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Tastes like chicken

Good evening, Dear Readers:

Sorry I haven’t written in a while; it’s been busy. Lots to tell, so let’s get started!

Ok, foodies, I have big news—Hostess Twinkies return next week! Along with Hostess Cupcakes (upgraded with dark chocolate) as well as a few other of your favorite Hostess goodies. The new Hostess, LLC, is rolling them out as we speak, and they are due to be in stores on Monday the 15th. Can you believe it?

You didn’t buy a bunch of them on eBay, did you? Well, soon you’ll be able to replace them with fresh ones.

Remember the joke about how Twinkies had a shelf life of “forever?” They really didn’t, but the new Hostess company is working on extending the freshness period. Originally, Twinkies had a shelf life of about 30 days. Are you ready for this? They’re going to deliver some of them frozen, so that stores can stamp their own freshness date on them, and extend the freshness date to 45 days, or longer.

Oh, YEAH!!! Just take some into your fallout shelter, and you can stay there a lot longer.

The new company is also going to start investigating different ways to make a Twinkie, including whole wheat , low-calorie, and yes. . .gluten free. That’s what it says in today’s Wall Street Journal. Woo hoo!

Friend of this blog MK says, “so now when the zombie apocalypse comes, you can be gluten free.” What a guy. The new versions of Twinkies may be available as early as later in the year.

Rest assured I’ll be on the case and report back to you on this important development.

In other news, I discovered a new taste to love. Cold-smoked salmon.

Sunday I did some shopping while in town, and I didn’t plan on getting hungry. Oh, well, I did. While in the area of a number of my favorite eateries (and the location of many more), I ended up having lunch at. . .IKEA. Yes, that Swedish bastion of the flat-pack and Allen wrenches, derided by many (and even parodied in season 10 of British comedy show Red Dwarf, an episode called Lemons.) I needed a couple of things and decided to have lunch while I was there in the café on the second floor. It’s simple Swedish (and some American) food, for the most part, and no, I didn’t have the meatballs. (That was only an issue in Europe, anyway.) Normally, I would have the open-faced shrimp sandwich on multi-grain bread. Topped with a hard-boiled egg, a mayo dressing and a sprig of dill, it’s one of my occasional indulgences that I have in IKEA, and occasionally, one of their interesting chocolate desserts.

Until now. Now I’m gluten-free. No bread. No cake. Now what?

I could get that sandwich and eat just the top of it. But, eat the filling without the bread? Well, that’s half the enjoyment of the sandwich. No, I would have to find another thing to eat, maybe the chicken salad. I didn’t make it that far. The gentleman in front of me went smoked salmon and dill dressing, and I decided to be brave and try something new. I got the one next to it, smoked salmon with a pile of lime-marinated tiny-diced veggies, sitting right next to what he picked up. Called Najad Salmon, this is how it was served:

IMG_2062

If you’re not familiar with this kind of thing, it’s a preserved salmon using salt and herbs that’s very thinly sliced crosswise with a flexible thin blade. Honest, I’ve seen Martha Stewart make this kind of thing on one of her early shows, but I’ve never had it before. Just not something that’s part of traditional New Orleans cuisine, you understand. So, I decided to be brave and try something new.

Salmon preserved in this manner is softer than you may be used to. Between the herbs and the salt, it softens the flesh and infuses lots of flavor into it, taking out the “fishy” taste that salmon has when cooked, in the same manner that ceviche does to shrimp. Being from New Orleans, I would have never known what this was without seeing Martha Stewart making it on her show and adding it to one of her many cookbooks. Still, being more familiar with baked/poached/fried salmon and the stuff in a can, this kind of thing just isn’t something that would normally cross my path were it not for Houston being such a diverse and international city. With an IKEA cafe’ right in the middle.

So, you likely have at least once in your life asked someone, what does (whatever they were eating) taste like? You may have heard the old yarn, “Tastes just like chicken.” (In some cases, the individual may have a sarcastic streak.) Well, this cold-smoked doesn’t taste like chicken. . .but it does taste like thinly sliced deli ham. No kidding, that’s what it tasted like to me. Ham, sliced. Go figure. It was salty, a bit sticky and quite delicious.

Guess what? It’s my new gluten free favorite at IKEA! (I hope.)

