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, November 30, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Apple Crumb Pie

A day after Thanksgiving, John looked at the apple pie my mom had made and sighed.  "Oh, I miss that...."

Obviously, there was only one thing to do!

I had a gluten free pie crust from the freezer case at Whole Foods.  I sent Peter out to our local apple orchards, and he came back with what I needed:  Cortland apples, which stay nice and white and fairly firm while cooking.  The result was delicious, and John took the last two slices back to UConn with him.

HH's Apple Crumb Pie

Preheat the oven to 350.

Take out a 9-inch single crust GF pie pastry from the freezer.  It will defrost as you do the rest.

Peel, core and slice 6 Cortland apples.  This will make a healthy 6 cups of apples.

Mix the apples in a large bowl with:
1/2 cup sugar,
1 tsp cinnamon,
1/2 tsp nutmeg, and
2 Tbs rice flour.

Pour that into the pie crust.

Go back to that dirty sense in messing up another one. 

Mix in the bowl:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar,
2 tsp cinnamon,
1/4 cup butter, and
1/2 cup GF flour.  (I used Bob's Red Mill.  As I was pouring, I remembered that I also have almond flour in my freezer, so I threw about 2 Tbs in, making 1/2 cup total.)

Use a pastry blender to mix it all together until it becomes crumbly.
Sprinkle this mixture over the apples.  (It will be tricky!  Pack it in a little....)

I put the pie on a cookie sheet so I wouldn't have a big mess.  It didn't spill over much at all (maybe a few drops), but I hated to think how I would feel if I had to clean my oven all over again.  Not only that, the cookie sheet ensures that I won't lose anything if the pie was a little heavy for the aluminum pan....

Bake 60-65 minutes.  Look for it to be a little bit bubbly.  You might want to cover it with foil for the last 15 minutes if you think it is browning too much.

Cool.  Serve plain, a la mode, or in the New England manner with a slice of cheddar cheese.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Getting a Handle on: Holiday Gatherings

I mentioned in my last post that I was hosting Thanksgiving this year.  We had 14 at the table, and it all went well.  I was happy to see that the relatives all have an acceptance of the gluten thing.  I invited others to bring some gluten free dishes, but I did not require it.  I had the most wonderful positive responses where people asked questions about how to do this.  They may have brought other dishes with obvious gluten (pies, green bean casserole....), but they were open to understanding about cross contamination issues.  When I thought about the things I am grateful for at Thanksgiving, that one was high on this year's list. 

Appetizers were the easy part.  I usually stick to cheese, crackers and nuts, since I love them all.  The Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins prompted comments of, "These are good!" and "Where do I get these?"  A cousin brought along pear halves stuffed with cheese and fruit.  Mmmm!

For the turkey, I mixed olive oil with McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning, pulled up the skin, and spread the mixture around under that.  We cooked the bird breast-side-down for the first two hours (tented with foil), which is supposed to make the meat more tender.  After two hours, we flipped it over.  I think that may have messed up the pop-up timer on it, but we always check with an instant-read thermometer nonetheless.  It was indeed tender!  We had a 12-lb turkey as I really didn't want to wrestle with a huge 24-lb one.

We also baked a turkey breast that I seasoned with a mixture of mustard, rosemary and garlic, topped it with a loose cover of foil, and baked that.  Again....very good. 

Gravy?  I found a good recipe online at  No one seemed to notice that it was gluten free. 

Stuffing?  Last year no one really wanted to try the gluten free stuffing that I had made.  In the interest of keeping a gluten-free cooking area, I assigned "traditional" stuffing to my brother.  People enjoyed his so much that they immediately labeled him the new "stuffing man" and told him it's his job from now on!  I sent the leftovers home with him. 

For John, I made a gluten free stuffing using two boxes of Van's waffles.  We put the waffles in the oven for a few minutes the night before.  I should have cut them into cubes at this point, but I was lazy and just turned off the oven and went to bed.  In the morning we had dried-out waffles.  I cubed them, cooked up onion and celery in 4 Tbs. butter, added 1 tsp sage, 2 Tbs parsley, and 2 tsp herbs de province; poured on 1 1/2 cups of gluten free chicken stock, and popped it into a crock pot for a few hours.  This worked out well!

We had mashed some roasted sweet potatoes done in the same manner as my roasted new potatoes (11/21/10) and iron skillet potatoes (8/5/10), with olive oil and that WOW seasoning that I like.  I didn't really pay a lot of attention to the time, I just roasted them over an hour in the same 325-degree oven with the turkeys, stirring them about halfway.  The photo above is John and Peter helping out with the preparation for that dish.  They are a BIG help!  (Thanks, guys!!)

