Tag Archives: recipe

Please, sir, I want s’mores

gluten-free s'mores1

gluten-free s'mores2

It was cold and rainy in Chicago the other day, on our bumpy path toward spring. When my kids came home from school, they asked for hot chocolate and gluten-free s’mores. I was happy to oblige, because I had a couple packets of hot chocolate mix that I wanted to use up and I had gluten-free graham crackers in the cabinet.

Gluten-free graham crackers are hard to find. I’ve yet to discover one that comes close to the sweet, nutty taste of whole wheat graham flour with a tender texture that crumbles in my mouth.

S'moreables

In the past, I’ve bought Jo-Sef’s Square Cinnamon Cookies, which are chunky, cinnamon-flavored gluten-free graham crackers, and Health Valley Rice Bran Crackers, which are thin cookie/crackers with a graham taste. Recently, I bought Kinnikinnick’s S’moreables, which have a honey-molasses flavor and are sturdy enough to stand up to s’mores (though there were quite a few non-sturdy broken crackers in the box).

While all of these store-bought cookies are good for snacks or s’mores, I wouldn’t use them in a graham cracker pie crust. They’re too expensive and too sugary. For a graham cracker crust, you’re better off with crushed gluten-free gingersnaps or crushed gluten-free animal crackers. Or bake your own gluten-free grahams with a recipe from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.

S’mores — toasted marshmallows and melted chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers — are campfire favorites that are so good that you beg for “some more.”

One of the best things about camping is skewering a giant marshmallow on a long stick, holding it over the campfire and watching the marshmallow puff up and turn golden brown (or thrusting it into the flames and watching it catch fire, with flames leaping into the night sky and charring the marshmallow charcoal black).

It’s much tamer to watch the marshmallows turn a pleasant tan in the toaster oven, but you’ve got to take what you can get.

Marshmallows are generally gluten free, but check the ingredients to make sure. When we made our s’mores this week, I had only mini marshmallows on hand, but the bigger ones ooze more (and oozing is good). Hershey’s chocolate bars, the classic chocolate for s’mores, are gluten-free. But I had only dark chocolate chips at home, so I used those, though chocolate chips don’t melt as well.

Click for Gluten-Free S’Mores recipe

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Colorful Quinoa Salad

quinoa salad

Colorful Quinoa Salad

Now, I love overcooked Jewish food as much as any good Jew. I look forward to Passover seders full of Eastern European food that my family has made for generations: brisket, turkey, gefilte fish, kugel, tzimmes. But I have to admit that after a few days of all that heavy stuff, I’m ready for some lighter fare for the rest of Passover, an eight-day holiday.

Quinoa has been a more recent addition to our Passover repertoire. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is an ancient South American grain that’s high in protein and nutrition. Grown in the Andes mountains in South America, quinoa bears no relation to chametz grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt), making quinoa kosher for Passover and gluten-free.

Ancient Harvest says that its quinoa is grown in the high Andean Altiplano regions of Bolivia at 12,000+ foot elevations where the arid conditions will not support traditional gluten-bearing grain production. So there’s no possibility of cross-contamination in the fields.

The ancient Incas revered quinoa as sacred. It’s not only high in protein, calcium and iron, but it’s a complete protein, since it contains all eight essential amino acids.

I make the following gluten-free Colorful Quinoa Salad during the year, but it can also be a refreshing addition to a Passover table. Chock full of healthy quinoa and antioxidant-rich veggies, fruit and nuts, it’s particularly good to pull out for a brunch buffet, since you can make it in advance and serve it at room temperature. The recipe is adapted from “Let’s Dish,” a cookbook from my kids’ school.

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Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

gluten-free matzo ball soup

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

If you could put comfort in a bowl, you’d end up with matzo ball soup. Chicken soup is legendary. This “Jewish penicillin” can conquer the common cold and, if you believe your Bubbe, can cure any hurt or illness. Add fluffy matzo balls and it’s the stuff family legends are made of.

