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xo Gluten Free Lover xo bio picture

my two loves . . .

Hello! My name is Kathryn - a Georgia girl and bona fide bread lover. Well, that is until I met and fell in love with Justin. Let's be real, I still LOVE bread and all things gluten-ful, but have given up that life for a gluten-free one - because now, I am a gluten-free lover.

I have always loved food. Cooking it, eating it, discussing it. I hope you'll try some of the recipes I've posted and you'll see - gluten-free cooking is accessible and delicious!

baby, it’s cold outside…

Christmas this year was a mix of newness and tradition. J and I celebrated Christmas Eve just the two of us – well, the dog and the cat were there too – which was the first time for both of us not being with our families. It was nice (being just the two of us, NOT being without our families). Simple and casual. Maybe a bit too casual for my taste. Aside from the “fancy” meal, it didn’t feel any different from any other night. There’s something about having a lot of people around that makes it feel like the holidays. Perhaps next year we can host a meal at our house…However, we are adults now and this is is how life goes, I guess. You pair off and create a home and start a family. (Don’t panic! There is no “news” on that front…) Let’s talk about the menu before I dig myself into a hole.

Christmas dinner

Fruit and Honey Glazed Roast Duck - Steamed Green Beans - Potatoes Au Gratin

Christmas Eve Dinner
Fruit-and-Honey-Glazed Roast Duck
Au Gratin Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans
Flour-less Dark Chocolate Cake

When I decided to make roast duck for Christmas Eve dinner, my Dad warned me it would be a challenge. “I just want to tell you that the first time you roast a duck – well, it’s hard.” I now know he didn’t mean I wouldn’t have the skills or ability to pull it off but that I would feel frustrated and somehow helpless. Ducks have a lot of fat under their skin (hey – no judgement! I know how they feel…) and therefore need more attention than say a chicken or turkey. I studied up on “roasting duck and goose” in Joy of Cooking and felt confident that my roast duck would come out with crispy, glistening skin. My confidence was shaken, not so much that I won’t try roasting a duck again, just shaken to the point that I know what I’m up against. Isn’t it interesting that roasting a chicken, or even a turkey for that matter, and roasting a duck can be so dramatically different? As my Dad warned me, it’s all that fat under the skin. I now realize firsthand that the skin must be under strict supervision and poked and attended to, so the fat can render properly. Joy of Cooking definitely discusses these issues, however I thought I was doing everything it instructed. I thought I had sufficiently poked the duck skin all over without piercing the meat. I used a very sharp paring knife and poked and poked and POKED! I even poked some more before glazing the duck. But to no avail, the skin was rubbery and thick with fat…Don’t get me wrong! It tasted wonderful! Sweet and slightly tangy from the glaze, the meat itself was juicy and tender, but the skin was not crispy and I would have liked it to be crispy. There is a recipe for “Crispy Roast Duck” in Joy of Cooking but that doesn’t call for a glaze and J and I liked the idea of a sweet glaze. I’m sure there will be another occasion for me to try roasting a duck again and I’m pretty sure I will make the “Crispy Roast Duck” (and maybe throw a glaze on it at the end).

Fruit-and-Honey-Glazed Roast Duck (Joy of Cooking)
serves 2-4

4 1/2-5 1/2 lb duck, thawed (if purchased frozen)
1 halved garlic clove
1 c apricot, cherry, or peach preserves
1/2 c honey
1 T brandy (optional)
1 T orange liqueur (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove neck and giblets from cavity. Pull out large pieces of fat from the openings of the body and neck cavities. Rub the outside with the halved garlic clove. Set bird on a rack in a roasting pan. Put into the oven and reduce heat at once to 350 degrees. Cook about 20 minutes per pound or until the thigh registers 180 degrees on an instant read thermometer. About 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the duck from the oven. Take the duck out of the pan and remove all fat and pan drippings. (Save some of the drippings to make gravy, if desired.) Put the duck, still on the rack, back in the roasting pan. Combine preserves, honey, and liqueurs (if using) in a bowl. Coat the duck with the glaze and return it to the oven. Cook another 10-15 minutes until the glaze caramelizes. Remove duck from the oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before carving.

One thing I find slightly frustrating about Joy of Cooking is that instead of saying in the recipe to do “this and that” with the skin of the duck, it simply says “see page x and please read about roasting duck and goose”. Sometimes page x is like 20 pages away and well it just bothers me. Like I said, I read all about “roasting duck and goose” and I thought I had it covered…Perhaps I should have used a bigger knife to poke the skin? Time will tell on this one. I chose to use peach preserves in the glaze and used both liqueurs. It was very tasty. I also made gravy in a small sauce pan while the duck rested. I cooked the duck as long as I could (before panic began to creep in that it would be overdone) to try and crisp up the skin. All in all, duck really isn’t much of a looker. I searched online for some pictures of roast duck and they all look kinda weird. It’s an oddly shaped bird, especially if you’re used to seeing chickens and turkeys. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put you off duck, I guess I’m just trying to make myself feel better about the whole experience. Let’s move on…

Au Gratin Potatoes (Joy of Cooking)
serves 6-8

1 garlic clove, halved
1 T butter, softened
2 1/2 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
3 c milk or half and half, or a combination
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pinch of grated or ground nutmeg
Au Gratin topping:
dry bread crumbs
dots of butter
grated Gruyere

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub a 12-inch gratin dish or shallow 3 quart baking dish with the halved garlic clove, then coat dish with the softened butter. In a large Dutch oven or sauce pan, combine potatoes, half and half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, then cook and stir gently until the liquid thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Press down on the top layer to submerge all the potatoes. Top with the Au Gratin ingredients. Bake until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Steamed Green Beans
serves 4

1 lb green beans, stems trimmed
3/4 c water
2-3 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

Put trimmed green beans and water in a large microwave safe bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 6 minutes or until cooked. The beans are done when they are hot, bright green, and slightly tender but still have a crunch when you bite them (basically you want them to be al dente). Drain the beans and add the butter. Stir constantly until all the butter is melted and green beans are evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

I love cooking vegetables this way. It is so easy and they taste fabulous! Experiment with other seasonings and see what you like best.

