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!
There has been a lot written about FODMAP-friendly foods recently.
The Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free Cookbook by Marlisa Brown, MS, RD, CDE
Just what are FODMAPS? The word itself is an acronym that includes: Fermentable Oligo-Di-
Monosaccharides and Polyols. FODMAPS are actually sugars and are found in many foods. It is believed that, for some people, sensitivity to FODMAPS is the source of their discomfort. If you believe you may be affected by FODMAPS, the question is “How do you prepare food that meets the requirement of this diet?
My friend and colleague, Marlisa Brown, a dietitian who practices in New York has the answer in the 2nd edition of her very helpful book, The Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free Cookbook. Marlisa is not only a registered dietitian, but also a certified diabetes educator and chef. Her company is called Total Wellness, Inc. and her clients include some of the most famous people and companies in the U.S., plus she studied at the Culinary Institute of America. So, I trust what she says and I’m glad to have Marlisa and her book as a guide to help people avoid FODMAPs if they (and their health professionals) think this is the right diet for them.
Here is what’s in Marlisa’s book:
• Over 100 Delicious Gluten-Free Recipes
• Allergy Information for Top Allergens on Every Recipe
• Vegetarian and Vegan Highlighted
• FODMAPs Recipes Highlighted
• Kid Friendly Snacks
• Comfort Food Classics
• Quick Weeknight Dinners
• Color Photos
• Holiday Recipes, Appetizers, Luscious Desserts, and more
For more information, go to Marlisa’s blog. I know you are anxious to try one of Marlisa’s delicious recipes so here it is:
Shrimp Risotto (FODMAP-friendly)
Reprinted with permission from The Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free Cookbook, 2nd edition
By Marlisa Brown MS, RD, CDE, CDN
A classic Italian rice dish.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
3 cups (24oz) gluten-free low sodium chicken broth
1 cup green peas
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
 Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shrimp and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the shrimp are just opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl to cool.
 Return the pan to the heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes.
 Add the rice and stir until coated about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine is absorbed.
 Add a ½ cup of the broth to the rice stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. When the rice is almost dry, add another ½ cup broth and repeat the process. Continue adding broth until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed.
 Stir in the peas, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil and lemon zest and reserved shrimp. Serve immediately. Serves 6
Nutritional information: 238 calories, 15.3 grams protein, 29.1 grams carbohydrates, 6.6 grams fat, 69.6 milligrams cholesterol, 656.9 milligrams sodium, 1.8 grams fiber, 77 milligrams calcium, <1 milligram iron
FODMAPs: To make FODMAP-friendly, omit onion and replace with chopped green onions.
Omit the garlic and use garlic infused oil.
Allergy Tip: Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Peanut-Free, Fish-Free. Double check the chicken broth for soy. To make milk free, use a milk free cheese substitute for the Parmesan cheese.
Tip: Risotto turns glutinous when held too long so you should serve it right away.
Summer is waning here in Colorado, but it is still warm enough for certain crops—such as zucchini. Here is a delicious way to use it up—Zucchini Bread! Bake several batches and freeze for later this winter.
Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread
Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy, Gluten-Free Cooking by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
Though often maligned, most of us like zucchini in bread so bake a batch and enjoy this classic.
2 cups GF flour blend (see below)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (about 1 medium or 2 small)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or your favorite nuts)
 Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously grease three 6×4-inch nonstick (gray, not black) loaf pan(s).
 In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda until well blended. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until light yellow and frothy, about 30 seconds. Add the oil and vanilla and beat on low speed until well blended. With the mixer on low speed, beat the flour mixture gradually into the egg mixture until the batter is smooth and slightly thickened. The batter will be very stiff, but then beat in the grated zucchini and it will become softer. With a spatula, stir in the raisins and nuts. Spread the batter evenly in the pan(s).
