Friday, February 26, 2010

News & Notes: February 26, 2010

The past seven days brought lots of exciting gluten-free news. Last Friday, I posted P.F. Chang China Bistro's expanded gluten-free menu, which debuts nationwide on March 8. Included are five new beef entrees, including the tasty Mongolian Beef, and the addition of Dali Chicken.

While the uproar over Whole Foods' decision to end distribution of its 365 Brand gluten-free mixes continues, King Arthur Flour this week announced that it is producing its own line of gluten-free bread, pizza, pancake and dessert mixes.

Closer to home, I wrote on Monday about gluten-free pizza available at Seasons Pizza's locations in Cherry Hill and Stratford.

Many readers already have made reservations for the gluten-free dining event at Casona in Collingswood on March 11, less than two weeks away. Don't miss what is sure to be a great dinner!

All Ninety Nine restaurants, including those in Audubon, Philadelphia, Trevose, Warrington and Deptford, now offer gluten-free hamburger rolls from Gillian's Foods at no extra charge.

Carlino's Specialty Foods in Ardmore (2616 East County Line Road, 610-649-4046) and West Chester (128 West Market Street, 610-696-3788) sells varieties of Conte's gluten-free pasta. (Thanks to reader Carol for the info.) Conte's gluten-free efforts were the subject of a profile this week in the Vineland Daily Journal.

Annie's Homegrown's new gluten-free Bunny Cookies and Deluxe Rice Pasta and Cheddar - with cheese sauce you can squeeze in - are now available in stores. The products also can be ordered through Annie's online market.

Adding to its line of over 30 gluten-free items, Pamela's Products has introduced single-serve packs of Chocolate Brownie Mix and Pancake Mix. The brownie recipe calls for the addition of water and oil to the mix, which is then microwaved for about one minute. For the pancakes, add water, oil and an egg to the mix and cook on an oiled griddle or pan.

Just a reminder that's special offers on two popular gluten-free product lines expire on Sunday. First, you can save up to 30 percent off on Betty Crocker gluten-free baking mixes: save 15 percent using code BETTYCGF at checkout and an additional 15 percent (with free shipping) when combining with a Subscribe & Save order. Save up to 40 percent off most Mrs. Leeper's gluten-free pasta products: save 25 percent using code LEEPER25 at checkout and an additional 15 percent (with free shipping) when combining with a Subscribe & Save order.

Among the vendors for the March 21 Celiac Education Day at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are CASA Foods, the makers of Popikins gluten-free and casein-free popcorn chicken nuggets, Food-Tek, Everybody Eats and Mr. Ritt's. Advance-order forms are available here. Call 267-426-6822 to register for the event.

The Princeton HealthCare System's Community Education & Outreach program is sponsoring a gluten-free cooking class and tasting session on March 22. The event will be held at the Hamilton Area YMCA from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The cost is $15. Details and registration information are available here.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When It Reigns It Pours

Come March 1, America's oldest flour company will have launched its newest products. King Arthur Flour’s new line of gluten-free mixes and ingredients includes Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour for scratch baking, along with seven convenience mixes: Gluten Free Bread, Pizza Crust, Cookie, Brownie, Chocolate Cake, Muffin and Pancake mixes.

“We wanted to create gluten-free mixes that would not only meet the same high standards we apply to all of our products in terms of flavor and texture, but also reflect the highest standards of gluten- and allergen-free certification,” said King Arthur Flour Marketing Director Tom Payne in a statement. “We’ve brought to bear our more than two centuries of experience in baking and recipe development, toiling in our test kitchen for over two years to combine the best gluten-free ingredients in novel ways that result in gluten-free baking mixes of superior quality, consistency and taste.”

The baking mixes from King Arthur Flour, which was founded in 1790, are third-party certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. In addition, they are produced in a dedicated allergen-free facility, guaranteed to be free of the top eight most common food allergens. They are also certified Kosher.

