Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews.

1. Know-How – Gluten Free Peeps

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2. Sweets – Lemon Mini Bunt Cake

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3. Little Bites – Mixed Antipesti

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4. Coffee – Cafe Integral

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5. Atmosphere – Newspaper Reader

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Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

1. Pretty Packaging – Bearded Brothers

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Gluten-free energy bars from Austin, Texas.

2. Coffee – Ceramic coffee set launched by Luca Nichetto and Mjölk

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Mjölk is probably my favourite place on the planet.

3. Food Art – Planters by Of a Kind + Chen Chen & Kai Williams

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Fruit-shaped cement planters!

4. Sweets – Cacti Cupcakes

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Perfection!

5. Little Bites – Lazer Cut Sushi

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Next level beauty.

Compliments Gluten-Free Line Review & Recipes

By Megan Stulberg

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You know what’s guaranteed to make my day? Coming home from an exhausting day of exam writing to find a neatly wrapped box (complete with pretty green ribbon) of goodies waiting for me on my front porch, ready to sample.

The thoughtful people at Sobeys sent me a variety of products from their new Compliments gluten-free product line to review. Compliments now offers a variety of ready-to-eat treats, such as brownies and quinoa muffins. Ah, delicious! Totally up my Celiac alley!

I’m a vegan, though, so I couldn’t try all the products Sobeys sent me, so I sent a few home with my friend Erin over at The Cinnamon House. She, along with fellow writer Alex at Vegan Girlfriend helped me test out the Compliments Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend and Gluten-Free Cookie Mix!

I am so thankful to have friends who love food as much as I do. Together we created two mouthwatering recipes to share with you:

~*DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COCOA WALNUT BROWNIES*~

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed (or chia seed) meal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance soy-free vegan spread
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Compliments Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend
  • 3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 100g bar Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate with 70% Cocoa
  • 1/2 cup crushed raw walnuts
  • 1 tsp raw salt (e.g. pink crystal Himalayan salt)

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Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil a shallow 9-inch baking dish.

2) Using a food processor, chop almonds into a fine meal about 2 minutes. Be careful not to over process or else the mixture will be too creamy! Set aside.

3) In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and water. Let stand for about 5 minutes until thick, then whisk together and pour into bowl.

4) Beat the flaxseed mixture with sugar and agave nectar, then add vegan spread and vanilla extract. Beat for 30 seconds at low speed.

5) Mix in the Compliments Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour, almond meal, cocoa powder and baking soda. Blend on low for 30 seconds, stirring regularly.

6) Break up the dark chocolate into chunks and add it to the mixture along with walnuts and a pinch of salt.

7) Pour into greased square baking dish and bake in oven for 40-45 minutes. Let cool, and then slice. Makes about 16 brownies.

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~*COCONUT ALMOND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES*~

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 3 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 400g package Compliments Gluten-Free Cookie Mix
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Directions: 

1) Preheat oven to 350F.

2) Using a food processor, chop almonds into a fine meal about two minutes and set aside.

3) In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and water. Let stand for about 5 minutes until thick, then whisk together and pour into bowl.

4) Add coconut oil and Compliments Gluten-Free Cookie Mix and beat at low speed about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl.

5) Add shredded coconut, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, almonds and almond milk. Blend ingredients in by hand, using a spoon.

6) Using your hands, roll the dough into small balls and place on greased baking sheet about 4 cm apart.

7) Bake for about 15 minutes until browned. Let cool before serving. Makes 16 cookies.

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Needless to say, everything was delicious! The cookies were delicious, the brownies were moist, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. Compliments has created a great line of gluten-free flours and mixes that work! Everything held together just as well as standard wheat-based products would. For more information about the Compliments Gluten-Free product line, click here.

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PHOTOS: ALEXANDRA COURTS

Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

Meatless & Wheatless Edition! Vegan and Gluten Free, kiddies.

