Tag Archives: recipe

Noshin’ on hamantaschen

hamantaschen, gluten-free

Gluten-free, dairy-free hamantaschen

Name a Jewish holiday, and there’s usually a special food associated with it. That’s certainly the case with Purim, which is coming up this weekend. I made gluten-free, dairy-free hamantaschen – triangular, jelly-filled cookies — using the recipe I posted last year.

I found the recipe so easy to work with last year, but a bit more difficult to cut out the circles this year. It helped when I chilled the dough in the freezer then liberally sprinkled rice flour on the wax paper when I was rolling out the dough. Go figure. There is so much that goes into baking — the smallest changes in ingredients, temperature, etc., end up making a big difference.

My kids love shaping the hamantaschen and doing a “magic” trick: taking the circles of dough and turning them into triangular cookies. They also love thinking of crazy fillings to put in the hamantaschen. This year we tried marshmallows, white chocolate chips, Nutella and mint M&Ms, along with apricot and raspberry jam. I actually like the traditional prune and poppy seed fillings, but I did not have the ingredients on hand.

Check out this cute, short video of my older daughter shaping hamantaschen, and turning circles into triangles. Yes, she really does say to “gently, carefully, tenderly” fold up the dough!

The full recipe is posted here.

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Filed under desserts, Jewish holidays, Recipes

Kasha Varnishkes, Gluten-Free

kasha-star

Kasha varnishkes: a satisfying Eastern European dish

Kasha varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of roasted buckwheat groats (kasha) tossed with bowtie noodles. Apparently, my grandfather hated kasha, as he had too many memories of eating it growing up. But we love it. To me, this earthy, satisfying dish typifies Old Country cooking. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat. Rather, it’s a nutritious, gluten-free whole grain from the rhubarb and sorrel family.

Until now, I had to make kasha varnishkes with gluten-free fusilli pasta, as there was no gluten-free bowtie or farfalle pasta available. I was thrilled when Le Veneziane, a superb corn pasta from Italy, recently released gluten-free farfalle.

I wish we had gluten-free farfalle pasta a few years ago, since some of my daughter’s preschool and kindergarten projects used bowtie pasta. Don’t get me started, though, on schools’ unnecessary use of food in the classroom.

Kasha varnishkes can be served as a side-dish for brisket or it can stand alone as a vegetarian entree.

Click for Gluten-Free Kasha Varnishkes recipe

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Filed under pasta, Recipes

Gluten-Free Thin Mint Cookies

gluten-free thin mints

Gluten-Free Thin Mint Cookies

This year was my younger daughter’s first year in Daisies, the first-grade Girl Scouts group. She sold 48 boxes of Girl Scout cookies with enthusiastic endorsements: “They freeze well.” “They make good gifts.” “Thin Mints are the most popular.” But, because she has celiac disease and is gluten-free, she has never, ever tasted a Girl Scout cookie, nor will she.

I didn’t want her to be left out of the Girl Scout cookie feeding frenzy. So this year, I developed my own recipe for gluten-free Thin Mints, with a tender gluten-free chocolate cookie enrobed in a minty chocolate coating. It’s just the right combo of chocolate and mint, gluten-free of course.

Although it is expensive, use peppermint oil rather than mint extract, because mint extract often contains both spearmint and peppermint oils. You don’t want the spearmint taste in these cookies, just the peppermint. This recipe is a good chance to use teff flour (which I love for its high protein and fiber content), as teff works well with the chocolate flavors and the slightly dry biscuit base.

This recipe is a bit tricky, in that the batter is very soft, making it hard to form the cookies. Keep the batter chilled so it’s easier to cut out perfectly round circles. Also, chilling the cookies on the tray before baking helps them to keep their shape and reduce spread.

Enjoy!

Click for Gluten-Free Thin Mints recipe

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Chinese Corn Egg-Drop Soup

Chinese Corn Egg-Drop Soup, gluten-free

Chinese Corn Egg-Drop Soup

For celiacs, Chinese restaurants are big caution zones, since soy sauce is brewed with wheat. Also, most egg noodles, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, imitation crab and mock meat substitutes (like mock duck) contain gluten.

Some accommodating Chinese restaurants will prepare entrees without soy sauce, or they may agree to cook with gluten-free soy sauce that you bring in. But cross-contamination is still an issue, so make sure to ask the staff to prepare your food in a clean pan with clean utensils. Dining cards from Triumph Dining, written in Chinese (and other languages) and tailored to specific cuisines, provide an extra measure of safety.

