This part of my life began when my very sick partner was diagnosed with Celiac. Even the slightest exposure to gluten can make him very ill for several days, so I have pursued gluten-free options with thorough aggression. In the U.S. a recent surge of gluten awareness means we have more choices than ever, but it still means hunting and analyzing and tracking down parent companies. After several years now of doing so, I want to share my tricks and tips with others who are still struggling.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Recipe Box: New Orleans Shrimp and Grits with Andouille

I ate this at two different places while visiting New Orleans, and vowed to make it happen at home!  The one drawback was that local grocery stores do not carry a brand of gluten-free grits.  Not even in Atlanta!  So I highly recommend scoping out the grit situation ahead of time, and ordering online if necessary.  In a pinch, cream of rice works just fine, but the flavor will be different.  You can mix cream-style corn into the cream of rice for a better flavor, and at least one place in NOLA did the same to the grits.

Also note that while I would be the first to say there's no such thing as too much shrimp, in this recipe there is such a thing as too much shrimp.  More than a pound overwhelms all the other flavors.  

1 cup uncooked grits, plus whatever you need to cook them per their directions (quick cooking is fine, stone-ground tastes better)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (not olive - it will scorch)
3/4 lb andouille sausage, sliced into thin rounds
1 lb raw shrimp, or 1/2 lb if buying it already peeled and de-veined. 
3 cloves garlic
4 green onions, white and green parts separated
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour blend (or 1 tablespoon corn starch) in a little cold water
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon creole seasoning

Cook grits according to the manufacturer's directions.
Mince the garlic and the white parts of the green onion
Chop the green parts of the green onion
Peel and de-vein the shrimp
Fry the andouille slices in the oil until browned over medium-high heat.  Set them aside.
In the same pan, sautee the garlic and white parts of the green onion until fragrant.
Add chicken broth, cream, and flour or corn starch and reduce to medium heat
Stir slowly, scraping the bottom of the pan.  If clumps form, use a whisk to smooth them out
Cook until thickened (about 3 to 5 minutes) stirring slowly
Add sausage, shrimp, and creole seasoning
Cook until shrimp is no longer translucent, another 3-5 minutes.

Serve with a 1/3-1/2 cup scoop of grits, and a generous amount of the meat and sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with chopped green onion.

Store and re-heat leftover grits and topping separately.  Pick out the shrimp before microwaving.  Once the mix is hot, add the shrimp back in and wait 1 minute for them to warm.  This prevents the shrimp from getting overcooked and tough. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Recipe Box: Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

For the biscuits, you can't do better than Simply Gluten Free's Mile High Biscuit recipe.  I don't like to buy buttermilk to use just a little, so I started with a cup of milk and a teaspoon of lemon juice (or 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar).  Let it sit and thicken while you mix the rest of the ingredients (it's okay if it gets clumpy).  I also don't have powdered milk on hand as a staple, but adding an extra 1/4 cup sweet white rice flour maintains the dry/wet balance well.

You've got 15 minutes while they're baking, which is plenty of time to make the gravy! 

This recipe makes enough for 4-5 biscuits, which means you'll have more biscuits than gravy using the recipe from Simply Gluten Free.  Double the gravy recipe as necessary, or save the extra biscuits for a scrumptious strawberry shortcake later!

For gravy:

1 tablespoon oil
1 pound plain/regular ground breakfast sausage (vegan sausage works just fine)
1/2 tsp sage (skip if using sage flavored sausage)
1 1/2 cups milk (have not tested this with dairy alternatives)
1/2 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour, sweet white rice flour, or cornstarch

Heat a large skillet with the oil.  Fry the sausage and sage together until it is all browned and developing crispy bits.  Set sausage aside in bowl.

Mix milk and chicken broth.  If using gluten-free flour, add to pan and stir for 30 seconds or until toasted.  If using corn starch, whisk it into the milk and chicken broth while cold.  

Over medium heat, pour chicken broth/milk into pan.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring slowly and scraping the bottom of the pan.  If clumps form, whisk the mixture until it is even.

