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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!!
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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.

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!

Cooking for Two: Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

As a child, I looked forward to Easter—but not for a child’s usual reasons (dyeing Easter eggs, Easter candy, new Easter dress, Easter dinners with my aunts, uncles, and cousins). Nope.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes for Two

Carrot Cake Cupcakes for Two

For me, it was the food. One of my favorites was a giant Carrot Cake baked in a Bundt pan, slathered with Cream-Cheese Frosting. My mother only made that cake for special occasions so it was a real treat.

My mother was one of 12 children, so there were plenty of people to eat that huge cake at these large Easter dinners. In fact, I grew up with nearly 40 first cousins in my small community so there was nary a crumb left on the plate.

 

Carrot Cake Cupcakes: Perfect for Small Households

Today, I still love Carrot Cake. But a full-size Carrot Cake for just the two of us (we are empty-nesters) is just too much food. But why should I give up eating one of the most heavenly desserts on earth when the solution is to simply bake smaller versions?

For the Carrot Cake, I scaled down my huge Bundt cake version to just 6 gluten-free cupcakes. There are lots of ingredients in a Carrot Cake, so there was a lot of kitchen math to make sure each ingredient remained in balance with the others and tastes great. Now I’m sharing the recipe with you. It is perfect for any small household (empty-nesters, couples, newlyweds, roommates, etc.)

 

Get The Carrot Cake Cupcake Recipe; Or Listen to My Interview with Faith Middleton on Food Schmooze

Last week, the delightful Faith Middleton—from the radio show Food Schmooze on WNPR in Connecticut—interviewed me about my new book and declared that these Carrot Cake Cupcakes “need to be on every Easter buffet table.”

If you would like the recipe, it is reprinted for your convenience at Faith Middleton Food Schmooze. (You will also find two other small-scale recipes from this new book: Asparagus Soup and Layered Bean-Tortilla Casserole.) If you like, you can also listen to the radio interview at that same link.

 

Introducing My New Cookbook, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two

I also downsized another 125 of my favorite full-size recipes to serve two people and it became my latest cookbook Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, which publishes this month.  To learn more about the recipes in this book, go to my website.

 

Happy Easter! Enjoy these Carrot Cake Cupcakes!

 

Gluten-Free Cooking for Two – new cookbook

I was preparing dinner one night when I had a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious):

Gluten-Free Cooking for Two

Gluten-Free Cooking for Two

I realized that I live in a two-person household, yet I’ve always cooked for the standard family-of-four. That worked well when my son was growing up because he ate all of the leftovers, but now my husband and I are empty-nesters. Full-size recipes yield too much food, my husband dislikes leftovers (meatloaf! again?), and I hate wasting food.

Raised by depression-era parents (clean your plate!), my upbringing instilled a sense of guilt about wasting food. So, after scaling down all of my recipes I now prepare just enough food for two people and we have far less waste at our house.

I transformed all of this information into my latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two. The book has a wide variety of dishes: entrees, breads, breakfasts, soups, and desserts to entice you. Learn more about the recipes at my website.

I believe that everyone deserves food that is nourishing and suits their needs, regardless of special diets or household size. If this is you, then my new cookbook is right for you.

This is what I learned from converting 125 of my favorite full-size recipes to serve two people:

[1] Start with a Recipe for Two Servings 

It is so tempting to just wing it and halve a 4-serving recipe to serve two. Trust me— it doesn’t always lead to success because not all ingredients scale down proportionately. I recently halved a simple 4-serving recipe for Butternut Squash Soup, just to prove my point. (After all, how hard could this be?) Well, the soup was under-seasoned and the ratio of liquids (broth) to solids (butternut squash) was “off” making the soup too thick. After I added more seasoning and more broth, the ingredients were balanced and the soup was perfect. Clearly, even the simplest recipes might need tweaking when downsizing them to two servings.

Balancing ingredients is even more important when scaling down recipes for baking. (How do you measure 1/3 of an egg?) My mother’s fail-proof chocolate cake—which I baked for decades—is the perfect example. I thought scaling down this recipe to fit a 5-inch cake pan would be a “piece of cake.” (Sorry, I just had to say it.) Instead, a dozen tries later, I finally balanced the ingredients to produce a miniature replica of the cake that has brought my family so much joy. 

