Monthly Archives: December 2008

Gluten-Free Holidays: Hogmanay

Edinburgh HogmanayHogmanay is Scotland’s version of the New Year, and if you ever wondered why we sing Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve, thank Hogmanay and Scottish poet Robert Burns. To get into the spirit of Hogmanay, toast your friends with “Lang may yer lum reek!” which is in fact not an insult but the benediction “Long may your chimneys smoke!” Other delightful traditions include First Footing (a tall black-haired man must be the first to cross your threshold in the New Year); creaming of the well (a woman who wishes to wed a particular man tries to get him to drink from her household’s well by the end of the day); watching comedy specials; and going to or watching on TV the Edinburgh street party on Princess Street.

On Hogmanay the Scots traditionally eat shortbread biscuits and black bun and drink whisky. Why should you be left out of the fun?

Schär’s Black Bun Recipe (Warning: this recipe has some unusual ingredients and also uses European measurements)

Craig McAlpine’s GF shortbread:

Ingredients:
Gluten-free Flour – 2 Cups.
Butter (softened) – 2 sticks.
Cornflour – 1 Cup.
Powdered sugar – 1 Cup
Caster sugar (fine granulated sugar) for dusting.Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 355F. Mix all the ingredients gently until the mixture comes together. Knead lightly, cover with cling film and refrigerate for an hour. Knead briefly after removing it from the fridge. Either roll into one great sausage-shaped roll, from which to cut disks about ½ inch thick, or roll flat to the same thickness and cut the biscuits out. Lay out on a non-stick baking mat or baking parchment and prick lightly with a fork. Allow some space between them for expansion. Bake until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before sprinkling with some caster sugar.

Gluten-Free Holidays: Kwanzaa

kwanzaaKwanzaa has the distinction of being the newest Winter holiday, created in California in 1966 by leading Black Nationalist and political activist, Ron “Maulana” Karenga. Kwanzaa was intended to help the African Diaspora resist complete assimilation into the dominant culture and is therefore nonreligious. To celebrate Pan-African culture, Kwanzaa celebrants devote each of the holiday’s seven nights to contemplation of a different aspect of “communitarian African philosophy:” unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Kwanzaa ceremonies can include music, drumming, recalling seminal events in African history, lighting the kinara candelabra, drinking, and feasting.

Foods that Celebrate African Diaspora Culture:

Gluten-Free Holidays: Chanukah

ChanukahAlso known as the Festival of Lights, this eight-day Jewish holiday commemorates a mythological battle that took place between the Israelites and the Greek-Syrian Seleucids in the second century B.C.E. Symbolic of the struggle between assimilation and tradition and between tyranny and religious freedom, Chanukah still tends to have a slightly military feel. Jews eat oily foods like potato pancakes (latkes) and jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot) in memory of the miracle of one day’s oil in the Temple candelabra (menorah) lasting long enough for replacement oil to be brought. Each night Jews light an increasing number of lights in their candelabras (chanukiyot) until all eight candles are lit on the last night. This year Chanukah lasts from the evening of December 21st until the evening of the 29th.

About.com has a spectacular list of gluten-free Chanukah recipes that draws from many members of the gluten-free blogging community. Personally, I have checked out the interesting latke recipes from the NYTimes Dining section and Epicurious.com for my own Chanukah party. 

Gluten-Free Holidays: Christmas

ChristmasHere at Triumph Dining we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas… and Happy Chanukah, Happy Diwali, Dong Zhi Kuai Le, Happy Hogmanay, and Happy Kwanzaa! Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own celebrations that we forget there are several other major holidays each winter. But I haven’t forgotten because I am always on the lookout for tasty gluten-free food! Most of these winter holidays have delicious gluten-free (or easily modifiable) delicacies that I wouldn’t want you to miss. Whether you incorporate these foods into your holiday celebrations or merely liven up your winter fare, I hope you enjoy this short series on GF winter holiday food around the world.

First up is Xmas, tomorrow! Wikipedia has an excellent article on Christmas. This was interesting: “Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord.”

Gluten-Free Christmas Recipes:

We would love to hear about your Christmas meals!

A Cooking Show For the Rest of Us

The Missing IngredientAs the gluten-free community grows more and more sophisticated, we develop cooking resources that the rest of the eat-anything crowd already enjoys. One example of this is “The Missing Ingredient,” a cooking show devoted to people with food allergies. The host of the show, Frank Baldassare, is a celiac himself who dedicates his life to “providing people with the tools they need to bring about positive change.” Because Mr. Baldassare is not only a licensed Massage Therapist and fitness expert but also has managed restaurants and a record label, he seems peculiarly suited to host the first ever cooking show for the GF community.