Luckily, some gluten-free soy sauce substitutes are available. San-J wheat-free tamari, certified gluten-free, is the choice in our house. La Choy soy sauce is also gluten-free, though it does contain more processed ingredients.

In our old neighborhood, we were fortunate to find a Chinese restaurant that prepared food without soy sauce for us. We’d routinely order cashew chicken (cooked with a little chicken broth and salt) and corn egg-drop soup.

When we moved, I wanted to make gluten-free corn egg-drop soup that we could enjoy at home. I was surprised at how easy it was. Cream-style corn (which is non-dairy, despite the “cream” in its name) gives the soup body, and whole kernels of corn add to the texture. Silky threads of egg stream through the soup like ribbons. The result: a velvety egg drop soup, enhanced by sweet nuggets of corn, just like in our favorite Chinese restaurant.

Click for Chinese Corn Egg Drop Soup recipe

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Filed under Recipes, soups/chili

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

These easy-to-make gluten-free peanut butter cookies are sealed with a kiss – Hershey’s Kisses placed on the cookies while they are still warm from the oven.

The bonus: The cookies are naturally gluten free, with no flour at all, making them good crowd-pleasers. Plus, the peanut butter packs a protein punch, which we’re always looking for in our house. Thank you to my friend Rebecca who provided the flourless peanut butter cookie recipe. I just added a kiss.

Peanut butter jars can easily become contaminated by bread crumbs spread on a sandwich knife. We always have two jars of peanut butter and two jars of jelly in our house, marked in permanent marker: GF ONLY and NOT GF. My mother has a squeeze bottle of jelly, so crumbs don’t get in the jar.

I’m a crunchy, natural peanut butter fan. True, natural peanut butter is a pain. The oil separates, so you need to plunge your knife into the jar to mix it up, inevitably resulting in an overflowing mess.

Still, one look at the ingredients and you’ll be convinced to go natural. Most peanut butters contain sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Even mainstream natural brands like Skippy Natural and Jiff Natural contain added sugar, palm oil and salt.

By contrast, Trader Joe’s organic crunchy unsalted peanut butter has one ingredient: peanuts. And the Whole Foods 365 Everyday PB has two ingredients: peanuts and salt (though, curiously, their 365 Organic brand has added palm oil).

While you’re at it, check your jam or jelly. Most contain high-fructose corn syrup. Who needs that? Buy a brand that contains simply fruit or is sweetened with other fruit juices.

Click for Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies recipe

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Gluten-Free Potato Latkes

Gluten-Free Potato Latkes

Gluten-Free Potato Latkes

Happy Hanukkah!

Sorry that I’ve been neglecting this blog, but things have been busy and it seems there’s always something to do. In the past few months, we sold our condo (thankfully!), moved into a new (well, a rehabbed 100-year-old) house in Chicago, transitioned to a new neighborhood after 20 years in the old ‘hood, and changed our daughters to a new school.

Things are settling down now, and we are enjoying Hanukkah in our new home. And while Hanukkah may mean candles, dreidels and gifts to the kids, it means potato latkes to me.

Many homemade and store-bought latkes contain flour or matza meal. However, since the amount of flour is small, it’s pretty easy to adapt latkes to be gluten-free. If you’re looking to buy latkes, Kineret frozen potato latkes do not contain gluten.

This year, my family concurred that my latkes were the best ever. I used three russet potatoes and one sweet potato, which added a golden orange color and hint of sweetness. After I grated the potatoes, I let them sit in a colander to drain extra liquid. And I used potato starch instead of flour. Don’t listen to people who claim you have to hand-grate the potatoes; a food processor works just fine.

Even if your arteries harden at the sight of a thick layer of oil in a frying pan, don’t be stingy with the oil. To make the latkes brown and crisp, you need a generous layer of oil covering the bottom of the pan. Keep the pan hot to prevent the latkes from absorbing too much oil, but not so hot that you set off the smoke alarm.

Enjoy the remaining days of Hanukkah!

Click for Gluten-Free Potato Latkes recipe

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Sesame-Free Hummus

sesame-free hummus

Sesame-free hummus

My father is violently allergic to sesame seeds. When I was a kid, my brother and I — well, I like to think it was mostly me — would sit at the kitchen table, scanning the bottoms of bagels for hitchhiking sesame seeds. We knew from ugly experience that eating even one sesame seed could send my father into scary gagging spasms.

Back then, it was a highly unusual allergy – whoever heard of being allergic to tiny sesame seeds?! Recently, however, I started hearing of more kids being diagnosed with sesame allergy. One doctor even called it the new “hot” allergy.

