Friday, November 17, 2017

News & Notes: November 17, 2017

Pure Fire Pizza in Collegeville (99 Market St. #4, 484-961-8442) and West Chester (30 S. High St., 484-887-8713) offers gluten-free pizza prepared by staff using separate gloves, utensils, baking sheets and squeeze bottles for sauce.

Haddonfield's newest restaurant is Leaf Eatery (6 Kings Ct., 856-528-5715). Most of the menu items at this vegan spot are listed as gluten free.

The forthcoming Bourse Food Hall in Old City Philadelphia (111 S. Independence Mall East) will feature Baltimore's Mi & Yu Noodle Bar. The Asian bistro serves pho with gluten-free rice noodles.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Maine Pie Co. Makes Holidays Taste Better

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Maine Pie Co., which has provided me with compensation. All opinions remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the sponsorship of this post. [Disclosure policy]

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays - a time to reconnect with family, take a break from the daily work routine, and eat heartily. In the years since our son was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, we've found gluten-free replacements for everything from stuffing to gravy.

During the holidays, our go-to gluten-free desserts come from The Maine Pie Co., which we discovered two years ago at the Expo East gourmet food show and have been on our Thanksgiving dessert table ever since. Situated in rural Maine, the bakery crafts its artisanal pies and tarts in a designated gluten-free facility. All desserts test to less than 5 ppm using the ELISA method.

Founder Jill Miller has more than a decade of baking experience. She owned The Runcible Spoon in Nyack, New York and Port Bakery in Kennebunkport, Maine, where she perfected her baking skills and developed her award-winning gluten-free pie recipe.

The Maine Pie Co.'s Apple Crumb Pie is topped with
gluten-free oats, brown sugar and cinnamon
We recently savored The Maine Pie Co.'s delicious apple crumb pie, blending locally grown apples with a buttery crumb topping made with gluten-free rolled oats, brown sugar and cinnamon. Preparation was a snap, following directions on the package: I baked the pie at 425°F for 20 minutes, then for another 40 minutes at 350°F. (The other pie varieties have similar baking instructions.) The crumb topping turned a golden brown and the aroma of warm apples and cinnamon wafted through our kitchen. I particularly liked that the pie was chock full of sliced apples, with none of the cloyingly sweet pie "goop" that's found in many traditional versions.

Among The Maine Pie Co.'s most popular pies are apple, blueberry and pumpkin. The apple pie combines cinnamon, nutmeg and clove with the flavor of fresh, locally sourced apples that are peeled, cut and made into pies the same day. For the blueberry pie, the company uses Maine wild blueberries, while the pumpkin is packed with fresh pumpkin puree and seasonal spices.

Other varieties include Pecan, Threeberry (made with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries), Strawberry Rhubarb (summer seasonal) and new Sour Cherry pies and Lemon Curd (think TastyKake Lemon Pie!) and Chocolate Tarts. Maine Pie Co. also has pie shells for do-it-yourself bakers.

The Maine Pie Co.'s pies can be shipped nationwide when ordered online through Gluten Free Mall (order by Nov. 13 for guaranteed holiday delivery) and are also available at stores throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest U.S. [store locator].

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Jersey Mike's Subs Introducing Gluten-Free Rolls Nationwide

I can report exclusively that after receiving positive reviews in several test markets, Jersey Mike’s Subs is introducing gluten-free sub rolls at all 1,300-plus U.S. locations beginning Dec. 4. Jersey Mike’s has partnered with Udi’s Gluten Free after testing the bakery's sub rolls in several markets, including stores in Denver, Los Angeles and West Palm Beach.

“The idea of offering gluten-free rolls came from a franchisee whose daughter had celiac disease,” explained Michael Manzo, Jersey Mike's Chief Operating Officer. “Before going national, we decided to try a pilot in several markets and we are happy to report success: customers loved the taste and they were excited to be able to eat a Jersey Mike’s sub sandwich again - or for the very first time.”

Gluten-free rolls from another company, Wild Flour Bakery, had been tested in the Philadelphia region, New Jersey and North Carolina as part of the pilot program. Manzo said that while many customers responded well to Wild Flour's version, which came proofed and were baked in house, from an operational standpoint it will be easier for stores to serve the Udi's product. (Locations that had been using Wild Flour rolls have already switched over to Udi's.)

