Gluten-free viddles?
November 30, 2004 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Gluten-free viddles?

Next Tuesday is the last in a graduate class I am taking, where each week one person was responsible for bringing snacks for the group. This last class sees all the students bringing something as a pot luck style. We have a class member who found out within the last year that he is allergic to gluten, as well as a nut allergy. Each week he was either forced to sit by complacently while we ate pizza and cookies, or someone would try to include him by bringing veggies and dip. I would like to bring something for him that is rather more exciting than a crudite, and since up until recently his favorite dish was a big helping of his wife’s spaghetti and meatballs, something that would be vaguely reminiscent of a dish that had (r may have had) gluten in it.

I was thinking of a quiche with a thinly-sliced potato ‘crust’, much like a pomme Maxine, but I am not even sure that would work (and I would not know how exactly to do it. Par-cook the potatoes? Fry them separately?)

Either way….any ideas for good gluten-free food? I am looking for something people have tried, ideally, so that I do not end up making some weird slop.
posted by oflinkey to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Gluten intolerance is a real bitch, and the stuff is in damn near everything. That being said, a selection of cheeses is usually a safe bet.
posted by lilboo at 5:59 PM on November 30, 2004

I would suggest just walking up and down the aisles of your local supermarket and trying to find gluten-free substitutes. Then realize how unlucky your classmate is, because everything has gluten! Since you mention spaghetti, there are gluten-free pastas typically made of corn or rice available at bigger grocery stores and online (Google "gluten free pasta"). Maybe you could make some spaghetti and meatballs with some.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:05 PM on November 30, 2004

My mother-in-law is gluten free and we have made dinner for her many times. It's really not that big of a deal and is kinda like cooking for an atkins person.

Pretty much all mexican food sans flour tortillas is fine. So big cheese, chicken, or beef enchiladas are a hit. Pretty much all indian food is fine, as wheat isn't a big ingredient there. You can do all manner of soups and salads and meats. Pretty much all japanese food is fine and wheat free too.

If you want to get freaky, you can try making pastry or bread with rice or potato flour, but it's not as good. Ditto to rice or egg noodles.
posted by mathowie at 6:20 PM on November 30, 2004

Before gluten allergies were widely diagnosed (1978), my mom had to figure out what was wrong with my sister - at one year, she was barely 12 lb. My mom suggested to the pediatrician that my sister was allergic to wheat, but the doctor pooh-poohed her, as did the specialists my mom went to. Long story short, my mom did her own research and found rice flour at the local hippie/health-food store. Voila - rice pancakes, which don't rise much, but are great as crepes. I recall that throughout my childhood two meals were made - the regular meal and a gluten-free version. Box cakes, spaghetti, etc all have gluten, but many recipes that, at their root, have wheat flour as a base can be re-cast with rice flour; although such entrees do not rise as much (if at all), they're pretty tasty. Another suggestion: rice cakes. By themselves, they taste like air, but you can spread jelly on them, dip them in honey, etc
posted by notsnot at 6:41 PM on November 30, 2004

I am a gluten free person and there are many many yummy things to eat in the glutenfree world.

For cakes and brownies (and the brownies are really really good - my gluten friendly friends have never figured out they are gluten free) try the gluten-free pantry mixes (they can be found at most health food stores). Their chocolate truffle brownies are to die for. You can also make a cobbler or crisp and use potato, tapioca or rice flour (or a blend or buy a gluten free pancake/waffle mix - whole foods has them) as the crisp topping.

For spaghetti there is now wonderful rice pasta that tastes very much like normal spaghetti and can be cooked al dente. The brand to look for is: Tinkyada and is easy to find in health food stores.

As far as quiche goes - thats good and the glutenfree panty just came out with a glutenfree crust that is pretty tasty, it just requires a lot of shortening. Or you can do a blend of flours. I highly recommend potato flour in any blend as it gives it that doughy taste.

Best of luck in your cooking endeavors!
posted by zia at 7:07 PM on November 30, 2004

Potato chips are gluten free. I second the cheese, especially if you get good cheese. Fresh fruit. Soup or stew (don't use flour as a thickener). The quiche with the potato crust sounds interesting, but how about a good potato au gratin? Good cold cuts work, too. Hummus can be scooped up with lettuce leaves (please, not iceburg).

When I had to eat gluten free (among other things), I found that most processed foods that said they were gluten free weren't and that foods cooked to be like normal gluten-filled foods didn't taste as good, and were just frustrating.