1. Parsnip bacon

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2. Creamy Lime & Avocado Tart

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3. Coconut Creamed Spinach

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4. Raw Vegan Gluten Free Twix-like Bars

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5. Cashew Cookie Dough Bars

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Winter Menu Tasting at Fuel+

Review by Megan Stulberg & photos by Aine Davis.

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Last week I attended a winter menu tasting at Fuel+, a nutrition-focused café and boutique grocery store located in Toronto at Church and Wellesley. Fuel+ offers a plant-based menu that caters to a variety of vegan, gluten-free and food-loving customers, who enjoy specialty coffees, protein shakes and healthy foods.

The friendly (and adorable) staff at Fuel+ laid out a variety of gluten-free plant-based sweets for us to try. The sample platter included one Fuel+ exclusive product and two products brought in from Shockingly Healthy.

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Fuel balls act as healthy alternatives to Timbits: approximately 100 calories each, made from 80% organic ingredients are loaded with protein. These delicious morsels are made in-store and come in unique flavours such as peanut butter chocolate chip and cranberry honey. Personal recommendation? The cinnamon one. $1 each or 3 for $2.50.

Fuel+ offers two products from Shockingly Healthy: double chocolate brownies and coconut chocolate chip blondies. The brownies are made from whole foods like chickpeas, flax and dates. Biting into one, you’ll have to remind yourself that it’s actually good for you. $2.99 each.

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As it was extremely cold outside we decided to take advantage of the ‘hot foods’ section of the menu. Aine ordered a plant-based cranberry raisin bagel with peanut butter and jam. I ordered a hearty and delicious bowl of organic vegan chilli. If you’re feeling gutsy, I’d recommend opting for the ‘really spicy’ option. $4.99 a bowl.

Fuel+ offers organic fair-trade coffee that is roasted locally at 23 Degrees. We sampled a variety of hot drinks including an Amsterdam Blonde (Amsterdam Black with organic soy milk) and a Maca infused hot chocolate.

Located dangerously close to my school’s campus, I’ve already popped in twice since attending the menu tasting for a quick Spicy Ginger Chai pick-me-up. Get ready Fuel+, I’m becoming a regular.

www.fuelplus.ca

Fuel + on Facebook

Fuel + on Twitter

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Gluten Free Garage III: November 17, 2013

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By Megan Stulberg

Free samples are a foreign concept to me. I work in a patisserie and at least once a day I’ll have a customer say something like, “Wow! How do you not get fat while working here?” or “I bet you love eating all the samples!” and a few times I would answer their questions by explaining Celiac disease but gave up when eyes started to glaze over.

The third Gluten Free Garage took place last Sunday. Over 60 vendors showcased the best gluten-free foods in the GTA and there were samples available at nearly every table. So I was obviously very happy about this. I brought a friend with me who somehow suffers from even more food allergies than I do, and we both left the event full and free from belly aches.

Click here to read more information about the event in an interview I conducted with GFG founder RonniLyn Pustil.

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The market was held at Artscape Wychwood Barns. It took about an hour for me to check out every table because the event space was packed with people. Curse Gluten Free Garage for being so beloved!

After navigating myself through the crowd I decided to stop at Chocosol’s table for a taco. Chocosol‘s fresh corn tortillas are organic and non-GMO. I opted for the vegan option: local and organic black turtle beans, mushrooms, greens and Mad Mexican salsa.

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Second stop: Tori’s Bakeshop. Tori’s Bakeshop offers a large selection of gluten-free products and all of their products are dairy-free, egg-free, casein-free and refined sugar-free. A cake-sized doughnut was on display for a contest and I’m seriously regretting not entering it. We opted to buy a slightly smaller version for ourselves. Pink glaze and white sprinkles: too cute and too good.

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Every vendor I spoke to was extremely friendly but the two sushi chefs running Akasaka‘s table blew me away. I chatted to one of the chefs about the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, as I ate there when I visited Japan earlier this year. Part of what makes an event with a specific focus like the Gluten Free Garage so enjoyable is the comfortability between vendor and customer.

