Friday, September 25, 2009

Host A Wine & Cheese Party

An elegant wine and cheese party can be a fun and memorable event for both celiacs and non-celiacs alike! Arranging a wine paring party may sound daunting, but the experience can be guided by your own tastes and interests. With tasting parties, the possibilities are nearly endless, and your own creative touch is the key to success!

Whether you stick to a particular wine region or to one type of cuisine, creating a theme for the party can help focus your event and give your guests a unique experience. One popular approach to this type of party is a wine and cheese party.

White to Red, Light-bodied to full-bodied
Although conventional wisdom continues to dominate ideas about wine tasting and pairing, the rules are changing. No longer is it unacceptable to have a full-bodied red with a fish dinner, or to forget food altogether and enjoy wine all by itself! While you should feel free to go by your own preferences and instincts, there are some guidelines that may enhance your tasting experience.

Take A Good Look
Taking note of a wine’s shade, brilliance, and overall appearance are the first steps in a wine tasting. To get a good look at your wine, tilt your glass forward and look at the color of the wine against a white background(make particular note of the color at the very edge of the wine—it will be lighter—this is the true color of the wine). Is the wine cloudy, clear, or brilliant? Does the wine appear young or old? (Typically, younger wines will have much deeper colors.)

Use Your Nose
All that swirling and sniffing isn’t just for show—it’s a powerful tool that will help you discover the wine’s character. To sniff your wine effectively, keep the glass on the table (especially if you’re new to swirling) and rotate it several times so that the wine swirls around the inside of the glass and mixes with air. Only swirl a glass that’s half-full or less.

Immediately after swirling, place your nose into the airspace of the glass and smell the wine. This is the time for you and your guests to jot down your first impressions of the wine—but sure to offer everyone tasting sheets with information about the wine and extra space to record their observations. There’s never a “wrong” answer when it comes to wine, only different experiences. Consider using a wine aroma wheel at the party to help your guests identify what they’re smelling

At Long Last—The Sip
After you’ve looked at it and smelled it thoroughly, you may finally sip your wine! Take a medium-sized sip and hold it in your mouth. As you hold the wine over your tongue, draw in some air through your lips. Then, swish the wine in your mouth—get a good feel for its body and character. Finally, you may swallow it (you may have guests who would like to taste the wine without actually consuming any; for this reason, you should have some type of spitting cup or bowl present).

What Do You Feel and Taste?

Is the wine sweet, or dry? How present is the wine’s acidity? Is the wine firm, soft, crisp? Is it light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied? These are some good questions for you and your guests to think about as you enjoy your wine tasting. But of all the questions, perhaps the most important one to ask yourself is, “Do I like it?” The true emphasis of the party should be on enjoying the wine—and being your own judge.

Enjoying Wine With Cheese
People have long enjoyed wine with cheese together because of the way they enhance one another. The following suggestions for wine/cheese pairings are first grouped by different grapes, and then by the wines created with grape blends.

Cheese by itself is GF, but occasionally the mold that grows on some cheeses—particularly blue cheese—can contain gluten because of the way it was produced. These days, the mold for blue cheeses is often grown on synthetic products (as opposed to loaves of bread), but not always, and Celiac consumers should be wary of consuming blue cheese.


Cabernet Sauvignon
Camembert (France, soft)
Sharp Cheddar (England, semi-hard)
Danish Blue (Denmark, semi-hard)

Bel Paese (Italy, semi-soft)
Brie (France, soft)
Bucheron (France, soft)
Cambazola (Bavaria, soft-ripened)
Cotija (Mexico, semi-hard)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)
Jarlsberg (Norway, hard)
Kasseri (Greece, semi-soft)
Parmigiano-Reggiano (Italy, hard)
Pecorino (Italy, hard)
Provolone (Italy, semi-hard)

Gamay (as found in Beaujolais)