I did try to roll up the salmon, burrito-style, around the tiny diced veggies and eat it that way. Nothin’ doin’, the salmon was too soft. Ended up being like scrambled eggs at that point, but it was very tasty. Of course, if I had a tortilla, it might have worked, but it wouldn’t have been gluten-free, either.

According to the nutrition information on IKEA’s website, it has less than 300 calories. Not bad!

I added a side salad from the salad bar, which consists of iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, croutons and sliced black olives. Added a bit of olive oil and what looked like balsamic vinegar and I was in business. Skipped dessert this time, and went on with my afternoon.

After I’d paid for the other things I went in for, I headed over to Trader Joe’s, where I proceeded to have another DUH moment while looking for almond flour. It’s considerably less expensive there, so I bought extra. I went to where I thought I picked it up last time, where all the bagged nuts are, and just could not find it. Looked around where I was standing, too—nothing. So I asked someone. . .and it was right where I was standing earlier, at knee level on me.

DUH!

Maybe I should have stayed home. Well, at least I have more almond flour to make some delicious Wheat Belly Biscuits with. Sometime.

Now and again, it’s good to take a chance and find something new. You might even find a new favorite.

Don’t forget:

THE TWINKIES ARE COMING!! THE TWINKIES ARE COMING!!! GET READY!!!

Happy Dining!

Wheat Belly Biscuits with Puns

Hello, Dear Readers:

I’m sorry–I’m stuck in a rut and I can’t stop PUNNING. Please forgive me. I’ll try to do better in the next post.

Well, as promised, I’m here to report on my first recipe from the Wheat Belly Cookbook by Dr. William Davis. No, I haven’t finished reading either one, but since this is primarily a FOOD blog, I thought y’all might be interested to know about this tasty morsel.

Get it? Tasty Morsel!

I did a pun. Or is that a groaner? Well, anyway. . . .

The reason I really wanted that cookbook was simple: while sitting at the conference a couple of weeks ago, I asked one of my table mates if I could look at it. Nice people being what they are, she obliged. Everything looked really good (even the ones without pictures) and I just , um, ate it up. (Punned again!)  Having done the low-carb thing for many years, I get the idea of living without wheat; but this book offers new recipes that are interesting and give more options than the meat-and-veg variety.

The Basic Biscuit (Wheat Belly Cookbook, page 245) recipe is what made me buy it. Seriously. Biscuits, wheat free, and you can make breakfast biscuits with them just like, well, McDonald’s! (There is also a sweet variation.) I was intrigued, and this morning, I had one. Sorta. I actually MADE the biscuits this morning, finally, and when they came out of the oven, I had three, one by one, hot, with butter and salt. They are SO good.

I have to point out that they do not taste like wheat (or canned) biscuits, nor are they “light and fluffy,” since there’s no wheat or gluten in them. They are delicious, chewy and substantial without being too heavy. Remember, it’s turning one type of ingredients into something completely different (or as a lawyer would say, into something for which it was not originally intended.)

So what’s the story? OK, the ingredients are:

1 cup fine-ground almond flour/meal

1 cup ground golden flax seeds

4 teaspoons baking powder

4 tablespoons butter, cut into small squares (diced)

4 egg whites

OPTION: 1/4 cup grated Swiss Cheese (book suggestion, I just had some grated Swiss in the freezer at the time)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and heat the oven to 350F.

Mix the almond flour, ground flax seeds and baking powder. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter until combined.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks from. Gently fold the egg whites into the flour/butter mixture until well combined.

Spoon the dough int 8 rounds onto the baking sheet. Flatten to approximately 3/4″ thickness. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Yeah, baby. Take a look:

WheatFreeBiscuit

Looks pretty much like any other biscuit, doesn’t it? (Plain looking sitting on my handmade potholder.)  I put them in a fridge storage container while they were still a bit warm. Know what? They didn’t get soft and mushy. I’ve had that happen with other wheat-free recipes, and I guess it’s the golden flaxseed that did it. No complaints.

I split up the mixture into 8 parts by pushing the mixture gently into the bottom of the bowl, dividing it four ways (much like Rachael Ray does with ground meat) scooping out a quarter, then dividing that in half. This “dough” works easy; just don’t manhandle it too much.  I bought a round cookie cutter today to try making them rounded easier, as well as cooking my eggs in a circle to fit onto the biscuit. Neat, huh?

