The Butterfly and The Pig

 

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This little gem of a restaurant/tea room was only a couple of blocks away from the hotel my husband and I stayed at (Double Tree- City Center) in Glasgow. We chose to eat in the tea rooms. It is a lovely little spot with eclectic decor. Even though the dishes weren’t the exact same pattern, they all seemed to go together anyway. Apparently, this place is typically packed, even on a Monday afternoon! We got one of the last tables as walk-ins. I would definitely recommend making a reservation, if at all possible.

The menu was clearly marked with items that had gluten free options and the waitress was very knowledgeable about their offerings as well. We were both very hungry, so we opted for individual meals. We immediately regretted this, as the tables around us had their spectacular tea services delivered. There was plenty on a tea tray for a full meal and they even offered gluten free tea items! Regardless, the food was still delicious. I got the Peri-Peri chicken “wrap” on gluten free bread. It came out as an open faced sandwich. The chicken was very well spiced and tender.  The chips (a.k.a. crisps) were made in house and were very crunchy. The pickles were also very good. The tea was amazing too, of course.

Artisan Roast

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This kitchy little coffee shop near the University of Glasgow was the perfect place for us to stop on our first day in Scotland. Our overnight flight landed at 6 am Glasgow time, but our hotel wouldn’t check us in until 3 pm. Needless to say we were exhausted, but had to keep moving. This cafe was the perfect place for us to caffinate.

They offer the basic European coffee styles (cappuccino, latte, etc.), but they also have soya and oat milk available for lactose intolerant people and vegans. They also had some light food and pastry options, though we didn’t get any. The pricing was reasonable too, even for the soya/oat milk up charge!  The coffee was delicious and strong. Just what I needed.

The staff was pleasant. The atmosphere was excellent. It was definitely geared towards the University students. The decor was eclectic. The tables and study nooks were closely packed to maximize seating. My favorite bit was the random books scattered around the cafe.  My husband quizzed me on interesting beer facts he found in one of the books. Oddly I got most of them right, even though I don’t drink beer!

Overall, I think it’s a great little place to stop if you are in the area.

Gluten Free in Scotland

I just got back from an amazing trip in Scotland!  The cities are jam packed with spectacular historical sites, great shopping, and awesome restaurants. The countryside is absolutely gorgeous. My favorite part of any vacation, though, is eating delicious local food. Unfortunately, for those of us with allergies and intolerances, it can be dangerous too. Happily, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Scotland is a great destination for people with dietary restrictions!

Many of the restaurants I went to had disclaimers on their menus that said to ask the server for options. A few had gf, gfa (gluten free available), or gfi (gluten free ingredients used) labels. Almost all menus had vegetarian labeling. Even the restaurants that didn’t have labeling or disclaimers, had knowledgeable staff that could give you options. The only places I found that had no options were small hole-in-the-wall fast food joints. One caution though, is that the places with gfi on the menu, often had cross contamination. For instance, I really wanted to try gluten free fish & chips while I was there. Every place I tried that had gluten free batter on the menu, still fried the fish & chips in the same fryer as the glutenous food items. Even though I didn’t get my fish & chips, I still ate some pretty delicious gluten food while I was there!

I felt it only right that I honor my trip with a series on the food I ate while I was there.

Mr Bros 6 Sided Grater Review #MRBROS


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This grater features 6 sides for fine, medium, coarse, zesting and 2 slicing sides. It is made of durable stainless steel with a nonskid base. My favorite part is the plastic handle that is much more comfortable than a traditional metal  handle. It’s great for shredding carrots or cheese and slicing things like potatoes. I can even zest a lemon on the microplane side. It is a very versatile grater!

To Purchase: Amazon

Disclaimer: I received this product for a discount in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All my opinions are my own. One may or may not have the same results as myself when using this product.

National Grilled Cheese Month with Rumiano Cheese! Bonus: Recipe Contest!