Brie (France, soft)
Camembert (France, soft)
Cheddar (England, semi-hard)
Emmentaler (Switzerland, hard)
Feta (Greece, soft)
Kasseri (Greece, semi-soft)
Morbier (France, semi-soft)
Muenster (France, soft)
Raclette (France, hard)

Boursin (France, soft)
Chevre (France, semi-hard)
Garrotxa (Spain, soft)
Muenster (France, soft)
Pecorino-Romano (Italy, hard)
Swiss (U.S., hard)

Grüner Veltliner
Chimay (Belgium, soft)
Double Gloucester (England, semi-hard)
Muenster (France, soft)
Livarot (France, soft)

Cashel Blue (Ireland, semi-soft)
Iberico (Spain, hard)
Manchego (Spain, hard)
Taleggio (Italy, soft)

Camembert (France, soft)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)
Pecorino Toscano (Italy, hard)
Roncal (Spain, hard)

Crème Fraiche (France, soft)
Marscapone (Italy)
Valdeon (Spanish, soft)

Pinot Noir
Light Cheddar (England, semi-hard)
Chevre (France, semi-hard)
Comté (France, semi-hard)
Edam (Netherlands, semi-hard)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)


Chesire (England, semi-hard)
Colby (U.S., semi-soft)
Cotija (Mexico, semi-hard)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Monterey Jack (U.S., semi-hard)
Swiss (U.S., hard)

Sauvignon Blanc

Brie (France, soft)
Sharp Cheddar (U.S., semi-hard)
Cheshire (England, semi-hard)
Derby (England, hard)
Double Gloucester (England, semi-hard)
Goat Cheese (France/varied, soft)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)
Neufchatel (France/U.S., soft)
Sonoma Jack (U.S., semi-hard)

Goat (France/varied, soft)
Livarot (France, soft)


Asiago (Italy, hard)
Dry Sonoma Jack (U.S., semi-hard)
Goat Cheese (France/varied, soft)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)
Muenster (France, soft)
Zamorano (Spain, hard)

Champagne/Sparkling Wine
Baby Swiss (U.S., semi-soft)
Beaufort (France, hard)
Brie (France, soft)
Brillat-Savarin (France, soft)
Camembert (France, soft)
Chevre (France, semi-hard)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Langres (France, soft)


Brie (France, soft)
Camembert (France, soft)
Havarti (Denmark, semi-soft)

Roquefort (France, semi-hard)

The Details
Set the scene—developing ambience is key! This is where you as the
host/ess can bring out your creative side. Do you envision a formal
setting with fine china, or a more informal gathering with a few close
friends? It’s all up to you! Consider the following touches to make your
event spectacular:

• Buy and send invitations to your guests—or better yet, make your own.
Sending invitations is a great way to set the party’s tone and to get your
guests excited about your event.

• Clearly label your cheese. There are many cute cheese marker sets on the market that can bring an elegant touch to your party ( If you’d prefer not to buy them, make your own. Type up descriptions of the cheeses and print them on the bottom-half of a piece of cardstock. Fold the paper in half and place your pop-up descriptions next to the cheese.

• Print out tasting sheets. Many examples and templates can be found
online, such as this one:(

• Develop a rating system for the wines/wine and cheese pairings that is unique to the party. Have your guests compare notes throughout the event.

• Garnish, garnish, garnish! Garnishes are lovely touches, whether they are real flowers, paper, or leafy vegetables. Get creative!

• Light the scene, indoors or outdoors. White Christmas lights (occasionally available in the off-season) or paper lanterns (found at Cost Plus World Market, Target, etc.) can be instrumental in getting guests feeling good and in the mood.

• Don’t forget the music! If you’re stumped, ask your guests to submit three songs or artists they’d like to hear over the course of the night. With their suggestions, make a playlist and you’re set.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What's Cooking For Breakfast

They say that breakfast is a very important meal. From what I hear people say, it really is very personal as to what you do about that first meal of the day. A lot depends on when, where, and even with whom you are eating. The question here is what to do about breakfast when you are Celiac. To answer that I like to think about what most people eat in the morning and how to have it gluten free. It gets back to basics and “Good Food-Gluten Free.” Here are some of my ideas for quick breakfasts, and I would love to hear from you with your suggestions for quick GF breakfasts.