Asking your classmate exactly what he can and can't have wouldn't be a bad idea. He might be able to eat 100% rye bread, for example. Corn and rice pasta may or may not be ok.
posted by QIbHom at 7:24 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: This is excellent, thank you.
posted by oflinkey at 7:38 PM on November 30, 2004

"...the glutenfree panty just came out with a glutenfree crust..."

posted by spaghetti at 7:40 PM on November 30, 2004

Just for the record, it's spelled "victuals", not "viddles". Or, sometimes "vittles", if you're Purina.
posted by Caviar at 8:04 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: caviar- I was trying to be sily. Sorry.
posted by oflinkey at 8:05 PM on November 30, 2004

For the holidays I usually bake dessert for a sizable group of people and one of the people I cook for is gluten-free. I've made a flour-less chocolate cake the past few years. I thought it was very good, if a bit rich. I've made it for non-celiac audiences, too. Very similar to this recipe. A sauce - raspberry or vanilla - is usually nice with adenser/richer cakes.

(Now that I think about it, a cheesecake works, too)
posted by milkrate at 8:53 PM on November 30, 2004

Assuming there is no cheese allergy - they sometimes accompany the nut and wheat allergies - good fresh mozzarella slices (the key ingredient so don't scrimp here) topped with a fresh basil leaf and a ripe plum tomato slice, spiced with a good olive oil, perhaps some balsamic and a little salt and pepper. Unless the oil is truly exceptional, don't skimp on the salt.

On preview - I like milkrate's suggestion very much.
posted by caddis at 9:26 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: Milkrate, that sounds like a lovely recipe, but he has a nut allergy.
And all of the cheesecake recipes I have ever encontered hve some kind of graham cracker crust....I like the caprese idea, caddis. I had not thoguht of that. He eats a lot of salads, so I wanted to see if I could avoid that.
posted by oflinkey at 10:06 PM on November 30, 2004

I'm allergic to gluten too, and also recommend the Gluten-Free Pantry line of products, especially their delicious fudgey chocolate brownies. I've made a number of pies with their pie crust mixes, and they turn out flakey and yummy--provided you are unafraid to use a tub and a half of Crisco per pie. Which I am, and do.

Whole Foods stores or other health food stores should have a gluten-free section full of goodies, some of them pre-made biscuits and the like. And Mexican food was a good idea, as long as you remember to use corn tortillas, not wheat. Most Chinese food would work too, but no wontons.

And thank you so much for remembering us poor "Wheatards" and thinking kindly of our thwarted appetites. You are obviously a very good person. :-)

(Now, please, please, someone finally invent a decent gluten-free bagel and earn an undying supply of my love and my grocery money.)
posted by Asparagirl at 1:05 AM on December 1, 2004

Gram flour (chickpea flour) is gluten-free. If you can get hold of that, then why not make some onion bhajis and serve them with raita & chutney. Very delicious, and, as they are deep-fried, refreshingly, snackishly unhealthy.
posted by misteraitch at 2:14 AM on December 1, 2004

Soups are also good, if you make them yourself. Lentils, chopped vegetables (celery, carrots), onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes or canned pureed *tomatoes* (not processed tomatoe puree w/ corn syrup), sauteed meat of some sorts (even hamburger is good), oregano, fresh dill and parsley, bay leaves, and water. Oh, yeah, salt and freshly ground pepper. Simmer for an hour or so. I always add tobasco sauce.

It seems slightly wrong to catergorize it like this, but the advice to "go Asian" is a good one. I'm this close to getting a rice cooker.

(on a related topic, is Dim Sum typically made w/ rice flour or wheat flour?)
posted by sleslie at 6:42 AM on December 1, 2004

I think all the above selections are excellent, but I also have to put in a nod for spelt flour. Excellent stuff, have used it to make bread, muffins, and chicken breading. All turned out just fine.
posted by fricative at 7:34 AM on December 1, 2004

Selections? I meant suggestions. Poo.
posted by fricative at 7:35 AM on December 1, 2004

On the dim sum front, almost all the shirmp dumplings are made of rice flour, but the pork buns, wontons etc are made with wheat flour. A general rule of thumb is that if it is translucent you can eat it, but if its an opaque dumpling, you can't. Chow fun rice noodles are good, as are the long shrimp ones. In a place where they speak english, just ask.
posted by zia at 10:10 AM on December 1, 2004

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