Monday, August 18, 2014

Pizzaria Uno

A Chicago Original that is a slice of home for anyone from Chicago - Pizzeria Unos. I've been to the original Uno's in Chicago once in my non gluten free days. I've been to a couple locations for their gluten free options, and discovered they do a good gluten free dish. The first thing I got there for a gluten free meal was their pizza, I mean Pizzeria Uno is known for pizza, I'd hope a gluten free one would live up to the Chicago standards. It's comparable. Now sadly it's no deep dish, but hey thin crust saves room for dessert.  We do laugh when we eat at a Pizzeria Uno's when we are out of town, since well, we can have Chicago Style pizza anytime we want!

This press release from 2009 explains the difference in the gluten free from a regular Uno's pizza, that the French Meadow crust are round and thin crust, not a flat square crust like the regular or deep dish.

They don't have a wide variety of pizza options, but the basics are covered. The nice thing about their menu is there is more than just pizza. So you have options no matter what mood you are in.

Recently while traveling we noticed a Uno's Bar and Grill sign near our hotel. We decided it was a good dinner to order in. I was very impressed that all our food was in one back, and the gluten free pizza was packed all by itself. Yay; They understood!

One of my other favorite dishes there is the Baked Chicken Spinoccoli, how can you go wrong with chicken, two types of cheese, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, garlic... Yum! They have more than just broccoli as a side, so I am willing to stop here for a quick meal since everyone can find something they like.

Like any pizza place there is always open flour in the kitchen that makes things a bit dicey. The food is tasty and when you ask for gluten free the first thing they do is ask if it's an allergy. I feel like they do really understand what they are doing, especially since the menu that have has been in place since before 2009. So it's not just trendy to sever gluten free here. I give them 4 dragonflies, and will be visiting again.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lou Malnanti's Gluten free crust

Growing up in Chicago, you can’t go without having a Lou Malnati’s pizza. Though I will make a huge Chicago sin… I was never a huge Deep Dish Pizza fan…. (Please don’t kill me!)
I was never a fan of so much dough. Maybe it was an early premonition that I was intolerant??? Who knows, but I was also fair weathered on it. But a family tradition was to go to Lou’s during Christmas time because their Schaumburg and Elk Grove locations were decorated real nice, and they would have Christmas Carolers singing. When I was diagnosed, right before the Holiday’s we really had to dive into how to deal with holiday’s before anything else. Our holiday tradition was still a go, because we heard they did a crust-less pizza, for carb and gluten free. I was game, and my dad said he’d go in on it too. 

It was interesting… They use a sausage patty for deep dish pizzas unless you tell them you want sausage crumbles. (Honestly I don’t know anyone who likes the sausage patty on their pizza, but that’s another story.) They used that Sausage patty as the crust for baking the deep dish GF pizza. It was tasty, but it totally gave me indigestion due to how greasy the sausage was.  I did like the lake of dough it was probably a better way for me to enjoy a deep dish pizza, but none the less, it was not ranking on the top of my Must go back and have again meter.  Some time passed, 2 years roughly and my boyfriend told me he’d heard through his gluten free friends that Lou’s was now doing a GF pizza, not just sausage crust gf pizza. I told him when we are near a Lou’s I’ll try it out.

I was dog sitting a couple weeks ago (I’ve been so busy I’ve fallen behind writing right away!) and my friend lives right by the Lou’s in Schaumburg, so we decided to go check it out. Right on the menu it states they have a 9” gluten free crust that is made in a dedicated area, so it’s safe, but could be contaminated because the pizza is prepped in a shared area…. At least they disclosed that information. I informed our server I was gluten intolerant if they could please be as careful as possible, I’d appreciate it. The restaurant can get Super super busy, but we went at 8:00 on a Wednesday night, not busy so that probably helped. We each got one to try. (He’s so sweet trying out gluten free things with me to know what I’m eating, and to give me his opinion on how it tastes.)

