Monday, August 31, 2009

Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Ok, so I have a confession to make. Until this year I didn't really understand the plight of the gluten free. In the last few months I've really started hanging out with my GFF Kris. And I realize what a giant pain in the ass it is to be unable to eat gluten, particularly when all of your friends are crazy bakers. Here we are making at least one different baked good a week and nothing for our poor gluten free friend. So, when she informed me that she loved strawberry rhubarb crisp I decided to kill two birds with one stone and cook with rhubarb for the first time and give some gluten free baking a try.

An apple crisp was the first thing I ever learned to bake on my own without my mother looking over my shoulder telling me how to do it. I must have checked the recipe a hundred times and it still came out wrong the first time. My second apple crisp was when I discovered that I could trust my instincts and successfully improvise a good recipe. All of this to explain why a crisp seemed like the safest place to try something new.

I actually made this for a 4th of July party so that there would be something gluten-free to eat. Yeah I know I'm a little behind in the blogging.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

For the crumbly topping:

3/4 cup gluten free baking mix
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
8 tablespoons butter cold
1/2 tsp salt

For the fruit:

3 cups strawberries sliced
1 1/2 cups rhubarb sliced thin
the juice from one lemon
1/2 cup of white sugar
pinch of corn starch ( to hold it together)
2Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and corn starch in a bowl and then pour them into a 9x9 baking pan.

For the topping combine all of the dry ingredients and then work the cold butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it sticks together when pinched, larger chunks of butter are ok, they will provide pockets of buttery goodness. Pour the crumble mixture on top of the fruit. Sprinkle some extra sliced almonds on top for good measure.

Bake for 20-35 minutes, the fruit will be bubbling and the crispy topping will be brown.

Happy eating to all of those out there with gluten intolerance.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stuff to Eat in the Suburbs: Woburn—Masa

This Bostonist got her first brief taste of Masa at the Taste of the Nation event in April. They were serving duck empanadas from their downtown location, a unique dish that really stood out in a night of outstanding food. So, when we discovered that there was a Masa in Woburn and that they were serving a restaurant week menu during the entire month of August, we couldn’t resist. The décor is pleasant and well planned, an obvious southwestern flare expressed in intricate brass wall hangings; providing a great topic to fill any lulls in conversation. The place was full, though not packed, when we visited and the lively light fixtures and fascinating art gave the room a cheery and welcoming atmosphere.
Initially excited by the promise of ½ liter pitchers of sangria for 5 dollars and 5 dollar margaritas, we were delighted to find a prix fixe menu that provided a decent showcase of what this fabulous restaurant has to offer.

The appetizer was a delicious, BBQ short rib quesadilla with truffle crème fraiche and fig salsa. This was an amazing combination of textures and flavors. The beef was tender and sweet with just a hint of salty cheese which contrasted beautifully with the crispy tortilla and the light hint of crème fraiche. The real surprise on the plate was the fig salsa, wonderfully sweet dried figs infused with quite a bit of smoky kick.

The steak frites with guajillo bourbon sauce were a slightly different take on an old standby. The steak was tender and the bourbon sauce provided a subtly spicy and sweet accent and an excellent dipping sauce for the crisp salty frites. The chili lime arugula salad rounded out the plate by adding a fresh touch, the tang of the lime cleansed the palate as it cut through the lingering flavors of the bourbon sauce.

We ended our pre-fix menu with a molten chocolate cake. The cake was not quite molten, more soft and nicely rich and chocolaty. The vanilla ice cream was very light, the perfect accompaniment. Surprisingly the fresh raspberry sauce stood out above the other items on the plate, pleasantly intense with the perfect balance of sweet and sour.

Overall Masa was a great dining experience; the staff was friendly and accommodating. The sangria was very tasty, though more fruit juice than wine, and the margaritas were a decent size for five dollars and by contrast deliciously potent. We highly suggest concentrating your dining on Masa’s southwestern dishes since this seems to be where they really shine. Masa’s menu is available on their website, as well as directions and special events.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm Baaaack

After a long trip to California and two weeks of getting myself back together I have tons to blog about. There will be plenty coming in the next few weeks from recipes to reports about awesome things I encountered in California. Not to mention the great galette experiement. Oh September, who ever thought you could hold so much interest. So stay tuned, or have your google reader remind you when I update whatever works.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stuff to Eat in the Suburbs: Waltham—In A Pickle

If you’re not interested in IHOP, it can sometimes be a struggle to find a decent place that serves breakfast on week days. While many restaurants will happily serve you brunch on the weekends, or in some cases just Sunday, it can be difficult to find somewhere to grab breakfast before work or on a random week day. While this Bostonist first visited In A Pickle looking for a new lunch option with a friend from out of town, as soon as we entered we knew that this was a restaurant that specialized in breakfast.

The recently updated menu is enormous, offering everything from omelets and M&M pancakes to Cobb Salad and Crispy Chicken Wraps. So it does a great job of catering to people with varying tastes. While some people might call In A Pickle a greasy spoon, the décor feels like a combination between a diner and a submarine, this Bostonist has not been greased out by anything she has eaten there.

One of the first things we tried there were the Banana Pancakes. The slices of slightly under-ripe banana are caramelized by their contact with the hot grill. The pancakes are light, moist, and sweet and the banana adds a dark caramel tang to make each bite perfectly balanced, no syrup required. We were distressed to discover that the new menu added chocolate chips to their banana pancakes. But upon tasting this new iteration we discovered that the chocolate chips make these already wonderful pancakes even better, adding a light cocoa accent to the already amazing mix of flavors. These pancakes are so good that they even survive being taken out and eaten at home!

The omelets at In A Pickle are light and fluffy and fully loaded with any combination of fillings you can imagine. As far as sandwiches go, they recently introduced a few new options including the delicious Grilled Apple Bacon and Cheddar sandwich, a panini that is a delightful combination of sweet apples, smoky bacon, and salty cheddar all grilled in between thick tangy slices of sourdough bread.

On weekend mornings In A Pickle can be so packed that a line heads out onto main street, sometimes there is even a waiting list, but during the week, or on weekends after noon you can usually slip in to a table right away. In A Pickle offers both breakfast and lunch options from 6am—3pm and you can check out their extensive menu online. Everything on the menu is also available for take-out. In A Pickle is a great place to get breakfast or lunch in-house or on-the-go next time you have a hankering for fantastic pancakes head on over to In A Pickle on Main street in Waltham you won’t be disappointed!

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