Saturday, November 20, 2010

My First Jelly Making, Gluten-Free Food Gift Ideas and Some Crispy Housekeeping

Let's get the housekeeping out of the way and that'll give you time to get ready for my jelly.

First, I had a poll here on the blog to see which holiday recipe readers would most like to make gluten-free this year and the winner was clearly bread and rolls. Ah yes, a crusty roll or piece of bread is what my GF hubby misses most. I manage to bake crumbly, soft rolls and buns but without that evil gluten, bread does not have that lovely tall structure and crispy crust that he crunches in his bread reveries. I'm going to try doing some more bread baking over the winter and will try those artisan GF bread recipes that I've seen circulating around the Internet, so I will give this top priority in the Crispy Cucina and will report back on my results.

The second most popular thing poll participants want to see made gluten-free is cheesecake. Well, I have my Mom's GF Cheesecake recipe here in the Crispy Cook archives, as well as a toothsome Lime Cheesecake with a Raspberry Swirl (Christmas colors!) that you can check out. But clearly people want some more GF cheesecake recipes, so I'll think on it. My family loves caramel so maybe I'll try that out (and double up on my gym workouts).

Coming in third on my poll list was Stuffing and I do plan a post on converting my Southern Grandma Trudie's cornbread dressing into a gluten-free version, but since I will be making it for Thanksgiving I won't be posting the recipe until afterward. Hopefully I will remember to photograph it in all its luscious stuffing-dressing glory during the madness of getting all the feast dishes done at the same time.

The second item of housekeeping is to announce the winner of the Live Gluten Freely prize package full of General Mills GF products and the random number generator picked commenter number 3, Margaret. Congratulations Margaret! Please contact me by email at oldsaraTog abooKs AT gmaildo tcom to let me know your shipping address so you can receive your prize. If I don't hear from you within the week, I'll move on to another randomly generated winner.

Last on the announcements is a cool contest and poll by the good folks at Triumph Dining. They have a survey over at their blog to assess the winners of their First Best of Gluten-Free Awards. The first 2,000 folks who complete the survey and vote for their favorite GF foods and brands will receive a pack of their GF Dining Cards. Triumph Dining publishes the Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide and Essential Gluten-Free Dining Guide and these are great resources, especially when you are traveling. The Dining Cards are handy for passing over to your wait staff when you are trying out a new restaurant and they include specialized cards for Mexican, Thai, French, Italian, Greek, Indian, Japanese and Chinese eateries.

I gave them my input yesterday and there were Dining Cards to sign up for (I already have a pack, so I left mine unclaimed), so head on over if you want to give your favorite GF manufacturers some love. I know I appreciate having Nut Thins, Chex cereals and Redbridge beer readily available in my local stores to keep my celiac husband happy. Holiday hint: the Dining Cards are perfectly sized as stocking stuffers.

Back to my first successful jellymaking experience. I am not counting the time I tried harvesting some wild grapes and ended up with blotchy purple skin and a whole lot of nothing after realizing I needed a jelly bag halfway through my never-ending recipe. I've made a little strawberry jam, and canned a whole basement full of pickles, relish, chutneys and dilled veggies, but jelly has seemed kind of daunting, what with needing to be crystal clear and firm and all.

I had a bountiful garden harvest of garlic and after planting a bunch of cloves for next year's crop, there were many cloves left over which had naked patches where they didn't separate from the other cloves as neatly. One doesn't plant these skinned cloves as they may rot in the ground without their papery covering, so I have been having a bit of a garlic cooking festival at our house to use up these partially-peeled babies up.

A bunch of garlic went into a batch of this terrific Rosemary Garlic Jelly, recipe courtesy of The Lemon Verbena Lady. I didn't mince up my garlic as finely as I should have, as most of it clustered at the top, even when I turned it over a couple of times during cooling (a jelly no-no?), but it set quite well which I was happy about.

This jelly has a great flavor; it's mellow from the garlic, herby from the rosemary and sweet behind it all. It is nice blobbed over a softened brick of cream cheese and served with crackers. I am going to try it over tangy goat cheese next and think that will be even better to cut the sweetness. Lemon Verbena Lady also recommends using it as a glaze for roast pork or chicken.

I'm linking this post over to this week's edition of The Gluten-Free Holidays, which has the theme of "Gifts of Good Taste". Alta at Tasty Eats at Home is this week's hostess and she shares her recipe for Macadamia Almond Brittle. Alta will have a whole batch of GF food gift ideas and recipes to share later in the week, so be sure to hop over there to check them out and to look into her GF cookbook giveaways too.

I have some other previous posts about other great gluten-free food gifts to give out during the holidays, for care packages for your favorite students or to bring as a little gift when you are a dinner guest. And here they are:

Puppy Chow - an easy to make gift of crushed Chex, peanut butter, powdered sugar and chocolate. Fun to make with your favorite junior chef.

Homemade Preserves and Pickles - This is a quick gift if you were a busy bee during canning season. I like to cut out a little fabric circle with pinking shears and then secure it over the top with a rubber band to dress it up my jars. I have a bunch of canning recipes here to look through, but the ones that are particularly appropriate for gift giving are Dilly Beans (great on a relish tray or as a cocktail garnish), Apple Chutney (for spicy food fans), and Sweet and Sour Wax Beans (cut them up into winter salads).

Sesame-Rosemary Crackers

Toasted Nuts

Southern Cheese Crisps - Tasty by themselves or with a schmear of your favorite dip.

Sweet Treats - I buy tins at the local charity thrift shop for 25 cents, clean them and line them with waxed paper or foil to cushion them. Favorite gift cookie recipes include Elegant Sesame-Ginger Cookies (vegan), Rudolph's Nose Cookies (no bake cookies packed with cocoa and cherries and rolled in red sugar), Peanut Butter Kisses and Almond Cloud Cookies. I also have a few tiny loaf pans and you can make mini-loaves of GF zucchini bread, cranberry nut bread, banana bread or other favorites for gift giving.

I am also linking this post about Gluten Free Gift Ideas to Linda the Gluten-Free Homemaker, who is the brains behind Gluten-Free Wednesdays. This weekly blog carnival provides a wealth of gluten-free recipes, menu ideas, restaurant reviews and other blog posts. I had the pleasure of meeting Linda in person recently and have been really enjoying reading her blog posts. She is one great cook!


Foodycat said...

Wow! So many delicious ideas! That jelly sounds amazing.

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Simona said...

A few days ago, I received a small jar of garlic jelly as a gift and now I see your post. I guess this is a gentle invitation to try. I particularly like the addition of rosemary. And your sesame-rosemary crackers are so tempting! I wonder if I can use some other flour instead of sorghum, maybe barley or buckwheat. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

This is so unique! Love it! Thanks for linking up to gf holiday!