Welcome to Carol Fenster Cooks!
I have had a love affair with food since I was a small child. But I didn’t understand that it was the very food I loved that made me ill. When I learned that gluten was the culprit, I left my corporate job to start Savory Palate, Inc. where I specialize in gluten-free, allergen-free, and vegetarian/vegan cooking. I believe that eating food is the most profound thing we do to our bodies each and every day. So my mission is to help everyone eat well and I love my job!
Traveling in Canada is always a joy—the people are delightful, the scenery is spectacular, and Canadians understand what it means to be on a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free Pizza in Banff, Alberta
My travels were in the province of Alberta, where we enjoyed the beauty of Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper with beautiful mountain scenery, glaciers, and rushing streams and waterfalls.
Gorgeous scenery in Banff, Alberta
It was a lot like my state of Colorado’s mountains and perhaps that’s why I like it so much. Our final 3 days were in Calgary to watch my grandson’s lacrosse tournament (see more about lacrosse below).
Of course, I was eager to see how Canadian restaurants would handle my gluten-free lifestyle, so here is a summary of my experiences. As you can see, there were some hits …..and a few misses!
BANFF AND LAKE LOUISE
The Meatball Pizza and Pasta
We just happened to drive past this restaurant, which is located in the Banff Ptarmigan Inn, but what a great restaurant. Their gluten-free pizza, with house-made crust (see photo at right), was phenomenal. None of the pizza restaurants, however, offered vegan cheese (usually Daiya brand) that we can easily find in Denver.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
This is a big, grand old hotel, built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad in the 1880’s. It resembles a castle and it looks out over an incredibly beautiful mountain range. We had lunch on the outdoor patio of the Rundle Lounge, which boasts a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains. My hamburger came with a gluten-free bun, upon request.
Earl’s Kitchen + Bar
Earl’s Kitchen + Bar is a chain, headquartered in Vancouver, BC, and we have a location near my home in Denver. At Earl’s, gluten-free items are clearly marked on the menu so I had tacos with corn tortillas. They were fantastic and the customer service was excellent, too.
The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company
This restaurant was actually located in Canmore, just outside Banff. Gluten-free items were clearly marked on the menu, so I chose a Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) which was delicious.
Wild Flour Bakery
The Wild Flour Banff Artisan Bakery has many gluten-free choices (both sweet and savory), but I chose a huge banana chocolate chip muffin which was fabulous. I only got to visit this baker once, but if I go back to Banff it will be my first stop! I devoured the muffin and forgot to take a photo.
Chateau Deli at Lake Louise Chateau Fairmont
You might not expect good gluten-free food at a deli, but I was shocked to find a ready-made, shrink-wrapped ham-and-cheese sandwich on gluten-free bread. The bread was phenomenal , the closest thing to a croissant that I have ever eaten. In fact, I was so taken aback that I ate the whole sandwich before I remembered to take a photo!
Evil Dave’s Grill
The primary reason we chose this restaurant was mostly because of its name… Evil Dave’s Grill. Despite its wild name, it was a fairly subdued place. The highlight was a warm gluten-free cake/brownie that was the perfect end to our steak dinner.
Warm Gluten-Free Brownie
Bear’s Paw Bakery
This is a thriving bakery, with two locations in Jasper. Their muffins are not segregated away from the gluten muffins, but to their credit, the employees warn you that the muffins could be cross-contaminated. I really appreciated their candor, but I ate a muffin anyway with no problems.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
This hotel was located outside Jasper, overlooking a lovely serene lake. We ate outside and I had my first “banh mi” which is a Vietnamese sandwich. The restaurant served it on a gluten-free Udi’s bun and it was fabulous.
Mt. Robson Inn
I wouldn’t recommend this motel, however, I was pleased to find individual-wrapped bagels by Udi’s at the free breakfast. Because they were individually wrapped, there was no danger of contamination and I toasted mine in a toaster bag, which I always carry with me when traveling.
This restaurant is conveniently located in a hotel right near the Calgary airport, and is called Pacini. Imagine my surprise when the menu listed gluten-free bread, which was served lightly grilled. It was delicious!
Grilled Gluten-Free Bread
Homewood Suites Hotel Breakfast
This new hotel included breakfast and I could order gluten-free bread, which I did. Unfortunately, the bread had been frozen and I think they thawed it in a microwave oven (on High) because within seconds it was hard as a rock and inedible.
