Wednesday, September 30, 2009



So Lillie has flat out refused to eat her favorite yogurt, M and M YoCrunch, as currently there is a picture of Frankenstein on the package (it's a cartoon Frankenstein...not meant to scare kids). She claims it tastes different. I offered to call the company with her and have them explain that inside it's the exact same yogurt she eats almost every day for breakfast (yes, I felt guilty at first giving her M and M's for breakfast---I checked the nutrition info., it has the same sugar content as La Yogurt). Today when she came home from school and was tantrumy over her snack situation I offered her one of my fancy Rachel's Yogurt, which comes in such exotic flavors as Plum Honey Lavender and Pomegranate Acai. She aceded and tried the Orange Strawberry Mango, and declared that she liked the orange flavor. The company asserts that all the flavors are gluten free, and if you are lucky, you will find them on sale, as I did. Well, at least this should get us through October. I pray there isn't a scary elf on the package come December!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009



Well the holiday season is upon us. At Rosh Hashana I had the pleasure of sampling two unique honeys from the The Bee Folks in Maryland. First I tried a Heather Honey from Scotland. Leave it up to Scottish bees to produce a sturdy honey. It was so thick it wouldn't drip off the honey dipper. And, it had a strong smell and almost molasses like taste. However, I can see spreading it on a thick piece of homemade bread to enjoy with tea on a chilly Highland's morning. The Blueberry Honey was more appealing to me. It is not blueberry syrup mixed with honey, it is actually honey gathered from the nectar in blueberry bushes. It was a very light honey color, and I could definitely detect a faint blueberry flavor. Both items are Star-K certified kosher, and were reasonably priced. They were sold as a school fundraiser from Lillie and Rosie's school, but you can but directly online at the link above. The company also boasts Cranberry, Buckwheat and Killer Bee Honey!

A lovely looking recipe for challah crossed my path this week. It is from Jules Gluten Free Products, of which I am a big fan. It appears to make a nice, light and fluffy challah. The recipe does call for yogurt, but soy yogurt may be used to make the recipe pareve. I look forward to trying it! Please post your results below if you try it before me! Click on this link for the recipe.

I don't know what a holiday meal would be like without brisket. Erev Yom Tov I called up my mother, and seemingly out of breath she said she just finished her brisket clinic. I thought she said "bridge clinic"-- an avid past time of hers. When I asked how the game was, she said, "Brisket, not bridge! All my friends have been calling for brisket advice." Even my friends call my mother for brisket advice. I have dubbed my mother the "Boynton Beach Brisket Queen". Her brisket is known far and wide for its richness of flavor, tenderness and melt-in-your-mouth quality. When she asked me how mine turned out, I sheepishly replied "Tough". "That's because you cooked it in the oven", she replied. Actually, this time I did it on the stove-top, the Queen's preferred method, and it still came out tough. "Hmmm, " she pondered, "you didn't cook it long enough." She was right! I learned my lesson; don't start making a brisket at 9 p.m., unless you plan on staying up until 3 a.m.!

The recipe below gives both the oven and stove top versions of my mother's brisket. I find the oven version easier, as you just cook it in a disposable aluminum pan, put it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours. This freezes well, but you must slice the meat and freeze it in plenty of gravy.

Boynton Beach Brisket Queen's Not-So-Secret Brisket Recipe

3 pound beef brisket

1 -15 ounce can tomato sauce
1-15 ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
2-3 onions, sliced
1 envelope gluten-free powdered onion soup mix
1 Tablespoon garlic powder or crushed garlic
1 teaspoon paprika

6 carrots, peeled and sliced in thirds
6 celery stalks, sliced in thirds

Pre-heat oven to 325F degrees.

In a large soup pot, brown brisket over medium-high heat.

In a roasting pan large enough to comfortably accommodate brisket, mix together tomato sauce, cranberry sauce, 1/4 cup water (more if needed to thin mixture), onion soup mix (reserving 2 Tablespoons) and onions. Make several 1-inch slits in brisket with a sharp knife. Rub brisket with additional soup mix, garlic and paprika. Place brisket in roasting pan and spoon sauce over meat. Bake covered with foil or lid in pre-heated oven for at least 3 hours. Add carrots and celery to baking pan after 1 hour.

Allow to cool overnight in refrigerator. Skim off fat from gravy and slice brisket. Cover with pan gravy and return to a 300F degree oven for another 1-2 hours to tenderize (this may be done right before serving).

To prepare on top of the stove, follow directions as above, except remove brisket from pot after browning, discard any rendered fat, and mix sauce in pot as above. Return brisket to pot and simmer on low heat for 5 hours.

Remember, the secret is cooking the meat long, slow and low. Enjoy!

Serves: 6-8

Sunday, September 13, 2009



Holiday time is filled with tradition and family gatherings, coupled with the desire to share those treasured memories with your children. A big part of the Jewish holidays are the seudahs, the festive meals that are served twice for each day of Yom Tov. There are time honored dishes in both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions that have been passed down for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Some foods are symbolic, such as apples and honey, or carrot tzimmes, whose golden color and coin shape represent prosperity in the new year. Then there are those foods our grandmothers and mothers made and are just traditional and comforting. When we cannot prepare those foods for our children because of allergies or disease, there is a small sense of loss. It is not simply a matter of swapping roasted potatoes for noodle kugel, but rather a break in the chain---a disconnection from our tradition.

