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 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.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
AKA A Big Old Bowl of Love
Corn may seem meant for summer barbecues, but in my house, my mom would blanch and freeze all the sweet, juicy kernels to have throughout the fall and winter as succotash, casseroles and soups. Of the many options, I most looked forward to corn chowder: thick and creamy, with smoky bacon, sweet and crunchy corn and hearty potatoes. It was perfect on those September and October nights when you needed a warm dinner to offset the unwelcome chill in the evening air or the crappy day at school or the fight you’d just had with your little brother.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Corn Chowder
As any gluten-free baker knows, creating a wheat-free substitute for all-purpose flour might as well require a Ph.D. in chemistry. While a store-bought mix might work for one recipe (say, cookies), it could yield hockey pucks when used for bread or muffins.
That was the epiphany that Austin-based Blackbird Bakery founder Karen Morgan had eight years ago while working as a pastry chef in France. French bakers rely heavily on specific flours for their various breads and pastries, so why would we assume one all-purpose option would work equally well in all gluten-free goods? (In fact, the absence of gluten increases the need for precision in flour.)
Since then, Morgan has developed six flour blends to suit all manner of baked goods, from biscuits to cakes. In her new book, The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free (on sale today), Morgan shares mixes in dedicated chapters that showcase a number of sometimes surprising ways to use each of them. Turn her biscuit blend into tacos or ice cream cones; the donut and fritter blend could become fried calamari or gumbo; and the pie and pasta blend is your ticket to Danishes and gnocchi, and so on. Whether you’re allergic to gluten or you have chosen to eliminate it from your diet, Morgan ensures you can have muffins and cookies, rather than homemade hockey pucks.
Continue Reading Cookbook Giveaway: The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free
AKA Everything’s Just Peachy
This is the very first pie I made after being diagnosed with celiac disease. It’s fruity and sweet, but ginger and a bit of cracked black pepper give it the tiniest of kicks.
I grew up eating fruit pies my uncle made in his bakery, or that my mom made at home. We were the kind of family that had dessert every night after dinner, and all summer long it was pie after pie after pie. Peach pie was my favorite, followed closely by sour cherry.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Peach Pie
AKA Wine — check! Friends — check! Salt air — check! The best dang summer salsa you will ever make? Checkity-check!
One August evening a few summers ago, a group of us were at a friend’s house on the water at the south Jersey Shore. As we sat at the beautiful weathered-teak table on the portico, with the sun well on its descent toward the horizon and the rising tide lapping the dock, a friend poured each of us a big glass of a buttery Chardonnay and plunked down a bowl of corn and tomato salsa.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Corn-Tomato Salsa
AKA Because Sometimes Sunday Lunch Needs a British Accent
For a few years, I was in a relationship with a Brit. When we went to Cambridge to visit his family, his mum made the most-glorious meat pies. Beef, pork, lamb, sausage — no matter what meat, the pies were warm and salty, with lush potatoes, herbs and a buttery rich crust. Savory meat pies — my favorite is pork — are such a special treat. Simmering the meat on the stove makes the house smell cozy and inviting, and the moment you can start to smell the buttery crust turning golden brown in the oven makes your Sunday sublime.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Pork Pie
AKA The Pasta Salad of My People
Some of my most-fond memories are of the picnics my grandmother hosted for the whole family on Memorial Day and Labor Day. My cousins and I would play tag while my aunts set up tables laden with family favorites — sloppy joes, potato salad, barbecue chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob, iced tea, fruit salad, brownies and — my favorite — macaroni salad.
As I grew older and “pasta salad” grew to mean more than the good old macaroni standards, I enjoyed the wide variety of alternatives my cousins would make. But there was something just so wonderful about the vinegary and sweet Pennsylvania Dutch macaroni salad of my childhood.
Not long ago, I was going through a box of books in my attic and found my grandmother’s recipe notebook — all her favorites penciled in cursive — and landed on the page that listed the “cooked mayonnaise dressing” for her macaroni and potato salads. I read down the list of ingredients and saw that it included flour. I had no idea!
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Macaroni Salad
AKA Soup-ual Healing
The Price Is Right. Gilligan’s Island reruns. A pile of blankets. Chicken noodle soup. These are the four things I want when I’m feeling under the weather, no matter what time of year it is. Whenever I was home sick from school, my mom always made chicken or beef noodle soup for me, and she let me eat in front of the TV. It was the best! In college and into my 20s, I resorted to the canned stuff whenever I had the sniffles and needed some culinary TLC.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Thai Curry Noodle Soup
AKA They Say It’s Your Birthday
Happy birthday. Wow, you look fantastic! Let’s have some cake, shall we?
Birthdays can be tough when you have celiac disease. You crave the cakes, pies and cupcakes you’ve always had, and most commercially made gluten-free cakes from a bakery or specialty store just don’t cut it. They’re dry and gritty, or way too gummy, and just not very celebratory.
Continue Reading Beat The Wheat: Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing