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Carol's latest book, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, is now available. Designed for small households, each perfectly-proportioned recipe serves two people. You will eliminate unwanted leftovers and reduce waste when you cook right-size meals with the 125 recipes in this book. Enjoy!! Celebrate with me!!! Gluten-Free Cooking for Two has won two awards: named one of ten "Best Gluten-Free Cooking Books in 2017" by Healthline.com and won a Silver Medal in the 2017 Living Now Book Awards in the "Natural, Nutrition, Organic, Vegetarian" category.
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Where in the World is Carol?

Carol's in the kitchen, cooking up recipes for her next cookbook and www.CarolFenster.com

Watch for Carol on "Creative Living with Sheryl Borden," a PBS-TV show airing on your local PBS station during 2017-2018.

Join Carol at the National Western Complex, Expo Hall level 2 in Denver on April 21,10:30 am during the GFAF Expo Conference. See you there!

Welcome to Carol Fenster Cooks!

Welcome to Carol Fenster Cooks!

I have had a love affair with food since I was a small child.  But I didn’t understand that it was the very food I loved that made me ill. When I learned that gluten was the culprit, I left my corporate job to start Savory Palate, Inc. where I specialize in gluten-free, allergen-free, and vegetarian/vegan cooking. I believe that eating food is the most profound thing we do to our bodies each and every day. So my mission is to help everyone eat well and I love my job!

Red Quinoa Salad for National Nutrition Month

Everyone knows that I am a devoted believer in eating whole grains because of their high nutritional value. But the main resistance I hear from many people about cooking whole grains is the time it takes, since most whole grains must be cooked from scratch. Fortunately, quinoa is a whole grain that cooks quickly.

Red Quinoa Salad is Gluten-Free

Red Quinoa Salad is perfect for entertaining

 

Quinoa: The “Mother” Grain That Cooks Quickly

Since March is National Nutrition Month, I want to focus on quinoa today. Technically a seed, quinoa—called the “mother grain” because it is one of the most nutritious of all grains—cooks just like rice, in about 15 to 20 minutes, so it easy to plan its preparation for our gluten-free meals. That 15-to-20 minute prep time makes it one of the quickest-cooking whole grains and a good choice for busy households.

Like many people, I occasionally need a reminder to eat more whole grains, so I am using National Nutrition Month as a reminder to myself. Although I cook quinoa on the cooktop, I prepare other longer-cooking grains such as brown rice or sorghum in the slow cooker. It cooks all day and I come home to whole grains that I can eat for dinner or store in the fridge for meals later in the week.

I’ve been tinkering with this red quinoa salad for some time now and really like this vibrant, nutritious version that is also extremely flavorful.  Red beets, pomegranates, and spinach (or arugula) are powerhouses of nutrition and the Clementines (called Cuties) add color and Vitamin C.  Even beet-haters might like it because the beets are cut in shoe-strings and just blend in with all of the other wonderful parts of this salad. But, recipes like this just beg for tinkering so change out the ingredients as you wish and make it your own.

Red Quinoa Salad

By Carol Fenster©

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Red quinoa is much more colorful than white quinoa and—along with the vibrant colors from the beets and Clementines—is a stunning dish, especially when made with dark green spinach for a lovely color contrast.

SALAD

1 ¾ cup vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup red quinoa

¼ teaspoon salt

2 small Clementines or 1 medium orange, some segments reserved for garnish

½ can (14-ounce) shoestring beets, thoroughly drained

Seeds from 1 pomegranate (about ½ to ¾ cup), reserve some for garnish

½ cup raisins or dried cranberries

1 cup baby spinach or arugula, washed and patted dry

½ cup slivered almonds (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish

DRESSING

[1/4] cup freshly-squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 medium garlic clove, minced

[1/4] teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

[1] In large saucepan, bring broth to boil high heat. Add quinoa and salt and cook, covered, until broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Transfer quinoa to large bowl; drain any excess broth.

[2] Grate the Clementine (or orange) to yield two teaspoons zest and add to quinoa, then cut Clementine into segments and add to quinoa.  Add the beets, pomegranate seeds, raisins, spinach, almonds, and 2 tablespoons of parsley. Toss to combine thoroughly

[3] Make dressing: In small bowl or glass jar, whisk together orange juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper until blended. Slowly whisk in oil in thin stream until well combined. Add enough dressing to quinoa to coat thoroughly and serve, either in large bowl or large platter, garnished with remaining Clementine segments, pomegranate seeds, and parsley.  Serves 4 as a main dish; 6 as a side dish

Calories:  310; 11g protein; 13g fat, 4g fiber; 42g carbohydrates; 360mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol

 

 

Chocolate Banana Bread

There is a famed spa called Rancho La Puerta that sits in Baja on the border between California and Mexico in the town of Tecate.  “The Ranch” as we call it, sits on 3,000 acres, and is magical. 

