Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Question: GF in Disney World?

I do have another tasty GF recipe post coming soon, but first I need your help.

I am hoping that you all can help me with suggestions for making our upcoming trip to Disney World an easy and memorable GF experience. We visit in February and I want to begin making dining reservations soon. If you have ever been there and have helpful advise, suggestions or tips, please let me know by leaving a comment.

I have visited this website: This is pretty helpful, but there is only one entry for 2009 and a few for 2007 and 2006.

From what I have gathered, if I make reservations and indicate that I am GF, most of the sit-down dining establishments can accommodate me. Unfortunately I am going with a larger group of people that don't really want to set a schedule. As you know, spontaneous can be scary if you are GF.

But, we are talking about the Magic Kingdom here. Can I be somewhat spontaneous outside of the quick service restaurants? It would be really helpful if you have any experience with just walking into a Disney World restaurant and requesting GF. Were they able to serve you something? Was it tasty?
Thank you in advance!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gluten Free Stuffed Mushrooms

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. It was simple and somewhat traditional. Well, traditional for my family; your traditions are probably different and that is what I love about family traditions. I served a natural, free-range turkey, gravy (thanks for the help Gluten Free Girl and Chef!), mashed potatoes, and veggies (Brussels sprouts, asparagus).

And, instead of stuffing this year, I made stuffed mushrooms. Wow! They were tasty fine! I adapted the recipe from Ina Garten and they were a big hit. They would be a great appetizer to take to a party this holiday season (or anytime) .

Ina had originally marinated her mushrooms in Marsala and olive oil. She suggested that sherry would sub for the Marsala, but upon smelling my sherry, I decided that wouldn't work for my group. I used my favorite Italian vinaigrette (Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette) with fantastic results. The mushrooms were tasty just with that.

Ina also called for marscarpone cheese which may not always be easy to find. I did use marscarpone, but you could substitute 1/2 part cream cheese + 1/2 part sour cream to get the right consistency.

Gluten Free Stuffed Mushrooms

16-20 large white or brown mushrooms
1/2 C GF Italian vinaigrette (I used Garlic Lovers, but any light colored Italian would work)
12 oz Italian sausage (hot or sweet)
1/4 C minced green onions (white and green parts)
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 to 2/3 C GF plain breadcrumbs (I toasted a piece of bread and processed it into crumbs)
5 oz marscarpone cheese
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Clean the mushrooms with a dry brush or paper towel (do not wash them!). Remove the stems and finely chop. Set aside.

Place mushroom caps in a large bowl and toss with vinaigrette. Set aside to marinate.

Saute sausage over medium heat, breaking up and crumbling until browned, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in chopped mushroom stems and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in the garlic and green onions and continue to saute for 2-3 more minutes. Add the GF breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Add the marscarpone and continue cooking until it melts into the mixture, making it creamy. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly. At this point add in the Parmesan cheese. You do this off heat so the stuffing mixture doesn't stick to the pan too much. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Allow to cool until you are comfortable handling it for stuffing into the mushroom caps. Fill each one with as much stuffing as possible. Arrange the stuffed caps in a baking dish (I used my large lasagna pan). These should be a tight, single layer. Bake until the stuffing is browned, 35-40 minutes.

Yummy! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cake Trifle

I still haven't found a GF pie crust that I really like. Most of them have been closer to a shortbread texture than the light and flaky crust that my mom's gluten recipe makes. So, instead of trying to make a gluten-free pie this year, I decided that our Thanksgiving dinner would be capped off with a trifle.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE trifles.

What is a trifle? Think giant parfait. It is a beautiful layered dessert usually made with custard, fruit and cake. The cake is usually soaked or coated with alcohol or juice. I have skipped this step without consequence if my cake-y layer is moist enough. I love the different layers of goodness that provide the mouth with a variety of flavors and textures. Trifles are incredibly flexible and can be adapted to suit just about any occasion. And they aren't particularly fussy about proportions either. Just use some of all the ingredients and make layers. You can use pre-made puddings, pre-made cakes or cookies, boxed mixes, or make everything from scratch. It doesn't matter, the blend of the ingredients is simply heaven in a dish.

I have never made a Thanksgiving or fall themed trifle. I immediately decided to use spice cake (I used The Gluten-Free Pantry Spice Cake & Gingerbread Mix). I also contemplated making Jill's Molasses Softies because they were so good when I reviewed them. For the custard layer I waffled between a cream cheese vanilla pudding or some sort of pumpkin pie inspired layer. I ended up making a vanilla pudding recipe from scratch and adding pumpkin pie filling. It needed a but more ummph so I added a little spice and brown sugar. Now, you don't have to stand over the stove, a slave to your slow-cooking pudding. My mother always told me to stir the milk and sugar constantly while heating, but I think that was just so that I was occupied for a precious few minutes. I find that I can be a bit neglectful and just stir frequently. I have time to tend to the upcoming ingredients. But, be careful, once milk is scalded, it is done.

