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:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Off the Handle: Holiday Pea Soup with Ham

Here is a photo of the snow coming down, looking beautiful. 
It was hard to capture the flakes, but the sky looked kind of like this:

Unfortunately, all this snow has resulted in this....picturesque, but not good for the roof:

Here is what it looks like when the ice dams leak water into your home:

I wanted to post yesterday, but I was a little busy with the roof clearing operation. 
Trust me, this is an all-day affair, even with four adults working at it.
(A big THANK YOU to Katie and Andy for their help!)

The recipe for today is a nice one for after a cold and wet day of work. 
Unfortunately, I somehow never took photos when I made it after Christmas. 
(I think we are generally too excited when enjoying this soup to remember taking photos.) 

This is the last of my winter "holiday" recipes.  It's only a "holiday" recipe because that is when we tend to have a HoneyBaked Ham, specifically Christmas and Easter.  These hams are awesome!  I have never had pea soup from a HoneyBaked Ham bone that didn't get devoured quickly.  And yes....they are gluten free!

Holiday Pea Soup with Ham
Serves 8.

This takes all afternoon (4 hours or so), so plan ahead!

Rinse a 1-lb package of dried green split peas.

Put it in an 8-qt. pot.  Add 8 cups of water,
bring to a boil on the stove, let it boil a minute,
then turn off the heat, cover it, and let it sit an hour.

Do not drain....Add a ham bone from a HoneyBaked Half Ham (or your favorite ham). 
If you want, you can tie the bone in some cheesecloth to keep little bones from separating out.
Cover it again, turn the stove to low, and let it simmer an hour. 

Turn off the heat again.  Take out your ham bone and put it on a platter.  Let it cool a little.  Take a knife and pull off the meat.  Cut up the meat into small pieces.  I am pretty picky at this point, and if it's not a piece of meat I'd love to pop into my mouth then and there, then I don't use it.  I don't go for fatty pieces!

Make sure there are no little bones sitting around in your pot. 

Put the cut-up meat back into the pot.  Discard the bone and other stuff.  I usually put this into a plastic bag before putting it in the trash.  Who wants messy trash?

Add a chopped onion, a shredded carrot, and some parsley
You may want to add more leftover ham, if you have it. 

Turn on your stove's burner to low again and let it simmer another 2 hours. 

Taste and see how the seasonings are.  I don't believe I ever had to add anything at this point.  The saltiness/flavor from the ham is perfect!

This is one of those dishes that actually tastes even better the second day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beef and Veggies in a Skillet

Today we have snow yet again.  Tomorrow afternoon we are expecting the beginning of still another storm. 

The unusually intense weather here in Connecticut is wearing on all of the residents.  It makes me just want to curl up and hibernate for remainder of the winter with a good book....but instead, I get up, use the treadmill, shovel snow, get to work when it's possible, clean up all the tracked-in debris when we forget to take off shoes, and make dinner.

A cast iron skillet is great because I can whip up dinners with relative ease, browning meat on the stovetop and then finishing a dish in the oven.  Recently I made the following with items I had in the house.  Everyone loved it!  It would be easy to adapt this method to using other meats and vegetables. 

Beef and Veggies in a Skillet
Serves 6

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a 12" skillet,
brown 2 lbs lean ground beef
with 1 onion, chopped, and
2 peppers of various colors, chopped.
(I used a whole red pepper, half of a yellow pepper, and half of an orange one.)

Add 2 potatoes, diced, and
1 can stewed tomatoes.

Bake one hour, loosely covered with foil.

Sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

Cover and let sit 10 minutes while it melts.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Off the Handle: Pizzelle and Cannoli

When I was in Vermont earlier this month, I found it fascinating to take pictures of the fire in the giant fireplace at the Woodstock Inn.  Every photo is different. 

Then again, not much beats sitting by a roaring fireplace that someone else is taking care of....including the cleanup of it all!

I have been meaning to post the following recipe.  I developed my gluten free pizzelle recipe last winter.  I purchased a brand new pizzelle maker (by VillaWare), and proceeded using Pamela's Baking Mix.  I was so excited at the result that I was literally jumping up and down in my kitchen!  They were fabulous, and at LEAST as good as the standard/gluten-filled version.  (I think they're actually better!)

If you wind a flexible hot pizzelle (right off the pizzelle baker) around a cannoli tube and let it cool that way, you can fill it with a ricotta mixture and actually have cannoli!!  With gluten free eating, where there's a will there's a way! 

If you already own a pizzelle baker and have previously used it for regular pizzelle with gluten, I would be wary of using it for someone who truly needs a gluten free diet.  The crumbs seem pretty impossible to totally clean out.  Proceed at your own risk. 

HH's GF Pizzelle

(Makes about 30)

½ cup butter (1 stick)
2-1/2 to 2-3/4 cups GF Baking Mix (Pamela’s Baking mix is awesome! But…otherwise, try a different pancake mix, or GF Bisquick, or a mixture of GF Flours with 1 tsp xanthan gum and 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt.)
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ tsp anise extract (opt.)

Melt butter in microwave, in two 20-sec spurts. Allow to cool slightly. Put it in a bowl with the ¾ cup of sugar and mix it up.

Put your flour blend into a large bowl.

Beat eggs into the sugar/butter mixture. Add vanilla and anise and blend.

Put egg mixture into the large bowl over the flour mixture. Blend it well. Make sure there isn’t a clump of dry baking mix hiding underneath all of your nice dough. It should have a soft, dough-like quality (not stiff).

