Sweet, Spicy and Salty: Strawberry Jalepeño Salsa with Kettlecorn Popchips

Recently, Popchips contacted me and asked if I would be interested in sampling their products.  Since I am a big fan already, I was only too happy to oblige and come up with some ways to serve Popchips in your home.

I like Popchips because they are like potato popcorn.  They are light and low in fat and sugar.  All their varieties are certified gluten-free.  It’s an easy snack that I don’t feel guilty about grabbing when on the run.

My favorite flavor is Katy’s kettle corn.  They are lightly salty and sweet.  These are made with corn instead of potato.

I wanted to pair the salty / sweet combination with something spicy, healthy and a little quirky (like Popchips) so instead of a tomatoes, I made a salsa using a strawberry and jalapeño base.

At certain times of the year, strawberries are expensive.  You can keep costs down by using frozen strawberries.  Just let them defrost first.  I would reserve the juice that comes out as they defrost.

To make the salsa mild, use the seeds of about 1/2 a jalapeño and discard the rest.  For a medium salsa, use the seeds of 1 jalapeño.  I would recommend starting with the seeds of a jalapeño and reserving the rest of the seeds so you can add more to adjust the heat to your taste.

Zest of 3 limes

Juice of 3 limes

3 T strawberry jam P1010458 - 2014-02-02 at 18-33-42

1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1 t salt

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

2 jalapeños, roughly chopped, including seeds (to personal taste)

1 small onion, roughly chopped

3 green onions, roughly chopped, plus more for garnishing

P1010455 - 2014-02-02 at 18-31-301 pound strawberries, if fresh, hull and quarter the strawberries

1. In the bowl of a large food processor, combine all the ingredients.

2. Pulse the food processor in short bursts to achieve the desired consistency.  Taste for heat before removing from the bowl.  If you need to add more heat, add a few more seeds, pulse again and re-taste.  Repeat until you get the desired heat.

P1010461 - 2014-02-09 at 21-40-23



Three x Three Pasta Bake

We always end up with odds and ends of cheese, pasta, tomato sauce, etc.  I hate to throw things away, so recipes that use up odds and ends of open jars and packets are ideal.  This is a simple take on baked ziti.  The three different preparations of tomatoes add depth of flavor.  The cheeses add a creamy compliment to the tomato and pasta.

You can put this together a day or two before (just work through step 4).

Serves 4

1/2 lb. gluten-free pasta (or regular pasta)

1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3 gloves of garlic, diced

Dash of red chili flakes

2 T balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, diced

3 T sun-dried tomatoes, diced

1/2 bottle of pasta sauce

1/2 cup ricotta

1/4 cup Parmesan

1/2 cup Mozzarella

1/4 cup pepperoni (optional)

Sweat out the onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes with the balsamic.

Sweat out the onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes with the balsamic.

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Cook the pasta according to the pasta directions.  Cook for two minutes less than directed (you want it a little al dente because it is going to cook more when you bake it).  Add the spinach to the boiled water in the last minute of cooking to wilt down.  Drain and rinse under cold water.

This is the sauce after the balsamic has reduced, before the tomato sauce is added.

This is the sauce after the balsamic has reduced, before the tomato sauce is added.

2. Using the same pan you cooked the pasta in (who wants to do more dishes), heat the olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion and chili flakes.  Sweat for a few minutes, and then add the sun-dried and fresh tomatoes.  Add balsamic and cook for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid.

3. If you are using the pepperoni, add and cook 2 minutes more.  Add tomato sauce.  Stir.  Add pasta and spinach/arugula.  Cook together a minute or two more.

The sauce before adding the pasta.

The sauce before adding the pasta.

4. Oil a small baking dish.  Pour in half the pasta.  Dot with ricotta.  Pour over the rest of the pasta.  Top with Parmesan and mozzarella.

5. Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes, until heated through.  Turn on broiler and heat 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

I like to serve this with a light salad of greens with cucumbers and toasted pine nuts with a little lemon juice and olive oil for dressing.

Layer the pasta and cheeses before baking.

Layer the pasta and cheeses before baking.


Fireplace: Washington Square Neighborhood Go-To

I have been to the Fireplace in Brookline’s Washington Square twice in the past month for dinner and brunch.   I have always heard good things about Fireplace and people that live in the area cite it as one of their favorite go to restaurants.

