December 28, 2008

Sausage Lentil Soup

My mom would be so proud of me....I made something with lentils in it! For my whole entire childhood and even up into my late teens, I absolutely detested anything with lentils in it. I thought that lentils tasted like cardboard, and as a child, I frequently told anyone who would listen that I was highly allergic to them. However, with the passing years I have grown to really enjoy a good lentil soup or better yet, a lentil burger toped with ripe avocado slices. This following soup was inspired after the reindeer stew that is always available back home in Alaska.

Now I have to tell you the process that I went through to create this soup, which is quite funny. Sometimes I buy my meats already packaged up at the store, but most of the time I walk down the street, literally about a block, and find myself at the local butcher. She is great and always seems to decipher out what I want from my horrible Italian and wild hand gestures. I had seen some good looking fresh sausage being offered from my butcher, so I didn't pick up any at the store when I was out getting all my other supplies. So on morning before I created this delicious soup, I headed down to Francesca's butcher shop and patiently waited my turn. There were a couple of mama mia's in front of me stocking up on meats, which I can only dream about what mouthwatering dishes they will be used for. Meanwhile, the old Italian women that is in line ahead of me decides that she wants all of the sausages left in the window for who knows what. I stare with utter disbelief, quickly wondering how I am going to ask if there are anymore in the back!!!! Francesca then finishes packaging up the 5 pounds of sausage for the hungry mama mia and looks to me for my order. I panic!! I just start pointing at the empty tray and foolishly saying questo(this) questo!! She looks at me with a look of pure confusion and points to something else. All I can do is reply no no, I want the sausages!! Well thankfully there was a HUGE tube of sausage behind some of the meats, although it wasn't the sausage that I wanted. So finally I agreed that that was what I wanted. I then inform her I would just like one, thinking she will give me one extra long piece of sausage. But no, she looks at me and asks where she should tie the sausage off. Well now I am just really panicking! I have no idea how much this piece of sausage weighs, nor am I the guy at the fair that guesses weights for a living. I tell her more and then decide I think that piece will merely have to do! I get home and unfortunately my soup could have definitely used some more sausage! But at least next time I make this soup, I will clearly know just how much sausage I need! So enjoy this hearty soup and don't panic if you don't have enough sausage to satisfy this recipe, because it still tastes just as me!

Sausage Lentil Soup

~1 can crushed tomatoes
~2 stalks celery, finely chopped
~1 carrot, shredded
~1/2 lb sausage
~fresh thyme leaves, about 1-2 tsp.
~1/2 tsp dried oregano
~1/2 tsp dried basil
~salt and pepper to taste
~4 cups broth
~4 cups water
~330 grams yellow lentils, uncooked

This soup is a little time consuming, so make sure you have a couple hours. Rinse lentils thoroughly. Brown sausage in soup pot, after 5 minutes add celery and shredded carrot. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Then add broth and water to pot. Add in lentils and spices. Cook for 2-3 hours covered or until lentils are completely cooked. Then serve with grated parm cheese. However, the longer you have to cook the lentils, the better the soup tastes. So be patient with this soup and cook it on a day when you have some time on your hands. Or better yet throw it all together in a crock pot for a couple hours and you have an easy soup on the table.

December 23, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls to die for

I had the most delicious treat of my life the other day, a treat that I never in my life thought I would eat again. I had simply just written this item off and erased it from my mind. I am referring to cinnamon rolls. Warm, sweet, gooey, freshly baked cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon rolls and I have a long history. I used to eat a pack of cinnastix from Cinnabon's every single time that I was in the airport during college. On many of these occasions I was going home for the holidays, or the summer, or headed back to school. I remember eating cinnastix in many different airports at many different hours of the day, but they always held some comfort for me. As a result, cinnamon rolls remind me of my college years. The years that I really grew up and became the independent, self assured person I am today. So you see, cinnamon rolls relate to a big part of my life. And when I found out I could no longer eat that delicious paper sack filled with cinnastix, I lost a tiny part of myself. Now my trips through the airports are lonely and usually filled with a growling tummy, since it is almost impossible to find something gluten free at the airport.