 Bake until the tops are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes. Cool the bread in the pans 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove the bread from the pan(s) and cool completely on the wire rack. Slice with an electric or serrated knife and serve slightly warm. Makes 3 small loaves
Per slice: 270 calories; 3g protein; 13g total fat; 2g fiber; 38g carbohydrates; 31mgs cholesterol; 237mgs sodium
GF Flour Blend
1 ½ cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour
1 ½ cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca flour/starch
Whisk together and store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.
When you have kids in school, weeknights can be hectic. There’s homework, dance lessons, lacrosse or soccer practice, and that’s just the kids. You have the work you brought home from the office or calls to make for the PTA. You just want some easy, quick weeknight meal ideas such as this easy, colorful tostada.
Shrimp Tostadas with Chipotle Sauce
If you have the ingredients prepped ahead of time, family members can assemble their own tostadas when they please. This is especially important on school nights when everyone has a different schedule. Enjoy!
SHRIMP TOSTADAS WITH CHIPOTLE SAUCE
Adapted from Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy, Gluten-Free Cooking by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
These gorgeous tostadas go together quickly if you have all the ingredients prepped in advance. The Chipotle Sauce isn’t essential, but it makes these tasty little treats go from “great” to “wow, these are fantastic.”
8 gluten-free tostada shells
1 container (9 ounces) bean dip
[1/2] cup chopped red onion
2 plum tomatoes or 8 cherry tomatoes, cored and diced
[1/2] pound cooked shrimp, tails removed and chopped
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
[1/2] cup chopped fresh cilantro
[1/2] cup store-bought Mexican tomato salsa or salsa verde
[1/2] cup low-fat sour cream or sour cream alternative
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
[1/2] teaspoon honey or agave nectar
[1/4] teaspoon chipotle chile powder, or to taste
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
 Place racks in middle and lower third of oven. Place tostada shells on two 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheets (shells may overlap a little). Spread each shell with scant 2 tablespoons of bean dip. Place one sheet on each rack in oven to warm, about 5 to 10 minutes, while preparing remaining ingredients.
 Whisk together sour cream, lime juice, honey, and chile powder to make smooth sauce, adding enough lime juice to reach thin consistency. Remove tostadas from oven. Top each tostada with equal amounts of onion, tomato, shrimp, avocado, lettuce, and cilantro. Drizzle with chipotle sauce and serve immediately with the Mexican salsa. Makes 8 tostadas.
Per tostada: 250 Calories ; 12 g Fat; 2g Saturated Fat; 11g Protein; 4g Fiber; 27g Carbohydrates; 345mg Sodium ; 58 mg Cholesterol
School is back in session and your time just got even more precious. I remember the days when I would rush home from work after a long commute and head straight to the kitchen to start dinner. We had to eat quickly because there was always the inevitable homework for my son, office work for me, and—on some nights—a school or community meeting to attend.
Mexican Skillet Beef and Rice from 100 Best Quick Gluten-Free Recipes; Photo by Jason Wyche
Early on, I decided that we would not sacrifice our health by skipping meals or resorting to TV dinners or simply snacking over the kitchen sink. So, I made time to sit down and eat a meal at the table. Of course, I had my repertoire of quick recipes for nights like this but I would have loved this recipe back then.
I strongly believe in planning ahead (such as having cooked rice and browned ground beef on hand for this recipe), but I know that even the best intentions go astray. I read recently that home cooks who plan the week’s meals still tend to “fall off the wagon” by mid-week so that Thursday and Friday are more likely to be take-out meals or hastily-assembled affairs.
I can relate to this: it takes discipline and commitment to adhere to a weekly meal plan, especially if you are extremely busy. But I also feel strongly that what we eat is the most profound thing we do to our bodies, so I still prepare our own meals as often as I can. I hope you do too.
Let this quick, easy dish called Mexican Skillet Beef and Rice be one of your late-week recipes. It’s got loads of flavor from the chili powder, oregano, and cumin plus protein from the ground beef. You serve it right from the skillet, so no extra serving bowls to wash. Super-easy, boldly flavorful, it is sure to become one of your family’s favorites.