The moral of this story? Unless you like kitchen math and hours of experimentation, use a two-serving recipe to start with for best results.

[2] Think Small for Big Benefits

 Small-scale cooking requires a different mind-set. You cook only what you need, using ingredients and utensils that seem impossibly small (e.g., 1/3 cup flour instead of 2 cups or a 3×5-inch loaf pan instead of 5×9). It’s almost a “dollhouse” mentality because the utensils and food are so darn cute. But the payoff is big! No leftovers and no food waste. Right-size recipes also prevent over-indulgence and offer automatic portion control if you’re trying to cut calories.

[3] Measure Accurately; No Eyeballing

Eye-balling is risky in small-scale cooking. This is because the overall volume of the ingredients is incredibly small, e.g., some batters barely measure 1 cup. So, even a tablespoon too much (or too little) of flour or liquid can upset the balance of wet-to-dry ingredients. In other words, the margin for error is quite small so correct measuring is critical.

Measuring small amounts of salt, seasonings, and leavenings requires precision. Rather than standard measuring spoons which are too big, use mini-measuring spoons for 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64 teaspoon (the spoons are labeled as dash, pinch, smidgeon, or drop, respectively).  You can find them in the baking aisle of grocery stores, in kitchen stores, or online.

[4] Use Small-Scale Baking Pans

Make sure you have the right pans. You can keep your 9×13-inch baking sheet for cookies or 5×9-inch pan for Brownies. But you may need to invest in additional, small-scale pans. For example, many recipes call for a straight-sided 2-quart saucepan (4-inch sides, 6-inch diameter) because it is just the right size to surround the entrée in enough liquid so it doesn’t boil dry.  A shallower pan lets the juices evaporate too quickly and can lead to a dry dish.

In baking, use the suggested pan because the volume of dough/batter and the baking times have been carefully calibrated for that particular pan. Baking times are usually shorter than usual because smaller pans allow the heat to penetrate to the center of the dish more quickly than with larger pans.

 [5] The Benefit of Cooking Small

Once you get the hang of it, cooking small becomes a way of life. Your payoff is fewer leftovers, less wasted food, and happier husbands.

******Carol Fenster now cooks all of her meals in two-serving portions and is the author of 14 cookbooks, including, Gluten-Free Cooking Two (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). She blogs at www.CarolFensterCooks.com. Her website is www.CarolFenster.com.

Gluten-Free Cooking for Two– new cookbook by Carol Fenster

I was preparing dinner one night when I had a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious):  I realized that I live in a two-person household, yet I’ve always cooked for the standard family-of-four.

Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster

Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster

That worked well when my son was growing up because he ate all of the leftovers, but now my husband and I are empty-nesters. Full-size recipes yield too much food, my husband dislikes leftovers (meatloaf! again?), and I hate to waste food.

Raised by depression-era parents (clean your plate!), my upbringing instilled a sense of guilt about wasting food. So, after scaling down all of my recipes I now prepare just enough for two. I transformed all of this information into my latest cookbook,  Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, which publishes April 4.

If you cook for just two people, here is what you need to know:

[1] Start with a Recipe for Two Servings 

It is so tempting to just wing it and halve a 4-serving recipe to serve two. Trust me— it doesn’t always lead to success because not all ingredients scale down proportionately. I recently halved a simple 4-serving recipe for Butternut Squash Soup, just to prove my point. (After all, how hard could this be?) Well, the soup was under-seasoned and the ratio of liquids (broth) to solids (butternut squash) was “off” making the soup too thick. After I added more seasoning and more broth, the ingredients were balanced and the soup was perfect.

Balancing ingredients is even more important when scaling down recipes for baking. (How do you measure 1/3 of an egg?) My mother’s fail-proof chocolate cake—which I baked for decades—is the perfect example. I thought scaling down this recipe to fit a 5-inch cake pan would be a “piece of cake.” (Sorry, I just had to say it.) Instead, a dozen tries later, I finally balanced the ingredients to produce a miniature replica of the cake that has brought my family so much joy.