La Cucina Que Canta Cooking School at The Ranch

La Cucina Que Canta Cooking School at The Ranch

One of the many wonderful events is an early morning hike. But this isn’t just any hike: the roughly two-mile jaunt takes you to The Ranch’s cooking school where breakfast is served.  It is called La Cocina Que Canta (The Kitchen That Sings). And, no visit is complete without a tour of the organic garden with Salvador. 

Organic Garden at The Ranch, with Salvadore

Organic Garden at The Ranch, with Salvadore

I taught gluten-free cooking classes to the guests at The Ranch nearly 9 years ago. And, I also taught the staff about how to prepare and serve gluten-free food. At that time, they were just learning and this breakfast bread was not gluten-free. So, I had to return home and formulate my own gluten-free version. 

Kitchen at La Cucina Que Canta at The Ranch

Kitchen at La Cucina Que Canta at The Ranch

Today, most of the food served at The Ranch is gluten-free and gluten-free dishes dominate the cooking classes as well. It is very easy for gluten-free guests to dine there safely.

And, The Ranch is a very healing place. During my first visit, 10 years ago, I was undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer. I was exhausted, but found The Ranch relaxing and rejuvenating. It turned out that many people were in “healing” mode (emotionally, socially, and not just physically) so I felt at home.

Chocolate Banana Bread.

Chocolate Banana Bread.

But back to this fabulous bread. When I serve it to brunch guests, I remind them that it is possible to have chocolate for breakfast in a healthy way. They love it!

This bread gets its sweetness from fruit juice, dried fruit, and chocolate chips—there is no added sugar, except the sugar that is present in the chocolate chips. But if you prefer your bread a little sweeter, add the optional tablespoon of sugar. It’s up to you! The recipe makes a small loaf, but it is rich so you only need a small slice to feel satisfied. Enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Bread  

By Carol Fenster

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This small, but mighty recipe is very versatile because you can use whatever add-ins you like and vary the fruit juice―both of which are very good for you. There are lots of flavors going on here: chocolate, banana, cinnamon. For a no-sugar-added bread, omit the tablespoon of sugar. Enjoy!!

1 small ripe banana, mashed

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/3 cup prune juice or pomegranate juice

1/4 cup canola oil

½ cup gluten-free flour blend (see below)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon sugar (optional-try it first without sugar and see how you like it)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 teaspoon salt

Add-ins

1/2 cup gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup each finely chopped nuts, raisins, coconut, and dried cranberries (make sure total equals 1 cup)

 

[1] Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Lightly grease two nonstick 3 ¼ x 5¾-inch mini-loaf pans. 

[2] In a medium bowl, beat together the mashed banana, egg, juice, and oil with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended.

[3] With the mixer still on low speed, beat in the flour blend, cocoa, sugar (if using), cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt until smooth. Stir in the add-ins. With a wet spatula, spread the batter evenly in the pans.

[4] Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with only a bit of melted chocolate on it), about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, remove the bread from the pans, and cool completely. Makes about 5 to 6 small slices per loaf.

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour

1 ½ cups potato starch (not potato flour)

1 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

Whisk the ingredients together and store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.

 

Makes 2 small loaves, cut in 12 slices total

Per slice: calories 145; 10g fat; 2g protein; 2g fiber; 15g carbohydrate; 153 mg sodium; 16mg cholesterol

What’s New in Chocolate: Ruby Chocolate!

After a month of focusing on chocolate desserts for February, my research turned up a new form of chocolate in addition to dark, milk, and white: ruby chocolate or ruby cacao.

Ruby Cacao in bar and chip form.

Ruby Cacao in bar and chip form.

It is called ruby because it is pink when the beans are processed into candy. It was introduced in Asia and Europe, but just recently came to the United States.

What is Ruby Chocolate?

Ruby chocolate is developed from the Ruby cacao bean that is found naturally in Ecuador, Brazil, and Ivory Coast. Experts say it was commercialized by the Callebaut chocolate company, who registered a patent for it in 2009.  Skeptics suggest it is really a different way of processing regular cocoa beans and it is more of a marketing ploy than a truly new chocolate bean. Stay tuned on that….

