Friday, September 9, 2011

I was ready for football, but Big Al's wasn't ready for me

I love football. And before I went gluten free, I would enjoy going to Sports bars on occasion. Besides sports, a sports bar generally offers 2 things: 1. Beer and 2. Bar food- which consists of burgers and many deep fried things (and sometimes pizza). This doesn't really bode well for the gluten free crowd. But, with the promise of a gluten free burger bun on the menu, we headed out to Big Al's anyway.

First off, let me say, Big Al's IS a great place to watch a game, and looks like it would be a really fun place to bowl a few games. With 3 huge screens and several other screens in the sports bar area, watching the game is no problem, no matter what game you came to watch.

When we arrived, after taking in the enormousness of the place, we took a look at the menu. Indeed gluten free buns were available. The problem however, quickly became evident shortly after that. It turns out, you can order a burger, but you can't really get anything that is supposed to come with it. Fries? Nope, they're beer battered. Chips? Nope, cooked in the same oil as the fries and seasoned with gluten, according to our server. Caesar Salad without croutons? No, the dressing has gluten? Plain lettuce with vinaigrette was our only option- all the other dressings had gluten. For future reference I asked our server if the chips used in the nachos were corn. He said yes, but they have gluten. I clarified- are they fried in the same oil as gluten containing products, or do they actually have gluten in them? They have gluten in them he confirmed. So, we could eat the plain proteins and gluten free bun and that was about it according to our helpful server.

So, I got a chicken sandwich, with bacon. My wife got a burger. They tried to give us some chips, even though we'd already had that discussion with the server. The gluten free bun was fine, maybe bordering on good. Taste wise, it was pretty decent for bar food. However, even after all the conversation with our server and back and forth with the kitchen, and my lame salad, I'm pretty sure I STILL got glutened. I had an upset stomach all night on into the morning.

The bottom line is this: if you are looking for a gluten free place to watch the game, Big Al's is currently not an option. However, if you can eat gluten, and for some reason want to enjoy a gluten free burger bun, Big Al's is there just for you.

p.s. If you know a good place for GF Portlanders to watch a game, please post it in the comments section here. I for one, am dying to know!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to the Blogosphere

I read in a book recently that to develop a following with a blog you have to post EVERY DAY. That probably explains why I have very few followers. Sorry I haven't been very good about posting lately. We just moved. But now we are somewhat settled and I'm back to blogging.

I have a couple things coming up that I'll tell you about now:

  • A review of Scratch restaurant in Lake Oswego. We had a chance to go here for my wife's birthday.

  • I plan on making gluten free donuts this weekend. I'll let you know how this experiment goes.

Also, to all the gluten free folks in the Portland metro area (and maybe elsewhere?)- check out your local Grocery Outlet, they have some really great gluten free pasta in right now (at least at the one in Tigard).

That's all for now, but I'll post more, I promise!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gluten free bread and brownies at many Subways starting Monday 7/11

Starting May 11 many Oregon (and SW Washington?) Subway locations will be offering gluten free bread. I don't have a whole lot of information on this, but you can confirm this information here: and here: and here: Apparently Portland is the second test city after success in Texas. While I was always a Quizno's kinda guy pre-GF, I'm willing to give this a try. I've had salads from Subway in the past with no problems. Most of the meats are gluten free with some fairly obvious exceptions- teriyaki chicken and meatballs.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pan Fried Chicken

Gluten free fried chicken is not only possible, but it can actually be better than the gluten version. It doesn't really require a recipe- just wet and dry ingredients. This fried chicken is nice and crispy on the outside, and perfectly moist on the inside.

Wet ingredients-- If you are okay with dairy, soak your chicken pieces for about at least a couple hours (preferably longer) in some buttermilk. If you don't use dairy, use some coconut or other non-dairy milk and if it is not thick enough to coat then use an egg. I also mix some dijon mustard into the wet mix.

Dry ingredients-- Coat the chicken with a mixture of 2 parts rice flour to 1 part cornstarch with whatever your favorite blend of spices is (I use garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper). Once coated, shake off excess flour mixture.

