Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A New Thanksgiving Tradition - Individual Crustless Cranberry Meringue Pie!

Thanksgiving this year we've tried simplifying a bit as it will be just the two of us, but we did want to experiment a bit with a new dessert.

Cranberry Meringue Pie
 Lighter and more refreshing after a heavy dinner than traditional pumpkin pie, this was a really fun take on a Southern dessert from my childhood - lemon meringue pie.
We modified the recipe below by adding a tiny bit more sugar to the filling, substituting pomegranate juice for orange juice, and eliminating the crust (but a slightly salty nut crust would be delicious - next time maybe we'll try that!) Instead of making a whole pie, we put them in individual ramekins and adjusted the cooking time down a bit - much better if you have two or three at the table instead of twelve!
It is literally one of the most beautiful desserts I've ever made, especially if you pipe the meringue on top like my mother used to do.
It doesn't mention this in the Eating Well recipe, but you'll want to refrigerate this dessert pretty soon after it comes out of the oven.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gluten-free Cupcakes at Cupcake Royale and Gluten Free Dining - Matador and Tango

A new discovery - Cupcake Royale (with an outpost in Downtown Bellevue) now carries gluten-free cupcakes! They only had double-fudge with vanilla frosting available on my last visit, but the texture was fluffy and the chocolate-ness was excellent. I'm just thankful that local cucake shops are starting to carry a safe option for those of us who can't eat wheat!

One of my favorite date restaurants downtown - perfect for a cocktail and tapas - is Tango. Tango has an extensive gluten-free menu which includes stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, Spanish tortillas, delicious corn tortillas and carnitas del puerco, paella and salads. The waitstaff and kitchen were very attentive and careful that I didn't accidentally eat something that had come in contact with wheat. And besides being perfect for a date, it's in a great location for out-of-towners who want to try something besides the average salmon-seafood Northwest cuisine.

One of the options for Redmond restaurants with good gluten-free options is the Southwest local chain Matador. Here's a link to the Seattle gluten-free menu, but Redmond's is very similar. I really liked the braised pork sopa but it's a great place to hit with co-workers for drinks and snacks after work without having to worry that the place won't have any options for you.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Recipes for 4th of July - Grilled Watermelon Salsa

Tired of your usual jarred tomato salsa, or looking for a tomato-alternative salsa to go with your gluten-free tortilla chips at this year's barbeque?

I'm sensitive to tomatoes (they make my lips swell up like a B-rate actress in five minutes flat) so I'm always looking for good salsa recipes that let me get around the tomato issue. I love a good black-bean-and-charred-corn salsa, for example. But lately I've been craving the same kind of tart, vitamin C-rich salsa when we grill out, so we experimented and came up with this recipe:

Grilled Watermelon and Fennel Salsa

Ingredients: Watermelon, fennel, onion, mint, basil, champagne vinegar, red pepper or cilantro if desired

  1. Cut half-inch thick slices of watermelon, rind still on, from a small seedless watermelon.
  2. Cut 1/4 inch slices of both fennel bulb and onion.
  3. Grill the fennel and onion for a minute or two on each side, on a grill or grill pan on medium heat, until they start to soften. Then remove and set aside. 
  4. Grill the watermelon on both sides until color changes from pink to a light orange. Salt both sides with Kosher salt while grilling.
  5. Dice the grilled fennel and onion and cut the grilled watermelon into 1/2 cubes, and combine with a dash of your favorite vinegar, pomegranate juice, or other acidic liquid.
  6. Mince the fresh herbs - mint, basil, or cilantro work well - and sprinkle over the salsa. If needed, and a pinch of salt or sugar, to taste.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lowish Casein Ice Cream, you say? Blueberry ricotta gelato for a hot summer's day

Yes, it's summertime, and most of the country has been swaddled in a heat wave. Here in the Northwest, however, we've been stuck in an endless rotation of "almost 60" rainy days and drizzle all June. But sunnier weather lies ahead, I stubbornly insist. So I wanted to share a gluten-free, lower-casein ice cream recipe. This is not appropriate for people who are allergic to dairy, but if you are sensitive to casein but not lactose, like I am, it works wonderfully to give me an ice-cream like experience in summertime (without the stomachache.)
For the truly dairy-free, I recommend the lovely gluten-free Coconut sorbet from the brand Double Rainbow. Delicious, and the consistently is exactly like real ice cream (the secret is that the main ingredient is coconut cream.) I believe that this sorbet is safely all dairy-free for those of you with allergies - you would be surprised how many sorbets still have traces of dairy in them! (Why?) And it's delicious sprinkled with dark chocolate shavings!

OK, onward to this recipe which I've altered somewhat from a British magazine recipe that I transcribed ages ago. (Gluten-free hint: British Magazines are a great source of gluten-free recipes for some reason. They just eat naturally more gluten-free desserts, for one: meringues, jellies, and custards are all gluten-free.)  

The secret to this recipe's wonderful texture is the gelatin, which sounds really like a weird step in an ice-cream making process but trust me, it yields great results. I also have a variation without the gelatin (for vegan friends) or whipping cream...