Where to Buy Ruby Chocolate

I found the ruby cacao bar (3.1 ounces) at Whole Foods, introduced just before Valentine’s Day. To further the Valentine theme, the wrapping is pink with hearts and a place for “To” and “From” if you want to use it as a gift. I found a 5 ounce bag of ruby cacao chips at Trader Joe’s, packaged in pink as well. They look just like chocolate chips. There may be other places to buy ruby cacao, but these are the two places  I found so far.

How does Ruby Chocolate Taste?

Even though it’s called chocolate, tasters say it’s not really “chocolatey” at all. When I bought these Choco-Love brand bars at Whole Foods for Valentine’s Day, the check-out lady said she wasn’t sure she liked ruby chocolate. She said it was more like white chocolate, which isn’t really chocolate. So, I went home thinking I might be truly disappointed even though I love white chocolate.

My husband and I shared the bar for dessert and I was pleasantly surprised. Don’t expect a deep, dark chocolate experience. Instead, it is sort of like white chocolate but with a definite fruity note, perhaps berries? And, I didn’t find it overly sweet… which is good. In fact, there is a pleasant tang…almost like there is some fermentation.

How to Use Ruby Chocolate

My advice is to eat it as a chocolate bar. We just break off a square and savor it with coffee. There are not many recipes online yet, so I didn’t find much help about how to cook with ruby chocolate. But that may change in the future.

If you feel like experimenting (which is what I plan to do), use the chips like you use regular chocolate chips or bars. That means whatever you make will be pinkish, which might look great in some desserts but not in others.  

For example, a mousse with melted ruby chocolate might be a pretty light pink in color. You could chop up the bar and use the chunks just like you would use chocolate chips in cookies, bars, or cupcakes. But if you’re planning to melt ruby chocolate and use it like regular bittersweet chocolate in brownies, you won’ get that dark chocolate look.

Is Ruby Chocolate for You?

If you are curious about new foods, (as I am) then you might want to give ruby chocolate a try. It’s fun, something new to talk about with friends, and might give your dessert repertoire a boost. Bon Appetit!

 

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

I know Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but the days are still cold and dreary. I try to instill a little light into these dark winter days with fun, sometimes whimsical desserts.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries from  Carol Fenster

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries from Carol Fenster

Here is a quick, simple dessert that never fails to please: Chocolate-Covered Strawberries. The really large strawberries, with the stems on, have the prettiest effect. But regardless of the strawberry size, this is a stunningly gorgeous dessert.

These little gems might cost $3 or $4 each at a candy store; but you can make yours for a fraction of that price.

For the most dramatic effect, arrange the finished strawberries on a footed/pedestal cake stand. But, they will look scrumptious any way you serve them. A glass of champagne is a nice touch. And, if you’re especially hungry, double the recipe. As I always say, “there’s no such thing as too much chocolate.”

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Recipe by Carol Fenster, author of  Gluten-Free Cooking for Two (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

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You can use your favorite chocolate chips, but I prefer dark chocolate―Ghirardelli or Sunspire―for its health benefits and stronger flavor. White chocolate chips work nicely, too.

4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon butter or buttery spread

10 large strawberries (preferably with stems on, for the prettiest effect)

[1] Wash strawberries and gently pat dry with paper towels. Lay sheet of waxed paper on baking sheet.

[2] Place half of chocolate chips and all of the butter in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on Medium power until chocolate melts. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth, then stir in remaining chocolate chips until very smooth. If chocolate doesn’t melt, return to Microwave in 5 second intervals until it does.

[3] Holding strawberry by stem, dip strawberry into chocolate, twist slightly, and then lift  out, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl. Lay strawberry on waxed paper and repeat with remaining strawberries.  Let strawberries stand for 20 to 30 minutes or until chocolate sets up and then serve.

Chocolate Cakes in a Cup for Valentine’s Day

After years of marriage, we’ve fallen into the routine of having dinner at home on Valentine’s Day—unless it’s a busy weekday. Then, we choose a weekend night that’s less rushed. Our main course will be something special that we both like—perhaps steak or salmon on the grill.

Chocolate Cake in a Cup from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two. Photo by Tom Hirschfeld

Chocolate Cake in a Cup from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two. Photo by Tom Hirschfeld

But one thing never varies: dessert will be chocolate. As “chocolate-lovers”, we agree that it isn’t dessert on Valentine’s Day unless it’s chocolate.