Deerfoot Inn & Casino
This hotel was near my grandson’s lacrosse tournament (see below). I was pleased to order gluten-free bread at breakfast. Like most of the restaurants with gluten-free bread, it was Udi’s brand (which the servers pronounced as “oodiss”).
My General Impressions on Dining in Canada
Most of my experiences with gluten-free dining in Canada were positive. I noticed that some restaurants identified their approach as “gluten-aware” or “gluten-free aware” which servers explained to me as using gluten-free ingredients without guaranteeing there was no cross-contamination. So, that means to always ask questions about how the food is prepared to assess whether it is safe for you.
I found was able to find gluten-free beer brands, such as Glutenberg brand made with millet, that I can’t find in the U.S.
More About Lacrosse
I was in Canada to watch my grandson’s lacrosse tournament. In case you aren’t familiar with lacrosse, the idea is to get the ball into the opponent’s net but you can only cradle or throw the ball from a small net pocket attached to the end of a stick. It requires a high degree of hand-eye coordination and I am amazed at the skill it takes to play the game. It is considered a contact sport, though not as rough as football.
Whenever I prepare warmed olives, I think of this story. Here it is:
Warm Herbed Olives
Several years ago on a warm summer night, we were sitting with friends on their patio in the foothills of the Rocky mountains, munching on warm olives. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a fox keenly watching us––sitting within three feet of my husband. Soon, another fox crept to the edge of the patio, waiting. Now, I am not afraid of foxes, but I also understand that they are wild animals and deserve respect— and I would prefer that they be farther away than three feet!
It turns out that they expected their daily handout of raw eggs from our host and posed no harm to us at all. Once they had their eggs firmly ensconced in their teeth, they trotted off into the forest to have their own feast. It was a wonderfully mysterious look at nature––up close and personal. To this day, I think of foxes whenever I eat warm olives.
You can always serve your olives plain, but heating them in this mixture of herbs, citrus, and garlic elevates a simple olive to a delicacy. I’ve tinkered with this recipe for many years and it is my favorite version. You can heat the olives in the oven, but I have also heated them on the grill when we’re entertaining on the patio. Here in Colorado with our extremely strong sun, I can also just place the foil packet of olives in the sun and let nature do its work.
Warm Olives in Herbs
Reprinted with permission from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008)
Delightfully simple, yet simply delicious. This will become one of your favorite appetizers.
2 cups olives of your choice, drained
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 (3-inch) strip lemon zest (no white)
1 garlic clove, halved
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine all the ingredients on a heavy-duty sheet of foil (or use two sheets of foil). Fold up edges of the foil to create a pocket and place on a small baking sheet.
 Warm the olives 15 to 20 minutes, or until they become fragrant. Serve warm.
Summer is in full swing here in Colorado. Warm days in the 90’s, cool nights in the 60’s (we have daily temperature swings of 30 to 40 degrees). Farmer’s markets, community gardens, and stores are overflowing with peak-of-the-season fruits, herbs, and vegetables and my senses are overwhelmed with their beauty and fragrance.
Dilled Cucumber Apple Soup
I love the challenge of finding tasty ways to eat them…as in today’s Chilled & Dilled Cucumber-Apple Soup that blends two summer favorites: cucumber and dill, with apple as the sweetener. The result is a creamy, cool soup that’s perfect for these hot summer days. It’s also naturally gluten-free and perfect for entertaining your guests.
Plus, the dill that is flourishing in a big pot on my patio begs to be used and this soup is just perfect for that.
Chilled & Dilled Cucumber-Apple Soup
Reprinted with permission from 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster (Avery/Penguin Group, 2011)
Cool and refreshing as an entrée for a summer luncheon, or served in espresso cups or shot glasses as an appetizer before dinner, this super-easy soup is absolutely tantalizing. The sweetness of the apple juice both balances and accentuates the dill. Dried dill won’t work here; it has to be fresh.
3 medium Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored, and cut in ½-inch pieces
1 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups English cucumber, unpeeled, chopped, plus slices for garnish
1 cup low-fat sour cream, vegan sour cream, or plain yogurt (can use lactose-free yogurt)
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped, plus extra dill sprigs, for garnish
 In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, apple juice, lemon juice, agave nectar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the apples are tender. Let cool for 10 minutes.