I promise, I was GONNA make an egg/sausage sandwich out of it. I really was. I tasted one, and it was all over at that point. I ate a second, and a third. Then I finally quit. They are that good.

However. . .

I use unsalted butter all the time (as one should when baking) but I found that the finished biscuit needed a bit of salt. So after the butter melted, I sprinkled a bit of kosher salt on it. Because EVERYTHING I eat now needs some salt on it, darnit.

WAY. TOO. GOOD.

Next for breakfast will be on page 164, the Good Morning Souffle that I can make and eat all week long. I definitely want to try the Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake on page 256 one day. Trust me when I tell you I will not be sharing any of that one, either. Now look–I told you about this. I will knock over Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal AND Magic Johnson–at the same time–for anything combining chocolate and raspberries in one place. So make your own if you wanna try it.

Now the back story: ground almond meal/flour is more expensive. Since wheat and wheat products have become relatively cheap because of modern agribusiness, healthier, non-GMO non-standard ingredients tend to be pricier. That’s the price you pay for trying to be healthy, or if it’s a child, keeping that child healthy and well, and not on drugs that can make them sick with something else. We don’t want that. Generally, diet is cheaper to change than drug therapy, anyway.

My dad used to field comments from his spinster aunts when they would tut-tut about how much his kids ate by replying, “It’s cheaper than doctor bills.”  That was a long time ago, but it’s still very true. Healthy food is cheaper in the long run by the absence of illness produced by the unhealthy foods, as well as the subsequent treatments. If you don’t believe me, walk around your local Wal-Mart and observe. Healthy food is not always the most expensive; it takes learning more about what you’re buying before you shop.

I keep almond flour around for another favorite recipe that only uses a tablespoon of it. Recently I found it on sale at my local Target, and I bought extra. Over the holidays, my health food store was out of almond flour, so I got hazelnut, which was sitting right next to it. It was more, but it worked, and while I like both nuts, I can’t say one affects the taste all that much when used in the same manner.

Now, I’m by myself, so I don’t have to worry about other people complaining about the food (which is reason #9,753 of why I’m not married/attached anymore.) If I make something that’s not suitable for a royal luncheon, well, it’s my fault, I gotta eat it (unless it’s inedible.)  But if you have someone in your household who is allergic, this is important to know about, and how to work with. You need to know what they are allergic to so you don’t sicken them with something they shouldn’t have, and be able to feed them so that they don’t feel left out. Like the Babycakes books series, these recipes were designed for people who are either allergic to wheat or, like me, want to avoid it anyway without missing out on anything.

And in many cases, when entire families change their diet because of one member, the entire family benefits. Just an FYI.

And, BTW, wheat/gluten sensitivities, like its evil cousin, yeast overgrowth (Candida albicans) in the gut, can also cause behavioral issues and mood swings in both adults and kids. Not a joke. In the extremely sensitive, elimination of wheat can bring drastic results–but you don’t know that until you try it, particularly on children.

Remember, too, as I reported to you earlier–today’s wheat strains are NOT what they had in Biblical times, nor is it what your grandmothers and maiden aunts used to bake with. Today’s available “wheat” is the accumulated result of continual genetic modification for a) increased production, b) disease resistance, and c) saleability. Nobody bothered to check to see if consumption was harmful, and now, nobody will admit to it.

Anyway. . . .

You gotta admit, these people have worked hard on wheat-free, and have done a stellar job in their own way–Dr. Davis being the medical side, and Erin McKinney on the “end user” side. That’s what America is all about, believe it or not. Some people still like to do something new, something different, something great for their fellow man.

And as a grateful, hungry nation, we eat it up.

I did it again! Get it? We eat it up!! I’m on a roll today.

Oh NO! On a roll! But I haven’t baked any yet. . . .

Enough with the puns! This is good food for you and yours, and nobody has to miss out on much just because they’re allergic to wheat/gluten. You can, literally, have your cake and eat it too.

Help! I can’t stop the puns!!

I’ve got work to do folks, so off I go. Try something new this week, whether it’s a locally-made wine, or new fruit at your local Farmer’s Market, something wheat-free, something more natural, or just something you’ve seen but never considered trying before (like my favorite treat, Larabars.) You might find a new favorite you’ve been missing out on.

Happy Dining!

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