Since chocolate is a must for Valentine’s Day, the question is will it be cake, cookies, pie, or just straight-up dark chocolate bars. But when I want something special yet quick, I turn to these cute little cakes in a cup.  They are quick since they “bake” in a microwave in about a minute rather than several minutes in an oven.

This means you can assemble the dry and wet ingredients separately beforehand, and then—maybe an hour or so after dinner—whisk them together and cook them quickly in the microwave. Or, make them right after dinner if you just cant’ wait. Your reward is a warm chocolatey dessert that says “I love you.”

Chocolate Cake in a Cup

Text excerpted from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two ©2017 by Carol Fenster. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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These cute little individual cakes microwaved in coffee cups are just perfect for couples, and they are super quick. They can be eaten right out of the cup, once they’ve cooled a bit.

1/3 cup Carol’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa (not Dutch-processed)

¹/8 teaspoon (dash) baking powder

¹/8 teaspoon (dash) salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon water

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Powdered sugar or chocolate syrup, for garnish

[1] Generously grease 2 shallow, microwave-safe 6-ounce (¾-cup) coffee cups. (My coffee cups are 3¼ inches in diameter and 2¼ inches high. The batter may spill over the edge during baking if you use a smaller cup.)

[2] In a small bowl, whisk together the flour blend, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt until well blended, and then whisk in the egg, oil, water, and vanilla until smooth. The batter will be soft. Divide the batter between the two coffee cups and place the cups on saucers or plates to catch any drips.

[3] Microwave on medium-high (70%) power for 50 to 60 seconds. The cakes are done when they look firm and are no longer shiny on top. They will continue to cook after they are out of the microwave. The cooking time may vary depending on the wattage of your microwave oven. Cool slightly before eating right out of the cup, dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with chocolate syrup — or both!

Makes 2 cakes

Per cake: 335 calories; 5g protein; 17g total fat; 3g fiber; 42g carbohydrates; 94mg cholesterol; 215mg sodium

Carol’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups brown rice flour (or sorghum flour)

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

Whisk together until thoroughly blended. Store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place for up to 3 months.

Raspberry Tarts in Buttery Crusts for Two

 With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, here is a stunningly beautiful Raspberry Tart that is just perfect for a romantic dinner for two. Your significant other will be impressed.

Raspberry Tart for Two

Raspberry Tart for Two

But you don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day. This is a lovely dessert year-round. Plus, you can vary the fruit. Perhaps pair fresh strawberries with strawberry jam; fresh blueberries with blueberry jam; fresh peaches with peach jam—you get the idea.

Don’t let the idea of pie crust scare you. You just press this dough into the mold, no rolling pins required. So, it is super-easy and fail-proof because the pretty fluted edge just naturally happens, due to the shape of the pan.

Raspberry Tarts in Buttery Crusts for Two

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two: 125 Favorites by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April, 2017)

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These cute little tarts are so simple, yet so gorgeous. The best part is that you just press the dough into the tart pans—no rolling pin needed! The fluted edge of the tart pans automatically shapes the dough. You will only use half of the dough, so freeze it the other half for a later pair of tarts. I like these tarts with a dollop of whipped cream or plain yogurt, but they are delicious just by themselves.

BUTTERY CRUST

1/2         cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

1/3         cup tapioca flour

1/4         cup sweet rice flour

1             tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4         teaspoon salt or 1/16 teaspoon (pinch) if using buttery spread

1/8         teaspoon (dash) xanthan gum

1/16       teaspoon (pinch) baking soda

6             tablespoons unsalted butter or buttery spread

3              tablespoon milk of choice

RASPBERRY FILLING

1              cup fresh raspberries

2              tablespoons good-quality raspberry jam (I like Bonne Maman, found in grocery stores)

1 to 2     teaspoons water

[1] Place racks in the bottom and middle positions of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 375⁰F.

[2] In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, salt, xanthan gum, and baking soda until well blended. With an electric mixer on Low speed, beat in the butter and milk on low speed until small clumps form.  If the dough shapes into a cohesive ball with your hands, it is ready. If not, beat in water, (a 1 teaspoon at a time,) until the dough is ready. Knead the dough with your hands until it is very smooth.