Akasaka Japanese Restaurant and Teppanyaki Steak House operates in Richmond Hill and offer many gluten-free options. I sampled a freshly made avocado roll smothered in gluten-free soy sauce. Mmm…too oishii!

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I’ve mentioned Bunner’s Vegan & Gluten-Free Bakeshop twice in previous Fat Girl Food Squad posts. That’s how much I love this bakery. Bunner’s had a variety of cupcakes, cookies, savoury pockets and other treats available for sale at the event. I opted for what I usually get: a delectable date square, gooey and warm like it should be.

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Saigon Soul Food‘s table at the event was run by owner Tâm Nguyen and her mother. Their whole set-up was very sweet and welcoming. Saigon Soul Food offers a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes, available both fresh and frozen. My friend Alex bought two fresh rolls wrapped in rice paper and stuffed with tofu and veggies. After having a bite of hers I ended up buying an entire jar of Saigon’s plum sauce to take home because yeah, it was that good.

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Other favourite vendors include Queen B Pastry, Sol Cuisine, Antipastos Kitchen and Magic Oven. A complete list of vendors can be found on Gluten Free Garage’s website. Without a doubt, I will be back next year. I can’t wait! Be sure to follow Gluten Free Garage on Facebook to keep up to date with the organization’s updates and future events.

All photos by Alexandra Courts.

[Contest] Gluten Free Garage III: November 17th, interview with founder RonniLyn Pustil

By Megan Stulberg

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Photo credit: Lisi Tesher

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Photo credit: Danny Pustil

The Gluten Free Garage is something that I’ve vaguely been aware of for a long time, but never quite looked into for some reason. Perhaps it got lost in my Facebook archives, as I went on a “liking spree” of way too many gluten-related pages after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease last year.

Well, now I’m kicking myself for not attending their last two events.

The Gluten Free Garage is a farmer’s market with a twist: all food at the event is 100% gluten-free. GFG launched in fall 2012 and the first event attracted more than 1,500 visitors. Attendees of the marketplace have the opportunity to buy (and sample!) delicious gluten-free food and products, find out more about the different levels of gluten-intolerance, grab a free tote bag, listen to guest speakers and more.

Gluten Free Garage III will be taking place on from 10am-4pm on November 17th at Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie Street. Admission will cost $10.  Not able to make it? I will be covering the event for Fat Girl Food Squad, so be sure to check back within the next few weeks for updates.

FAT GIRL FOOD SQUAD WILL BE GIVING AWAY TWO TICKETS TO THIS EVENT! Here’s how to enter our contest:
Contest runs from Wednesday November 6 until Wednesday November 13 @ 5PM.

1) Like Fat Girl Food Squad on Facebook.

2) Like Gluten Free Garage on Facebook.

2) Comment on the post on our Facebook page. Boom!

I had the opportunity to ask Gluten Free Garage’s founder RonniLyn Pustil a few questions about GFG’s history and its upcoming event. Read the interview below!

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Photo credit: Jordan Prussky

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Photo credit: Jordan Prussky

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Photo credit: Jordan Prussky

Q: First off, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me! I really admire the work that the Gluten Free Garage does. What prompted your decision to start the GFG? 

My daughter Lily was diagnosed with celiac disease four years ago at age 3. After a brief period of panic followed by mourning the loss of bagels, I decided that we were going to turn this into something positive. We were not going to let it get in our way. We were still going to eat good food. And that’s how it’s been so far. We made our house gluten free and now we’re way more aware of the food we eat. We have family adventures to food festivals and farmers’ markets. We go on road trips to check out gluten-free bakeries and restaurants (favourite destination so far: KindFood in Burlington). We get excited about finding new healthy, delicious gluten-free food and places to eat. As we started discovering more local gluten-free places and products, I thought it would be cool to bring them all together under one roof for a day of one-stop shopping—a kid-friendly farmers’ market with a gluten-free twist where people could sample and taste the food before buying it.

Q: What kind of planning did it take to prepare for the first Gluten Free Garage? 

