another chocolate chunk day

yesterday was a day for dilemmas. we've had a span of "warm days" (er... high 40s?), and yesterday marked the first day in a few that actually dropped back into the 20s. do i walk these dogs like i promised? do they understand me when i make these long-winded promises? they were curled in tight balls on the sofa, twitching and snoring in direct aim of the apartment heater. so no. i spared them their winter jackets and left them to their dreams. after all, i did take them running to the beach the day before, when it was "warm" and they splashed in the ice water of lake michigan. a frigid breeze is enough to leave them shivering, but water that was frozen solid just 2 days before is no match for their macho 20-pound selves. they were still exhausted, so i left them to hunt squirrels in their sleep.

so now what to do? do i venture out to get coffee? nah. not when i have coffee and fresh milk at home. do i watch the st. paddy's day parade on tv? ugh. my attention span is not developed enough to watch people in green wave and "woo!" at a camera for more than 40 seconds. what to do, what to do.

make cookies. that's what to do.

i stretched my arm into the way behind of my teeny little pantry cupboard, and came out with a metalic bag of chocolate chunk cookie mix by the cravings place. this would be a first. i've never before bought anything by this company, but seeing that their mix was simple enough to transform into baked goodies... they couldn't be all bad, right?


i realize that i have no point of reference in this photo --
i made the cookies quite tiny, and so in person that chip is of enormous proportions.

the mix made many more cookies than i was expecting (pamela's is my main point of comparison). the cookies were also quite a bit more fluffy and cake-like once baked, unlike the pamela's variety which tends to be much more dense, flat and buttery. i am not the biggest fan of chocolate (gasp!), and so the gigondo size of the chunks in this new mix were a little much for me, but most likely a hit with the majority.

i usually leave room for hyperbole when it comes to product names and descriptions, and this was the first time i have encountered packaging that did not do the product justice. i could have waxed one of these chocolate "chunks" and gone surfing. they were so big that a few cookies wound up with none just because the chips would become loose from the pre-cookie tablespoon of dough and find their way into the occasional chip-laden cookie -- resulting in a mass of oozing chocolate held together with the absolute minimum of cookie material as determined by baking physics.

they were good. (it's got to be pretty tough to make a bad chocolate chip cookie, no?) i have to admit that my personal scale is tipped just a touch more in pamela's favor, but these are pretty dang tasty if you're looking for a cakier, crazy-chocolaty cookie. plus, they're egg, dairy, nut, and bean free as well, so if you're baking for the allergy club they're a pretty safe bet.



bon appetite update

thanks to the wonderful searchability of our dear internet, a representative of bistro 110 found this blog and sent me an email about updates made to the allergen-free dinner series. get your calendars ready... because you don't have to wait until the 9th month to fork up some fabulous gluterini deliciousness. the restaurant has pushed the GF series up to may, so prepare to dine with the sunshine in the wonderful summer month. (i am personally counting down the days -seconds- until this dang cold front breaks and we can escape it for an entire season!! perhaps a seasonal celebration is due at the bistro?) well, here's the new plan with meal highlights:

nut-free: march 24
-sole fillet "almandine," faux peanut butter mousse parfait
gluten-free: may 12
-doughless quiche lorraine, tagliatelle with ragout of mussel, clam, shrimp and tarragon
dairy-free: september 29
-cream-free "cream of lentil" soup, roasted chicken breast with corn flan
shellfish-free: november 17
-shellfish-free seafood soup, "uncannily lobster-esque" monkfish ragout

here are some new bistro 110 links and some redos:
info on chef dominique tougne
recipe for brie-stuffed artichoke (this one just sounded so good, i couldn't resist)



2 gluten-free thumbs up to bistro 110

a post by monica eng from the chicago tribune's the stew dining blog was all about food allergies on february 13th, when she wrote about bistro 110. the little french location right near michigan avenue is hosting a series of 4 dinners, each planned to address a different food allergy.

chef tougne is the father of 2 kids with food allergies, and i'm certain they eat some delicious allergen-free french dishes on a regular basis! i'm always so amazed and so grateful when a talented chef is willing to take the time to learn all about food allergies and intolerances, and develop recipes that meet the needs of others... despite the fact that it may not immediately appeal to the general public. it's nice to feel like someone's looking out for you sometimes!

so thanks, chef tougne. a big THANKS. september can't come quickly enough!


bistro 110
110 e pearson st.

mon-thurs: 11:30am - 10pm
fri-sat: 11:30am - 11pm
sun: 10:30am - 4pm (new orleans jazz brunch) 4-10pm dinner

dinner schedules:

nut-free -- march 24 (menu: nut-free sole fillet almandine followed by a faux peanut butter mousse parfait)
gluten-free -- september 29
dairy-free -- june 16
shellfish-free -- november 17


so sorry...

...it's been so long. my magical wireless internet connection decided to take a brief trip to hawaii or someone else's apartment and gave up on attending to my computer. luckily, my trusty ol' mac and the invisible cable have once again commenced holding hands and telling stories.

i know that a bunch of my posts lately have been about medical news. this post will not be any different. but it's interesting stuff, i promise you.

it seems that a team of scientists have found 7 more gene regions that are linked to celiac disease. these are added to the 2 already on record, making an even stronger case that this issue is passed down genetically. here's how those little genetic guys break down:

3 of these regions indicate risk for development of the disease;
6 gene regions are located in areas "critical in the control of immune response;" and
4 of these areas are also known to indicate a predisposition for type 1 diabetes.

obviously there are a few gene regions that have been found guilty of more than one offense, and the role they play with regard to our health is an extremely complicated one. i have no idea how these scientists come to these conclusions, but either way this could be an interesting way to discover if your are, in fact, celiac positive, or find if your colicky infant is crying over a gluten-pained tummy.

perhaps the most common medical means of discovering gluten intolerance (beyond the elimination diet) is through an endoscopy and intestinal biopsy. for those of us that have actually been through these procedures we know that it's not a particularly pleasant way to spend a saturday afternoon. but there's a new way of making this discovery, and it doesn't involve that yuck numbing spray in the back of your throat.

well, if you have issue swallowing pills, perhaps that numbing spray is for you.

they have a little camera capsule, that's the size of a large vitamin (yikes!). once gulped it will record the entirety of your stomach and small intestine, and reveal how severe the gluten damage is the whole way through. according to a study by the mayo clinic, the vast majority of untreated, celiac positive patients have scarring in the first half of this organ, and only for an extreme few can gluten's footprints be seen in the second half.

the clinic discovered through these trials that the degree of intestinal damage in no way correlates with the severity of the patient's symptoms. this means that you can practically be on death's doorstep each time you look at a gluten-infested food, but your innards will not show any battle scars. i don't know about you, but my instinct would tell me the opposite. obviously, a retest showed after 6 months of treatment (aka: a gluten free diet) that the damage had begun to heal.

there are plans to use this capsule-type endoscopy for future diagnosis of the disease. the capsule itself is comprised of a color video camera, light, battery and transmitter -- hopefully with an easy-to-choke-down coating. the images recorded by this device are transmitted to a series of sensors attached to the body, and then these messages are recorded in a device that is worn around the waist. my favorite part of this article is how it breezes over the fact that "the recording device is removed..." ah, so nonchalant. you have to love science to sign on for that one. well, regardless of how the little bugger is retrieved, its contents are eventually uploaded into a computer so that they may be studied.

let's just hope those capsules are not reusable.