Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hypoallergenic Apple Pie


     Besides the multiple allergens in most pie crust (wheat, shortening made of corn and soy), commercial fruit fillings for pie are generally thickened with cornstarch and/or wheat flour. If corn and wheat are both a problem at your house, it may be time to learn to make pie. 

     Apples vary quite a lot in terms of their sweetness, tartness, juiciness and tendency to soften up when cooked. Adjusting your recipe to the apples at hand can be tricky; I think it's easier to always use the same variety and tweak your recipe until you get it just the way you like it. I use Yellow Delicious apples because they soften up nicely but don't release a huge amount of juice. I don't like the filling to be really wet: for one thing, it can sog up the bottom crust.  
     1/2 c. sugar (See Sugar in the Glossary)
     2-3 T. tapioca starch
     1/4 tsp. salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     1/2 tsp. cinnamon (See Spices in the Glossary)
     ripe Yellow Delicious apples (enough to produce 5-6 cups of apple slices 
          (See Produce in the Glossary)
     (optional) sprinkle of freshly squeezed lemon juice (See Juice in the 

     Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

     In a medium bowl, stir the sugar, tapioca starch, salt and cinnamon together; set aside.  Wash, quarter, and peel some apples.  (The point to peeling is to remove any corn-, soy- or dairy-containing wax on the surface or any trace of mold or yeast growing on the outside of the apple. If you aren't allergic to any of these things, you can skip this part.) 

Ready for a top crust or some crumble

     Remove every bit of the core from each quarter, and slice it into ~1/3-inch slices. When you have 5-6 cups of apple slices, toss them with the sugar mixture. 

     Distribute the apples evenly in a pie plate (with or without a bottom crust). Sprinkle with a little lemon juice if you want.

Remember that you can totally skip
the part about making pie crust. Put
some crumble on top of apple pie
filling and start baking.

     Top with either a top crust or one recipe of crumble and  bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 45-55 minutes, until the crust and/or crumble are lightly browned.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Creamy Asparagus Soup

Creamy asparagus soup garnished with bacon and mild red pepper

     The thick "creaminess" of this soup comes from the rice (or potato). One advantage of not using a dairy product (besides not setting off a dairy allergy) is that you can add a whole new flavor dimension with a squirt of lemon juice— without having to worry that your soup will curdle.

     2 Tb. oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     1 chopped onion
     1 pound washed, trimmed* asparagus (~2 bundles)
     6 c. chicken broth (See Broth in the Glossary)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     black pepper (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1/2 c. rice 
(See Rice in the Glossary) or one potato, cut up

     Saute the onion in the oil on medium heat with a good sprinkle of salt just until the onion is translucent; do not brown. Add the asparagus, the chicken broth and a sprinkle of black pepper. Bring to a boil, add the rice (or potato), and simmer until the rice is thoroughly cooked (20-30 min). Puree in a blender.  Put through a strainer if necessary. Adjust salt to taste.

     Garnish with chopped crispy bacon (see Bacon on this page), chopped dill leaves, crushed red pepper flakes or lemon wedges if you like.

*You want to trim off all the hard, woody part at the base of the asparagus spear: otherwise, your soup is likely to end up with lumps in it.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Pasta with Olive Oil, Garlic and Herbs

     Have you ever suffered from jealousy in an Italian restaurant while your friends happily dunked fresh, warm bread into garlicky olive oil and snarfed it down—as you realized your food wouldn't arrive until they got done? @#$%^ allergies to wheat and yeast!  This classic Italian dish is the best revenge I know of: make it for yourself and don't share it with anyone who doesn't have food allergies. This dish has no hidden allergens: if you're not allergic to rice, garlic or olives, it should be fine. Note that you can change the character of the dish substantially by varying what herbs you include and their proportions.

Olive oil with garlic and herbs on Tinkyáda white rice spaghetti

     1 lb. spaghetti, fettuccini or other pasta (See Pasta in the Glossary)
     1/2 c. olive oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     6 garlic cloves, minced
     1/2 c. gently packed fresh Italian parsley leaves (stripped off their 
          stems and washed) (See Produce in the Glossary)
     1/4 c. gently packed fresh basil leaves (stripped off their stems and 
     1 Tb. gently packed fresh thyme leaves (stripped off their stems and 
     1 Tb. gently packed fresh rosemary leaves (stripped off their stems and 
     1 tsp. black pepper (See Spices in the Glossary)
     (optional) 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (See Spices in the Glossary)

     Bring a large potful of well salted water to a boil and cook the pasta just until al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, chop the herbs fairly small. Gently heat the olive oil in a small pot and add the chopped herbs and garlic. Saute gently just until the herbs are wilted and the garlic is soft and translucent. Stir in the pepper flakes and black pepper.
     Toss the pasta with the olive oil mixture.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hypoallergenic Salsa

This might have been a prettier red if I had stuck with red peppers,
but I like poblanos.