Please check the individual sites of the companies mentioned to see their full line of GF products.

Quick Breakfasts: The days of grabbing a bagel or muffin at the local coffee spot may be gone, but we can still have bagels, muffins, waffles, cereals - hot or cold, or a “healthy cookie to grab when you are on the run. All of the following should go well with a quick cup of coffee, tea, or milk.

· Gluten Free Pantry – Muffin and Scone Mix – Add nuts, raisins, cranberries or any berry, to suit your taste.

· Erwhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal

· Gluten Free Pantry Sandwich Bread or Country French Bread, or Food For Life GF Bread. These could be the foundation for a quick grilled cheese – open faced or closed. Lightly butter the bread before cooking. Add a slice of tomato before cooking (pan, microwave, broil in oven) for extra taste and nutrition.

· Glutino Bagels - Plain, Cinnamon Raisin, or Sesame.

· Greek Yogurt topped with granola, homemade or Bakery on Main Nutty Cranberry Granola. They also have other combinations, but check to see if they are GF.

· Van’s Wheat Free Waffles. They are gluten free too.

· GF Oatmeal. Bob’s Red Mill and Gluten Free Oats are two companies I have ordered from. Oatmeal can be made in a large batch and frozen in individuals portions to be heated in the microwave for a quick hot meal.

Many GF commercially baked bagels, etc are a little dense for me, so I prefer to make my own baked goods to suit my taste of the week. When possible I try to purchase organic products, and always GF.

Muffins: (All measurements are within ranges, depending on your preference)

· Mix together (a food processer works well) 1/2 stick butter (OK to use more if you prefer) or ½ cup oil, and ¾ cup raw sugar.

· Add two eggs, 1-2 tsp vanilla ½ tsp cinnamon, a dash of salt.

· Add and mix in 1 ¾ cups rice flour (brown, white, half of each, some buckwheat flour for a denser texture.)

To this basic mixture you can add and mix in one of the following. Try different combinations each time you bake to suit your taste.

· Two bananas, ½ -3/4 C. walnuts, and raisins.

· ¾ cup Apple sauce and ¾ cup shredded unsweetened Coconut

· Juice of 2 lemons and 1 cup of blueberries.

The above can be baked as muffins or in an 8” square.

Bake in loaf or 8” square. Bake about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.

After it cools you can drizzle on a light icing; Mix together ½ to one cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. of Vanilla or Almond extract, and a little milk, cream, or e even water to desired texture. Spread or drizzle before cutting into 9-12 pieces.

Oat and Walnut Cookies – Good with coffee, tea or milk.

· Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

· Cream together 6 Tbs, butter and ¾ cup raw and brown sugar - total.

· Beat in 2 eggs, 2 tsp of vanilla, 1 tsp. Allspice and ½ tsp Cinnamon, a dash or two of salt. ( In all recipes adjust the spices to your liking.)

· Add and mix in 1 cup rice flour, 2 tsp baking soda, and 1 cup rolled GF oats.

· Add ¾ chopped walnuts and ¾ C, raisins

Drop by teaspoons on baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes. Check for golden color. Cool and ice.(See above.)

Apple & Apricot Tea Loaf ( A food processor works well.)

· Beat together butter and sugar: ½ cup butter , ¾ cup brown sugar

· Add and beat in: 2 eggs, 1-2 tsp. Vanilla, a pinch of salt, ½ tsp Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. Allspice.

· Mix in 1 ½ cup rice flour (*) 1 ½ tsp baking powder.

· Add and mix in: 2 grated or chopped apples and 2 chopped apricots, and ¾ cup walnuts.

Bake in loaf or 8” square. Bake about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.

After it cools you can drizzle on a light icing; See above.