I wrote a story about the increase in sesame allergy for the June/July issue of Living Without, a national allergy magazine. If you’re not familiar with Living Without, it’s a great resource for people with food allergies and sensitivities, especially for those on a gluten-free diet. The story included my recipe for sesame-free hummus, which is also naturally gluten-free.  

Not that Dad would eat hummus anyway, even if I swore up and down that it was sesame-free. But my husband and kids eat hummus, so I made it for them and served it with gluten-free pitas from Rose’s Wheat-Free Bakery. (FYI, Rose’s pitas are flat; they do not open like pocket pitas.) We were grilling out that day, so we brushed the gluten-free pitas with olive oil and heated them briefly on the grill — perfection!
Click for the recipe

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Filed under appetizers, Recipes

Chinese Chicken Salad

When I worked on Michigan Avenue, in downtown Chicago, we’d frequently go across the street to Nordstrom for lunch. I know it’s rude, but I’ve always poked fun at one-dish people – you know, the people who go to a restaurant and always order the same dish time after time (but, yes, Melissa, I love you anyway). However, the Chinese Chicken Salad at Cafe Nordstrom is so very, very good that I order it every single time.

I’ve created my own gluten-free version. I feel funny calling it Chinese Chicken Salad, since there’s nothing Chinese about it, except the inclusion of bok choy (a Chinese cabbage) and a dressing made with rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce.

BTW, in case you didn’t know, soy sauce is a hidden source of gluten, since it is fermented with wheat. In fact, some soy sauces contain 50 percent wheat. Instead of soy sauce, I use San-J Wheat-Free Tamari, which is certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. La Choy Soy Sauce is also gluten-free, though I’m not fond of some of its ingredients: hydrolyzed soy protein, corn syrup and caramel color.

This colorful salad is a great take-along dish for picnics and barbecues, and it makes a satisfying, no-cook summertime meal. For ease of preparation, I use rotisserie chicken, though you could grill a chicken breast and dice it. Most rotisserie chickens are gluten-free, but check the ingredients to be sure.

My kids will actually eat this green salad. The sweet mandarin oranges, crunchy almonds and abundant veggies camouflage the chicken sufficiently for my chicken-hating older daughter.

As a fun variation, I’ve added gluten-free chow mein noodles that I bought at Passover (I doubt you’d be able to find them now). Add them tableside, as you serve each portion, or else they’ll quickly turn into soggy strips.

Click for Chinese Chicken Salad recipe

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Filed under Recipes, salads

Homemade Strawberry Jam

strawberry jam

Homemade strawberry jam

I haven’t posted in a while, because it’s been kind of crazy and stressful here. Within the past month, we’ve put our condo on the market (hasn’t sold yet), put an offer on a single family house in the city, and decided to switch our kids from their excellent but pricy private religious school to a highly regarded public school. Whew, that’s a lot of changes!

My kids have learned so much this year, it’s amazing. In second grade, my older daughter learned about pioneers. As part of the unit, they wrote a newspaper called “Pioneer Times.” She was so proud to be working on a newspaper just like her Mom did, and she was thrilled to test the recipe for strawberry jam.

The class recipe for “Yummy Jam” comes right in time for peak strawberry season, and, of course, it’s naturally gluten-free. Strawberries are plentiful now (Costco even has huge containers of organic strawberries), so you won’t be breaking the bank to use four cups of berries for this recipe.

“Do you want to hear about a deeeeeeeeeelicious strawberry jam? Here’s how we do it,” the Room 204 pioneers write.

Click for the recipe

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Filed under Condiments, Recipes

Luscious Gluten-Free Lemon Squares

gluten-free lemon squares

Luscious Gluten-Free Lemon Squares

Before my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease, I loved to bring lemon squares to family gatherings. People would fight over the last lemon square. I loved the buttery shortbread crust combined with the mouth-puckering tartness and compelling sweetness.

After my daughter’s celiac diagnosis, I mourned the lack of gluten-free lemon bars. Little did I know that lemon squares are easy to make gluten-free. The density of gluten-free flours helps make a firm crust (I used sorghum and amaranth flours to boost nutrition). And I only needed to substitute cornstarch in the lemon filling to make it gluten-free.

My friend Jennifer told me she makes lemon squares with a crushed macaroon crust during Passover. I definitely need to try that next year!

Lemon squares are easier to cut when they are frozen, since they won’t ooze under the knife. Plus, they taste divine cold, so I store them in my freezer and simply transfer to the table when it’s dessert time.

Click for Gluten-Free Lemon Squares recipe

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