When the mix is the consistency of thin gravy, add the sausage and pepper and stir well.  Remove from heat or turn to low until biscuits are done.  It will thicken after 1-2 minutes standing.

To serve, split or crumble a biscuit and spoon gravy/sausage over the top. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Gluten Free in New Orleans

With the New Orleans reputation for breaded and fried (not to mention flour roux), my partner and I headed there for three days with the definite possibility that he would be eating fruit, cheese, and GF crackers for the entire trip.  We were ecstatic to find the sheer variety available to us instead.  He is extremely gluten sensitive (below 20ppm), so we needed food that was not only gluten-free, but also handled carefully to prevent any level of cross-contamination.  Because he is so sensitive, and because he didn't get glutenend at all during the trip, I feel confident that these places are pretty safe.  As always, let the server know about your gluten sensitivity, and speak to the chef about cross-contamination whenever you can. 

We stayed at the Royal Street Courtyard Bed and Breakfast, in a quiet little local neighborhood just blocks from all-night jazz bars and the French Market. The owners, Phillip and David, are fantastic folks, and the house is absolutely everything you would want to feel part of the history there.  While they needed a quick crash course in gluten-free, they were very sympathetic and asked good questions.  They offered fresh fruit, coffee, and both dairy and almond milk for breakfast alongside the usual gluteny fare.  There was a grocery store within a very short walk with gluten-free cheese, crackers, and other options, a mini-fridge in the room, and a shared microwave upstairs. 

For dinner the first day we tried The Court of Two Sisters, a somewhat upscale French Quarter restaurant with a gorgeous shaded patio setting.  After speaking with the chefs, they were able to produce a gluten-free meal, but erring on the side of caution (which of course we appreciated greatly!) meant that the only option was a steak and asparagus, with no seasonings other than salt and pepper, and a fruit cup for dessert.  It was very tasty, if a little plain. 

On the second day we hit The Rum House on Magazine Street in the Garden District for a Caribbean-inspired lunch.  Their regular menu (available on their website) includes information about which dishes are gluten-free, and which can be modified.  It's about half the menu, so you won't lack for options!  The taco trifecta is a great way to sample several different flavors.  I recommend the Jerk Chicken, chopped shrimp, and seared scallop tacos, with the Roasted Poblano & Manchego Polenta or the Coconut Mango Rice.  None of the desserts are gluten-free. 

On the third day we found a gem of a place in the French Market amongst all the deep-fried and beery tourist foods called Meals from the Heart Cafe.  They specialize in organic, gluten-free and vegan options.  The Crab Cake Passion and the vegan smoothie made a light and delicious lunch for JD, while the gluten-eaters split a muffalata from around the corner.  The setup at the Market makes it perfect for everyone to get something a little different, but then all meet up and eat together at the same table. 

For dinner we went to the Cafe Amelie in the French Quarter, and had another lovely courtyard meal.  The metal folding chairs were pretty rickety for the heavy folks, but stayed together.  The server took a menu in to the chef, who then marked all of the dishes JD could eat safely.  It turned out to be most of the menu!  He had the Trout Amandine, and we split a lovely summer salad.  The server had no problem splitting the salad onto separate plates, as I was eating something with gluten.  According to JD, it was the best meal he'd had in New Orleans, and made a perfect finish to the trip. 

Recipe Review: A Perfect Gluten-Free Pie Crust

I have been searching endlessly for the perfect gluten-free pie crust.  I have been settling for one that is tough, but holds together enough to support the filling. 

No more!

The Land O' Lakes website was not quite the last place I would have looked for good gluten-free recipes, but it didn't exactly spring to mind (or to search engine results).  Their pie crust turned out beautifully though.  It handled well, baked up flakey and gorgeous, but had enough structural integrity to support a tall slice of chocolate cream. 

Land O' Lakes Gluten-Free Pie Crust

I used the recipe as written the first time.  I then substituted brown rice flour for half the white rice flour in their recommended flour mix, and left out the extra xanthan gum called for in the recipe.  Both of these changes worked just fine!