Monday, May 14, 2012

Recipe - Easy Omelets

Omelets... what could be better?? Eggs are good on the worst or best of weather days! They can be made in so many different ways that the choices are just endless. And to top it all off new studies are showing that where as eggs were once thought to be 'bad' for you are actually not all that bad!

During the summer months, it's never hard to find to find a dozen or more eggs in our house. They not are only made for breakfast but they are even made for a quick light dinner and put in so many of my summer recipes that they are just needed in the house.

Today, I bring you my make shift and no omelet pan needed omelets. This recipe is by no means an exact recipe! You can put what ever *YOU* want in an omelet... I'm just giving you an idea of some of the things you can add!

 2 or 3 eggs (I used 3 per omelet in the photos)
 ♥ tomatoes
 ♥ meats (choose a pre-cooked version or make sure your fry it before)
 ♥ onions
 ♥ herbs (fresh work wonders but dry work just as well)
 ♥ olives (black work very well, never tried green though... yet)
 cheese (mix it up or choose your favorite but best to use small chunks or shredded in it)
 extra bit of cheese for topping
 splash milk or light cream

This is not rocket science so don't be so scared of these! Find a good flat bottomed pan (we normally use our crepe pan for these and it fits it all just wonderfully). In my photos this time we used a larger flat bottomed pan just for the ease of photo work. Put it over a medium to medium high heat for pre-heating while preparing the egg mixture.

Firstly chop your meats and veggies into smaller bite sized pieces. What ever size you want really just as long as you remember you are trying to fold some eggs around it. Then make sure you have finally chopped any fresh herbs you might be using.

In a small bowl add you meats, veggies, herbs and what ever else you will be adding into the eggs such as shredded cheese. Then simply add the eggs and the splash of milk or cream. Use a fork and not a whisk to mix up the eggs. You want them well combined but a whisk will cause you to have your pieces stuck inside of it instead of inside the eggs.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to your pre-heated pan and simply pour the egg mixture into it. You should hear it sizzle right away when they hit the pan, this is a good thing! Now be patient. Wait until you see it has cooked mostly through the top of the eggs. You might want to turn the heat down to a medium heat about half way. If you use more eggs, you might want to add a lid for a few minutes to help steam the top of the omelet.

When you see that the eggs are as good as cooked through the top, simply use a flat spatula to flip the eggs half way over themselves. If you choose, you can even add a bit more cheese to the middle before this flipping stage to have a gooey center to indulge in. Let it rest a minute or two longer on the heat to ensure a finished cook and melting of any choose you might have added to the middle.

Wela, your done. Use your spatula to transfer it to your plate and you have a nice yummy full of goodness and easy to boot omelet! Place some cheese on top if you wish while still hot, have a bit of toast next to it (I love toast with raspberry jam!) or in this case of our Sunday brunch, fry up some left over boiled potatoes with some herbs. Again, the choices on this are sooooo endless! Lastly, ENJOY!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Venting - Having Patience In A Restaurant

I'm writing this entry because this effects not only those of us who live with a gluten problem but every one else around us and the posting this time is a venting session... these do not happen often but if I do go on about something, it usually means to sit back and think a bit.

When you visit a restaurant, if you are gluten free or not, please for the sake of god or who ever else you might believe or not believe in, STOP BEING SO FRIGGIN' SELFISH AND IMPATIENT!

I have had one of the busiest weeks of the last 10 years. I have been put into a full time position this week due to the fact that some where in about a week worth of time the restaurant I work for has lost all but 1 other of their paid employees not including myself. I do not mind this in general except that also means I have closed every day since last Tuesday by myself when normally at least the ending days of the week there is 1 or 2 others to help with closing which means about 20 to 30 minutes after the store closes, we should be heading home with the store clean.

When a restaurant is under staffed and you want your order taken/served, please take into account different things before you go complaining to any one that your server was slow.

1. How many servers are there? *BIGGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT* If there is 1 server when there should be as many as 3, my god, have the MOST patience, come back another day or at another time or just go some where else that day/night! That poor server is doing or at least trying to do the service of that many people ON THEIR OWN!

2. How much is going on around the area? Are there fairs/markets happening, is it really nice weather, what day of the week is it, what time of the day is it, how many people are actually in the restaurant wanting to order?

3. Is the lobby closed or do you simply believe that the restaurant is just really quiet and your server doesn't know how to work fast enough to fill their lobby? Most restaurants close parts of their lobby some time before actual closing hours. It isn't empty because your server can't do her job, he or she would *NOT* be working there if that were the case. They close the lobby so when it is a bit quiet, they can go about getting it cleaned and ready for another day of business.

4. How many people are before you? How much are they ordering? Do you really expect to be served within 5 minutes if you are in a line of 10 other people that have large orders?

5. If you are visiting a fresh made to order restaurant like the one I work at, are all of the ingredients ready for your server to use or does he/she have to restock? I know that I have to restock if I'm busy, do you?? This means more time to run to where the stock is, get it and come back to fill it. THIS TAKES TIME!

