Anyone can be "the family chef". You just need good recipes and techniques! Chef Amy Fothergill shares her best recipes with you for quick and easy dishes with an emphasis on gluten-free.

Get information here about her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gluten-free Halloween Party

A simple GF pumpkin muffin with pumpkin cream cheese frosting

If you have ever been in a social situation and can't have the food around the buffet table, whether it's related to allergies, religion or weight loss, it can be quite difficult. What if it was the other way around? Imagine arriving and being able to eat everything! I thought it would be useful to create some ideas for gluten-free occasions (after getting some great advice from Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy). So here is my first list: Halloween.
 Maybe you are the host and you are getting ready for a ghoulish party. If you need to plan it around one or more gluten-free eaters, you might need some ideas beyond hummus and rice crackers or tortilla chips with guacamole. When you are doing your planning, think about the items that you can't eat when you are gluten-free: bread, crackers, pretzels, pizza, cookies, cakes and cupcakes, doughnuts. Today, there are many options for all of these items. Of course, if you are the one hosting, you will have much more control. That's my plan this year; delegation! And, even if you aren't gluten-free, you can use the ideas below to plan your own party. 

If you are the host and not the one with the sensitivity, make sure you understand the needs of your guests. Someone with Celiac disease looks at gluten as seriously as someone with a peanut allergy. Gluten can be in ketchup and bbq sauce and is almost always in soy sauce unless it's specifically gluten-free.

If you are the gluten-free host and guests want to contribute, keep it simple and ask them to bring the fruit salad, deviled eggs or carrot monster fingers. If you are gluten-intolerant, store-bought, certified gluten-free products like pretzels, cookies or crackers are good options for those who are not familiar with the intricacies of gluten-free. 

I have provided some links to the recipes; for everything else, you should be able to make the appropriate gluten-free substitute. When the cookbook comes out, you will have access to most of these. Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gluten-free Spaghetti, Rice and Lentil pilaf

Halloween food should look scary but still taste good!

When it comes to Halloween cooking, you want your food to look scary but not taste that way. I used to make a "bug salad" a few years back but with barley so it wasn't gluten-free. However, you could substitute rice or quinoa for it so check it out if you like a coconut flavor with red lentils.

This recipe is my new and improved gluten-free version of what I call Worms and Bugs in Dirt. If you like the recipe and you don't eat gluten-free, it's easy to adjust; just use regular pasta and breadcrumbs.

I made it this week to taste-test and get the recipe down. There was only a 1/2 cup left at the end of the meal so I'd say it hit both marks; scary and tasty! But really, it can be served any time of the year.

If you are having gluten-free guests for a ghoulish meal or just want a side dish with more grains and protein, give this a try.

Gluten-Free Spaghetti, Rice and Lentil Pilaf (aka Worms and Bugs in Dirt)

Serves 4

2 cups of low sodium gluten-free chicken or veggie broth
1 1/4  water
1/3 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup long grain brown rice (if you use short grain, add at least 1/4 cup of additional liquid)
1 ounce or about 1/2 cup dry brown rice spaghetti (or any gluten-free spaghetti)
Optional: few strands of saffron (it will give the pilaf a yellow color)
1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (try Schar or make your own)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (for dairy-free, use olive or your favorite vegetable oil)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Ground pepper to taste
Optional: grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat broth and water to boiling in a medium size pot (see note below for tips on using a rice cooker). Add lentils, rice and saffron, if using. The pasta is added later. Stir, cover and bring back to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook 25 minutes.
2. Remove cover, add pasta and stir. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If there is still liquid, remove cover and continue cooking until liquid is absorbed. Test everything for doneness. If any of the grains or rice is still crunchy and there is no more liquid, add 1/4 cup and cook another 3-5 minutes.
3. While the pilaf is cooking, place the breadcrumbs in a shallow pan (e.g. round baking dish) and place in a toaster oven or the regular oven (300F) to brown. Crumbs toast quickly so keep an eye on them.
4. When the pilaf is done, stir in the butter, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs.
5. Optionally garnish with grated parmesan or any hard Italian cheese. That's what you see in the photo!

Note: Rice Cooker Method
Add broth, water, lentils and rice (saffron if using) to bowl of rice cooker plus another 1/4 cup of water. Brown rice made in the rice cooker needs more liquid. Turn rice cooker on and set a timer for 25 minutes. Open cooker and add spaghetti. Stir and close cooker. Prepare breadcrumbs in step 3. When rice cooker is done, leave closed for 5 minutes. Check to make sure all of the liquid has been absorbed.  If for some reason it has not, turn cooker back on for 3 minutes. Add ingredients in step 4 and optionally garnish with parmesan cheese.