Suggested retail prices range from $4.99 to $6.99. The products will be available for purchase online at the company's website on March 1 and soon thereafter at food retailers nationwide.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Time of the Season

Gluten-free pizza delivery is now a reality in Camden County. Seasons Pizza's locations in Cherry Hill (450 Route 70 East, 856-428-4441) and Stratford (1014 North White Horse Pike, 856-783-9333) offer medium-sized gluten-free cheese pizza pies ($8.99 each) as well as french fries cooked in a dedicated fryer. These restaurants are the first two Seasons outlets to sell gluten-free pizza. If the pizza proves popular, the company may add it to the menu at other locations, including those throughout Delaware and in Frazer, Pennsylvania. (Readers near other Seasons Pizza shops can contact the company to request the gluten-free pizza at their local stores.)

All of the managers and employees at both New Jersey locations have been instructed on preparation of the pizzas to avoid cross-contamination. The stores use separate cheese and a cutter for the gluten-free crusts, which come from the manufacturer on individual foil trays. The use of the tray prevents the pizzas from touching surfaces that may have had contact with gluten. The sauce on all of the pizzas is hand-tossed, so the utensil used to ladle sauce onto the pies does not come into contact with the dough.

While the Stratford location's seating is limited, the newly opened Cherry Hill spot has a large dining room for customers who choose to eat there. Both restaurants offer delivery and you can even order the gluten-free pizza online for delivery from the Cherry Hill location. Currently, the Cherry Hill Seasons Pizza is offering 10 percent off gluten-free pizza orders to customers who mention the store's blog. And, yes, the gluten-free pizza tastes great. In fact, it's remarkably similar to Season's thin-crust wheat version.

Friday, February 19, 2010

P.F. Chang's Beefs Up Gluten-Free Menu

Five beef entrees will make their nationwide debut on P.F. Chang's China Bistro's expanded gluten-free menu March 8. The additions to the menu are:
  • Mongolian Beef - quick-cooked with scallions and garlic
  • Hong Kong Beef with Snow Peas - served with snow peas and water chestnuts
  • Beef a la Sichuan - spicy, crispy beef strips with julienne celery and carrots
  • Pepper Steak - quick-cooked with red and green bell peppers, yellow onion, garlic and black pepper (available in lunch- and dinner-size portions)
  • Beef with Broccoli - served Cantonese-style and tossed with steamed broccoli (available in lunch- and dinner-size portions)
  • Dali Chicken - spicy chicken served with sliced potatoes and leeks
Locally, P.F. Chang's has Pennsylvania locations in Collegeville, Plymouth Meeting, Warrington and Glen Mills and New Jersey locations in Atlantic City, Marlton and Princeton.

News & Notes: February 19, 2010

At $30 per adult, the four-course menu to be offered at Casona's special gluten-free dining event on March 11 provides a relatively inexpensive way to sample excellent Cuban and Latin cuisine, including my favorite entrée there - the citrus-marinated pork. Kids are welcome too - there's a special menu for the younger set. There'll be door prizes from Shabtai Gourmet and it's a great opportunity to meet other gluten-free diners from throughout the region. Be sure to make your reservations soon!

This week's addition to the ever-growing list of area gluten-free-friendly restaurants is from Delaware. Stanley's Tavern in Wilmington (2038 Foulk Road, 302-475-1887) has a gluten-free menu that includes ribs.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Michael Klein reported this week that Five Guys Burgers and Fries, with gluten-free bunless burgers and fries, plans an April opening for another Center City Philadelphia location, this one at 1109 Walnut St. The chain also has an outlet coming this spring to the Exton Square Mall, according to Meal Ticket.

Katie Cavuto, who was a finalist in last year's Next Food Network Star competition, today cuts the ribbon at Healthy Bites To Go in South Philadelphia (2521 Christian Street, 215-259-8646). Among the gluten-free products she'll be carrying are baking mixes from Purely Elizabeth and veggie burgers from Asherah's Gourmet.