April is National Grilled Cheese Month! Who doesn’t love grilled cheese? I prefer mine served next to a bowl of tomato soup! However with my intolerances, grilled cheese is a bit tough to make. Non-dairy cheeses rarely melt properly, or taste like real cheese. Luckily though, I can tolerate low-lactose cheeses with an enzyme pill. Organic, grass-fed cheeses are also much easier to digest, and healthier too! No added hormones to mess with your body. This is where Rumiano Cheese comes in. Here is a little background on their company:

Rumiano Cheese Company is the oldest family-owned cheese company in California dating back four generations. Rumiano Cheese Company is committed to the organic, grass-fed and Non-GMO movement and continuing to produce the highest quality cheese inspired by their founding fathers’ recipes and cheese making techniques. In 2011, Rumiano launched their Rumiano Family Organic line, which is the first cheese in the US market to receive Non-GMO Project Verification.

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I was thrilled to be chosen to try out this cheese! I found it at my local Whole foods. You can see its placement on the top row of the cooler shelf in the photo above. It comes in many varieties, though my store only carries 3 types: mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, and pepperjack. I was super excited to see that each one of those three listed 0g of sugar (i.e. lactose)! It did not say lactose free on the package, so I assume there may be trace amounts.

I couldn’t wait to get this home to make a grilled cheese! This cheese is great for melting. I used the sharp cheddar for the grilled cheese in the photo above. It had that lovely stretchy, gooey quality I haven’t seen in a low lactose cheese in forever! The taste was great too! I loved not having to feel guilty about eating it, since it is so healthy and doesn’t contain hormones or terrible fillers.

To find it at a store near you: Locator

Bonus: They are also having a grilled cheese recipe contest! Submit your recipe here by the end of April to try to win free cheese!

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Pickled Willy’s Gourmet Pickled Seafood #PickledWillys

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Pickled Willy’s is a family/veteran owned and operated specialty seafood processing plant in Kodiak, Alaska. They sell a variety of seafood related items in various forms. Their smoked fish seems popular and they have won awards for it. Their flagship products, pickled seafood, are what is unique about the company. They use an old family recipe with secret seasonings they won’t divulge! Their commitment to quality is commendable. All of their products are 100% sustainable and fished from Alaskan waters. The products are hand packed, low in fat, high in Omega-3’s, all natural, and have no preservatives. Their ingredients are simply as follows: Halibut/Lining Cod/Sockeye Salmon/King Crab, Organic Vinegar, Cane Sugar, Water, Pickling Spice, Onion, Salt (Fish). Bonus:Their products are also gluten free! They are also committed to providing their long-distance customers with the freshest product. They shipped it UPS expedited and it was extremely well packed with bubble wrap, ice packs, and lots of “this end up” stickers (which UPS ignored).

Also, if you car ever in Kodiak, you can visit their shop and sample the various products they sell. Pickled Willy’s products make great souvenirs and gifts. If you happen to do some fishing while you are in Kodiak, Pickled Willy’s will even process and ship your catch back home to you! You choose the preservation method. So cool!

Now, your first question is probably “Does it taste good?”

I assume this is your first question, because it is usually the first question anyone asks before they try something new. Some people might be wary because the combination of pickles and fish is a bit unusual, aside from some tuna salad recipes that contain pickle relish. Also the only pickled fish most people have heard of is the Northern European delicacy pickled herring, which has an unfortunately bad reputation. I want to debunk this unfortunate reputation, because Pickled Willy’s seafood is quite tasty! It is a mild pickling solution, so you don’t notice the vinegar bite you get in many pickle products. The sugar is also not overpowering, which is nice. The pickling spices also compliment the fish, so they don’t cover up the natural flavor of the fish. Best of all the fish tastes fresh. If there is one taste I cannot stand, it is the pungent taste of fish that has been frozen or sitting around for a couple of days. Pickled Willy’s obviously uses fresh caught fish that they pack right away to preserve the natural subtle taste only found in a fresh catch. So overall, the pickled seafood has a mild, subtle taste that can only compliment your meal, not overpower the other ingredients. And don’t forget the health benefits!

Your next question “How on earth do you eat it?”