To wonderful, healthful, GF breakfasts!


Geri Buxbaum

Founder, GF Delights

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

GF Recipes from "The Silver Palate"

Great for entertaining! All recipes from
The Silver Palate, Workman Publishing Company, 2007.


12 medium-size mushroom caps
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
5 ounces frozen chipped spinach, thoroughly defrosted and squeezed dry
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
1 ounce Gruyère cheese, crumbed
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Remove the mushroom stems and save for another use. Wipe the mushroom caps with a damp paper towel and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil and butter together in a small skillet, over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, covered, until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 400˚F
4. Add the walnuts and garlic to the onion and cook for another minute. Add the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Stir in the cheeses, dill, salt, and pepper.
5. Arrange the mushrooms, cavity side up, in a baking dish. Divide the spinach mixture evenlty among the mushroom caps.
6. Set the baking dish on a rack in the upper third of the oven. Bake, until the filling is browned and the mushrooms are thoroughly heated, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Yields 12 mushrooms, 3 or 4 portions

These little kebabs liven up any party, whether an informal get-together or something more upscale. The marinade makes the lamb deliciously fragrant, savory, and tender.

Cubed lamb (1/4 pound per person)
Marinade for Lamb (recipe follows)
Cherry tomatoes
Green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
Small white onions, peeled

1. Cut the lamb into ½-inch cubes and marinate overnight, covered and refrigerated.
2. Preheat the broiler.
3. Remove the lamb from the marinade and drain on paper towels. Slide the cubes onto skewers (either metal skewers or wooden ones that have been soaked in water), alternating with 2 cherry tomatoes, a square of green pepper, and a small white onion.
4. Broil until done, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Other great skewer combinations:
-Shrimp and green grapes
-Melon and prosciutto with smoked turkey
-Apple chunks and ham
-Lime-marinted sea scallops and avocado chunks
-Cherry tomatoes and vinaigrette-marinated cubes of roast beef
-Swiss cheese cubes, ham cubes, and watermelon pickle

2 pounds bay scallops
1 fresh hot red pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into julienne
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into julienne
½ small red onion, cut into julienne
2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups fresh lime juice
½ cup fresh lime juice
2 avocados, peeled and cut into 16 slices, brushed with lemon juice, for garnish
Chopped parsley, for garnish

1. In a large glass bowl combine all the ingredients except the avocados and parsley for garnish. Toss gently but thoroughly being certain the scallops are well-coated with citrus juice.
2. Cover and refrigerate until the scallops lose their translucent appearance, at least 5 hours. Stir them occasionally during the marination.
3. Serve in individual bowls garnished with avocado slices and additional chopped parsley.
8 portions as a first course

½ cup imported black olives, such as alfonso or kalamata, pitted
¼ cup imported green olives, such as Sicilian, pitted
4 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons capers, thoroughly drained
2 tablespoons oil-packed tuna, drained
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry, or more to taste
¼ cup best-quality olive oil
¼ cup Homemade Mayonnaise (optional)

Luscious and versatile, and ready in minutes. Use very high quality, fresh eggs.
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups corn oil or other vegetable oil, or best-quality olive oil

1. Combine the egg yolks, whole egg, mustard, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and half of the lemon juice in a food processor. Process for 1 minute.
2. With the motor running, dribble in the oil in a slow steady steam. When you have added all the oil, shut the motor off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
3. Taste the mayonnaise. Correct the seasoning if necessary; if you are using vegetable oil, you will probably need the remaining lemon juice. Scrape the mayonnaise into a storage container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. The mayonnaise will keep safely, if refrigerated, for at least 5 days. Let it return to room temperature before stirring and using.
3 cups

Three layers—tomato, leek, and white bean—combine in a rich, spicy, and satisfying pâté. Serve as is or garnished with Aïoli Sauce or Tomato-Basil Mayonnaise.