Other vegetables and sides were supplied by my cousins and aunt.  Most (not all) were gluten free, but once things are on the table the risk of cross contamination is high.  John took his food first, before others even sat down at the table.  To ensure that he had "safe" leftovers, I had him set aside a good amount of food to immediately put in the fridge for himself.  We labeled any leftovers that he could eat as "GF".  Cranberry sauce is gluten free....and Whole Foods has GF cheddar biscuits in their freezer case that are fabulous.   I think everyone enjoyed those!

Dessert is the tricky part.  I made a GF pumpkin pie, which I gladly served to anyone who wanted it, but I was determined to keep it GF for John's leftovers.  I served slices of this pumpkin pie, then put it aside while we served other pies.  If I went back to the pumpkin, it was with a clean knife and onto clean dishes! 

Most people want "a little piece of everything," LOL!

I also put out Dove chocolates, which everyone likes.

Here is my chestnut recipe, which are nice with coffee.  People can sit around the table, smacking chestnuts to open them as they continue to chat.  I did cook them in my cast iron skillet, which got them a little extra-roasted on the side that contacted the skillet.  This reminded me of chestnuts that you can get in New York City from vendors!

Roasted Chestnuts

Soak your chestnuts in a bowl of cold water for 30-60 minutes; drain.
(I find that the soaking makes peeling very easy!)

Make sure your oven is on.  I put it at 350. 
Cut a slit in the shell of the rounded side of the chestnut. 
Make sure the cut goes all the way through  the shell.

Arrange chestnuts in a single layer in your pan.
Bake 40 min.

Let cool at least 5 minutes.  Peel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sauced Apples

I am busy making a pumpkin pie for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast.  I am hosting it this year.  We are expecting 14 at our table.  In spite of the fact that I have become fairly adept at hosting dinners these days, this is a little different.  People have "expectations" for Thanksgiving.  I assigned items that have gluten in them (i.e., "regular" stuffing) to others, but the threat of cross-contamination remains during the dinner.  I will have John set aside a good amount of leftovers for himself while he is the first to take it should all work out....

Before I publish today's apple recipe, I have to state something about the ingredients.  The reader may notice that we sometimes use alcohol in our cooking.  Truth is, this is pretty much a recent thing.  Now that the kids are adults, we feel like we have more freedom in that regard.  But also, it's a fact that the brandy and other items used in some of these fruity desserts have been in our [locked] cabinet for a *long* time. 

I have always liked adding a splash of wine to recipes.  My understanding is that most of the alcohol evaporates as we cook it.  If you are uncomfortable with these ingredients or it isn't your style, feel free to substitute some apple or grape juice. 

You will note that none of these recipes has beer as an ingredient.  Traditional beer has gluten.  There are gluten free beers available, but we have not tried them yet. 

Peter likes getting creative with fruit when we have company.  He made this dish the other weekend, and we liked it so much that he made it for John when he came home from college for the Thanksgiving break.  He dubbed it, "Sauced Apples" as a twist on "applesauce." 

Sauced Apples

 Peel and slice 6 apples of various types.  Peter likes a mix of apples.....some that are "cooking" apples that hold their shape, like Cortland, and others that turn into mush when they cook, like Macintosh.  This gives a variety of texture to the dish.

2 Tbs lemon juice,
4 oz. red wine,
2 Tbs molasses,
1/4 cup raisins,
2 oz. brandy or cognac,
2 oz. spiced rum,
3 Tbs sugar, and
4 oz. cider or apple juice.

Pour it into a large ziplok bag and let it sit in the fridge for 4 hours or so, turning the bag every so often to let all the flavors blend in an optimal fashion.

Turn on your oven or your outdoor grill.  I set the oven to 400.

Pour the fruit mixture into a 12-inch skillet and dot with 2 Tbs butter.

Bake, uncovered, 30 min.

Let cool slightly.

Put into small bowls and top with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream,
serving it "a la mode."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fruity Pork Roast with Roasted New Potatoes

This is a red-tailed hawk.  We had at least one of these flying over our house this fall, screeching all the while.  It was eerie and way cool at the same time.  Peter once saw a hawk having a pigeon for lunch.  A neighbor recently told me he saw our hawk grab a rabbit and take off.  Amazing. 

Now that I have this blog, I am like a hawk only in that I am always on the lookout for new recipes to try.  With the holidays coming, there will be plenty! 

Last weekend we had friends over and served this dinner, along with some salad.  Everyone really liked it.  I don't seem to care much for pork roast, but I had a small piece, and I think the fruit was the best part.  Enjoy!