 Place the apples, cucumber, sour cream, and dill in a blender and process until very, very smooth and all the peels and skins are pureed. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least 3 hours, to meld the flavors. Serve chilled, garnished with thin slices of cucumber and a small dill sprig for garnish. Serves 4 as a main course; 8 for appetizers.
Per 1 of 8 appetizers: 70 calories; 1g protein; 1g total fat; 1g fiber; 16g carbohydrates; 2mg cholesterol; 77mg sodium
Summer’s garden bounty is in full-swing and Farmer’s Markets are bursting at the seams with lovely fresh produce. I always buy far more than I need, but I just can’t resist.
Homemade Dill Pickles are gluten-free and don’t require canning equipment.
One of the vegetables that beckons to me is small, Kirby cucumbers—just right for pickling. But the thought of hauling out all of the usual canning equipment to make pickles does not excite me at all.
Instead, I make my dill pickles the quick way—overnight—brining in the fridge. One taste and you’re hooked: the flavor is fresh and “dilly” but low in sodium because you control the salt. And, I just step outside to my patio to pick fresh dill but you can find it in supermarkets in the produce section.
The dill spears are crisp and crunchy. Here is the easy recipe for these delicious pickles, which keep for about a week in the fridge. Don’t worry, they won’t last that long!
Homemade Dill Pickles (without the canning fuss)
By Carol Fenster
Choose the small, Kirby cucumbers for this recipe for the best results—they fit more easily in small canning jars. This small recipe makes enough for two small (8-ounce) jars. I prefer using fresh dill from my backyard herb garden, but you can buy fresh dill in the supermarket or use dill seed.
3 small pickling (Kirby) cucumbers
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
2 sprigs (about ½ ounce) fresh dill (or ½ teaspoon dill seed)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ small onion, sliced
1 cup water
¾ cup white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
 Wash and quarter the cucumbers lengthwise into spears and divide evenly between the two jars..cutting to fit in the jar if necessary. Divide the peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill, garlic, and onion evenly between the jars.
 In a small saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved and then divided evenly between the two jars. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Keeps for 1 week, refrigerated. Makes 12 pickles.
Per pickle: 16 calories ; 0g fat; 1g protein;1g fiber;4g carbohydrates; 48mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol
I have always been fascinated by the idea of sprouting and vowed to try it—someday. Recently, I got serious about sprouting because I kept reading about its benefits, according to the Whole Grains Council.
Sprouted Wild Rice Salad
Here is a brief list of those benefits from the Whole Grains Council’s website. I realize that these benefits may vary by the grain or seed you use, but here is the research:
BENEFITS OF SPROUTING
 Sprouting increases many of the grains’ key nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids often lacking in grains, such as lysine—and makes them more bio-available so your body can absorb them better.
 Sprouted brown rice fights diabetes.
 Sprouted buckwheat protects against fatty liver disease.
 Sprouted brown rice reduces cardiovascular risk.
 Sprouted brown rice decreases depression and fatigue in nursing mothers.
 Decreased blood pressure linked to sprouted barley (obviously, off-limits to GF folks, but interesting).
(The science behind these claims is here.) Again, not every claim may apply to every grain but I’m most interested in making any grains’ ingredients more easily absorbed by my body.
I will add another benefit, although non-nutritional:
It is a great way to fix a meal during the hot days of summer because you don’t have to turn on any appliance.
WHAT IS SPROUTING?
Armed with these reasons I set out to conquer sprouting. But first, what is “sprouting?”
Here is my lay person’s definition: soaking a whole grain or seed (one that is “intact” because it contains the germ, endosperm, and bran) in water until it “sprouts” by opening up or growing little tendrils. You can “sprout” just about any grain or seed, but I will focus on those that are gluten-free and use the word “grain” for the rest of this post.
What does a sprouted grain look like? The answer is it varies by each grain. I decided to start with wild rice since I love its crunchiness, heartiness, and color. So, my recipe today uses wild rice. After sprouting, wild rice is soft enough to eat without cooking and some of the grains may open up like little flowers. If you prefer to cook your wild rice so it is softer and not so chewy, see my recipe from earlier this year.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR SPROUTING
My first attempt was “Low-Tech” to say the least. I simply put the wild rice and water in a measuring cup and let it stand on the countertop, draining it through a sieve and changing the water twice a day, until it sprouted—which took about 4 days. It may take fewer days for softer grains.