However, I came across this recipe for cinnamon rolls the other day while browsing the internet. When I first saw the recipe, I thought to myself, there is absolutely no way these will taste the same. But I decided to take a chance. Well low and behold I created something that I never thought my taste buds would get the opportunity to taste again in my life. These cinnamon rolls were crunchy, doughy, sweet, and simply delectable. I was in cinnamon roll heaven. I felt the comfort that I hadn’t felt since my college days. I shared them with everyone I could and not one person could tell they were gluten free. And for me that is the ultimate approval, when a non-celiac likes my treats I am as happy as can be. So I have to thank whoever came up with this recipe, because it definitely was not me. I found this recipe on a couple different blogs, so whoever is the true artist of this recipe....THANK YOU!!! You really are a cooking genius. Celiacs, go pre-heat that oven and whip these babies up, but make sure you whip up an extra batch because once you taste them; you won't be able to stop!

Cinnamon Rolls

~2 tablespoons butter
~1/4 cup sugar
~2/3 cup of milk, room temperature
~1 packet yeast (about 1 tablespoon)
~1 egg
~1/4 cup canola oil
~1/2 cup potato starch
~1 cup corn starch
~1/4 teaspoon baking soda
~2 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum
~2 teaspoons baking powder
~1/2 teaspoon salt
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract ***Note***

*1 - 2 tablespoons sugar, to use when you roll out the dough


~1/2 cup brown sugar
~1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
~1/3 cup chopped nuts - optional


~¾ cup powdered or confectionary sugar
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~milk to thicken

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.In medium bowl, combine shortening and sugar. Mix well. Measure warm milk and add yeast to milk. Whisk well to fully dissolve, then let sit for 30min. on stove as it is pre-heating. Add milk/yeast to sugar mixture after it has sat for at least 30min. Add remaining ingredients. Mix very well, being sure to remove all lumps. Dough will be incredibly soft, but that is perfectly normal. Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it out so it covers a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square. Sprinkle sugar on the wrap. Lay ball of dough on top of that. Then pull out another sheet of wrap and gently lay over the dough. Pat the dough down into a roughly squarish pancake. Lift the top wrap up and then reposition it. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough in between the two layers of wrap. Occasionally you'll have to lift and reposition the wrap because it gets "stuck" under the edges. You might have to occasionally flip the whole thing over. Make sure that when you're done you've got ABOUT a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square of dough. Remove top piece of wrap. Combine filling ingredients. Spread evenly across dough's surface. (Original recipe poster suggested leaving about a 1 1/2" sugar free edge because when you roll the dough all the sugar shifts and fills this in; otherwise all the sugar spills out).Use the bottom piece of wrap to lift the edge of the dough and start to roll it up forming a long cylinder. Start with the sugary edge, which will be the center of your roll and roll toward the sugarless edge. Then cut into 8 or 9 slices of similar size, about 1 1/2" wide. Place rolls into a greased round glass pie pan. Bake approximately 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned. Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make glaze. The amount of milk you use will depend on how thick you want the glaze to be. Stir until all lumps are dissolved. Drizzle over warm rolls if desired.
***Note***: I used vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract, as I had none at the house. I cut a whole vanilla bean open and used approximately 3/4's of the inside of the bean. Just scrape contents with a knife 2-3 times and that will be enough for the cinnamon buns. Be careful that vanilla does not clump together. Stir it evenly throughout the mixture.

December 19, 2008

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Last night was spent in the kitchen, where I baked like a mad women. The boys were on the road again, so I had some of the girls over to show them the ins and outs of gluten free baking, which in my opinion is similar to rocket science. I was really excited to teach one of the girls the scoop on how to perfect a gluten free treat, as she just opened up her own catering business in Canada. We decided to create some cinnamon rolls followed by some delectable sugar cookies just in time for the holidays. Since this is my first Christmas being gluten free and also my first Christmas away from home, I have decided to make as many cookies, desserts, sweets, etc, as possible.

For as long as I can remember, my family always had the tradition of making spritzer cookies with my cousins for the holidays. I remember sitting at my dining room table covered in dough, dumping every imaginable color of sprinkles all over my cookies. I even would toss a couple of red hots in there and if the cookie was lucky, I even placed a chocolate covered in sprinkles in the middle, or as I called it at the time, a band-aid cookie! My cousins would be sitting close to me creating a mess of decorations on their cookies as well. And if my brother was in an artistic mood, he would even join in. This tradition has carried on every single year, except this year where I decided to create my own tradition. So with my apron on and my oven blazing, I went to work. I had no cookie cutter or a spritzer for that matter, so I created my own designs. My boyfriend loves cookies, so I thought what better way to surprise him when he comes home than with cookies that are shaped into hearts! Well after about 5 cookies, I got frustrated with using my designer cutting skills and pulled out my ravioli cutter! So now I truly have Italian cookies, which are cut into ravioli shapes!

