Gluten-free Pretzels


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Taffetts Bakery provides the widest range of gluten-free baked goods that I’ve ever come across.

My daughter’s eyes light up when she views the array of muffins, biscotti, baguettes, rolls on display at this dedicated gluten-free bakery at 1024 S 9th Street in Bella Vista, Philadelphia. Just check out the Yelp reviews to find out what the fuss is all about!

With football season on us, why miss out on the fast food that traditionally accompanies the Sunday or Monday night game?

Everyone knows that Glutino pretzles are a must – even non Celiac sufferers eat them without realizing that they are gluten free!  Well now you can even enjoy real fresh Philly Soft Pretzels with salt crystals from Taffetts.  (And these are almost as good as the traditional soft pretzels, which is saying something.)

It’s worth detouring to Taffetts to try out baker Omer Taffett’s inspired baked goods:  Taffetts sells everything from fresh bagels (in four different varieties!), challah bread, which is indistinguishable from the traditional wheat based challah, to crunchy yet soft baguettes.

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There’s even a debate raging online about which of his two multiseed loaves is the best – the fresh baked quinoa or the teff loaf.  I’m staying out of this one…

As a Celiac sufferer, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything when you visit Taffetts.

The bakery does sell out of its most popular lines, so you may want to order stuff online.  Taffetts doesn’t do delivery, but Omer will set stuff aside if you notify him in advance. To email your order,  contact





Burratina – Queen of Cheeses

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Was I the last to know?

I only tried this lush soft mozzarella type cheese this summer — and then had it twice in succession. I am now an addict.

This cheese performs fantastically when cooked, but is astounding when eaten fresh, fresh, fresh.

Living round the corner from the Italian market in Philly, I can readily lay my hands on fresh burratina.  Failing that, Wholefoods and Di Bruno Bros., are both good options.

This salad was beyond great and oh so simple.

Tomato, Mint, Burratina Salad

1 x heirloom tomato thinly sliced

1x ball of fresh burratina

1x cup of chickpeas

1x tsp black olives finely chopped

sprig of mint

Olive oil and salt and pepper to dress the salad


  1. Assemble main ingredients prettily on plate
  2. Drizzle olive oil dressing
  3. top with fresh mint leaves


With one ball of burratina left, I decided to make a baked pasta for dinner, replacing the ricotta with a cheesy white sauce and fresh burratina.  This cheese is a little difficult to handle, because when you slice the cheese, the squishy inside tends to burst out.  No matter… scoop the lot up and use every last drop of it.  It makes for a rich and memorable supper.



Perfectly Grilled Filet


I know grilling meat is often considered the “men’s department”, but I”m an equal opportunity cook. I recently pulled off some beautifully grilled filet mignons that would have impressed the most macho carnivore.  Here’s my method, which worked for 1 inch thick steaks; for thicker steaks increase cooking time:

Remove meat from fridge 2 hours before cooking to allow it to come to room temp.

Thirty minutes before cooking, splash it with red wine, and give it a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Heat the grill to 500.

Place the steaks on the grill, close cover, and leave for two minutes.

Open the grill and rotate (don’t flip) steaks by 90 degrees — this makes those impressive hashed grill marks.  Cover grill and leave for another two minutes.

Open the grill, flip the steaks, and repeat previous step.  (Total cooking time was 8 minutes for rare steaks.)

Remove steaks from grill, cover with foil, and let sit for five minutes.



Exotic Mushroom Risotto

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I don’t often serve meatless dinners, because my family is a bunch of carnivores.

Risotto is one of those meals however where, if you get the ingredients right, then you don’t actually notice that there is no meat on your plate,

That’s not to say that this recipe is a vegetarian meal, because I like to use chicken stock as the base for the risotto.  (And I did actually give in to our carnivorous instincts and serve the risotto with grilled sliced chicken…)

But the thought was there.