It took nine months to give birth to GFG! It was the first event I ever did so there was a huge learning curve about everything—branding, blogging, sales, marketing, logistics, you name it. The hardest part was getting vendors and sponsors to come on board to this event that hadn’t happened before.

Q: What do you credit most for its growing success?

The growing need for gluten-free food. It’s a labour of love and I hope that shows. Also there’s a really eclectic mix of vendors who are passionate about what they do. It’s a lively marketplace in a bright, beautiful space where people get to eat delicious food and discover new gluten-free products. And there’s a real feeling of community.

Q: What sort of things can I expect to find at the Gluten Free Garage? 

A few new favourite things, that’s for sure! Guest speakers, yummy samples, food trucks, a pop-up art event for kids, lots of happy gluten-free people. Oh, and the best in gluten free—everything from gluten-free sweets to savoury stuff to skin care!

Q: Have you ever run into any problems regarding cross-contamination at this event? 

No. Since Gluten Free Garage is basically a big party for Lily—where she can happily eat whatever she wants, meet lots of other gluten-free people and not feel different—there is no question that it has to not be just gluten free but also celiac friendly. I wouldn’t have a vendor at the GFG whose food I wouldn’t let Lily eat.

Q: What vendor or treat are you personally looking to the most?

There’s no way I can choose just one. Many of my favourite vendors from our past events will be back along with about 25 new and exciting ones! The problem is I’m so preoccupied at the event that it’s hard to take time to shop! Luckily my daughters each handed me a gift when our last event ended. Lily bought me Sappho Cosmetics blush from eco-existence and Franny got me a jar of ba”con” (hickory smoked coconut, you’ll thank me for this) from Tori’s Bakeshop.

Q: It’ll be my first time at the GFG marketplace! Which vendor would you recommend for a beginner for myself to hit first? 

Start at one end and work your way around the Covered Barn. You’ll want to hit them all! Then head out to the courtyard for some more treats. Be sure to come hungry.

Q: Do you have plans to expand your project? If so, what does this include?

I’m not sure. So far I’ve been taking it show by show. Maybe the Gluten Free Garage will pop up somewhere else. You never know.

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Photo credit: Lisi Tesher

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Photo credit: Lisi Tesher

Gluten-Free Eats in NYC

By: Megan Stulberg

This year I spent Canadian Thanksgiving in New York City. We didn’t opt for the traditional turkey and stuffing, but we ate enough other food to make up for it.

Everything pictured and described below is gluten-free, as America is surprisingly well-informed about the severity of cross-contamination. I didn’t get sick once and I have quite the sensitive belly. But since we were on vacation, I did not bother to eat strictly vegan (I’ll eat vegan 9 times out of 10, but I do eat fish and eggs, so therefore I don’t achieve the ‘vegan’ title). Sorry to any honey-haters who were on my side.

[Edit: Fully vegan as of November 2013. Yay!]

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S’MAC – Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese 

Gluten-free? Yes! The staff seemed very knowledgable about cross-contamination.

Vegan? Yes. S’MAC makes their own vegan ‘cheese’ which is a mix of coconut milk, rice flour, potato flour, palm oil, organic palm shortening, marmite, salt and pepper.

Where? There are two locations in New York City.  We went to the one in the East Village at 345 East 12th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue.

What? I bought a vegan mac & cheese which is made with brown-rice elbow macaroni and is then topped with cornflakes. I had it mixed with shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach with garlic.

Cost? Approximately $15. I should have gotten the smaller size, which was nearly half the price. I ordered a ‘Major Munch’ skillet, which was overwhelmingly filling. I wasn’t able to finish it, so I would recommend opting for one size down.

Website? Here.

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Babycakes NYC

Gluten-free? Vegan? Both! The bakery is entirely gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, kosher and refined-sugar free. This place is essentially an allergy sanctuary.

Where? 248 Broome Street, between Orchard & Ludlow.

What? We split a black forest cupcake, a carrot cupcake and a cinnamon sugar doughnut. The doughnut was delicious, but the cupcakes were extremely dry. No specialty bakery ever seems to compare to Bunner’s.