MEXICAN SKILLET BEEF AND RICE
Excerpted from 100 BEST QUICK GLUTEN-FREE RECIPES © 2014 by Carol Fenster. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
This dish is for really busy nights, when you want dinner on the table right away. Serve it with a tossed salad, along with corn tortillas wrapped in damp paper towels and heated gently in the microwave. This is a good way to use up leftover cooked brown rice that you’ve stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Or, quickly cook instant brown rice while browning the ground beef.
8 ounces lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion or 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
½ cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can (14- to 15- ounce) can pinto beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (4- ounce) can diced green chiles
2 medium Roma or plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
 In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring to crumble the beef. The beef will be more flavorful if it is fully browned and all the liquid has evaporated.
 Add the water, chili powder, oregano, cumin, and salt and stir to combine. Stir in the rice, beans, and chiles and heat to serving temperature, about 5 minutes. Top with the chopped tomatoes; garnish with the chopped cilantro. Serve immediately, right from the skillet.
STORAGE: Refrigerate leftovers, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days.
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Per serving: 520 calories; 29g protein; 8g total fat; 28g fiber; 85g carbohydrates; 21mg cholesterol; 234mg sodium
It may be September, but tomatoes are still abundant at Farmer’s Markets and supermarkets—and perhaps your own backyard. Labor Day is coming up and I am always looking for ways to feature tomatoes in easy dishes that showcase their marvelous flavor.
Fresh tomatoes are perfect for gluten-free Gazpacho.
One of my favorite ways is to make Gazpacho―a tomato-based soup that is like a liquid salad from the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. It is typically a summertime dish because it is cool and refreshing and needs no cooking. There are many ways to make this delightful dish; I have a very simple version in my vegetarian cookbook, 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes, that I serve as an appetizer in over-size shot glasses.
Here is another version that we use in my weekly online cookbook, www.GfreeCuisine.com that is also extraordinarily tasty. Serve it as appetizers in whatever little dishes you have (such as shot glasses or martini glasses) or as an entrée-size in soup bowls or large wine or margarita glasses. Gazpacho’s flavor improves if it is refrigerated overnight, so chill it for at least 4 hours after making it to let the flavors meld.
Used with permission from www.GfreeCuisine.com
My favorite way to serve gazpacho is these cute little appetizers (see photo), but it makes a great hot-weather lunch too.
2 cucumbers, diced
3 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups tomato juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or more to taste)
Juice of 1 lemon
Frank’s hot sauce, to taste
Garnishes: GF croutons, lemon wedges, diced avocado, chopped parsley, and sour cream
 In large glass bowl combine vegetables. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Add half the mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth. Combine puree with original mixture. Chill for 4 hours and serve with garnishes of your choice. Serves 4 as lunch; 8 as appetizers.
There are so many ways to make Gazpacho, but usually it is made from tomatoes. A common method is to use pieces of bread to thicken it. This means we should be careful when ordering Gazpacho in a restaurant. However, I find that using bread isn’t necessary and, in fact, I never use any thickener. If your recipe seems excessively watery, simply reduce the amount of liquid (usually tomato juice) by about 25 percent. After all, it is a soup so it should be liquid!
I rarely see this in recipes, but I like to add a pinch of sugar or agave nectar to tomato-based dishes like this Gazpacho to heighten the flavors and balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Try it and see what you think; you won’t know the sugar’s there.
How to Serve Gazpacho
Garnishes are like the “frosting on the cake.” They make our food look prettier and more enticing. I listed several possible garnishes but—if you don’t want to use them—simply sprinkle a little chopped parsley or a basil leaf on each serving and you’re good to go. For a little protein, I sometimes top the appetizers with cooked little shrimps. Very pretty and tasty!
