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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gluten Free Restaurant Review - Blue Ginger

I admit it…

I…am an iPad addict.

When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is get my iPad fix.  Same goes when I get home.
My wife understands as she’s addicted to her iPhone.  But that’s mostly because she never gets to hold the iPad.

That being said, we both know when it is not appropriate to get our fix.  Restaurants for example.  Of course, we take them out to take pictures of the food we are served.  But other than that, we don’t touch them when we are at a restaurant, like when we were at Blue Ginger.

I mention this because in the middle of our dinner, a couple came in with their kids.  I’d estimate the kids to be about 13 and 16.  They were talking loud enough to hear some of the conversation…like how the mother said "all children" are on Adderall.  I thought that was an interesting comment.  During the conversation, however, the phones never left anyone’s hands.  The parents, the kids…oh except when the parents had some wine.  They put the phones down to take a sip…sometimes.  But mostly, it was phone city.

Which is a shame, because I don’t think they ever paid attention to the wonderful food they were served.  I, of course, was served from the extensive gluten free menu Blue Ginger has.

My starter was a wonderful beet salad.  The amazing earthy flavor they have, along with the creamy tanginess of the goat cheese and the crunchiness of the greens, made for a perfect combination.

My entrĂ©e was the Sake-Miso Marinated Sablefish, which is also known as Butterfish.  I had only had this fish once before, in Seattle.  I now understand why it is called Butterfish, at least I think I do.  This fish simply melted in my mouth like butter, and was very possibly the best fish I have ever eaten.    It was served with sticky rice and some stir-fried vegetables.

As for dessert…I have no pictures.  Why?  Because I ordered the gluten free donuts.  I mean, most of the gluten free donuts I’ve had in the past were disappointing.  I can assure you, these were not.  And so I ate them before I realized I had not taken a picture.  If you go to Blue Ginger, and you see these on the menu, please don’t hesitate to order them.

Blue Ginger takes food allergies very seriously, so you will feel safe ordering gluten free here.
As for our next table neighbors, we left them, still looking at their phones.  I hope they can go to phone rehab, I think they need it.

I also had the pleasure a week or two later of meeting Ming Tsai.  He is a very nice, charming person and hit a was a awesome meeting him.

Now…where is that iPad?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Gluten Free Romantic Meal

White.  I’m beginning to hate the color white.

This makes things uncomfortable in my home as there are many walls that are white.  But, really…I’m beginning to hate white, because white is the color of…


For those unfamiliar with the plight of us New Englanders, we have had over 100 inches of snow this year.  Of which 95.8 inches have fallen in the last five weeks.  The bay outside of my window is ice covered, and that ice is covered in…


For Valentine’s Day, Cathy made reservations at Rialto in Cambridge.  I could not wait to eat at the Jody Adams restaurant.  We almost didn’t go, because of…


Now, luckily, the snow didn’t get bad until later in the evening, long after we were home.  However, I had to have a backup plan, so after looking up some “romantic” recipes, I adapted one for our tastes, and here is what I did:

First, in a pan I melted butter product (I was okay using butter product for this dish) and added a bit of olive oil.  Then, I put in a couple of garlic cloves, chopped, and some red chili flakes.  After a minute or two, I put in ½ can of peeled whole tomatoes along with their juice.  (Here’s a tip I got from Rachael Rae:  Instead of squeezing the tomatoes by hand, put them in the pan whole, and then gently use a potato masher.  It worked really well, as juice didn’t fly all over the place!) I reduced that until it thickened.  Once thickened, I put some white beans into the sauce, along with some white wine, letting that cook a bit.  Meanwhile, my gluten free Schar pasta, was almost done. 

 I added some shrimp and a little bit of the pasta water and let that cook for a couple of minutes.  I reserved some pasta water, drained the pasta, put it in the pan with a bit more of the pasta water and coated the spaghetti.  You can see the result below.

This was an easy, quick meal, and very tasty.  Using the butter product cut down on the fat a bit, and overall, it was a successful dish.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Gluten Free Cioppino

There are some things I can’t do, because they are impossible.  I can’t flap my arms as fast as I can and fly.  No matter how hard I try, can’t do it.