[3] Divide the dough in half and freeze one -half, tightly wrapped, for another use. Divide the remaining dough in half and shape each half into a ball. Place one ball in the center of a 3.5 to 4-inch nonstick tart pan that has fluted edges. With your fingers, press the dough evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough in the second tart pan.  Place both pans on a rimmed baking sheet. With a fork, prick the bottoms and sides of the dough a few times.

[4] Bake the tarts on the bottom rack of the oven for 5 minutes. Shift the pans to the next middle rack and bake for another 10 minutes or until the edges of the pastry start to brown. Remove the pans from the oven and cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack.

[5] Arrange the raspberries in a single layer in the two crusts. Whisk the water into the jam until the jam is a glazing consistency. Heat the jam in the microwave on Low power just until the jam is melted, about 5 seconds. Pour the jam over the raspberries in each crust and use a pastry brush or fork to nudge the jam into the nooks and crannies between the raspberries and out to the edges of the crust. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 2 tarts (each 3.5 to 4-inches in diameter)

Per tart: 385calories; 2g protein; 18g total fat; 5g fiber; 55g carbohydrates; 47mg cholesterol; 192mg sodium

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups brown rice flour (or sorghum flour)

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca starch/flour

Whisk together until thoroughly blended. Store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.

 

Super Bowl Tacos: Easy Eats for Game Day

Regardless of how you feel about the teams in this year’s Super Bowl, most of us will undoubtedly be watching on February 3. For me, it’s more about the ads than the game itself. As you may have guessed, I’m not a huge football fan.  In fact, I once took my knitting to a neighborhood Super Bowl party and was never invited back! I actually found the knitting more fascinating then the game.

Crispy Beef Tacos

Crispy Beef Tacos

But I like the ads, so I will tune in on February 3. I also like listening to the media analysis afterwards about how the ads did/did not do a good job of reflecting current societal issues (such as racism, MeToo movement, politics, etc.) As a sociologist, I find this more interesting than how the teams perform.

WHAT FOOD TO SERVE?

But enough about football.  I do get excited about the food for Super Bowl Sunday. What should we eat?

I want something that can remain appetizing despite 3 ½ to 4 hours on the serving table. The food should also be packed with flavor, yet modifiable so that guests who like less spice can be accommodated. It should be easily and quickly assembled so I can fill my plate and get back to the television without missing anything.

And, I want to return to the serving table again (and again) throughout this nearly 4-hour event. And the side dishes and dessert must be tasty, but easily served. So, here’s my menu for Super Bowl Sunday. You can add your favorite dishes as you see fit.

Super Bowl Menu

Tacos (meat served from a slow-cooker to stay warm). All other ingredients in bowls.

Guacamole and chips

Mixed-Green Salad

Dessert: cookies or brownies

SUPER BOWL TACOS

Reprinted with permission from  Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Anything goes when it comes to tacos. I usually use leftover cooked meat (usually browned ground beef or shredded pork) that I have in the fridge or freezer, but you can use browned ground turkey as well. Instead of crispy tacos, you can also use soft white or yellow corn tortillas and pinto or black beans in place of meat, if you’re vegetarian. Just check the label on the tortillas to make sure they are gluten-free since some corn tortilla brands also include wheat. This recipe makes 6 regular-size tacos; simply double the ingredients to make 12 tacos.

3/4         cup browned ground beef or turkey (or shredded pork)

Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

1 ½ – 2   teaspoons chili powder, or to taste

1/4         cup diced red onion

1/2         diced tomato 

1/4         cup store-bought Mexican salsa

1/4         cup shredded cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese, or a mixture of cheese

1/2         cup shredded iceberg lettuce (or lettuce of your choice)

1/4         cup chopped fresh cilantro

6            gluten-free crisp corn taco shells

[1] In a small skillet over medium heat, toss the browned ground beef with the salt and pepper (if using) and chili powder and then heat to serving temperature.

[2] For each taco, layer the beef, onion, tomato, salsa, cheese, lettuce, and cilantro in a taco shell. Serve immediately. Makes 6 tacos.

Per taco:  505 calories; 23g protein; 32 g total fat; 6g fiber; 33g carbohydrates; 79mg cholesterol; 466mg sodium

Gingerbread: The Perfect Winter Dessert

Cold, snowy weather means it’s baking time at my house. In fact, it’s snowing hard right now and visibility is low. Good idea to stay indoors!

Gingerbread for Two

Gingerbread for Two

There’s something about this kind of weather that sends me to kitchen to create wonderful aromas and eating pleasure. This means Gingerbread. The spices fill my kitchen with deliciously taunting aromas.