The resulting trifle was simply divine. All of my guests loved it and ate it for remainder of their visit.

Pumpkin Spice Cake Trifle
Cake layer:
1 box Gluten-Free Pantry Spice Cake & Gingerbread Mix prepared according to package directions, or you can use soft ginger molasses cookies or your own spice cake recipe.

Prep this cake ahead of time so that it has enough time to cool to room temperature or colder. I like to make mine well in advance and freeze it.

Custard layer:
- Fussy vanilla pudding/custard base from scratch:
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tbsp Cornstarch
1/4 tsp Salt
2 cups Milk
2 Slightly beaten egg yolks or 1 well-beaten egg
2 tbsp Butter or margarine
1 tsp Vanilla
1 large (5oz?) package Jello cook and eat Vanilla pudding (I suppose you can used instant, but I don't like the texture as well)

1 30 oz can pumpkin pie filling (not plain pumpkin)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

To prepare fussy custard from scratch: In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt; add milk. Cook and stir constantly/frequently (see above) until it is thick and bubbly. At this point you want to cook and stir constantly (this time I mean it) for a couple more minutes to ensure that your cornstarch is cooked. Otherwise your pudding can taste pasty. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes.
Add the warm mixture into the eggs by tempering; add a small amount of hot mixture into eggs stirring constantly then add this mixture to the remaining hot milk and sugar. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla.

-or-make the Jello pudding and follow the directions

To your pudding add the pumpkin, spices and brown sugar. Mix well. Set aside.

Additional layers:
1 pint whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs powdered sugar
Pamela's gingersnap cookies, crumbled.

In a chilled bowl mix the whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar. Whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. It is important that the cream is fairly stiff (but not made into butter) so that it will not separate or collapse when layered in the trifle.

Put it all together:
I have a beautiful glass trifle bowl that has deep, upright sides and a pedestal, but you can make this in any larger bowl.

Cut the cake or break the cookies into 1-2 inch pieces. Put half of the pieces into the bottom of your bowl. If you wanted to add alcohol, I would suggest sprinkling the spice cake with 2-3 Tbs dark rum at this point. Next, add half of the custard mixture right on top of the cake, then cover that layer with half of the whipped cream. Repeat the layers: cake, custard, whipped cream. Cover and allow to rest/marry/soak, whatever as long as you can, even overnight is fine.

Just before serving, sprinkle with crumbled gingersnap cookies. Serve with a very large spoon and try to dig all the way down to the bottom layer.

Sooo divine!

In saucepan, blend sugar, cornstarch, and salt; add milk. Cook and stir over medium heat til thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

Stir small amount of hot mixture into yolks (or beaten egg); return to hot mixture; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla.

Adopt A Blogger-November

This month's edition of Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger, hosted by Sea at Book of Yum was supposed to be suitable for a Thanksgiving menu. I struggled with this one and ended up deciding to make the Potato Chowder recipe from Linda at The Gluten Free Homemaker.

What? You don't serve Potato Chowder as a side dish to your traditional turkey? Neither do I, but I usually have plenty of unused potatoes left over. You know I can't resist buying that 5lb bag; it is more cost effective. Problem is, the rest of my family members are not potato lovers. What is a cook to do? Easy, make Potato Chowder.

Linda's recipe was simple and straightforward. One needs simple after the frenzied cooking that comes with hosting Thanksgiving dinner. I followed her recipe exactly, but some things were open to interpretation. She lists bulk sausage; I used bulk sweet Italian sausage. Her potatoes were listed simply as potatoes, so I chose to use my extra Yukon Golds.

The chowder was simple to make and I did it while multi-tasking. I was making several other dishes for dinners and lunches at the same time. Perhaps that is why I over smashed my potatoes. I just kept breaking them up and before I knew it, I had almost pureed them by hand. It would be great therapy if you have some aggression to work out.

The end result was fairly tasty. I think next time I was break up my potatoes a bit less. A few chunks of potatoes would have been nice. I think the Yukon Gold's were a touch too sweet. Perhaps those starchy, high-glycemic index Russets would be better. Or, if I had used hot Italian sausage. I ended up adding a touch of cayenne pepper to counter the sweet from the potatoes and the result was great.

But, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I cooked, tasted, photographed and reviewed by following the recipe as published by Linda. Then I added Italian Kale. I love finding ways to get extra veggies "for free." I didn't mind the addition, it gave it more texture and was vaguely reminiscent of the Zuppa Toscana I miss so much from Olive Garden. Not quite the same, but similar. Maybe, someday, I will try to adapt a copy cat recipe for that.

PS I know my pics are a bit off in color. My soup is quite yellow, partly due to the Yukon Golds, but also because I couldn't remember how to change the white balance on the camera I used. I found instructions and hope to have better pics next time!