This recipe was very simple and took no time at all. However, I did cheat a little because I used a flour mix for the cookies, as I am quickly running out of brown rice flour. And oddly enough, no one in Austria or Italy seems to carry brown rice flour, only white rice. I have found that Europeans like to use corn flour a lot more than rice flour in their products. These cookies were mostly made out of corn and were actually the best sugar cookies I have had in my life! Light, buttery, and full of flavor. If you are looking to create some holiday cookies for friends, family, and maybe even Santa, look no further.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

~1/2 cup butter, room temp
~1/3 cup sugar
~1 egg
~1 tsp. baking powder
~1/4 cup coconut flour
~3/4 cup flour mix(mine was corn flour, cornstarch, and carob seed flour)

Cream butter and sugar together. Add in egg, mix completely. In a separate bowl combine both flours and baking powder. Add flour mix to "cream" mixture. Stir thoroughly together creating a ball of cookie dough. On a floured piece(cornstarch) of wax paper, roll out the ball of dough until it is 1/4 in. thick. Then using a cookie cutter, cut out shapes from the dough and place on cookie sheet. Reuse scraps by rolling them out again and creating more cookies. Repeat this until all of dough is used. Bake for 5-8 min. at 375F, until cookie is barely starting to brown on edges. It is better to undercook these cookies than overcook them! You can decorate them before baking with sprinkles and other festive treats. However, I just used nutella as a frosting for some of the cookies. For the rest of the cookies, I used a chocolate icing made up of milk, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder for others. Feel free to decorate them however you want or even leave them plain. Happy Holidays!

December 18, 2008

Italian Stuffed Chicken

Pre-game meals are one of the most important meals in my home. Like any athlete, my boyfriend is concerned about his meal preceding his evening hockey games. Whether it is a home game or an away game, a massive carb oriented lunch is created that day. This past Tuesday I was trying to think up some ideas other than pasta, chicken parm, and roasted potatoes, which was turning out to be our go to meal. That was when this idea hit me. My boyfriend wanted stuffed chicken, so I naturally suggested something Italian, since we are living in Italy.

This recipe is great because it really is quick and simple. Not to mention you can pair it with almost any side dish. I served it with an Italian risotto mix I found that was actually gluten free. Normally I make my own risotto, but when in Italy, the mixes work just as well. This one was made up of freeze dried zucchini, peppers, olives, spices, and of course rice. However, cooking risotto is an art and you simply just don't dump this mix into bowling water. I patiently babied this risotto for a good 20 minutes. Stirring, adding broth, a touch of vino bianco, butter, and lots of love, because to me a good risotto is completely worth it.

Now for the chicken, I have to give complete credit to my boyfriend in executing this one. I had never created stuffed chicken before this and believed that if I just made a pocket in the chicken, everything else would follow perfectly. Well to my surprise making stuff chicken, like risotto, can be seen as an art form. I watched closely with grated asiago cheese in hand and fresh parma prosciutto crudo cascading its aroma around the kitchen, as my boyfriend taught me about the "portefeuille" technique, also known in English as the wallet technique. At this point I almost felt I should start taking notes. He cut the chicken with such finesse and precision, that I have to admit I was thoroughly impressed. But after that initial act was done, I butted back in, as I simply can’t let someone else do all the cooking. And is his words, I took back my kitchen! The meal turned out to be fantastic and I did take a picture of it, but realized to my dismay that my memory card was not in my camera. So, alas there is no photo. But I guarantee you this meal will become a pre-game favorite and in due time I will have a mouth-watering photo to display for everyone.