I’m not entertaining any guests this week and I don’t want a lot of leftovers sitting around, so I downsized my traditional recipe to serve just my husband and me. (If you want to bake full-size Gingerbread, use the recipe from my book, Gluten-Free 101, 2013 edition).

And, here’s the recipe below, a cute little loaf that will delight your senses.  Enjoy!!!

GINGERBREAD

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

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Decidedly aromatic, this spicy gingerbread fills your kitchen with delicious smells …making it the perfect dessert for a cold winter day—or anytime the urge strikes. It keeps nicely on the countertop, so you can enjoy it for a couple of days after baking. Topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a twist of lemon, it’s divine.

Makes a 3¼ x5¾-inch loaf, 4 small slices

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Baking time: 20 to 25 minutes

 

[1/3]      cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

3             tablespoons packed brown sugar

[1/4]      teaspoon each ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves

[1/16]    teaspoon grated nutmeg

[1/4]      teaspoon xanthan gum

[1/8]      teaspoon baking powder

[1/8]     teaspoon salt

[1/16]    teaspoon baking soda

2             tablespoons canola oil

2             tablespoons molasses

1             large egg, at room temperature

[1] Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 3 ¼ x5 ¾-inch nonstick (gray, not black) loaf pan.

[2] In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until well blended. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat in the oil, molasses, and egg until well blended, about 30 seconds. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.

[3] Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the gingerbread comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the gingerbread in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, cut into 4 slices, and serve slightly warm.

Per slice: 188 calories; 2g protein; 8g total fat; 1g fiber; 28g carbohydrates; 47mgs cholesterol;  66mgs sodium

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups brown rice flour

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

Whisk together until thoroughly blended and store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.

Sheet-Pan Supper of Roasted Fish and Vegetables

The holidays are over, winter is here with its snow and cold, and I’m ready for oven meals. I love the smell of something delicious roasting in the oven; it just seems so appropriate on a cold wintry day and evokes the idea of home and “hygge”—the Scandinavian word for coziness and comfort.

Sheet-Pan Supper of Roasted Fish & Vegetables

Sheet-Pan Supper of Roasted Fish and Vegetables. Photo by Tom Hirschfeld

Since it’s just the two of us, I now turn to my book Gluten-Free Cooking for Two for inspiration.  One of my favorite recipes for two people involves roasting an entire dinner on a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet. This is not a new concept, but one I had never tried until recently. Now it is one of my “go-to” dinners.

This idea allows me to cook only as much food as we need for one meal, without leftovers. I realize that some people love leftovers (actually, I do too). However, my husband doesn’t!! So, it’s easier and I waste less food if I just cook enough for two in the first place.

What is a Sheet-Pan Supper?

It basically consists of roasting the entire meal—potatoes, meat, and vegetables—on the same sheet, leaving almost no dishes to clean up. If you choose colorful ingredients, it is also a gorgeous dish because the “pink” of the salmon contrasts beautifully with the red and yellow tomatoes and the green asparagus.

The idea behind sheet-pan roasting is to first roast the foods that take longest to cook (in this case, potatoes), then add the vegetables and fish later and finish roasting it all together. Clean-up is easy, since you just have one pan to wash.

In case you’re not a two-person family, don’t worry. Double the recipe and either use two 9×13-inch pans (known as quarter-sheet pans) or use one 13×18-inch pan (known as a half-sheet pan) and you can serve 4 to 6 people.

Sheet-Pan Supper of Roasted Fish & Vegetables

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Making meals the “sheet-pan” way works especially well when cooking for two because an entire meal fits in one 9×13-inch pan. You begin roasting the food(s) that take longest to cook such as potatoes, adding additional foods (fish, vegetables) later, since they cook faster.  If your vegetables are especially delicate (or if you prefer them streamed) layer them under the fish.

1/2         pound (2 cups, about 6 potatoes) small Yukon gold potatoes or fingerlings, halved 

1              tablespoon olive oil

3/4         teaspoon dried herbs of your choice (I like oregano or tarragon for this dish)

1/4         teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4         teaspoon salt

1/8         teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2              5-ounce salmon fillets

1              cup thin asparagus in 1/2-inch pieces

1/2         cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1              fresh lemon, cut into 2 halves, for garnish

[1] Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425⁰F.  Line a 9×13-inch nonstick (gray, not black) rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly grease or use a 10-inch greased ovenproof skillet.