Vegan cookie company Liz Lovely has unveiled three new gluten-free varieties: Oatmeal Raisin, Triple Chocolate Mint and Coconut-Lemon. Liz's cookies are available at many outlets in Philadelphia and its environs.

Glutino will be introducing three new gluten-free rice cereals. The regular flakes, flakes with berries and frosted flake varieties will be fortified with vitamins A, C and E, iron and other nutrients.

There are still openings at Camp Celiac in Rhode Island. The 2010 edition will run from August 8-13 at Camp Aldersgate in North Scituate, just outside of Providence. My older son wrote about the great time he had there last year.

Another series of gluten-free cooking classes is coming to the Rancocas Valley Regional High School Education Program in Mount Holly beginning on February 22.

Don't be shy about dropping me a line with any gluten-free news I can share in a future post. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

'Gluten Free Philly' Night at Casona

Casona, a Cuban/modern Latin restaurant in Collingswood, New Jersey, will host its first gluten-free dining event on Thursday, March 11. Owners Mark and Michele Infantado are offering a special four-course menu for $30 per person plus tax and gratuity, prepared by Executive Chef Carmelo Petit. The dinner includes a choice of soup or salad, and appetizer, entrée and dessert suggestions. (Casona's full gluten-free menu will be available for those who want to order a la carte.) Children ages 12 and under have their own menu that includes a choice of entrée, side and beverage, priced at $6.95 per child plus tax and gratuity. The restaurant is BYOB, so feel free to bring your own gluten-free wine, spirits or beer.

The adult prix fixe menu is as follows:
Choice of Appetizer
Yuca Frita
Cassava “fries” with fresh guacamole and mojo garlic sauce
Traditional Guacamole
Served with corn tortilla chips or plantains

Tomato, roasted jalapeno, cilantro, red onion, olive oil and lime juice

Choice of Soup or Salad
Traditional Black Bean Soup
Tomato Soup (request without bread)
Ensalada Mixta
Spring mix, heart of romaine, heart of palm, cherry tomatoes,
grilled corn, diced fresh pineapple with cherry vinaigrette

Choice of Entrée
Ropa Vieja
Pulled flank steak in a creole sauce with white rice and maduros
Chicken Moluteño
Chicken breast in mole sauce with chilaquiles, queso fresco, green sauce,
sour cream, topped with cherry tomato and red onion salad

Lobster Enchilada (corn tortilla)
With clam juice, butternut squash sauce and white rice
Lechon Asado
Citrus-marinated pork slow-roasted Cuban-style with white rice and maduros
Cuban Style Rice & Spinach (vegetarian)
White rice, sautéed spinach, sweet plantains with tomato coulis

Choice of Dessert
Coconut Flan • Caramel Flan
The children's entrées are citrus pork, Cuban pizza and quesadillas. Sides include yuca fries, french fries, salad, rice and beans.

In an effort to accommodate people from many parts of the Delaware Valley who have expressed interest in attending this event, the menus will be offered from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. rather than at set seating times. I suspect families with younger children like ours will be dining on the earlier side (although I plan on being there for the better part of the evening). Reservations are a must, and can be made by calling Casona at 856-854-5555 or online through OpenTable. Mention “Gluten Free Philly” when calling or add a note under the “special requests” section when making an online reservation. Casona is located at 563 Haddon Avenue in Collingswood; driving directions are available here and through Google Maps. Metered parking is available along Haddon Avenue. The restaurant is less than a 15-minute walk along Haddon Avenue from PATCO's Collingswood Station, where taxi service is available.

Shabtai Gourmet will be sponsoring the door prizes. Attendees will have an opportunity to win one of three prize packs, each consisting of five items from Shabtai's selection of delicious gluten-free baked goods chosen by the winners. Diners can fill out an entry form at the event (one per party, please). I'll randomly select the winners shortly after the event and contact them by e-mail.

I look forward to meeting many of you there!