The Fireplace is a nice neighborhood restaurant that focuses on locally sourced ingredients.  They have won awards for their burger, which I have yet to try.

The décor is reminds me of a late ‘90’s hotel restaurant, but the space is well-used and inviting.  There is a large fireplace near the bar.  The dining area feels a little divided, since half the restaurant (including the bar) is a half flight of stairs down from the second half of the dining area (where the kitchen is located).  Outside there is ample outdoor seating for the warmer months.

The drinks list is impressive: they have a nice selection of wines, beers, cocktails and mocktails, which is a nice option for people that don’t drink.

Our waiters in both instances were friendly and seemed very knowledgeable about gluten allergies.  The first time I got the gluten-free menu, I thought our waiter had just brought another regular menu.  Almost all the menu items, including the Fireplace burger is available gluten-free.  Even the lobster mac and cheese is available gluten-free.  I think there were only 1 or 2 items off the table for gluten-free diners.  Even for brunch, many of the items are available gluten-free (except for the pancakes and waffles).

Fireplace offers gluten-free rolls.  When I went for dinner, I found them a little hard and dry, however, when we went back for brunch, the rolls were perfect.  The bread had great texture: it was crusty outside and a little chewy inside.    They appear to be made fresh and likely in house, so maybe someone was just having a bad day the first time?

When we went for dinner, I tried to order the lobster mac and cheese, but they were out of gluten-free pasta that evening.  Instead, I opted for the duck with fava beans and swiss chard.  I was a little disappointed that the johnnycake described on the menu did not end up on my plate, though some root veggies seemed to have been substituted in its place.  I forgot to ask the waiter if that is a change for all gluten-free diners or just a mistake on my plate.  The duck was perfectly cooked and well-seasoned.  The chard was also excellent.  I was a little disappointed that the fava beans were a little too well cooked in some places (you can see in the picture, some almost look burned).  Husband tried the short ribs and enjoyed it so much I didn’t get a bite of it.

Duck dish with root veggies instead of the johnnycake mentioned on the menu.

Duck dish with root veggies instead of the johnnycake mentioned on the menu.

The dinner service was very efficient without making you feel rushed out the door.

When we went for brunch, the service was a little slower, but it was a larger party of six.  We were not in a rush, so the slower service was not an issue.  I appreciated that they brought out all the meals at about the same, give or take a minute.

The waiter that served our brunch was again, very knowledgeable about gluten allergies, brought me a gluten-free brunch menu and immediately put in an order for a gluten-free roll.  I also appreciated that he checked / refilled coffee cups regularly, including after our meal had been cleared away.

I opted for the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon.  The eggs were served on gluten-free bread with smoked salmon and a side salad.  The side salad simple: mixed greens with a light lemon vinaigrette.  The eggs were perfectly poached, nice and firm on the outside but still runny inside.  The hollandaise was not too heavy, but I did wish it was seasoned a little more.  They don’t pile on the hollandaise, but it was certainly enough to go with the meal.  The bread was the same type used for the rolls and was lightly toasted.  I liked the smoked salmon, which was a good quality and taste.  Overall it was a nice brunch that did not leave me feeling heavy and weighed down at the end, but was certainly filling.  Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals across the table.

I plan to go back to the Fireplace again soon.  It’s a nice restaurant with a friendly atmosphere and a great gluten-free selection.

I give this five stars for gluten-free friendliness and selection.

I give this five stars for gluten-free friendliness and selection.

I give this restaurant overall four stars for the atmosphere and quality of food.

I give this restaurant overall four stars for the atmosphere and quality of food.


Bacon and Cheddar Quiche: What I Leave in the Fridge When I Go Out of Town

When I go out of town for business, I like to leave husband homemade meals that reheat well rather than take out menus.

This is one of his most requested recipes.  It’s easy to reheat and travels well to work for lunches.  In addition to something hearty like this, we stock the fridge with cleaned and chopped vegetables, quinoa salad and some fruit.

The crust recipe makes two 9-inch crust bottoms (or one top and bottom, for say an apple pie).  You divide the dough in half during the process.  If you want to freeze the second crust, just wrap the parchment paper packet in plastic wrap before storing in the freezer.  It keeps for several weeks.