When our family first went gluten-free, we mourned the lack of matzo ball soup. Chicken soup with rice just wouldn’t suffice. I tried to make gluten-free matzo balls from scratch, but instead of matzo balls we ended up with matzo lumps.

But when Passover rolled around, I found salvation. Salvation in a box.

Matzo balls contain, of course, matzo, which is made from wheat. However, some kosher for Passover brands of matzo ball mix are made from potato starch instead of matzo meal. That’s because some observant Jews don’t mix matzo with water during Passover, to prevent any possibility of it rising. Passover food that does not contain matzo is labeled non-gebrokts. (Gebrokts literally means “broken,” referring to matzo that is broken up and mixed with water.)

As Passover approaches, you can find several brands of gluten-free matzo meal. I buy four or five boxes to last well into the year. My favorite gluten-free matzo ball mixes are Paskesz Pesach Crumbs and Lieber’s Knaidel mix. (Paskesz’ gluten-free “Matzo Ball Mix” sounds like it would be great, but it produces knaidlach that are gummy instead of yummy.) Update: I’ve decided that Lieber’s Knaidel Mix makes the best gluten-free matzo balls. The recipe below follows the instructions for the Paskesz mix, so if using Lieber’s follow the directions on the box.

You’ll end up with perfectly round cream-colored balls that are fluffy on the outside, yet ever-so-slightly dense at the core (which, in my opinion, is a good thing). We’ve served them to gluten-eating friends who’ve asked for seconds and thirds.

To make the matzo balls, I use the recipe on the side of the box with just a few small changes. The recipe below uses Pesach Crumbs, because I can usually find those year-round in our kosher grocery store.

Some matzo ball tips: After you’ve made the matzo ball mixture, be sure to refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Then enlist your kids to help roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls. However, be gentle: The more you roll the balls, the denser they will be. Set aside all the balls onto a plate. When they all are rolled and ready, drop the balls into a pot of boiling water, so they all cook for the same amount of time. Use a large pot, so the matzo balls have room to fluff up and not crowd their neighbors.

Click for Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup recipe

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Gluten-Free Peppermint Pattie Cake

gluten-free peppermint pattie cake

Gluten-Free Peppermint Pattie Cake

“That cake is evil,” my father-in-law declared upon taking a bite of this sinfully rich Gluten-Free Peppermint Pattie Cake. His comments pleased me immensely, in part because my nickname at work used to be “Evil Eve.”

In our house, we love desserts. We’re always looking out for gluten-free desserts that friends will gobble down. This special-occasion cake is decadently fudgy, almost like a flourless chocolate cake. Trust me: no gluten-eater would ever turn up their nose at this baby.

When you bite into this Gluten-Free Peppermint Pattie Cake, you’ll get the sensation of gale-force winter winds whipping through your hair … oops, that was the ’80s TV commercial, I digress …

The cake is adapted from a recipe in a book my mother-in-law checked out from the library. She often brings library books for my kids. This time she got one for me: “All Cakes Considered: A year’s worth of weekly recipes tested, tasted and approved by the staff of NPR’s All Things Considered by Melissa Gray. It’s a fun read for an NPR devotee, full of tempting recipes, entertaining anecdotes and fun references to NPR stars like Carl Kassel.

Of course, I decided to bake the most dense, chocolaty cake in the book.

Gray’s original recipe is even more decadent. She instructs readers to bake the cake, make a chocolate ganache for the frosting and then drizzle each slice with homemade mint syrup and homemade chocolate fudge sauce.

That was way too much work for me, so I ditched the ganache, mint syrup and chocolate fudge sauce. Believe me, this cake is still a lot of work, even without all those toppings. To give the cake a minty kick, I used melted peppermint patties for the frosting. Get the sensation.