Frying- Fill a straight-sided saute pan or cast iron skillet with enough oil or shortening to come halfway up your chicken pieces. Heat the oil to 325 degrees. Cook the chicken until golden brown on first side, then flip and cook until golden brown on opposite side. If you insert a thermometer, the temperature should read around 165. If you are using larger pieces of chicken, you may want to have an oven pre-heated to about 375 on standby. If the chicken is browned on the stovetop but not cooked through, finish the cooking on a sheet pan fitted with a rack in the oven.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

(Gluten Free) Biscuits & (Dairy Free) Gravy

I have to admit, I got a little upset at a random friend on Facebook not that long ago. I don't even remember who it was, and I had no right to get upset. But they had posted something about going to Pine State Biscuits. For those who don't know, Pine State serves up (arguably) the best biscuits and gravy in town, and perhaps one of the best in the country. Pre gluten free I was able to enjoy Pine State a couple of times. The Reggie Deluxe is one of those vivid food memories you will never forget. So, when someone posts that they ate at Pine State, it stirs up memories, and makes me a little upset and sad.

I am happy to report that I am no longer mad that I can't enjoy biscuits and gravy at Pine State. I was actually able to make excellent biscuits and gravy at home, and you can too!

Step 1- Biscuits

You'd think making gluten free biscuits would be the most difficult step in biscuits and gravy. But I promise, it really wasn't that difficult. This photo is from the first batch of gluten free biscuits I've ever made in my life. They turned out nicely browned and flaky. They were soft, but with a nice crunch on the outside.

  • 1/4 cup Spectrum Organic butter flavored palm shortening
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk (So Delicious) or other milk substitute
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 1 cup gluten free flour mix
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Heat oven to about 425 degrees.

Blend the wet ingredients (shortening, milk, egg) in a food processor until incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until incorporated into a soft dough.

Using an ice cream scoop (preferably spring loaded) drop evenly sized portions onto a lined baking sheet. If you want a more uniform looking biscuit spray some pan spray on a round cookie cutter and put it over the biscuit then spread the dough out with a wet spatula until even.

Bake about 13 minutes or until browned.

Step 2- The Gravy

Sausage gravy is pretty simple, and it only takes a couple of adjustments to make it gluten and dairy free.
  • 1 pound pork breakfast sausage (no casing- remove if present)
  • 2 tablespoons white rice flour
  • Dairy free milk- about 1 1/2 cups- you might use more if you like runnier gravy
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

In a large skillet on medium-high heat cook the sausage, breaking it up into chunks until it is almost fully cooked and the fat has rendered into the pan. Add rice flour and continue to cook about 1-2 minutes.

Add the milk slowly, about 1/2 cup at first- scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the good bits. Add the rest of the milk. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the gravy has reached the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3- Assemble and eat

It doesn't have to be pretty. Just cut a biscuit in half, slop on some gravy, and if desired, cook up an egg on the side. There you have it- gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free biscuits and gravy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Divine Pies (simulcast @

This review was written for my brother's website Make Me Some Pie and I decided to post it here as well for my readers.

The Portland Farmer’s Market has a surprising number of merchants selling gluten free baked goods these days. But how many are selling gluten free, dairy free, almost completely raw pies? So far I count only one, and that is Divine Pies.

Owner Alissa started making these pies when she was on a cleansing diet, eating strictly raw foods for a period of about 6 months. I was craving sweets like crazy, and I started checking all these books out of the library on raw food and raw dessert making. I went on this raw pie making kick, because I loved how they were so nutrient dense, full of protein, totally rich, not too sweet, and didn't require extensive sprouting or dehydrating like a lot of other raw foods,” she said.

Eventually she began developing recipes and testing them out with friends. Alissa went on to explain “it took off as a business after I brought the chocolate hazelnut pie to a friend's birthday party a few years ago. This girl who was at the party was thinking of starting a food cart in an old streetcar, and wanted to feature my pies there. Long story short, I ended up becoming her business partner and designing a whole raw foods, juice, smoothie and pie menu for the cart.”

The pies ended up being the streetcar’s most popular items, and people would flock to the location every week to find out what new and exciting pie was waiting for them. Eventually the popularity of the pies led her to leave the streetcar for a tent at the market. “I decided after a while that i didn't need to be sitting in the rain everyday of the week in an expensive flashy vehicle just to sell my pies. All I needed was an umbrella and a card table at the farmers market,” said Alissa.

A number of flavors were available at the market the day I went. One that was memorable was the white chocolate lavender cheesecake, and also there was a pretty good rendition of a key lime pie. But for my review, I had to go with the pie that started it all: Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie.

