'Tis [Almost!] the [Gluten Free] Holiday Season
Who needs tofurky when you have Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas?
Getting through the holidays gluten-free can be tough. But then, the holidays were always a challenge for me because I was mostly vegetarian for decades (and some of those years were vegan), so, in truth, Gentle Reader, my holiday foods have forever tended to be a tad different from mainstream holiday fare. I learned early on how to tweak traditional recipes and reinvent old favorites- like using coconut milk as a delicious non-dairy sub in whipped sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin pie, and creamy butternut soups. I used broth and roasted garlic in smashed potatoes instead of cream and butter. I have always enjoyed thinking outside the box. And in my vegan years- not once- did I make a turkey out of tofu.
Other festive ideas are:
Try my favorite naturally gluten-free stuffing (baked as a casserole). It's so simple. Start with cubes of toasted cornbread and toss them with a skillet of sweet caramelized onions, crunchy celery, chopped apple and a handful of tart cranberries seasoned with a touch of curry; add a little light broth, toss and bake in a casserole dish till golden.
Instead of serving green beans swimming in canned mushroom soup (I never did quite get the appeal of that particular old school combination, actually) try this simple but elegant recipe with pomegranate glaze.
Spice things up with Mexican Pumpkin Soup, or go Italian with Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, or my Salmon Goat Cheese Strata.
How about my dairy-free Stuffed Acorn Squash? And Maple Roasted Acorn Squash with Cornbread Stuffing.
Go postmodern and serve a Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives or Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushooms with Pine Nuts.
Roasted Vegetable Kugel is always a hit, as are lacy, crispy Latkes and Homemade Applesauce. And you can always jazz up winter squash with roasted green chiles.
And don't forget those chocolaty coconut Nirvana Bars and Maple Frosted Pumpkin Cake. My Vegan Pumpkin Pie (a readers' favorite) is so creamy delicious you won't need to divulge its secret dairy-free status.
Here are some quick and easy gluten-free holiday tips:
For making gravy, use arrowroot starch; it thickens better than wheat flour, anyway. I like to add a dash of dry sherry, brandy or white wine as well.
For a non-dairy sub in pumpkin, squash and sweet potato recipes try coconut milk- it's delicious (full fat tastes best).
Cook carrots in orange juice for a non-dairy flavor boost. Drizzle with a touch of pure maple syrup.
Use agave nectar for adding just the right touch of sweetness to veggies and sauces.
For stuffing, simply follow your favorite recipe and substitute toasted cubes of gluten-free cornbread or a loaf of store-bought gluten-free white bread.
For a crunchy bread crumb topping, try my Crunchy Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs (process toasted GF waffles- they make perfect golden crumbs).
As an all-around basic flour substitute, I keep a bag of Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix in the fridge, and use it to thicken soup and chili, to coat and dredge pan fried cakes, and honestly, it works as a one to one sub in almost every baking recipe I've converted.
If you avoid dairy or nuts [Pamela's contains buttermilk and almond flour] try an all-purpose gluten free flour blend from Whole Foods, Arrowhead Mills, Bob's Red Mill or Gluten Free Pantry.
For a classic cookie crumb pie crust use Pamela's cookies [Lemon or Ginger or Chocolate, depending upon the filling] processed into crumbs; I use Joy of Cooking's classic cookie/cracker crumb recipe [simply substitute with gluten free cookies].
Add turkey leftovers to nachos, soup, chili pasta, and frittata recipes.
And one last holiday-kissed morsel- a few nut and crumb pie crust recipes from my baking file.
Almond Macaroon Crust Recipe
1 cup ground almond meal (processed almonds)
3/4 cup light brown or cane sugar
1 medium organic free-range egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
a dash of spice - cinnamon or nutmeg
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and GF-flour a 9-inch glass pie plate; or use a greased and GF-floured tart pan.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the ground almonds, sugar, egg, extract, salt & spice. Spread the almond mixture into the pie plate and press lightly (with moist fingertips) to form a crust.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, check to see the shape of it, and using a silicone or vinyl spatula, lightly press down any high puffy areas; resume baking for another 2 to 5 minutes, until the crust is firm. Place on a wire rack and again press down the shape to flatten, if needed.
Cool before filling. The crust will get crisper as it cools.
Quick 'n Easy Almond Pie Crust Recipe
For one 9-inch tart pan:
1 cup almond meal (processed almonds - pecans also work well)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons chilled butter or vegan margarine
1 1/2 tablespoons of cream or non-dairy cream
In a food processor, blend all ingredients until dough clumps together. Chill 15 minutes. Roll out the dough on wax paper dusted with either cornstarch or tapioca flour. Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan and press in lightly. Chill again till firm, and fill. Bake as directed in your pie recipe; keeping an eye on the edges of the crust. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover the edges with strips of foil. Also make sure your oven rack is in the center of the oven, and not close to the top.
* To pre-bake for a no-bake filling, I would prick the crust, then bake it at 325 or 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes until firm. Cool before filling.
Almond Pie Crust
I've used this crust for pumpkin pie and cheesecake.
2 cups (heaping) almond meal
1/2 cup butter/vegan stick margarine, melted, or 1/2 cup light olive oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
Dash of pie spice or cinnamon, if desired
Combine all of the ingredients to form a sticky dough. With moist fingertips, press the dough into a greased 9x12-inch baking pan or 2 8-inch glass pie plates. Bake the crust at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling.
I've done the same with pecans; I've processed them into meal - pecans make a wonderful nut crust. Some cooks add a little rice flour to the mix. Experiment.
If you like coconut here is a simple crust for pies and cookie bars. I haven't tried this, but it looks intriguing. I adapted it from several recipes I've come across.
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
2 tablespoons of chilled unsalted butter or stick vegan margarine, cut into pieces
Pour the coconut into a food processor and add the butter. Pulse on and off until the mixture resembles moist crumbs.
Press into a 9-inch glass pie dish [or 8x8-inch baking dish, if making bars] and bake the crust for about 15 to 20 minutes or so, at 325 degrees F. until golden. Cool before adding filling.
I think a combo of Pamela's lemon cookie crumbs and coconut would make an awesome crust. I might try combining the two and follow a classic crumb crust recipe.
For a beautiful pie crust made with gluten-free oatmeal, check out Susan's Oatmeal Cookie Crust at FatFree Vegan Kitchen.