The dinner was inspired by a glorious looking pack of exotic Chinese mushrooms at Wholefoods featuring shitake mushrooms and some bright yellow frilly mushroom that I tried to look up online and find the name for, to no avail.  In my quest to identify the mushrooms, I came across this freaky-deaky website detailing mushrooms in all shades of the rainbow.

The recipe itself is extremely simple.  The exotic mushrooms all changed to a reassuring shade of mushroom brown on cooking…Thanks to (my everyday go to) for this gourmet risotto recipe.

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I am a huge fan of tarragon and liberally sprinkled fresh strands of this herb all over the grilled chicken and risotto.


How to Make Grilled Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki


While out to dinner with a houseguest at Talula’s Garden recently, we debated our main course selections.  She wavered between the day boat scallops and the grilled lamb meatballs.  I advised her to go with the scallops and promised to make grilled lamb meatballs the following night for dinner.  The scallops were divine, and I headed to the market bright and early the next day to procure the fixings for the lamb dish.

I envisioned a well seasoned, nicely charred orb on a skewer served with a healthy scoop of homemade tzatziki.  And that is more or less what happened, save the skewer.  I tried meatballs small and large, but they fell off the wooden skewer.  I tried a sausage shape, but the same thing occurred.  Finally, I pitched the skewers and formed small patties.  Worked like a charm.  Here’s my recipe, which served 8 generously.

Lamb Burgers

2 1/2 lbs ground lamb

1 large onion, chopped finely

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, oregano, and any other herb you desire

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 egg

1/4 cup yogurt

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


1.  Mix all ingredients well.  I used a Kitchen Aid mixer to emulsify the fat thoroughly.

2.  Form patties of desired size; I was going for smallish, slider size discs (about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick), but if you are aiming for a more typical burger style serving, then take  a larger handful.

3.  Grill on medium high heat about 4 minutes per side for medium. Serve immediately topped with Tzatziki (recipe follows).


1 pint greek yogurt (I used non fat but any concentration works)

1 large cucumber, peeled and grated into bowl (include liquid)

a fistful of mint leaves

salt and pepper to taste (be generous)

juice of 1/2 lime

Mix all ingredients, chill, and serve with lamb burgers.  This also works nicely as a side unto itself served in small bowls alongside any grilled dish.  You can also use it as a salad dressing, tossed over greens.



Light Chicken Alfredo

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Our family is split down the middle on the question of red or white sauce with pasta.  I’m in the white sauce camp, and my difficult daughter agrees; she doesn’t like the texture of tomatoes.

I’m not a huge fan of carbonara, because of the quantity of eggs involved AND I tend to spoil the recipe by wandering away mid recipe to make a phone call so that my spaghetti carbonara invariably turns to scrambled egg spaghetti.


This light Chicken Alfredo recipe leans on just two eggs, still includes heavy cream, but lightens the sauce with a generous quantity of chicken stock.

I threw in crispy turkey bacon and caramelized onions for added oomph: I only wish I’d used more garlic…

It was still very good indeed.

I am indebted to my stock online resource for this Chicken Alfredo recipe.

To make a gluten free friendly version of this recipe, simply use gluten free pasta and double double check that there is no wheat filler or yeast in the chicken stock that you use.

Home Baked Cuban Bread (Gluten-free!)


This recipe was very tasty and had a great texture.  Thumbs up from the whole family!

This recipe was very tasty and had a great texture. Thumbs up from the whole family!

My daughter had a meal at Alma de Cuba in Center City Philadelphia and came home raving about the bread there – it’s gluten-free and she didn’t wind up feeling like a second-class citizen.

I jumped online to find the recipe; I struggled.  Most of the recipes use real wheat flour.  No good. I saw some recipes for gluten-free foccacia, but I wanted to make CUBAN bread, because it sounds cooool.

After much surfing, I found this recipe embedded in a Cuban Pork sandwich recipe.  I’ve not tried the full recipe, but I have ‘borrowed’ ie nicked wholesale the recipe from this blogger.