Presentation- I like the look of the pie. It is made in its own individual tin. You might not think it okay to eat a whole pie, but this one is little and (comparatively speaking) good for you. Ingredients are listed on the package and the list is pretty simple: Crust- hazelnuts, coconut flakes, dates, cinnamon, salt. Filling- fresh hazelnut milk, young coconut meat, dates, coconut oil, cacao, vanilla extract, lecithin (the only non raw ingredient), cinnamon and salt. Alissa told me the hazelnuts are from Freddy Guy’s hazelnuts, whose booth happens to be right next to her at the Farmer’s Market. She tries to source as many local ingredients as possible.

Crust- Okay, so if you are a pie purist, it isn’t really much of a crust. It isn’t rolled or baked, it isn’t even dough. However, it does provide the desired effect in terms of contrast in flavor and texture. Oh yeah, and it tastes good.

Filling- If you look at the ingredients, nothing seems to sound particularly creamy. I would have expected to see something like coconut milk or cream listed, but it was not. Despite that, the filling is very creamy- a nice velvety texture. This tastes like a good chocolate mousse. It is hard to believe that this was achieved without the aid of eggs, cream, sugar or milk. This certainly didn’t taste raw. It was sweet, but not overly so.

Overall rating- 4 out of 5- This is a good dessert. It isn’t pie in the strictest sense. I really enjoy a good crust, which was hard to achieve in this (mostly) raw pie. Still, it was very good. It requires skill to achieve these unique flavors without cooking anything, even more so without gluten or dairy, but Alissa pulls it off. Highly recommended.

You can find Divine Pies at the Portland (PSU) Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, as well as online at If a little personal size pie isn’t enough for you , special orders are available. Just let Alissa know a few days ahead of time and you can have a delicious full-size pie for your special event or just because. They serve about 10-12 people- so you might want to share.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Caramel Apple Pie Recipe- GF, DF, Refined Sugar Free

Caramel Sauce- see recipe here

Crust (adapted from Carol Fenster’s 1000 Gluten Free Recipes)

  • 1 cup gluten free flour mix (like Bob’s Red Mill or mix your own- I use a mix of Sorghum flour or Brown Rice Flour (35%), Cornstarch (35%- you could also use potato starch or arrowroot) and Tapioca Flour (35%)
  • ¾ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup sweet rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour*)
  • 3 tablespoons of palm sugar or granulated honey, divided
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup Palm Shortening (non-hydrogenated- Spectrum Organic is what I use- try the new "butter" flavor)
  • ½ cup unsweetened Coconut Milk (I use So Delicious brand) or unsweetened rice milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg beaten with a touch of water or coconut milk (a tablespoon or so) for egg wash

Place flours, 2 tablespoons of palm sugar or granulated honey, xanthan and guar gums, salt, baking soda and shortening in a food processor and process until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the milk and lemon juice and process until the dough forms a ball. You might need to add slightly more liquid, but be careful not to add too much. Once most of the dough comes together, remove the dough and knead it until smooth. Shape it into evenly sized disks, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.


  • 6-8 pie apples depending on size (Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonagold, Crispin- I like to use a combination) peeled and cored
  • Lemon juice to coat slices
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Slice apples ¼ inch thick with a knife or mandolin. Immediately dredge slices in lemon juice to keep from browning. Remove from lemon juice and sprinkle with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, then mix lightly with the agave nectar until slices are evenly coated.

Assembling the pie

Roll out the pie crusts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap until they are just wide enough to hang over the edge of the pie pan. Make sure you keep an even thickness. Press the bottom crust into a nonstick pie pan. Place a single layer of apple filling, followed by caramel sauce, the continue alternating apples and caramel sauce until all filling is used (you probably will not use all the caramel sauce- save some for drizzling). Place the top crust on the pie. Press the two crusts together and form a decorative edge if desired. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with remaining palm sugar or granulated honey. Pierce the top with the end of a sharp knife to allow steam to vent. Place the pan on a baking sheet (nonstick would be good, or coat with foil as the caramel sauce can get messy). Preheat the oven to 375° and bake on the bottom rack for 15 minutes. Move the pie to the middle rack and bake another 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center goes through without effort and the top crust is golden brown. If the crust gets too brown before the filling is done cooking, cover the crust with foil until it is done. Cool on a wire rack completely before slicing and enjoying.

*Sweet rice flour is often labeled glutinous rice flour and can be found commonly in Asian markets. The rice it is derived from is also called sticky rice. It is called glutinous for these sticky properties. However, it does NOT contain gluten.