Wheat-free deliciousness?
July 24, 2009 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Wheat-free cooking ideas?

I've got a friend who's allergic to wheat (gluten) and he wants to host a potluck dinner tonight. I'm pretty good at Japanese and Mexican Cuisine, but I can't help feel like I'm burnt out on ideas for what tasty dish to make. I also intend to take the opportunity to cook for him more often, so please give me any of your favorite recipes that are wheat-free, especially desserts!

Also, what kinds of gluten-free flours are good for baking besides bread? Does anyone have recipes for cooking with those? Thanks!
posted by lizbunny to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Gluten Free Girl is probably the intarweb's most famous Celiac/Gluten-free advocate. She's got a book, and lots of recipes on the site.

Re: Mexican, can you make some enchiladas with corn tortillas? Just be sure to read the packages for sauces & cheese, they often contain hidden glutens used as thickeners.

Some sort of crustless cheesecake (or a nut crust) would be an awesome dessert, but I know some kinds of cream cheese have gluten so ask your friend if they have specific brands to stay away from.
posted by sararah at 7:09 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Re: cheesecake -- at Passover, a friend of mine makes one with a crust made of macaroons. It's delicious.
posted by Ladybug Parade at 7:18 AM on July 24, 2009

17 flourless dessert ideas from Smitten Kitchen
posted by runningwithscissors at 7:29 AM on July 24, 2009

It was for a science experiment so we didn't optimize for taste, but you can make gluten-free quickbreads by simply replacing the flour in a normal recipe with something like rice flour and adding ~ 1/2-1 tsp of xanthan gum to help improve texture. Xanthan gum is pretty awesome stuff, available at Whole Foods and probably other health-food stores. I do remember that mixtures of gluten-free flours will probably result in better texture than simply using one, so experiment?
posted by dormouse at 7:38 AM on July 24, 2009

You can make very elaborate mixes of different flours when baking gluten free - I often combine as many as 5-6 different ones to get the result I want. For simplicity's sake you can also buy gf (gluten free) flour at most health food groceries. Whole Foods carries several packaged flour blends which work pretty well. The pre-mixed flours are pricey though. Pre-packaged gf pie crusts are often terrific - far better than normal ones so think about a quiche or pie - just use tapioca or corn starch as your thickener rather than flour.

Lots of wheat-free pastas out there. We particularly like ones made of quinoa. Be warned that they go from cooked to mush quickly so you have to watch them in cooking but using them in a baked pasta dish can work well for a potluck.

Gluten hides in all sorts of places - I've learned to read labels obsessively. Depending on your friend's sensitivity something that's made in a plant with equipment that also processes wheat may be a problem. And it's sadly not as simple as just looking for wheat - "modified food starch" might or might not have gluten in it, same with "natural flavors". Trader Joe's own brands don't contain allergens within the "natural flavors" ingredients but as far as I know they're the only brand of which that's true.

Rose Levy Barenboem has lots of Passover recipes which are wheatfree. I also use Annalise Roberts Gluten-Free Baking Classics.
posted by leslies at 7:44 AM on July 24, 2009

The recipes at A Year of Slow Cooking are gluten-free. I've tried several and they're quite yummy!
posted by wallaby at 7:46 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Re: Japanese, keep in mind that most soy sauce sold in the US contains wheat. Nthing Gluten Free Girl.
posted by chez shoes at 8:05 AM on July 24, 2009

My favorite gluten free recipe blog is http://healthyindulgences.blogspot.com/.

I made this coconut flour pound cake and loved it.

Coconut flour can be a good substitute but it sucks up a ton of moisture. So you have to add extra eggs/yogurt/sour cream/whatever liquid or semi liquid is in the recipe, or else your delicious baked goods will be dry.

As for savory dishes, you could do a search for low carb recipes as many of those will be gluten free.

If you look for recipes with meat/veg/cheese/dairy/eggs, often they are not noticeable as "GLUTEN FREE". For example, a generic recipe for spinach and artichoke dip will generally have spinach, artichokes, cheese, sour cream, and mayo. It's already gluten free and you don't have to try to approximate anything.

Another strategy I have is to go to allrecipes.com and search for a main ingredient or dish name. Then I sort the recipes by rating, and see that wow, 800 people gave this beef stew an average of 5 stars. I look through all of them until I find one that is low carb (in your case, gluten free).

That's how I found Artichoke Chicken,
Curried Coconut Chicken (I left out the sugar),
Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup,
Pleasant Pork Chops,
Chicken Enchilada Dip,
Homestyle Turkey,
and so on.

And last, a party recipe that I really like is to take whole jalapenos, half them the long way and remove the seeds, stick in a dab of cream cheese, wrap with a half a piece of bacon and bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until the bacon is as crispy as you like it. These are always a hit.

Happy Cooking!
posted by TheClonusHorror at 8:39 AM on July 24, 2009

I have had a LOT of success at potlucks with this wild rice salad I make. Its tasty, hearty, can be made vegetarian, and with careful selection of the boullion/broth, made wheat/gluten free.

This is adapted from the wild rice salad at simplyrecipes.com . Basically, I sub in corn kernals for peas (I like them better), use veggie boullion in 4 cups of water instead of chicken brother, and double the dressing because I like dressing and the rice really soaks it up. You can play around a lot with this salad, actually, adding different veggies. The combo of nutty rice, crunchy veggies, sweet cranberries and the sesame oil dressing is really nice.

Instead of trying to 'recreate' a wheat dish with non-wheat ingredients, I'd go in a different direction and make something that avoids the need for wheat entirely.

Desserts? You could do a family favourite - fruit or ice cream. :) Actually, does commercial ice cream have gluten in it? I've never checked. You can make your own granita (flavoured fruit ices) that are really good.
My dad makes some killer fruit salads, actually, with booze in them. I can't give you a recipe because he doesn't use them, he just cuts up various fruit and throws it in a bowl and adds spices & liquer depending on the fruit used. Very nummy and it feels indulgent.
Baked apples in syrup with raisins or currants
Poached pears with chocolate drizzled on top (and whipped cream for those of you who like that sort of thing)
Fruit terrines like this one.
And I've been dying to try this flourless chocolate cake recipe, if only because I know how good cinnamon and chocolate is together.

Any way, good luck! I'm sure your friend appreciates your efforts in finding tasty, tasty food he can eat.
posted by sandraregina at 12:18 PM on July 24, 2009

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