Thursday, August 20, 2009

TWIST/Seattle -- Reviewed by HypFoods Host, Chantelle Maccarone

Recently, in search of somewhere Hyp to eat, I ventured into Belltown along with my dinner companions. A nifty little app on the iPhone pointed us to Twist and we decided to give it a go.

The first big joy at this Hyp little spot is that their Happy Hour on Sunday through Thursday goes from 4pm to 11pm. That means that for all you hard working folks out there, you can get off work, navigate the traffic and still have plenty of time to enjoy the wide range of wallet-friendly fare including cocktails at Twist.

Intrigued by this recession-busting invitation, we grabbed a table in the hall of this club-like restaurant and ordered a round of Belvedere cocktails that were each $6 or under. Those of you out there who know your vodka and even those who don’t should be as impressed as I was that a premium liquor could cost so little and it is not the only one on the menu.

As we perused past the “Bar fare” part of the menu and onto the “Light fare” section, we quickly discovered a large array of items ranging in price from $2.50 to $10 and including everything from a simple Chips and Salsa to a New York Strip. We decided to start off with some Hummus ($2.50), Seared Diver Scallops ($6), Chips and Salsa ($2.50), Crab Mac and Cheese – declared by Chef Turner as possibly the best ever ($5), and Chipotle Prawns ($10). You should know that there were 3 of us in this little party.

The drinks arrived, followed by the food shortly after and I have to say that I was more than impressed with what we got for the money. I am always looking for a good deal and now I know I have found it. Everything we ate was delicious to say the least and I was impressed with the size of the order in association with the cost.

The salsa that accompanied the chips was a little spicy but had a wonderful flavor to it. The Hummus was smooth with a hint of peanut which was a nice addition to the usual chickpea. The Scallops were a little overdone the first time, but were speedily replaced by a perfect batch and had a delicious sauce on top that really made the dish. The prawns we accompanied by a very tasty corn pancake. To quote another member of the party, the Crab Mac and Cheese was to die for and would definitely be added to his “Last Meal” list.

At this point, we were “all in” for this amazing food! We finished our dining experience with an order of Chipotle Beef tacos ($3.50) and Crispy Skin Salmon ($10). The Tacos came out amazingly fast and had a tantalizing salsa on top that really made them complete. The salmon may have been one of the best things we had all night, although it is hard to say so when everything was so temptingly memorable. The skin was crisp and the Salmon was moist. It was accompanied by a corn salsa that was sweet and buttery. This dish was every bit as heavenly as the Crab Mac and Cheese, yet totally unique and gluten free.

Concerning Twist’s attitude toward food allergies in our party, the very helpful server simply disappeared into the kitchen with a smile and returned with a paper copy of the menu which had been reviewed by the Chef. Anything that wasn’t safe for us to eat was simply marked off the menu and we were left with plenty of Hyp choices.

When the bill finally came, I was impressed that it totaled under $60! Wow! Three patrons, three premium cocktails, plus all the food we wanted with the added bonus that the whole affair was cost effective, too! That is totally Hyp!

If you are looking to hold a quiet business dinner, then Twist may not be for you as the atmosphere is lively and loud. However; if you are looking to go out and have a good time, a few drinks and some great food on a budget, then this is definitely the place for you. Twist also has a large dining room overlooking Elliott Bay that can be rented out for parties or gatherings and would be a fun and fairly cost effective place to have that yearly office party or surprise birthday for a friend.

It is not often that I like to eat at the same place more then once in a week but I could be very happy if I went to Twist again tomorrow.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So what's the deal with Coconut Water?

Haven't you heard about this natural wonder? I first became interested in coconut water when I was battling insulin resistance and experiencing chronic dehydration/thirst. I had heard on a PBS documentary that it was used as a substitute for emergency blood plasma during the Second World War, Pacific theater.

That reminded me of how much I loved coconut water as a child in South Florida. We had coconut palms on our property and it was an afternoon of entertainment with Gran to husk the fruit, crack the nut and drink the juice stored within.

CLICK here for the SCOOP. What all this means if you are into mixology is this: if you ignore coconut water, you squander a chance to be GOOD to your patrons!

There are those who say you can kick a hangover to the curb with coconut water, too. HypFoods advocates for responsible use of mixology & consumption, avoiding the hangover punishment altogether!

