecake we had a brief discussion about the lack of coffeecake in coffee shops. Even coffeecake that isn’t gluten-free isn’t standard fare. You can go in to almost any bakery around (French, Italian, Chinese, independent, chain etc.) and find a croissant, but not so with coffeecake. Noticing this void Motek Treats decided to fill it. I thought it was delicious. It was sweet, a little crumbly, and went well with a cup of coffee. It was a nice piece of cake. Perhaps it will bring about a coffee cake revival in the Bay Area.

waffleNever having been much of a waffle fan I was wondering what kind of objectivity I would be able to bring to this product. I was down on it the minute I picked it up. This waffle was pretty dense and in my experience dense means, meh. I can happily report back that I was wrong. After toasting the waffle, adding butter and honey (I am out of syrup) I found it to be delicious! I think I even noticed a hint of vanilla. This Belgian waffle will hold up to whatever topping you put on it.

If you live in San Francisco or Oakland and want delicious, gluten-free, homemade baked goods and more delivered to your door, or for more information about who they are, click on the link and visit their store Motek Treats

If you are lucky enough to live near Nob Hill, or will be in the neighborhood, visit Contraband Coffee Bar where you can pick up both the babka and the coffeecake.
Contraband Coffee Bar
1415 Larkin St.
(between Sacramento St & California St)
San Francisco, CA 94109

If you are looking for the waffles head over to Real Food Company
Check website for locations. Real Food Company

For some savory reviews and more sweet reviews of Motek Treats visit my previous post, Motek Treats-a gluten-free delivery bakery….

Going Gluten-Free

Taking gluten out of one’s diet is a very difficult task. You must keep a gluten-free kitchen, remind friends and family when you’re visiting what you can and cannot eat, have long discussions with servers at restaurants and spend an inordinate amount of time reading labels. I’ve grown accustomed to this way of life, but it took more than a couple of months and more than a few hiccups. That is why it is incredibly important to weigh the pros and cons before taking the plunge.

That said, I am a new mother. As a new mother I am bombarded with information in the form of emails, tweets, posts, pins and so on. Yesterday was one of the infrequent times where a headline actually pulled me in, “Going Gluten-Free” from, Parent Magazine. The article discusses if your child can benefit from going gluten-free. Aside from people with Celiac and people with a gluten sensitivity, there are a couple other groups that have been shown to benefit from a gluten-free diet. The article discusses how symptoms for some people who are Autistic and who have ADHD improved after being on a gluten-free diet for at least 3-6 months. That had me thinking about myself. As a child I was ADHD, or was my behavior really a result of eating gluten? My mom tried putting me on the Feingold Diet, which removes all artificial colors, flavors, nitrates, nitrites and several other food additives. She saw some improvement, but maybe had I been on a gluten-free diet too I would have been a much more focused child. It is an interesting thought for me to ponder since I will never know.

Seeing as this article resonated with me, I thought I would share it. I can’t be the only one that this will hit close to home for.

Going Gluten-Free

How To Avoid Gluten Bombs When Eating Out

The other day my girlfriend, who has just discovered that she can no longer eat gluten, asked me about a meal she recently had while dining out. Did I think that her steak au poirve was made with gluten, or can steak au poirve be made without gluten? I can’t remember the exact wording, but that’s the gist. It reminded me of how I felt during the early days of eating gluten-free. It reminded me of times where I assumed there was no way a particular meal could have any gluten in it and sure enough it did. I often found myself nauseous and with an upset stomach for days. Thinking about the challenges my girlfriend, and many people who are just starting out face, I have decided to share some simple and easy ways for you to do your part in avoiding a gluten bomb when you are out to eat.

- Call ahead and tell the host that you are gluten-free & and ask if they have a gluten-free menu
- Tell your server that you are gluten-free
- Ask your server what items on the menu are gluten-free. If they don’t know, ask them to please check with the chef. Better safe than sorry!
- Always ask about sauces and condiments. Gluten lurks in the most unsuspecting spots, salad dressing and soy sauce to name a couple.
- If something arrives and looks like it has gluten in it, never feel embarrassed in double checking that it’s the correct dish. Mistakes happen.
- If you order fries make sure that the fries aren’t dusted in flour before frying. Curly fries are NOT gluten-free.
- Fries are high on the list of foods that can be and often are cross contaminated. If you see lots of fried dishes on a menu assume your fries will be fried in that same oil.
- NEVER ASSUME A DISH IS GLUTEN-FREE ALWAYS ASK!!!

Gluten bombs can happen to even the most savvy of gluten-free diners. Follow these suggestions and you will be doing your part to ensure a nice gluten-free dining out experience.

New Gluten-Free Delivery In San Francisco: Motek Treats, A Must Try!

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Motek Treats, a gluten-free bakery with a “Storefront” online at Zaarly. Motek Treats bakes their treats and delivers them to the Bay Area. They invited me to visit their store, and if anything piqued my interest Zaarly delivers to San Francisco for them on Mondays and Thursdays. Motek Treats hand delivered their food to my door. All I had to do in return was review them here, on my blog. I love reviewing freshly baked or handmade gluten-free foods! I’m always looking for a gluten-free food “find,” something that pleasantly surprises me. I went to the site and was very excited to see fresh pasta and pizza crusts. Of course they have cookies, scones and bread, but since I have never had freshly made gluten-free pasta that was something special to sample. Of course I chose the pizza crust, because I love pizza! The only place to get a good frozen pizza crust is Mariposa Bakery, and I’d have to drive to one of their two locations. This place delivers!

