FeaturesDec/Jan 2012 Issue

An Elegant Gluten-Free Holiday Affair

This fine meal is in excellent taste

Decorations and presents are festive this time of year—but a table laden with beautiful food is the heart of the holidays. Celebrating the season gathered around an extraordinary meal is a meaningful gift, particularly when everyone can partake with gusto and without worry.

Here’s an elegant, allergy-friendly menu filled with mouthwatering, sweet and savory flavors that’s easy to prepare. The secret to success is a bit of early preparation. The rest is a piece of cake.

Start with a simple fig, prosciutto and polenta crostini. Add a scrumptious herb-encrusted roast. Pair it with oven-roasted rosemary potatoes, carrots with fresh herbs and a crusty Yorkshire pudding. Top it off with a decadent Parisian cake. And there you have it—a gluten-free, dairy-free, stress-free Christmas dinner that’s guaranteed delicious.


Dairy-Free Polenta Crostini

MAKES 16

This recipe transforms a pot of creamy polenta into crostini antipasto topped with fig jam and prosciutto. Make the polenta ahead of time for a quick and easy appetizer.

4 cups cold water, divided
1 cup polenta
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter, ghee or dairy-free
    butter alternative
-Olive oil, for brushing
1 (16-ounce) jar fig jam
8-10 slices prosciutto, thinly sliced and halved
-Fresh rosemary, stemmed and minced, optional

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil.

2. In a small bowl, mix polenta, salt and remaining 1 cup water.

3. Add polenta to boiling water and lower heat until the mixture stays at a moderate boil. Stir with a wooden spoon almost constantly to keep from burning. When done, polenta will thicken and begin to leave the sides of the pan. Stir in butter.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread polenta on baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 3 days in advance.

5.  Cut polenta into 3x4-inch triangles on baking sheet. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer cut polenta and brush top with olive oil. Place in preheated 400˚F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and crisp.

6. Top each triangle of warm polenta with 1 tablespoon fig jam and ½ a thin slice of prosciutto. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary, if desired.

Each serving contains 279 calories, 3g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 9mg cholesterol, 511mg sodium, 61g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein.

Herb-Encrusted Beef Tenderloin with Pink Peppercorn Sauce

SERVES 6 TO 8

Simple yet so good, this beef tenderloin is encrusted with a savory herb coating and topped with thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon). Serve with Pink Peppercorn Sauce. Your guests will think you cooked all day.

Beef Tenderloin

Preparation of this recipe can be made a day in advance. Seasoning the beef ahead of time enhances the overall flavor and texture. Cover and refrigerate until roasted.

1 (3-4 pound) center- cut beef tenderloin
    roast, trimmed
1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon pink peppercorn, coarsely ground
3 tablespoons fresh herbs (combination thyme, sage, rosemary), finely chopped, or dried
    Herbes de Provence
6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon

Sauce

2 teaspoons butter or dairy-free butter alternative, room temperature
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey or agave
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon whole pink peppercorn

1. Dry meat thoroughly with a paper towel and set aside. In a small bowl, mix salt, peppercorn and herbs. Rub herb mixture over the outside of the beef tenderloin. Place in a lightly sprayed roasting pan. Overlap pancetta or crisscross bacon over the top of the roast. Let beef stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.

2. Preheat oven to 425˚F. Roast beef 25 to 30 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of meat reads 125˚ to 130˚F for medium rare. Remove roast and let rest for 15 minutes to allow juices to return to the center of the meat.

3. To make sauce, combine butter and olive oil in a small bowl. Add honey, thyme, salt and peppercorn and blend with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed, crushing the peppercorn slightly.

4. Transfer roast to cutting board and slice 1-inch thick steaks. Divide between plates and top with pink peppercorn butter. Serve immediately with potatoes, carrots and Yorkshire pudding.