Fruity Pork Roast

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place a 4-lb pork loin roast in a roasting pan. 
Mix together:
1/4 cup deli mustard, and
2 Tbs brown sugar.

Spread it over the roast.
Tent the roast with foil.  (Leave it loose.)

Roast for 3 hours, basting with 1/4 cup apple juice after one and two hours.....
so that makes a total of 1/2 cup apple juice.

During the last hour that the roast is cooking, combine
1 cup dried plums,
1 cup dried apricots,
3/4 cup red wine,
1/4 cup brown sugar,
1/8 tsp. cloves, and
2 tsp cornstarch.

Heat it up in the microwave.  I didn't quite get it to boil.

Pour it on and around the roast in the last hour of cooking. 
Check for instant read thermometer will register 160 when it's ready.

That's it!

Roasted New Potatoes

Take the appropriate amount of new potatoes for your number of servings.  Eyeball it.  Use red, white, or yellow potatoes.

Wash them.  If you want to be fancy, peel a little strip around the outside.

Drizzle with olive oil to coat. 
Add some adobo seasoning to taste.  Mix it all up.
Put it all into an appropriately-sized cast iron one layer.
Bake 25 min at whatever your oven temperature is....(I have used both 350 and 425)
Bake 25 min more.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

HH's Family Favorite Pot Roast

Katie couldn't come for her birthday party with the Woodchuck Chicken because she had some sort of virus.  (Her birthday is the same day as John, but three years earlier.)  A week later, she was much better, and everyone still wanted to see her.  I needed to make dinner for six, had a broken-down dishwasher, and yet another dinner party the following day.  I needed something that would be EASY.

I had a lightbulb moment.

Pot Roast!  Pop it all in the crock pot and let it go.  Then I have time to visit and only one pot to clean.  I bought cupcakes for dessert (an especially pretty one for the birthday girl).  We all sang "Happy Birthday" and watched her open presents. 

HH's Family Favorite Pot Roast
(Serves 6-8)

Take a 3-lb pot roast.  (Once I had a larger dinner party and used a 5-lb roast.)

Trim the fat.  In a skillet brown the roast on all sides in a little oil
Place it in an appropriate-size crock pot.

Mix in a small bowl: 
1/2 cup red wine,
1/4 cup catsup,
3 Tbs quick-cooking tapioca,
1 Tbs. GF Worstershire sauce,
1 tsp thyme, and
1 tsp oregano. 
Pour this over your roast.

If you want, add new potatoes and cut-up carrots around the side of the roast. 
When I had the 5-lb roast I did not do this.  Last weekend I did. 
Both ways are delicious.

If your family likes onion, by all means add some. 
But my daughter does not like onion, so I left it out. 

Cover, cook on high 4-5 hours or on low 8-10 hours. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Parmesan Bread Sticks

We will be seeing this word a lot now that the holiday season is fast approaching.  But joy is an interesting concept when you start to ponder it.  For example, my dishwasher has been broken for the last week.  I will have a new one delivered this week, but in the meantime we have been washing by hand.  Although I am not thrilled at this extra work, and I continue to automatically open the non-functioning dishwasher to put my juice glass in at breakfast time, it does have its good points, such as the teamwork of washing and drying together. 

I have also been pondering the mindfulness exercise of washing dishes.  In books about mindfulness meditation, they discuss washing a dish mindfully.  Feel the water, sense the soap, take your time and involve your whole being in it.  Come to think of it, my dishwashing liquid smells pretty nice.  It's possible to find joy in the mundane.

We continue to do a fair amount of entertaining lately.  It's much cheaper than dining out, and by doing things for others we activate the pleasure centers in our brains.  I get a lot of joy out of making food that not only does John enjoy, but everyone else does as well.  When it was his birthday last weekend I attempted to make breadsticks like the "Chebe" brand.  The recipe is below.  We then tasted both the Chebe and my attempt....and the agreement was that although the Chebe has a slightly better texture, mine have more flavor.  Everyone seemed to like them both.  If you try them, let me know what you think!

Yes, John took every last one back to school.  They are considered to be a successful recipe that brought joy to all. 

Parmesan Bread Sticks
(Makes 16)

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix in a bowl:

1 7/8 cups gluten free flour (I used a tapioca blend, specifically "Jules" brand.  If you use GF flour that doesn't have xanthan gum already in it, consider adding a tsp or so.),
1/2 tsp salt,
1 tsp Italian herbs,
1/2 tsp garlic powder, and
1/2-3/4 cup parmesan.  (I used 1/2, am wondering if 3/4 will work better.)