This seems like an insane number of flours for one dough, but the resulting crust is worth it flavor-wise and nutrition-wise.  The flax, buckwheat and teff add protein, fiber and great flavor.  You can streamline by using 1/3 cup of sorghum, buckwheat or quinoa flour in place of the teff, buckwheat and flax.


Quiche Crust:

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup potato starch

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup white rice flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1 t guar gum

2 T teff flour

2 T buckwheat

1 T flax

1 t salt

1 T sugar

1/2 cup ice water

1-2 T ice water on the side to use as needed

2 sticks unsalted butter, cold

1. In a food processor, combine all the flours, salt and sugar.  Pulse until combined.

After all the butter is added, the dough should look like this, like crumbled cookies.

After all the butter is added, the dough should look like this, like crumbled cookies.

2. Cut the butter into chunks, about 1/2 inch cubes.  Drop into the food processor a few cubes at a time, while pulsing the food processor.  Do this in short bursts, you don’t want to warm the butter by working the dough too much.  Otherwise, the crust will turn out like a lead brick rather than light and flaky.

3.  After all the butter has been added, the dough should look very dry and crumbly.  Add the 1/2 cup ice water by streaming it in slowly.  Pulse together a little more.  Add the additional water if the dough has not smoothed out.

4. Lay out two fairly large pieces of parchment paper.  Put half the dough on each piece of parchment.  Pat the down and wrap the parchment over it.  If you are going to freeze one half, you can do that now.  Put the dough you plan to roll out into the fridge for an hour or so to firm up.

5. Leave the dough on the parchment paper.  Dust both side of the dough with a little flour.  I use potato starch or brown rice flour.  Then roll it out to about 1/2 inch while it is on the parchment paper.  This has the two big benefits: keeping the counters clean and making the more crumbly gluten-free dough easier to work with.

In the front is one disk of dough, patted down.  In the back there is another packet wrapped in parchment paper, ready for the freezer.

In the front is one disk of dough, patted down. In the back there is another packet wrapped in parchment paper, ready for the freezer.

Rather than rolling the dough over the pin, as one is normally instructed to do, I put the pan in the middle of the dough and then flip it over so the parchment paper is on top.  I peel off the parchment paper and clean up the edges / trim the excess dough with a paring knife.  I am not a total pro at this yet, and really need to practice more, so it is not a Julia Child beautiful crust, it’s tasty, just not pretty.

6. To blind bake the crust, poke a few holes in it with a fork.  Heat the oven to 450ºF/ 230ºC and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.

Getting the dough into the pie pan the easy way.

Getting the dough into the pie pan the easy way.

Bacon and Cheddar Quiche:

The classic proportions for quiche is about 3 eggs and enough cream to fill a cup to the 1 1/2 cup line, but I don’t really keep cream in the house and when you try that proportion with milk, it always ends up a bit funny.

By adjusting the egg-to-cream ratio when using milk instead of cream, I was able to produce a better texture on the filling.  I would recommend using whole milk or 2% for the filling.

5 eggs

about 1-1 1/4 cup (s) milk

1/8 t nutmeg

1/8 t pepperP1010309 - 2013-08-03 at 15-28-03

1/2 t salt

1/3-1/2 cup cheddar, roughly grated

5-6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled


1. After the crust is blind baked, let it cool for about 10 minutes.  Place the bacon in the bottom of the crust.  Reduce the oven heat to 375ºF/ 190ºC.

2. Measure the eggs and milk in a 2 cup or larger measuring cup.  First crack the eggs into the cup and then fill the measuring cup the rest of the way to the 2 cup mark with milk.

3. Pour the eggs and milk into a large bowl, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Whisk thoroughly until combined.

4. Pour into the crust, sprinkle the cheddar over the top.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the quiche is cooked through.

Serve with salad or peas and carrots.

Serve with salad or peas and carrots.



Red Wine Risotto with Broccoli Rabe and Hot Italian Sausage

As much as I love risotto, the flavor profile can get a little repetitive after a while.  I wanted to try something a little different from the standard risotto flavors.  To get a different, richer, earthier flavor, I started with red wine and added beef broth instead of the traditional water or chicken broth.  The result is a richer, earthier take on risotto.

I use a dry red wine for this, like a côte du rhône.  However, pretty much any red wine would work.  I try to use a decent quality of wine when cooking, because the flavors reduce down and become stronger, so if you wouldn’t drink it with dinner, it’s not the best thing to make dinner with.