Italian Stuffed Chicken

~2 large thick chicken breasts(combined should equal a pound or more)
~80 g prosciutto(not ham)
~1 cup grated asiago cheese(or provolone, gouda, etc.)
~gluten free bread crumbs
~1 egg
~olive oil
~salt and pepper

Cut any excess fat from chicken breasts, then lay flat. While pressing your hand down on the chicken breast, cut chicken into a "wallet" being careful not to cut through the other side. Once the pocket is complete, stuff with prosciutto, followed by cheese. Then let the pocket close. You do not want the chicken stuffed so full that it is overflowing. Set chicken aside. Crack egg into bowl and stir thoroughly. Coat two plates, one with cornstarch and the other with bread crumbs. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip one chicken into egg, then place it on the plate of cornstarch. Completely cover with a light layer and then dip in bread crumbs, cover completely. Repeat with other chicken. Heat a skillet to medium heat and cook both chicken breasts in 2 tbs olive oil for 2-3 minutes on both sides. Then transfer them into baking dish and place in oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 350F. At this point, while chicken is cooking, you can make your risotto or other side dish.

December 15, 2008

Quebecois Shepherd's Pie

This past week my boyfriend made a request for a dinner of the infamous Shepherd’s Pie. The shepherd’s pies that I have grown up with in the states were comprised of a pie crust and then filled with potatoes, corn, peas, sometimes other veggies, and of course some sort of meat. I have to admit I am not a very big fan of these pies and frankly have only tried it once. I tentatively replied to his request, "so basically you want me to make you a pie with some meat and veggies in it??" He looked at me with disgust and stated that that is not a "true" shepherd’s pie. At this point I believe that he was actually very insulted with my idea of a shepherd’s pie. He quickly went into an explanation of what consists of shepherd’s pie and that our shepherd's pie is more similar to their meat pie, which is a pie originally made of meat from a bird that is now extinct in Quebec, thanks to all those lovers of meat pie. He also informed me that a correctly made shepherd’s pie has only three ingredients, mashed potatoes, corn, and meat. If it has anything else besides those 3 essential ingredients, it just simply isn't a real shepherd’s pie. So after my very informative class of shepherd’s pie 101, I began my search to create my own notorious Quebecois shepherd’s pie.

I was very skeptical on the evening that I created this dish as to whether or not I would truly enjoy this meal. After a touch of research, I was ready to begin. The meal itself took very little time to create, since there are very few ingredients. However, don't let the limited number of ingredients deter you from this meal. It turned out simply fantastic. It was one of the most comforting meals I have had in a long time. Simple and warm and covered in ketchup, you really can't go wrong. Not to mention my boyfriend was proud of my Quebecois cooking skills and stated that it was just like his mother's! Now that is a compliment. So for those in need of a simple, warm meal on a cold winter night, just turn to this shepherd’s pie recipe.

Quebecois Style Shepherd’s Pie

~1lb ground beef
~1 med. yellow onion
~2 cloves garlic, minced
~salt and pepper
~5 med. size Yukon gold potatoes peeled( you want enough for about 4 cups mashed potatoes)
~1 400g can of corn

Preheat oven to 350 F. Boil water in a big soup pot. Peel and cut potatoes into 3x3 inch chunks. Add chunks of potatoes once water is boiling. Cook potatoes until they are soft and are easily broken apart, approximately 5-10 minutes. While Potatoes cook, brown the beef with the onions. When beef is almost done, add in minced garlic. Continue cooking until grease is almost gone. If there is an excess of grease in pan, drain beef. Place beef in bottom of glass casserole dish. Pour potatoes and water into a strainer. Then place potatoes into a big bowl. Add 4 tbs butter to the middle and let sit until almost melted. Then add a splash of milk. Mix potatoes together with either an electric mixer or potato masher. Continue to add milk while mixing potatoes, but only add about 1-2 tbs at a time. You will want potatoes mashed into a creamy consistency, but not soupy. At the end add salt and pepper to taste. Drain corn and add layer of corn onto the beef. Then spoon in mash potatoes creating a layer on top of beef and corn. Place in oven and bake 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes barely start to brown on top. Serve with either gravy or a good helping of ketchup.

Slovenia, an ideal place to visit.