Cost? $4.75 per cupcake, $3.75 per donut. Eek.

Website? Here.

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Pala Pizza 

Gluten Free? Yes: an entire gluten-free menu and a designated preparation area in the kitchen. Pala makes their own gluten-free dough fresh in house.

Vegan? Yes! They also offer a vegan menu.

Where? 198 Allen Street, 10012.

What? I asked for an ‘Etna’, which is a pizza topped with eggplant, basil, daiya and tomato sauce. Our waitress misheard my order and brought me a cheeseless pizza with butternut squash, peppers, onion and raisins instead. I ended up thanking her for messing up my order because the pizza was delicious. Pala definitely offers the best gluten-free pizza crust that I’ve ever tried. The crust was thick and had bubbles and everything.

Website? Here.

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Sustainable N.Y.C Cafe

Gluten free? Lots of GF options! The employee who served me was very considerate and offered to clean all of the necessary utensils after I mentioned my allergy.

Vegan? Yes! This is a vegan cafe run within an eco general store. They even sell vegan shoes.

Where? 139 Avenue A, 10009.

What? We walked a considerable distance to check out Tompkins Square Bagels, where I was promptly shut down by an employee who warned me that the kitchen was not a safe environment for those with Celiac disease. Luckily I found this place half a block away. I had a peanut butter and jam sandwich on gluten-free bread, and then treated myself with two scoops of vegan ice cream (one chocolate, one lavender) in a gluten-free cone. First cone in over a year, y’all. It was heavenly.

How much? I can’t remember specifics (black-out bagel rage?) but it was definitely $5 or less.

Website? Here.

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Friedman’s Lunch

Gluten-free? Yes! They have an entire gluten-free menu and prepare food in a designated area of the kitchen.

Vegan? No, but they do have a few vegan options including a garden vegetable sandwich and an eggplant quinoa/rice bowl.

Where? 75 9th Ave, right inside Chelsea Market.

What? I ordered the fish tacos: blackened pollock, corn tortillas, citrus fennel slaw, tomatillo salsa, sriracha aioli and cilantro. Too good.

Cost? $14.

Website? Here.

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Where? Some taco truck in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Gluten-free? Not sure. Taco shells are generally made from corn instead of wheat, so there’s a good chance that this meal was gluten-free. I didn’t eat them though, Nick did. I just threw these photos in because the tacos look delicious and I’m mean. Sorry.

Vegan? Nope!

What? Nick got fish tacos topped with cheese and veggies.

Cost? $3.50 per taco.

Website? Rather unlikely.

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Pomme Frites 

Gluten free? Yes. Pomme Frites serves fries that are cooked in gluten-free vegetable oil.

Vegan: Yes and no. We chose two dips, one of which was vegan and the other was not. Ask the cashier and he/she will give you a chart that outlines all dietary and ingredient information.

Where? 123 2nd Ave, between 7th St. and St. Mark Place. 

What? A huge paper cone full of thick Belgian fries, with mexican ketchup and roasted garlic mayo. Pomme Frites has a great selection of uniquely flavoured dips to choose from.

Website? Here.

Photo credit goes to Nick White.

Elevating Ottawa’s Cafeteria Food

A menu board updated daily!

A menu board updated daily!

“A burger. Fake grill marks, I don’t even know what they were from, there was no barbecue out back. They must have been drawn on with marker. And then coated in brown gravy sauce. And they sold it as a six minute steak.” -Carley Schleck, Café Urban, Owner.

We can all relate to this kind of institutional cafeteria food. Reheated pizza, processed and identical dishes in every university or college we’ve been lucky enough to attend.

But for a good long time the food hasn’t lived up to the hopefully inspiring and intellectual education the school delivers.

Carley Schleck wants to change that. She gave me her six minute steak example when I asked her what the worst cafeteria meal she’d ever had was. Lucky for us, she’s determined to change that.

Granola on display for quick morning breakfasts.

Granola on display for quick morning breakfasts.

