Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Hudson Valley Gluten-Free Social & Dining Group

Hi everyone -

I want to let folks know that there is a new social and dining group in the Hudson Valley (New York) for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance as well as anyone on a gluten-free diet for health reasons. Its focus is on social activities rather than being a traditional format support group, so the group will be doing things like eating at different area restaurants that serve gluten-free food, going hiking, having cooking demonstrations, and going on field trips.

To see more information about the group please visit the Mid-Hudson Valley Gluten-Free Outings Meetup Group.

The first meeting will be at an Indian restaurant in New Paltz on November 15, 2007. For more information see the above link.

Any help that you can give in spreading the word about this would be much appreciated! if you know people in the vicinity of Poughkeepsie, New Paltz, Albany, Newburgh, Kingston, Beacon, etc... Please let them know about this.

Thanks! Hope to see some of you there.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gluten-Free Apple-Quince Pie

I got some e-mails asking me about the pie pictured in the post on my Pecan-Quinoa Streusel Crumble Topping. That's an apple-quince pie! I would have posted the recipe sooner if I hadn't been gallavanting around New York City with a bunch of gay Jews this weekend. Have you ever cooked with quince? It's a hard autumn fruit that looks like a hard and somewhat lumpy cross between an apple and a pear. It tastes unpleasantly astringent when raw but is delicious when cooked down with plenty of sweetener (agave nectar, in my case), and has a flavor that is fragrant, mild and apple-y. The texture is firmer and more grainy than an apple, which makes it stand up well to a long cooking time. Apples and quinces are lovely together. Quinces take much longer to cook than apples, so cooking them together results in an apple-quince "sauce" with a wonderful consistency - The apples will nearly dissolve into sauce while the quince retains just enough of its firmness to give the filling a good bite and appearance. I discovered later that I used unripe quinces, so keep an eye out for yellow quinces rather than the green ones I used, and they will take less time to cook.

The pie was fantastic, if not entirely photogenic. I used the Natural Feast Gluten-Free Frozen Pie Shells again. As I mentioned in this post they are gluten-free, vegan, kosher (pareve) and free of refined sweeteners. They are also free of soy and nuts. They're no replacement for a homemade crust, but they work well in a pinch. Since they come in packages of two, I had one left after making that delicious apple-raspberry pie, so I used the remaining one for this pie. This recipe calls for a pre-baked crust - If you use the Natural Feast crust, follow the directions on the package for baking it without a filling, but cut the baking time in half, then remove the crust from the oven and fill it with the fruit filling. Once you fill it, put a piece of tin foil underneath and fold the edges up so it creates a loose partial tent around the pie, with the top open. This will keep the edges from burning.

You will likely have some leftover filling, but that's intentional on my part. I think the filling is just too good to only be inside one little pie. Eat the leftovers cold, like applesauce - Or mix with yogurt. Better yet, put them in ramekins, sprinkle with leftover crumble topping, and bake in the oven or toaster oven until the topping has browned slightly. An easy breakfast or dessert. Who needs a crust, really?


[Gluten-Free / Pareve / Soy-Free / Vegan ]

5 quinces
8 granny smith apples
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice mix*
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider
1 cup agave nectar, sugar or honey
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour**
1 Tbsp margarine (or butter) cut into small pieces
1 recipe Pecan-Quinoa Streusel Crumble Topping

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Peel apples and quinces, core them and cut them in thin slices - You can use an apple slicer for the apples, but make sure the quince is cut as thin as possible. Add all ingredients to a large pot, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the fruit is tender (about 20-30 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Pour the fruit mixture from the pot into a mixing bowl, and slowly sift in the sweet rice flour, making sure to mix it in evenly so there are no lumps.

Pour fruit mixture into a partially pre-baked pie crust. Use your fingers to crumble the streusel topping across the entire top of the pie. Arrange small pieces of margarine across the top, and bake for 20-20 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

*You can buy pumpkin pie spice mix from any spice company, or make your own.