If you are serving the Gazpacho as an appetizer, you don’t have to worry about what to serve with it. But if it is a main dish, then try serving it with a gluten-free baguette that you baked from one of my cookbooks. Or, toast any of the wonderful gluten-free sandwich breads and top with butter and a dusting of Parmesan cheese. Or, serve it with crispy gluten-free crackers….anything to provide a crunchy contrast.
How to Store Tomatoes
You probably already know that tomatoes should never be refrigerated; keep them at room temperature to preserve their texture and flavor. I recently learned that tomatoes will last longer if stored with the stem-end down which prevents moisture from escaping and mold or bacteria from getting in. I plan to try this tip with fresh peaches and apricots, too, just to see what happens (since they should not be refrigerated either).
One of my favorite “go-to” meals is this colorful Mango Salsa, served on top of many different entrees.
Colorful Mango Salsa
For example, I use it on grilled fish (especially salmon but great on halibut or sea bass). I like it on chicken and pork, too. It’s healthy, beautifully colorful, and extremely healthy because of the mango and all those veggies.
It is also an impressive way to entertain because of all those gorgeous colors. It is best when made about an hour before serving so the mango holds its shape nicely.
I prefer to use a mango that is only slightly ripe, rather than one that is fully ripe because it dices more neatly and stays firmer, rather than getting mushy. Enjoy!
By Carol Fenster
Serve this colorful salsa on top of entrees for a beautiful, healthy meal.
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
½ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
About 1 hour prior to eating, combine salsa ingredients in small bowl. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
To me, one of summer’s greatest pleasures is curling up with a great book. With just a few weeks of summer left, take a look at my recent finds, choose one (or more), and lose yourself in a good story. I only give you short descriptions for these books—I don’t want to spoil the discovery for you.
The Beekeeper’s’ Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America by Hannah Nordhaus (2011)
I will never view honey the same way, ever again. Did you know that one honey bee is responsible for only 1/12 teaspoon of honey during its entire lifetime? This is a fascinating look at how beekeepers transport honey bees from region to region, wherever they are needed, to pollinate our food supply and the precarious situation our honeybees are in.
Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin (2015)
The author cooks her way through 4 years of international meals, but along the way tells her sad story of growing up without being close to her birth mother. The 4-year cooking endeavor morphed into her blog, Global Travel Adventures.
Driving Hungry: A Memoir by Layne Mosler (2015)
Asking a taxi driver to recommend a restaurant seems risky, but that’s exactly what the author does in 3 countries (U.S., Germany, and Argentina) to find authentic places that she then writes about in her blog, Taxi Gourmet. She even becomes a taxi driver in New York City, which takes guts!!!
Three Novels called “A Maine Clambake Mystery” by Barbara Ross
Read them sequentially so you have the backstory in mind as you read each subsequent novel.
Clammed Up (2013)
Boiled Over (2014)
Musseled Out (2015)
These three novels are “culinary mysteries” set in a harbor town on the Maine Coast, with each novel focusing on a murder that the heroine helps the police to solve. Easy reading.
My Organic Life: How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today by Nora Pouillon with Laura Fraser (2015)
The founder of Restaurant Nora and Asia Nora (now closed) in Washington, DC shares her life story as well as her philosophy about why it is important to choose organic foods. I dined in both of her restaurants and each was a memorable experience.
Three Novels called “A Baker’s Treat Mystery” by Nancy J. Parra
Read them sequentially so you have the backstory in mind as you read each subsequent novel.
Gluten for Punishment (2013)
Murder Gone A-Rye (2014)
Flourless to Stop Him (2015)
These three novels are set in a gluten-free bakery in the wheat-country of small-town Kansas and the owner-baker helps the local authorities solve the latest murder. These are the first culinary mysteries (sometimes called “cozies) that I know of with a gluten-free theme. Hopefully, we will see more!
More Books –Without a Food Theme–But Good Reads Anyway
The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay by Andrea Gillies (2014)
A very well-written novel, set in Scotland and a Greek island,that unfolds expertly to keep you enthralled. I couldn’t put it down, so be prepared to be drawn into the story.