This past week we have accumulated an incredible amount of snow here, to the point that the hockey game on Thursday was postponed. I felt that with all this snow, I should head to the ski slopes. So on Sunday I made the drive to Slovenia to check out the skiing areas there. I went to the resort area of Kranjska Gora, which is about 45 minutes from where I am living in Italy. This resort area is complete with spas, a decent sized ski area, 5 star hotels, and numerous cafes and bars. I spent the afternoon skiing the powder filled slopes and finished with a wonderful Slovenian dinner. I have decided after my three visits to Slovenia, that I absolutely love it! I recommend this country to anyone and everyone. You can't beat the national parks, the coastline, the crystal clear blue rivers, or the mountainous areas. Not to mention this country is completely suitable for Celiacs. The Slovenian people are some of the friendliest people I have met in Europe.

For dinner we went to a restaurant that was recommended by some of the other guys here on the team. I admit I was slightly nervous upon entering this restaurant and seeing on everyone's plate fried food, gravies, dumplings, and other inedible items for me. At this point I thought to myself that I would be enjoying a simple salad and maybe some potatoes if I was lucky! However, to my surprise the menu was great! I skimmed through looking for items that were suitable and found more than I could imagine. I always pick a couple items I believe to be gluten free and then will hand the server my celiac card (which unfortunately was not in Slovenian, but everyone in Slovenia speaks English, German, and Italian almost fluently), she took it and looked it over, consulted another fellow server, asked me a couple questions, and within 3 minutes I was set with a dinner of seafood risotto followed by trout served with boiled potatoes and spinach. The meal ended up being absolutely wonderful and was by far one of the best meals I have had so far this year in Europe. My seafood risotto was filled with fresh mussels, calamari, and even crab. My trout was baked to perfection in a salt filled pan, which is a very common way to cook fish in this area. The meat literally fell of the bones. The spinach was sautéed in garlic and salt and paired beautifully with the boiled potatoes. I must have said about ten times what a wonderful meal it was. And from now on I have no fear of eating in Slovenia!

I have begun to realize that food and meal times in Europe are very important. I have never gone hungry since I have been here. I have found that as long as you make yourself clear and have a nice little celiac card to take along with you, every restaurant will want to please you. I was very nervous the first couple times I ate out, but have begun to enjoy the adventure of going out to eat in different countries. Unlike Americans, who are often times uneducated with Celiac Disease and may think you are simply a picky eater; Europeans thrive on pleasing those that have restricted diets. Therefore, my advice to Celiacs is don't limit yourself, travel and experience what other cultures have to offer, because you may find their ways simply irresistible to your taste buds.

December 11, 2008

Just a couple more uses for Soy Sauce

This week has been full of snow and pretty chilly. I have been on an Asian kick after I created the most delicious GF sesame chicken ever, which will be posted soon. So I have been playing around with Soy Sauce attempting to use it for something other than our occasional stir fry and when I take it for our trips to the sushi restaurant in Austria. On Tuesday it was quite chilly here and I was thinking about how much I enjoy a good miso soup. Well thanks to my current condition, I unfortunately am very wary about miso soup. I can make it GF, but eating it out at a restaurant is pretty sketchy. Mostly because the staff at sushi restaurants can't explain to you what miso they are using and if they are using the barley infused miso....well I am pretty sure you have a good idea what will happen. I have made this mistake twice now and have greatly paid for it. Normally in an ambiguous gluten free situation, I just simply do not eat that food. I say to myself is it really worth it that you eat that item and it may be full of gluten? I simply just say no. However, I have a huge weak spot for that delicious salty brothy flavor of a mouth-watering miso soup before a huge meal of sushi. So on those two occasions, I have simply convinced myself that there is no way they can put barley in my miso soup, well I was clearly wrong both times! Therefore, I have stopped eating miso soup and miss it like crazy. Regrettably, I have not been motivated to test my Japanese cooking techniques and create a wondrous soup, I simply just have no desire to work with the tofu that is required for what I believe a proper miso soup. Now that brings me to my fulfilling Japanese soup I created the other day. I first thought about the things I love the most about miso soup, the broth, the salty flavor, the onions, etc. and then I came up with this creation. So for all you miso soup loving Celiacs, this may just curb your cravings.