     Commercially made salsa usually contains corn whether you can see kernels of it or not.  Most contains citric acid (corn and/or soy) and/or distilled white vinegar (corn). If you make salsa yourself, remember that grocery store tomatoes and peppers are generally coated with a layer of wax containing corn, soy or dairy products. You can peel them following the instructions under Produce in the Glossary. On the plus side, the process of charring the peppers so that the peel blisters up gives the peppers a savory, roasted flavor that is good in salsa.

     2 lb. of peppers, whatever variety you like (See Produce in the Glossary)
     4 lb. of ripe vine-ripened tomatoes (See Produce in the Glossary)
     4 cloves of garlic, sliced very thin or minced
     (optional) 2 Tb. chopped fresh cilantro leaves (See Produce in the 
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     couple of  limes 

     Prepare and peel the peppers and tomatoes as described under Produce in the Glossary. Remove the seeds from the peppers. You can seed the tomatoes too, if you like; salsa is chunky, so I don't think a few tomato seeds matter. Chop the peppers and tomatoes; put them in a pot with the garlic, cilantro, 1/2 Tb. salt and 3 Tb. lime juice. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the thickness is about right. The vegetables will have become very soft and melded together, and the salsa will have cooked down to about half of its initial volume. This will take 2-3 hours or so. Adjust salt and lime juice to taste if needed.

About the right proportion of peppers to tomatoes, ready to peel.
Note that salsa is forgiving: you can vary the proportion of pepper
to tomato, replace the garlic with a finely chopped onion, use  
lemon juice instead of lime, or add parsley, and  your salsa will
 still be delicious.

All chopped up and ready to simmer

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Chocolate Cookies Without the Usual Allergens

     These cookies have plenty of chocolate flavor and a rather conventional texture in spite of containing no wheat, eggs, corn or soy.

     1 c. sugar (See Sugar in the Glossary)
     1/2 c. palm oil shortening
     1/3 c. of any variety of milk or "milk" (See Milk in the Glossary)
     (optionall) 2 tsp. corn-free vanilla extract 
     1/2 c. rice flour (superfine rice flour if you can find it: it gives a better texture)
     1/3 c. coconut flour (See Coconut in the Glossary)
     1/3 c. cocoa (pure cocoa, not drink powder)
     2 Tb. potato starch
     5/8 tsp. baking soda
     1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
     Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream the sugar and shortening. Whisk in the vanilla and milk. In a small bowl, stir the dry ingredients together. Stir the dry ingredients into the shortening/sugar mixture, and mix just until blended. Scoop spoonfuls of the batter onto a greased cooky sheet and bake 10-15 minutes. These cookies are very soft when they come out of the oven: let them cool thoroughly before removing them from the cooky sheet.

One batch, ready to go into the oven

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Candied Squash

     This is a classic Turkish sweet, one that is simple, colorful, tasty, and easy to make. Best of all, it does not involve the usual dessert allergens: it contains no dairy, eggs, wheat, soy or corn. 

     2-pound fall squash (butternut and acorn squash both work very well)
     1-1/2 cups sugar (See Sugar in the Glossary)
     cinnamon (See Spices in the Glossary)

     Wash the outside of the squash, and cut it in half lengthwise.  Scoop the strings and seeds out from the middle.  Cut each side of the squash into 1-inch slices. Put the slices into a wide-bottomed pot and toss them with the sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Refrigerate overnight. The sugar will draw a surprising amount of liquid out of the squash. Put the pot on the stove, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over. Continue cooking until the squash is softened but not mushy (probably about another 10 minutes). Move the slices of squash to a serving dish and pour the liquid into a measuring cup. There should be 3 cups of liquid. Mix in additional water or boil off excess water, as needed. Pour the syrup over the squash and refrigerate.


     The classic garnish for this sweet is chopped walnuts.  Alternatives include whipped cream, whipped coconut cream, toasted coconut, and none of the above.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Apple Butter: a sweet treat with no allergens—just apples, sugar and spices

     One problem with commercial jams and jellies is that the fruit that they were made from may have had time to sit around growing mold or yeast. If you're allergic to mold or yeast, you can take care of this problem by making your own jam or jelly from fruit that you have inspected.  Note that thin-skinned sweet fruit (such as cherries and grapes) is normally coated with a layer of yeast: use fruit you can peel, such as apples or peaches).