White Bean Layer
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canned white cannellini beans
¼ cup Basil Purée (see below)
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk

1. Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan or skillet over low heat. Add the onions, cover, and cook slowly until tender and lightly colored, about 20 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to the onions, and cook, uncovered, for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
3. Rinse the beans and drain them well. Combine the beans, onion mixture, and basil purée in a food processor, the process until smooth.
4. Add the whole egg and egg yolk and process again until the eggs are completely incorporated. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled.

Tomato Layer
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
4 medium-sized tomatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons Basil Purée (see note)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk

1. Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan or skillet over low heat. Add the onions, cover, and cook slowly until tender and lightly colored, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato and drop them into boiling salted water for 10 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, drop them into a bowl of ice water, and let cool. The skins will peel off easily when the tomatoes are cool. Cut the peeled tomates into halves crosswise, scrape out the seeds, and squeeze out and discard the juice. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the onions. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring often, for 20 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, basil purée, tomato paste, chili powder, and salt and pepper, and cook until the mixture is very thick, 15 minutes or longer. Taste and correct the seasoning. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
4. Beat the whole egg and egg yolk together in a small bowl and stir into the tomat mixture. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Note: Basil Purée: Process or blend 7 cups washed and dried fresh basil leaves or 7 cups fresh parsley leaves and 1 tablespoon dried basil, with 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and refrigerate.

Leek Layer
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
4 cups (about 8 medium-sized) thinkly-sliced, well-rinsed leeks, white part only
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk

1. Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan or skillet over low heat. Add the leeks, cover and cook slowly until very tender, about 30 minutes.
2. Add the curry powder, garlic, parsley, pepper, and salt, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
3. Beat the whole egg and egg yolk together in a small bowl, an stir into the cooled leek mixture. Cover and refrigerate.

To Complete the Terrine
2 carrots
6 thin asparagus spears
12 large leaves of green cabbage (avoid the coarse outer leaves)
Unsalted butter

1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Have ready a large bowl of ice water.
2. Scrape the carrots and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Drop them into the boiling water and cook until very tender but not mushy. Lift from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop them into the ice water.
3. Trim the woody ends from the asparagus and drop the spears into the boiling water. Cook until tender, remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop them into the ice water.
4. Drop the cabbage leaves into the boiling water and press with a spoon to be certain they are submerged and cooking. Blanch them until they begin to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the cabbage leaves from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop them into the ice water.
5. When all the ingredients are cool, drain them and pat dry. Lightly butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf of bread pan. Trim the heavy ribs from the cabbage leaves. Line the loaf pan with the leaves, covering the sides, ends, and bottom, and overlapping the leaves slightly. Be sure you have 2 or 3 leaves left for the top of the terrine.
6. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the water bath.
7. Remove the leek, tomato, and bean mixtures from the refrigerator. Stir the leek mixture to be sure the ingredients are well combined and spoon it into the bottom of the loaf pan. Smooth with a spatula and arrange lengths of carrot on top.
8. Stir the tomato mixture and spoon it on top of the leek mixture, being arrange the asparagus spears on top of it.
9. Finally, pour in the bean layer and smooth it. Rap and loaf pan several times on your work surface to expel any air bubbles. Cover the terrine with the remaining cabbage leaves tucking the excess down the sides of the pan.
10. Wrap the loaf pan in aluminum foil and set it in a larger baking pan. Pour boiling water into the baking pan so that it comes about halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Set the pans on the center rack of the over and bake until the center of the terrine feels firm to the touch, 2 hours.
11. Remove the loaf pan from the hot water and unwrap it. Let it cool for 15 minutes, then weight it down by placing another loaf pan on top and putting a weight inside, such as canned good or coffee mugs, until completely cool. Remove the weights, cover, and chill thoroughly.
12. To unmold, dip the pan briefly into hot water and run a thin knife around the sides of the pan. Set a platter upside down over the terrine and invent; the terrine will drop out onto the plate.
13. Serve cold, sliced and garnished with any of the sauces suggested in the headnote.
8 to 10 portions as a first course