Further research shows I could use something called a “sprouting jar” which is really like a glass Mason jar with a lid that has a built-in sieve and allows you to keep the grains in the jar while draining it upside-down. If you want to make this investment, (they are not expensive) you can find them at natural food stores or online. Or, you can just buy the lid with the built-in sieve and screw it onto your own Mason jar. Remember, if your grain is quite tiny (such as quinoa) the holes in the sieve must be very close together or they will fall through. Once you try it, you will discover what works best for you and your budget and patience.
HOW TO USE SPROUTED GRAINS
Some bakers use sprouted grains for bread, but I’m not experienced in that yet, so I am focusing on eating the sprouted grains in a salad which can be served cold or at room temperature, perfect for hot weather dining. This means you don’t have to heat up the kitchen by cooking the wild rice.
Grain salads are really just a base of grains tossed with chopped fruits or vegetables and a salad dressing—much like making a regular mixed green salad. Sometimes these salads are called “grain bowls” in restaurants and could be topped with grilled meats or perhaps fried eggs. The recipe below is for a grain salad using wild rice, but for a heavier meal I would top it with grilled salmon or chicken.
Sprouted grains can also be eaten as a hot or cold breakfast cereal. With summer’s hot weather almost here, they make a healthy cold breakfast cereal and can be topped with fruit, nuts, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey… or whatever you like on your cereal.
SPROUTED WILD RICE SALAD WITH BASIL-LEMON VINAIGRETTE©
By Carol Fenster
This recipe is my first try at “sprouting” so use it as a base for your own version. I make my own salad dressing, but you could use your favorite store-bought version to save a little time. I pair the wild rice with chickpeas because they provide a pretty color/shape contrast to the wild rice but you could also use white kidney or Great Northern beans. For a light supper, top this salad with grilled salmon or chicken.
1 cup wild rice
Water for soaking
½ cup shredded carrots (I use store-bought because I like their shape or shred your own)
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper or grape tomatoes
½ cup chopped nuts (almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios)
½ cup chopped green onions
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked chickpeas (cook your own or use canned and rinse thoroughly)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup greens (such as baby arugula, or cooked edamame, or frozen green peas)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave nectar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 In a sprouting jar or medium bowl, combine the wild rice with enough rice to cover. Let soak at room temperature for 24 hours. Drain, rinse, cover with fresh water, and let soak for another 24 hours. Drain and rinse, then cover with water twice a day for the next two days or until the wild rice is tender enough to eat. Drain thoroughly. (If you are not ready to eat it, keep refrigerated for up to two days.)
 In a large bowl, toss together the wild rice, carrots, bell pepper, nuts, green onions, salt, chickpeas, basil, and greens until blended.
 Make the Basil-Lemon Vinaigrette: In a screw-top glass jar, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, lemon peel, salt, and pepper and shake until well blended. Add the oil and shake vigorously until the vinaigrette thickens. Or, puree all of the ingredients in a mini-blender or food processor until emulsified. Toss the salad with as much of the vinaigrette as you like. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired. Serve at room temperature. Serves 6.
Per serving: 310 calories; 19g protein; 17g total fat; 4g fiber; 34g carbohydrates; 0mg cholesterol; 220 mgs sodium
You may be surprised to learn that there was a time when fresh strawberries were only available in spring and only for a short period of time.
Homemade Strawberry Jam
Yes, it’s true. This was before strawberries were flown in from around the world all year long. As a child, I remember back-breaking days in the hot Nebraska sun plucking ripe, juicy strawberries near our farmhouse. Since strawberries grow close to the ground on vines, we had to kneel down or squat to reach them. Maybe that’s why kids were assigned this task: we were closer to the ground to start with!
I have many favorite ways to eat strawberries (e.g., strawberry shortcake), but one of my favorites is a quick and easy homemade jam that contains no pectin and no preservatives. The natural pectin in the strawberries interacts with the sugar and lemon juice to thicken the jam. It doesn’t have to be canned or frozen so you don’t need any extra equipment. Simply keep it in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and enjoy on toast, pancakes, waffles, or spooned over ice cream Enjoy!
Quick and Easy Homemade Strawberry Jam
This easy jam lets the flavor of strawberries shine through without any added pectin or preservatives—and no canning equipment. I usually make it while I’m preparing dinner so I’m able to monitor its progress. It’s an especially good way to use up strawberries that are a little past their prime, but still delicious. I use a minimal amount of sugar in my recipe, but if you like your jam sweeter use 3/4 cup sugar.