     Another problem with most jams and jellies is that they contain quite a lot of corn. Indeed, the first ingredient in most of them is corn syrup. The pectin in most jams and jellies contains corn, too. 

     The simplest way to completely avoid corn in your fruit spread is to make apple butter using cane or beet sugar and peeled apples: peeling removes any waxy coating containing soy, corn or dairy that was put on the apples, and a good long simmer reduces the water content of the apples, concentrating their pectin (apples contain more pectin than most fruit).

     2 qt. apple sauce (See Apple Sauce in the Glossary)
     5-6 c. sugar, depending on your taste and the sweetness of your apples 
          (See Sugar in the Glossary)
     3/4 tsp. cinnamon (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1/4 tsp. ground cloves (See Spices in the Glossary)

     Combine all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until about half of the applesauce has boiled off. This will take 3 hours or so.  To tell whether your apple butter has reached the right consistency yet, put a dab of it on a plate and leave the plate in the fridge for a couple of minutes.  If it is solid enough, it's done. 

     This recipe makes 9 or so cups of apple butter. Can it following the instructions at a reputable site such as this one.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hypoallergenic Hash


Roast beef hash

     Most American breakfast foods are made of eggs, dairy products and/or wheat; many also contain corn, soy and other allergens. Two excellent breakfast foods that don't, in principle, need to contain any of the usual allergens are corned beef hash and roast beef hash. The canned versions, of course, often contain corn, soy, or other allergens. If you make your own hash, not only can you easily leave out all the nitrites, flavorings made of unspecified ingredients, oils you are allergic to and other questionable ingredients, you can also cook the potatoes separately from the other, wetter ingredients. This allows you to get them really crispy, which adds a nice crunch to the hash.

     leftover roast beef (or un-corned beef)
     (optional) other veggies (See Produce in the Glossary)
     oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
These are about the right proportions of meat, potato and onion.
I had a couple of unwaxed (i.e. corn-free, soy-free, dairy-free) peppers
from a farmers' market, so I threw them in too.

     In canned hash, the ingredients have been chopped (or ground) really, really small; this is not something you need to replicate in home cooking.  Big chunks of meat and potatoes don't really constitute hash either, though. I recommend cutting the main ingredients into ~1/3 inch cubes.  

     Cut up the meat and put it aside. Peel and cube the potatoes and put them aside also. 

     Chop the onion and any other veggie you would like to add (pepper or celery, for example). Heat  a smidge of oil (2 Tb. or so for an average-sized onion)  in a skillet.  Add the onion and other veggies, if any, sprinkle with salt, and reduce heat to low medium.  Saute gently until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. 

     Meanwhile, bring a pot of water (enough to cover the potatoes easily) to a boil, and add the potatoes. Bring the water back to a boil, cook for one minute, and drain thoroughly. Put enough oil to easily cover the potatoes in a pot with high sides (so that the oil won't splatter out of the pot when you add the potatoes). Add a single chunk of potato to the pot and turn the heat to high. 

     At about this point, add the meat to the veggies and let them gently heat back up together, stirring occasionally.

     When the bit of potato in the pot sizzles and starts to brown, dredge it out and add the rest of the potato. When the potato turns crisp and golden brown, dredge it out with a slotted spoon and place it on a plate covered with paper towels. Sprinkle it with salt and stir it into the meat/onion mixture.  Adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately.



Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thai Rice "Crackers": a crunchy, nonallergenic way to hold up dips and spreads

     Sometimes making the perfect
guacamole, tapenade or jelly isn't good enough. If you're allergic to corn, soy, wheat, yeast, etc., what do you hold it up with? Most tortillas, chips and breads contain at least one of those allergens. In principle rice crackers are all right, though plain ones are sometimes hard to find: most are flavored with cheese, sesame or another allergen. 

     I happened to discover one solution by ordering a dip with "rice crackers" in a Thai restaurant. Instead of crackers, I got delightful, crispy rounds made up of whole grains of rice. These are not to be confused with commercial "rice cakes," which are bland and boring. 

     These "rice crackers" are easy enough to make, although they do require advance planning. 

