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.

Friday, June 14, 2013

How to Make Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, aka "Nutella"

Everyone has different reasons for making food (like Nutella) at home which they can buy off of the shelf; it might be economic or for health reasons. Since the first time I tried Nutella, I never had the desire to make it. But, when the day came that my darling dairy-free daughter could no longer partake because of the milk in it, I considered it.

I had seen a recipe for the hazelnut spread in my high-powered blender but assumed it was hard. I decided one day to take a look and was very happy to find that 1. it was not that hard (1 hour start to finish with time in between when you don't have to do anything), 2. I had most of the ingredients in my cabinet with the exception of the hazelnuts (aka filberts), and 3. the recipe did not have any dairy in it. Ok, time to shift the paradigm again.

So here is what I found: the amount of time and effort it took was less than (from helping with third grade math, I believe I could have said "<") the 2 cups of deliciousness that was produced. Here's the recipe along with some tips. Enjoy and make it for someone special or just yourself! Uhm, "enjoy" doesn't even begin to describe this experience.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Makes 2 cups

1 cup hazelnuts or filberts
1/4-1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
Optional: 1 teaspoon or more of mild oil like sunflower or safflower, if needed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup or a little more confectioner's sugar


  • You could probably also use blanched almonds instead of hazelnuts. I did not try this but saw a recipe.
  • Add a few extra hazelnuts when measuring to account for those that might not shed their skin and for those that end up in your mouth.
  • Do not use "virgin" coconut oil unless you want a coconut flavor; the non-virgin is tasteless.
  • The original recipe called for only 1/4 cup of coconut oil but the blender started making an awful sound so I added more until it began to form a paste. I also added some oil. The result is a thinner paste but I liked that.
  • Use a high quality cocoa powder that isn't Dutch-process, meaning it has not been alkanized. I used Ghirardelli.
  • I tasted the spread and decided to add more confectioner's sugar. Start with 1 cup and then decide for yourself.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan once to make sure they toast evenly. Bake until the skins darken.
2. Cool the hazelnuts. Wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and rub towel back and forth to remove most of the skins. Discard skins (careful, it's messy).
3. Add melted (but not hot) coconut oil and hazelnuts to a high-powered blender (e.g. BlendTec, Vitamix) and secure lid. Press "Speed Up" to speed 1 for 15 seconds then increase to speed 9 for a full cycle. Add more coconut oil or vegetable oil if you think the nuts are not forming a proper paste. Scrape down with a spatula and move hazelnut meal toward the center.
4. Press "Speed Up" to speed 5 and run a full cycle. Scrape down the sides and move the meal toward the center. Repeat two more times.
5. Add remaining ingredients. Press "Speed Up" to speed 5 (or lower), scraping down the sides. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. The "spread" might be liquidy and warm at first but will firm up and cool down. I placed mine in a 2 cup mason jar and let it come to room temp before placing in the fridge.
6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-6 weeks. Bring to room temp before serving or take a small amount out and microwave for 5 seconds to soften.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bob's Red Mill Launches Search for Best Porridge Maker in the United States

Bob’s Red Mill—maker of many of the flours I use in my gluten-free cooking and baking—is in search of some creative cooks to help them win a third title in the 20th annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship.

 Recipes must feature the company’s steel cut oats as the star ingredient and must require no more than two burners used in its preparation. Other than that, however, the sky’s basically the limit for this international contest.

The grand prize is a trip to Scotland to compete in the competition but just for entering, you guys –my blog readers—are eligible to win some of Bob’s Red Mill products. All you have to do is perfect your personal sweet or savory porridge recipe, enter the contest rules here and then email me at to let me know that you’ve entered. The first five of you who submit a video entry will be sent a prize pack from Bob’s Red Mill that includes the company’s Gluten-free Steel Cut Oats, Gluten-free Muesli, Gluten-free pancake mix and Gluten-free brownie mix. Your deadline is July 22 so it’s time to get cooking!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review of Sunset Magazine's Weekend Celebration event

Yummy dish from Nopalito SF

I now know why people love this event and "love the West", one of the mottos of this year's 2 day festival put on by Sunset Magazine. From the food and wines to gardening and travel, the annual Weekend Celebration had someone for everyone, even children.

Located in Menlo Park, California, the corporate headquarters of Sunset Magazine sort of feels like being a kid in the proverbial candy store with its kitchens and manicured gardens. There was so much to see. I attended the event on Saturday and boy, was it hot! Sunset thought ahead and had free water refills at a number of locations. Although it was quite warm, there was shade to be found here and there and covered tents like the ones for the food demos (how convenient!).

There were free samples from Heinz (hot dogs and grilled potatoes), Tillamook (yogurt and a toppings bar), Kettle chips, Blue Bunny ice cream, and more. If that didn't fill you up, there were over a dozen food trucks and booths. You could dine on anything from Indian to Venezeulan to tacos and creme brulee. Beer and wines were from all over the west, including some lesser known areas of California. I didn't partake but I think next year I'll plan to pace myself (and bring a driver!).

I felt like a bit of a rock star, I must admit. Honda, one of the sponsors of the event, was gracious enough to lend me a car for the weekend so I could test drive their Accord. I've owned Hondas in the past and remember why I like them; they handle well, are comfortable and have decent gas mileage. It sure was fun explaining to people why I had a new car for a few days!

Fabio making pasta before our eyes
Besides me (ha!), there certainly were a number of (chef) rock stars at the event. I had the pleasure of seeing Susan Feniger (she is quite funny) and Fabio Viviani (he was hysterical) of Top Chef fame. I was so inspired by his "you can make pasta in 2 minutes and I'm going to show you how" in his cute Italian accent that I went home, threw on an apron, found a recipe I have been meaning to try and...yes, made homemade (gluten-free!) pasta. Ok, it took only 2 minutes to make the dough and a bit more for the rest of the process but that was fine. Believe it or not, I have certain dishes that are not in my comfort zone; gluten-free pasta WAS one of those but is no longer. The only problem is that now I might start eating more carbs. (see below for more photos).

I know this is only the tip of the iceberg of the event but I think it's going to be a new tradition in our house. The kids really enjoyed the arts and crafts table at the Tillamook station, the story reading by Indiana Jones, the talk given by CuriOdyssey with the owl, the climbing wall, and much more. It was just a little hot for them but they get points for being troopers.

If you haven't had a chance to attend the Weekend Celebration, I highly suggest you make plans for next year. I'll try to take more pictures of food and less pictures of Fabio; promise. Maybe. I'll see what I can do!
Fabio was really funny

My pasta dough with my gf flour

GF spaghetti...molto bene!