The moral of this story? Unless you like kitchen math and hours of experimentation, use a two-serving recipe to start with for best results.

[2] Think Small for Big Benefits

 Small-scale cooking requires a different mind-set. You cook only what you need, using ingredients and utensils that seem impossibly small (e.g., 1/3 cup flour instead of 2 cups or a 3×5-inch loaf pan instead of 5×9). It’s almost a “dollhouse” mentality because the utensils and food are so darn cute. But the payoff is big! No leftovers and no food waste. Right-size recipes also prevent over-indulgence and offer automatic portion control if you’re trying to cut calories.

[3] Measure Accurately; No Eyeballing

Eye-balling is risky in small-scale cooking. This is because the overall volume of the ingredients is incredibly small, e.g., some batters barely measure 1 cup. So, even a tablespoon too much (or too little) of flour or liquid can upset the balance of wet-to-dry ingredients. In other words, the margin for error is quite small.

Measuring small amounts of salt, seasonings, and leavenings requires precision. Rather than standard measuring spoons which are too big, use mini-measuring spoons for 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64 teaspoon (the spoons are labeled as dash, pinch, smidgeon, or drop, respectively).

[4] Use Small-Scale Baking Pans

Make sure you have the right stuff. You can keep your 9×13-inch baking sheet for cookies or 5×9-inch pan for Brownies. But you may need to invest in other pans, such as:

-3×5-inch loaf pan for breads, desserts

-6-cup muffin pan for cupcakes, muffins

-5-inch cake pan and springform pan for cakes, pies, cheesecakes

-4-inch mini-tart pans (with removable sides) for tarts

-3-cup mini-Bundt pan for cakes

-4-ounce ramekins for individual desserts like puddings, apple crisp, cobblers, or Tiramisu

[5] Use the Pan Specified in the Recipe

Choosing the right size pan is critical. For example, many recipes call for a straight-sided 2-quart saucepan (4-inch sides, 6-inch diameter) because it is just the right size to surround the entrée in enough liquid so it doesn’t boil dry.  A shallower pan lets the juices evaporate too quickly and can lead to a dry dish.

In baking, use the suggested pan because the volume of dough/batter and the baking times have been carefully calibrated for that particular pan. Baking times are usually shorter than usual because smaller pans allow the heat to penetrate to the center of the dish more quickly than with larger pans. 

 Once you get the hang of it, cooking small becomes a way of life. Your payoff is fewer leftovers, less wasted food, and happier husbands.

 

****Carol Fenster cooks all of her meals in two-serving portions and is the author of 14 cookbooks, including, Gluten-Free Cooking Two (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). She blogs at www.CarolFensterCooks.com. Her website is www.CarolFenster.com.

 

Celebrate Pi Day (3.14) with a Personal Pizza Pie

Today is Pi Day! March 14th (3.14) is a great day to celebrate the people of math and science who dedicate their lives to knowledge based on facts. Hooray for the truth!!

Personal Pepperoni Pizza for Two from Carol Fenster's new cookbook, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two

Personal Pepperoni Pizza for Two from Carol Fenster’s new cookbook, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two

It’s also a good day to celebrate any kind of “pie” so let’s talk pizza. Most standard-size pizza recipes make BIG pizzas—too much for my husband and me since we are empty-nesters. He hates leftovers (meatloaf, again?) and I hate to waste food. Did you know that Americans waste 30 to 40% of our food? I was raised by depression-era parents, and I am just wired to hate wasting food!

I’m not alone. Many of you have told me you also want two-serving recipes so you can reduce unwanted leftovers and eliminate waste. Whether you are empty-nesters like us, or newlyweds, couples, roommates, or some other small-family configurations—we need two-person recipes.

The Solution: Gluten-Free Cooking for Two Cookbook

My new cookbook,  Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, offers two-person recipes like this cute little Personal Pepperoni Pizza. The book focuses on foods we all love, but want to eat in small-scale versions. It publishes on April 4, and it makes a great wedding gift or Mother’s Day gift and is perfect for anyone in a small gluten-free household. The following recipe is an example of what’s in the book.

