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Gluten Free in the City of Angels

Santa Monica in February

Random Notes:: 

I've been back in New Mexico for a week - a week that has skidded by at an alarming rate (it's true what they tell you about time accelerating as you advance in years, I'm sorry to say). Monday morphed into Friday with nary a blink. I've been playing correspondence catch-up, shoveling snow, doing heaps of laundry, and sifting through e-mails. I slid through Valentine's Day with a yawn and a shiver and a rain check in spite of good intentions and an armful of  red roses. Steve and I are both nursing a cold- the first we've caught in three years. Memories of those balmy afternoons sipping vanilla lattes in Santa Monica are fading fast.

Albuquerque was dark and well below freezing when we boarded the plane to LAX. Two and a half hours later we were strolling the Santa Monica farmer's market in the morning sun, inhaling the ocean air, our winter jackets abandoned, tossed in the back seat of the rental car. It was lovely if not surreal.

After scoping out the nearby Wild Oats, Whole Foods, and Third Street Promenade, we headed up to The Grove to drop in on our son, Colin, who was teaching a class at The Studio/Creative Bar at the Apple Store.



The Food Issue::
We stayed at The Embassy Hotel and Apartments so that I could have a kitchen. I'm not adventurous when it comes to dining out. Truth is I waited five gluten-free years before I took the risk. Those of you who were undiagnosed for years understand. Flirting with celiac symptoms is not sexy. I'd rather eat rice cakes and peanut butter and be able to cruise the town without testing out every powder room between Hollister and the Miracle Mile. 

Luckily, in Los Angeles I had more choices than rice cakes.

I found plenty of things to stock the kitchen at Whole Foods and Wild Oats - gluten-free bread, Applegate Farms organic smoked turkey, beautiful cheeses, berries, Redbridge sorghum beer (my first gluten-free beer!) and even a decent frozen GF pizza shell we topped with spinach and jalapeno jack cheese. We broiled fresh salmon from Trader Joe's, and made roasted potatoes. We made blue corn nachos. Scrambled eggs with corn tortillas. Easy and good.

The best dinner out was at The Border Grill in Santa Monica- owned by the Too Hot Tamales. It was a quiet Sunday night (some kind of game was on?). After ordering some lip smacking top shelf margaritas and settling in with Colin for some getting caught up chit chat- nourished by blue tortilla chips and lime laced tomatillo salsa- hunky Chef Ishmael came to our table to discuss the meal preparation and offer his gluten-free recommendations from the menu. The chunky guacamole we shared was robust and authentic. I ordered the smoky-garlicky grilled shrimp and greens with rice. Babycakes, it was to die for. The best shrimp I have ever eaten. Seriously. And for dessert, there was flourless Aztec chocolate cake, aka melt-in-your-mouth chocolate orgasm. Yes. This was one happy and contented gluten free goddess. My heartfelt kudos and sigh-of-relief-thanks to Chef Ishmael for a not only safe, but fabulous meal-- You rock, dude!.



Our apartment view, the local surf report and Venice Beach.

Hangin'::
While Steve took meetings in Santa Monica and Culver City [Steve sold his first screenplay, this winter- did I mention that?] I got to hang with Colin, as he had the week off. We lunched safely vegan-style-- three times-- at Real Food Daily, once sitting next to one of my favorite actors, Alan Arkin - nominated for Little Miss Sunshine this year.

We shopped at
Wasteland on Melrose [both of us snagging several Diesel and LA designer bargains], sipped Jamba Juice, walked Venice Beach, talked about [Colin's] music, my impending artistic choices, movies we loved (and hated) this year. Not to mention, the various ironies and synchronicities of life.

To have one whole week to listen, to witness, to soak in the presence of your amazing twenty-four year old son is delicious beyond words.

 I came home well fed.



TRENDING

Cape Cod Apple Cake with Cranberries (Gluten-Free)

Sweet and Tart.   No philosophy today. Dust off your cake pan, Babycakes. This is a moist and tender apple cake laced with a hint of cinnamon and studded with fresh tart berries. After seven   twelve   - er, 19!- years of baking various gluten-free incarnations of my tried and true family apple cake recipe, this could be our favorite. Maybe it's the sweet-tart combo. The subtlety of flavors. In a food culture obsessed with kicking up recipes with more for the sake of more (white chocolate peanut butter bacon swirled maple donut ice cream drizzled in dulche de leche coconut marshmallow syrup and dusted with sugared Meyer lemon zest and shaved cacao, anyone?) the clean and classic flavor contrast of apples and cranberries is somehow new again. Even, refreshing.  I don't need dessert to taste like candy. I like my cake to taste like cake.  You can bake this recipe with eggs and dairy, or vegan alternatives. See options below.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