Friday, August 14, 2009

GF Pasta Making with Chef Sabrina Tinsley of Osteria La Spiga on Seattle's First Hill

Earlier this summer, HypFoods was thrilled to participate in La Spiga's gluten free cooking class. Learning with Chef Sabrina is a real treat! She's friendly, fun, and practical, as well as skillful in the kitchen. We captured some video to show you just how rewarding it is to learn at La Spiga! Yes, class includes lunch & wine! Plus: proof that it can be done! We CAN make our own gluten free pasta!

CLICK Read More link (below the video display) to view recipes!

Gluten Free Pasta from Croquet Creative on Vimeo.

The machine-formed pasta featured in this video was made from a recipe that was shared with Chef Sabrina by GlutenFreeGirl, Shauna Ahern.

Tagliatelle di Mais

For the pasta dough:

2/3 Cup Corn Flour
2/3 Cup Potato STARCH (not Potato Flour)
2/3 Cup Sweet Rice Flour (I found mine in the Asian Foods section of my grocery)
3 TBS Xanthan Gum
4 Eggs (room temp)
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 TBS Olive Oil

> Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl
> Make a well in the flour mixture and drop in the eggs
> Whisk eggs with a fork, gradually pulling in the flour mixture from the borders
> Continue whisking with a fork until dough is stiff enough to work with your hands
> Knead the dough and gradually work into a ball
> NOTE: dough will be quite stiff, unlike softer products containing gluten
> Let the dough rest for 10 min before proceeding
> Roll out dough using a rolling pin or your pasta machine
> Cut the pasta with tagliatelle blade on your machine or with a sharp knife
> Drop into gently boiling water and simmer for about 3 minutes
> Fresh pasta will NOT be al dente
> Serve with your favorite sauce and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Twisted GF Lasagna

Let's say your best friend phoned this afternoon to confirm that she's coming to your place for dinner this weekend -- and she's bringing along a very hot date! How exciting! She needs just one small favor, though. Her date is gluten free. Can you cover that?

Of course you can. It's not that difficult anymore.

Lasagna is one of those dishes that nearly everyone loves and gluten free folks have longed for, even dreamed about. It looks impressive and is actually very easy to prepare. Over the course of the next twelve months, HypFoods is featuring a specialty lasagna each month. We're kicking off the series with a video covering two lasagnas prepared for one meal: a traditional dish and a small gluten free Twisted GF Lasagna, entirely gluten free with a tangy twist imparted by a goat's milk yogurt modification. The webisode illustrates how easy it is make a family size portion of lasagna with a smaller gluten free preparation for a guest or a single family member who is gluten free. We'll tweet about it when it comes out of post.

First things first. Does your gluten free dinner guest eat cheese? Many people who are clinically allergic to gluten also have trouble with dairy products. If this is the case for your guest, then cancel the whole lasagna plan and switch to steaks or fish and a side salad.

If you get the green light on dairy, then here's what you need for the Twisted GF Lasagna:

1/2 lb ground chemical free beef chuck
1/3 lb ground sausage
(Wellshire sausage products are gluten free & chemical free, available at Whole Foods)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 slices Boar's Head Mozzarella cheese (Boar's Head meats & cheeses are all gluten free)
1 cup of premium organic goat's milk yogurt
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
6-8 leaves of sweet basil, chopped
1 qt gluten free seasoned tomato sauce (Annie's Naturals, Mezzetta's Napa Valley Bistro, etc -- the label will be printed to indicate a gluten free product)
1 pkg of Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles

Begin by bringing a large quantity of water to a boil. Add a little olive oil and some salt, then drop in your lasagna noodles. Cook according to package directions. If you are preparing a small portion to fit into a loaf pan, you will only need 3 or 4 noodles. At HypFoods, we have tried many, many gluten free noodle products and Tinkyada Brown Rice products are by far the best in taste, texture and versatility. They also provide a lower glycemic load than other pasta products because brown rice has a dramatically lower call than other grains upon the insulin response.

Brown the meats in a skillet over medium heat with a little salt. Meat is actually optional in lasagna, but we like it. We try to have one or two meatless dinners per week, but not on lasagna night. When browned to your preference, remove the ground meats to a stainless colander and set aside.

By the time your meats are browned, the noodles will likely be finished as well. When your meat has drained, remove it to a plate or bowl and drain the noodles in the same stainless colander. NOTE: This emphasis on stainless is important because people who are clinically allergic to gluten may suffer a reaction to specks of gluten that have infiltrated plastic or wooden utensils like spoons, colanders, etc. Stainless presents the best option for a home kitchen.

