March 27, 2007

Sweet Potatoes With Onions & Rosemary

The humble sweet potato is a staple food at my house. They have many wonderful culinary uses, such as in bread, custard, pie, and as a vegetable. One of our favorite varieties, the Red Garnet, has a mellow sweetness when you eat it. Best of all, sweet potatoes are gluten-free.

I know, I know, it's a vegetable...but I still get a kick out of saying it. On certain days, I find that it's important to remember all the things I can eat, rather than focusing on the things I can't. It helps to remember these things when you begin to feel that shopping for food has become a gluten war zone. I start imagining that space ships are zooming through the air shooting gluten globules at my van trying to stop me keep me from goal of finding gluten-free food.

The holidays are particularly bad for creating this effect on me. For both my husband and myself our family tradition was for holiday meals to be a special family celebration. With the Easter holiday coming up, I've been thinking about menus that we can have and these thoughts were on my mind while we were in Virginia last week. Since we moved to New York a few years ago, living here has created an expectation that there will be a certain amount of gluten-free food available for the Jewish holiday, Passover. I thought of this while I was shopping with the kids in McLean and I saw a bakery with a sign out front stating that they had all the Passover bakery items that you need. Wow, could it mean that they would have gluten-free Passover foods? My kids and I decided to take the chance and scope out their food. When we didn't find anything, so I asked the young lady behind the counter if they had anything that was wheat or gluten-free. She looked at me rather confused and asked me, "What's that?" I guess they don't do anything gluten-free for Passover.

Which brings me back to my dusty pile of Red Garnet sweet potatoes and I remember they are gluten-free. They are versatile, nourishing and healthy. The tuber will yield a scrumptious sweetness that feeds my southern soul and make me forget the world of gluten.


1 lb Red Garnet Sweet Potatoes, quartered
6 Tb Olive Oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
½ yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 425 deg. F. Pour olive oil into an oven proof baking dish (6 x 10). Then add the sweet potatoes, onions and sprinkle the spices over the top. Using your hands evenly coat the vegetables in the spices and olive oil. Place into the oven to roast for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes to ensure even browning. Serves 6.

My children would have preferred to have me leave the rosemary off the sweet potatoes, but my husband and I loved this recipe. It's a keeper.

March 26, 2007

Mascarpone & Cream Cheese Frosting - Gluten Free

It was time to frost the birthday cake and I needed to pick out a frosting recipe. I needed one that would be soft enough to spread over a shaped gluten-free cake as the shaped parts would be crumbly. Also, the frosting needed to be flavorful and something that my daughter would like. One of her favorite frostings is cream cheese, however it is a firmer frosting. Then I remembered mascarpone frosting and thought it might have the potential to work on the crumbly dolphin cake.

After doing a taste test, I decided that the mascarpone frosting might be too mild in flavor. My daughter would prefer something a little stronger, so I decided to jazz up the recipe a little for her. I worked on the frosting recipe and this is what I came up with for the cake:


4 Tb butter, softened
5 oz mascarpone cheese, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
16 oz powdered sugar, sifted

Cream the butter, mascarpone cheese and cream cheese until fluffy. Then add the vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar and whip. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl as necessary. Spread on a cooled cake.

How did the cake and frosting go over? Great! The cake had a wonderful flavor and the frosting was the perfect addition. We all enjoyed the cake and the party was fun too.

March 23, 2007

Namaste Gluten-Free Muffin Mix - Apple Cinnamon

We were in the Northern Virginia area a couple of weeks ago and were staying at a Residence Inn. Now that I'm gluten free, I prefer to stay at hotels where I have the ability to do some cooking. It makes it a lot easier to be gluten-free when you don't have to rely on restaurants.

Now that we were here, I needed to pick up some provisions for our stay. I stopped in at the Whole Foods in Falls Church, where I found a great array of gluten-free items. They carry things from Pamela's, The Gluten-Free Pantry, Ener-G and Namaste, plus their own bakery items in the freezer case. They even had fresh bread from Ener-G in the bakery!