I haven't made kugels much in the past few years due to Rosie's egg allergy. I have made attempts, but found that the potato kugels didn't amount to much more than mashed potatoes baked in a 9x13 inch pan! That is why I was thrilled to find a recipe for vegan noodle kugel in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table. Swapping out gluten free noodles for the "eggless" egg noodles in the recipe presents a taste of tradition that everyone can enjoy.

For more eggless, dairy free traditional dishes check out Vegan Began by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Bernard.

Although kugels are often a "do ahead and freeze" type of dish, this recipe is best made the day of, or the day before you are planning on serving it due to the nature of gluten free noodles. I like to add sliced apples to my noodle kugel, and find it especially festive this time of year.

Noodle Kugel
adapted from The Vegan Table, p. 175

8 ounces gluten free egg noodles (or linguine broken in 3rds)
1/2 cup pareve margarine (such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks), melted
3/4 cup nondairy sour cream (i.e., Tofutti brand)
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
12 ounces firm tofu, crumbled
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I found this amount of sugar too sweet...reduce by 1/2 if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium apple, thinly sliced (optional)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (more to taste)

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 or 9x9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray (the smaller the pan, the higher your kugel will be).

Prepare noodles according to package directions, until al dente (a bit firm). Drain and rinse.

In a large mixing bowl, combine melted margarine, sour cream, applesauce, crumbled tofu, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in cooked noodles, apples, raisins and vanilla.

Spread noodle mixture evenly in prepared pan. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Yield: 12 servings

Saturday, September 12, 2009

End of Summer


Labor Day is behind us and the rich reds and golds are beginning to come out on the leaves.  My tomatoes are clinging to the vines against the occasional fall breeze, and my herbs are begging to be picked before the first frost.  Incorporating garden herbs and vegetables into recipes this time of year brings back the sunny days of summer right to your table. Having the children realize the full cycle of life when they are reminded these vegetables they are (finally!) eating are from those tiny little seeds they helped plant last spring.

I strongly feel that children with special dietary needs have an advantage over those that can blissfully eat the typical American diet without caution.  Celiac or allergic children need to read labels carefully, ask questions, and often have to turn to homemade alternatives (i.e., baked goods) rather than plastic wrapped convenience foods.  They will go into adulthood with a headstart on good nutrition practices.  The recipes below are brightly flavored and full of texture to please palates of all ages.  They are also fun for little ones to help prepare.  The polenta rounds are reminiscent of mini pizzas, and the quinoa salad is an extremely healthy alternative to the mayonnaise laden side dishes that turn up at barbecues and picnics all summer long.

This quinoa salad is my favorite, and comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cooking the Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello. Ms. Pirello's book takes macrobiotic to a new and user friendly level. She uses has a variety of gluten free recipes, and uses alternative grains like millet.

 Lillie helping me make quinoa salad

Quinoa Salad
from Cooking the Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello, p. 54
2 cups water
pinch of sea salt
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup fresh green peas
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 to 2 celery stalks, diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
7 or 8 fresh mint leaves, minced
3 to 4 fresh basil leaves, minced
soy sauce
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Bring water and sea salt to a boil over medium heat.  Add quinoa and bring back to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy.
Bring water to a boil in a pot over high heat.  Add corn and boil 2 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and cool in iced water.  Drain and set aside.   Add peas to boiling water and boil 30 seconds.  Drain and cool in iced water.  Drain and set aside.  Toss the quionoa with corn, peas, cucumber, and celery in a large bowl.
Whisk together the lemon and orange juice, mint and basil to taste, soy sauce to taste and the olive oil in a small bowl.  Pour dressing over hot quinoa mixture and toss to combine.  Serve immediately or the quinoa will take on too much moisture and become soggy.
Yield:   4 to 5 servings
The following recipe is my own creation, and makes use of the lovely summer bounty in my garden. It is quick, easy, and can be used as an appetizer or side dish. The kids like putting these together, as they resemble mini-pizzas. 

Tomato-Basil Polenta Rounds
1 tube prepared polenta
1/4 cup olive oil
3 vine ripe or plum tomatos, thinly sliced
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped finely
1/4 cup grated parmigiana cheese (optional)
Slice polenta into 12 pieces.  Brush both sides of polenta with olive oil, and place on a non-stick baking sheet.  Place 1-2 slices tomato on top of polenta rounds. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil.  Sprinkle cheese, if desired.
Place baking sheet under low broiler for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Serve warm.
Yield:  12 servings 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How do you own your illness?


I was contemplating the other day how different people deal with illness. Some are passive, some "harness" it like a rodeo cowboy does a calf, some are information gatherers, and some are networkers. I believe in "owning" your illness, which means being informed and proactive in treatment. Since Celiac disease is treated nutritionally (at present) that means learning the right foods to eat and how to prepare them in an appealing manner.

Gluten Free baking is a science as well as an art. Gluten free flours perform differently than wheat flour, and they are a tricky business. There is a Gluten Free Culinary Summit in September in Hyde Park, New York and in October in Denver, Colorado. Both will feature top chefs, including those from the Culinary Institute of America, who will show you the hows and whys of creating gluten free foods. As well, there will be companies on hand to present new and exciting gluten free products. For $189 per day, I feel it is definitely worthwhile!

For a preview check out Chef Richard Coppedge's book. He is a professor at the Culinary Institute of America, and decided to tackle special needs baking. He teaches a course on gluten free baking and wrote Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institue of America: 150 Flavorful REcipes from the World's Premier Cuinary College.