Japanese Soup

~1 egg
~1 egg white
~1 tbs. white wine, I just used some random Italian white wine I had in the fridge
~1/2 tsp. sugar
~2-3 cups GF veggie broth
~1 cup mushrooms chopped
~3 green onions chopped, someitmes called scallions
~1/2 lb chicken chopped into cubes
~2 tbs GF soy sauce
~1 packet vermicelli rice noodles

Bring broth, wine, soy sauce, and sugar to a boil in a wok, or soup pot. While waiting for that to boil, combine 1 egg and 1 egg white together in bowl. Once soup boils, reduce heat slightly to a simmer, add chicken and rice noodles. Add as many noodles as you want to be in your soup. Add less if you want a broth based soup or more if you want barely any broth. If you do want more broth in your soup, add less noodles than you think, as they will expand and absorb quite a bit of the liquid. Then add in the egg mixture, but do not stir it in. Add mushrooms and green onions(scallions). Finally after 3-5 minutes stir egg mixture in soup with a knife. The chicken should be cooked now, make sure by fishing a piece out and checking that the inside is no longer pink. Then spoon soup into bowls and enjoy!

My second concoction was made for dinner after eating this soup for lunch. I was planning on making citrus chicken with risotto and then I thought well why not just add some soy sauce to zest it up a bit! So thus came my Asian influenced citrus chicken. It is a very simple and healthy meal that is actually one of my best tasting meals yet. So if you feel like you need to use up some soy sauce in the fridge, just pair up these two recipes for a day of Asian flare.

Asian Citrus Chicken

~1 cup risotto (uncooked)
~1 lb raw chicken breasts
~4 cups GF veggie broth
~juice from one orange
~1 med. yellow onion, chopped
~2 cloves garlic, minced
~5 basil leaves, torn
~salt and pepper
~1 tbs soy sauce
~1-2 tsp. lemon zest


~juice of one orange
~juice from half a lemon
~2 tsp. potato starch or cornstarch( I used potato) mixed in 1 tbs. water
~touch of salt

Drizzle olive oil in skillet and heat to medium high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan. In same pan add a touch more olive oil and sauté onions for 2-3 minutes, then add in minced garlic. Sauté for 1-2 more minutes seasoning with a touch of salt and pepper. Then add in half of the broth, soy sauce, juice, and rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer covered. Check the mixture every 3-5 minutes, when broth mixture starts to become absorbed in rice, stir in more broth. Once liquid is beginning to absorb into rice, add in lemon zest and torn basil leaves. After 10 minutes, add back in breasts of chicken. Cook chicken in rice for about 10 more minutes or until rice is completely cooked. Keep stirring in liquid even when chicken is added back in. I check risotto by every so often eating a couple pieces of the rice. Just remember risotto takes time and if it does not seem done, just stir in more liquid. The trick is to stir in liquid frequently and do not let risotto dry out. You should be left with a creamy rice mixture at the end. To make the sauce heat a smaller skillet or wok and add juices and salt to the pan. Bring to a boil and stir in starch mixture. Boil on high continuously stirring until sauce is reduced, then bring heat to low and keep warm until chicken and rice is done. Then plate the rice and chicken and drizzle a touch of sauce over chicken. And voila, you have put your soy sauce to good use!

December 4, 2008

My Italian Thanksgiving senza glutine

I know that I am about a week late on Thanksgiving, but this year I ran on Italian time, so naturally I had to be late. Actually the real reason for the delay was the boys rigorous hockey schedule kept getting in the way, not to mention I am the only American here. So we were finally able to have Thanksgiving yesterday. Now Thanksgiving in Pontebba was slightly different than my normal Thanksgiving routine, which is always in Maui enjoying a wonderful buffet dinner with numerous items to choose from. However, this year was very different because 1. I am now a diagnosed Celiac 2. I am living in the middle of nowhere in Northern Italy.

The preparation for Thanksgiving started about a week ago with me sitting down with my neighbor and fellow hockey wife to chat about the menu. She is a Canadian, but had no problem in celebrating her Thanksgiving a month late with American Thanksgiving. We spent some time coming up with items that were easy, I could eat, and big enough to feed a bunch of Canadian hockey guys. After coming up with a rough draft of items I went off in search of a turkey. My search began with inquiring as to whether our favorite local butcher, who I am now on ciao ciao terms with, would supply us with a fresh turkey and if she would who would order it in Italiano for me. Before trying this option out, I asked an Austrian if this would be possible. He simply laughed at me, called his friend and asked where this crazy American, me, could get a whole uncooked fresh turkey. He plainly told me after the phone call was over that I was crazy and to just buy a frozen one. Well I had remembered seeing some frozen turkeys at a grocery store in Austria, so I decided that that would be the best option. Then with the turkey taken care of, Thanksgiving was well on its way. After surveying some websites we finally came up with the rest of the dinner.