There are many things you can do with pickled fish. The simplest is to serve it as an appetizer on a cracker, piece of toast, or slice of cucumber. Adding a dollop of sour cream is often recommended (but I can’t say if it is good, because I cannot eat it!). Pickled Will’s packs all of their fish in bite-sized chunks, so they are convenient for appetizers. The seafood is also tasty as a main dish in sandwiches, wraps, and on salads. You can even mix it with other ingredients to make a dip! The Pickled Willy’s website also has a recipe page to give you some ideas. If you want to eat it plain, then some popular pickled fish accompaniments are cold mayonnaise based salads, such as potato or macaroni salad, beets, boiled potatoes, and hard boiled eggs.

Seriously, how great (and unique!) an appetizer would it be to serve the salmon on a slice of cucumber with a dab of sour cream and a sprig of dill on top! This would be a great idea with the holidays just around the corner!! Here is my test batch:

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For more information or to purchase visit pickledwillys.com

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All my opinions are my own. One may or may not have the same results as myself when using this product.

Blue Apron Box Review

A growing trend in both food and other products seems to be home delivery boxes. The draw of the weekly food boxes is that you get 3 pre-portioned meals delivered, without having to go to the store or worry what to do with leftover ingredients. This seems great to me, as I hate food waste. I am constantly trying to figure out what I can do with something that is about to go bad! You also don’t have to plan our own meals and you usually end up with more exotic choices than what you would have thought of on your own. The company gives you a bunch of choices (in BA’s case, six choices) and you pick out three. It is basically convenient.

Here are the Blue Apron specific pros and cons:

Pros

  • Everything comes well packaged in a cooler box with large ice packs. In this box they even wedged the meats in between the ice packs to assure they didn’t spoil.
  • All of their packaging is recyclable, so it is environmentally friendly!
  • They only send you the exact measurements of ingredients you need.
  • They include recipe cards with detailed instructions and pictures, so you can follow them easily.
  • The recipes often feature ingredients you don’t regularly use, so you find new things to try!
  • The flavors were actually very good, though I wish they used more seasonings. I felt like every step of every recipe included “season with salt and pepper.” I didn’t.
  • Each meal is portioned to make two or four servings, based on your box size. Side note – The portion sizes are large, so most of the recipes actually made three portions for me.
  • Most portion sizes are 600-800 calories each. This makes it easier for those on a diet. Especially, if you reduce the portion sizes like I did, to make 3 meals.
  • The Blue Apron website posts many of their past recipes, so you can browse them for new meal ideas!

Cons

  • It is costly. Normal price is $60 per box, which is $10 per serving. I can eat at quite a few restaurants for that much per meal. Also, most of my home cooked meals cost much less per serving, even including the food waste.
  • You still have to cook the meal yourself. You pay take-out prices for food you still have to prepare.
  • Most recipes take at least 45 minutes to make, even if you are a trained chef and quick prepper like me. These who cannot chop quickly will need more time for that.
  • Most recipes use A LOT of dishes. The recipes start out by having you cut up everything and place them in individual bowls, so they are at the ready when cooking. With my skills, I can avoid much of that, because I can judge from the recipe what I can do while something is cooking. However, I found it exasperating to wash so many dishes EVERY night, because I didn’t have leftovers and had to cook again.
  • Unreliable ingredients. The company replaced a couple of ingredients with similar ones, leaving a card stating the change was due to availability of the ingredient. This is understandable, but you don’t always get the intended taste when swapping out ingredients. Also, two of my ingredients were spoiled by the time they got to me (a piece of fresh ginger and an eggplant). When you are missing an ingredient, the box no longer becomes convenient. You either need to forget it and worry about the recipe being off, or replace it which means running to the store you were trying to avoid!  The eggplant was the most inconvenient, as it was a major ingredient. Luckily I keep fresh ginger in my freezer (yes you can freeze it!), so I was able to replace it with little trouble.
  • Mediocre customer service. I personally had some trouble contacting their customer service. They charged me for a second box the day after I received the first (Saturday). I immediately went into my account and skipped the next box, since I didn’t want to commit to it, when I hadn’t tried the first yet. I also filled out the contact us form, asking that they refund me, since I did not want it. On Monday, I tried calling them during the stated customer service hours to check on it and no one answered, so I left a message. Tuesday I called again, again no answer and no call back. Wednesday, I sent an email directly to customer service, no reply. Thursday, I got a notification that they had shipped me a box! I replied to that email explaining the situation and left another phone message, no reply. Then I took to social media and tweeted to them. Finally I got a response! In the end they cancelled my account and refunded me the money for the box I didn’t order, so I cannot be too upset. But still, by Thursday I was panicking!
  • Lack of options for people with allergies. I found it difficult to find 3 out of the 6 recipes that were adaptable to my allergies, mostly the wheat. Almost all of their recipes contain wheat ingredients. The ratatouille and salmon both came with baguettes. I used my own bread as replacement. The chicken came with ponzu sauce, that contains regular soy sauce. I had to make my own (tamari, brown sugar, rice vinegar, lime juice, and mirin). I was able to replace the ingredients fairly easily, but I also don’t like throwing out ingredients that I paid for.

