The Hot Handle

A blog interspersed with occasional gluten free recipes.

Please note: If you have a family member who requires a gluten free diet, be sure to use a cast iron skillet that has never previously touched gluten....and if it has, scrub it all down completely and re-season, to be on the safe side.

Looking for information on Celiac Disease? There are many good sites, but here is one to get started with:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Potato and Ham Pie

Down the street from me is some construction of new homes for "active adults" (which makes us laugh, because what does that make us?).  Anyway, there is a circle where no homes are being built at the time.  The builder is letting it grow with yellow flowers.  When we take walks after dinner, we have noticed at least 6 or 8 goldfinches flitting around in there.  The males look like they are wooing the females with their dancing and chirping.  It is fascinating.

Unfortunately, the goldfinches don't stay very still to have their pictures taken.  Here is a link to goldfinch information:

I wanted to make a dinner that reflected the yellow flowers and the yellow birds.  I knew I had potatoes in my pantry, and onion, and some HoneyBaked Ham in the freezer from Easter.  I put it together this way, hoping that the yellow in the dry mustard would look nice and yellow on top:

Potato and Ham Pie  (serves 4)

3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt (I realized later that I probably could have used less due to the ham in this dish)
a few turns of the pepper grinder
1 Tbs parsley
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbs gluten free flour (I used white rice flour), mixed with 1/4 tsp baking powder
3-4 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
8-10 oz. leftover ham, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbs oil
dry mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Beat the eggs with salt and pepper in a large bowl. 
Add parsley and milk and blend. 
Add flour mixture and whisk it up.
Mix in potatoes, ham and onion.
Pour oil in bottom of 10" cast iron skillet.   Use fingers to smear it all over the bottom and sides.
Pour egg-potato-ham mixture into skillet.
Sprinkle with some parmesan,  dry mustard, and another turn or two of the pepper grinder.
Bake 45-60 min, until edges are brown and potatoes are tender.  (I did 50 minutes.)
Let it sit 10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving. 

How was it?   Well, it didn't exactly look like a field of yellow flowers, but Peter and John both happily gobbled it up!  They especially enjoyed the "dark crunchy stuff on the bottom."  There was enough for John to have leftovers for lunch.  Here's how it looked:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Pavlova

We spent the day yesterday at the "Good Guys Rod & Custom Car Show" in Rhinebeck, NY.  They have an awesome fairground there.  The weather was actually quite nice.  I walked the show with Peter for the morning, then we had a picnic lunch in the parking lot.  After that, I knitted while he meandered around the car parts booths and looked at the cars in the field.

It was a nice time. 

In the last post, I mentioned a showstopper dessert.  On Father's Day I made Pavlova, which is a dessert with a meringue base, topped with real whipped cream and berries.  It's awesome.  If I had some at the show, people would have turned their heads, for sure.  Even though what they really care about is cars. 

I have to thank my friend, Monica, for introducing me to this dessert.  I had it at her place a few years ago and was quite impressed.  It looks really difficult but just takes a lot of whipping.  I have since made it for my parents and family.  The inside of the meringue is chewy, and the outside is crunchy, making it really interesting to eat.  I understand that to use anything but real whipping cream that you whip yourself would be a heresy or something. 

The dessert is named after a Russian ballet dancer.  It supposedly was her favorite. 

Here's what I did:

Pavlova (adapted from


4 egg whites

1 cup white sugar (no less than this!  Ask me how I know....)

****Mix 2 tsp cornstarch into last ¼ c of sugar that you will add in!

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the Whipped Cream topping, I whip up....

        1 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1Tbs confectioner’s sugar


*You need a good mixer with a whip!

1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F. Take out a sheet of parchment paper and crumple it. With a pencil, draw a 9-inch circle on it.  I usually just trace a 9" cake pan for this.  Trim parchment to fit pan.  (No, don't cut out that circle....just cut away any excess that will fold onto your dessert and bug you.)

Turn the parchment pencil-side down, and dust it with cornstarch. (This helps the meringue to release from parchment after baking.  The crumpling helps to hold the cornstarch on the paper.)

2. In mixer, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add in the sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until thick and glossy. Be careful, as I understand that overbeaten egg whites lose volume and deflate when folded into other ingredients. Be absolutely sure not a particle of grease or egg yolk gets into the whites. Gently fold in vanilla extract, lemon juice and cornstarch mixed with sugar.

3. Spoon mixture inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge, building edge slightly. This should leave a slight depression in the center.

4. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven and allow the meringue to cool inside the oven. Cool it completely! Cooling inside the oven helps to minimize cracking….however, don’t worry about any cracking or deflating that may occur anyway.

5. Remove the paper, and place meringue on a flat serving plate. Fill the center of the meringue with whipped cream topping. Top whipped cream with fruit. Cut and serve!

***Use any fruit….berries are traditional, but you can use canned peaches, mandarin oranges, or pineapple. How about jarred cherries? Kiwis? Use frozen or fresh fruit, although fresh is preferred. Some have used lemon pie filling and then spread on the whipped cream. Some have drizzled it all with chocolate syrup, or sprinkled nuts on top. Your only limit is your taste and imagination!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gluten Free When at Someone Else's Cookout

This past weekend was Father's Day.  Hubby (Peter) was busy painting parts of his hot rod.  This takes a lot of planning and equipment.  Thankfully he thought ahead to keeping his skin and lungs clean.  Here is a picture of how he looked:

I told him he looked like someone in a sci-fi movie!

We spent Father's Day afternoon at my brother's house.  He likes to grill for my Dad and Peter.  I called beforehand to inquire about gluten free eating for my GF son, John. 

First question:  "Do you usually toast your rolls on the grill?"

"Well, yes," he said. 

"Okay, no problem," I told him.  "I will bring my cast iron skillet."

Second question:  "Are you marinating the chicken?"

"Well, yes."  Of course, Murphy's Law ensures that the marinade contained soy sauce, which has wheat.  

"That's okay.  Naked chicken is fine,"  I assured.

The day of the cookout, I took along a showstopper dessert and my trusty 8-inch cast iron skillet.  This skillet is not too heavy to lug around.

The grill was pretty full, and I could tell it wouldn't be a good idea to add my skillet to all the other food on there, adding to confusion.  I took the skillet inside and heated it up on the stove.  With John looking on, I threw in a little olive oil and heated that while I seasoned the boneless chicken with thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.  I browned the chicken, grabbed a lid from elsewhere in the kitchen, added asparagus that I didn't want to be on the grill surface, and let it ride a while.  

Here is how it looked!


Well, John, my GF son, loved it. 

When we finished eating, the pan was still warm, so I rinsed it with hot water, scrubbed it with a little table salt on a paper towel, dried it thoroughly and set it aside to go home.

GF?  No problem!  :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Getting Started

I just got started with my new blog! "The Hot Handle" will be about cooking gluten free in a cast iron skillet. More to come....