AKA Here, Piggy Piggy
Rip, rip, rip, WHACK, pop. That familiar sound of opening the cardboard canister of crescent-roll dough to make pigs in blankets. So easy, so salty, so delicious. Before I was diagnosed with celiac disease, pigs in blankets were an easy party treat. Something simple to make when my girlfriends came over for a Saturday afternoon movie marathon. Easy to bake in shifts when the game went into overtime and the guys needed snacks. Or something to nosh on and reminisce about as a favorite childhood hors d’oeuvre when having friends over for a dinner party.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Pigs in a Blanket
AKA It’s Like You’re in Big Night and You’re Cooler Than Stanley Tucci
I’m kind of obsessed with the movie Big Night. I’ve loved it since before I began writing about food and thinking about the role food plays in our lives. All the cooking, all the rushing around, the loud mouths and big stomachs, and that huge meal at the end that rendered everyone nearly unconscious: I’ve always wanted to host a dinner like that. The closest I’ve ever gotten is with pasta and Bolognese (I’ll save the timpano and the other 40 courses for another day).
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AKA Get It, Shorty
When I was growing up, every year around the holidays my eccentric great-uncle would share a box of shortbread cookies with my brother and me as we sat in the living room while he smoked his pipe. Those dense cookies were so rich, so buttery and so great with hot chocolate. Now, when I pass all the lit Christmas trees in my neighbors’ windows on my evening walk with the dog, I crave shortbread. I want that buttery, rich taste, and I want it all winter long.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Cranberry-Ginger Shortbread
AKA Let the Good Times Casserole
When you write about food for a living, people assume you make glamorous roast duck with fancy vegetables every night for dinner. While I can’t speak for every food writer, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t cook fancy food that often, and I eat a lot of casseroles. Sunday nights, you’ll find me in the kitchen putting together some sort of casserole for dinner that night, or for lunch and dinner for the next few days. Casseroles are easy. They’re awesome. They freeze well, they reheat easily and they offer comfort after a hectic day. Casseroles are melty and delicious and hearty.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Cheesy Kale, Sausage and Rice Casserole
AKA Touch the Pie (Gotta Testify, Lookin’ Extra Fly)
I don’t know about you, but I can’t listen to music while I work. It’s too distracting. I can’t pay attention to the work and I can’t pay attention to the song. So iTunes stays on lockdown during the workday. But when I’m home cooking? It’s a different story. There’s music in the kitchen and I might check out my reflection in the window during the occasional booty pop, I’m not gonna lie. When I bake, it’s all hip-hop and old ’70s soul and funk.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
AKA Get Stuffed
Six years ago I was diagnosed with celiac disease just days before Thanksgiving — the most glorious, gluten-filled holiday on the calendar. While I was relived to know what had been making me so sick for so long, the timing couldn’t have been worse. In my family, Thanksgiving has always been all about the stuffing. Sure, we love turkey, mashed potatoes and the other obligatory vegetables, but stuffing is the centerpiece of our meal. It isn’t anything fancy or special, just simple Pennsylvania Dutch-style bread cubes, onions, celery, stock and herbs. Crisp on top, a little mushy inside. People like to offer advice on what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, but that was one item on our dinner table that was never left over. We’d devour it and fight over the last bits of the crunchy edges.
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AKA Let Me Eat Cake
A few years ago, a fashion designer made a canvas handbag emblazoned with the words “Eat Cake for Breakfast.” Really? It seemed so targeted toward those ladies who only saw Sex and the City for the first time in syndication on basic cable and thought they were so cool drinking cosmos at girls’ night in some strip-mall chain restaurant, deciding who was the Carrie and who was the Samantha. I used to roll my eyes at women who carried that bag … until I ate the first piece of my new and improved gluten-free carrot cake. Now I get it, people. I won’t carry that bag, but I will unapologetically eat this cake for breakfast. You should too.
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AKA Nothing Com-pears to You
Pears are the unsung heroes of fall. Everyone at the farmers market last weekend was all, “Oooohhh, apples this and apples that.” Fine. Let ‘em try and outdo each other with “Honeycrisp is better than Jonagold, but for baking it’s all about Mutsu.” That keeps them away from the best fruit of the season: pears. You know I’m right. And I want them all for myself.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Pear Tart
AKA THE APPLE OF MY PIE
My great-uncle Richard used to own acres and acres of orchards in Pennsylvania, and I fondly remember picking apples for him after school. I’d climb up the rickety, old ladder, an apple basket in hand, and shimmy out onto a branch to pull ripe fruit from the tree limbs. Uncle Rich taught me at an early age the differences among all the varieties — which ones were used for baking or for cider, and which could be eaten right off the tree, crisp and sweet. Oddly enough, despite having an unlimited supply of fruit, we didn’t eat a lot of apple pie growing up. It wasn’t until I was graduating college and moving in with my boyfriend that I figured I should learn to make pie. I failed at it many times back then — forgetting the sugar, using the wrong apples, forgetting to add the top crust — it’s a wonder I didn’t set our apartment on fire. That boyfriend became an ex-husband, and as I got better at relationships, I also got better at baking pies.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Apple Pie