Review – The Accidental Dinner at Urbanos

Kari and I had reservations for a wine dinner at Jimmy’s Food Store one evening, and the dinner was cancelled. So a very nice gentleman from Jimmy’s not only gave us two bottles of wine gratis but suggested that we take them next door to Urbano’s to have with dinner. So we did. And I am so glad that we  took his advice.

I had eaten there before but Kari had not. This was a real treat.

Urbanos bills themselves and American/Italian Bistro. It’s  a Chef driven restaurant that features a good basic American/Italian menu in addition to, a specialty menu that features local signature offerings with a twist. I asked the waiter to show me what was Gluten-free and he remarked that almost anything can be made Gluten-free per request. Even the Panko Crusted Salmon, they would just leave off the Panko. Why can’t it always be that easy?

As a starter we split the Confit Of Baby Beets Salad – I’m trying to be all about the beets since I know how healthy they are and it was outstanding. We both enjoyed it immensely.

Confit Beet Salad

I ordered off the regular menu and had Pan Seared Scallops with lemon risotto and Dijon cream sauce.

Seared Scallops

Kari chose to order off the nightly specials menu and had Mahi with risotto – it was excellent also.

Mahi

With so many options it was really hard to make a decision. I’ve already got my pick for a return visit. Italian Sausage Risotto { with Jimmy’s Homemade Italian sausage, San Marzano tomatoes, leeks, pancetta, English peas, asparagus and summer squash .} Oh yea!

Be an insider & signup for the mailing list .  They often have music, happy hours and wine tastings on the back patio. In addition to four course guest chef dinners.

 

BYOB Policy.

BYOB Corkage Per Person – $5

Urbano Cafe offers BYOB service to all diners. Our secondary dining room, Two Doors Down, offers BYOB to diners and also has a variety of beer and wine by the glass or bottle. For those not dining at Two Doors Down, and for those enjoying appetizers and drinks on The Back Porch, BYOB does not apply.

Pineapple Hoisin Chicken

I used to make this chicken recipe pre-gluten free and for some reason it just popped in my head…really popped –  I’m driving to the grocery store and I say to myself “why do I not make Pineapple chicken?”  Recently found this  GF Hoisin sauce. You don’t use much but it has a punch to it.

You can grill it on an outdoor grill or inside on a grill pan. Grill 4-5 min. per side or cooked through. Put all the ingredients {except for pineapple slices} in a zip lock bag and marinate for at least 3 hrs. or over night.  Pour a little oil on a folded paper towel, pickup with tongs and rub oil on grill or grill pan so your chicken won’t stick. When chicken is almost done grill 1 – 2 pineapple rings per person on grill for 2 min. each side. {serve with chicken}

Handy dandy herb chopper picked up in Alaska

4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts

Pineapple slices in juice.

2 t. fresh ground black pepper

1 t. of garlic powder

2 1/2 T. Hoisin sauce

1/4 cup Soy sauce

1/2  cup Pineapple juice (from canned pineapple)

1/4 cup Olive oil

1/4 cup Fresh basil leaves roughly chopped

Forgot to take my pineapple’s picture.

This marinade is also good for pork and salmon {salmon should only be marinated 30 min. -1 hr.}. It’s very well balanced in flavor, not one flavor is the star they all work together.

 

Easy Peasy Breakfast

I’m all about the easy…don’t judge.

Last night I had a craving for roasted veggies to go with my steak skewers.  I don’t do anything complicated – just cut & toss with salt, pepper and olive oil and roast at 425′. But that another post.

In the mix I had, potatoes , quartered cremini  mushrooms, red & yellow sweet bell peppers, zucchini & halved grape tomatoes {which I toss in at the last 5 min.} I made twice as much as I was going to eat so I could have them in the morning with eggs.

The first time I had something like this, was when I traveled to Chicago with my friend Joy. Baked eggs in casserole with roasted vegetables and tomato sauce was a signature dish on the breakfast menu at our hotel. Sometimes I add tomato sauce, sometimes salsa, it just depends what’s on hand or my mood. Since I had tomatoes in my vegetables I left out the sauce/salsa.

