Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Countdown to our Gluten-Free Thanksgiving 2010

Preparing a gluten-free Thanksgiving feast takes a bit of planning and reconnaissance in the kitchen, but adding in other dietary considerations (some of my family members are vegetarians) adds another layer of thinking about recipes.

Since receiving the celiac diagnosis five years ago, I've been planning and cooking meals that are mostly gluten-free and mostly pescatarian or vegetarian, including our family's Thanksgiving meal, but this year I'm making things easier on myself by making it all gluten-free.

Not that I'm telling my holiday family and guests, mind you.

I will let the vegetarians know that aside from a roast turkey and accompanying gravy, they are free to roam the Thanksgiving table without fear of ingesting meat. And I will whisper in my husband's ear that he may do the same without being glutened. My Thanksgiving gift to him. And not incidentally, to me, as the Chief and Crispiest of Cooks.

I still plan a lavish spread (because I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to have leftovers during a busy retail season at our bookstore, because I have teenagers) but I will not be making gluten-free AND Gluteny kinds of stuffings, two kinds of desserts, etc. etc. as I have in the past. I think I have just gotten to a different mindset about cooking in my kitchen as we have tried to transition from our previous cooking/eating ways to a gluten-free lifestyle.

Whereas right after the G-bomb hit with my husband's diagnosis I was overwhelmed with the enormity of having to retool the kitchen, rethink my repertoire of recipes and cooking methods, and relearn how to bake (fuhgeddaboutit!), I am now more at ease with shopping and cooking gluten-free than not. Weird.

I'm certainly planning to be less mentally CRISPY a cook when I am putting the finishing touches on my Thanksgiving spread and calling everyone to the table. If anyone asks about whether things are gluten-free before the feasting is over, I plan to get a distracted look and hurry off to say "I forgot to put out the salt and pepper", or "I forgot to turn off the stove". I will only let slip that the entire deliciousness is gluten-free after the fact, when they are lulled into a post-prandial daze.

At least, that's my devious plan. Keep your fingers crossed for me on my secretive gluten-free guerrilla assault on my otherwise GF-wary diners.

Here's my game plan for a totally Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Feast:


Magical Muhammara (a fantastic Middle Eastern dip courtesy of author Diana Abu-Jaber, I sub in GF bread crumbs)
Grandma's Stuffed Celery
Cream Cheese Glazed with Garlic-Rosemary Jelly (recipe to follow in another post this week)
GF Crackers (Sesame-Rosemary Crackers if I'm extra-ambitious, but more likely a couple of packages of store-bought Nut Thins)

Main Event:

Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy (for the omnivores)
Roast Portabellas with Rice Stuffing and Mushroom Gravy (for the vegetarians)

Mashed Potatoes
Copper Pennies Salad
Sweet Potato Pudding
Cole Slaw
Green Bean Casserole with Crunchy Fried Onions (courtesy of Jill of Hey, That Tastes Good!)
Apple Chutney (with dried cranberries thrown in to macerate for a couple of days)
Cornbread Dressing
Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Balm Vinaigrette
Relish Tray (olives, carrot sticks and Dilly Beans)
GF Parker House Rolls (courtesy of Art of Gluten-Free Baking)

Sweet Finale:

Apple Sour Cream Pie
Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie (courtesy of the Fat Free Vegan)
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

My daughter and I made a batch of these Chocolate Dipped Strawberries during the summer, to serve as an elegant ending for our wedding anniversary dinner and I was amazed at how ridiculously easy they were. They look so beautiful that I had always assumed they were difficult to assemble, but after perusing some cookbooks and Internet recipes I came up with this breezy way to make these simple little show stoppers.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulls left on, rinsed and patted dry

1 (8 oz.) pkg. gluten-free milk chocolate chips

1-2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening

Melt chocolate chips in double boiler over low heat. Stir often. When chips are fully melted, add in shortening as needed to achieve a runny, liquid texture.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.

Holding strawberries by hulls, dip in melted chocolate to coat on all sides except hull. Place gently on waxed paper to cool.

That's it! Chill when cooled. You can also get fancier with these dessert treats by swirling on lines of melted white chocolate or dipping their little bottoms in crushed nuts while they are still warm.

I'm sending this Thanksgiving 2010 post over to Shirley at Gluten-Free Easily, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person recently. She is a lovely, supersmart lady who shares her gluten-free recipes, entertaining ideas, health information and so much more on her wonderful blog. Shirley's hosting week 2 of a Gluten-Free Holiday series sponsored by Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Shirley's theme this week is Thanksgiving Favorites.

Hop on over to Gluten-Free Easily to see what other bloggers are planning for their Turkey Day. I just visited and see that my tentative feast menu may be subject to change based on some droolworthy options over there. You can also leave comments there to enter to win some wonderful cookbooks.


gfe--gluten free easily said...

Wow, Rachel, what an extravaganza you are going to have! I have no doubt at all that it will be a huge success and no one will miss that evil gluten! Nobody ever misses it my house. At first I wouldn't tell them until the end, but now folks are so used to my food being gluten free and still terrific, they don't care and even rave to others. This phenomenon will happen to you, too.

Last, but not least, those strawberries are gorgeous. Everyone will love those for sure. Thanks so much for sharing them for our Gluten-Free Holiday, as well as the info on the event and the super generous words about me! :-) You are the best, Rachel! Have a fabulous, stress-free, delicious Thanksgiving!


Johanna GGG said...

how can anyone fail to be thankful for all that food - as a vegetarian I would be happy to partake at your table. we have more and more gluten free food sneaking into our family dinners since we have GF family members and no one ever complains

nellbe said...

It all looks wonderful and I think its great you are making it all gluten free. I did that one year for Christmas and the looks on their faces when I told them it was all gluten free. But is tasty one of them said. My point exactly!

Foodycat said...

Making it all gluten free is definitely the sensible way to go! And it sounds like a delicious meal.

Rachel said...

Thanks for all the kind comments everyone. I think this menu is a little overly ambitious and that a few dishes may not get made, but I'm not stressing about it. I have a lot on there that I plan to make one, two or three days ahead of time and a bunch of garden items are already frozen or canned (green beans, chutney, dilly beans, garlic jelly) so I think I'm good. Also have three kitchen helpers, two of which like to cook and all of which wash dishes!

Anonymous said...

What a spread! Shirley is right about people getting used to and welcoming gluten-free food when they find out how good it can be and it sure does save wear and tear on the cook. Wishing you and your family a Happy Turkey Day.