Blueberry Ricotta Gelato

·         1 packet (1/4 oz) powdered gelatin
·         1 cup ripe blueberries
·         3/4 cup sugar
·         16 oz ricotta cheese (drained)
·         1 cup heavy whipping cream

1.        Bloom the gelatin in 3 Tablespoons of cold water for 5 minutes.
2.        Stir 1/2 of this gelatin mixture into 1/4 cup hot water (or heat gently over a double boiler or carefully in the microwave) until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Discard the remaining gelatin.
3.        In the food processor, blend the ricotta cheese until smooth, and then add the blueberries, sugar, and gelatin, blending after each addition until creamy.
4.        Beat the cream until thick (not stiff), and then fold in the blueberry mixture.
5.        Churn in an ice cream maker to the desired consistency (check the manufacturer's directions).
Note: I had to 1/2 this recipe because I have a small ice cream maker--the kind with the container that you pre-freeze.)
6.        Serve when set, or place in a chilled container and freeze (this gelato freezes pretty hard, so you will need to thaw slightly before serving).

I  tried it again without the gelatin or whipping cream, but adding eight ounces of cream cheese. (I do well with both ricotta and cream cheese, which tend to be a little lower in casein.) This was a great variation - a great, cheese-cake-y taste and consistency! So go for either one!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gluten Free Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons for Passover and Easter

For Passover and Easter, these cookies make a wonderful springtime snack! I'm afraid I have eaten three already this morning. There are a lot of different gluten-free macaroon recipes out there; some use rice flour, some ground almonds, and some use condensed milk. These, the simplest in terms of ingredeints, gave me the texture I like the best: chewy, not overly dense, not overly dry. And, as a bonus, no wheat or dairy!

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

· 3 cups shredded coconut (I use organic unsweetened)
· 2 large eggs
· 1/2 cup granulated sugar
· 1 tsp. vanilla extract
· 1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the egg and sugar until smooth, then add vanilla and coconut.
Mix until uniform and the coconut is well moistened. The batter should easily form clumps.
3. Form the batter into golf ball-sized balls and place on the baking sheet.
4. Bake the cookies on the middle shelf for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant.
5. (Optional) cool completely and then dip 1/2 of each cookie in melted chocolate. Refrigerate
until cool and chocolate is set. I use Scharffenberger dark chocolate bars.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A great primer on gluten intolerances

This blog post I thought was helpful and informative in terms of answering - why are so many people sensitive to gluten? Why is sentitivity increasing?
Sarah posts several bits from medical journal articles and some of the most common scientific "guesses" as to why so many people have developed gluten in tolerances, such as genetic engineering of wheat to contain higher levels of gluten, and the result of several generations of people eating way more gluten than they used to.
I don't agree with Sarah that gluten is a poison for all people, although it certainly is to me. Gluten is a complex and difficult-to-break-down protein, like casein (one of the proteins in dairy products.) So it makes sense that a stressed-out system might react against digesting it. There is some evidence that the ability to digest gluten slows down with age and that more women than men are sensitive to gluten and are unable to digest it. I hadn't read about the thyroid connection mentioned in the blog post, but I guess that makes sense - I also have autoimmune thyroiditis, and apparently people with that condition are much more likely to have celiac disease.
The testing for celiac disease she mentions is indeed problematic, but if you'd like to get tested without going back on wheat, there is a DNA test for the celiac disease gene you can ask your doctor about. (I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, usual disclaimers, blah blah blah.)
I thought those of you who were curious about gluten and gluten intolerance might enjoy reading her post. It's a pretty accurate conglomeration of everything I've read on the subject thus far, with the above caveats.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Asparagus, Ricotta, and potato frittatas - individual sized!

This has become my fall-back brunch recipe this winter - a perfect way to use leftover roasted potatoes and asparagus, something you can make ahead of time for guests, and, using muffin tins to bake them instead of the greasier cast-iron skillet-sautee method, even kind of...light. For something made of eggs and cheese, anyway :) I happen to use cream cheese and ricotta salata because I'm casein-sensitive and these two forms of cheese don't seem to bother me as much, but you could substitute a more flavor-intense cheese, like a nice fresh goat cheese, if you like.

Gluten-Free Baked Frittata Cups with Asparagus and Ricotta


· 1 medium to large russet potato

· 1 Tbsp. cooking oil (I use Safflower)

· 4 large eggs

· 2 Tbsps. milk

· 2-3 asparagus spears (or some other vegetable), finely chopped (I use a mandolin)

· 2 Tbsps. cream cheese

· 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I use a sheep's milk ricotta salata)

· Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease/spray a six-muffin pan, or else use a silicone pan, which doesn’t require any extra slipperiness.

2. Peel and dice the potato into smaller, 1/4 in. cubes, and rinse to keep from browning (I usually instead toss them liberally with salt and then blanch them in hot water, to give them a little more flavor). If you have leftover potato wedges or little roasted potatoes from the night before, those work here as well - maybe a cup of those.

3. Drain the potatoes well, pat dry with a paper towel, and toss with oil. Then sauté in a skillet over medium heat until well-browned and crunchy. (If you're using leftover roasted potatoes, you can skip this step. You can also broil the potatoes or bake, and I've even used pre-made hash browns here instead. It's a flexible recipe that way!)

4. Beat the eggs and milk until frothy, which is easiest to do in a cup with an immersion blender.

5. Distribute the browned potatoes amongst the muffin cups, then top with small pieces of cream cheese, asparagus, and shredded ricotta salata cheese, and finally pour the egg mixture evenly into the cups and bake until puffed-up and browned on top, about 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.