Each 4 ounce serving of meat contains 323 calories, 20g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 114mg cholesterol, 178mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 33g protein.
Each teaspoon of sauce contains 32 calories, 3g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 3mg cholesterol, 195mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g protein.

Gluten-Free Yorkshire Pudding

SERVES 8

This classic popover recipe makes a festive Yorkshire pudding. For best results, do not replace the eggs in this recipe.

½ cup pan drippings from roast or gluten-free beef broth
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk or dairy-free milk of choice
⅓ cup tapioca starch/flour
⅔ cup brown rice flour
-Dash of salt

1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.

2. Pour drippings into a lightly greased 9-inch square glass casserole dish or 9-inch pie plate. Place in preheated oven at least 5 minutes. (A warm dish helps the batter rise. Keep dish in the oven until you’re ready to pour in the batter.)

3. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk until blended. In another small bowl, whisk together tapioca starch/flour, brown rice flour and salt until combined. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until blended and free of lumps.

4. Carefully remove the baking dish from oven. Pour in the batter and return to oven immediately.

5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until Yorkshire pudding is puffed high and is a rich, golden brown. For puffiest pudding, avoid opening the oven door before 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Each serving contains 88 calories, 3g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 82mg cholesterol, 88mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g protein.

Carrots with Thyme and Marsala

SERVES 6 TO 8

Root vegetables add just the right flavor to a holiday meal and take only minutes to prepare.

2 tablespoons butter or dairy-free butter alternative
4 large carrots, cleaned, stemmed and sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
- Dash of salt
-Pepper, to taste
¼ cup Marsala wine, optional

1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over heat.

2. Add sliced carrots, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté until lightly colored, about 3 minutes.

3. Add Marsala wine and sauté until wine reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Transfer to platter and serve warm.

Each serving contains 69 calories, 4g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 10mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g protein.

New Potatoes with Rosemary

SERVES 6 TO 8

Peel a strip around each potato to allow seasonings to penetrate while the potato skin becomes crispy in the oven. You can substitute parsley, oregano and/or marjoram for the rosemary.

12 medium new potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil or 2 tablespoons
    oil + 1 tablespoon ghee
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stemmed,
    finely chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
-Pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons capers, drained, optional

1. Preheat oven to 450˚F.

2. Wash potatoes and peel one strip of skin around the middle of each potato, about 1½ inches wide.

3. Place potatoes in a 9-inch square baking dish. Add olive oil, rosemary, sea salt, pepper and capers, if desired. Toss to coat.

4. Please potatoes in preheated oven and bake until golden brown and easily pierced with a fork, about 35 to 40 minutes. Turn potatoes once during the baking cycle to coat again with oil and seasonings. When done, transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

Each serving contains 121 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 583mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g protein.

Elegant Chocolate Cake with Coconut Cream Filling

SERVES 10 TO 12

This classic Parisian gâteau combines rich chocolate cake with a coconut cream filling. It’s smothered in chocolate ganache. To make this recipe egg-free, follow instructions below.

Cake

1 (6-ounce) package semisweet chocolate,
    chopped, melted
4 large eggs
1¾ cups dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup neutral vegetable oil of choice
1 cup milk or dairy-free milk of choice
2½ cups Mary’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend or all-purpose flour blend of choice
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease two 9-inch cake pans.

2. In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.

3. Place eggs into the large bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Beat until light yellow, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until batter falls from a spoon in a heavy ribbon, about 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Add vanilla, oil and milk and mix on slow speed just until incorporated.

5. Fold in melted chocolate with a large spoon or rubber spatula just until mixed.

6. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Sprinkle over batter and fold in gently.

7. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Place in preheated oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until center is set and springs back to touch.

8. To assemble cake, place one completely cooled layer on a cake plate. Place Coconut Cream Filling in the center of layer. Top with remaining cooled cake layer. Place cake in the freezer about 1 hour to chill.

9. Remove cake from freezer and frost with Chocolate Coconut Milk Ganache. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar, if desired. Store cake in the refrigerator. Return to counter at least 30 minutes before serving.

TIP For Egg-Free Chocolate Cake, replace 2 eggs with Ener-G egg replacer (ener-g.com), following package directions. Replace 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons arrowroot. Mix together and add to sugar in Step 3.

Coconut Cream Filling

MAKES 1½ CUPS

2 tablespoons cold water
1 (¼-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
1½ cups canned lite coconut milk, divided
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla or coconut extract

1. In a small bowl, add cold water and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let sit to soften, about 10 minutes.

2. Heat ½ cup coconut milk in a small pan. Add to softened gelatin, mix and chill. Place remaining 1 cup coconut milk in the bowl of a heavy stand mixer or a metal mixing bowl. Place in freezer to stiffen, about 15 to 30 minutes.

3. Remove bowl and add sugar and extract. Using the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whisk until mixture forms soft peaks. Add gelatin mixture and whisk until peaks form again.

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ganache

MAKES 2 CUPS

¾ cup canned lite coconut milk
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

1. Heat coconut milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over chocolate and stir until melted.

2. Whip mixture with an electric beater on high for 3 to 5 minutes until ganache is well aerated and thickens to a spreadable frosting.

Each serving of cake without frosting contains 259 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 54mg cholesterol, 135mg sodium, 51g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g protein.
Each serving of cake with filling and frosting contains 484 calories, 25g total fat, 10g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 54mg cholesterol, 207mg sodium, 68g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g protein.

Mary Capone is author of The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook and creator of Bella Gluten-Free (bellaglutenfree.com) allergy-friendly baking mixes.


Gluten-Free Yule Log

MAKES 2 YULE LOGS (SERVES 16)

The recipe for Elegant Chocolate Cake, including Coconut Cream Filling and Chocolate Coconut Milk Ganache, makes two Yule Logs. Prepare cake batter as instructed below and then follow directions to construct Yule Logs. If not served immediately, store Yule Logs in the refrigerator. Return to counter at least 30 minutes before serving.

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 2 jelly roll pans or rimmed cookie sheets (15×10×1 inches) with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper.

2. In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.

3. Place eggs into the large bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Beat until light yellow, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until batter falls from a spoon in a heavy ribbon, about 5 to 7 minutes. (To replace eggs, see egg-free instructions above under Elegant Chocolate Cake.)

4. Add vanilla, oil and milk and mix on slow speed just until incorporated.

5. Fold in melted chocolate with a large spoon or rubber spatula just until mixed.

6. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Sprinkle over batter and fold in gently.

7. Pour batter into prepared jelly roll pans. Place in preheated oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes until center is set and springs back to touch. (Do not over-bake or cake will crumble when rolled.)

8. Immediately loosen each cake from edges of pan and turn each upside down onto a clean linen or cotton tea towel (not terry cloth) generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove parchment paper. Trim off stiff edges of cake, if necessary. While still warm, carefully roll cake with the towel so that cake always touches the towel as it rolls (never cake touching cake). Cool on wire rack.

9. When cool, gently unroll cakes and remove towels.

10. Prepare Chocolate Coconut Milk Ganache. Carefully spread ganache over the cakes, leaving a 1-inch margin on sides.

11. Prepare Coconut Cream Filling. Spread filling over ganache, leaving a 1-inch margin on sides.

12. Carefully re-roll the cakes, wiping away excess ganache and filling. Slice and serve. If desired, garnish with a sprig of artificial holly. (Note: Real holly berries are toxic.)

Each serving contains 484 calories, 25g total fat, 10g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 54mg cholesterol, 207mg sodium, 68g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g protein.

Mary’s All-Purpose Flour Blend

MAKES 6 CUPS

2 cups brown rice flour
2 cups white rice flour
1⅓ cups potato starch (not potato flour)
⅔ cup tapioca starch/flour

Mix ingredients together. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until used.

Each cup contains 564 calories, 2g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 127g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 7g protein.

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