1 pound fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and diced (about 3 cups diced)
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Stir the ingredients together in a 1-quart saucepan. With a fork or potato masher, mash a few of the strawberries. Place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Then quickly reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is slightly reduced and somewhat thick and syrupy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a clean glass jar with a lid. Refrigerate and use within two weeks. Makes about 1 cup.
Calories per tablespoon: 25; 0g fat, 1g fiber; 0 protein, 6g carbohydrates, 0g cholesterol, 4g sodium
Father’s Day is June 21– a week from this coming Sunday. Celebrate that special guy in your life with these decadent Red Velvet Cupcakes. You can make the cupcakes ahead of time, freeze for up to a week, then defrost in the fridge the night before you frost them. Take the time to thank the men in your life (Dad, husband, grandfather, brother, or uncle) for all they do for you and your family.
For my husband, I usually prepare his favorite meal for Father’s Day. That is usually something on the grill, perhaps salmon or a juicy steak. He gets to choose dessert, and it has to be something chocolate. So, even though these cupcakes have only a little cocoa in them they will fit the bill just fine.
Red Velvet Cupcakes for Father’s Day.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from GfreeCuisine by from Carol Fenster, author of Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking. This makes a gorgeous little red cupcake, perfect for your favorite frosting or the simple, plain vanilla frosting I use here. They make a special treat for Dad.
1 cup GF flour blend (see below)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter or buttery spread, melted and cooled slightly
2 large whole eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup water, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon red food coloring
VANILLA POWDERED SUGAR FROSTING
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup melted butter or buttery spread
2 tablespoons milk of choice or water
½ teaspoon corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12-cup standard nonstick (gray, not black) muffin pan with paper liners. These are especially cute if you can find “guy-or-masculine-themed” paper liners.
 In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour blend, cocoa, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt until well blended.
 In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer on Low speed until well blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Add vanilla and food coloring to water. With the mixer on Low speed, beat in one-third of the dry ingredients alternately with the water, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Spoon ¼ cup of batter into each liner.
 Bake until the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from oven and cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely.
 In a medium bowl, beat frosting ingredients together with electric mixer on Low speed until well blended and frost cupcakes. Makes 12 cupcakes.
Per cupcake: 345 calories; 2g protein; 19g total fat; 1g fiber; 44g carbohydrates; 42mg cholesterol; 190mg sodium
GF Flour Blend
1 ½ cups sorghum flour
1 ½ cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca flour
Whisk together and store in a dark, dry place.
As you know by now, I am a voracious reader. Whether in airports, waiting rooms, or my nightly “quiet-time” with a good book—I manage to read several per month. With summertime not far off, here are some ideas for you to enjoy while traveling, in the backyard under a tree with a glass of iced tea at hand, or anytime you have a spare minute.
I have offered other reading lists in the past on this blog, so check them out:
Reading List #1
Reading List #2
Macaron Murder by Harper Lin
French Macarons are naturally gluten-free
A novel set in Paris, with a culinary murder to be solved. French native Clémence Damour returns to Paris after traveling around the world for two years. She’s dog-sitting for her parents in the posh 16th arrondissement and overseeing the family patisserie, a famous franchise known for their delectable gourmet pastries and sweets in Paris and around the world. Fun, not too heavy, with a glimpse of what it’s like to live in Paris. Recipes for Macarons, which are naturally gluten-free. For my own recipe for French Macarons —not to be confused with Coconut Macaroons—see here.
Growing Home by Heidi Freestone
This is a novel that reads like a memoir. Set in the rural fringes of Sonoma County, with garden wisdom and a few recipes woven into a tale of a life reconstructed through hard work, friendships and a strong desire to make sense of the world. With her heart broken and world view shattered, big-city refugee Sara immerses herself in learning how to grow her own food in rural Sonoma County, California. Wish it were a real memoir instead.
The Call of the Farm: An Unexpected Year of Getting Dirty, Home Cooking, and Finding Myself by Rochelle Bilow
A memoir of living and working on a CSA (Community-Support-Agriculture) farm. One summer, I subscribed to a CSA and now more fully understand what it takes to run such a farm. Bilow, a classically trained cook and aspiring food writer, is nursing a broken heart and frustrated with her yet-to-take-off career when she sets out to write a short profile of a CSA farm in central New York but instead finds temporary love (and lots of sex). She becomes the head cook for a year, with recipes for each season.