Friday, February 12, 2010

News & Notes: February 12, 2010

Hopefully those of you in the tri-state area will have dug out from the record snowfall by Thursday, March 11. That's the date of the first Gluten Free Philly dining event, to be held at Casona in Collingswood, New Jersey. I collaborated with the restaurant to choose a day that seemed to work for the majority of people expressing interest. Fear not - if you can't make it that evening, I hope to plan other events down the road. I'll post the details and the special menu for the dinner next week.

On Monday, I posted my review of Stephen Starr's impressive pan-Asian restaurant Pod in Philadelphia. I shared the news on Tuesday that Whole Foods has discontinued its 365 Brand gluten-free baking mixes.

Vaders Bar & Grill in Southampton (727 Second Street Pike, 215-953-7575) has a gluten-free menu that includes appetizers, pastas, entrees and Redbridge beer. The kitchen uses separate color-coded pans, mixing bowls, tongs and spoons to prepare gluten-free items.

An addition to the gluten-free dining mecca that is Collingswood is IndeBlue (618 Collings Avenue, 856-854-4633), which Philadelphia magazine named the best new Indian restaurant of 2009. All of the restaurant's entrees and salads are gluten free, as are several appetizers, the pudding and ice cream desserts, and all soups except for the mushroom and chicken variety. With at least one day's notice, the chef will also prepare gluten-free bread made of rice or chickpea flour at no additional charge.

Glenny's, which brought you gluten-free marshmallow-rice bars and oatmeal cookies, has added to its stable new Fruit & Nut energy bars. The all-natural bars, which come in four flavors - Cranberry & Almond, Cashew & Almond, Fruit & Nut Classic and Mixed Nut - are sweetened with honey and brown-rice syrup.

The next meeting of the Mercer County Celiac Support Group is scheduled for Wednesday, February 24 at the Whole Foods Market in Princeton. E-mail Liz Sowa for more information.

The Chester County GIG meeting originally planned for February 10 has been rescheduled for February 24, from 7:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Chester County Hospital's Fern Hill Resource Center. A vendor fair will precede the meeting at 6:30 p.m. For more information, e-mail Nancy Artus or call 610-518-5572.

The new Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods Market will host a free "Gluten-Free Wellness Talk and Tour" on Thursday, February 25 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The store tour will follow a talk by Maura Shenker, a holistic health counselor. Call 610-832-0010 to sign up or stop by the Customer Service Booth.

Finally this week, I wanted to mention that Passover specialty foods are now making their way onto supermarket shelves. With Passover comes the arrival of many gluten-free items not otherwise available year-round. I'll be writing soon about some of these products, but I wanted to provide you with a sneak peek at one item - gluten-free chow mein noodles (in medium and wide sizes) from Streit's, which I spotted at my local ShopRite.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Whole Foods 365 Brand Gluten-Free Mixes 86'd

UPDATE (3/1/10 @ 4:44 PM): Whole Foods has posted a statement (see comments section below) that it is "transitioning back to the Gluten Free Pantry mixes that were moved out to make room for the 365 versions." The statement does not address the question of whether the Gluten Free Pantry mix formulations are the same as those used for the 365 products.

Whole Foods Market has decided to discontinue its branded gluten-free baking mixes due to "lack of interest." Back in 2007, the market introduced their own line of mixes - not to be confused with the Gluten Free Bakehouse ready-made baked goods. The mixes for pizzas, breads, cakes, brownies and the like were part of the store's 365 Everyday Value line. The products initially were priced slightly less than the comparable Gluten-Free Pantry mixes the house brand largely replaced. The ingredient labels for the Whole Foods products mimicked those of Gluten-Free Pantry's, although the actual manufacturer of the store-labeled versions was never confirmed by either company.

