Monday, December 28, 2009

Gluten-Free New Year’s

It’s 11:59pm, December 31st, 2004, you’re gathered around with your friends watching the ball drop in Times Square listening to Dick Clark count down — 10….9…8….7…. You reflect on the past year — in particular, the last 5 hours of your cocktail party. Did the appetizers come out right? Was there enough food for everyone? Could people tell that the food was gluten-free? Did they care? Were they just trying to be nice?

Now let’s rewind the clock to early December — plenty of time to plan your cocktail party menu, especially with a little help from the chef’s at This year we have a countdown of our own with some great tips for your New Year’s Eve party.

10…Focus on appetizers that are naturally gluten-free. Your hors d’oeuvres won’t taste funny (or gluten-free) because they are what they are supposed to be — naturally authentic. This will also help you out because you won’t have to hunt for special gluten-free items — you can actually shop at the grocery store! What a concept!!!

9…If hors d’oeuvres are the only food offered at your party there should be at least 6 different appetizers — figuring 2-3 pieces per person per appetizer.

8…To calculate for hors d’oeuvres not in pieces (like dips or pâtés) assume 1 ounce is equal to 1 piece.

7…Create a balance between hot and cold dishes.

6…If you are planning on having 20-25 guests or more for hors d’oeuvres you should include some ‘bulk’ type items in your menu. Otherwise you will find yourself making hundreds of little things.

5…For an hors d’oeuvre party where you are not planning on serving a ‘meal’, plan on serving some more substantial items with small plates and forks.

4…Be creative with your serving dishes. Plan some hors d’oeuvres to be served in fun cocktail glasses for a festive touch.

3…Plan desserts that can be served in bite-size portions and that can be prepared a day or so in advance.

2…Stock up on liquors and wine. Unless you plan on hiring a professional bartender, sometimes it is easier and more fun to serve just one type of cocktail, made up in batches. Or display just the four basic liquors — Scotch, Bourbon, Gin & Vodka along with an assortment of appropriate mixers, a bucket of ice and glasses of various sizes.

1…Once the party has started, sit back, relax and enjoy! Don’t fret about the little things. Most likely you will be the only one who will notice if forgot the garnish on the shrimp!

Here is a great New Year’s Party menu that combines both appetizers and a couple substantial soups for your guests to enjoy!

New Year's Party menu:

Happy New Year’s from Glutenfreeda!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unbelievable Cookies

The holiday season is typically filled with special cookies and treats for all to enjoy. Just because you are on a gluten-free diet does not mean you have to forgo all the delicious treats the holidays have to offer. This holiday season we’d like to share some gluten-free cookies that are very gourmet, delicate and absolutely delicious that your whole family will enjoy. In fact, I would be surprised if they even could tell if these cookies were gluten-free. Surprise your family with some delicious cookies this Christmas — even Santa will be thankful!

Great holiday cookies for kids:

Gingerbread Cookies
Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

Elegant Cookies:

Cornets with Fresh Fruit
Lace Cookies
Chocolate Cigarettes
Stained Glass Cookies
Almond Pine Nut Cookies

General Tips for Gluten-Free Cookies:
Gluten-free cookies can sometimes be a challenge. The gluten-free flours sometimes produce a very dry, crumbly cookie that is less than desirable. Here are some basic tips to consider for your next batch of gluten-free cookies:

  • Generally speaking avoid cookie recipes with more than 2 cups of flour.
  • Typically the more fat (butter, shortening or oil) in the recipe the better your chances of success.
  • Choose a good gluten-free flour mix. Our best success has been with using The Gluten Free Pantry’s Country French Bread mix flour as a direct substitution for gf flour.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Sensational Appetizers for a New Year’s Eve Party

Planning a menu for a New Year’s Eve Party can sometimes be a little overwhelming, particularly if you are planning on having your guests enter the New Year gluten-free. We’d like to take the pressure off with 10 delicious appetizers — all equally delicious and guaranteed to be a hit with all your guests at your party. Many of these appetizers can be either prepared well in advance or require very little effort and time to prepare right before serving.

Make ahead appetizers:

Smoked Salmon Cheesecake — A delicious cheesecake with smoked salmon and red peppers. Serve with toasted gluten-free crostini or gluten-free crackers.

Shrimp Remoulade — Cocktail shrimp taken to a completely different level. These delicious shrimp are boiled in a brine of lemons, chile peppers, onions, garlic and herbs. The shrimp are served with a slightly spicy, very flavorful remoulade dipping sauce.

