Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy gluten-free Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and gluten-free Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday! This was my first (knowingly) celiac Thanksgiving and it went really well. I hope more people will learn that it's so easy to make gluten-free dishes that your celiac friends and relatives can enjoy - there are many side dishes that are normally gluten-free or can be so easily adjusted that non-celiacs wouldn't notice a difference. Bottom line: just talk to us.

This year I was really craving stuffing, so I made my own. I used up several loaves of GF bread I had in the fridge or freezer (Udi's, Rudi's, and Food For Life) and Trader Joe's Stuffing Starter Mix (chopped celery, onions, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme). I toasted the slices of bread in the oven, let them sit out for a day to harden, then broke them into crouton-size bites. I sauteed the veggie/herb mix in olive oil, then blended them with my croutons and some water. I pressed the stuffing into a sprayed 9x13" pyrex and baked for an hour at about 325, covered with foil. Next time I would probably use broth for more flavor, or I'd recommend doing something to season the bread. I would also bake it for longer, or take the foil off towards the end. But it smelled heavenly and the texture was great (for my first stuffing attempt)! Craving satisfied, almost exactly how I remembered it.

The other dish I've been craving: sweet potatoes! I didn't measure my ingredients, but here's basically what I did. (Also, if I'm cooking small portions, I use my toaster oven since it's so much faster & less electricity than heating up the big oven.) Preheat oven to 350. Peel 2 sweet potatoes & cut into small pieces. Melt about 1 tbsp of dairy-free margarine (or butter) in the microwave. In a large mixing bowl, pour melted margarine and about 1 tbsp of canola oil over potatoes. I added some orange juice, ground nutmeg, cinnamon, a packet of Sugar in the Raw (or brown sugar, or omit), and a pinch of kosher salt. Mix it up, making sure the potatoes are evenly coated. Pour them into a foil-lined pan and bake for an hour, stirring once or twice. In the last 5 minutes, I added some marshmallow pieces on top. They were the absolutely perfect blend of gooey and crispy with an amazing caramelized, citrusy flavor. Really, this couldn't be easier or more delicious at any time of year.

Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday because it's my birthday weekend. :D We celebrated with a trip to Padi, a new Thai/sushi fusion restaurant in Hockessin, DE from the owners of Wilmington's very yummy Rasa Sayang, another favorite of mine. Located in Lantana Square Shopping Center, Padi has a nice, modern vibe with a sushi bar and big modular booths. The service was attentive and the food was DELICIOUS! I ordered spicy tuna and salmon rolls for starters, drunken noodles with shrimp, and my beloved mango sticky rice for dessert. Our server was very understanding and the kitchen made my noodles without soy sauce. I brought a bottle of wheat-free tamari to use with the sushi, and when the manager came over to check on us, he noticed my soy sauce and asked if I'm gluten-free! He then commented that he's been trying to find a commercial-size container of wheat-free soy sauce so they can keep it in the kitchen, and said he has a number of friends who are gluten-free, so they are very aware and happy to make accommodations. Well, that's what it takes to sweep me off my feet, folks - fresh & tasty sushi, outstanding Thai/fusion entrees, and gluten awareness. I can't wait to go back - Padi is definitely a new favorite. (No links, as the restaurant doesn't have a website. Call for reservations - 302.239.1800.)

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