As your noodles are cooling to the point that you can handle them, beat the egg in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add the goat's milk yogurt, xanthan gum and chopped basil. Stir to blend. This will replace the ricotta in your lasagna. It will look thin in the bowl, but will cook up into a sort of custard that resembles ricotta in appearance, but provides the delicious, tangy twist to this dish.

Now you're ready to begin layering. Lay out the noodles on a cookie sheet and coat one side with a shmear of olive oil. This will simply make them easier to handle. Tinkyada's Brown Rice pasta is firm and handles very well in this construction phase, unlike many traditional pastas that want to shred as you handle them.

Place a layer of noodle on the bottom of your baking dish or loaf pan. We like the disposable aluminum pans because there is no laborious clean-up after dinner. Add a layer of sauce, a layer of browned meat, a layer of the yogurt blend, a layer of mozzarella and repeat until you have nearly reached the top of the pan. Finish with a layer of cheese, then cover your pan with a lid or a foil cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese on top has browned, then remove from the oven and allow the lasagna to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and service.

This recipe serves 2-4 people, depending on appetite. Double or triple the recipe to serve more people OR to include a freezer portion for a future mealtime. Serve with a side salad of mixed greens and mandarin orange segments. Pair with a Sangiovese or a Pinot Rose. Offer plenty of sparkling water and lemon wedges. Make dessert a simple lemon-lime ice or sorbet

Lasagna photo credit: Susan McKee

Friday, August 7, 2009

HypFoods Big Tip: Cutting Food Costs with

If you've been on the hypoallergenic food scene for any length of time, you already know that we are entering a most exciting period as food advocates and businesses come to terms with the realities of a large consumer population with special needs arising from numerous food allergies.

If you're new to this scene, rejoice! It's much easier these days to find convenience foods that accomodate your requirements than ever before. As consumers become more outspoken about their needs and more willing to purchase the new product offerings, the market will grow. Prices will reach a favorable range and job growth will be stimulated by consumer demand.

Nearly gone are the days when your only option was to bake your gluten free goods from scratch and to spend many hours and dollars in painstaking experiments with the various alternate flours and starches to find a combination that serves your nutrition needs and tastes good to your family.

Evidence of the new bounty arrived in my inbox this week in the form of an announcement that Amazon is now offering gluten free groceries in their subscribe and save program.

I have been a regular subscriber of foods that work for us for years. It just makes good sense for me and for the planet. Most of the staple foods that keep our household running smoothly are available from Amazon and often for a better price than general retail. If an item costs more, or if there is an exorbitant shipping cost attached to the purchase, then I won't buy online. However, if the price is appropriate, I will buy my "hypfoods" from Amazon and have them delivered to my doorstep.

With an Amazon Prime membership, most items are available for second day delivery at no additional cost. The UPS truck is going to be on the route anyway, so I save fuel and time while reducing my carbon footprint by managing food needs in this way.

Additionally, using "subscribe and save" through Amazon, the food choices are available as case lots at additional savings averaging 5-15% discount over shelf prices and they come straight to my door on scheduled intervals that I specify for each item.

The carousel leading this article shows a mixed variety of the staple gluten free foods available now from this rich source. These include the Kind bars currently being offered by Starbucks and the new Betty Crocker gluten free mixes.

You can buy Annie's Rice Pasta Mac & Cheese or Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice noodle products. Keep in mind that Brown Rice is often a better choice for those who must also manage their blood sugar closely. Tinkyada is my personal favorite, but I've also included Bionaturae noodles. I love Bionaturae products and their noodles are fabulous. They cook very nicely and provide a level of culinary satisfaction that is unexpected in gluten free products, but the flour blend used includes soy, so it is not well tolerated by those with soy allergies.

There is a selection of pre-made gluten free cookies and crackers, as well as a wide variety of bread mix products and certified gluten free oats. There is no better therapy than preparing your own meals from scratch, giving thought to and thanks for the labor and goodness that brought the food to your kitchen, but the truth is we don't always have the time or energy to do everything from scratch. I like to make my own bread and feel the very literal connection to a vast rainbow of men and women who have shared this simple and essential task, but I am also thankful to know that we have choices that will not do us harm.

Remember that most prices are for bulk purchases, not single items, and that each food product on Amazon displays a page of nutritional data (including the list of individual ingredients). You will find the link to this data at the top of each food product page, just beneath the product name.

Whether you work from scratch or from convenience, explore the Amazon website for grocery supplies and share the joy of having good choices.