6. Does your server have to do other things while making an order? Does he/she have to do extra things have to keep an eye on people who walk in and out just to use the bathroom which is *NOT* free to his/her business to use and should be paid for if the person is not a customer, does he/she have to do stuff like reset their computer because it crashes out in the middle of business and takes 2 or 3 minutes to reload, does he/she have to explain what sauces they have 100 times a day due to people not knowing what is what in their restaurant? This ALL TAKES TIME!

Ok people do I need to spell this out for you? Your server is *NOT* slow... you are IMPATIENT! You take into NO consideration of your server as to why he/she might be slower in serving you because all you want is to be waited on and have your food. You are selfish and just make yourself look like an idiot while making your server feel like a fool when you go complaining about 'slow service' to their boss. Can you tell the boss why your server was slow? Does it chalk up to any of the reasons above that I listed? Have you even thought about what all it takes to keep a line running smooth? Have you ever considered that your server might be on her 5th or 6th straight day of full time hours? You'd be bloody tired and a bit slower then normal too if you did the kind of job he/she does and after that many days straight.

Ok Thank you for reading this. Please, especially if you live a gluten free life, HAVE PATIENCE! If you need something special please remember those requirements mean your server has to make sure it can happen and in a way that is not going to be a problem to any one else. And please by all means, if you are requiring a service that you *THINK* should be free but the restaurant you are visiting says it is not, it is *NOT* your place to demand and abuse what *THEY* have for their rules. If you do not like the rules a place has set up, go some where else that has rules you prefer. I say that last one with all respect to every one but just because you are with a young child that you are trying to toilet train and insist that you use the bathroom for free, remember it takes money for the business (restaurant or other wise) to run that bathroom whether it be for an adult or a child. You are *NOT* special because you have a child or are elderly or any thing else. If you have no intentions of buying any thing from the business you need something other then what they offer from, at least be kind enough to buy a soda or pay the small fee they place on non-paying customers... a child costs just as much as an adult when they use a bathroom... a toilet doesn't just magically change it's tank size for a child, a child still uses toilet paper to wipe with, they still use water and paper towels to clean their hands and you both still use the same amount of electric to run the lights that are in that bathroom... and most likely even more so because you have to be slower due to the child then you would be on your own.

End of vent... please think about your server before you go complaining at all about slowness or other minor problems you *THINK* are a problem. It pains them :(

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Let's Talk Fruit - Belgian Strawberries

Strawberries... yes it's becoming that time of year. The first batches of these wonderful little pieces of naturally gluten free sweetness have hit the selves of our local fruit stands and supermarkets!

I think already I've bought at least a dozen containers and I know I'll buy at least another 50 before the season is done. They are not at their peek yet but they are pretty damn good considering for the last weeks we have hardly seen the sun and the temps don't hardly go above 60f.

Now why do I have a post specially on 'Belgian' strawberries? That is simple! I'm american, I have always grown up with these ultra dark large strawberries. You know the kind... the 'bigger the better' types that typically look as dark as a brick house and you can only guess if they will be a bit sweet or sour. And dare they have any parts of green on them, most Americans would shun away from them because that tells them it's going to be even a bit sour. Yes those... those are the strawberries most Americans know.

Now if you have ever had a chance to have Belgian strawberries, you will NEVER want to turn back to those horrid little almost pre-coloured looking things you were use to. These little treasures are going to be 99% sweet if you know how to pick them out. Picking them out is not rocket science as it is with the ones sold in America. As long as these beauties have a roundish look to them, a medium size (very rarely are these ever 'large' like you might find in the American versions) and do not have green bottoms, you are almost sure you will have a good batch.

These strawberries will be and almost always are a pale red but can be a bright red when they are in their perfect peek season. Then they are the best you can get and are sold at under 2 euro a package.

Remember, all fruits are naturally gluten free and I promise if done right, will freeze VERY well if you want to save these for cooking and baking later in the year when the season is done and the cold nip is back in the year.

Strawberries are easy to freeze... I would suggest though that you do not freeze them for just eating plain as you might from a fresh bought container. Once frozen they change texture a bit and although they are just as good for eating, they won't give you the satisfaction that the fresh unfrozen version will. Instead freeze them for uses in such things as fresh smoothies and other desserts what will meld the strawberries into it. You'll get the wonderful sweetness and taste without noticing the texture change.

Freezing can be done in 2 ways. You can of course pre-cut them, removing the hauls and stems or you can just place the whole berry in there but I personally like to take the time to at least remove the hauls. I would suggest not doing more then a half cut strawberry if you choose to cut them before freezing and whole is even better. You can leave them unwashed for much easier freezing or if you wish to wash them first, simply lay them out in a single layer on paper towels and let completely dry. Place them in FREEZER BAGS first and if you want to have an extra layer of protection, then place them in a container meant for the freezer. This will ensure they will not get frost bitten before one wants to use them. These will keep nicely if done right and not rushed in the beginning for any where from 6 months to a year in the freezer. Perfect to make something wonderfully fruity such as warm strawberry compote for ice cream on some windy/rainy fall evening or cutting up after thawed to add to some home-made apple sauce!