I have become a fan of Black Box wines, they are reasonably priced and more eco-friendly, boxed instead of glass bottles.  They are also more cost effective, the quality of the wine is good (not amazing, but I think it is very drinkable) and you get 4 bottles for 20-25 dollars.
If you are looking to make this vegetarian or vegan, try using a mushroom broth instead.  You can easily make one by boiling dried mushrooms in water.  You could probably even leave the mushroom pieces in the broth.

I serve this with hot Italian sausages and broccoli rabe, but steak would also work well.  The sausage and broccoli are very simply prepared, sauteed in olive oil, so overall this is a very easy meal to make.

Serves 4, takes about 30-40 minutes, start to finish

2 T extra virgin olive oil

small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

dash of chili flakes

1 cup risotto rice

2 cups red wine

2 cups beef broth

2 T butter

3 T Parm

salt and pepper, to taste

Toasted pine nuts, optional

1 lb hot Italian sausage

1 lb broccoli rabe

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

1. Sautee garlic and onion in olive oil with chili flakes in a large pan over medium heat until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the risotto rice.  Cook for a minute or two, until the grains start to become translucent. Add 1/2 cup red wine.  Allow to reduce for a few minutes.  P1010183

3. Add 1/2 cup beef broth.  Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring consistently.  Add a 1/2 cup wine.  Alternate between the wine and the beef broth, allowing the liquids cook off before each addition.  You will know that the risotto is ready for the next addition when the risotto does not immediately get filled in when a wooden spoon is pulled through the risotto.

4. The risotto will be done when it is no longer al dente (chewy).  You may not need 4 cups of liquid to cook the risotto.  I usually start checking if the risotto is done after 3 cups of liquid have been added.  The grains should be soft without being mushy.  Finish the risotto on a wine addition, if you are able to do so without overcooking.  Finishing on the red wine will give the risotto a nice, rich purple color.P1010184

5. When the risotto is done, remove from the heat.  Add butter and cheeses.  Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, if you choose.

In a separate pan, sauté the broccoli rabe in a little olive oil, season to taste.  In another pan, heat a little olive oil and cook off the sausage.



Perfect Picnic Fare: Sesame Mango Salad with Grilled Chicken

This is probably one my favorite dishes that I have come up with to date.  It has a great mix of flavors.  The dressing is tangy and a little nutty.  If you want to step up the spice, just add more sriracha sauce.

This is a flexible dish that travels well for picnics and keeps well for lunches / leftovers for days after. Though, I do love it best when you can have the hot chicken on top of the cold salad, it works just as well with all the elements cold.

It’s nice because there is only one item you may have to buy gluten-free (soy sauce), so it is easy for folks with gluten-free loved ones that don’t have a gluten-free kitchen.

This is also perfect for vegan families, just substitute tofu for the chicken (I wouldn’t marinade tofu for as long, but otherwise, it would work very well).

Makes 4-6 servings.  Takes about 40 minutes start to finish.  Marinade the chicken the night before (takes about 5 minutes).


1-1.5 lbs boneless chicken

3T rice wine vinegar

3T tamari or any type of gluten-free soy sauce

1t red curry paste

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 T sesame oil

1T sugar

dash of black pepper or chili flakes

1. Slice the chicken into thin cutlets or use chicken tenders.

2. Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a shallow dish.  Whisk together.

3. Add the chicken and toss it lightly with your fingers to ensure it is evenly coated.  Cover the dish and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.  Try to turn halfway through, but it isn’t the end of the world if you can’t.

You can also whisk the marinade together in a small bowl and then pour into a large Ziploc bag, add the chicken, zipper the top and then shake to coat the chicken.

The next day, make the salad and dressing and cook off the chicken:


8 oz or 250 g of rice noodles

1/2 T sesame oil

8 oz or 250 g edamame

3-4 T sesame seeds

Small handful of basil

1/2 an English cucumber (or 1/2 of a regular cucumber, seeds removed)

2-3 green onions

1/2 mango or 1/4 of a pineapple


2T orange juice

3T tamari or any type of gluten-free soy sauce

dash of turmeric

1/2 t sriracha

1 t red curry paste

1 T sesame oil

1/4-1/3 cup vegetable oil

1. Start by heating water in a medium saucepan to a roiling boil.  Add the sesame oil.  This will keep the noodles from getting sticky and clumpy.  Don’t worry about cutting the long threads down now; it’s easier to deal with that after the noodles are cooked.  Cook the rice noodles as directed.  During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking the noodles, add the edamame.

