Monday, June 29, 2009

GLUTEN FREE CALAMARI






















The other day I had to run a delivery for GF Patisserie on the west end of town, which is really close to Bruno's house. So I decided to call him and see if he wants to go for a glass of wine.
Ehm. Well, Italians prefer to drink at home I guess. he invited me over for "a glass of wine" which should have taken what, 5 minutes, ten on the outside?

But Bruno was in the middle of cooking dinner. So you cannot just gulp down a glass of Brunello, you have to stay for dinner. HAVE TO!
The smell in his kitchen was very much the same as at a Trattoria in San Remo's harbour. Full of flavors. Overpowering flavors. Can't just leave without at least trying his creation.

He made stuffed Calamari in tomato sauce. Who makes those kind of dishes at home anymore?
Get yourself an Italian friend. They do. Hang out in Bridgeland and chat up an Italian. You won't regret it.

The Calamari were excellent, tender, and the stuffing, a mixture of bread cubes, spices and fish was exquisite. What a dinner.
But when I got home and told Victoria about my little side trip, she sent me straight to the dog house.....how could I? Visit Bruno without her. But she can't eat gluten was my lame excuse.
To suck up to my darling, I went to recreate Bruno's dinner at our house this weekend, but of course gluten free.

I used leftover bread from my Panini escapade this past Saturday, stuffed the Calamari just the way Bruno told me to, made a tomato sauce from scratch, pink, not red, just like Bruno told me to, first quickly pan fried the Calamari before covering them in sauce and let them bake in the oven for another 30 minutes. Very much like Bruno.

But I think Bruno held out on me. Something secret he uses, or maybe he put in wine that he did not tell me about. Or, let's face the fact, he is a genius in the kitchen. "Don't need to say BAM! all the time" he told me...
My Calamari turned out very good and Victoria can eat them, but let me tell you, Italians do it better. Way better. Bruno needs to open a cooking school.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

GF PATISSERIE IS OPEN ON CANADA DAY




Never had time to drive to Cochrane? Work, work work? Too much traffic? Snowing? No more excuses.

Wednesday July 1st, our very own Canada Day.
Victoria & Lauren are open from Noon to 7pm. Just for you. So finally you too can experience what your friends have been telling you all along. The bakery is worth the drive. There will be cupcakes....

Friday, June 26, 2009

CALGARY'S NICEST PATIO











Calgary's summers are so short, we take advantage of every mintue of sunshine to entertain, dine, or just spend time outside.
One of the better food bloggers in Alberta wrote a great post about BONTERRA, a place that I remember as Virgina's from way back. The pictures of the food were very enticing and the comment about the patio made me want to go there for lunch. Add Bruno, my Italian pal and you had a great combination for lunch.

As it was lunch rush, I did not ask for any gluten free options, but if you want to read about the food, click here:


I want to tell you about the patio. Hidden behind an ochre colored wall is the most beautiful setup for dining I have seen in Calgary. Lots of flowers in pots and hanging baskets, two strategic located fireplaces for cooler nights and a second level a few steps up. needless to say it was packed. Yes, the food was excellent, but the patio was the primary experience.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

GLUTEN FREE PANINIS TO GO







OK. As previously mentioned, GF Patisserie will sell some gluten free Paninis this Saturday.
From Noon to 2pm. Grilled and ready to go. Five bucks.

We just made a proto type with mild Soppressata, cheese and couple of basil leaves. A nice dipping sauce on the side, that Panini turned out fantastic. So if you come out to Cochrane this Saturday, drop in and get a great Panini. It's worth it.

GLUTEN FREE MACARONS







Calgary NOT being a french influenced city, there certainly is a shortage of good Macarons here. A year ago I told Victoria to start making some, as I firmly believe that they are not only excellent, they are also in demand. Maybe one day.....

However, there is a great little french place in Calgary, called L'Epicerie. Located right next door to our local chocolate king, Bernard Callebaut and flanked on the other side by Manuel Latruwe, who makes this city's best baguette, L'Epicerie has some excellent foot traffic built in from the two neighbors.
I finally made it there the other day and it is a gem to go for a quick sandwich (NOT GF) or soup. The owner makes his own Pates and next time I will ask if they are gluten free.
What I found this time that was 100% gluten free, are Macarons. That little french delight of almond flour and egg whites, filled with jams, creams or ganache.