Credit where it’s due, to try this recipe, visit the following blog

The recipe uses a Bob’s Red Mill gluten free bread mix and is so easy.  (There are a scant five ingredients!).  Idiot proof, for sure.

If the bread is this good, I can’t wait to try the full recipe!

Gluten Free Stonewall Donuts

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Very excited to find a mix for gluten-free donuts from Stonewall Kitchen – that purveyor of delicious condiments, dips and spices.  I’d not tried any of their baked goods mixes before but I grabbed this one when I saw it in the food section of Marshalls (you just never know where interesting gluten-free produce will show up!)

“It’s bad”, said my sweet toothed Celiac daughter when I served her the tenderly made steaming fresh donut.  Well they looked good.  But unfortunately she was right..they taste like the lint you pick out of your tumble dryer – I’ve not tried it myself, but that gives you a good idea of the texture of the donuts.

What a disappointment.  This one is a no-no.

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Looks just aint enough, as every mother knows!

On the upside, these Nairns oatmeal cookies are the bees-knees.  They come in snack packs and unlike many other cardboard like gluten free cookies these ones are actually indistinguishable from non gluten-free food.  And the cookies are GUARANTEED GLUTEN-FREE; they are grown on a farm in Wisconsin by a farming family who are all Celiacs and take this stuff very seriously.


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Gooooooo Wisconsin Farmers.



Korean Chicken Sliders


With less than 24 hours notice, my son informed me he was hosting friends to watch the USA play Belgium in the World Cup – and could I put on some food for them.  Always ready to feed said son and friends (it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble), I chose to test out a ridiculously simple chicken sliders recipe.

I found the recipe in a gluten-free mag and unlike most gluten free recipes, the ingredient list was short and sweet:


1lb chicken breasts off the bone and skinned

1 jar of gluten free Asian bbq or Korean style bbq sauce

Small bunch of scallions

Rolls to serve

It’s hard to believe it’s that easy!



1. Place chicken and sauce in slow cooker

2. Cook on high for two hours and low for approx four hours.   (Test the chicken breast; you know when it’s done when it falls apart easily)

3. Lightly toast bread rolls and then fill with the cooked chicken meat and sprinkle finely diced scallions on top of the chicken.


Pep it up!

Having tried this once now, I plan to chop and change the recipe and pep it up a bit…

* Add extra heaped teaspoon of pureed garlic to make sauce flavor more intense

* Add 1 cup of ginger beer to increase that Asian dynamic!

* Make a side salad of fresh bean sprouts, chopped coriander, sliced tinned water chestnuts finely sliced and a couple of finely chopped radishes; add 1 tbsp of mayonnaise and make an Asian-style slaw to serve as a side.

* Use sesame topped bread rolls to add to the crunch

My photos tell the story. By adding some interesting sides and garnishes, what was initially a quick fix supper becomes a proper robust dinner.  Serves 4.

USA lost by the way.  The goalie was my “man of the match”, if you’re interested.



Butter Tomato Sauce: Grazie, Marcella Hazan

In this season of bountiful tomatoes, I’m always on the hunt for a good use of them.  Thanks to the esteemed Marcella Hazan’s justifiably famed Butter Tomato Marinara, I recently discovered a new one.  Here’s the recipe.

I did use fresh tomatoes, which means I peeled them.  Not my favorite use of time, but the first time I try a new recipe I try to follow it accurately.  Since the rest of the sauce was so blissfully simple and undemanding, I actually might repeat this method.  But, it is also recommended to use high quality canned (read:  already peeled) tomatoes, and particularly if I were feeding a crowd, I would go that route.


Per the recipe, I peeled and coarsely chopped the tomatoes, and placed them in a pot with butter, salt,  and an onion cut in half.




I simmered it, uncovered, on med-low for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing the large tomato pieces with the spoon.



When the sauce was a uniform texture, it was done.  I served it with fresh spinach gnocchi, topped with parmesan cheese and snipped basil leaves pulled from the garden that afternoon.

Gracie, Marcella.