2. While the noodles are cooking, toast the sesame seeds in small pan over low heat, until they smell nutty.   Dice the cucumber, green onions and mango (or pineapple). Image

3. Chiffonade the basil by stacking the leaves with the largest on the bottom.  Then roll the leaves together and thinly slice. Image

4. By now the rice noodles will be done, they cook fast.  Drain them into a large colander in the sink.  Rinse immediately with cold water.  Using a pair of tongs, start to pull the noodles up in clumps and cut with scissors to the desired length. Image

5. While the noodles finish cooling, make the dressing.  In a small bowl combine all the ingredients except for the oil.  Whisk together and then slowly stream in the oils.

6. Combine the sesame seeds, noodles, edamame, green onion, cucumber, mango and cucumber in a large bowl.  Toss together.  Then drizzle over the dressing and toss again.  I like to start by using half the dressing and seeing if that is enough and then add more as needed.  Taste for seasoning.

7. Put the salad in the fridge to cool further.  Heat a pan or grill and cook the chicken through, until no longer pink.  About 5-7 minutes per side, depending on how thick your chicken pieces are.  I like to slice the chicken before putting it on the salad.

8. Plate up the salad with the chicken on top.  You may want to add some additional green onions or basil, thinly sliced, for garnish.


I didn’t cut the pineapple here as finely as I should have.  I would probably do much thinner slices next time so the flavors blend in more with the rest of the dish.

When I made this, I didn’t think any of the components needed more salt than what was in the tamari, which is naturally pretty salty, but everyone has different taste, so you may want to adjust the seasoning a bit more.


Naturally Gluten-Free: Mussels

In New England, mussels always seem overshadowed by clams.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fried clam (I believe Woodman’s in Essex is actually gluten-free for the most part, since they coat their clam in cornmeal instead of regular flour, I promise to check that out and write a post about it soon), but mussels are worthy of the same attention and praise.  They are generally pretty inexpensive compared to most fish varieties and are easy to prepare. They are rich and meaty without being too heavy.
This version includes a light broth that gets an aromatic boost from fresh rosemary.  I use the broth in place of butter for dipping.

Since they are kind of messy to eat, these are great for summer cookouts / dinners on the patio.

Mussels go with just about anything (well except maybe a cheese plate), but I like to serve this with salad or some gluten-free rolls.

Serves 2, takes about 20 minutes, start to finish.P1010190

1 lb mussels

1/2 cup diced tomato

1/2 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 cup dry white wine (like a Chardonnay)

1/2 cup water

3 T tomato paste

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

1. Clean the mussels by running them under cold water.  Look for any open mussels and discard those.  If you want to try to release the grit / sand from the mussels, add 1/4 cup cornstarch to a large bowl of cold water and whisk together.  Add the mussels and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  The mussels should release the sand as they take in the cornstarch.  Rinse thoroughly under cold water.

2. In a large pot, over medium heat, saute the tomato, onion and garlic in a little olive oil.

3. When they are soft, about 2-3 minutes, add the tomato paste, rosemary, water and wine.

4. Raise the heat to high and cover the pot.  Bring the ingredients to a boil.

5. Reduce the heat to medium and add the mussels.  Cover and steam for 5-10 minutes or until the mussels have opened.  I would start checking at 5 minutes to see if they are ready.  Make sure you check once about every 2 minutes.  Every time you open the pot, the steam escapes and delays the cooking time, so you don’t want to check too frequently.

6. When the mussels are open, remove from the heat and serve with a large, empty bowl for the discarded shells.


It’s Too Hot to Use Your Oven: Endive and Apple Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

As last weekend showed us, sometimes it is just too hot to cook. Which is why salad is one of my favorite go to dinners in the summer.  It’s fast and doesn’t involve an oven.

While salad is great in many ways, it’s easy to fall into a rut of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, etc.

To avoid lettuce overload, this salad uses endive instead.  Since I have not done a lot of cooking with endive, I was not sure what to expect in terms of its flavor.  It’s like a much smaller, slightly softer version of cabbage.  It’s actually very easy to work with because of its mild flavor, it can pair with a lot of other flavors.

