Holiday Cooking for GF Friends and Family

Holidays are a joyous time but they are also a stressful one for those of us with celiac or gluten allergies. We have a difficult road dealing with holiday work parties, festive outings, dinners with family and or friends. Some people make it easy for us to participate and some try but make errors that cause upset digestive systems. I myself am rather leery of all those situations except my family gatherings. My sisters and brothers understand my dietary restrictions really well and never cook stuff on the table that I cannot eat.  They try had to find safe places to eat out, which isn’t easy in my geographic area. They don’t want to go far and close by my home there are extremely limited choices. All that said, if you need to cook for someone who is gluten free there are a number of great choices of what to serve and there are some simple protocols to follow. cherry sunrise pie

Cherry Sunrise Pie; can  use a premade gf crust. No baking then!

apple pie done

Gluten is in all wheat-based ingredients; from all purpose flour, to rye flour, whole wheat, spelt, farro and barley grains/flours. So, I have to avoid them completely. Even a quarter teaspoon in your dessert or sauce is enough to cause major digestive pain.

One easy way to go is to make a meal that is all naturally gluten free; baked potatoes, steak, roasted or grilled chicken, fish without breading, pork chops, fried or mashed potatoes, rice: all safe. Beware of breading on proteins unless you are creating it with gf flour or gf breadcrumbs.  Veggies are safe unless they come with a crumb topping or other fancy stuff; read the label! Be careful with spice mixes; sometimes they have flour in to facilitate flow; stick to McCormick; their single spice containers are generally very safe.

You might want to focus on a gluten free dessert like a cake,pie or cookies for your company. I have some advice below for you for each of these categories and there are many options for gf desserts on my blog; just type in what you want like cake or pie or cookies and see what comes up!

chicken with broc

Stir fry; I used cornstarch in a slurry to thicken the sauce.

First some entree and sauce advice: no regular flour can be in that gravy or sauce. No way! An easy substitution is either white or brown rice flour in the same proportions as regular flour stirred into the gravy or sauce. I have gone with each of them several times. I slightly prefer the brown rice in gravy. Other gravy thickener choices are cornstarch, sweet rice flour, potato flour or arrowroot. It should function pretty much identically to the all purpose flour in your recipe for these items of gravy or sauce.

Most proteins are naturally gluten free but be careful of injected broth or marinades; often have some small amounts of flour which renders them uneatable for folks with celiac or a wheat allergy. This happens in turkeys and often hams. Read the labels! I look for a GF stamp/sign.  FYI: Fake crab is the one seafood I cannot eat; it is wheat based. Eat the real deal!

Be careful making soups or stews; many canned broths have a small amount of gluten/wheat in them. Read that label. Aldi’s has some great gf broths at excellent prices.

choco tart in pan

Chocolate silk tart ready for embellishment and devouring!

Now desserts: If you are making a dessert it is a different ball game going gf. A mix that you add eggs, butter and milk to is a great starting place. If you buy a gf mix for a cake I suggest you also buy some throw away aluminum pans to use; your pans may have tiny amounts of food particles from past baking. Better safe than sorry as even that tiny amount would be problematic. If the dessert requires a graham cracker crust just buy a readymade one in the gf section; the ones I make with gf crackers cost just about as much as a readymade one and it is a real time and labor saver.

choc pavlova minus choco

Chocolate pavlova: if you can make meringue in your mixer you can make this awesome company dessert.

If you want to make cookies; there are gf mixes out there. You might even find readymade gf dough. Just be sure to lay down some aluminum foil on the baking sheet to keep any stray tiny crumbs of old cookies at bay. May I recommend Russian teacakes; easy to make the dough; then form balls and bake; lots of powdered sugar on top after they are cooling. Delicate and delicious; my family says they are even better gf than when they were wheat based. The recipe is on my blog. I have a gf holiday baking cookbook as well as a Christmas gf cookie cookbook and some in my favorite Annalise Roberts cookbook.

My stollen recipe is off the King Arthur website; they have a great selection of gf baked goods including cookies and pastries. And there is always pinterest; I have found great things there.

stollen baked

Christmas stolen breads; super yummy; look on King Arthur’s website. Pretty easy too!

In summary; read labels, try to cook naturally gf and don’t try to make too many gf items your first time or two; think one new recipe at a time!  You will be rewarded with gratitude from the person who has to be gluten free and you will feel great for your efforts. I will be posting and reposting holiday baking recipes in the next 2-3 weeks so you may find some awesome gf holiday treats. There are even more in my large catalog of blog posts so use the search feature to see what I have available to shine for your holiday gathering.  Best of luck to you in your holiday gluten free adventure!

Christmas Stollen – Even Better

I am very traditional about certain things and stollen for Christmas is one of them. I made it a couple of years ago but wasn’t that impressed with the gf version I chose. This December I made it from a recipe on King Arthur’s website and it was so easy and so very delish I just had to share it right away with you. My mom and I had some together this afternoon and I marveled at how perfect it was, you would never guess it is gluten free. It is made without a mixer, just a whisk, a pastry cutter, a big spoon and a bread board to knead it briefly. The recipe is found at: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-holiday-stollen-recipe. It uses their basic all purpose blend, does have eggs and butter and some ricotta cheese. No fancy techniques. Sort of almost a quick bread that looks like you were baking all day. Tastes like Christmas should taste!

I made a few changes; I didn’t have the butter flavor additive. I added 1/4 tsp lemon extract to up the lemon flavor that came from the zest of an entire good sized Meyer lemon.  I added 2 more Tbsp. of ricotta cheese. I used full fat and maybe that altered things but it was a bit dry so I added as I mixed it up and kneaded it. I shaped each half into an oval about the size the recipe says and I folded it the short way so it was chubby and appealing; I used to do it the long way; like it much better like this.  Makes  nicer slices and fits on my big sheet pan much easier.

stollen fruit

 

My dried fruit inside was tuned up by 1 Tbsp. of brandy that soaked right in.  I only did the butter brushing after baking once. Did sift powdered sugar then and after it was mostly cooled.  My dried fruit mix was 1/2 cup golden raisins, and 1/2 cup of currants, chopped dried apricots and a cherry and berry dried blend. I started the oven heating and toasted my almonds as it got hot; put them outside in the cold for 2-3 minutes to cool before adding to the mix.  stollen wet ingreds

I baked this about 8 extra minutes as it just wasn’t brown; don’t be afraid to do that if something looks too pale or underdone; far better to be a tad crunchy than saggy underbaked dough insides. stollen ready to bake

This was easy; no yeast to deal with. The only special tool I recommend is a pastry cutter; it has several blades and cuts the butter into smaller and smaller bits which is what gives this bread pastry its flaky tenderness. You could use a butter knife instead; will just take longer. stollen baked

This is the Christmas bread of my dreams. Don’t be afraid; you can make this my friends! Enjoy the holidays and Merry Christmas! stollen sliced