I watched his demonstration on how to make gluten-free arancini (fried risotto balls) and gnocchi, and I was impressed by how easy he made the gluten-free adaptation of gourmet Italian food seem. The same nonchalance characterized his Mexican menu as well. His breakfast video contained a few of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments, especially when he showed how to make a quick fresh jam out of raspberries and honey. Mr. Baldassare expanded his discussion of healthful ingredients beyond those of allergies—he talked about his preference for raw unfiltered honey and goat as a source of dairy and even warned against using teflon, aluminum, and other common cookware materials. I liked that he offered both fancier and quicker options for breakfast. I also enjoyed watching his handsome dogs wolf down leftovers. They clearly relish his cooking!

Faster Gluten Test Checks for Gliadin

From Web MD Health News by Mirandi Hitti and reviewed by Louise Chang, MD.

“Nov. 14, 2008 — Scientists have developed a new test that could speed up identification of gluten, a trigger for people with celiac disease.

Gluten-free foods are already on the market. But gluten can lurk in products that people might not expect. People with celiac disease have to avoid gluten completely, and gluten testing isn’t required of U.S. foods.

The new test flags a gluten protein called gliadin. It’s faster and as sensitive as a currently available test, according to the test’s developers, who are based in Spain and the U.K.

Those scientists, who included graduate student Hossam Nassef of Spain’s Universitat Rovira i Virgili, tested the gliadin test on foods that contain gluten and gluten-free foods.

The new gliadin test was “highly sensitive” and only took 90 minutes, compared to similar sensitivity from a currently available test that takes eight hours, Nassaf and colleagues report.

Nassef’s team is working to make the new gliadin test, which is designed for food manufacturers, even faster. Meanwhile, they describe the new gliadin test in the Dec. 15 print edition of Analytical Chemistry and in the Oct. 29 online edition.”

If this test makes it easier and more accurate to check for gluten in foods, we may see more GF products on the market soon!

Mary's Gone Crackers "Sticks and Twigs"

Sticks and TwigsMy gluten-free father-in-law practically survives on Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers (Original and Herb flavors), so the whole family was delighted to discover their new product, Sticks and Twigs. The “Light ‘N Crunchy Stick-Snack” comes in three flavors: Chipotle Tomato, Curry, and Sea Salt. Sea Salt is the most subtle of the trio, Curry is the most flavorful, and Chipotle Tomato delivers the biggest kick. All three are thick, crunchy, satisfying, and ridiculously nutritious. No oil, no fat, and a whopping serving of 550 mg of Omega-3s in every serving. All their ingredients are organic and are made out of brown rice, flax seeds, sesame seeds, amaranth, millet, quinoa, red quinoa, and chia seeds. So what are you waiting for? Make like a mouse and start nibbling!

New Supplement May Help Celiacs Digest Gluten

pillsRecently I read in the Herald Sun about a new supplement, ALV003, manufactured in Melbourne, Australia. The supplement “could protect coeliac disease sufferers from bowel damage and a fourfold increased risk of osteoporosis and cancer.” It would serve as an adjunct to your gluten-free diet to catch that little bit of gluten that manages to sneak in despite your best efforts.  According to the the Sun, “trials with 20 Melbourne coeliac patients have shown that those mixing the supplement with gluten-rich foods for three days suffered no ill-effects.” Pretty exciting! The supplement works by degrading gluten, making it “less toxic” for celiacs. All you need to know? ALV003 is still on trial in Australia, so it will be a while before this supplement is widely available. But it’s nice to know that scientists around the world are working to make our lives better.

Gluten-Free Cooking Classes

Cooking Class I am thrilled to tell you about several cooking class options for celiacs. These classes help people engage and solve problems with others in the gluten-free community, and they tend to be a lot of fun. If you think it would be helpful to learn to prepare delicious dishes with an experienced chef,  check out the links below:

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix by Cherrybrook Kitchen

Chocolate CakeLast night three Taste Testers made Cherrybrook Kitchen’s gluten-free Chocolate Cake Mix. We picked it up at our local supermarket. Requiring only oil, water, and vanilla, the batter was a snap to throw together. The finished cake was as dark as midnight with a cloud-soft texture. One taster remarked, “It’s just like flour,” but another thought it even airier. Two Taste Testers felt that it had stronger flavors than an average chocolate cake. The third labeled it “definitely edible” and went back for seconds, thirds, fourths, and fifths!

Wheat free, dairy free, nut free, vegan, and kosher, the cake is safe for allergy sufferers and ethically conscientious consumers. The Massachusetts-based family company reassures its customers that all its mixes are “prepared on dedicated equipment that does not produce dairy or egg products. We have strict manufacturing protocols and we batch test for the presence of peanuts, dairy, egg and gluten for consumer safety.”

Cherrybrook Kitchen also makes gluten-free mixes for chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, brownies, and pancakes. Yum. I might just have to taste-test them all!