Gluten-Free Cooking for Two

Gluten-Free Cooking for Two

 

Personal Pepperoni Pizza for Two

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

This recipe makes an 8-inch pizza, perfect for two…or one, if you’re extra hungry! The sauce makes enough for 4 pizzas; use ¼ cup for this recipe and freeze the rest for later pizzas. You can vary the toppings as you wish; perhaps a veggie pizza or just cheese only? This fabulous crust is your blank canvas to make any pizza you want. Enjoy!

PIZZA SAUCE (Makes 1 cup, enough for four 8-inch pizzas)

1              can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1 ½         teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/2         teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

1/4         teaspoon garlic powder

1              teaspoon sugar

1/4         teaspoon salt

CRUST FOR 8-INCH PIZZA

1  1/2     teaspoons active dry yeast

1/3         cup warm milk of choice

1/2         teaspoon sugar

1/2         cup Carol’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend (below)

1/2         teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2         teaspoon Italian seasoning

1              teaspoon olive oil (plus extra for brushing on crust)

1/2         teaspoon cider vinegar

Brown rice flour, for sprinkling

TOPPING

1/4         cup pizza sauce

1/3         cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (or more to your taste)

1/4         cup mini-pepperoni slices (or regular-size pepperoni)

[1] Place racks in the bottom and middle positions of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375⁰F. Grease an 8-inch circle on a 12-inch pizza pan or 9×13-inch baking sheet (nonstick gray, not black).

[2] Make the sauce: In a small, heavy saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and simmer, uncovered, on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Set aside.

[3] Make the crust: Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm milk for 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, beat all of the remaining ingredients together with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended, about 20 seconds. The dough will be very soft.

[4] Place the pizza dough on the greased circle of the pan. Liberally sprinkle the dough with brown rice flour, then press into an 8-inch circle with your hands, continue to dust with flour to prevent sticking. Make the edges thicker to contain the toppings, taking care to make the dough as smooth and even as possible for the prettiest crust.

[5] Bake the pizza crust for 10 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. Remove from the oven and brush the edges of the crust with a little olive oil. Spread ¼ cup pizza sauce on top. Arrange the pepperoni on the sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Return the pizza to the middle rack of the oven and bake until nicely browned, about 10 minutes.  Remove the pizza from the oven and brush the crust lightly with olive oil (optional) for a shinier crust. Cool the pizza on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then serve hot.

Makes one 8-inch pizza

Per pizza:  810 calories;  28g protein;   42g total fat; 5g fiber; 76g carbohydrates; 84mg cholesterol; 1930mg s sodium

Carol’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups brown rice flour

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour/starch

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

Get Your Copy of Gluten-Free: The Definitive Resource Guide by Shelley Case, RD

My friend and colleague, Shelley Case, sent me a copy of her latest book, Gluten-Free: The Definitive Resource Guide and I think you should know about it. The 2016 version is completely updated, wonderfully informative, and a great reference for every gluten-free household.

Gluten-Free: The Definitive Resource Guide by Shelley Case, RD

Gluten-Free: The Definitive Resource Guide by Shelley Case, RD

Shelley is one of North America’s foremost experts on the gluten-free lifestyle. Not only is she a sought-after speaker, but she has been actively involved in shaping our gluten-free world for over the past 30 years. Many of the benefits we now enjoy (such as product labeling in both the U.S. and Canada) are a direct result of Shelley’s hard work.

If you know Shelley, you know how thorough she is. This revised version reflects years of hard work to make sure it is as up-to-date as possible. It is perfect for home cooks, dietitians, and other health professionals who want to stay informed about the gluten-free lifestyle. My copy sits on the shelf next to my other trusted references so I can easily reach it when I have a question.

What the Book Contains

Here are some of the topics that Shelley covers:

[1] Latest research on Celiac disease & non-celiac gluten sensitivity

[2] What foods are safe and what foods to avoid

[3] Status of questionable ingredients such as vinegar, wheat starch, glucose syrup, oats, etc.