The morning of Thanksgiving I got up bright and early to bake my pie. I will admit I was a little nervous about my Betty Crocker baking skills, but I took a chance. My Mom is always the one during the holidays that bakes her delicious apple pie, but this year I adopted the tradition. After doing enough pie research to become a professional pie maker, I underwent the task of creating a gluten free master piece. While my boyfriend quietly slept, I became the mad scientist of cooking in our kitchen. Flours where being thrown everywhere, butter smeared on the walls, apples on the floor (I have never mentioned that I am not always the "cleanest” cook, but I get the job done!), basically a tornado hit my kitchen. After about ten minutes into this task, I realized it was time to put on the apron, which meant things were getting serious. Finally I took the last piece of rolled out pie crust and placed it over the top of the pie. I cautiously carried my "child" to the oven and quickly put it inside. After approximately 40 minutes and serious amounts of anxiety, it was done. Now normally I don't like to toot my own horn, but on this item I tooted it loud and clear and even followed up with a pat on the back! The pie turned out delicious and I got compliments from everyone on my Apple Pie senza glutine. Now there were other items on the menu other than the Apple Pie, but that was the main item I worried the most about. After it was cooked, everything else was a piece of cake!

The meal started with antipasti items such as, fresh cheeses, olives, GF chips, salami, proscuitto, etc. It was then followed by the main course, which included 2 cooked to perfection turkeys, GF cornbread stuffing, mashed potato casserole, green beans with proscuitto, home made cranberry sauce, GF gravy, and of course rolls for all those non-celiacs attending, i.e. everyone else. I will include the recipes for the items I made and encourage anyone and everyone to seriously make this Apple Pie.

GF Cornbread Stuffing

Now this recipe gets a little complicated, as you must first make your own cornbread or muffins for this since all store bought ones are injected with gluten. For the muffins I used the recipe of the website, but you can use any simple plain cornbread/muffin recipe. Then for the stuffing I used the recipe off of Oprah's website, however, I changed it very slightly since there is no GF cream of mushroom soup in this area!

Cornbread from

~1 cup corn meal
~1 tsp salt
~1 cup white rice
~1/3 cup oil
~1/4 cup sugar
~1 egg
~2 tsp. xantham gum
~1 cup milk
~2 Tsb baking powder
~1 more cup of water

Mix all ingredients together and then bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until done. Let bread cool and then crumble onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 F until dry and just starting to turn brown.


~Olive oil
~6 tbs butter
~2 yellow onions
~5 celery stalks
~3 big carrots
~all the cornbread "croutons" previously made
~1 cup orange juice
~juice from a lemon
~3 cups broth
~1/2 cup white wine
~1 cup scallions
~salt and pepper

Heat 2 tbs olive oil and sauté scallions, celery, onions, and carrots with salt and pepper until they start to soften. Add white wine and sauté for 5 more minutes. Place cornbread "croutons" in a bowl, add veggies with wine, broth, orange juice, lemon juice, and a bit more salt. Bake in oven for 45min-1 hour.

My newly famous Apple Pie

~1/2 cup brown rice flour
~1/3 cup potato starch
~1/4 cup tapioca starch
~3-4 Tbs sweet rice flour
~1 tsp. cornstarch
~2 Tbp sugar
~1/2 tsp. baking powder
~1 1/2 tsp. xantham gum
~1/2 cup butter
~1 egg (you can also use another egg to brush the top of the pie)
~1 Tbs lemon juice

