Monthly Archives: April 2012

May is Celiac Awareness Month
I am celebrating with cupcakes and I hope you’ll join me.  I’ll tell you how in a moment, but first, here’s a little background on why this event has far-reaching implications for all of us.

The World’s Tallest Gluten-Free Cake
Last year I was part of  the world’s largest gluten-free cake event along with the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) and the 1in133.org awareness project.  Hundreds of us met in Washington, DC to build the world’s tallest gluten-free cake,  bring attention to the number of people with celiac disease and convince the FDA to reopen the process for creating gluten-free regulations.

While Jules Shepard and John Forberger headed the confectionery team,  Andrea Levario and I headed to Capitol Hill to manage the legislative front.  With our sons, media folks and gluten-free manufacturers in tow, we spoke to Congressional leaders about the importance of gluten-free regulations.  We asked them to  keep the pressure on the FDA to push the regulations forward.

They Heard Us And We Ate Cake
In the early evening, we gathered at a reception for supporters and Congressional folks.  To our delight,  the Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, Mike Taylor, attended.  In front of hundreds of us, Deputy Commissioner Taylor told the group we would have gluten-free regulations.  On August 4,  the FDA reopened the comment period for the regulations.  The comment period closed on October 3 and the FDA promised to issue these regulations by the end of the third quarter of 2012.  The countdown is on.

Calling All Cupcake Builders
This May, as we await the forthcoming regulations, I invite everyone to make cupcakes – – one for every year you have been gluten-free. Take a picture and share it with the community by posting to the ACDA’s Facebook page. Then post to your Facebook page, blog and link back to the ACDA’s page. Vote for your favorite cupcake by “liking” the photos on the Alliance Facebook page. Prizes will be awarded in categories like best presentation; most unique decorations; most years being gluten-free; and  kids categories.  The winners will receive products and coupons from several gluten-free companies.  Get out those whisks and mixing bowls.  The more likes we receive the more voices will be heard from our virtual community.  Go to 1in133 for guidelines.

Let’s Eat Cupcakes Chocolate Peanut Butter Blossom Cupcakes
This weekend, I made 56 chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting; 36 for me and 19 for my son, Jeremy.  That’s a lot of cupcakes.  Let me tell you.  But, I’ve seen, firsthand, the power of community.  When a standard for gluten-free on food packaging comes out,  I can say I had a hand in making it happen.  I hope you’ll join me in that effort.  It feels good.  And, besides, you get to eat cupcakes!

Here’s the recipe I used.  You are welcome to “borrow” it.  The  chocolate cupcakes are a variation on those in my book, Gluten-Free Makeovers.  The frosting is pure decadence – – a blend of  peanut butter and cream cheese.  I love peanut butter and chocolate and the slightly tangy cream cheese flavor cuts the sweetness in a lovely, subtle way.  To bring it all together, I top these cupcakes with crushed Reese Peanut Butter Cups.  If you are allergic to peanut butter, you could use sunflower butter or simply frost these with plain cream cheese frosting.
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOM CUPCAKES
Makes 24 to 28 cupcakes

2 ¼ cups Cake and Pastry Flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter or non-dairy buttery spread, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk, soy milk, or rice milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease or oil two 12-cup muffin tins or line with paper liners.  Combine the cake flour, cocoa, baking powder; and baking soda.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate. Blend in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups, filling a little more than half full. Smooth the tops and bake on the center rack for 16 to 18 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely before frosting.

PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOM FROSTING
1 cup smooth peanut butter (any gluten-free brand)
½ cup milk
4 ounces low-fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup (about 6) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, crumbled (optional)

Beat the peanut butter, milk, cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar together until smooth and fluffy.  Frost cupcakes.  Sprinkle with crumbled peanut butter cups.  Refrigerate until time to serve.

Cake and Pastry Flour
1 cup sweet white sorghum flour (4 ounces)
1 cup white rice flour (5.4 ounces)
¾ cup cornstarch (3.4 ounces)
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum (or guar gum)
½ teaspoon salt

SHORTCUT:  This blend makes very light pastries and cookies with a fine crumb but, if you are pressed for time, you may use 2 ½ cups of any all purpose flour blend.  Add the xanthan gum and salt if they are not already in the blend.