[4] Gluten-free and food allergen labeling in the U.S. and Canada

[5] How to prevent cross-contamination

[6] More than 3700 gluten-free products listed by company and product name

[7] Advice on dining out and traveling

Shelley also offers recipes with nutrient analysis, a comprehensive directory of over 220 companies, and lists of gluten-free books, cookbooks, magazines, and other resources. There really is no other book like this!

This book belongs on everyone’s shelf. You can get your copy at www.ShelleyCase.com where you can read more about Shelley’s amazing work or on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

Red Quinoa Grain Bowl for National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month- Eat More Whole Grains
I am a devoted believer in eating whole grains, not only for their important nutrients but if they are prepared correctly they can be a low-calorie dish—perfect for weight-loss. And whole grains, like this Red Quinoa Grain Bowl, are amazingly versatile. Eat them for breakfast, as a side dish, or as a main dish topped with grilled salmon or chicken breast.

Red Quinoa Salad is Gluten-Free

Red Quinoa Grain Bowl

Quinoa: The “Mother” Grain
Since March is National Nutrition Month, I am featuring this Red Quinoa Grain Bowl 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 quick 15-20 minute prep time makes it on a good choice for busy households.

I use the term “whole grain” but after reading an article called “Grain Man” in the February, 2015 issue of Food & Wine Magazine, we could also call them “intact grains” which means they have not been taken apart, pulverized, or processed…they are the way they grew, untampered with. Quinoa is an intact grain.

My Inspiration for This Dish
I first tasted red quinoa a few years ago at True Food Kitchen in Scottsdale—a Dr. Andrew Weil-inspired restaurant— in a grain bowl similar to the one below. I was hooked because the flavor of red quinoa is a little less intrusive and a little more pleasantly nutty than the regular, white-tan quinoa—and I think it’s prettier.

I’ve been tinkering with my idea of a red quinoa grain bowl for awhile 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 (including my husband) 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 Grain Bowl
By Carol Fenster©
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 for each of six servings: 310; 11g protein; 13g fat, 4g fiber; 42g carbohydrates; 360mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol

Cooking for Two: Raspberry Tart in Buttery Crust

Cooking for Two: Raspberry Tarts for Valentine’s Day

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

Raspberry Tarts for Two

Raspberry Tarts for Two

But for many—including me—cooking for two is a year-round event. Awhile back, I realized that I was cooking with 4-to-6-serving recipes that yielded way too much food for just my husband and me. He hates leftovers; I hate throwing away food. This went on for years. Then I asked myself, “Why cook full-size meals for just two people?”

At the same time, I began noticing “cooking-for-two” products (e.g., frozen meals) for mainstream diets, but no cookbooks for gluten-free households. The idea for  Gluten-Free Cooking for Two was born and it publishes in April, 2017. To see what’s in it, go HERE.

 

Raspberry Tart in Buttery Crust

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

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. 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 it reaches 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)

Preparation time: 10 minutes; Baking time: 10 to 15 minutes

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.

 

Gluten-Free Super Bowl Party

Chili in white bowl provides stark contrast, making food look bigger.

Gluten-Free Southwestern Chili for a Super Bowl Party.

I always say “simple is better,” especially when entertaining. Whether you are hosting a Super Bowl party this coming weekend, or just want a super-easy menu for a cold winter night, this flavorful, naturally gluten-free menu is sure to be a hit. It has simple ingredients and is easy on the budget.

My motto, especially for beginners, is: “Stick to simple gluten-free recipes with gluten-free dishes that everyone recognizes and serve them in a simple way.” 

That way, you can be the confident host or hostess and enjoy your own party, without worry.

 

Gluten-Free Super Bowl Menu
~Southwestern Chili~
~Plate of fresh vegetables and basket of corn chips~
~Guacamole and Mexican Salsa Dips~
~Cornbread~
~Chocolate Brownies~
~Your favorite beverages~

 

Southwestern Chili
Adapted with permission from Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)

This easy chili dates back to my childhood, but I have been tweaking it for several years to reflect my family’s changing tastes.  We like it even better and, for added color and flair, have a plate of shredded cheese, sliced avocados, chopped green onions, and maybe a few halved grape tomatoes so guests can add their own garnishes. They will love it!

