Month: March 2015

Stock Up on Great Gluten-free Products

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Passover is a celebration of freedom from slavery; it’s also a happy time of year for anyone following a gluten free diet.  The dietary rules for Passover exclude grains and beans for the eight days of the holiday.  Companies who cater to the Passover restrictions will alter their products to be compliant with the rules – the result is many more gluten-free products than are usually available.  It’s a time of year to stock up on these items so you can use them year round.

Gluten-free matzoh.  They come plain or onion flavored – I like the onion better, but these are great crackers I love having them year round (I buy about 8 boxes at Passover).   I served this for the first time last year.  My guests at the seder preferred the gluten-free matzoh to the regular one.  Unfortunately, it costs about $12 per box instead of the $3 to $5 for regular matzoh.

Let’s talk noodles.  Although there are plenty of gluten free pastas around, and pasta is a noodle, there are not many noodles.  You might ask what’s the diff?  To me it’s the texture.  Noodles are less dense than pasta and the Passover noodles have very little flavor – which is an asset especially when you are talking about chicken noodle soup (I use the thin noodles for soup)

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– or kugel (I use the wide noodles for kugel).

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I think these noodles are so good that they taste just like the ones with gluten in them.

I also found soy sauce that not only is gluten free but is also soy free!

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And let’s talk Coca Cola…did you know the kosher for Passover coke is made with sugar instead of corn syrup (corn is a grain and not allowed on Passover).  Look for the coke with the yellow caps – I know people who stockpile it this time of year.

So Happy Passover shopping – look for a noodle pudding (kugel) on Tuesday.



Paleo Passover Crackers and Paleo Dog Biscuits

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian *  Parve * Paleo ~~~

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It’s no secret that I love and miss crackers.  After nine months of paleo, I have finally created really good paleo crackers; the good news is since grains and beans are no-nos on paleo, these are also kosher for Passover.  In fact, as Passover approaches, it occurs to me that I don’t have to do anything different from my usual foods to be on board for Passover – how easy is that?

But Paleo Dog Biscuits?  No, I haven’t gone off the deep end…Paleo Dog was not my idea at all.  Bella has had several bouts with ear problems and her vet suggested it may be due to allergies and the best thing I can do for her is remove grain, beef, and poultry from her diet.  This leaves me with no treats for her.  The good news is – she loves these paleo crackers.

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The funny expressions on her face are because she kept licking her chops in anticipation of the “cookie” and I couldn’t photograph her fast enough to show you.

Jammin’ Collard Greens and Leeks

Wheat free * Dairy free * Gluten free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo~~~

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I never really ate collards until I started working on a cookbook for Sylvia Woods (of Sylvia’s Restaurant fame in Harlem).  She needed a recipe tester for her book “Woods Family Cookbook” (which is really a great book) so I sat with her at her corner table and when she asked about my experience with soul food I confessed I had none.  BUT, I assured her, I was a quick study and once I’ve tasted something I can cook it – and more importantly, create a recipe for it.  So began a great romance – actually two romances…my love of Sylvia, her husband Herbert and their family and my love of soul food.  In her 20’s, Sylvia came up to New York from Hemingway, South Carolina and worked as a waitress in a small diner in Harlem.  Eventually she bought the dinner and started to grow the business to the world famous restaurant and catering business it currently is.

The recipe development process started with me tasting all the dishes Sylvia served at the restaurant – and culminated with one of the greatest weekends of memory.  The theme of the book is recipes from not just Sylvia but also from all her friends and family.  I would test a few in my kitchen and then every Tuesday I would go up to the restaurant and Sylvia would taste them and let me know if they tasted “right” or needed more work.  After about a month, we (Sylvia and her family, the publisher, the public relations person, and I) boarded a plane for South Carolina and we were off for the weekend.  The high point of the weekend was the Sunday lunch at the church where everyone who had submitted a recipe cooked it and brought it with them.  I got to get a real feel for what these recipes were supposed to be and who the people were behind the recipes.  It was  a truly remarkable and memorable experience.  I came back to New York feeling like a real member of the family – and what a wonderful family it is.

We lost Herbert in 2001 and Sylvia in 2012…but just so you get a sense of who they were…in addition to being wonderful people and exceptional hosts, greeting guests making sure everyone was enjoying themselves; every year on the anniversary of the restaurant, Sylvia’s set up a free buffet right outside the restaurant for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to eat.

Sylvia prepared her collards with smoked turkey wings for seasoning.  I developed this vegetarian recipe which, although different from Sylvia’s is just as good in it’s own way.