According to a statement from Whole Foods:
The 365 Gluten Free Baking Mixes have been discontinued and are no longer available through any other outlets. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. There are many reasons that go into the decision to discontinue a product. Hundreds of new products are presented to us every day; therefore, the mix of products in each category is continually evolving. We evaluate attributes like value, quality, taste and convenience when we make the decision to accept or discontinue a product. Most often a product is discontinued to make room for a new product that offers a better combination of these attributes, or because there is a lack of interest in the product.
A Whole Foods customer service representative confirmed in an e-mail that customers' lack of interest in the products led to the decision to end distribution. Interestingly, stores are being encouraged to stock Gluten-Free Pantry mixes as a replacement when the existing inventory of store-brand products runs out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pleasing at Pod

Eating at a Stephen Starr-owned restaurant is the dining equivalent of attending a Broadway musical. While both are given to pomp and circumstance, they usually leave one fulfilled, if not a bit lighter in the wallet.

During a recent dinner visit to Pod, Starr's Asian-fusion concept in Philadelphia's University City (3636 Sansom Street, 215-387-1803), we felt like we were attending opening night, as Starr himself ate at a nearby table in the main dining area. Our party of four was too small to be seated at one of the three semi-private illuminated "pods" but not small enough for the two-seaters that line the long exterior wall. With an Asian movie playing on a video screen behind the conveyor-belt sushi bar and techno music piped in from overhead, our kids were duly impressed with the show going on around them.

We started our meal with a selection from the dim sum menu - a finely chopped chicken-vegetable blend served alongside enormous lettuce leaves for wrapping. Although the kitchen had to substitute for the Thai peanut dressing called for in the recipe, the appetizer did not want for flavor. Before the main course, my wife and older son shared a heaping bowl of edamame pods splashed with coarse sea salt.

After a brief intermission, our server brought out my older son's savory gluten-free stir-fry - a plateful of the largest shrimp any of us had ever seen. The crustaceans were sauteed in a mixture of corn starch, spicy Thai chili and a Mandarin orange sesame glaze and tossed with Chinese broccoli. My younger son's garlicky macadamia stir-fry, with glossy chunks of white-meat chicken, was not prepared gluten free but easily could have been modified. While none of us opted for Pod's sushi, it too can be made safe for gluten-free diners.

Our one disappointment was the absence of an appealing dessert to share. Only the restaurant's selection of sorbets are gluten free. A flourless torte would have matched ably with the glutenous options on the menu and would have brought the curtain down fittingly on an otherwise superb performance.

Pod on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 5, 2010

News & Notes: February 5, 2010

I counted about half of Cherry Hill's residents at my local ShopRite last night stocking up on milk, orange juice and other staples in anticipation of the snowstorm predicted to hit the region today. I think some gluten-free baking is in the cards for tomorrow since it doesn't appear that we're going anywhere!

The Greenwood Kitchen in Lansdale was featured in Monday's post. The company makes gluten free "raw" snacks like macaroons and granola and baked goods such as muffins and breads. Whole Foods in Devon is the latest area store to carry these products.

"Pizza Pizza" is the theme of the restaurant news this week. West Berlin Italian Filomena Cucina Rustina (13 Cross Keys Road, 856-753-3540) has many gluten-free menu choices, including brick-oven pizza, penne, ravioli and gnocchi.

Brothers Pizza & Pasta in West Chester (670 Downingtown Pike, 610-431-1000) is the latest restaurant to add Still Riding's gluten-free pizza to its menu. Don't forget about the still-running offer from Still Riding, which allows Gluten Free Philly readers to get $100 for referring to the company a local Italian restaurant or pizzeria that decides to carry its gluten-free pizza.

The Warminster outpost of Roman Delight (255 East Street Road, 215-957-6465) not only has gluten-free pizza, but also pasta, entrees and beer.

The Seasons Pizza location in Cherry Hill, serving gluten-free pizza and french fries, is offering 10 percent off your next dine-in or delivery order. Just mention the store's new blog for the discount.

Horsham's Grandma's Grotto has posted its expanded gluten-free menu - including many varieties of pizza - online.