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 cans (15 ounces) pinto or kidney beans (or both), rinsed and drained
2 cans (15 ounces) canned tomatoes
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup water (or more)

In large Dutch oven or skillet, combine ground round and chopped onion. Cook over medium heat until meat and onion are gently browned. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add enough water to reach desired consistency. Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours. Refrigerate overnight. Or, prepare the morning of the party and cook in slow cooker for 4 to 6 hours. Serve with shakers of additional spices near the slow-cooker for those who want to spice it up. Serves 6 (can double or triple)

Carol’s Tips for Hosting a Super Bowl Party
[1] Choose a simple menu that is also dairy-free, since lactose-intolerance often occurs with gluten-intolerance. Stick with high-flavor, straightforward dishes that you know how to prepare and that your guests are familiar with. It’s better to serve a simple, flavorful dish that you know how to prepare than attempt a new, complicated dish that might not meet your expectations.

[2] Plan a menu that can be cooked-ahead―preferably the day before the party (or that morning)―and then reheated before the party. I cook this chili the day before, then refrigerate it overnight to let the flavors meld. It doesn’t need thickening, so there is no conundrum about which gluten-free thickener to use instead of wheat flour. Reheated on party day and served in a slow-cooker (or cooked in the slow-cooker all day), it stays hot throughout the party.

[3] Serve a simple gluten-free bread that appeals to everyone. One of my favorites is a moist, homey http://savorypalate.com/index.php/gluten-free-cornbread/[cornbread] which goes well with chili. Bake it on the morning of the party, cut into serving pieces earlier in the day, and pile high on a platter. Wrap in plastic wrap until party time to avoid drying out.

[4] Choose easily-served desserts. Luscious layer cakes are pretty, but require your full attention when cutting and plating―which takes you away from your guests and the TV. Instead, serve “grab and go” desserts such as gluten-free cookies (store-bought if you’re not a baker) or http://savorypalate.com/index.php/carol-fensters-chocolate-brownies/ [Brownies] served on big platters. That way, guests serve themselves whenever they please, freeing you to focus on your favorite team.

[5] Make it easy for you and your guests. Serve the Southwestern Chili in a slow-cooker which allows guests to help themselves whenever they please. Place additional spices nearby for those who want to jazz it up a bit. Instead of bowls, use tall coffee cups so guests can balance food on their laps while watching TV―the cup’s narrow tops reduce spills, handles make hot soup easier to hold, and a spoon stands upright in tall cups so no need for saucers. Arrange gluten-free cookies or pre-cut brownies on a platter so guests can help themselves―and you won’t have to do any last-minute serving of dessert and possibly miss that game-changing touchdown.

Enjoy the game and may your favorite team win!

Pumpkin-Chocolate Marbled Loaf with Orange Glaze

Years ago, I was a faithful watcher of the Lynette Jennings Design Show on the Home and Garden Network. As its title suggests, it was about home decorating. But the thing I remember most was— after Lynette made or showed us something that was wonderful in itself—then she make it even better with a decadent, over-the-top addition. She called it “gilding the lily.”

Pumpkin-Chocolate Loaf with Orange  Glaze

Pumpkin-Chocolate Marbled Loaf with Orange Glaze

Apply “Gild the Lily” to Food
I like to take that “gilding the lily” concept and apply it to food. So, I took a plain pumpkin loaf (which is lovely in itself) and jazzed it up beyond the traditional pumpkin spices. It is a prettily marbled pumpkin loaf with additional flavors of grated orange peel and chocolate, including chocolate chips…topped off with an orange glaze. Let’s be honest: all of the gilding makes this recipe more of a dessert … be forewarned and enjoy!

Pumpkin-Chocolate Marbled Loaf with Orange Glaze
By ©Carol Fenster
This loaf makes a decadent, yet delightful addition to a Sunday Brunch or a special family meal … or anytime you want to serve something memorable.

Makes 12 slices
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 50 to 60 minutes

2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup milk of choice, at room temperature
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch)
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (I use Hersheys)
2 tablespoons gluten-free chocolate chips
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (plus extra for garnish)
2 tablespoons chopped raw pumpkin seeds, for garnish

ORANGE GLAZE
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange juice, or more as needed to create a glaze

[1] Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375⁰F. Generously grease a 5×9-inch nonstick (gray, not black) loaf pan.

