Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fresh Cranberry and Apple Cake

I use dried cranberries in a lot of different recipes: chicken salad, spinach salad, scones, trail mix, wild rice stuffing... they're easy to find and add a sweet and slightly tart flavor to a lot of dishes.

But for a few months a year I'm able to find cranberries in their original form - the fresh variety.

I had my first up-close experience (though I'm pretty sure I've gone as a kid at some point) with a cranberry bog this fall in Nantucket. We went there for our babymoon, and although I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to do this, I went ahead, reached down and popped a few fresh cranberries in my mouth. They were tart and bitter with tiny seeds, but they had great potential, and since I was craving the tart stuff I knew what I wanted to cook when I got home: anything fresh cranberry.

This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's and has been a nice way to start the day, end the day, or enjoy with a cup of tea for a few months now:

Gluten-free Fresh Cranberry and Apple Cake

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used King Arthur - my new favorite)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add the 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely.

Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pregnant & Gluten Free

Whoa. Blog - it's been awhile. Too long in fact, but I have exciting news! News that'll likely change the scope and content of this blog immensely: I'm pregnant!

9 months pregnant actually, and I have to admit that while I didn't have morning sickness, my zest for cooking and creating in the kitchen kind of went away for awhile (I sure have been eating though). But during these last few weeks it's back in the form of food-based nesting.

I've been cooking and freezing and cleaning and shopping all in the hopes that when the little guy (yes guy! we're having a boy!) arrives the house will be in good shape and meals will be quick and simple re-heats from the freezer.

Here are a few of the things I've learned about being gluten free and pregnant during the last nine months:

More no-no's

It's bad enough that we already have a long, long list of foods we cannot eat as gluten free-ers, but when you're pregnant, it's advised you avoid a whole other list of food (sadly, food that is naturally gluten free), like sushi, deli meat and (unpasteurized) soft cheeses. They're all on the "do not eat" list for preggers.

Why do you ask? Well, the claim is that raw fish can carry parasites and deli meat and unpasteurized cheeses can carry listeria. A bacteria that can be very bad for mom and baby. However, if you've heard, cantaloupe was the culprit in the latest outbreak of listeria which can make a pregnant woman nuts. What can we eat?

Well, it's like anything in life: take into account the risks and live your life with that in mind.

That can be difficult to remember when you're craving something though...


I definitely understand the pickles and ice cream pregnant-woman stereotype; never before have I enjoyed the sweet and sour flavors more than I do while pregnant. What has been most surprising though is my desire for all things naturally tart, specifically cranberries. I've had cranberry juice almost daily since I found out I was pregnant and once fresh cranberries hit the market I was in heaven.

It could have been my subconscious knowing that cranberries help combat UTI's (which are more common in pregnant women) but after a little research it's great to see that my main craving helps combat a lot of other bad stuff.

But, then there's the not-so-healthy stuff I crave: carbs (no worries here because there are now many gluten-free options) and dairy. Lots of dairy, in fact, and mostly in the form of ice cream and cheese.

But, as my yoga instructor once said, "if you're craving something it likely means your body needs a nutrient from that food." I keep that in mind when I can't stop thinking about ice cream - perhaps I need a calcium fix?

High Protein

The Bradley Method is a form of husband-coached labor; it's really interesting in theory (I haven't taken the class) and includes great information about diet and pregnancy. Namely, that a high protein diet is key to a healthy birth and baby - a good thing if you already eat pretty high protein because you're gluten free.

The idea is that you want your baby to grow in utero, but not from empty carbs and fat - you want him to grow with ample amounts of healthy protein. There are many ways to get your protein fix and eggs are a common suggestion, but sometimes it's just something I have no desire to go near...

Taste Buds Change

Food aversions were pretty strong in the first trimester of my pregnancy. Just thinking about pulled pork made me want to curl up in a ball and find my happy place.

Fortunately I never had to encounter it because I was very vocal about it to family (which is strange because I normally love pulled pork) and now that I'm three weeks away from my due date I'm able to tolerate it again.

That's the weird thing that I never really thought would happen, my taste buds have changed - unless food is fatty, or salty, or sweet or tart - I'm not interested.

I'll let you know if it stays that way during breastfeeding. I hear you can get pretty ravenous...

