A visit to the “Steel City”

I love Pittsburgh!

It’s such a great city….so many beautiful bridges, churches, cultural events, and sports teams!

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I love the city…so much hustle and bustle! Heading over to the famous Strip District, we saw a group of people riding on what looked like a bike for multiple people….found out it’s the Pittsburgh Party Pedaler! Looks awesome….doesn’t it?

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My husband was in Pittsburgh on business. He goes out to the “Steel City” fairly often, but this time I was able to accompany him. I hadn’t been out in a few years so I was happy to go! Yay!

We arrived at the Strip District (only a half-mile strip of land) which is nicknamed “Foodie Heaven” where you can find ethnic grocers, restaurants, and local merchants selling everything “Pittsburgh!” Since I needed a Pirate shirt to wear to the upcoming baseball game, we grabbed that first, shopped up and down the street, and then needed to find some lunch.

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Thai food is usually a good choice for someone needing gluten-free options, so we were lucky to find Little Bangkok right on the main street. The lunch specials were appetizers and soups, so since we knew we were going to be eating a huge dinner, we decided on Bangkok summer rolls and two bowls of Tom Yum soup.

The summer rolls feature rice paper filled with veggies, fried tofu, mint, Thai basil and rice noodles. These were served with peanut dipping sauce (which I asked to be made with my organic tamari wheat free soy sauce). I carry it in my purse always!!

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The Tom Yum soup is a traditional spicy soup flavored with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and Thai chilies. Oh Yum!! It is the best!

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After lunch, we needed to walk around a bit to digest and then back to the hotel to get ready for our dinner at Lidia’s. Lewie was honoring a colleague on her retirement and I was invited, too!

Lidia’s lies in the heart of the Strip District and because Lewie has gotten to know the Executive Chef, Jeremy Voytish, from his many meals there, he knew that they could prepare a gluten-free meal for me. As soon as we walked in, Chef Jeremy greeted us and assured me that they would “take care of me!”

He wasn’t kidding!

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When we sat down to order, our server pointed out the many options that I had and told me that all of the gluten-free entrées were prepared in separate pots, pans and areas of the kitchen. Chef Jeremy even made sure that we were provided with an appetizer of fresh mozzarella, olives, prosciutto, and Italian meats. Delightful!

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First I had a salad “insulate di rucola” which was arugula with shaved pears, walnuts, and gorgonzola crumbles. Best way to start a meal!

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Next, I decided on the “ravioli di mais” with scallion butter and jumbo lump crab for my entrée and I was not disappointed. It was homemade gluten-free corn pasta and was prepared al dente which was perfect! So delicious and filling!

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For dessert I had Nutella ice cream but was so excited that I forgot to take a picture! Forgive me!

The next day, during our walk, we stopped for lunch at Uno Chicago Grill for pizza. I just LOVE pizza and this is probably the food that I miss most. During the first year after my diagnosis, if I smelled pizza, I would immediately feel like I could cry! I know it sounds crazy but only a fellow celiac can understand this!

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Anyway, Uno has a gluten-free menu and tries to accommodate those living gluten-free. If you are extremely sensitive, I would not recommend this restaurant, due to the cross contamination in the kitchen. I am able to eat here without too much distress and I did enjoy my veggie pizza. The crust on most gluten-free pizzas is still not anywhere near “regular” pizza and I am still in search of a gluten-free pizza crust to die for! If anyone knows of one, please let me know….thanks!

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My husband Lewie has been a Pittsburgh sports fan since he was a little boy. He especially loves the Pirates baseball team and when we visit, we usually get tickets to a game. In fact, he tries to plan his visits to Pittsburgh when the team is home!

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So how excited was I to find out (ahead of time) that PNC Park (where the Pirates play) has a food stand in the stadium that has gluten-free options. YES! It’s called Just4U Healthy Options and serves “baseball-type” food for people with celiac disease, food allergies, and who are vegetarian or vegan!

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When we approached the stand, the line was several people deep, and I was so happy to see gluten-free buns for kosher and gluten-free hotdogs, as well as gluten-free tacos with healthy salsa. But when I smelled gluten-free pulled pork on a gluten-free bun, I knew what my choice would be! I also had a side salad which was delicious, too.

No pictures, though….forgot my camera!

Who knew gluten-free people could enjoy food at the ballpark?? Thanks, Aramark Sports and Entertainment!

I hope you enjoyed my visit to Pittsburgh!

I know I did!

© 2014, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk

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Congratulations, Daria!

Monica says:

My husband and I are so excited for our baby girl! After all of her training, dedication to the pastry world, and impeccable work ethic, she has achieved her dream!

Daria was invited to be the Executive Pastry Chef at The Mill in Hershey, PA, and is LIVING the dream!

She has always known that she belonged in a pastry kitchen…even as a wee little one! So going from an EZ Bake Oven Baker to Executive Pasty Chef has been an incredible journey for her!

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The Mill’s grand opening is slated for Monday, September 22nd and they are prepping daily. Opening a restaurant is no easy feat, but with all of the talent and professionalism there, they are headed straight for success!

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We were invited to the “soft opening” of the restaurant where the patrons were family and friends of the staff. The only word that comes to mind to describe the evening is….PHENOMENAL!

Not only is The Mill an amazing physical structure, but the staff and executive crew are so welcoming and warm, that you feel like you are home, but of course, have talented chefs to make your meal!

