Monthly Archives: January 2009

Gluten-Free Italian Baking

cannoliHave the post-holiday blahs? Why not spice up your weekend with an Italian baking class? At the Institute for Italian Studies in Portland, Maine, Cordon Bleu-trained GF Chef Rebecca Reilly will show you how to make cannoli, tiramisu, biscotti, cream puffs, and artichoke tarts. Classes start the 10th of January at 10 a.m. and cost $75 per person. Can’t make it? Chef Reilly also has published a cookbook on baking gluten-free with 125 mouth-watering recipes.

Successes of the GF Business Community

Gluten-Free PizzaThese are troubling times for the economy. Every newspaper seems filled with stories of one good business after another going down the tubes. So I thought I’d spread a little cheer with a reminder that some businesses are doing just fine. Some are even expanding and rising—in a gluten-free way! reports that the gluten-free food and beverage market is growing 25% yearly, and with the expansion of the GF market, our options as consumers keep growing as well. Here are just a few success stories we can all cheer:

  • Europe’s largest gluten-free food maker, Dr. Schär S.r.l, opened U.S. headquarters this March. The company currently sells 18 products here and plans to expand to 35 products by the end of 2009.
  • The Village Bakery of North Wales makes a gluten-free line of baked products called “Scandinavian Toasty,” which recently was voted the best new product of 2008 by the Finnish Coeliac Association. The bakery is hiring ten to thirty more people and starting a second shift to keep up with demand and worldwide interest.
  • In the Greater Seattle Metropolitan Area, Pizza Works just sold their 2000th Wheat-and-Gluten-Free Pizza twenty months from when they began offering it. The GF pizza now makes up one-fifth of their sales! The owners purchase their gluten-free crusts from several GF pizza crust manufacturers, which means they’re spreading the wealth around.
  • Over the past five years, Oryana Natural Foods Market in Traverse City, Michigan has seen such an increase in demand for their gluten-free products that they now label all gluten-free items in the store with a red dot. Currently Oryana carries the largest selection of gluten-free foods in northwest Michigan. In addition to dried and packaged foods, Oryana sells fresh baked goods from gluten-free baker and entrepreneur Mary Prohm. Prohm started her business, Gluten Free Queenz, in 2005 in Portage, MI where it so profitable that she opened another in Traverse City when she relocated. She makes everything from scratch, even the chocolate chips in her cookies.

Gluten-Free Holidays: Diwali

candleDiwali, or Deepavali as it is known in Southern India fell on October 28th in 2008. The holiday is Hindu in origin but now Indians of all religions (and that is a lot of religions!) celebrate the Festival of Light. As the days get shorter, colder, and darker, Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. The force of good is represented by candles, fireworks, elaborate light displays, and lanterns. The holiday is a time for friends and family to gather, exchange small gifts, and eat a lot of sweets.

Diwali Recipes:

  • Besan Laddu (sweet chickpea flour balls)
  • Carrot Halwa (sweet mixture of nuts, raisins, milk, and cheese) This is a video!
  • Kalakand (sweet milky pudding)
  • Pav Bhaji (mashed, roasted, spiced vegetable patties)

Just a note of warning: you will probably need to visit an Asian or specifically Indian grocer for some of these items, or you can order them online.

Gluten-Free Holidays: Dong Zhi

tang yuanThe Chinese celebration of the Winter Solstice, Dong Zhi (Guo Dong in Cantonese), is almost as major a holiday as the Chinese New Year. Scholars believe that the Chinese have been celebrating Dong Zhi for about 2000 years. This year Dong Zhi occurred on December 21st. The holiday centers around honoring ancestors and celebrating the unity of the family. Traditionally, this was the time of year that farmers returned from the harvest after a separation from their families of many months.

For Dong Zhi celebrations, people in Northen China tend to eat wonton soup. Wontons are not a gluten-free food, so go here for a quick easy GF version of the wonton wrapper. For a great website on how to make the perfect won ton soup, go to Anatomy of a wonton soup recipe. Make sure all your meats, sauces, oils, starches, and broths are gluten-free (I used Triumph Dining’s new Grocery Guide).

Meanwhile, people in Southern China tend to make tang yuan, glutinous rice balls, which sound scary but are actually harmless and sweet. Try a basic recipe or experiment with stuffed tang yuan variations. When I lived in Japan tang yuan (called mochi in Japanese) with sweet red bean soup was a very popular winter dish, so feel free to try out recipes from Asian countries with cuisine influenced by China.