[2] In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla with an electric mixer on low speed until thoroughly blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda until well blended. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until blended. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the batter slightly thickens, about 30 seconds. You will have about 4 cups of batter. Transfer 2 cups of the batter to a small mixing bowl, leaving the remaining 2 cups in its original bowl. With the electric mixer, beat the cocoa powder and chocolate syrup into the other bowl on low speed until thoroughly blended to create the chocolate batter. Stir 1 tablespoon of the grated orange zest into the remaining bowl of pumpkin batter.

[3] Spread 1 cup of the chocolate batter evenly in the pan and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the chocolate chips. Spread 1 cup of the pumpkin batter on top of the chocolate batter. Repeat the layers, by spreading 1 cup of the chocolate batter, sprinkled with the remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Then, spread the final layer of pumpkin batter. Draw a knife through the batter back-and-forth, lengthwise through the pan, to create a slight marbling effect. Sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds, coat lightly with cooking spray, and sprinkle with a little sugar.

[4] Bake until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 55to 60 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the bread and cool completely on the wire rack.

[5] When ready to serve, mix the orange juice into the powdered sugar adding more juice as needed to reach a soft consistency that can be drizzled. Using a fork, drizzle the frosting back and forth across the top of the bread to create a decorative effect and sprinkle with the remaining grated orange zest. With a serrated knife or an electric knife, cut into slices and serve. Keep leftovers tightly covered.

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/starch
Whisk ingredients together thoroughly and store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.

Per slice: 290 calories; 3g protein; 12 g total fat; 2g fiber; 45g carbohydrates; 32 mg cholesterol; 316mgs sodium

 

Black-Eyed Pea Chili for New Year’s Good Luck

Black-eyed peas are eaten year-round, but it is believed that they bring prosperity when consumed on New Year’s Day. So bake up a batch of this boldly-flavored Chili, using black-eyed peas rather than kidney or pinto beans…and may good luck rain down on you!!

Black-Eyed Pea Chili for Good Luck on New Year's

Black-Eyed Pea Chili for Good Luck on New Year’s

What are Black-Eyed Peas?
Black-eyed peas (also known as cowpeas) are actually beans so you can use them anywhere you might use beans. They get their name from the characteristic “black eye” or black spot on each bean.

You can cook up a batch from scratch, starting with dry beans which will require soaking. Or, buy them canned and be sure to rinse with water in a sieve until the water runs clear to remove excess sodium. You remove nearly 40% of the sodium that way.

Where to Buy Black-Eyed Peas?
Around the holidays, I have found them in stores in pre-cooked form in plastic tubs that only require a 10 minute boil. They’re especially fresh this way, but if all you can find is canned go with that. Again, just be sure to rinse canned beans very well.

Black-eyed peas are full of good things for your body: protein, fiber, folate… and they are low in fat. So, enjoy this coming New Year’s—or anytime!

Black-Eyed Pea Chili
Adapted with permission from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008)
Whip up a batch of this flavorful chili and serve it on New Year’s Day to bring good luck throughout the coming year. Plus, you’re doing your body a healthy favor, too. If you want to be authentic, serve this chili with collard greens (whose green color represents money) and cornbread (which represents gold).

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound ground turkey
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) petite diced tomatoes with green chiles, including juice
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles, drained
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
[1/2] teaspoon table salt
[1/4] teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups gluten-free, low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
[1/2] cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese, for garnish

Per serving: 535 Calories ; 13g Fat; 5g Saturated Fat; 43g Protein; 12g Fiber; 68g Carbohydrates; 352mg Sodium ; 60mg Cholesterol

[1] In a Dutch oven or other deep, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the turkey and cook until browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, chiles, onion, oregano, cumin, salt, cayenne, broth, garlic and [1/4] cup cilantro.

[2] Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes. Ladle into the soup bowls and serve immediately, garnished with a sprinkle of cheese and the remaining [1/4] cup chopped cilantro.
Makes 8 servings.