In the morning – take out leftover veggies. Spray individual casserole(s) with spay oil and add the vegetables. Turn oven on to pre-heat at 400′. Put vegetables in the oven while it’s pre-heating (to take the chill off them from the fridge).

When the oven reaches 400′ take out the casserole and break two eggs over the veg. {if you’re not good at breaking eggs, you can break them in to a small bowl first and then slide them over the vegetables} -then grate fresh parmesan over the eggs. Back in the oven they go for 10 min. Done!

I had some leftover avocado so I added a little on top along with fresh ground black pepper. So good – so fresh – no regrets.

 

 

Travel – It’s not as scary as it sounds.

In honor of #tbt I thought I’d share some pics of our trip to Italy in 2014. Don’t be afraid to travel, do your homework, be careful and most of all, be prepared. See all the “plane food” I took just in case.

Homemade travel pack

The airlines both directions did come through for us, but it was a long flight. All that’s needed to assure GF in-flight meals is the international code “GFML” when reserving seats. And double check before you leave. But have a backup plan.

Snack provided by airline

The Italians are very aware of Gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease. They are educated on it. Children are now routinely tested for the disease and sensitivity before kindergarten. Families are given a stipend to help offset the cost of Gluten-free food.

And we didn’t feel singled out. Ask for a Gluten-free menu, it’s brought to you with a smile instead of a roll of the eye. No Gluten-free menu, the waiter will go tell the chef, then come back and say “no problem”. A few minutes later he returns with this platter of yumminess and all the other diners are looking at you with jealousy.

Try asking the front desk of your  in the U.S. hotel for directions to the nearest restaurant that has a Gluten-free menu…good luck! In Siena not only did they give us directions, they called ahead and told them we were coming.

Sanza Glutine menu Siena

In Florence we took a drive up in the mountains with a guide. We had dinner at the table of a local family. Not one item had gluten in it. The food was so good, we only ate the homemade ice cream to be polite because we were so full.

Seafood in Venice

I emailed all our hotels and they all had gluten free options for breakfast. Usually it was in sealed plastic packs in a basket And when we were going on excursions , the hotels offered us some of the GF items they had, for us to take along with us. Pack plastic sandwich bags so you can pack up food to take on tours just in case.

Gluten-free additions to the breakfast buffet.

Italian pharmacies are required by law to have a Gluten-free section. The pharmacy’s were so easy to find just look for a sign like this.

All Italian grocery stores and markets have a GF section, carrying basics like pasta, bread, crackers, and other baked products. One of the first things we did was go to the large grocery store in Siena and stock up on cheese and salami – we even took it with us on the train to Rome.

We even got GF breadsticks w/Nutella on a train. From Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome and side trips in between it was “Senza Glutine” !

And we decided, that we were glad we that were Gluten-free in Italy. Because we tried so many different types of food. We ate food  that we may not have tried had we been able to eat Gluten. We probably would have gone through the county eating pizza pies and hand held Calzones.

So, it’s a big wide Gluten-free world – get out there. Don’t be afraid to have an adventure.

Kari was one happy young lady when she got her Gluten -free gelato complete with GF cone in San Gimignana.

 

Roasted Balsamic Asparagus

My favorite way to cook asparagus is to roast it.  I don’t know why roasting it makes it so much better, but to me it’s like candy. And adding balsamic vinegar to it just heightens the flavor. No need to make a balsamic reduction, the oven does it for you. And it’s so fast. 10-15 min. in a 425′ oven.

The hard part. Trimming the woody end or peeling it?  I don’t have the time or patients to peel it. I do the “Rachael Ray method”. Keep them in the band, snap off one of the ends, then cut the rest at that point. Done, fini’..over.

Line a rimmed pan with foil, lay the asparagus in the pan. Pour the oil over the asparagus. Season, add vinegar, toss (with your hand, it’s messy but it’s really the best way do get all of the ingredients distributed) and spread cheese over it. Pop it in the  oven – pour a glass of wine, take a few sips and it’s done.