I like this salad served with some grilled fish, rotisserie chicken (I get mine at Costco or Whole Foods) or a gluten-free roll (try Glutino’s, they are available at Whole Foods).

Serves 4 as a side salad or 2 as an entrée.

Endive and Apple Salad

3 small heads of endive

medium granny smith apple

3-4 medium beets

2 green onions

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (a sharp cheddar also works very well)

Make sure you are careful with your fingers when slicing the apple, keep them curled under slightly.

Make sure you are careful with your fingers when slicing the apple, keep them curled under slightly.

1. Thinly slice the endive, apple and green onion.

2. Dice or thinly slice the beets.

3. In a small pan, over low heat, toast the walnuts.  They will be ready when you can smell them.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the beets, onion, apple and endive.  Add the dressing a spoonful at a time and stir between additions.  Stop adding dressing when the salad is lightly coated, but not drenched.

5. Plate the salad.  Sprinkle the walnuts and cheese on top.  P1010181

Champagne Vinaigrette

2 T champagne vinegar

2 T orange juice

1 t mustard

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, add the vinegar, orange juice, mustard, salt and pepper.  Whisk together.  Slowly add the olive oil, while whisking the dressing.


Gluten-Free at TD Garden

ImageI love going to the Garden to see the Bruins play.  I get to go at least once a year, but am by no means a regular.  Since my diagnosis, I have gone to the Garden several times and had to sneak in my own food on each occasion because I could not find any gluten-free options.

Before the game, I picked up some snacks, just in case.  This is of course always an issue because outside food and drink are not permitted in the Garden and sometimes you have to have an argument with security about food allergies.  This time, I managed to get my snacks in without issues, but once inside, I noticed a Kosher food stand and thought, if they have this, they must have at least one venue with a gluten-free option.

So, I found one of an usher and asked her about gluten-free options.  Apparently there is one venue with gluten-free options, but it is on the premium seating level.  The usher was very helpful and explained that even with our non-premium tickets, they would permit us to go to the premium level to get gluten-free food, but we had to be escorted there.  She was very nice and escorted us to the premium level to find the right restaurant. Image

After trying a few of the venues, we finally found the Club Grille is the venue with gluten-free options (burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and hot dogs with fries).  The gluten-free options are more expensive, for instance for 16 dollars, you can a gluten-free hot dog and fries (no drink), but on the regular, menu the hot dog meal offers two hot dogs, fries and a drink.  Considering how hard it is to get gluten-free food into the Garden without feeling like part of a drug smuggling operation, the mark up is acceptable. Image

I was also pleased to see that the grill offered gluten-free baked goods from Something Sweet Without Wheat, a local bakery.  There was a decent selection of cookies and pastries available. Image

I ordered a burger with fries and watched them cook it.  They cleaned the grill before putting my burger on it, but I did notice that at a few points, they still put buns on the other half of the grill to warm up.  If you are super sensitive, you may want to think about ordering a hot dog (cooked on those roller things and not the grill) instead of a burger.  It did appear that they keep one half of the grill dedicated to only meat products and were good about cleaning, so most folks should be ok with the burger / chicken sandwich cooked on the same grill.  I also noticed that they had a fryer that appeared to be solely for fries.

The chef kept my bun separate from the rest of the items on a plate and was extremely careful not to let it touch the counter.  He also seemed to be using a different utensil than those used to cook the other grill items.

When my burger came out, it was hot and juicy and very good.  The bread held up pretty well, I didn’t see it crumble too much.  The flavor of the bread was good.  The only issue I really had was the fries were cold.  Since the meal was so large, I didn’t get any baked goods, but it was great to know that I could get something if I needed it.

So, if you are heading to TD Garden, be sure to ask about gluten-free options and know that you can find something, just not in the cheap seats. Image

In other news, I did ask someone going to Fenway Park to ask about gluten-free options there.  Apparently, Fenway Park now also has a gluten-free kiosk, complete with gluten-free beer!


Joe’s American Bar and Grill: Dinner and Drinks on Newbury Street

Recently, I got invited to a gluten-free blogger dinner at Joe’s American Bar and Grill, along with GlutenFreeBostonGirl.  Joe’s is part of the same restaurant family as Charley’s Saloon, which also has great gluten-free options.    I had wanted to try Joe’s for a while, but each time we tried to go, it was packed and there was a wait.