We both got Spinach and mushrooms on top, it was super tasty! The crust was a little thicker than I expected, and it was a corn base, it was Really good. It didn’t taste like Cardboard, it wasn’t tough, it was super crispy, I liked it! I could only eat half, so I got the rest to go, and took it for lunch for the next day, it rewarmed well, and was just as good the 2nd time. He devoured his like he hadn’t eaten in days, and kept telling me how good it was. I live near a Lou’s to go location, so our next trial is going to be to see if they do the GF crust there, and if they will take extra caution as well when preparing it. I haven’t gotten that adventurous yet. I give them 3 dragonflies, they have a great pizza, I would like to see a few more options on the menu, and I do wish they had a separate area to prep the pizza’s, or pre-make and freeze them, though that would limit topping options. Maybe they could make the crust, add sauce and freeze. Then they could add the toppings as ordered… Pipe dreaming there. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Yolk Cafe Can Do Gluten Free

Yolk Cafe, I think Yolk might be my favorite place to eat in the city. They have a lot of great options for everyone, and are a BYOB establishment so you can bring your own champagne to do mimosa's if you'd like. They have flavored creamer on the table if you want to do coffee, so on the drink from they're fun. Menu wise they have scramblers, which you can do with egg whites, for no extra charge. You can do skillets, but they don't have any carb options. They don't do any pancakes, waffles, or that type of thing. They do have the option for fruit on the side if you don't want potatoes. If you do want potatoes Make Sure your server knows you need to eat gluten free. The seasoning for the potatoes has a small amount of gluten in it. But they can make you potatoes fresh without any seasoning. 

They are a very popular place to eat, so if you get there in prime breakfast time you will have to wait for a table, so be prepared to wait for a table. It will give you plenty of time to look over the menu. The one in Streeterville is a quick 10 minute walk from Navy Pier, and the one on Michigan is a quick walk over to the Art Institute. If you are planning a day in the city these are a couple of great easy to walk to options. I even found out now there is a location at Ogilivee Transportation center! After talking to that location they said the potatoes don't contain gluten.... A former employee who had Celiac Disease use to eat them all the time, so they knew they were safe....

Personally - I'd just ask to be certain, maybe the other locations use a different seasoning, the staff here told me no, that they were confused. So it goes as a reminder, Always ask before assuming an item will be ok.

I give them 3 dragonflies still because you do have to be careful with the potatoes, which are amazing, and they don't have any safe toast/pancake options. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rackhouse Tavern, Basically Gluten Free

Another find, through Find Me Gluten Free, that came with some excellent reviews, wasn't exactly what I expected, especially their service. Rack House Kitchen and Tavern I've driven past it a few times the last year or so, but never stopped in. On weekends the lot is always packed so I figured it was good. It was a bit disappointing because it was only OK. Their gluten free adult beverages were really only ciders, there were no gluten free beers. 

The menu is marked for gluten free options, but only sort of... There are things on the menu that are gluten free, that aren't marked, and some items that I questioned. I asked our server who I felt like was going to beat me if I asked any more questions, she was so annoyed. I stopped asking questions, and settled on a salad. But since I was at a place for BBQ I wanted some BBQ with my salad, why not, if it's safe?!

I ordered the BBQ Brisket with my chopped salad. Since she confirmed the brisket was gluten free. Well I don't know if the sauce for it is or not, since mine came without it. The meat itself was lean, but kind of cold, and dry. The sauce was needed on this one for sure. The avocados were tough, so really it wasn't that great of a salad in the big picture, but sadly I rate food more on, did I get sick or not... I didn't get sick. Did I annoy the heck out of the staff because I asked about the gluten free designation on the menu, yes. Did it annoy me that some salads were marked GF but others weren't? Yes. I was lost how they had such good gluten free reviews on Find Me Gluten Free.

I can honestly only give them 2 dragonflies, I was having a good day, it didn't bring me down, and make me hate having Celiac Disease, because they were so annoyed with my gluten questions, but I didn't have the warmest fuzziest feeling for a place that was rather dead, and our server was MIA most of the time, I had an underwhelming meal. Everyone else liked their food in our group, so I guess if you're not gluten free, this place might actually be decent. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lady Gregory's Irish Bar & Restaurant

Lady Gregory's in Andersonville - One word - Awesome! Such a great variety of items on them menus for both gluten free and regular. The story of the restaurant is that while they were building a fire gutted the restaurant and they had to start from scratch decorating and furnishing the inside. They came back from the ashes to build a great place to eat.

My boyfriend first heard about Lady Gregory's and told me we had to check it out, our waitress was very well informed on gluten free foods and food prep, it was very comfortable. My main problem was choosing what I wanted to eat. It's a great problem to have, when dining out, since it doesn't happen often! Her and I chatted for a good 10 minutes on how the kitchen staff is well trained in allergies, and that they work hard to keep each meal safe. She assured me that ordering off the gluten free menu I'd be taken care of. I'll be honest, I saw the flag on the menu, but it wasn't until my dish arrived, that I understood. Each Gluten free item was marked!