In the end I received pasta, pizza crust, a peanut butter cookie and an olive and sea salt roll, still warm from the oven. It looked so inviting that I took a bite. The roll was crunchy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. I dipped it in some good extra virgin olive oil and savored each existing bite. After enjoying the roll so much, I couldn’t help but try a peanut butter cookie too.

Soft & chewy, yum!

Soft & chewy, yum!

My plan for the pasta was make it for dinner that night. However having an infant means that plans always need to be flexible. Pasta dinner didn’t happen. When I finally did get to make it I brought a big pot of salted water to a boil and added some olive oil. I added the pasta and it swam through the water, unlike the dry stuff that clumps together. I poured the pasta in to a colander, tossed with olive oil and tasted it. The texture was exactly what I remember fresh pasta to be like. It was fantastic! I made a nice sauce to go with it and was in pasta heaven.

Fresh pasta!

Fresh pasta!

My husband who is not gluten-free loved the pasta too!

A few days later I tried the crust. I cooked it on my stone at 500 degrees and the crust was crispy. However the center of the pie, where I added sauce, didn’t cook through. I think I must have done something wrong, because everything else they made was incredibly delicious. I wonder if cooking the crust all the way through, and then adding the sauce and cheese, would have yielded better results.

Motek Treats has some great gluten-free food. The pasta and the olive roll were amazing! I truly felt like I was eating pasta and bread and that weren’t gluten-free. Having bread and pasta this delicious delivered to my door was incredible. Baked goods that are fresh from an oven being delivered to your door is a treat, a Motek Treat!

Upcoming Gluten-Free Events in the Bay Area

As the gluten-free community continues to grow, more events are being held in and around the Bay area. This is great news! Below are a couple of events I am really looking forward to.

Starting this week Robert Copeland Desserts, is offering a 6 course private gluten-free dessert tasting. I am really excited about their menu and this week’s deal. Enter the code: GGFR on the website brownpapertickets.com and receive 50% off of the dessert portion of the tasting for Thursday, February 7th and Friday, February 8th. Hurry up and order your tickets, because seating is limited.

This weekend, February 9th and 10th, the country’s largest gluten and allergen free expo is being held in Burlingame. There will be local and national vendors, classes, guest speakers and more. You can get all the information regarding this event at gfafexpo.com. Be there or be square!

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 10.34.51 AMScreen shot 2013-02-05 at 10.32.41 AM

Curried Zucchini & Leek Soup

It’s winter again and that means it is soup season. It has been kind of warm in San Francisco, but that hasn’t stopped me from whipping out the pots and cooking it up anyway. Any excuse to make soup, is what I always say. Soups are easy, tasty and last for more than one meal.
This soup is based on a curried zucchini & leek soup from the book, “for the love of SOUP” by, Jeanelle Mitchell. Her soups always start out pretty good, but I feel that they lack flavor. The vegetable combinations work very well together and then I add some extra seasoning.

Ingredients:Soup
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Large leeks, white parts only. Cut lengthwise then thinly sliced.
1 tsp. curry paste (I like Patak’s hot curry paste)
2 Cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp. ginger minced
1 Large Russet potato peeled and cubed
2 Large or 4 small zucchini halved and cut in to 1/2″ pieces
4 Cups stock or broth (I use chicken broth or homemade stock)
1 tsp. salt

1) In a medium size pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute for 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger cook for 2 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for another 2 minutes.

2) Add zucchini, potatoes and broth or stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Let soup cool.

3) When cool puree soup in pot with immersion blender, or transfer to blender or food processor in batches and blend until smooth. Once soup is blended return to the pot, add salt, and simmer until heated.

Serves 4-6

Destino- Modern Latin Bistro

Eating out is infrequent these days, so when I do go out I want to make sure I am really going to enjoy my meal. This usually means sushi, because I can happily find something on the menu and not feel like I am settling. My husband gets tired of the same old same old so he went in search of a new dining experience. Well done, love!
Destino, was a great find with a gluten-free menu to boot. The menu has vegetarian, meat, seafood and shellfish options ensuring just about anyone can enjoy a meal there. They also have a full bar, another challenge to find in San Francisco due to the limited number of liquor licenses issued. winter-2013-menuThe menu changes seasonally, so the menu pictured here will only be relevant until spring 2013.
When we arrived the restaurant was very full and lively. We were seated with two menus, one with all the offerings for my husband and a gluten-free menu for me. I was delighted! My menu, as you can see, was filled with lots of tasty sounding dishes. We opted to share the charcuterie to start. I then had a lovely piece of fish, Corvino sea bass. corvina-seabass The skin on the fish was crispy and the flesh moist and flaky. It was served with a light, buttery sauce and simply prepared vegetables highlighting their fresh, seasonal quality. The vegetables were carrots, golden beets, fingerling potatoes and pea shoots.
My husband order the chile relleno and scallops, both also gluten-free. Since there were only two scallops, beautifully presented in a large scallop shell, I didn’t try them. chile-rellenoThe chile relleno I did taste, and it was fabulous! Instead of frying it, they bake it and serve it in a small cast iron pan, topped with guacamole and crema (Mexican sour cream). I’d consider sharing that as an appetizer next time. We passed on dessert, but there was a cheesecake with a gluten-free vanilla cookie crust for those of you who miss your cheesecake and don’t bake, chocolate mousse and Panna cotta.
This place was really delicious and not very expensive. I highly recommend it to any of my gluten-free friends and followers.

Destino
1815 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 552-4451