Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gluten-Free Recipe: Chocolate Coconut Brownie

Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Brownie

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Coconut Brownie Recipe

I always love a good brownie!  And, with chocolate and coconut, this dessert (or snack) is a welcome treat from the kitchen and is fairly simple to prepare and bake.

This is a recipe that I would have loved to put in our Gluten-Free Recipes book, but we didn't have it ready in time for inclusion. This brownie is wonderful in both taste and texture! And, it holds up quite nicely - I have allowed leftovers to sit out for a week and they were fine.

Here's a link to the recipe: Gluten-Free Recipe: Chocolate Coconut Brownie. Sadly, I would have had it posted online sooner if it were not for the nightmare of dealing with a downed internet connection for a while, that that is another story, and a frustrating one at that.

It features a semi-sweet, dark-chocolate flavor with hints of coconut. It's rather dense and torte-like too. Laura used some coconut flour in this recipe, along with the other GF ingredients like chocolate chips, cocoa, and condensed milk. Sorry, but this latest recipe is not dairy-free for all of you on the casein-free diet, but it is Celiac Disease safe! And, it is quite delicious.

I ate nearly the whole brownie over the period of a week. It made a great breakfast, dessert, and snack item for me, whether served plain or with ice cream.  For a variation, you can add a bit of coffee to the recipe for a nice mocha flavor too.   I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Trip to new Cleveland Whole Foods Market

We made it to the new Cleveland Whole Foods Market today that just opened on Wednesday this week. If the crowd at the store this Friday evening was any indication of the pent up demand for such a store here, then the future is looking bright for Whole Foods!

The place was utterly packed with shoppers! Though, from what we were told, the Grand Opening day just two days earlier made our shopping group look small by comparison. They even had police directing traffic in the parking lot to keep things flowing today - I can not imagine how heavy the crowd was earlier in the week. After entering the store, it seemed like half the time we could not even move our shopping cart until a few around us did the same.

I do not typically care for shopping in such a busy place, and the only other store I regularly go to that is so busy is the local Trader Joes. The experience today was not unpleasant, but rather just a bit too busy feeling for me. But, the workers were all very friendly, and they were handing out reusable canvas type shopping bags to each visitor as they entered the store. Those bags sure came in handy later when I discovered that I could easily put 40 pounds of the heavier goods into one bag without worrying about it ripping like plastic or paper would have done :)

Now, I must admit, I will put up with crowds at Whole Foods to gain access to a few more gluten-free and specialty items I have not found elsewhere. There is a particular Thai Chilli sauce (gluten-free) that my wife found at the Columbus Whole Foods Market a few months back that we just ran out of - and we use it on all sorts of things (really wonderful on BBQ ribs! mmm!) Laura checked the Chicago Whole Foods for the sauce when she was there on business last week, but they were out of it... luckily, the new Cleveland store had it and we stocked up.

There were also a few very timely promotions/sales that I took advantage of today. They actually had the Enjoy-Life gluten-free granolas that I really like on sale for basically half off ($2.25/box)! Needless to say, the local store (as of a few hours ago) no longer has any of the cinnamon variety in stock - unless they had more in storage somewhere :)

I also stocked up on some other wonderful products I like that I plan to write a bit more about here in my gluten-free blog in the coming days. Some were on sale, others were just "must haves" for me regardless.

After a much-delayed opening, I can now finally welcome Whole Foods to Cleveland, and instead of going to Columbus once every 6 or 9 months, I can conveniently just drive about 1/2 hour to the new store whenever I get the urge (which, will certainly be once every couple months at the most). Perhaps the initial crowds will die down a bit by then, though who knows -- this region has been starved for some great shopping alternatives.

Lately, after Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFMI) announced their intentions to purchase rival Wild Oats (NASDAQ:OATS), their stock price has not really shown much investor enthusiasm for the acquisition. Perhaps all this Cleveland enthusiasm for their new store will also spark a bit of investor interest as well? Time will tell. Until then, it's time to simply sit back and at least enjoy the food they sell here in Cleveland now :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Foreign Gluten-Free and Celiac Blogs

I want to help anyone that just speaks English to be able to read some of the foreign blog postings and understand the basics of what is being communicated. There is this wonderful tool called Google Translate that we are going to use. I use this all the time when I need a few "hints" to work through the meaning of certain Spanish, German, French, or Russian web sites. I can usually get the gist of a discussion without it, but I often have trouble deciphering some of the more complex conjugations.