Here a the meals I received in my box:

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Ratatouille with Polenta

Unfortunately, one of the eggplant’s for this one was rotten, so It didn’t have as much in it. I also would have liked it to have more seasoning. It only required salt and pepper, with fresh oregano as a garnish. I would have liked some garlic or Italian herbs in the dish as well. I ended up adding some balsalmic vinegar to my bowl for taste (even though it isn’t traditional). I did like the freshness though. The polenta was also good, even though I had to swap the Parmesan cheese out with nutritional yeast.

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Seared Salmon and Panzanella

This was actually a fairly simple recipe. It was not bad, but I doubt I would make it again. I had to replace the garlic bread with my own bread. Also rubbing garlic directly on the bread after it toasted made it very pungent. I would do that before toasting to mellow out the bite of raw garlic.

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Stir-Fried Ginger-Basil Chicken with Coconut rice

I actually really liked this recipe! I love the coconut rice, but I have never seen coconut milk powder in my life. Fortunately I have successfully made it before with coconut milk instead and would do that next time.

My overall opinion is that it is not right for me. I feel like it was too much money and too much work for me. It will not work for those of us with allergies, especially since they really don’t label allergens as well as other companies do. However, I think this would be great for people without dietary restrictions, that want to learn how to cook some interesting recipes. I also think it is great for people that don’t want to take the time to do meal planning. This is really more of a convenience or novelty product. Even if you don’t get the box, I encourage you to take a look at their recipe page. You may find some interesting recipes to try or adapt.

At The Table Together 5 Minute Gluten Free Pizza Dough Mix Review

Happy Monday everyone! Over the weekend I decided to try out a pizza dough mix that I found at Homegoods (one of my favorite places to find cheap GF items). It is made by a company called A Tavola.

Pizza Mix

I was very excited to find this because not only is it GF, but it is vegan as well! I love pizza but it has been very difficult for me to find a dough mix or recipe that is both gluten and dairy free. It also states in several places on the package that it is easy to make, quick, and foolproof.

I started out following the instructions on the package, but soon hit a snag. The package states that you should form the dough into balls on a flat baking sheet, flatten them in the middle, and let them rise. My dough came out WAY too runny to be able to shape it like regular pizza dough. Not foolproof!

I went to the company’s website and discovered that their online tutorial is different from the package’s instructions. The website said to place the dough in pie/cake pans to shape the crust. I separated the dough into two greased 8″ cake pans and used a knife to spread it into the shape I desired.

After letting them rise, I baked them plain for 10 minutes. Then I added the toppings and baked it for 10 more minutes. Here is the result:

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They actually puffed up a lot more than I expected, but did not turn as brown or crispy as I hoped. Because of this, the pizza was not easy to pick up.

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Here is a side view. Hopefully, you can see that the crumb structure was actually pretty nice. It also tasted good as well.

If you would like to try this yourself, I would suggest either using less liquid or adding more of your own GF flour blend to make it easier to work with and easier to pick up when baked.