We ate at the Newbury Street location, but there is another location on the waterfront and several suburban locations throughout New England.  The Newbury Street location is particularly nice, as the front area has windows that open up and the bar can turn into a patio-like area with a good number of high top tables.  It’s great for people watching.  There is a larger dining area in the back as well.  We were seated along the street side, so we got to enjoy the great weather and street activity.

Joe’s has great gluten-free options.  About 85% of the menu is naturally or can be made gluten-free with minor changes, such as baked chicken without breading for the buffalo chicken tenders.  Joe’s has gluten-free bread, pizza dough and pasta.   They have gluten-free beer (Redbridge, which I personally don’t care much for), cider and a sizable wine and spirits list, including several vodkas that are potato based.

Tiffany, the General Manager, and our waiter were very knowledgeable about the menu and what ingredients were in each dish.  Our waiter was was able to rattle off gluten-free options easily, make recommendations and checked every dish with the kitchen before finalizing our order.  He came back to confirm that the meatballs do have gluten in them and suggested alternatives to go with the pasta and marinara, such as chicken or shrimp.

photo(2)We started with gluten-free rolls (courtesy of Buckwheat’s Gluten Free), nachos, roasted mussels and seared ahi tuna.  The rolls were awesome.  It’s the same bread used for the sandwiches.  It was chewy (in a good way), soft and the texture was really nice.  I actually added the rolls to my shopping list in case I ever come across them in a store.

The seared ahi tuna was served with cucumber salad, wasabi and ginger.  The tuna was rolled in sesame seeds and seared just a little on the outside.  The tuna was firm and had a nice flavor to it.  You don’t need to do much with fresh tuna to make it tasty. Of course, to make it gluten-free, there was no soy sauce.

The nachos were enormous!  They came topped with cheese, guacamole, salsa, jalapenos and sour cream.  I liked the salsa and guacamole, though I wish the salsa were a little hotter.  These are definitely a sharing dish.  I liked that while there was enough cheese on them, it wasn’t like a bucket of cheese so thick one would have to man handle the entire dish to get a single chip out. photo






My favorite appetizer was the roasted mussels.  They came out on a searing hot skillet and were garnished with rock salt.  The mussels had a lightly smoked flavor to them.  They were perfectly salted, juicy and fresh.  I tried them with the melted butter that came with them but, I really didn’t think it was needed.  Again, the portion was pretty sizable.

For entrees, we tried the pasta with marinara sauce with shrimp (meatballs cannot be done gluten-free, sad), a chicken club and buffalo chicken pizza. photo(5)

The shrimp and pasta with marinara was nice.  The pasta was well-cooked and had a good flavor.  The sauce was good, nice and fresh and I liked that they kind of tossed the pasta in the sauce, so it was evenly distributed throughout the dish.

The chicken club was great.  The bread didn’t break apart as I ate the sandwich: it held up well, probably because both side of the bun were individual, thin rolls rather than sliced bread.  It’s when the liquids in the sandwich soak into a gluten-free bun that the bun starts to break down.  The chicken was well-cooked, it wasn’t tough or chewy.  It was served with huge steak fries.  Those were well-seasoned and crispy along the edges, but soft in the middle.


My favorite entree was the buffalo chicken pizza.  The dough of the pizza was crispy on the edges and maybe just a little doughy in the middle.  Again, the chicken had a good texture and wasn’t tough.  I hate it when you get chicken that isn’t cooked to order; it’s like eating a piece of jerky.  There was plenty of cheese and bleu cheese to balance out the buffalo sauce.  There was just enough buffalo sauce for a solid kick, but not so much it was dripping off the pizza.



We didn’t have time for dessert, but Joe’s has a creme brulee and ice cream for gluten-free customers.

I really enjoyed Joe’s and will definitely go back with Husband.  The food, service and atmosphere are great and the selection for gluten-free diners is excellent.  The prices are very reasonable, most entrees are between 10 and 20 dollars and there is no additional charge for  gluten-free breads, pastas, or pizzas.

Just FYI, my dinner was complimentary, but the views expressed here are my own.


I give this five stars for gluten-free friendliness and selection.

I give this five stars for gluten-free friendliness and selection.