More Culinary Mystery-Solving: Using Agar-Agar and Guar Gum

Photo courtesy of: http://blog.jagaimo.com/archive/2005/06/07/406.aspx
Photo courtesy of: http://blog.jagaimo.com

It seems that our post about xantham gum caused some minor controversy, so I would like to propose two more options for all of you gluten-free bakers and dessert-makers out there.  Agar-agar and Guar gum supply many of the inherent qualities missing from gluten-free baking: they provide a delicious, chewy texture with no added flavor.  What are these mysterious little culinary helpers, you ask?

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GF News Alert: Saliva Study Shows Promise

Back in the fall I got all excited because there was a new and improved blood test for celiac disease. Way less invasive than an endoscopy (although many of you wrote in to say endoscopies really aren’t so bad).

Of course, that was then. Ready for the next big thing? Stick out your tongue and say ahhh.

tiger

Well, something like that. Science is heading in the direction of a saliva test for celiac disease.

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A Gluten-Free Swedish Smorgasbord

StLuciaDayHappy (one-day-belated) Saint Lucy’s Day! December 13 is the feast holiday of Santa Lucia in Sweden, as well as other Scandinavian countries. The celebration is quite beautiful; traditionally a girl in a white dress wears a crown of candles to lead a procession of children carrying candles. Being of Swedish descent myself (my great-grandfather immigrated to NYC from Sweden in the early 1900s), I’ve always been interested in Swedish cuisine and traditions. The food is very hearty, heavy on the cream with a focus on potatoes, fish, and pork. There are a few Swedish foods that require an acquired palate- lutfisk (aka whitefish in lye) and pickled herring are a few Nordic favorites that I’ve never been able to manage. But the following Swedish recipes, presented gluten-free, are quite delicious!

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Gluten-Free Christmas: Bûche de Noël, fancy and fantastic

Oh, the Christmas season. Goofy sweaters, the pine-and-cinnamon scented air freshener in the grocery stores, heartwarming episodes of my favorite TV shows, blog posts about delicious gluten-free Chistmas treats…

bouche

These are a few of my favorite things. Another of my favorites is Bûche de Noël: it’s so pretty! I remember convincing my parents to buy one from the local bakery when I was still a gluten-eating child. It had tiny icing mushrooms and a dusting of powdered sugar snow on its fondant bark. Each slice was a beautiful swirl of chocolate cake and whipped cream.

It was glorious. It tasted TERRIBLE.

bouche2

In tribute to that first, flawed cake, here are some recipes for gluten-free Bûche de Noël (or Yule Log, if you prefer). Some are fancier than others — and really, the decoration is up to you. All are guaranteed to turn your table into a winter wonderland, and should taste pretty good to boot.

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Gluten-Free Beer: Trend, or Here to Stay?

As 2010 winds down, speculation season begins. What’s going to matter in 2011?

A friend of mine, one who is dedicated to all things beer, pointed out an interesting set of predictions from the National Restaurant Association. Every year they survey 1,500+ industry professionals regarding several hundred trends. For the past two years, one trend listed was gluten-free beer.

beerIt turns out that 58% of professionals surveyed thought this trend was a new one, and that 34% considered it “sooo five minutes ago”. Only 8% considered gluten-free beer a “perennial favorite.”

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