The Mill, originally built in 1858, was a grain mill which ground grain for farmers. When a fire destroyed it in 1914, the Curry family rebuilt it and it served the area until 1974. The Mill also sold coal and fuel oil at one time as well.

Now it is an upscale restaurant that can seat approximately 200 people on its three levels.  The best thing about the The Mill is that it has a modern flair, but has maintained its architectural integrity.

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It is a must-visit place if you are in Hershey, PA!

Now….let’s talk food!

The very talented Executive Chef Joe Mishler and Executive Sous Chef Nick Martino are the culinary dream team of The Mill. Our appetizers and entrees were just some of the best we’ve ever eaten! The attention to detail in the dishes is second to none!

First out were bread offerings featuring focaccia baked on site and Daria didn’t forget me, and sent out gluten-free breadsticks with parsley butter. What a great start!

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Our appetizer was hand-pulled mozzarella (did I say hand-pulled?) with a balsamic glaze and tomatoes with basil….oh dear! Melted in your mouth!

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Lewie’s entrée was a filet with bacon jam, lemon grits, sautéed kale, and an onion ring….he was in heaven!

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My entrée was grilled salmon over a bed of quinoa with a sauce to die for, and spinach….oh my goodness! Amazing!

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To finish our fantastic meal, Daria, the Executive Pastry Chef, delivered our desserts to our table! I guess being related to a chef has its perks!

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Ricotta cheesecake with poached pears and a crisp with black sesame seeds….beautiful and delicious!

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Pumpkin mousse encased in dark chocolate with sage butter crème anglaise, two pieces of honeycomb crunch and all gluten-free to boot! Daria left out the gingersnap which normally graces the dessert….it was delightful!

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To say that the night was great is an understatement….it was PHENOMENAL!

Two happy diners….we couldn’t stop smiling!!

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So if you are in the Hershey area, make sure you stop by The Mill….with the culinary trio of Chef Joe, Chef Nick, and Chef Daria (my baby girl)….you won’t be disappointed!

© 2014, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk

Flounder dinner in under 15 minutes!

Monica says:

I am just amazed by how quickly I can prepare flounder!

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Since I had bloodwork done recently and it was discovered that I have high “bad” cholesterol, my doctor suggested that I eat more fish. And because two of my three sisters are on cholesterol medication, it is also presumed that it might be hereditary….sounds like this might be the case!

<Best advice….talk with your siblings as you get older and find out what’s up with them medically!>

So, I have been looking for different ways to prepare fish and on a shopping trip, I decided to purchase a large bag of wild caught flounder filets at Sam’s Club.

I was really in a hurry the other night and when I peered into the freezer and saw the flounder, I pulled out the bag and read the package. One of the featured recipes said that you could bake the filets frozen and I thought….why not? Usually I defrost my fish, so this was a real breakaway moment for me!

First, I always think of my side dishes so I grabbed ½ cup of white and ½ cup of red quinoa (looks so pretty this way) and put that on to boil and then simmer (15 minutes total). Then I saw that I had frozen peas in the freezer and they were chosen as my second side!

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Next, I prepared a homemade lemon dill concoction to put over the fish by squeezing one lemon, adding dried dill, and salt and pepper.  Then I decided to add some gluten free bread crumbs to the fish and gently dusted each piece and placed them in a 425 degree oven for 13-15 minutes.

While the fish was baking, I started chopping up salad ingredients. I also chopped some fresh scallions and mint to add to my quinoa along with a drizzle of olive oil. Salt and pepper and you’re done!

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To my great surprise, the flounder came out flaky and delicious!

My two sides were ready and all I had to do was set the table.

A double shot of protein and some great veggies…..of course, you can never eat too many veggies!

Enjoy!

© 2014, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk

 

 

 

Gluten free pasta with fresh “tomato sauce”….easy as 1, 2, 3!

Monica says:

It’s hot outside and who wants to turn on an oven?

I know I don’t!

I want to make a supper that’s easy, nutritious, and has a stress-free clean-up.

Don’t we all?

Being Italian, my go-to is something highlighting the Mediterranean diet and since it’s summer, what comes to my mind first is….

The lovely little tomato!

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My tomato plants have given us such a great harvest this year that we have been eating tons of tomatoes as snacks, making countless tomato salads, and adding tomatoes to just about everything!

So when the temperature is hot, can you make a fresh “tomato sauce?”

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Sure you can!

All you need are little tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, salt and pepper, crushed red pepper flakes,  and some great olive oil!

Oh, and don’t forget the Parmesan cheese!

The key to this pasta dish is to decide on it EARLY in the day and here’s why!

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Take 4 pints of small grape or cherry tomatoes, and cut each one in half. I like to use half red and half orange for color.

Place cut tomatoes into a large bowl.

Sprinkle the cut tomatoes with salt and pepper, add 2 tablespoons of crushed garlic, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper, and 15-20 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips.

Now pour ½ cup of olive oil over this lovely mixture.

Cover with clear plastic wrap and WAIT….

….at least 4 hours!

The tomatoes will marinate and all of the flavors will marry each other…it will be delightful!

At suppertime, make your gluten free pasta according to the directions, and after you drain it, place each serving

into a nice-sized bowl and then the magic happens!

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Place some nice heaping spoonfuls of the fresh “tomato sauce” onto each pasta serving.

Do not use a slotted spoon….you want to get every last drop of the marinade into the bowl.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and done!

 

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So yummy…and easy, right?

Mangia, mangia!

© 2014, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk