Gluten-free

Rosemary Almond Crackers
Rosemary Almond Crackers
So-and-so can't touch gluten. Whatshisface is allergic to eggs. Dairy gives Thing-gummy a rash. And Hoojicky? Garlic sensitivity. Happy Holidays, indeed. I feel for you. I do. Having been on both sides of this equation (I have played the role of allergic guest and accommodating host over the years) I feel for all parties. Unfortunately, it's very hard to find a recipe everyone can eat, let alone will gobble. Sorry, but not matter how many times you suggest tofu pudding, I'm not going for it. Given the scope of food allergies and sensitivities, I have decided finding the perfect party food is downright impossible. But I've come close. This recipe from Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris (Sterling Epicure, 2012)  is egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, transfat-free and dairy-free. Yet this cracker is not flavour- or texture-free. It's pleasant on its own and plays nicely with almost any savoury dip you throw at it. And if that isn't enough, it also provides me with an opportunity to use my fancy dehydrator again. Win-win or what?
candied-bacon-in-serving-dish-close-up-3
Words of Wisdom from Chef Michael Smith and Bacon Candy
Eleven minutes and ten seconds into our half-hour interview, Chef Michael Smith uttered the most honest, excuse-free cooking advice I've heard in a long time.
I don't have much patience for those who say they can't cook. A hundred thousand generations have cooked. It's a very easy thing to do. Suck it up, buttercup. You can do it!
Oh, I'd love to put Smith and Chris Kimball in a room together and see who emerges unbruised. My bets are on Smith —and not just because he's 6' 7". He just makes more sense. To support my prediction, compare these quotes from my wide-ranging interview with Chef Michael Smith against Kimball's no-partying-allowed approach ("Cooking isn’t creative, and it isn’t easy. It’s serious, and it’s hard to do well, just as everything worth doing is damn hard.")
Fig-and-olive-tapenade-1
Fig and Olive Tapenade
Fig and Olive Tapenade  - TheMessyBaker.com I almost feel like I'm cheating on this one. It's far too easy to be this tasty. But on second thought, it's a perfect illustration of Eric Akis's approach to food. It delivers what he calls "obtainable goodness", is suitable for all levels of cooks, and uses ingredients you can find at the average supermarket. It's also addictive, although I don't think that's part of his mandate. This recipe is from Eric's seventh book, Everyone Can Cook Everything (Whitecap 2012), a compendium of his first six. As I struggle to get the manuscript of my first cookbook completed, it's really hard not to hate him. But one taste of the tapenade and all's forgiven.
black-bean-quinoa-burger-1
The Inside Scoop on Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
Black Bean Quinoa Burger – TheMessyBaker.com When you meet with the author of a cookbook, you're often given insights not found in the final print edition — like how they spent most of their time at college scribbling recipe ideas in their binder instead of taking lecture notes, or which of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of recipes to try first. I was lucky enough to catch up with Camilla V. Saulsbury last month and talk to her about her new book, 500 Best Quinoa Recipes (Robert Rose, 2012). While no one had heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) a few years ago, this seed-that-eats-like-a-grain is everywhere:  in cookbooks, granola, breakfast flakes, and baked goods. It's gluten-free, high-protein, low-fat and much more approachable than its odd name suggests. It's not gummy or stodgy like some wild grains. It's crunchy without being hard. And best of all, it's easy to cook. From someone who never cottoned onto tofu despite sincere, diverse and repeated attempts, trust me when I say quinoa is worth a try.
Tomatoes-topview
Preserving tomatoes regardless of quantity
How to preserve tomatoes regardless of quantity – TheMessyBaker.com Clearly, my tomatoes aren't getting enough love. When my back was turned, they  produced and produced and produced — to the point they toppled over and smothered the Swiss chard. Lying on the ground, they continued the fight. Not only did they produce more fruit, they romped all over the basil and trampled what was going to be fennel. Injuries to either party be damned. See the red tomato in the middle? It split its side in an effort to work its way to my kitchen door. In my defense the zucchini was rather distracting — all 302 pounds of it. Plus I am a bit busy working on my book. When I finally ventured out to the jungle garden, I was met by eager orange, red and yellow tomatoes. They practically leapt into my arms. The poor watermelon just lay there and whimpered. Shush now. All in good time. All in good time. How to perserve tomatoes regardless of quantity – TheMessyBaker.com
preserves-1
Spirited Fruit (and Sangria)
Spirited fruit preserves - TheMessyBaker.com I am not to be trusted. I head to the Farmers' Market with a clearly written list and rock solid resolve. And what do I return with? Way more items than intended and a feeling of panic. Where will I store all these plums? When will I have time to make pear jam? Should I freeze, can or hide the peaches? Of course, things fall apart when I toss tomatoes designated for preserving into a salad or gobble a handful of blueberries because they are too perfect for anything else but in-the-moment indulgence. You cannot imagine my relief -- your maybe you can-- when I stumbled up  a couple of preserving methods that are as flexible on quantity as I am about my shopping list. The methods are outlined in the ever-so-handy Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Robert Rose ©2012).
golden beet soup-1
Golden Beet and Yellow Tomato Soup
Golden Beet and Yellow Tomato Soup - The Messy Baker There's a great moment in the pilot episode of Firefly. Against a backdrop of falling bombs, exploding grenades and rounds of gun fire, Bendis, a very young and very terrified solider fears he's going to die. His superior, played by the ever-so dishy Nathan Fillion, responds with bravado. "We can't die, Bendis," he says. "You know why? Because we are so very pretty. We're just too pretty for God to let us die." If only life were like television.   Spilled Soup - A glimpse at how The Messy Baker got her name Serves me right for getting all fancy pants with soup. Turns out nothing, not even my Golden Beet and Yellow Tomato Soup is too pretty to be spared. Either that, or I should watch where I'm stepping during a back porch photo shoot. Anyway, the other day the garden patch advanced. How do you respond when an armload of golden beets, more yellow tomatoes than one can eat without incurring cankers and a purple carrot force their way into your kitchen, stare you straight in the eye and double dog dare you to do something about it?
Strawberry Almost Ice Cream-1
Instant Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Instant Strawberry Frozen Yogurt - TheMessyBaker.com This frozen yogurt has four ingredients. Four healthy ingredients. Yet it tastes like something you'd treat yourself to after a hard afternoon of gardening. Or in my case, after a hard night's sleep. I had it for breakfast the other day instead of my usual smoothie. And I don't feel guilty in the least. I'm sure my neighbours wondered why I was sitting on the patio eating ice cream first thing in the morning. But I wasn't. Really. I was eating Instant Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. Even the cat was envious. (He's a big yogurt fan.) The recipe comes courtesy of Camilla Saulsbury, creator of the decadent Chocolate Basil Muffin and the take-a-breathalizer-before-you-drive Butter Rum Pound Cake. Based on her two previous books, I thought she was all about the sweets. Turns out she's all about moderation. She's extremely active and stays fit by practising the classic 80/20 ratio to her eating. Don't get too excited. The 80% applies to  healthy food. Fortunately, with Saulsbury this can be quite delicious.
Baked Caprese Salad-1
Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?
Baked Caprese Salad Stacks – TheMessyBaker.com When you write about food for a living it's easy to forget that it's not always just about ingredients or recipes. Creating a new twist on the chocolate chip cookie isn't as important as baking a batch with a friend. Bland chicken needs nothing more than a spicy conversation. And if your butternut squash soup doesn't rank on Google's first page, if you slurp it with loved ones, you're still a hit. Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?: A year of Italian menus with 250 recipes that celebrate family by Lisa Caponigri is a delicious reminder that sharing a meal is more important than the meal itself.  While Caponigri's menus are balanced and reasonably healthy, it's not about nutrition, clean eating or sustainable food choices. Her multi-generational approach encourages all family members -- even children -- to be involved in preparing dinner, but it's not a how-to-cook book. It's not about pushing culinary boundaries. It's about family -- and friends -  coming together over food. "Sunday dinner is a ritual, a tradition, a bonding experience," Caponigri says. And that's something you can't buy at the deli counter.
Berry Semifreddo Diptych-500
Mixed Berry Semifreddo
Okay, now I feel guilty. What was I thinking? Posting two recipes in a row that required special equipment. First a food dehydrator, then an ice cream maker. Let's blame the peaches for being so enticing. As an apology, here is a recipe for a frozen treat that requires nothing more elaborate than a loaf pan. Oh yes, and that pesky blender. You do have one, don't you?

Subscribe to my newsletter.

It’s easy. It’s free. It’s informative.

 

Receive weekly tips, recipes and advanced notice of upcoming events.

Yes, please!