On my next post I'll share one of the cakes that I've been making that really helps keep my cranberry craving at bay:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gluten Free Gnocchi with Salmon Cream Sauce

My friend Lauren just got back from spending a year and a half in Italy and recently came to New York for a visit. Along with having an amazingly fun time with a friend I've had since I was five, I had a meal that was beyond amazing too.

Lauren shared with me some of the tips she picked up while living in the land of delicious food. Here's her recipe for Gnocci with Salmon Cream Sauce.

(we used packaged gluten-free gnocchi so this recipe is for the salmon cream sauce)

Salmon Cream Sauce (serves 4)

1/2 onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
One package of smoked salmon (you can use fresh, but we had smoked) loosely diced
1 1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper
fresh parsley
fresh oregano for garnish

The sauce doesn't take long to make, so go ahead and follow the directions for cooking the gnocchi on the package and cook those up while you're making the sauce.

In a pan over medium heat add oil and then the onion. Saute until translucent.

Add the salmon and parsley and cook just a few minutes.

Next, add the cream, stirring while you add. Cook that at medium until the sauce comes together - about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add to the cooked gnocchi.

We served it with a salad of arugula, spinach, goat cheese, cranberries and pecans (with a balsamic vinaigrette).

Monday, January 31, 2011

Gluten-Free! Local!


I was at my local Hannaford's recently and stumbled upon this in the meat section:

Bellinski's Chicken Meatloaf AND Chicken Chili - both just happen to be gluten free and both are from a local (Upstate NY) company. (If you're confused and thought I lived in Mass, or Virginia or Illinois, well, I did but now I'm all settled in New York.)

I say "just happen to be" gluten-free because it seems like most "gluten free" foods are banished to the natural foods or special diets sections. These guys - these meals that take four minutes to cook - were not. They were hanging out with the ham and chicken breast, like they should be. Only these had the fine print that I like to see:

On to the review: both were really flavorful and so simple to make, er, heat up.

Both come in a nifty plastic container that is meant for the microwave (leave the plastic-wrap-like cover on when you cook it). And they only take minutes.

The chili was great: it had a lot of flavor and was no frills: ground chicken, black beans, tomato, onion and lots of spices. I added some salsa on top of mine to up the veggie factor. Though, there was enough chili in the container for probably two dinner portions.

The meatloaf had good flavor as well. It had a tomato sauce on the top that was tasty. My only complaint was that the height of the meatloaf was, well, really short. Probably only 1/2 an inch. It's not that big of a deal, but the size of it made it seem less meatloaf-like.

Bottom-line: they're quite good and super convenient.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I'm not sure how the tradition began, but growing up my family would always eat trifle for dessert on New Year's Eve. This year - the first year in our own very house - my husband and I were celebrating with a few new friends and I wanted to keep the tradition going.

I called up my Mom, tweaked a few things from her recipe and here is mine: a dense, decadent New Year's treat. It's a layer of chocolate cake, infused with espresso, topped with butterscotch pudding, topped with chocolate ganache and finished with a whipped topping with a hefty sprinkle of Toblerone.

It may have a lot of components to it, but it sure is simple to put together.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Butterscotch Trifle

For the cake: 1 package gluten free chocolate cake mix (I used King Arthur's) and 1/3 cup strong coffee or espresso

Follow the directions on the package of the cake mix. Let cool and cut cake into squares so that it will fit in a round, clear bowl (you will have some leftover cake). Poke the cake with holes and pour the coffee over the cake (Kahlua can be used here too).

For the pudding: 1 package instant butterscotch pudding (I used Jello)

Follow the directions for the pudding and pour evenly over the cake/coffee mixture.

For the ganache: 1 1/2 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips & 1 cup light cream

Place the cream in a saucepan and warm until the milk is steaming. Pour the chocolate chips into a glass dish and pour the very warm cream over the chocolate. Mix until ganache-like (it should look like hot fudge). Pour that mixture over the pudding.

For the whipped topping: cool whip or freshly whipped cream

Spoon the whipped topping evenly over the ganache, making sure not to mix the topping into the ganache.

Finished with: chopped up Toblerone or toffee: sprinkle over the top - it's ready to serve.