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner (2014)
Two interconnected stories, each nearly a century apart, weave together with one common thread in this novel: a beautiful scarf embroidered with marigolds. Expertly written and hard to put down, I was as impressed by the story as I was by how well the author wove the two stories together.
The Rocks by Peter Nichols (2015)
Set on the island of Mallorca in a hotel called The Rocks, this novel starts with the ending of the book and then works backwards to unfold the story that leads to the ending. Be prepared to get caught up in the story and the beautiful island of Mallorca is nice too.
When I was a child, I didn’t know what a sauce was. Except for the gravy on our chicken-fried steaks and mashed potatoes, our food was “salted and peppered” and nothing more.
Carol’s version of Chimichurri made from fresh herbs.
However, once I grew up and left home my palate was exposed to a broader range of flavors and I discovered the wonders of sauces.
Today, I am a huge fan of sauces and appreciate how they turn even the most mundane pork chop… or chicken breast…or steak… into a gourmet experience.
So, when I saw this article on sauces in one of my favorite magazines, Cooking Light (I’m a charter subscriber and edited one of their gluten-free cookbooks) it spoke my language! Plus, the sauces are gluten-free (use gluten-free crackers instead of saltines in the Aji Amarillo Sauce)!
One of my favorite sauces from this article is the Argentine-based Chimichurri Sauce (see photo) which is parsley and herb-based and perfect on grilled steak or roasted vegetables.
Or try these other sauces from the magazine’s August, 2015 issue, page 132:
Tzatziki Sauce- cucumber-dill flavored, perfect on baked potatoes
Fresh Tomato Sauce – balsamic vinegar, molasses are the secrets; for pasta and pizza
Aji Amarillo Sauce – like Mexican nacho sauce for nachos
Mojo Sauce – citrus-based sauce for black beans or tacos
Muhammara Sauce – Syrian sauce for brushing on grilled meat or kebabs
Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce – Asian sauce for noodles, glazing grilled meats, or anything Asian
Try these sauces and bring big flavor to your meals!
There are some summer mornings when the last thing I want is anything hot for breakfast. Knowing that the day will heat up, I want something cool and refreshing to get me started… yet something nutritious and tasty.
Overnight Muesli is just the ticket.
Muesli made withg gluten-free oats.
I first learned of muesli back in my corporate traveling days when I ate breakfast at my hotel in Seattle. Now I make it for myself, at a fraction of the cost, and vary it as I like.
This version of muesli is made from gluten-free rolled oats (the whole grain part) and milk and yogurt (for dairy nutrients) plus a little honey and grated apples for sweetness.
It’s also perfect for busy summer days when your family—or guests—want breakfast at different times of the morning. All they have to do is reach into the refrigerator and grab one of these little gems.
I like using these cute little Mason jars, but use any vessel you like…as long as it’s got a lid to seal in moisture while the oats soak in the liquid overnight.
Reprinted with permission from www.GfreeCuisine.com* by Carol Fenster
Museli , an oat-based cereal dish commonly served in European countries, is very creamy, hearty, and filling. It is especially cute when served in mini Mason canning jars, but you can use regular cereal or soup bowls. This dish is vegetarian but f you use non-dairy yogurt and milk, this is a vegan breakfast.
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Chilling time: overnight
3 [1/2] cups gluten-free granola**
2 apples (Gala or Fuji, or your choice), cored and grated (I don’t peel the apple, but you can)
8 ounces plain low-fat yogurt or soy yogurt
1 cup milk of choice
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar, or to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh fruit for garnish
In a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients until well blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold, garnished with fresh fruit.
Per serving: 230 calories; 8g protein; 7g total fat; 4g fiber; 35g carbohydrates; 3mg cholesterol; 77mg sodium
*Check with your physician to make sure gluten-free oats are right for you.
** Www.GfreeCuisine.com is a weekly e-booklet menu planning service that provides you with a personalized grocery shopping list.