To prepare for the national launch, Manzo said the company has produced an instructional video for employees and is training staff how to carefully incorporate the new product into sandwich preparation. The Udi’s rolls arrive at each store individually wrapped and fully baked. Because the packaging is not opened until the sub is ordered, Manzo says there is little risk of cross-contamination with other subs. Additionally, employees wear new gloves when handling the rolls and use dedicated knives and other utensils that haven’t touched other bread products. They also prepare each sandwich on parchment paper to avoid contact with gluten and will utilize separate condiment containers. Customers can request that toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes and onions be taken from stock in the stores’ walk-in refrigerators. Jersey Mike's is working with the Gluten Intolerance Group to obtain certification. The company is also considering adding a gluten-free dessert option.

The Udi’s roll can be used for most hot or cold subs on Jersey Mike’s menu (some contain gluten, such as Meatball and Cheese, Chicken Parmesan and Teriyaki Chicken). The additional charge for gluten-free sandwiches may vary from store to store, but is likely to be between $1 to $2 for regular sizes and $3 to $4 for giant sizes.


Friday, October 27, 2017

News & Notes: October 27, 2017

The Philadelphia region can finally claim its own gluten-free brewery. Blueprint Brewing Co. opened last weekend in Harleysville (1571 Gehman Rd., 267-649-7006) with its hoppy Blue Skies IPA on tap and cans in the near future. Read more about Blueprint in my April 2017 post.

Not to be outdone, Original 13 Ciderworks in Kensington (1526 N. American St., 215-765-7000) has just opened Philly's first cider tasting room. The menu there lists a number of gluten-free options, including duck fat fries prepped in a gluten-free fryer. Incidentally, the Gluten Free Philly restaurant app [iOS/Android] now has a cuisine category for "Breweries" that includes Blueprint, Original 13 and other adult-beverage makers in the region.

Pizza Hut's certified-gluten-free cheese and pepperoni pizzas can now be found at stores in Mt. Ephraim (710 N. Black Horse Pike, 856-219-3323) and Clementon (1448 Blackwood-Clementon Rd., 856-346-2104).

White Elephant, a Thai restaurant in Huntingdon Valley (759 Huntingdon Pike, 215-663-1495), can prepare many items on its lunch and dinner menus (any dishes not noted with a "G" noted can be made gluten free). Thanks Mom!

In Cherry Hill, Hong Kong Fusion (1998 Marlton Pike E., 856-751-3888) can prepare gluten-free mei fun noodles, as well as many protein dishes with white sauce or gluten-free soy sauce. I highly recommend the sticky-rice cookies, one of several gluten-free desserts.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hand On My Pocket

The trusty microwave. It's a time saver for meals in a snap yet a shortcut for truer-tasting meals. That quandary arose recently when I prepared the latest creations from GeeFree Foods. The company's newest novel products - which are just now making their way to stores and online outlets - are sandwich pockets. The pockets come in three savory varieties, Sausage, Egg & Cheese, Buffalo Chicken and Cheese Pizza, with each package of two having a suggested retail price of $6.99.

Baked Buffalo Chicken pocket sandwich
If you're not familiar with GeeFree Foods, you should get to know it. The company created a niche with its initial offerings, which include gluten-free puff pastry dough, pigs in blankets and spanakopita - all of which are unique to the gluten-free marketplace. The sandwich pockets are made with the same flaky pastry dough used for the other products.

Microwaved Sausage, Egg & Cheese pocket sandwich
So how are these gluten-free counterparts to Hot Pockets? It depends. Each pocket comes wrapped in a microwaveable wrapper. If you want to save time, snip the corner of the casing and heat for 2 minutes, 15 seconds. It's quick, but we found the pockets to be "doughier" out of the microwave. The better - and tastier - option is to bake one in the oven at 350ºF for about half an hour. The dough comes out crispy and flakier, and the pocket has a more consistent taste from bite to bite out of the oven. We thought the Buffalo Chicken and Sausage - with a bit of zing cooled with a hint of cream cheese - and the Sausage, Egg & Cheese were the top two. I'd definitely keep a box or two in the freezer for lazy weekend days when there's more time to prepare these in an oven and enjoy an occasional splurge.

GeeFree's products are available in supermarkets and specialty stores throughout the country (product locator) and can also be ordered online directly through the company ($9.99 flat-rate shipping for six or more items) or through Gluten-Free Mall.

DISCLOSURE: While GeeFree Foods provided product samples for me to review at no cost, such compensation did not influence my review. Neither I am nor any immediate family member is an employee, officer, director or agent of GeeFree Foods or its respective parent, subsidiary and affiliated entities, advertising and promotional agencies. Click here for my complete Disclosure.