Click for Gluten-Free Peppermint Pattie Cake recipe

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Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Meringues

gluten-free meringues

Chocoloate Chip and Double Chocolate Meringues

There’s something wintry about meringue cookies. They look like pure white mini snowballs that seem so right for the season. It’s actually better to make meringues in winter. The air is dry, which helps keep meringues crisp.

With winter hopefully ending soon (bright sun is streaming through my window and the temps in Chicago have been above freezing), it’s time to sneak in a batch of meringues before it’s too late.

Meringues are a great dessert to make for guests, as they are naturally gluten-free. My kids’ friends wolf down these sugary treats, taking extras home with them. Meringues also make great Passover treats, since all the ingredients are kosher for Passover.

Though I do like the look of snowy white meringues, I recently needed a chocolate fix (no surprise there). So in addition to adding chocolate chips to the meringues, I also added cocoa powder to half the batch to make double chocolate meringue cookies.

To shape the meringues, I drop spoonfuls of the mixture on a cookie sheet, because that’s the easiest thing to do. If you want to be fancy (my kids’ favorite word), omit the chocolate chips and pipe the meringues into prettier shapes using a pastry bag.

You’ll want to dry out the meringues, so keep the heat low and slow. I bake them at 250 for one hour; some recipes say to leave meringues in a turned-off oven overnight. If the temperature gets much higher than 250, your meringues will turn tan, which might be a good look for you but not for your meringues.

Click for Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Meringues recipe

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Gluten-Free Hamantaschen

hamantaschen1

Shaping the hamantaschen

hamantaschen2

Baked hamantaschen

Purim is a joyous Jewish holiday in which we celebrate how Queen Esther helped outsmart and thwart the evil Haman, who had plotted to destroy all the Jews in ancient Shushan (in Prussia). We celebrate by reading the Megillah (Scroll of Esther) and drowning out Haman’s name with noisemakers. We also dress in costumes, play games at Purim carnivals and eat hamantaschen, which are triangular fruit-filled cookies shaped like Haman’s tri-cornered hat.

In past years, I’ve struggled with making gluten-free hamantaschen. One year I had so many failed batches that I laid down and cried. This year, I once again set out to make gluten-free hamantaschen for Purim, so my daughter could have treats to bring to her class parties and family celebrations.

I originally wanted the recipe to include ancient gluten-free grains like quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat, because they have significantly more protein and fiber than standard gluten-free flours. But no go. The taste was too strong and color too dark. That was two batches down, plus one batch that ended up on the kitchen floor when the parchment paper slid off the cookie sheet. D’oh.

I’m glad I kept trying. The dairy-free version below has a delicate taste without a gluten-free grittiness. The brown rice flour and sorghum subtly add extra protein and fiber, and the fruit filling provides the perfect sweetness.

If you’re unfamiliar with hamantaschen, they are somewhat similar to the Central European kolache (or is it kolachki?), in that they are cookies with fruit centers. Traditional hamantaschen fillings are prune, poppyseed and apricot, but you can fill them with anything, including any kind of fruit preserves, chocolate chips, M&Ms or Nutella.

For a short video on how to shape the hamantaschen, see my Noshin’ on Hamantaschen post.

On Purim, we eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy!

Click for the recipe

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Homemade Chocolate Truffles and Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

chocolate truffles

Homemade Chocolate Truffles

For me, Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate.

Most chocolate is gluten-free. Some chocolates, however, contain barley malt, like Lindt’s Lindor chocolate truffles, making them off-limits for celiacs. (For another discussion on gluten-free chocolates, see the Triumph Dining blog.)

For Valentine’s Day, the kids and I made homemade chocolate truffles dusted with coconut, cocoa, cinnamon and ground almonds. These sophisticated truffles look complicated but are easy to make — and even easier to eat!

If kids can roll a ball of Play-Doh (which is not gluten-free, by the way), they can roll truffles. It is messy, though. My 8-year-old’s hands were quickly covered in chocolate — and I feared for what would happen next — so she put on a long-sleeved art smock.