Add 2 Tbs oil, 2 eggs, and 1/4 cup milk
Mix, adding more milk as necessary to make a dough pie crust.  Use your hands and knead it a little. 

Separate dough into 16 pieces.
Form dough pieces into sticks about 1/2" in diameter.

Place sticks into an ungreased pan.  I did put some into my cast iron pan and that worked nicely, but some also went on a cookie sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until brown.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Woodchuck Chicken

I took this photo at the Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock, Vermont.  We like their cheese. 

The tall trees remind me of wood.  The wood reminds me of Woodchuck Hard Cider.  John really wanted to try this as he turned 21 last weekend.  Peter had the idea of marinating boneless chicken in it.  And it came out nice and tender!!!  We were happy to have two pieces left over for Monday night's dinner.  A keeper recipe....with a catchy name!

We should have taken a picture, but we didn't.  It looks like grilled chicken.....and tastes fabulous!

Woodchuck Chicken

Take 4 1/2 lbs. of boneless chicken breasts.

Drizzle them with 2-3 Tbs. of olive oil,
2 Tbs of lemon juice, and
garlic powder to taste.

Mix this all up.  Add some salt if you want.  I meant to add some, but didn't get to it. 
It was still excellent.

Poke holes with your fork all over the chicken.

Pour 1/2 bottle of Woodchuck Hard Cider over the chicken.  Cover and let sit in the fridge for 6 hours.

Grill.  Use an instant read thermometer to make sure you cooked it properly.


And....FYI....there are woodchucks among those trees.  Take a look at this photo:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

HH's Basic Little Meatballs

I picked up this sign this summer and placed it over my stove.  I thought the message is worth seeing over and over.  It makes sense.  When I think back on my life, the stuff that stands out are little things:  a funny story, a look that someone gave you, cooking steak and potatoes over a fire at a state park on a Sunday afternoon, a baby sleeping on your chest......great memories, but little events at the time. 

John came home for the weekend.  I have been wanting to make him meatballs for a while now.  I finally did it! 

Meatballs are something we all take for granted.  It's easy to pick up a bag of frozen meatballs for your pasta, unless you need to be GF.  It's a little thing to enjoy.  Not hard to make, but a nice complement to a pasta meal.  You can adapt these in a number of ways, but this is the basic recipe:

HH's Basic Little Meatballs

Preheat oven to 350.  Get out your 12-inch skillet.

Mix in a bowl:

1 lb lean ground beef,
1/2 cup GF breadcrumbs,
1 tsp GF Worstershire sauce,
1/4 tsp garlic powder,
1 tsp Italian seasoning, and
1 egg.
Add salt as desired.  I didn't add salt, but I thought a little would have improved it slightly.  Try 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.  I'm not one to go overboard on salt.

I have a little meatballer-gadget that makes meatballs 1-3/8 inches in diameter.  You don't need to be quite that precise, lol!  Make them 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter with your fingers, if you don't have a meatballer-gadget.  I made about 22 meatballs.  Put them in the skillet.  No need to grease it first. 

Bake 20-25 minutes.  Celebrate that meatballs are so easy!  They can be frozen to heat up again in the microwave as needed. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Avocado Salads

These are angora goats.  We get mohair from them. 

(And you may have thought we get mohair from mo's!!)

These goats were at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival a few weeks ago.  They are funky looking, in a cute sort of way!  Mohair is fun to knit with.  It is super-warm, and the finished project has a "halo effect" from the fuzziness of the fiber.

When I met with my knitting friends last week, we discussed ways we all get vegetables into our meals.  My friend, Monica, shared that she buys little bags of avocados at Whole Foods and makes salads from them.  My ears perked up.  Avocado?  I love avocado, but I am not sure what to do with it other than guacamole.  A few days later I bought my own bag of avocados.  The first salad is one I threw together; the second is from Monica. 

Monica is from Chile.  She says that lemon trees (and avocados) grow very well in most parts of Chile - hence the use of lemon juice as a dressing for her avocado salad.  Nice and easy to throw together as you are heating up other parts of a meal!  

Chunky Guacamole Salad
(Serves 2)

Toss together:

One avocado, chopped,
1/2 of a red onion, chopped,
1/2 of a 14.5-oz can chopped fire roasted tomatoes,
3/4 tsp. WOW seasoning,
a splash of lime juice, and
1 tsp. sugar.

Avocado and Chick Pea Salad
(Serves 2)

Toss together:

1 avocado, chopped,
1/2 of a 19-oz can of chick peas, rinsed,
1/2 Tbs. olive oil,
1 tsp lemon juice, and
1/2 tsp garlic pepper seasoning (with salt in it).