Combine all flours, cornstarch, baking powder, and xantham gum into bowl. Cut the 1/2 cup butter into chunks and place in bowl. With a fork cut the butter into the flour until the butter is pea sized. Combine 1 egg and lemon juice in separate cup/container and then pour into dough. Gently combine the liquid with the dry ingredients using a fork. Once combined dough should hold together well, if it is to dry add just a tsp. of water at first, if more is needed add another. If dough is too wet, sprinkle white rice flour onto ball of dough. Place the ball of dough onto wax paper and wrap together, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour before making the pie. Repeat this whole processes to make another ball of dough for the top of the Apple Pie. However, if you only need one crust, then do not repeat. Once dough is refrigerated for one hour, unwrap the dough and place between two nicely floured (with white rice flour) wax paper sheets. If dough starts to stick to paper add a touch more flour. Roll out the dough until it is about an inch longer all around than pie pan. Remove one wax paper and place pan on dough. Flip the dough over and you are set with the first crust. Then place the filling in crust, recipe located below, and repeat the rolling process with the other ball of dough. Remove one wax sheet and flip dough onto top of pie. Then crunch the sides together with your fingers making whatever design you please. Before placing into the oven brush a beaten egg over top and sprinkle with sugar, then cut 4 slits into pie in a design or simply poke a couple holes with a fork and put that masterpiece in the oven. Cook at 350 F for 40-45 min, or until golden brown on top.

Apple Pie Filling

~4 chopped apples, skin removed, I used Galas
~1/2 cup brown sugar
~2 Tbs cornstarch
~1-2 tsp. cinnamon
~dash of nutmeg
~2 tbs butter
~spoonful of lemon juice

Mix apples with sugar, cornstarch, and spices. Then add butter and lemon juice. Combine well and add to pie.

Italians secretly love French desserts

This past weekend was full of cooking. One of my friends from my high school days came to visit us in Pontebba with her boyfriend. She currently lives in Rome and has Italianized herself complete with with a Roman boyfriend. It was so great to see her and I relished our time together, which was spent reminiscing, watching hockey, and of course drinking some vino from the Rome region. Her boyfriend was wonderful and wanted to learn everything about being Gluten Free. I of course wanted to cook for them, which was slightly nerve wracking as I am absolutely sure they have wonderful Italian food all the time. However, I sucked it up and presented them with a wonderfully spread dinner. I cooked manicotti followed by a French dessert called a clafloutis. My friend and her boyfriend helped throughout the process, which was a learning experience. Her boyfriend even taught me a couple tricks and we were all able to sit down relatively quickly to the meal and say Buon Appetito before digging in! I at the moment, sat motionless trying not to be obvious that I was waiting for the two of them to take their first bites. Breathless I watched Federico take his first bite and immediately he began to gush with praises. I can't tell you how close I was to crying. That is the ultimate compliment to my cooking when a born and raised Italian raves about my manicotti, although numerous times teased my accent and said it was canelloni, he ate my food with gusto. He literally licked his plate clean! After that I kissed my fingers together and said Mama Mia!

After dinner, dessert was a plum clafloutis complete with a vienetta cake(as I had no ice cream). The two of them simply loved this treat, especially Federico. Now the story of how I am knowledgeable in the art of clafloutis making goes back to last year in Scotland when I was visiting a friend I grew up with in Alaska. She was a gracious host to me for many days and we enjoyed that time with sight seeing, discussing matters in America, and most importantly eating. She made this dessert, clafloutis, that I had never seen or heard of in my life before. It is a French dessert that is normally made with cherries, but I like to spice it up a bit and use whatever fruit is in season. I took her recipe, along with a couple others, then removed the gluten and voila'! You have a delicious gluten free dessert perfect for entertaining.


~6 Plums, or 2-3 cups of whatever fruit you please; apples, raspberries, blueberries etc
~1/4 cup sweet rice
~1/4 cup brown rice
~1/3 cup coconut flour
~3 eggs
~1/3 cup sugar
~1 1/3 cup milk, although as my friend taught me you can use milk, yogurt, water, apple juice, etc. I used milk, but it turns out just as good with a combination of liquids too.

Chop fruit into smaller pieces and cover with 1-2 Tbs honey. Let that sit in a bowl while you mix the rest of the ingredients. In a blender combine the eggs, liquid, and sugar together. In a separate bowl combine the flours together. Add 1/3 of the flour to liquid, then blend. Repeat this until all the flour is gone. It is important that you do this or the flour may clump or not be completely absorbed in the liquid. For those of you who have frequently cooked with GF flours, you will understand. Finally pour batter into a greased glass baking pan. Then scoop fruit with honey evenly onto the liquid. Bake at 180 C( around 350 F) for 10-15 minutes or until the "cake" has risen and when poked with a toothpick shows no residue. Top it off with slivers of almonds or for an even sweeter cake sprinkle powdered sugar on the top. Now cut it up and serve it with some ice cream or better yet a vienetta!