After rolling a bunch of truffles, we used the rest of the chocolate to make chocolate-covered strawberries. Yum!

I once went to a mom’s night out at Whole Foods where we made truffles and drank wine. This recipe is adapted from the one we used that night.

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Two-Way Three-Bean Chili

Three-Bean Chili

Two-Way Three-Bean Chili

For Super Bowl, we usually make chili. It’s our tradition, even though we don’t have a Super Bowl party and barely watch the game.

We made this chili recipe on Super Bowl Sunday. A rare thing happened. Almost as rare as seeing the Chicago Bears play in the championship. Both girls ate their whole meal and didn’t complain at all. That’s a huge victory, as there’s usually fussing over dinner.

We’re not big meat eaters, so we usually make a vegetarian chili loaded with an assortment of hearty, healthy beans, tomatoes and spices. Any combination of beans works well.

Just before I add the spicy seasonings, I remove a portion for the kids in a separate pot, so they get their own mild chili. The adults get the spicy version, with smoky chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. (Find canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store.) Thus, I’ve dubbed it two-way chili.

Now, if you know anything about Cincinnati chili, you know that two-way chili means something totally different. But I live in Chicago, not Cincinnati, so that’s not what I’m referring to.

For the record, Cincinnati chili is a saucy, meaty chili with unusual flavors of cinnamon and chocolate. Two-way Cincinnati chili consists of spaghetti topped with chili. Three-way chili is spaghetti, chili and shredded cheese. Four-way is spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese and diced onions. Five-way is spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, diced onions and beans.

To make the Gluten-Free Nosh Two-Way Three-Bean Chili even more kid friendly, set out a few ramekins with a selection of garnishes. My kids love choosing their own toppings. It makes them feel more vested in the meal and more likely to eat it.

For a Cincinnati touch, serve the chili over gluten-free spaghetti. A guaranteed victory!

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Tu B’Shevat Orange and Walnut Salad

tu b'shevat orange walnut salad

Tu B'Shevat Orange and Walnut Salad

Next week is the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat, which is the New Year of the trees. On this holiday, trees are counted as another year older. Also, in Israel (certainly not in Chicago), trees are beginning their new fruit-bearing cycle.

We celebrate Tu B’Shevat by eating fruit and planting trees.

In school, my 8-year-old was assigned to learn about orange trees. As part of that, she asked me to create a gluten-free recipe with oranges.

The following Tu B’Shevat Orange and Walnut Salad is sticky sweet, which is why she liked it, though the sweetness is offset by tangy fresh lime and ginger. It can be served as a side salad accompanying a savory chicken entree or nestled on a bed of greens.

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Dark and White Chocolate Pomegranate Bark

Dark and White Chocolate Pomegranate Bark

This chocolate bark is so good that my oldest (non-celiac) daughter asked me to make it for her school birthday treat, even choosing it ahead of gluten-containing cupcakes and brownies. She also suggested that it be the first recipe featured on this blog!

I’ve had peppermint bark before but thought it would be fun to add pomegranate instead. The result is a colorful bark that’s great for festive get-togethers, especially since it’s naturally gluten-free. The dark and white chocolate combination provides a yin-yang contrast. And the gems of pomegranate give a juicy burst.

Although this bilayered bark looks impressive, it’s really quite simple. Since it doesn’t require stovetop cooking, it’s a great confection to make with kids.

Indeed, the hardest part is taking the pomegranate seeds out of the fruit. So here are some tips to make that process easier and a lot less messy:

Start by cutting off the top of the pomegranate, about a half inch below the crown. You will see membranes separating four to six sections of the fruit. With a knife, score the outer rind at each section. Submerge the pomegranate in a large bowl of water to prevent spattering. Separate the sections with your hands.

With your hands still in the water, loosen the seeds from the rind and membrane. The seeds will drop to the bottom and pieces of white membrane will float. Discard membrane and drain the seeds. Please note that the whole seed is edible, including the crunchy white part.

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