The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax
Kale. Sriracha sauce. Honeycrisp apples. Cupcakes. Chia seeds. They are suddenly superfoods, but this book addresses what exactly is a “superfood.” It’s more of an academic-read, but entertaining nonetheless.
All the President’s Menus (A White House Chef Mystery) by Julie Hyzy
One of my favorite series of culinary mysteries. Chef Ollie (Olivia) helps solve yet another murder tied to the White House, with lots of insights into the food served to the First Family and special occasions. This time the staff is sequestered because of foreign visitors to the White House kitchen, which turn out to dangerous. Chef Ollie is a somewhat like Goldie in Diane Mott Davidson’s series of culinary mysteries. Pure fun, with a few recipes.
Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller
I had never read anything by Alexandra Fuller before, but she writes beautifully so I quickly became engrossed in her memoir which became a New York Times bestseller. Little mention of food, but here’s the storyline: A child of the Rhodesian wars and daughter of two deeply complicated parents, Alexandra Fuller is no stranger to pain. But the disintegration of her own marriage leaves her shattered. Looking to pick up the pieces of her life, she finally confronts the tough questions about her past, about the American man she married, and about the family she left behind in Africa. It is a fascinating look into a culture (Africa) I know little about.
The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu
Did you know that the more words describing your dinner on the menu, the more expensive the dinner? A Stanford University professor examines the language of food by exploring the history and meaning foods such as ketchup, macaroni, and even salad. Why do we eat turkey for Thanksgiving (like we think the Pilgrims did?) when those birds are not native to North American and actually come from the Mediterranean. This book made me think!
Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan
What do coffee, IPA beer, dark chocolate, and radicchio all have in common? Other than the fact that I love them all, they are classified as bitter. We have recently seen a surge in the popularity of other bitter foods: craft beers; dark chocolate; coffee; greens like arugula, dandelion, radicchio, and frisée; high-quality olive oil; and cocktails made with Campari and absinthe—all foods and drinks with elements of bitterness. This book made me think about why I like certain foods. With recipes, too.
Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn
A memoir from the author’s childhood, it’s full of Midwestern tales along with family recipes. Thoroughly enjoyable!
“Tall soy cappuccino, please.” That’s my usual order at our local coffee shop. But, while I love lingering over that cappuccino, I wish I had a gluten-free cookie or bar to eat with it.
Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cookies
Recently, I noticed that Starbucks offers “flourless” chocolate chip cookies but they are not labeled gluten-free so I don’t buy them. However, gazing at them in the display case made me want one, right now! So I went home and concocted my own gluten-free version. Here it is:
Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cookies©
By Carol Fenster
This recipe is small since many people ask me for small-batch recipes because they live in small households. If you just want a few cookies, bake as many as you need and the keep the remaining dough refrigerated for another 3 days. Or, shape into balls and freeze. Then bake as needed. I love pulling these out of the freezer at a moment’s notice and having fresh-baked cookies in about as much time as it takes to heat up the oven. Enjoy!!
Makes 12 cookies
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Baking time: 10 to 12 minutes
1 cup (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa), divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, buttery spread, or coconut oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/16 teaspoon baking soda
1/16 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/32 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
 In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips and the butter on Low power in microwave oven for about 30 seconds, or until melted. Stir; set aside to cool.
 In a separate small bowl, beat the egg, sugar, cornstarch, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture until no cornstarch streaks remain. Stir in the walnuts and remaining chocolate chips. Dough will be soft. Refrigerate, covered, 2 hours.
 Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9×13-inch baking sheet (not nonstick) with parchment paper. Shape dough into 12 walnut-sized balls and place on baking sheet, at least 1 ½-inches apart.
 Bake just until the crust starts to crack, about 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool cookies 2 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Or, freeze balls up to 1 month and bake later.
Per cookie: 130 calories; 2g protein; 7 g total fat; 1g fiber; 17 g carbohydrates; 18 mg cholesterol; 18 mg sodium
NOTE: You probably noticed the extremely small measurements in this—, for example, 1/16 teaspoon. You can buy mini-teaspoons at kitchen stores or online and they usually contain 1/8, 1/16, and 1/32 measurements. They are good investment for your kitchen if you bake in small batches that require small measurements.