Flour-less Dark Chocolate Cake (from 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster)
makes 10 servings

1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c boiling water
2 c whole almonds (measure before grinding)
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c unsalted butter, melted
1 T pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
powdered sugar for decorating

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Generously grease, then line the bottom of an 8 inch spring form pan with parchment paper or wax paper. Grease again and set aside. Dissolve the cocoa in the boiling water, set aside. Grind the almonds in a food processor (I FINALLY HAVE ONE!!!) into a fine meal. Add the brown sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla extract, and salt to the food processor and process 30-40 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl* and process another 30 seconds or until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Spread the batter in the pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake rises as it bakes, then may fall slightly as it cools. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently run a knife around the edge of the cake, then gently loosen the sides of the pan. Remove cake to a plate and discard the paper liner. After the cake has cooled completely and right before you serve, dust the top with powdered sugar.

*Yes, that’s right. There is no direction to add the cocoa-powder-mixed-with-water into the almond mixture. I looked at another flour-less chocolate cake recipe in the same cookbook and it doesn’t have that direction either…the only reasonable explanation in my mind is that the editor was NOT doing his job. It’s a “dark chocolate” cake recipe – obviously I have to add the cocoa into the batter…Anyway, I added it where the * is in the above recipe. I really liked this cake (aside from the incomplete recipe) although I think it could use more sugar. I really love dark chocolate but the cake was just too bitter. J on the other hand thought it tasted good but he HATED the texture. He said it reminded him of coconut, which he hates, and he couldn’t even finish his piece. Since the base is ground almonds, I could probably grind them even finer, but in all likelihood I just won’t make this again for him.

And now, if you can handle it: Christmas morning! Yes, that’s right, more recipes. J and I got up Christmas morning and drove to my parents house to have “Santa Claus” with them, my brother and my sister-in-law. I planned the menu and my Dad helped me make everything before we opened presents.

Christmas Morning Menu
Savory Cheese-and-Herb-filled Souffled Omelet
Chive Biscuits

souffleed omelette

Herb and Cheese filled Souffleed Omelette

Savory Cheese-and-Herb-filled Souffled Omelet (Joy of Cooking)
serves 4

4 large eggs, separated
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 T butter
2 T chopped herbs (such as: parsley, chives, or chervil, or a combination)
1/4 c grated cheese or your choice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk egg yolks seasoned with salt and pepper until thick and light, set aside. In a large bowl beat egg whites and a pinch of salt until they form firm peaks. Gently fold the yolk mixture into the whites. Melt butter in a 10-12 inch oven proof skillet over medium heat. When the foam has subsided, pour the egg mixture into the pan and spread evenly, smooth out the top. Shake the pan after a few seconds to discourage sticking then cover with a lid that has been greased to prevent sticking. Reduce the heat and cook 5 minutes. Remove the lid and sprinkle the top with herbs and cheese. Put omelet in the oven and bake until the top is set, 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven, fold omelet in half (if desired), slide out of the skillet and serve.

Since I was making breakfast for 6, I doubled the recipe. I topped the souffled omelet with parsley, chives, and grated Parmesan. And I most certainly did NOT fold it in half – I wanted people to see the pretty top! In the same oven I cooked some slices of center cut bacon. They can either be placed on a broiler pan or on racks in a rimmed sheet pan. They took about 10-12 minutes but keep your eye on them and cook to desired doneness. Cooking them this way is less messy than in a skillet and the fat drips away from the bacon, so it’s a little healthier.

And now, for my FAVORITE part of the meal and this post:

chive biscuits

Chive Biscuits

Chive Biscuits
I used ‘Cause You’re Special Hearty Biscuit mix and added a little more than 1/4 c of chopped chives to the batter before dropping them on the baking sheet. The idea for chive biscuits came from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten, of course. And let me tell you – THE BISCUITS WERE AMAZING!!! As a bonafide bread lover, the transition to gluten free has been somewhat traumatizing. I’d had this biscuit mix in the pantry for a while and decided Christmas was as good a time as any to bring it out. If I didn’t know these biscuits were gluten free, I wouldn’t know it! They were flaky and fluffy, maybe a tad too sweet. I’m going to develop my own biscuit recipe for my cookbook but in a pinch, I wholeheartedly recommend this mix! Gluten Free-ers rejoice!!!

21 March 2010 - 7:47 pm Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic » xo Gluten Free Lover xo - [...] Behold, the most magnificent chicken dish ever. The recipe is Ina Garten’s and I believe it to be the best meal I’ve ever cooked – well, so far. There are quite a few steps but they are all relatively easy and you only use one pot, so the clean up is minimal. I was even able to make this meal on a weeknight. Of course we didn’t eat until after 9 o’clock but what with the time change, it didn’t seem that late. Ok, let me answer the inevitable question first. Yes, I actually used 40 cloves of garlic. A good amount of them are on the small side plus they cook for a long time, so they turn out completely soft and actually quite sweet. They are just delicious. I served the chicken with leftover mashed potatoes (I’m just going to go ahead and say it; mashed potatoes are a MUST with this dish) and steamed green beans. [...]

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