1 Bunch of asparagus

1/2 t. of salt

pepper to taste

1/2 t. of mixed Italian seasoning

1-2 T. of Olive oil

1 T. of Balsamic vinegar

1/4 c. of Shredded Parmesan cheese

REALLY – the hardest part…not standing in the kitchen and eating the entire pan as it comes out of the oven.

 

 

Daytime drinking LOL

 

Company Café – which has a phenomenal Gluten free menu is having Wednesday Whiskey Lunch. This is a hoot. I’m sure they are just trying to draw people in but if you like to day drink in the middle of the work week, I have no judgement.

Ranch, Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breasts

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

¼ cup of good ranch dressing {I use Marzetti – Simply dressed, they are GF – no preservatives}

1 ½ cup GF Panko breadcrumbs {I like Kinnikinnick brand}

1 ½ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

1 T. each dried basil, dried oregano

Salt & pepper to taste

½ cup of Canola oil for cooking

Place the chicken breasts between plastic wrap and pound with a meat tenderizer (or your fist, if that’s your style) until they are an even thickness.

Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, herbs, salt & pepper on a plate.

Spread ranch dressing on a second plate. Place the chicken on the plate on-top of the ranch dressing. Pat dressing over chicken breast so that it’s barely coated (just enough for panko to stick). Transfer to breadcrumb mixture plate.

Press the chicken in to the breadcrumb mixture. Place coated chicken on a platter or cooking sheet and place in the fridge for 20-30 min.

Heat oil to 300-350° in a medium pan. Add chicken to the pan. Do not over crowd—you will most likely do two batches. Cook on each side for 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. If they appear to be browning too fast turn the heat down. [Internal temp should be 165°]. If they have not reached 165° after 5 minutes on each side, lower the heat to low to finish. Move chicken back to the platter or pan you used for the fridge and let rest for 5 min.

I like to serve the chicken over a fresh arugula salad with a high grade olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

COOKING FOR ONE?
I live by myself so I cut the ingredients down to:1 chicken breast,  2T. of ranch, ¼ c. of breadcrumbs, ¼ c. of cheese, a couple of shakes of dried herbs, salt & pepper to taste.

Soon to be “World Famous” Roasted Chickpeas

I’ve seen many recipes on Pinterest for roasted chickpeas and I’ve even tried a few. But each one I’ve tried has had had something that I would have done differently to get the “corn-nut” crispiness I’m looking for—so I decided to experiment. I sacrificed many chickpeas in the experiment so you wouldn’t have to.

The first key to good roasted chickpeas is to dry them. Well, I’m not patient enough for that. I sped up the process by lightly roasting them first. I’m happy to announce my experiment was a success!

Follow this recipe for roasted chickpeas that are unbelievably addictive:

2 16 oz. cans of Chickpeas {Garbanzo Beans}

1 T. of Olive Oil

½ t. of Garlic Powder

½ t. of ground Coriander

3-4 pinches of Cayenne Pepper {more if you like it spicy}

Salt & Pepper to taste

Rinse the chickpeas in a colander shake out all excess liquid. Lay two layers of paper towels on the counter. Spread chickpeas on paper towels to dry. While drying preheat oven to 400°. Spread chickpeas in even layer on cookie sheet lined with foil. Roast for 10 minutes. Drizzle olive oil over chickpeas. Next, sprinkle spices over the chickpeas and season with salt & pepper to taste. Toss with a spatula until they are evenly coated.

Roast in oven for 10 minutes. Take out of oven and toss again *. Return to oven for additional 10 min. Toss them each time you take them out.

Here’s where it gets tedious – you need to test them. Not just one but two or three. I’ve found that even though you may think that they are all crisp, it’s just the one you tasted. If they have the doneness you’re going for skip to the last step. If not put them back in in the oven for 5 minutes, and if needed, again for 3 minutes. At this point mine were almost perfect.