There are some things I’d like to do, but can’t.  I can’t peel an egg.  Oh, every once in a while I get a pristine peeled egg.  But in general?  No.  And please don’t tell me you have an easy way to peel an egg.  I’ve watched every video known to mankind.  I’ve soaked them, I’ve rolled them, I’ve cracked them in the pot, heck, I've even cracked both ends and tried blowing it out.  Got a mouth full of shell on that one.  The fact is, no matter how hard I try, can’t do it.

Then there are some things that I’d like to do, but just don’t have much time for.  This blog is one of them.  Most of the second half of last year, I worked on the weekends…much as I did this weekend.  I mean, I get it, sometimes you gotta work weekends.  But I worked nearly every weekend.  And as much as I like my job, and don’t mind working a few weekends here and there, my mind became mush, and the last thing I wanted to do after sitting in front of a computer working seven days a week was to then to sit in front of a computer and write.  No matter how hard I tried, couldn’t do it.

And of course, my cooking suffered as well.  Well, I shouldn’t say suffered.  I should say it was nonexistent.  Because, after having a mushy brain, all I wanted was to stare at the television.

But until this weekend, I hadn’t worked weekends in a while.  So I thought, “I want to cook.”  As long as there are no eggs I need to peel, because…can’t do it.


I love soup, especially on a cold winter day, and although this has been a pretty good winter so far in New England, the past few weeks have been brutal.  So, a bowl of soup was just the right thing to make.

The soup I made is adapted from a Rachael Ray cioppino recipe called “A Fine Kettle of Fish.”  I’ve made it before, and it is pretty easy.  The most challenging part for me is making sure I used the kinds of fish Cathy will like.

Put ¼ cup of olive oil in a large pot, and add in crushed red pepper, garlic, a bay leaf and two or three anchovy fillets.  Yes, anchovy fillets.  They break down and give a salty flavor to the dish, as well as adding a “depth of flavor” to the dish.

Then add a couple of ribs of celery that are chopped, along with a chopped onion, and cook until softened.  Add some white wine, let it reduce for a minute, and then add a 16-ounce can of chicken stock, a 32-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, some thyme and some parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, uncovered.

Once the soup simmers, you can season and add the fish.  I added tilapia and cod.  Both are firm white fish with a mild flavor that I knew Cathy could eat.  After five minutes, I added some scallops and some shrimp, covered the pot, and gave it a good shake.  That’s so the fish won’t break up.  After ten minutes, and a few shakes later, I ladled it into some bowls, and added some chopped parsley for some color. 

It was everything I like in a soup.  Bold flavor with a little bit of heat from the crushed red pepper, with different textures from the different kinds of seafood.

As for calories, each bowl was only 337 calories, 12 grams of fat, mostly from the olive oil, 18 carbs, and 36 grams of protein.  A perfect low fat meal for a winter’s day.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bullying and Hate

Those who cannot do teach.  Those who cannot teach, teach gym. – Woody Allen

Once upon a time, there was a boy in his first year in high school.  He was in gym class and some older boys decided to play a trick on him.  One of the older boys grabbed the younger boys arms behind his back and tried to throw him in the mud.  The younger boy struggled to get out of the older boys grasp.  When he did, the older boys laughed at their friend, so the older boy hit the younger boy in the face and screamed, “What, you hit me in the balls?”  The younger boy yelled back, “How could I hit you in the balls, you had my hands behind my back!”

Later, the younger boy went to his evil gym teacher.  The younger boy said, “Hey (name here) keep your goons off me!”  To which the evil gym teacher said, “I didn’t see anything.”  The younger boy knew the evil gym teacher was lying, because the entire class turned around to see what all the yelling was about.

Have you been following the Sayreville high school football team story?  For those of you who haven’t, seven football players on the team have been arrested for allegedly hazing the freshman on the team.  Okay, I get hazing to a point…buying all the kids on the team donuts, or having to sing the school song, or something like that.  This, however, went over the line.  Way over.  Allegedly, these older boys would pin the freshman players down, in the locker room, in the dark, and shove their fingers into the boys’ rectums, and then put their fingers in the boys’ mouths.

In response, the school superintendent cancelled the rest of the season.  And the response?  Perhaps even more sickening than the actual act was the reaction of some of the parents.  “My boy wasn’t involved and he’s being punished.  He’s the victim!”