My first selling meal was lobster mac and cheese, followed by the flat breads, portobello mushroom sandwich, chicken sandwiches, and this time I tried their Parmesan crusted grilled cheese sandwich, and sweet potato fries. Honestly if we lived closer, or parking was a bit easier, I think I'd probably eat here weekly. They have a variety of beers, wines and ciders for everyone. They have about 5 GF beers on the menu, which again was a nice selection, and not the norm.

Yes those are gluten free appetizers!
Over all they get four dragonflies, I'd like to give them 5, but they aren't a dedicated facility. They do a great job of keeping things separate, but like any place that makes both regular and gluten free, mistakes can happen, luckily I haven't experienced that.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Smokin' T's Bar-B-Q

Trying to figure out what to do for dinner one night, my brother commented he wanted wings. I  told him I'd see what I could figure out... I found us wings! Though it was an adventure, but he's gotten use to dining out with me = adventure... So we wandered off to Long Grove.

Smokin' T's Bar-B-Q is on 22 in Long Grove, it's kind of tucked away where you wouldn't find it right away. I was glad we did. Smokin T's owners are both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, and have over 40 years of experience together working in hospitality. Their experience shows in their business. Ok we're a bit blonde and couldn't find the entrance when we walked up... Who would have thought the entrance wouldn't face the road! It faces the swamp it over looks in the back. Due to the horrible stagnant heat, and the mosquito's being like vampires the last few days, we ate inside.

Back to the wings, so one of the first things on the menu was wings, so we did accomplish our goal finding wings. So we got an order of wings, I got a wedge salad, and my brother got the meat sampler. I asked if the fries and chips were cooked in dedicated oil, the gal behind the counter said, yes, normally they are, but they'd had brunch that day, so the fryer was contaminated. (tear...)

First off the wings are winners, they are smokey and don't even need sauce on them. They came with an Alabama sauce, which was really good too, but not needed for the wings. My brother kept raving how good and smokey the meats were. All the sauces are made in house and I was assured they were all gluten free, all the sauces were tasty. I really liked mixing the regular and the sweet and spicy. Though I probably could have just kept eating the Alabama sauce! The salad was good, and didn't show up with croutons.

I was impressed with the staff knowledge of gluten,and what options were safe. Minus the items that are served on bread there is a good variety of options, including sauces that are safe. The sides were more questionable, but a hearty helping of wings and a side salad were fine by me. I give them 4 dragonflies. The place was kind of dead for a Sunday, but with the heat and the start of the holiday week I figure that was part of the reason for the lack of crowd. This place is a keeper on my list! Next time I'm going for the pulled pork nachos!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gluten Free Rum Cake

I swear I'm not an alcoholic. I swear! I just like to bake with liquor! I never made this cake pre-gluten free, but one day my brother started to nag me about rum cake and rum balls. So I decided to see how hard it was to make a rum cake. It's easy!

I am kind of picky about what mix to use for this because the original recipe I adapted this from calls for a 18.5oz chocolate cake mix. Most of the GF mixes are smaller than that, more like 14-16oz mixes. I've found a couple that work well, Sof'ella, King Arthur, and Pamela's all have large enough mixes to use. 

A friend told me that I could probably do the same cake but with a white cake mix if I used white rum instead of spiced... I haven't tried it yet! 

Cake - 
18.5oz package chocolate Cake Mix
3.9oz package instant chocolate pudding (Not made)
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup spiced or dark rum
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 cup spiced or dark rum
1/8 cup water

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees, grease a 10 inch bundt pan with either cooking spray (not baking spray it contains flour!) or butter. Place chopped nuts in the pan, (optional I've made it with and without the nuts).
With an electric mixer, mix together all the cake ingredients until batter is smooth. Pour the batter in slow and evenly.

Bake for 60 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and flip onto a plate for glazing.

Right before you take the cake out of the oven you'll make the glaze. For the glaze - in a sauce pan or soup pot mix the glaze ingredients together. Bring the mix to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. While the cake is still nice and warm and fresh out of the oven pour this mix over the top of the cake. Pour slowly so the glaze has some time to soak in.

Hopefully your bundt pan is not like the pan my mom gave me to use - from 50 years ago, and feels like it's 10lbs on it's own. Trying to flip and remove cake while still warm to apply glaze was a bit rough! If I was forewarned I would have started lifting some weights a week earlier.