We celebrated my older daughter’s birthday recently with a four-layer gluten-free chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache frosting and filling. I have to admit, it looked and tasted amazing.
I recently took a baking boot camp at Kendall College in Chicago, which gave me inspiration for creating this cake. In the class, we made an opera cake, but my daughter wanted chocolate, so I improvised from there. I started with my favorite King Arthur gluten-free chocolate cake mix. I don’t usually use mixes, but the King Arthur cake is so intensely moist and fudgy that it always elicits raves from kids and adults.
To make chocolate ganache, heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in a saucepan until the cream starts to steam. Then pour the cream over 10 ounces of semisweet or dark chocolate chips. Wait two minutes, then stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Set aside some ganache for frosting the top of the cake. Whip the rest in a stand mixer to make whipped chocolate ganache for the filling.
To make the thin layers, I baked the cake for 15 to 18 minutes in a jelly roll pan or half-sheet pan (18 x 13 x 1-inch) lined with parchment paper. I then cut the cooled cake into four equal-sized rectangles, stacked the layers on top of each other while smoothing whipped chocolate ganache between the layers, and topped it with chocolate ganache that had not been whipped. For a distinctive presentation, freeze the cake for 30 minutes and then evenly trim the sides.
Now that’s a happy birthday!
Honey-roasted butternut squash soup, gluten-free
Today, a fall rainfall brought down a cascade of leaves from the maple tree in front of our house. In shades of gold, bronze, ocher and amber, the leaves fell, thickly carpeting the sidewalk. In weather like this, I crave the comfort of a warm bowl of soup. And what better soup than a perennial fall favorite: butternut squash soup, made gluten-free and dairy-free.
For a while, I was turned off by butternut squash soup, with its one-note sweet taste and pablum texture. But that’s certainly not the case with this complex honey-roasted butternut squash soup, laced with the smoky spice of chipotle chile pepper and the slightly exotic taste of cumin.
What’s even better is that this butternut squash soup is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian, making it well-suited for a variety of people (except for my kids; shall I admit that they don’t like this grown-up soup?). For a vegan version, use maple syrup instead of honey.
Honey-Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Gluten-Free
(gluten-free, dairy-free, pareve, vegetarian)
By Gluten-Free Nosh
- 1 1/2 pounds (about 5 cups) butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray the aluminum foil with cooking oil. Place butternut squash, carrots and red onion on the baking sheet, and toss with honey, olive oil, cumin, chipotle chile pepper and salt until well coated. Bake for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork.
- Place roasted vegetables in a large soup pot and add vegetable broth. Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- In batches, carefully pour soup into a blender and puree until smooth. Do not fill blender to the top, and hold down the lid with a kitchen towel to prevent spattering. Transfer blended soup back to pot and heat before serving.
Yield: 10 servings
Following is a collection of root vegetable recipes from The Kosher Connection link-up. Please note that not all the recipes in the collection are gluten-free.
Recently, I was fortunate to speak at the Celiac Awareness Tour Chicago. My talk was about “gluten-free kitchen confidential” — tips for keeping gluten-free at home and away.
I had many tips and thoughts to share, but here are the headlines:
- BYOF — Bring Your Own Food. Always be prepared with safe gluten-free food, whether for school, sightseeing, plane trips or dinner parties.
- Make sure gluten-free kids always have a great-looking, great-tasting gluten-free treat to bring to birthday parties or other occasions. It doesn’t always have to match what the other kids are having, but it should look tempting!
- Focus on whole, healthy, naturally gluten-free foods such as meat, chicken, fish, fruit, veggies, dairy and eggs. Focus on all the good things that you can eat, not on what you cannot eat.
- When in doubt, leave it out. Don’t eat something unless you are 100% sure it is gluten-free. Also, if a restaurant doesn’t seem to fully understand your gluten-free requests, then leave. The risk is simply not worth it.
If you have questions about the gluten-free diet, please feel free to email me or post a comment any time. If it’s a more involved request, I also do gluten-free consulting — see the “Consulting” tab at the top of the page.
Spicy vegetarian black bean chili, gluten-free of course.
In Chicago, it’s almost the end of chili season, when we turn from heartier soups and chilis to lighter summer fare. In winter, this vegetarian black bean chili is one of our favorite gluten-free meals. With plenty of toasted cumin, chipotle chili powder and smoked paprika, the flavors are strong and smoky, lingering long on your tongue with a spicy spike. I’ve made this several times and have dialed down the heat until I got to this version — spicy but not numbingly so. The recipe was inspired by “Lisa’s Superior Vegetarian Black Bean Chili,” a recipe handed down from a co-worker 20 years ago. This gluten-free black bean chili makes a satisfying entree, accompanied by a side of gluten-free cornbread.
Once a few years ago, I toasted the cumin in our toaster oven at a higher temperature and for a longer time than I now recommend (the amount listed in the following recipe is fine). The cumin started smoking ferociously. When I opened the toaster oven’s door, pungent smoke curled outward, singeing our noses and throats and setting off the smoke alarm. I handed my kids baby wipes, told them to put the wipes over their faces and yelled at them to go out into the hall. We all left our apartment, leaving the windows open (killing the plants by the windows, because it was a freezing wintry day) and went to a museum and out to dinner so we could vacate the apartment. At the museum, we quickly noticed that everyone was looking at us funny. That’s probably because the pungent burnt cumin scent lingered on our clothing and smelled like the worst-ever stinky feet.
Lesson learned: Toast spices at low temperatures and watch them carefully!
Smoky, Spicy Black Bean Chili
(gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan)
By Gluten-Free Nosh
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin (don’t skip this!)
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cans black beans and 1 can cannellini beans, as in photo)
- 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed whole tomatoes
For serving (optional):
- Green onions, chopped
- Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt or soy yogurt
- Heat cumin, chipotle chile powder and smoked paprika in a small skillet over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until spices are fragrant; stir constantly to make sure spices don’t smoke or burn. Set aside.
- In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions become soft and translucent. Add salt and spices and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Stir in black beans and crushed tomatoes. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Serve hot with side dishes of cilantro, green onions and Greek yogurt. Leftovers taste great and freeze well.
Yield: About 8 to 10 servings
This post is linked to Slightly Indluglent Tuesdays.