A few weeks ago, I was at Mohegan Sun playing in a poker tournament.  The conversation at the table turned to politics and the lady who sat next to me said, “I hate Obama.  I think he hates this country.”  I replied, “Well, I don’t think he is a particularly good President, but I certainly don’t think he hates this country.”  Her response?  “I’m telling you, he HATES this country, and that’s ALL THERE IS TO IT.”

There sure are a lot of hate filled people in this world. 

Just in the last few weeks, there have been stories about people in Texas riding with urine in their car and then throwing it on people.  Stories about people who put a kitten in a clothes dryer so they could watch the cat tumble in it.  Stories about how an adult at the Grand Canyon enticed a squirrel with some food, and then kicked the squirrel over the edge of the canyon.  Stories about a teacher who had a 15 year old sophomore break her rules by chewing gum in class, so the entire class, at the teacher’s insistence, threw Koosh balls at her.  I mean, why don’t you just stone her?

Oh, I forgot.  Everything bad that’s ever happened in the world is President Obama’s fault.  Oh, I mean President Bush’s fault.  Oh, I mean President Clinton’s fault.  Oh, I mean President Reagan’s fault.  Oh, I mean…

Many people think that people are inherently evil and hate filled.  I disagree.  Sure, there are some people who are just bad apples, but I continue to believe…I have to believe…I must believe…that people are inherently good.  You just have to remind kids all the time about the difference between good decisions and bad decisions. 

So to any parents out there who may read this, I once again beg you to sit down with your kids and talk to them about bullying.  About sticking up for those who are weaker.  About making the right decisions, and not giving in to peer pressure.

Many years later, the younger boy married a wonderful girl, found a well paying job, and is well liked by his friends.  And from what I hear…he’ll be cooking gluten-free turkey picatta tonight.

The End?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gluten Free Artichoke Pizza

As I was saying…

Artichokes are the ingredient I chose for Rome.  First question is:  What am I going to make?

Well, lets see.  I’d made a pasta dish, so I wanted to go somewhere different.  Salads, dips and the like all seemed too obvious.

The other issue here, is that…well…I’m not a huge fan of artichokes.  So it had to be something I was going to like.  Pizza!  

Before I went gluten free, pizza was my vice.  Every Friday night, Cathy and I would sit in front of the television and watch whatever we had video taped (remember those?) the night before.  I’m thinking it was “Survivor,” because it used to be on Thursdays, and “C.S.I.”

Anyway, I decided to make a pizza with artichokes.  I went to the store and…no artichokes.  Hmmmm…  Well, having watched Food Network enough, I know Giada uses canned artichokes from time to time, and, well, if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.

As for the ingredients on the pizza, I decided to go with quartered artichoke hearts, some hot pickled peppers, and some sliced olives.  Sounded good.  Now what about the sauce?

My thought process went something like this:  “I could go for something traditional…nah…no fun.  I could just use sliced tomatoes.  That might be good.  Again, kind of obvious.  Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil.  Hmmmmmm…I can do something with that.”

Now, as for the crust, I like the Schar pizza crust.  Actually, I like a lot of the Schar products, particularly their pastas.  You can check them out here.

As for the sauce, I decided I would take the sun-dried tomatoes, put them in a blender, and add a little bit more extra virgin olive oil, and puree it.  That would be my sauce.

Building the pizza was actually pretty easy.  I brushed the crust with extra virgin olive oil, spread the puree on top, added low fat pizza cheese, then put the veggies on top, and put the whole thing into a 475 degree oven for about 8 minutes.

The flavors were fantastic!  I loved the heat from the peppers, the tartness of the olives and, as for the artichokes…well, I don’t really know how to describe the taste of an artichoke.   Not sweet, not bitter, not salty.  I would say that it fit the flavor profile of what I was trying to accomplish, so it worked!

As for calories…okay, remember when I said pizza was my vice?  I mean, c’mon, did you ever LOOK at the size of these gluten free pizza crusts??!!

So, the calories, using the entire crust, totaled 685.  20 grams of fat, but a lot of that fat came from the extra virgin olive oil. 

And, you know what?  It’s okay to indulge once in a while!