Each oven is different but if you feel you need to put them back in, only do it for 3 minutes at a time (A whole pan can go south in a flash). When you have your desired doneness, turn off the oven then put them back in with the door slightly ajar. Let them sit in there about 15 minutes and they will be perfect.

* Slightly shake the pan so the Chickpeas get evenly distributed.

ENJOY!
Oh and be warned, you may wish you’d made a double batch. 

Alternate seasoning:

½ t. of Garlic Powder

Salt & Pepper to taste

2 T. of Shredded Parmesan Cheese before putting in cooling oven.

Or 

2 T. of GF Taco Seasoning

A visit to Trinity Hall Irish Pub – Dallas

Last night a friend and I popped in to Trinity Hall Irish Pub. Trinity Hall offers Gluten Free food options, whiskey tastings, Gluten free beer & ciders, plus live Irish music, trivia night and more. It’s located in the middle of Dallas at Mocking bird Station. The wide varied menu includes  – snacks, salads, sandwiches & dinner entrees. Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten free – no problem. Most items are prepared in house from scratch, the kitchen is happy to work within dietary needs. Just let them know.

On my past and recent visit the staff could not have been more attentive or friendly. In fact, I couldn’t tell who my actual waitress was as we were tag teamed by two waitresses on our visit last night.

I had the Texas Ruben. Thick fresh, juicy slices of home cooked Corned Beef with house made sauerkraut, onions & peppers, 1000 island dressing on locally baked Gluten free bread from Reverie Bakeshop .

Trinity Hall I will be back.

White Chicken Chili – via Green Chef

A couple of months ago a friend started ordering the “hot new thing”. Ingredients and recipes delivered to your door. Say goodbye to long grocery lines, parking lot power-struggles, and Pinterest-induced food fails that leave you ordering takeout at 11 PM.


I cook, why would I need this. I got curious. Unfortunately the most popular service does not offer Gluten free food. Kari started doing a little research. She found three services that have Gluten free options. Green Chef, Sun Basket, Home Chef.

Green Chef and Sun Basket have the most choices for us Gluten free folk. Each service is a little different. I usually look at the menus and decide where I will order from. Some weeks I don’t order from any of them. One thing that they do have in common is that they contain pre-portioned ingredients, you also eliminate food waste.

Green chef ~~Pro’s – The most choices for Gluten free. Organic, No synthetic pesticides. No genetically modified organisms. No artificial ingredients. Eco- friendly packing. No growth hormones or antibiotics. Con’s the most labor intensive recipes. $13.49 per meal (each box contains three meals two portions each – so X 6).

Sun Basket~~Pro’s No synthetic pesticides. No genetically modified organisms. No artificial ingredients. No growth hormones or antibiotics. Most meals take about 30 minutes to prepare using easy-to-follow recipe cards. Eco- friendly packing. Con’s- Protein portions seem to be small. Recipe cards are small and no pictures.  $11.49 per serving, $5.99 shipping fee per order (first week delivery is always free) (X6).

Home Chef~~Fresh ingredients, Easy to follow recipes (very basic). Suppliers with sustainable practices. New breakfasts, a fruit basket, and a fresh smoothie options. Con’s- some of the recipes are too simple and the ingredients not as varied, but it’s still good.  $9.95 per serving.  Delivery is free for orders over $45! Shipping is $10 for orders less than $45 (X6).

What I will say is even being a long time Foodie, I have tried several things that I have not tried or have not even thought of trying. One day I made Lamb Kabobs!
This week, I had one of the best meals I have gotten delivered so far. White Chicken Chili from Green Chef.


I made HOMEMADE almond flour tortillas!!
Tomatillos and problano chili saute’ed with chicken. It’s than simmered in a coconut milk broth with cumin, coriander and oregano.
While the tortillas where small as they are meant as an side (like crackers), it was so cool to learn the technique and they were so good.

Gone all day- tired when you get home, FedEx delivers it while your gone and it all stays cold in an insulated box until you get home, no signature required. Anytime I haven’t been happy with a meal or the quality of the ingredients, I’ve sent an email and have been credited back that portion of the box.