Café Urban is the new arm of Urban Element, a culinary cooking and event company in Ottawa. Café Urban is housed at Saint Paul’s University, a humanities and theological school. The school is smaller, sitting at about a thousand students, and the age tends to run a little higher than average, at about thirty.

The size of the school means that Carley and Matthew Brearley, Café Urban’s chef (formerly of Castlegarth Resturant) were able to pitch their menu at the school, move into their in-house kitchen, and start an experiment in institutional food that Carley hopes will spread to bigger schools as well as hospitals.

A trio of salads served fresh daily.

A trio of salads served fresh daily.

They’ve been serving up food since May, and this is the first month with a full student population, and they’ll continue to cater events for the school, the same way they did over the summer. The menu is fresh made, locally sourced (when possible) and has  vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options (the GF granola bar was incredible).

Carley sent me home with some of the food and my recommendation? Try the pizza. Squash, roasted peppers and olives. Dough from homemade starter. Now that’s cafeteria food.

Café Urban is open till 7PM, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to both students and the public. It’s located inside Saint Paul’s University, on Main Street.

Serving ginger beer and cream soda from local brewery Kichesippi Beer Co.

Serving ginger beer and cream soda from local brewery Kichesippi Beer Co.

An interview with gluten-free baker Kyra Bussanich

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By: Megan Stulberg

As the FGFS Celiac-on-staff, HBIC Ama approached me about doing an interview with gluten-free baker Kyra Bussanich. I love sweets to no end (I’m writing this while eating leftover berry cobbler that my boyfriend’s mother brought us for dessert last night…for breakfast) so I jumped at the chance to discuss food with a gluten-free goddess like Kyra.

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Kyra Bussanich is both the two-time winner and the only gluten-free competitor of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. In Kyra’s new cookbook, Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle, she shares her delicious recipes for cakes, brownies, cobblers, muffins and more. Kyra filled us in on some the baking secrets she reveals in her book, her experience on Cupcake Wars, and the big plans she has to expand Kyra’s Bakeshop! 

Hardcopy editions of Sweet Cravings can be ordered online through Amazon here and wherever books are sold. 

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Q: First off, congratulations on winning Food Network’s Cupcake Wars…twice! Being the only gluten-free competitor, were you worried that people would view your products differently before even trying them? 

I knew local people really liked my cupcakes, and had often heard that my stuff was tastier than anything else they’d tried–gluten-free or not– so I was fairly confident going into Cupcake Wars the first time. However, there’s always that moment of fear or doubt, where you’re not sure if these judges, who have made and eaten thousands of cupcakes, will agree! The very first time I went on CCW, I was trying to not pass out from nerves…until the judges started talking. Candace Nelson told me she thought we were magical gluten-free elves because the cake was light and fluffy and she couldn’t tell it was gluten-free!

Of course, often when people who didn’t see our episodes hear we won, they say, “Yeah…but it was a gluten-free episode, right?” Some people can’t believe that gluten-free could BEAT traditional cupcakes!

Q: In your brand new cookbook, Sweet Cravings, 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle, you share all the recipes that you’ve perfected.  Which one is your favourite flavour, and why? 

I have a lot of favorites in this book, which is why I included the recipes. Three of the recipes I’m perhaps most excited about are the Lilikoi (passionfruit) Chiffon Pie, the Tiramisu, and the Cannolizelli. I love the Lilikoi pie because I’m a huge fan of passionfruit. It’s tart and bright and more exotic than a lemon, and the pie is just so creamy (without having any cream in it). The Tiramisu was something I did for my customers (it was the #1 most requested recipe they insisted I include!) and I think it’s super tasty. And the Cannolizelli are a favorite because of my memories making cannoli at Christmas with my dad when I was little.

Q: Is there a secret ingredient or trick you use to make your gluten-free cupcakes and baked goods more delicious than regular ones?