Bake using a pizzelle iron per manufacturer's instructions. I use 1 Tbs. measure per cookie and bake them for 30-40 sec. (Watch for when steam subsides somewhat. I used a timer to time 35 seconds.)   Obviously, this takes a while when you can only bake two pizzelle at a time.  Turn on some rock music and dance around in between.  When you are making pizzelle, it's easy to dance because they are so yummy!!!

Let cool on rack, then transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Optional: Roll some hot, pliable pizzelle (fresh from the baker) around cannoli forms, using a towel underneath the area for ease of rolling and to ensure a GF surface.  Allow to cool.  Fill with cannoli filling just before serving. 


Cannoli filling:

Drain a 15-oz container of whole milk ricotta in the fridge for a few hours or more. (Use a strainer.)

Mix this mixture with ½ cup of powdered sugar and ½ tsp vanilla.

Fills 8 cannoli.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

This photo was taken in Woodstock, Vermont.  We were able to get away for a quick cross-country ski weekend earlier this month.  We had just enough overnight snowfall to make the skiing very nice.  It was fun.

In Connecticut we have way more snow than this now. 
Today we have freezing rain on top of that. 

No fun.

At least it is fun to cook inside.  Over the weekend I made stuffed mushrooms as a side dish to our chicken dinner.  The cast iron skillet does a great job with them!!

Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 375.

Defrost 8 oz of frozen chopped spinach
(I usually cook it halfway in the microwave, then let it cool.) 
Squeeze out the excess liquid. 

Clean a 14-oz package of stuffing mushrooms.
Take the stems out.  Chop them up. 

Mix the spinach and chopped mushroom stems with:
1/4 tsp garlic powder,
1 egg, 2-4 Tbs of parmesan, and
1/4 cup gluten free bread crumbs.

Heap this mixture into all the mushroom caps.
Place them into a greased 10-inch skillet.
Bake 30 minutes.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Off the Handle: Disaster Dessert

January has not been a fun month.

I had an ill family member, we were pounded with over two feet of snow in one day, and now I need a root canal. 


Last night we wanted to have a nice GF dinner for John before he heads back to college.  The meal was excellent, with some old favorites like skillet potatoes, but dubbed last night as "Belted Galloway" potatoes due to the white strip hubby peeled around red potatoes before we sliced and baked them:

The Belted Galloways are the cows that look like oreo cookies....

(The recipe for skillet potatoes is noted on my post of August 5, 2010.)

During the day, I decided to make a lemon cake from a mix.  Delicious cake.....made with chestnut flour, featured in my post of July 17, 2010. 

Except that as I pulled the cake out to test it, the whole dang thing slipped out of my grasp, landing upside down over the crack between the oven floor and the oven door. 

Yeah, I was in tears.....

Katie and Andy had just arrived, and assisted with the rescue by picking up all the cake on the oven floor.  The remainder sat in the pan, with a huge crater across it. (My family was calling it "crater cake" at this point.)

We pondered what to do for a while.

Trifle?  I'm not sure John can deal with the amount of cornstarch in pudding.  We thought of cooking up some apples and filling the crater with that.  A lot was going on in the kitchen, however, so another cooking project didn't seem to work out.

I looked in my basement.  I had a jar of lemon curd!

I spread the lemon curd all over the wrecked cake after it cooled.  We cut it up and served it with a dollop of whipped cream.  And was pretty good!

They say that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
We made a pretty good lemony dish, which I call "disaster dessert." 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

taking a break

Sorry, no new posts for a week or two....looking forward to sharing more gluten free recipes soon, however....

The Hot Handle

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Off the Handle: Almond Biscotti

This little angel on my tree has a funny story.

One year, probably when I was in my teens, I was helping Mom decorate the tree.  We came across this paper angel, and could not recall where it came from.  We didn't remember it at all!  As I held the ornament up, it was apparent that she was hanging from her neck.  "She must have been a *bad* angel!"  We all laughed so hard that we were practically rolling on the floor.  Since then I have kept the angel to remember that fun time.  (She gets hung on the back of the tree.)

I love putting up the ornaments and remembering the story behind many of them.  Of course, every once in a while we find one that we can't remember at all, like this angel.  This week I'd better get around to taking them down again.  That isn't as fun.

Below is an adaptation of my previous biscotti recipe.  This is the first year I did this....and they came out excellent.  Will definitely do it again.....many times.  Biscotti is one of my very favorite treats.

HH's Gluten Free Almond Biscotti (makes 4 dozen)

Preheat oven to 350.

Put in your heavy duty mixer’s bowl:

1 16-oz pkg GF Bisquick (This measured out as a little under 3 cups.),
1 cup sugar, and
½ tsp ground mace.

(No salt....There is already salt in the Bisquick.)

Stir it up to mix. I use the dough hook feature,
because the next step makes a pretty thick batter.

Add 4 eggs (or equivalent of egg substitute, like Egg Beaters), and
2 tsp almond extract.

You may have to scrape the bowl to get it all combined.

Now add 2 cups whole almonds (approx 8 oz).

Use the dough hook a little more, then you’ll probably have to mix some by hand.

Divide the dough in half and spread it onto a GREASED baking sheet
to make 2 strips about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide.
Smooth dough with wet fingers for this.

Bake 25 min.

Reduce oven temperature to 325.

Cool in pan 10 min, then transfer to a wire rack to cool some more.

When it’s cool enough to handle you can check to see if it slices well.
Slice each loaf into 24 pieces in this way:

Using a quality large, serrated bread knife, slice each loaf in half.
Now each half will yield 12 pieces.
Score each half at the halfway point, then halfway across each side, making 4 sections.
You now need to slice your biscotti by making 3 pieces within each section.

Lay these pieces flat on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 10 min at 325.

Turn pieces over.

Bake 10 more minutes.

Cool on wire racks.