[2] In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes, [1/4] teaspoon of the herbs, and smoked paprika with the olive oil until well coated. Arrange evenly, cut side down, on the baking sheet and roast 20 minutes.

[3] Arrange the salmon, asparagus, and tomatoes on top of the potatoes and sprinkle with the remaining [1/2] teaspoon herbs and the salt and pepper. Continue to roast until the salmon is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. Serve with lemon wedges, for garnish.

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Roasting time: 30 minutes. Makes 2 servings

Per serving: 345 calories; 33g protein; 12g total fat; 4g fiber; 29g carbohydrates; 74mg cholesterol; 374mg sodium

NOTE: You can also vary this dish: instead of potatoes, use cauliflower flowerets. Use cod or sole instead of salmon, 1/8-inch red bell pepper strips instead of tomatoes, or broccoli florets or snow peas instead of asparagus—and monitor the roasting times accordingly. Generally speaking, the thinner and less dense the food, the shorter the cooking time. So, put the more delicate vegetables under the fish. You can also vary the herbs. I often use thyme, but tarragon or rosemary would be nice. If you have it, fresh dill would be superb.  The smoked paprika is something I use in many foods because it lends a nice depth to the flavors. You could also try smoked salt to replace it.

 

Easy, Last-Minute Holiday Gift Idea

Need a last-minute gift? This festive layer-bar is perfect with its chocolate crust and decadent layers. Assemble this easy mix in 3-cup glass jars and store in a dark, dry place until gift-giving time. You can also include a can of sweetened condensed milk, but for your dairy-intolerant recipients you might include a jar of your homemade sweetened condensed milk (see recipe below) or a can of Let’s Do…Organic brand sweetened condensed milk that is made from coconut milk.

Layer Bar Mix for Holiday Gift-Giving

And be sure to include the instructions—printed on a festive recipe card and tied to the jar—so the lucky recipient knows how to prepare this decadent treat. In fact, why not make one for yourself while you’re at it! My version is for Christmas (e.g., candy canes) but you can tailor this to suit the occasion. For a non-Christmas version, I would try butterscotch or peanut butter chips in place of the candy canes.

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

LAYER BAR MIX IN A JAR
1/4 cup chopped candy canes
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed GF cookies (such as Pamela’s Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Chunk Cookies or Pamela’s Honey Graham Crackers)

INGREDIENTS TO BE ADDED BY GIFT-RECIPIENT
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or buttery spread, melted
7 ounces (half of 14-ounce can) sweetened condensed milk (see homemade recipe below)

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE GIFT-GIVER
In 3-cup glass jar with screw-top lid (a 24-ounce Classico pasta sauce jar works perfectly), layer ingredients, starting with candy canes and then chocolate chips, coconut, pecans, and white chocolate chips. Spoon crushed cracker crumbs into small plastic bag and place on top of layers. Screw on lid, cover the lid with 6-inch circle of colorful wrapping paper or cloth, tie a festive bow over the paper-covered lid, and affix the recipe card to bow with more ribbon. Store in dark, dry place away from sunlight (so chips don’t melt).

BAKING INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE GIFT-RECIPIENT
Preheat oven to 350⁰F and coat 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Remove cookie crumbs from jar and combine with melted butter. Press evenly into bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle remaining mix ingredients over crumb mixture. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly on top. Bake until chips are melted, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 16 small bars.

Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
Reprinted with permission from 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster (Avery/Penguin Group, 2011)
Quite often, gluten-free folks are also dairy-sensitive. If so, look for store-bought version of sweetened condensed milk that is dairy-free such as Let’s Do…Organic made with coconut milk. If you can’t find it, make this easy version at home. It makes the equivalent of a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, about 1 ¼ cups.

1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk of choice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or buttery spread
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

[1] In a small, heavy saucepan whisk together the sugar, sweet rice flour, and salt until thoroughly blended. Whisk in the milk until smooth, then add the butter and heat the mixture on medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes.

[2] Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter. Cool to room temperature to thicken a bit more. It is best used at room temperature; can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks but bring to room temperature again before using. Be sure to keep refrigerated until gift-giving time and tell the lucky recipient that it must be refrigerated.

Half of the Sweetened Condensed Milk recipe: 420 calories; 6g protein; 13g total fat; .5g fiber; 72g carbohydrates; 36mgs cholesterol; 197mgs sodium