So, if you want to translate a blog posting, here is what to do:
  1. In your browser, from the foreign-language news page you are on, go to the address bar (at top of browser), right-click (your mouse) and choose either "Copy Link Location" (Firefox) or "Copy Shortcut" (IE) or "Copy" (Google Chrome).
  2. Go to Google Translate 
  3. There will be an edit-box that with a note under it stating "Type text or a website address or translate a document."Place your cursor in that box, then right-click (mouse) and choose "Paste" - this should have pasted the URL of the news-item into the edit box (e.g., https://gluten-free-blog.blogspot.com/2007/03/foreign-gluten-free-and-celiac-blogs.html).
  4. Now, directly above the box where you put the address, there are drop-downs for selecting the from/to languages (as well as "detect language" option, which is generally pretty good at figuring things out) .
  5. Press the "Translate" Button to the right, and, Voilà, you should (after a few seconds) be presented with a translation of the gluten-free blog posting - at least a pseudo-translation that is close enough to garner the general meaning from.
Now you can join in on the global, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual gluten-free and celiac news and blog postings when you encounter them. Google Translate also offers the ability to translate a block of English to another language in case you feel compelled to post responses to any blogs, but, I warn you ahead of time: do not expect the reader in the other language to always understand exactly what you post, though it is pretty decent at conversions. 

Also, from experience, the language translator software does better at converting simple phrasings - so, don't get too fancy with any replies unless you know the target language well enough to know if what the tool produces is somewhat accurate :)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gluten-Free Montezuma's Chocolate from the UK

I am nothing short of a chocoholic - I just rarely find myself having too much of such a great thing. And, as a connoisseur of chocolate as well, I love great dark chocolate and specialty chocolates from all around the world. Sometimes I find a new and wonderful bar of chocolate at a general retailer, and other times I have encountered some excellent chocolate shops while on a trip to a different city.

Most recently, I have had the luck and luxury of getting some absolutely fantastic chocolates from the United Kingdom - from a place called Montezuma's. This place creates luxury hand made organic quality chocolates, and certifies most of their varieties as gluten-free! (certainly a huge plus for me!)

Sadly, I did not pick up my chocolates first hand (sad, because I would have welcomed a trip to the UK), but instead had them delivered to me courtesy of our daughter who spent her Spring-break in the UK fulfilling her college's international-studies requirement during a study-abroad program that was chaperoned by a few college professors. And, during her 8 days in and around London touring sites of historical significance to 19th-century literature, she happened upon the Montezuma's Chocolate store and instantly thought of bringing some back for me. And, she definitely struck gold as far as I'm concerned.

The first chocolate bar to catch my attention was this one - the Emporor Bar: Chilli Chocolate [note from the future: this product seems to have been phased out]:

I have had similar bars before, that combine the subtle heat of chili peppers with the richness of dark chocolate, but this one was definitely a cut above. It was nothing short of spectacular! As you can see (if you followed the hyperlink above), the chocolate is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and organic too -- so, it must be good for you! :)

Next, my daughter presented me with a small bag of these truffles.

What I instantly found rather scary about the product is how the ingredients label shows Wheat Syrup in the product! So, I go and look at the web-site again, and read about the truffles. Check out this page about the Vegan Truffles for example, and how they are listed as Gluten-Free. Moreso, look at the part that states:
"*Wheat Syrup is certified as Gluten free "
Wow! Now that is a bit counter-intuitive to me after being programmed to avoid anything with wheat in it. It surely wouldn't be considered gluten-free here in the United States, but I can also see how, if one was to just isolate the sugars from the wheat, that there would be no gluten in the resulting syrup. You'll see this wheat-syrup in quite a few of their truffles. Honestly, I just don't know what to make of it all. Gluten-Free, but yet with wheat-products in it. If you don't already know, much of Europe also considers pure wheat-starch as gluten-free too, since all the gluten (proteins) have been removed.
So, call me the guinea pig... my curiosity got the best of me, and my addiction to chocolate doesn't help matters either. Keep in mind, I am very conscientious about watching what I eat and avoiding gluten too. I just decided I would try a bite of the truffle knowing that, were I in the UK, I would only be eating what is considered gluten-free. Hopefully it truly is 100% safe for consumption. If not, I'm sure I'll know in the next few hours.

Though the truffle was good, I definitely preferred the chocolate chilli bar. That was just extraordinary! And, since my daughter only brought a couple small bars back with her, I had to do some quick thinking about how to acquire more of them. Talk about good timing... one of my employees is working on a project in London this week, and he said there is a good chance he'll be quite near the chocolate store. Good thing, since Montezuma's won't mail shipments overseas.
So, with luck, I'll have a supply of those wonderfully rich and spicy treats for a while! And, I feel much safer sticking with the chocolate bars that do not have any wheat-syrup in them (gluten free or not - the sound of that ingredient still disturbs me on some level).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Finally - Whole Foods in Cleveland!