Since I hadn't had a chance to try products from Namaste, I picked up one of their "No Sugar Added! Muffins Mix" to try. The muffin mix is free of: gluten, wheat, potato, soy, corn, dairy and casein. Once made, the mix will yield 12 muffins. The package also provides suggestions on other things to add to your muffins, such as fresh or dried fruit, nuts or seeds, zest or even substituting juice for some or all of the water used in the recipe.

I decided chose one of their jazzed up versions of the mix. I used apple juice instead of water and add dried apple bits to the mix. Then I topped the muffins with cinnamon and Turbinado sugar. I got all my ingredients together and whipped up the muffin mix.

At this point, I just had to try the taste of the muffin batter...hmm...the batter had a unique and not very pleasant flavor and it left a lingering bitter aftertaste. I decided to try and help it out by adding 1/4 cup of agave syrup. The taste was better. So, I went ahead and baked the muffins.

The muffins came out beautifully and have a slight aroma of apples. The texture is moist and holds together, so that when you bite into the muffin it doesn't fall apart. The agave syrup makes the muffin taste much better. My husband and I thought these muffins were okay, but they weren't a hit with the kids.

The next morning we had these for breakfast. I toasted several and served them with softened butter. They were pretty good.

To learn more about products from Namaste Foods, you can find them on the web at:

March 21, 2007

Chocolate Chestnut Cake - Gluten Free

My daughter is turning eight and I've been gearing up for the big event. The birthday party with party favors and the all important birthday cake. For my children, their cake is thought about and planned months ahead of time.

What shape shall my daughter challenge me with this year? I've done the space shuttle, G.I. Joe strategically placed behind a tree, Spirit and Rain (from the movie, Spirit), a fairy garden, a knight's castle and many others. When I asked my daughter what she wanted her cake to be like, she said a dolphin. Okay, I can do it...however I need a recipe for the cake first.

Pen in hand and my lovely sheltie note paper in front of me, I got to work on a draft recipe. I consulted a couple of recipe books for more information on leavening agents (The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and the Fanny Farmer Cookbook). The Cake Bible has a "Special Section" that discusses the various leavening agents, liquids, and cocoa versus chocolate in cakes. Then I double checked my choices and made recipe #1. After the taste test, I went back to Rose's book to read more. Recipe #2 was crafted, baked and was promptly deemed in need of work by my trusty crew of taste testers.

I tweaked the recipe again and while it baked, we watched a movie. All of us patiently waiting for the all important taste test. When the timer went off, I pulled the cake out of the oven and the aroma was simply lovely.


2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup chestnut flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup + 1 Tb buttermilk or sour milk*
1/4 cup +1 Tb cocoa powder
2/3 cup cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp kudzu/kuzu powder, dissolved in 1 Tb of buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, softened

*To make sour milk - add 1 1/2 tsp of white vinegar to a 1/2 cup of milk or cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 6" spring form pan with parchment paper.

Place the softened butter into the bowl of your mixer and beat until fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla and blend. Slowly add the eggs, buttermilk and the dissolved kudzu and blend. In a separate bowl, place all of the dry ingredients and mix. Then slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl. Scrape down the sides and blend again. Pour the cake batter into the parchment paper lined spring form pan. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a bamboo skewer comes out clean.

The cake came out beautifully. I topped it off with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. How did it taste? My son and I thought it was wonderful. My daughter wasn't so thrilled with the powdered sugar, but she thought the cake tasted pretty good.

Now, to plan out that dolphin....

If you'd like to learn more about Rose Levy Beranbaum, visit her websites, and

March 17, 2007

Thank You bloGher!