Raspberry and Chocolate were the choices he had that day, so I bought a couple of them for Victoria. A little hint maybe? A perfect treat to make at GF Patisserie.....
Image credit of the door picture goes to the guys at foodosopher.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I WANT THAT PIZZA OVEN
















On my constant quest for the perfect gluten free Pizza, I recently started to look into wood fired Pizza ovens. My online research lead me to the most unlikely place to find a great oven. Black Diamond, Alberta. Black Diamond?

A mother daughter team, Jill & Heath, import one of the best if not the best residential Pizza oven from Italy, Mugnaini. Italy's original wood fired ovens.
Though I was very skeptical to be able to find this in Black Diamond, a visit to their show kitchen convinced me that this the real thing. This weekend I drove to the foothills and to inspect the oven Jill installed to show off this premium product.

By the time I got there, a fire made of apple wood was ready in this massive rustic red Pizza oven and all the makings of a Pizza were ready as well. The best way to show off an oven like this, is to make a Pizza for a prospective buyer Jill told me.
And right she is. The Pizza Heath made for me was done in about 2 minutes, at a temperature of around 800 degrees. The dough was PERFECT, the Pizza very tasty.


Now, I should have brought a gluten free Pizza shell from GF Patisserie to see how it would turn out, but I am certain this is the way to go. A real tasty, crispy gluten free Pizza!
What do you think of a gluten free Pizza party with Victoria's Pizza shells made in a wood fired oven? Anyone wants to come down to Black Diamond with us and try it? I think that would be a great party!

If you need more info on an original Italian Pizza oven, Jill can be reached at: (403) 933-8862















Wednesday, June 17, 2009

GF PATISSERIE GOT A NEW TOY


A shiny brand new 20qt mixer. With this machine they can make more and more gluten free baked goods for you!

Monday, June 15, 2009

GLUTEN FREE DOUGHNUTS
















So. Who wants to move in with us? We got room.
See, the thing is, not everything Victoria makes at home, will be available at GF Patisserie. They are too busy with what's already being made. So the best solution is to apply for gluten free gourmet asylum and move in with us. Then you too could have had gluten free Doughnuts today.

When I got back from Isabella's school today, the smell of hot oil was so strong I thought Victoria made french fries or something. But no. Better. Doughnuts. Glazed ones. Still warm.

Amazing. Soft, flavorfull and a bit closer to "Krapfen" (Austrian style doughnuts) than Krispy Kreme.
Victoria, given the right support, could take GF Patisserie to a whole other level, that's for sure. One step at a time I guess.

Who's moving in?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

GLUTEN FREE TRIFLE
















Ah. GF Patisserie. Cupcake heaven for Celiacs. This past weekend Victoria sold the most cupcakes since opening a year ago.

But you should know, not all things work out in gluten free baking. In any baking I guess. A batch of lemon scented cupcakes just did not want to perform to Martha Stewart' s (who must be Victoria's distant relative) standards of perfection and just sat there in the oven. Fluffy, but little. Half pints, sort of?


Any normal bakery would chuck the batch and get going. Not so Victoria. They landed in our house Friday night, very much to my sugar addicted taste buds. I thought I can just pop them one at a time, maybe leave a few for breakfast or so?

Change of plan. Victoria's orders. STOP EATING THEM! They are for a Berry trifle. Berry trifle? As in whipped cream and Custard? Raspberries and Strawberries? I wait, no problem.

This is what I had for Sunday breakfast. A Cappuc and a couple of servings of this trifle. Unreal, isn't it?

Friday, June 12, 2009

NOT SO GLUTEN FREE CRAVINGS




Finally got a chance to visit a restaurant in Calgary that was on my radar for a while. Cravings, a "fresh market food" type restaurant is part of a larger catering company here in town.
Set up with a few different food statuions, you order food from the chefs manning the individual cooking areas and the wait staff then serves the plates to your table. A similar, yet much smaller concept of Moevenpick's in Europe. You can find those along the Autobahn in Austria Switzerland and Germany.