**Sweet rice flour is not the same as white rice or brown rice flour, which are not good thickeners. You can find it at most Asian markets as well as some health food stores. It is sometimes called sticky rice flour, glutinous rice flour (yes, it's gluten-free!) or oriental rice flour. You can buy it online here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Flourless Streusel Crumble Topping with No Refined Sugar

It took me a while to find a gluten-free crumble topping that doesn't use oats and has a texture and appearance that I like. I guess I'm picky about my crumbles. When I finally got this recipe right, I was pleased as punch. Now I can actually convince myself that pie is health food! This crumble topping is especially for those of us who choose to avoid refined sugar, which is the backbone of the crumble toppings usually used on top of fruit crisps, pies and some bar cookies. I created this crumble topping as a healthier, whole grain alternative, free of cane sugar and full of crumbly texture and sweet, nutty flavor. I hope it will help somebody out there transform some plain old fruit or a topless pie (ha!) into something truly worthy of oohs and aahs.

Though certified gluten-free oats are now available, they are hard to find in local stores and are very expensive. There are also celiacs who cannot digest even these certified oats. So some of us still have the need for a gluten-free crumble topping that is made with alternative ingredients. This recipe relies on the versatility of pecans and the oat-like texture and outstanding nutritional profile of Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes for its texture. I buy quinoa flakes locally for around $3 per package. I hear there are other companies besides Ancient Harvest that make quinoa flakes, but this is the only brand I've found in stores here and I'm quite happy with it as a baking ingredient and a hot cereal for chilly mornings.

I have tried this recipe with both honey and agave nectar, and honey creates a much better crumb and holds the sweetness better when the crumble is baked. However, if you need to make this strictly vegan, agave nectar will certainly do the job.

Feel free to use butter (as if you needed my permission!) I've called for non-hydrogenated margarine only because I often like to make my pies pareve so that I can eat them at both meat and dairy meals. I would definitely choose butter if I didn't need this versatility, because butter makes everything better. My good buddy L of A Question Mark taught me that. Using butter would also make this recipe soy-free.

I have a tupperware of leftover crumble in my refrigerator after using it to top a pie I made the other day. I can't wait to go to the farmer's market to buy whatever's in season to transform into a delicious fruit crisp.


[ Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free / Pareve / Vegan ]

1 cup pecans
3 Tbsp non-hydrogenated vegetable margarine (such as Earth Balance), softened slightly
3/4 cup quinoa flakes
3 to 4 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
Pinch of salt

In a food processor with blade attachment, process pecans until they are in nearly uniform small chunks (see picture below). If you have a plastic blade or mixer attachment, attach it and add the rest of the ingredients. If you only have a metal blade, pulse ingredients as slowly and minimally as possible. Process only until ingredients are well combined and form a uniform, crumbly mixture. Use your fingers to crumble it into small pieces over the top of a pie, fruit crisp, muffins, or other baked good. Place dish into a preheated oven at 400 F. Bake until the crumble topping is browned but not burnt (watch carefully to make sure the top doesn't char), approximately 20 minutes.

Here's what the pecans should look like before you add the other ingredients:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pie. Pie. Pie. Pie. Pie. Apple Raspberry Pie.

I love pie. I've never met a pie I didn't love, though sadly some pies just don't love me back.

This is a vegan gluten-free apple-raspberry pie with a crumble topping, made with no refined sugar and all local fruit. It was improvisational, and I didn't write the recipe down - I mixed up apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh raspberries, a little Earth Balance margarine, agave nectar and some lemon juice and a little cornstarch (or was it arrowroot starch or sweet rice flour?) for the filling. I will post the delicious whole-grain crumb topping recipe one of these days, I promise. It turned out deliciously. I have another frozen gluten-free pie crust in my freezer just waiting to be turned into another pie, so a recipe should be forthcoming in the next week or so.

The pie crust is this one, which I bought at my local Hannaford:

Natural Feast Gluten-Free Pie Shells (Frozen - 2 Units)

If you don't have a Hannaford near you, you can buy it from Gluten-Free Mall. They come in packages of two, and are vegan, kosher, gluten-free and free of refined sugar. Though my homemade pie crusts are better, these frozen guys are pretty darn decent and so very, very convenient.