Kalyn Denny of bloGher, wrote a wonderful article titled, Blogs can Help with Gluten-Free Baking and Cooking. She mentions the existing large network of gluten-free blogs that are available to help individuals locate recipes for gluten-free food and find support. Kalyn mentions a number of excellent gluten-free blogs to explore. To read Kalyn's blog recommendations and article go to:

March 16, 2007

Pasta Sauce - Gluten Free & Nightshade Free

Living Without Magazine, published an article in their Fall 2005 issue called, "No More Nightshades." The article has a recipe for a nightshade free and gluten-free pasta sauce that I have been wanting to try out for my daughter. She has a slight reaction when eating nightshade plants.

The base of the sauce is oven roasted beets and canned pumpkin with the addition of spices and red wine vinegar to make it more like a pasta sauce based on tomatoes.

I made up a half batch of the sauce, taking care not to over cook the beets. I was having problems with their recommended amount of seasonings though...the sauce seemed to absorb the spices no matter how much I added.

The overall taste was oddly sweet due to the roasted beets and canned pumpkin, but the sweetness was spoiled by the flavor of the red wine vinegar. I think oven roasted beets and pumpkin have a brighter future as a vegetable dish, rather than in pasta sauce.

To learn more about Living Without Magazine, visit their website at:

March 10, 2007

Irish Soda Bread - Gluten Free

In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, I worked up a gluten-free version of Irish Soda Bread. My baking efforts began with my copy of "Beard on Bread" by James Beard. I worked on modifying the recipe, whipped it up and then eagerly awaited the results.

It was beautiful coming out of the oven, although the aroma from the bread was rather like baking soda. How did it taste? Well...vile. No second tastings...straight to the compost bin it went. And by the way, don't try brown rice, oat, arrowroot, teff flours and hazelnut meal as a gluten-free flour me.

Pondering the flavors lingering in my mouth made me wonder if I ought to start with a different recipe. At I found a recipe from Bon Appetit, February 2005 issue. The Irish Soda Bread with Raisins recipe was created by Anitra Earle of Yonkers, NY, and it seemed to be perfect base to modify into a gluten free version.


2/3 cup rice flour
2/3 cup oat flour
1/3 + 2 Tb sweet rice flour
1/3 + 2 Tb almond meal
2 Tb Turbinado sugar
2 Tb cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3 Tb butter, chilled
7/8 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup raisins
2 tsp kudzu powder, dissolved in buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 6 inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and blend. Cut in the butter with a fork until mixture is crumbly. Then add the buttermilk and raisins. Blend. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

How did it turn out? Beautiful and smelled delicious. The bread has a lovely rich taste with a lingering hint of soda. It was perfect with a small swirl of butter. My son liked the bread, but would have preferred it without raisins. Eating it with butter is the only way to go, according to my daughter. My husband didn't have any preferences, he said it was great.

March 4, 2007

Berries & Cherries Granola - Gluten Free

One of the challenges of being gluten free is finding nice breakfast cereals. I prefer granola types of cereals, rather than more processed types of cereals that are made into shapes. My preference is for organic and low Glycemic Index ingredients, but that isn't always possible when you are gluten-free.

I have wanted to create my own granola for some time. Something I could always have on hand regardless of what the stores have in stock or make a batch in advance and take it with us when we travel.

With a granola goal in mind, I purchased a larger stock of Madhava Organic Agave Syrup and started to work on my recipe. I began experimenting and worked up a recipe for a Fig & Apricot Granola. However, I didn't realize that Agave Syrup is very sensitive to burning if it is cooked too long or at too high a temperature. So, my granola was a bit over toasted as were the figs, they didn't like being cooked too long either.

I went back to the working on the recipe and came up with The Berries & Cherries Granola. It is a nice lightly sweet cereal that was a hit with my family.


2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup dried berries & cherries
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tb melted butter
1/2 cup agave syrup
2 tsp flax seeds
2 tsp flax meal

Line a cookie pan with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then spread out onto the parchment paper. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Turn over the granola every 10 minutes to keep it from browning too much.

Note: Feel free to adjust the amount of flax seeds and flax meal to your preferred amounts.

My family voters were thrilled with the granola. Especially our sheltie, she couldn't get enough of the dried berries & cherries. This one is a keeper.