Quick, Delicious Chicken and Rice

I went to culinary school in the seventies when classic techniques were still in vogue.  We whisked egg whites in copper bowls,  boned whole fish, and removed chicken from its skeleton leaving meat and skin intact.  But, Auguste Escoffier  forgive me.  There is more than one way to skin a chicken.   As a modern chef and cook, I take shortcuts.  Besides, being  gluten-free, I cook to eat.  I can’t wait all day to enjoy a meal.

In that same era,  I took a cooking class in Indian Cuisine.  We toasted and ground aromatic spices and made our own customized  garam masala, a  blend that’s used to flavor every dish.  We peeled and grated ginger, poached tomatoes to remove the skin, and fried onions until they were a perfect golden hue.  The end results were amazing; but, come on,  who has the time to cook this way?

I did meet my future husband in this class and we fell in love over Biryani and Vindaloo.  But, I confess we rarely made Indian food together.  (It’s still one of my favorites to eat in restaurants and is a decidedly gluten-free-friendly cuisine.)  Then I fell in love again – – with Passage Foods Simmer Sauces, aromatic blends of exotic spices, ginger, onion, and garlic, that simmer for hours before they are packaged.  These sauces brought Indian food back into my kitchen.  All I do is add a protein (chicken or lamb) and some veggies like eggplant, okra. tomato or potato.  (Veggies aren’t even necessary if I’m in a rush.)  In the time it takes to cook basmati rice in my rice steamer, I have a full meal.

Today, I added a few extra steps so I could justify calling this a recipe instead of a tip.  With these additions, I turned Passage Foods Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce into Chicken Biryani and it tastes just like the meal we made in my Indian cooking class years ago.

In case you don’t know about Biryani, it’s a flavorful rice dish filled with aromatic Indian flavors, pieces of chicken or lamb and chunks of potato.   There are four hallmarks of a good Biryani.  (1) The grains of rice should not clump but be separate and easy to spread apart. (2) The aroma should fill the room with a sweetish fragrance that is not overpowering or reminiscent of any one specific spice.  (3) The taste should be flavorful and roll off the tongue and the flavor should fill the meat.  (4) There must be nicely browned potatoes and they should  be as flavorful as the meat .   Without potatoes, it is not Biryani.

So there you have it – – a perfect Biryani.  And here’s the recipe.  I think you’ll agree it’s easy and delicious.  And thanks to simmer sauces, I’ve found a better way to skin a chicken.

Easy and Delicious Chicken Biryani
1 pouch Passage Foods Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, divided (or other Indian simmer sauce)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in 1 inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 ½ cups raw Basmati rice
3 cups gluten-free chicken broth
¾ cup dark raisins
1 ¼ cups shredded carrots (commercial product like Dole brand)

Reserve 1/2 cup of simmer sauce.  Marinate chicken in the remaining simmer sauce for 30 to 90 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and sauté the potatoes and onion until brown and potatoes are fork tender.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

In a medium pot, combine the rice, reserved simmer sauce and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add raisins and carrots.  Simmer until liquid is absorbed (about 18 to 20 minutes).  The rice should be slightly chewy, not too soft.  (Remember – it should not clump.)

While the rice is cooking, heat remaining oil in skillet.   Sauté the chicken until browned and cooked through.

When rice is done, fold in the potato and onion mixture.   Reheat briefly (about 1 minute).  Spread mixture over a serving platter and top with chicken.

Serves 4.

Now For Some Deals!

Want a sample of Passage Foods Tikka Masala?  Sign up for our newsletter in the upper right hand corner of this site.  We’ll send five lucky people sample packs of Indian, Thai, and Moroccan Simmer Sauces.  Or go to Passage Foods for information on where you can find their sauces.

Blender Girl Giveaway

I love this community of bloggers.  So much energy!  Look at this.  My new best blogging friend Tess Masters aka Blender Girl is making April gluten-free month with great recipes from all your gluten free blogger friends and a KitchenAid Giveaway.   Check it out.