Monday, August 1, 2011

Suggestions for peaches, and Betty Crocker gluten-free mix reviews

What to do with peaches...

If you're anything like me, you're enjoying the natural (and naturally gluten-free) abundance of summertime produce. One fruit at its best this time of year is the peach. Right now, you can find white-fleshed nectarines (my favorite!) and donut peaches as well as more mundane varieties, and they all smell like perfume and taste divine, nothing like frozen or canned. So how to take advantage of them? Here are a couple of ideas:
--Peach salsa: chop peaches just as you would tomatoes, and mix in a little jalepeno, cilantro, red onion (I like to saute or blanch them to keep them from getting too sulfur-y) and maybe whatever else you have lying around - chop a red pepper, cucumber. Serve fresh and immediately with corn chips or (even more deliciously) on top of pork or chicken.
--Grilled peach dessert: Pretty simple. Clean your grill (lest you leave steak-flavoring on it) and then briefly, over the cooler part of the grill, put down your peaches long enough to get grill marks, maybe two minutes on each side. (Leave the skin on and split in half for best grilling.) Serve with honey, maybe some creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of balsamic.
--Peach caprese salad: Slices of fresh nectarine or peach go fantastically well with slices of fresh mozzarella, leaves of fresh basil, used exactly as you would tomatoes in a caprese salad. Stack. Drizzle with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (I've also seen variants of this with fresh small mozzarella balls and chunks of peach, served on skewers. Kind of a fun picnic idea!)

Betty Crocker Cookie Mix and Cake Mix Reviews
(Disclaimer: Betty Crocker or related companies have not paid me or given me any free product.)
I've been trying out the Betty Crocker mixes, searching for the tastes of the desserts of my 1970's childhood without gluten. Some of the mixes (including, sadly, the chocolate cake gluten-free mix) include flours I'm allergic to, like tapioca. Here are two I have tried and liked:
--Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (Gluten-Free.) Terrific. Almost like the real thing, except these cookies stick in your throat a bit more because of the drier rice flour. Doesn't contain tapioca, but does include xanthan gum (for those who are sensitive.) We added crushed up Heath bars (about a half a cup) and substituted gluten-free Guittard chocolate chips (dark) because we are chocolate snobs and the crushed toffee makes the cookies a little more texturally satisfying. (I crave crunch!)
--Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix (yellow) - a bit mealy, more like a muffin texture than a true cupcake feel, but terrific if you throw in some blueberries and call them blueberry muffins and very tolerable with my (cream-cheese-butter-confectioner's-sugar-with-a-dash-of-cranberry-juice-for-color) signature icing. Come to think of it, these are at least as good as most cupcakes I've had at gluten-free bakeries. Does have xantham gum, no tapioca flour.