Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gluten-Free Passover Links for 2008

Dear friends, I am so very sorry that I have not had the time to do a real 2008 redux of the Great Gluten-Free Passover Roundup of 2007. Though I'm happy to say, last year's post is still every bit as relevant this year. Recipes don't age into oblivion like so many things in our world do, gratefully. Since I don't want to let the days slip into Passover without pointing new visitors in the direction of some gluten-free Pesach resources, I thought I'd quickly throw together a list of links that I hope will be helpful to new and old readers alike.

If you are not Jewish and are gluten-free... Good grief, people, what are you waiting for? Get thee to a kosher grocery store! This is the time of year to stock up on gluten-free delicacies, from blintzes (I have two packages in my freezer and can't wait to try them) to croutons to seven-layer cakes. Specifically, look for the label "non-gebrokts" to find products not made with matzo meal, and if a non-gebrokts product isn't also marked gluten-free (or even if it is) contact the company to verify gluten-free status to avoid potential cross-contamination from products made with matzo on the same line. The days after Passover are often a good time to get these items on sale, too.

I hope next year I will have more time and less stress around the holidays and be able to wow you with some new recipes, but for the time being, have a healthy and happy Passover.

Chag sameach!




Thursday, April 10, 2008

Quick & Easy Cilantro-Lime Broccoli Slaw

Mmm... Nothing like a brightly colored, fresh, raw vegetable salad to celebrate the first daffodils popping up in the garden. I plan to make this recipe for Passover, since it's so incredibly fast to whip up large amounts of and is good with nearly every meal. It's also a welcome burst of color and flavor in a holiday that (in many houses but not mine!) tends to be dominated by dense, heavy, potato-focused Ashkenazi fare. This is a super-quick, no-cook, minimal-chopping dish that can be served as a side for Mexican or other Central American cuisines, as a topping on a green salad, or alongside fish or grilled chicken. It's perfect for warm weather, when cooking is the last thing you want to do. I think this will also be a good stand-by for shabbat.

This is hardly a coleslaw (yuck, I hate coleslaw) but it's made with what is often called "broccoli coleslaw mix". You can find it in most American supermarkets I've been in, with the bags of salad and shredded cabbage. It usually contains shredded broccoli and carrots, and sometimes cabbage as well. If you can't find the kind with cabbage in it, try shredding a little purple cabbage in yourself - It's worth it for the color alone.

I don't bother putting in the measurements for this recipe, which I am usually fairly consistent in doing, because it's really an intuitive recipe that's best done by seasoning it to suit your own tastes. Add ingredients little by little, mix well, and taste before further seasoning. Remember that overnight while it sits in the fridge, the vegetables will absorb the flavors fully. So dress it lightly, and don't overdo it on the spices or the lime juice - Subtlety works well with for this salad. It's a perfect showcase for that bottle of very high quality extra-virgin olive oil you've been saving in the back of your pantry... or is it just me who saves such things for "a special occasion" that never comes?


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

1 bag broccoli coleslaw mix
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Lime juice, fresh or bottled
A generous amount of high quality extra virgin olive oil
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Ground coriander, to taste
Cumin, to taste
A dash of agave nectar or honey

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Allow to sit overnight before serving, for optimal flavor. Can stay in refrigerator for several days.

Adopt-A-Blogger: Gluten-Free Pita Bread Courtesy of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried

For the Adopt-a-Gluten-Free-Blogger event, it was only natural that I'd choose to adopt Naomi Devlin of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried. Naomi is a homeopath, mom, and baker from the UK. Her approach to cooking and baking feels familiar to me, because it's similar in many ways to mine. She is one of the bloggers whose recipes resonate with me the most, in her use of whole-grain gluten-free flours and nut meals, her adventurous exploration of new flavor combinations and textures, and her preference for natural sweeteners and nutritious ingredients. I love reading the blogs of cooks who are more likely to post an innovative and healthy recipe that introduces me to new flavors and textures than a recipe that's yet another nutritionally empty gluten-free clone of the usual standard American (or Western European) fare. I rarely bake these days for a variety of reasons, but Naomi's pita recipes were too tempting to pass up.

I made Naomi's recipe for Teff Pita Breads. Though I've had gluten-free falafel, I haven't had a pita bread since stopping eating gluten. It was such a thrill to take these out of the oven and see that they had, indeed, puffed up into pocket breads! (Well, about half of them did at least). They were tasty as can be, especially straight out of the oven. Over this past week I've eaten them stuffed them with hummus, with cheddar cheese, and with peanut butter, bananas and a drizzle of local honey. They were fantastic every which way.

I can't wait to try her other pitas. Here is a list of Naomi's gluten-free pita bread recipes:

Teff Pita Breads
Dark Coconut Pita Breads
Roasted Sweet Potato Pita Breads

Thanks for sharing your terrific recipes with the gluten-free blogosphere, Naomi!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sugar-Free Pecan Coconut Macaroons - A Gluten-Free Treat for Passover and Year-Round

When the Mid-Hudson Valley Gluten-Free Outings Group had our Valentine's Day Gluten-Free Cookie Swap back in February, I encouraged members to consider making a recipe that would accommodate people with food restrictions beyond just celiac disease or gluten intolerance. So I decided to take upon myself the project of creating a gluten-free sugar-free cookie. I'm not usually a big fan of Splenda but I figured I'd give it another shot - At least my mother, who was doing the South Beach Diet, would eat the cookies, right? My other hope was that I'd figure out a way to finally make a macaroon that I'd like and that I could make with little to no sugar for when Passover rolled around.

Well Passover is nearly here. Splenda is NOT kosher for Passover except in its industrial version. However, I think these cookies would taste just fine with another dry alternative sweetener such as granulated fructose, artifical sweetener (not my preference), certain sugar alcohols, maple sugar... whatever you can find that's kosher for Passover -- I'm not sure what's on the market because I don't plan on eating many sweets this Passover. Of course, if you eat sugar, you can save yourself the trouble by making this recipe with plain old white sugar.

I have cut the Splenda amount in this recipe from the amount I used when I originally baked these, since I found them too sweet. Coconut and pecans have their own sweetness to them and I wanted their flavor stand out in all its glory. In fact, I'm even considering making these for Passover without any sweetener at all!

This was my first time trying pecan and coconut flavors combined, and I discovered I love this duo! Better, in fact, than the traditional almond-coconut macaroon combo. I'm not sure if there is a kosher l'pesach brand of ground pecans, but you can always buy some pecans and pulse them in a food processor (or little by little in a coffee grinder) until they have a relatively fine, sandy consistency. Voila, pecan flour!


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

Adapted from Low-Carb Dessert Blog

Makes approx. 24 cookies

4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup Splenda* (if they're not for Passover), white sugar, or the equivalent amount of a kosher l'pesach alternative sweetener
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp ground pecans
2 cups dried shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites, salt and vanilla until frothy with an electric mixer. Slowly pour in the Splenda or other dry sweetener. Whip until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the ground pecan and coconut gently. Do not over-stir - Batter should remain frothy.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a tablespoon measure to drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto the paper 1/2 inch apart. Remember that they won't rise or expand! Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges (let them get a little browner than in this photo!). Turn off the oven heat, open the oven door slightly, and let the macaroons sit in the oven until cool to keep them from becoming overly moist.

*The Splenda available in retail stores is not kosher for Passover.