The Pizza oven was on full blast and the Pizza inside looked very good, so I opted for that. My lunch buddies had Pasta and a seafood casserole. I have to say the food was very well presented and tasted very good as well. So if you are NOT a Celiac, let me recommend this place. The patio alone is worth a visit.
Almost as a routine though , just in case I would want to schlepp Victoria there one day, I had to ask a server about gluten free options.
Can't be that difficult I thought, it's all prepped fresh, plus they own a large catering company. They should know how to handle a common request like that.
Ehm, not so. The server went to speak with the head chef who basically told me that they are not prepared to guarantee anything being gluten free.

Come again? What do you mean can't guarantee....
Well, it turns out you CAN have the Rotisserie Chicken. But no sides. OK. Short and to the point. No guarantees.
Victoria, you won't have to come here with me for lunch.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

IF YOU ARE HEADED TO VEGAS.....






















.....and enjoy cooking, you have to visit the Wiliams-Sonoma outlet store in Primm. Maybe 35 minutes south on the I-15, hard on the border to California, gets you to a great outlet mall with Victoria's favorite cooking supply store.

Even for me, this store is fantastic. Not th cheapest company to begin with, this store is where all the overstock from the western US ends up in. With huge price reductions. As well some reconditioned items. My overall estimate is that the store's prices are about 50 to 70% less than anything in Canada.

In our case, we were able to get an extra 15% discount after asking the sales lady for it. they always have something to offer, in our case, she gave us a local trade discount....

If you shop right, you "save enough" to pay for your airline tickets. I know Victoria did. For sure.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

CALLEBAUT CHOCOLATE CONFUSION

























With the recent headlines about the 2 month shut down of production at BERNARD CALLEBAUT'S Calgary facility there was a lot of concerned customers at GF Patisserie. After all, both Victoria and Lauren tell everybody that they use CALLEBAUT chocolate for their baking.

What will they do, what will they use were the most common asked questions.

Ah. In comes BARRY CALLEBAUT. THIS Callebaut is the world's leading manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate. Based in Zurich, they sell over four Billion worth of products annually.
GF Patisserie buys BARRY CALLEBAUT chocolate in bulk and they will not close down their plants this summer.
So, rest assured there will be plenty of chocolate ganache, butter cream, brownies, Cookies and all the other delicious treats available for all of you, your friends, neighbors, bosses, coworkers and your family.



Saturday, June 06, 2009

GLUTEN FREE CUPCAKES
















This is not my first post on cupcakes and I doubt it is my last. Already a year ago my opinion was that the cupcake craze is over. Wrong I am.

As a matter of fact, today I am going to check out BLISS, a bakery that focuses on those cupcakes in Calgary's Chinatown. It's a regular bakery, not gluten free. But I am curious, as they got a lot of comments on Chowhound.

On Wednesday Victoria made a small batch of gluten free cupcakes for a special order and there were a few left. So I decided to put a small note on Facebook (Yes, I hijacked GF Patisserie's Facebook page) since many of GF Patisserie's customers are on there. Just to make sure people know that there are some cupcakes.

Wow. The power of Facebook. Victoria got so many emails and phone calls, she had to make quite a few more batches to just keep up with the requests. This just shows how much I know about trends.... what about my poppy seed cake? Why did THAT never take off the way cupcakes did? I was very sure of it being the next thing. THREE YEARS AGO.

Anyway, I am not going to wax about the quality of GF Patisserie's cupcakes, those of you who already tried some, can attest that they are brilliant. For sure GF Patisserie has the nicest wrappers, imported from Italy.
Personally, no problem if there are not any, I can live without them, but when Victoria brings home a few of the ones with chocolate ganache, I eat them all.
As a small side note, yes the last images was taken today, June 6th, 2009. We woke up to snow on the ground.
Victoria is adamant it is a sign for us to open up a GF B&B in the south of France. So I told her I will poll you:

Q.: Will you follow us to the south of France, and stay at our Bed & Breakfast, where it's all gluten free, all the time?