I have anxiously been awaiting the arrival of Whole Foods Market in Cleveland, Ohio (Chagrin Location), ever since I was told they'd open a store hear nearly a year ago. The opening date kept getting pushed off, but now it has been finalized for next week! The new store is located in University Heights at Cedar and Warrensville Center Roads - basically just North of John Caroll University, and to the West of Beachwood Place Mall and Legacy Village.

Update: there are also these two more locations nowWhole Foods Market in Cleveland, Ohio (Cedar Center Location), and also Whole Foods Market in Cleveland, Ohio (Rocky Rivery Location), .

According to Whole Food's website, the official opening will be Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 at 10:00AM. Wouldn't you know, it is the one day I have a meeting scheduled all morning, so I can't be one of the first to attend - oh well, I guess I'll have to wait, perhaps until the following weekend.

Here are the full announcement details that'll give you an idea of what the store will offer:
Imagine produce so lush and colorful — any fresher and you would have to pick it yourself! Organic roses and fresh cut flowers. Fresh seafood delivered six days a week, shellfish, shrimp and fresh seafood soups. An old-style butcher shop with dry aged beef, 30 varieties of fresh sausage made on the premises and a large selection of entrees ready to pop in the oven or on the grill.
We offer over 300 cheeses, many organic, from producers all over the world. A self serve olive bar featuring over 20 varieties of olives, antipasta bar, coffee roaster and over 1800 wines! Breads from sandwich to crusty European style baked fresh in store, plus tortes, muffins, pies, cakes, cookies and other tempting delights!
Our team of chefs are busy making restaurant-quality take-out entrees and sides for quick and easy meals. Or try our 2 salad bars, hot bar, fresh, hot soups and sushi made right before your eyes. Stop by our 18 seat Tratorria featuring hot Italian entrees and hearth-baked pizza. Take items home or enjoy them in our 80 seat café.
Stroll down the grocery aisles to find natural and organic products from cereal to balsamic vinegar. Check out our 365 Everyday Value line for great items at great prices! Our bulk section features over 300 items including grains, spices and nuts and dried fruits. In our Whole Body department, treat yourself to all-natural skin care and body products for men, women, children and babies. Look for natural cosmetics and a large selection of supplements, herbs and vitamins.
In addition to all that, we will offer items that are locally grown and produced.
I certainly am looking forward to no longer needing to drive 2 hours to Columbus Ohio just to pick up some of my favorite gluten-free foods that Whole Foods sells. They carry a few gluten-free items that I have not located anywhere else, and have their 365 Everyday Value house brand that offers a few gluten-free items uniquely their own.

I still can't help wonder what Whole Foods plans to do with the Wild Oats store at Chagrin Blvd (since WF has purchased Wild Oats), but I have to believe they will rebrand it and give it some upgrades. I'm just not sure the existing Wild Oats location is big enough to fit their typical look/feel though. Time will tell.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Gluten-Free Cake Longevity test done.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bundt Cake: passes the freezer-longevity test!

How Long can a Gluten-Free Cake last in the Freezer?

Late last year (December 9th, 2006 specifically), Laura created a Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pumpkin Bundt Cake Recipe that we posted here on the glutenfree blog. Since then, we have received a few emails, and even some phone calls, from people that have tried it and really enjoyed it. And, we have also had a few people ask how well this, and other gluten-free desserts we've created, hold up if we freeze them.

Well, I am happy to report that our long-term longevity test on the GF Pumpkin Cake has just been completed, and the results are quite nice. Laura finally took the cake out of the freezer after 4 months, and put it out to thaw a few evenings ago. Then, the next morning, we had some for breakfast. It remained quite moist and delicious, and maintained its original taste and texture just fine. And, I continued to eat it over the coming days. It held up beautifully!

The only preparation, prior to freezing, was to wrap the cake completely in tin-foil, and then place the wrapped cake inside a large sealed plastic freezer-bag (like, a gallon-size zip-lock or similar). That combination seems to have done the trick with regards to sealing in the flavor and moisture.

So, that experiment should help answer the question about how long some of these gluten-free desserts (at least cakes) hold up in the freezer. I also know the cheesecakes out of my book also perform very well, since I like to make one and freeze all but a couple pieces. Then, I pull a chunk out of the freezer every few weeks over a period of months when I get the urge (this is much quicker way to obtain a "fix" when you just have to have your cheesecake in a hurry!) It's always nice to have a piece of celiac-safe chocolate cheesecake close at hand in a crunch!

When I put the cheesecakes in the freezer, I simply cut the entire cake into reasonable sized pieces, and put each piece into a small zip-lock type sandwich/freezer bag. I also like to use a permanent marker to write the date placed in the freezer, just in case one somehow gets "lost" in there for five years before I find it -- I doubt it'd be quite as tasty after half a decade. :)

If you want to read the original gluten-free blog post about the pumpkin cake, here is a link to the December, 2006 blog entry about the gluten-free pumpkin-bundt cake.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.