I beat my butter and sugar together until it’s SUPER light and fluffy! I really take my time with this. Also, when I’m developing recipes, I really take a look at the desired texture of the pastry, and I tailor the flours and starches I use toward achieving that desired texture. I almost always blend my flours and never use just one. And I shy away from all purpose baking mixes for the most part, because I believe a scone, a cupcake and pie crust should all have different textures.

Q: Was it hard to perfect these recipes? How many different flours did you have to try out before you discovered your favourite?

I found it fairly easy to perfect these recipes, but this is after years of playing with my gluten-free ingredients!  I have spent countless hours (and dollars!) in the kitchen using different products until I discovered what I liked, and what I prefer to stay away from. It also helped me get a sense for not just the flavor, but the texture of the different ingredients.

Q: I was diagnosed with Celiac disease last year and haven’t been as confident baking from scratch since. Is there a particular recipe in Sweet Cravings in particular that you would recommend for a beginner like me? 

Each of the recipes in the book is labeled with it’s difficulty level: Easy, Intermediate, Advanced. So you could start with a few of the easy recipes, until you get more comfortable and confident with your kitchen skills. Good examples of Easy recipes would be the Triple Berry Cobbler, Lemon Pound Cake or Orange Vanilla Dreamsicle cupcakes. Then, when you’ve worked your way through those recipes, you can try some of the Intermediate recipes, like the Hazelnut Pear Tart with Port Wine reduction and Goat Cheese Whipped Cream, or the Tiramisu. Save the Advanced recipes for last!

Q: What was your favourite part about writing Sweet Cravings? 

Each recipe has a personal memory or story attached to it, and recollecting those was my favorite part of writing the book. My husband would probably say taste testing the recipes was HIS favorite part though!

Q: How long did it take you to finalize which recipes to include in Sweet Cravings?  

Some of the recipes were no-brainers (for example, I knew my editor wanted a Cupcake Wars Cupcake Chapter), but it was tough to choose a balance of flavors. With some exceptions, I tend to gravitate away from chocolatey items, but I know that many people LOVE chocolate so I wanted there to be quite a few recipes in the book that use chocolate. If you look at the recipes and the ingredients I use, you’ll see a lot of citrus, but as with everything, it’s all about balance.

Q: Is this your first experience with writing a book? What kind of challenges did you face? 

I’ve written lots of papers and articles, but this was my first experience writing a book, which is a whole other ballgame (from the proposal to execution). Since I had a word max that I was aiming for, I learned a lot about how to tighten up my writing and omit anything. I think my word max was around 29,000 words, but my first draft of the manuscript had over 50,000 words in it, which meant that I had to cut almost half of them! In the editing world, they call this “killing your darlings.” Some were easy to chop, but I definitely had trouble tightening up others.

Q: Your store, Kyra’s Bake Shop, is located in Oregon. Will you consider opening up other locations across America and/or Canada? (I’m dreaming of a Toronto location). 

Absolutely! I’m researching possible next steps for this! In the meantime, I do ship some of my freshly made products to the lower 48 states, and I can ship my Cupcake Wars Winning box mix in North America.

Q: What’s next for you? 

Well, my agent has already pitched my NEXT book to my editor, so I’m starting to think about that, even as I’m trying to promote Sweet Cravings. And of course, I’d LOVE to have my own show! It’s time for a gluten-free show, don’t you think?

 
We have two of Kyra’s recipes to share with you: her apple crisp and her cannolizelli (as seen in the photos above).

APPLE CRISP:
Makes about 8 servings

When we were first on our own, my friend Kim and I often went back and forth to each other’s apartment for dinner. She would always make the most delicious apple crisp for dessert. This is a gluten-free variation on her recipe. Feel free to assemble the apple filling up to 2 days in advance and keep it chilled until you’re ready to bake it. Don’t make the topping ahead of time, though, unless you plan to freeze the whole thing unbaked; the millet flour and butter combination start tasting faintly Parmesany if combined but left unfrozen for more than 2 hours.