YES PLEASE.  This award winning budget-friendly Santa Fe inspired vegetarian enchilada recipe is one of those happy accidents that springs from a burst of creative imagination. Or rumbling hunger. In that what-have-we-got-in-the-pantry sort of panic. I was craving the soft and spicy comfort of enchiladas one windy spring night back in 2003, and I had none of the usual suspects on hand (no chicken, or beef, no pinto beans).  But! I had one lovely mother of a sweet potato.  A can of organic black beans.  Some roasted green chiles.  One lonely lime.  And your intrepid Mamacita-Goddess at large thought, Hmmm. Why not? Deliciousness ensued. These wrapped little gems are soft and creamy and a little bit spicy- Just like a certain cook , my point-scoring husband wisecracks. It's the yams, I tell him. Er, sweet potato. I can never tell the difference. Can you? In the end, it doesn't matter.  What matters is how it tastes. And darling, these are so mucho scrumptiou

Gluten-Free Goddess Lemon Yogurt Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake So  I've been jonesing for a cake laced with citrus- not too sweet and not too light. A cake with character and heft.  Something akin to a lovely simple cake I remember liking as a child, a store bought bakery cake called Louisiana Ring made by Freihofer's. The cake featured a hint of orange. The day I decided to bake, I did not have oranges in the pantry- but I did have some lemons, organic Greek yogurt, and plenty of blanched almond flour.  And this simple home baked lemon cake was born.  In time for Spring. Love, Karina xo

Gluten-Free Goddess Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ah, flourless chocolate cake. The perfect rich dessert. Forgive the hyperbole. But I just can't help it. This is rich, sexy chocolate deliciousness on a plate. And such an easy recipe, especially if you use a food processor to do the work. Serve this to non-gluten-free folks with no apologies. None. Zip. Nada. And for gluten-free folks? Hand out seconds (we deserve it, don't we?). And the best part is- the recipe is inherently gluten-free and wheat-free. Always has been. No substitutions. No funny stuff. This is the same flourless chocolate cake I've been making for decades. It never contained flour. The only thing I've tweaked post-celiac diagnosis is adding more coffee and vanilla. Just because. And PS: See below why I make this recipe in a food processor- thanks to Bobby Flay. Karina xo

Gluten-Free Goddess Pasta Frittata with Kale

An Italian Classic - Updated. Today I offer you a simple recipe spun from the magic of leftover gluten-free spaghetti and eggs- a creamy, light frittata. Perfect for the weekend. Or when you're simply too tired to cook. Or you have nothing in the fridge but a carton of eggs, half a bag of kale salad and last night's leftover cooked spaghetti. It's one of those intuitive, spontaneous recipes I've pulled out of thin air, so many times. For dairy-free folks, the "cheese" pictured in this version was a vegan "mozzarella" (my current favorite is Vegan Gourmet). But if you prefer using dairy- select one or two of your favorite Italian organic cheeses. I've also made this yummy dish using goat cheese (and roasted red peppers!), and another time I tried a blend of fresh mozzarella and shaved Parmesan. It's a very versatile recipe. Celebrate Spring. Have fun with it! XOX Karina

Gluten-Free Goddess Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

A classic cookie made gluten-free. I suppose you could argue that one oatmeal cookie recipe is enough. I mean, how many oatmeal cookie recipes does a person need? To this I answer, at least two. Why? Well, first you have one with raisins (my oatmeal raisin cookies here ). Raisins give oatmeal cookies that old school chewy sneaky nutrition boost. They're old fashioned and comfy cozy. Kinda like spending one of those Saturday afternoons at your Aunt Martha's house, chillin'. Watching Mr. Rogers and laying on the floor with a pile of coloring books. Coloring outside the lines with a beat up box of Crayolas. Wishing the silver crayon was more than a lonely nub. And right at that nub lamenting moment she'd bring you a plate of cookies. Truth is, I never had an Aunt Martha. But I did have a chain smoking platinum blond babysitter who liked martinis a little too much. Or maybe it was gin and tonic. There was ice in the glass. If I was lucky enough to scro

Gluten-Free Goddess Raspberry Jam Bars

Sweet and simple raspberry jam bars. Let's be honest. I am here today to tempt you. To coax you. To seduce you with a gluten-free dessert worthy of every single luscious calorie. In full transparency, I am admitting up front these are not fat-free. Or sugar-free. These aren't diet food. They're not proper for breakfast (unless you serve them with Champagne). And you won't be able to sigh ever-so-wistfully at parties and mention, off hand, how hard it is to eat gluten-free at family gatherings and parties. Because, Darling Reader, you'll score zero sympathy points once people sink their teeth into the luscious raspberry jam filling nestled between buttery toasted coconut-almond crunch topping and tender hazelnut cookie crust. Nope. In fact, these decadent raspberry coconut-almond bars should come with a warning:   Be careful who you share these with. Because they are sure to fall madly in love with you. Seriously. Karina xox