I just learned of a new dedicated gluten-free baker located in the Philadelphia suburbs. The Grain Exchange in Buckingham (267-935-9244) sells direct to customers as well as to area stores and restaurants. Several varieties of the company's baked goods are sold at the Town Crier Bakery at Peddler's Village in Lahaska and at Saxbys Coffee in Doylestown and Lansdale, among other places.

General Mills giveth and General Mills taketh away. Strawberry Chex cereal, which was reformulated last year to be gluten free, has been discontinued due to disappointing sales.

As part of its February grocery deals, is offering up to 40 percent off most Mrs. Leeper's gluten-free pasta products. Save 25 percent when you enter code LEEPER25 at checkout, plus save an additional 15 percent (with free shipping) when you combine the instant rebate with a Subscribe & Save order.'s up-to-30-percent-off sale on the entire line of Betty Crocker gluten-free dessert mixes continues through the end of February. With that offer, you can save 15 percent by using code BETTYCGF at checkout and an additional 15 percent (with free shipping) when placing a Subscribe & Save order.

The Bucks/Montgomery R.O.C.K. chapter is sponsoring a moon-bounce jump party and potluck dinner on Sunday, February 21. The event will be held at Pump It Up at 94 County Line Road, Suite A, in Colmar from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; the bounce runs from 4 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. with dinner to follow. All family members are welcome. The cost is $10 per child for Pump It Up with adults free (socks required). For the dinner, attendees should bring a dish and the recipe to share. The facility has a refrigerator and electrical outlets available if needed. Bottled water and Capri Sun must be purchased through Pump It Up, which the group will cover. RSVP with the number of attendees and childrens' ages by February 16 to Holly and Steve Staugaitis at 215-997-2706 or 267-664-6425.

I'm still soliciting interest in an upcoming gluten-free dinner meet-up at Casona in Collingswood, so if you're interested, please complete a short survey through this link by Tuesday, February 9.

Stay warm and dry this weekend!

Monday, February 1, 2010

In The Raw

"Raw" foods are uncooked, unprocessed and often organic foods. Proponents of "raw foodism" believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits. Many raw-food products exclude grain ingredients and, by their nature, are gluten free.

The Greenwood Kitchen's small-batch raw snacks and baked goods are preservative and additive free. Owner Jaynel Hollis, a Lansdowne, Pennsylvania resident who has celiac disease and is a vegetarian, began creating her own vegan and gluten-free snacks after she became displeased with the dearth of healthier options.

Her company's raw snacks include delicious Chocolate Fudge Macaroons, which are crafted with unsulfured coconut and sweetened with organic agave nectar. (Other varieties include Vanilla Almond, Peanut Butter, Mint Chip, Chai Tea and Orange Ginger.) My older son devoured the chewy Walnut Fig Granola, with hints of vanilla extract and sea salt. I liked nibbling on the Cacao Raisin Crisps, cinnamony chips of buckwheat flecked with raisins. While the Gluten Free Philly household demurred from trying the new Garlic Spinach Chips because of the strong scent, a vegan co-worker at my office who tried the chips loved them.

Jaynel also bakes gluten-free and vegan breads and sweets. Of the two kinds of muffins we tried, our unanimous preference was the moist nutmeg-imbued Pumpkin Spice variety over the Spiced Zucchini flavor. Oatmeal Raisin, Gingersnap, Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Chip comprise The Greenwood Kitchen's line of cookies, which we didn't have an opportunity to sample.

The Greenwood Kitchen's products are available in Philadelphia at Milk & Honey Market, Pumpkin Market, Green Aisle Grocery and the Fair Food Farmstand, at suburban natural food stores, and online through Etsy. The full list of area locations is posted on the company's website.

(DISCLOSURE: While The Greenwood Kitchen provided products to me at no cost, such compensation did not influence my review. My full Disclosure Policy can be found toward the bottom right of each page on Gluten Free Philly.)