  • 6 large / 906 g tart apples (Pippin or Granny Smith)
  • 1/3 cup / 76 g sugar, or 1/4 cup / 76 g maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons / 16 g tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon / 7.8 g ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 1.1 g Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon / .9 g ground ginger
  • Generous pinch / 3.6 g salt
  • 3 tablespoons / 42 g cold butter
  • Topping
  • 1/2 cup / 89 g sweet white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup / 74 g millet flour
  • 1/2 cup / 67 g tapioca starch
  • 1 cup packed / 244 g golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon / 2.6 g ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon / 4.7 g salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 1.1 g Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon / .9 g ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup / 170 g butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup / 68 g gluten-free oats
  • 1/2 cup / 51 g chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4- inch slices. Put the apple slices into a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar over the top. Add the tapioca starch, cinnamon, five-spice, ginger, and salt and toss together to evenly coat the apple slices. Pour into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan, dot the top with pieces of the butter and set aside.
To make the topping, combine the flours, tapioca starch, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, five-spice, and ginger in a mixing bowl. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix in the butter until it is uniformly incorporated into the flour mixture. Stir in the oats and pecans.
Crumble the oat topping evenly over the apples. Bake until the topping is golden brown and set and the apples are warm and bubbly, 55 to 60 minutes.
You can prepare everything ahead of time. Refrigerate the apple filling and keep the topping frozen until ready to assemble and bake. Don’t refrigerate the unbaked topping overnight, as the millet flour will interact with the butter and taste and smell cheesy when it’s baked.

CANNOLIZELLI:

Makes about 18 cannolizelli

When I was a child, our Christmas Day tradition was making cannoli. My dad grew up in the Bronx and was enamored with Ferraro’s Cannoli, a landmark in Little Italy. He had figured out a really great approximation of their recipe, so every year we would carefully stir together the ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, spices, and rum, spoon the cannoli filling into the crispy flour tortilla shells, and dust the whole thing with confectioners’ sugar. Then we would pile the cannoli on paper plates and deliver them to our friends and neighbors. Nowadays, I make cannoli in a gluten-free shell. Here’s how.

  • Shells
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup / 113 g sugar
  • 1/3 cup / 71 g butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 g vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup / 122 g sweet white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup / 31 g tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 g baking powder
  • Filling
  • 1 (15-ounce) container / 425 g whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup / 71 g confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 cup / 59 g heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon / 2.6 g cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon / .9 g freshly grated orange zest
  • 11/2 teaspoons / .8 g rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 g vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup / 43 g semisweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup / 31 g toasted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

To make the shells, using a stand mixer with a whip attachment, whip the egg whites and sugar until very thick and pale and fluffy. Then whip in the butter and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine the flour, starch, and baking powder. Sprinkle into the egg white mixture and blend well.
Drop by small spoonfuls onto a heated, greased Pizelle iron. Close the lid and cook 30 to 45 seconds, until no more steam is escaping and the shell is golden brown. Open the lid and immediately shape the shells around a cannoli tube form or a sanitized broom handle. Be careful because the cannoli will be superhot coming off the iron. I use a fork and then drape the shell around the cannoli form. Let the shells cool on the form before sliding them off. It’s helpful to have 4 or 5 cannoli forms so you can continue to bake while the previous batch is cooling.
To make the filling, mix together the ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, cream, cinnamon, orange zest, rum, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pistachio nuts.
Right before serving, fill a pastry bag with the filling (or use a zip-top bag with a corner snipped off) and gently squeeze the filling into each end of the shells. If you fill them too early, the shells will soften and may break. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.
You can make most of this ahead of time and assemble at the last minute: freeze the baked shells in an airtight container and refrigerate the filling until just before you’re planning to serve. If you want to assemble them ahead of time, melt together 1/2 cup of semisweet or dark chocolate and 11/2 teaspoons of butter and use a small pastry brush to gently paint the inside of the shells with the mixture. This acts as a barrier to the moisture, and also adds more chocolate flavor!

Reprinted with permission from Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle by Kyra Bussanich (Ten Speed Press, © 2013). Photo Credit: Leela Cyd.