Chicken Liver Pâté with Cranberries & Pecans — This might put a few people off but after one taste you will be hooked…even people who think they don’t like chicken liver will love it!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip — A guaranteed hit. A delicious blend of spinach, artichokes and cheese. Perfect when served with gf tortilla chips.

Baked Swiss Chard — An unusual but absolutely wonderful appetizer or first course -perfect for a special occasion. This is one of our all-time favorites!

Sun-Dried Tomato & Pesto Torta — A delicious combination of cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto. Perfect for large holiday gatherings. Serve with gf crostini.

Quick Appetizers

Lemon-Ginger Marinated Shrimp — A very quick shrimp appetizer with wonderful flavor. These will go quick so plan accordingly.

Bruschetta with Smoked Salmon & Herbs — A beautiful presentation, not to mention absolutely "yummy" combination, of smoked salmon, roasted garlic, tomatoes on herbs.

Coconut Shrimp — Battered shrimp coated with coconut and fried to perfection!

Mini Beef Fillets with Horseradish Creme Fraiche — A tender beef filet seared and thinly sliced served on top of homemade gf horseradish sauce accompanied by gf crostini. Simple but very tasty!

Hors D’oeuvre Party Planning Tips:

  • When hors d’oeuvres are the only food offered at a three-hour party there should be at least 6 different appetizers — figuring 2-3 pieces per person per appetizer.
  • To calculate for hors d’oeuvres not in pieces (like pâtés and dips) assume 1 ounce is equal to 1 piece.
  • Keep your hors d’oeuvres bit size and tidy — avoid recipes that will be awkward in size or hard to eat
  • Create a balance between hot and cold dishes
  • If you are planning on having 20-25 guests or more for hors d’oeuvres you must include some of the "bulk" type items in your menu. Otherwise you will find yourself making hundreds of little things.
  • For an hors d’oeuvre party where you are not planning on serving a "meal" plan on serving some more substantial items with small plates and forks.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Gluten-free Guide to Potlucking

The holidays are traditionally a time for friends and family to get together for gift giving and meal sharing. This can pose a fair amount of stress and concern for those of us that are gluten-intolerant. As a guest, we worry that there may be nothing that we will be able to eat. And even if something looks are we are told that is gluten-free, is it really? Could it be contaminated by other gluten food or utensils? What about cross contamination from possible double-dipping in buffet lines? These are all genuine concerns, but there are ways to get through this time of food sharing with your health in tact and even to enjoy it.

What to do as a guest:

First of all, accept an invitation graciously and avoid complaining about your intolerance and your anxiety about your perception of the food you will not be able to eat. If your host or hostess is a friend or relative, they will probably already know about your intolerance, but there is practically no chance that they will be able to accommodate your needs when they are trying to prepare a traditional meal for many guests. Instead, that a positive approach. Offer to bring a main dish and as many dishes as you can as whatever you bring will likely be all that you will be eating. I usually bring a main dish, a salad or vegetable and a dessert. This way I know that I will have a complete meal without worry and I don’t feel left out, or worse hungry.

The next most important step is to get into the buffet line first or as close to first as possible. Even though each dish is likely to have its own serving utensil, double dipping does occur and it is safer to help yourself first rather than get to the gluten-free dish you prepared only to find the macaroni spoon plopped in the middle of it.

What to do as a host:

This is much easier, as you control the meal. Select the dishes that you want to prepare and ask your guests to fill in complimentary dishes. If your kitchen is completely gluten-free, be careful not to ask anyone to bring breads or rolls, in fact, it’s a good idea to let everyone know that your home is gluten-free so that they will not bring breads or beer into your home.

Contamination should not be an issue as your guests dishes will be contained. Be sure to send any leftovers home in the same dishes they came in. Wash all serving utensils and dishes in the dishwasher, as the water in the dishwasher will be hot enough to thoroughly clean them.

Make sure that you supply all gluten-free condiments.

Following a few simple and common sense tips will help you enjoy potlucking through the holidays, safely and worry-free.

Try these great gluten-free potluck type recipes for your next get-together!

Smoked Salmon Cheesecake
Chicken and Meatball Fricassee
Chicken with Lemons & Olives
Saffron Pilaf with Almonds
Fettuccini with Mushrooms & Roasted Peppers
Chicken Lasagne
Macaroni and Meatball Soup
Sherried Meatballs
Tamale Pie