     Thai sticky rice (also known as "sweet rice") (See Rice in the Glossary)
     oil for frying (See Oil in the Glossary)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)

     First soak the rice in cold water for at least two hours and drain it. The next step is to cook the rice. This kind of rice needs to be steamed, not boiled, for 20-25 min. This can be done by spreading the soaked rice out on a splatter guard for frying, placing the splatter guard over a wide skilletful of boiling water and covering with an inverted mixing bowl. (For commentary on this method, go to this page.) Now spread the cooked rice out on a lightly greased surface to a thickness of 1/4" or so and cut it into rounds using a glass. (I recommend greasing the rim of the glass.) The remaining bits of rice can be lumped together and spread out again until it is all used up. Now you need to dry the rice out thoroughly.  This can be done by placing the rounds on a lightly greased cooky sheet and baking them at 200 F for a couple of hours, turning them over once. At this point you can store the rounds in the fridge until you are ready to fry them. 

     Preheat a layer of oil to medium high in a skillet, add the rounds to the oil and cook until they turn golden brown on the bottom.  Turn them all over and cook until they are golden on the other side also. Allow them to drain and cool for a couple of minutes.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Celery Juice Marinade

Celery juice marinade working on grass-fed flank steak,
a good example of meat that benefits from marination.

     Celery, besides contributing flavor, contains enzymes which can tenderize meat.  This makes it a useful marinade ingredient for most people allergic to soy sauce, vinegar, wine, and other common marinade ingredients. (I say most because there is such a thing as an allergy to celery.)

     2 stalks of celery
     2 cloves of garlic
     2 Tb. oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. black pepper (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1/4 tsp. celery seed

     Juice the celery and garlic in a juicer. Stir the oil, salt and spices into the juice. I recommend marinating at least overnight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Grated Turnip Salad

      In American cooking the turnip most often appears as a strong-tasting vegetable people try to hide in mashed potatoes. I prefer to borrow an idea from Korean cooking, in which its ability to stand up to other strong flavors and be complemented by them is an asset.  Turnip kimchi, for example, is sour, spicy, garlicky, intense and wonderful. It is also a yeasty, fermented food, which is a problem for those of us who have yeast allergies.

     This salad is not a substitute for turnip kimchi, but it is delicious. It is also intense enough to double as a condiment.

     1 cup of peeled, grated turnip (approximately one large turnip)
     2 large garlic cloves, crushed
     1 Tb. freshly squeezed lime juice (See Juice in the Glossary)
     1 Tb. salad oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1/4 tsp. salt (See Salt in the Glossary)

     I recommend a food-processor for grating the turnip if you have one. Squeeze the excess moisture out of the turnip by handfuls.  In a small bowl stir together the garlic, lime juice, salad oil, pepper flakes and salt. Stir this dressing into the grated turnip.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Corn-Free Mint Jelly

These two jars of mint jelly are identical
except that the one on the left contains
a fraction of a drop of green food coloring 

     Mint jelly is delicious with lamb (as is mint gelatin), but grocery story mint jelly generally contains quite a lot of corn syrup.  If you need to avoid corn, you can make your own jelly using beet or cane sugar. Be aware that most "fruit pectin" contains corn: if you need to avoid corn very stringently, use Pomona's Universal Pectin, which is corn-free. (The recipe here is based on the one on this page. That recipe allows for the use of apple juice in place of the water; note that bottled juices can contain traces of yeast or mold, if that is an issue.) 
     I don't know whether my food coloring contains corn or not. I am all right with one drop of it in a batch of jelly. 
     This mint jelly is less sweet than most, even if you use the full cup of sugar. In my opinion this is actually desirable for a condiment to be eaten with meat.

      1 cup tightly packed mint leaves (preferably without the stems: they aren't 
           as tasty) See Produce in the Glossary
      1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (See Juice in the Glossary)
      2 tsp. calcium water (The calcium for this comes in the package with the 
      1/2 c. to 1 c. sugar (See Sugar in the Glossary)
      2 tsp. Pomona's Universal Pectin
      (optional) 1 drop green food color
     First make a mint infusion. Chop the mint leaves, add 2-1/4 c. water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain. Using 2 c. of this infusion, follow the directions on the package insert from the pectin to make jelly and can it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Favas with Olive Oil and No Major Allergens

     Favas are a vetch, not an actual bean. Allergies to beans, peas or lentils do not necessarily mean an allergy to favas. My grandson, who was violently allergic to every kind of bean, pea and lentil, ate them with impunity.  Note that there is a rare genetic enzyme deficiency (not a true allergy) that gives some people, especially of Middle Eastern or African descent, gastrointestinal distress when they eat favas.

     This recipe is a classic in Turkish cuisine, which has a whole category of vegetables cooked with olive oil and lemon juice and served cold. (Another is leeks with olive oil, zeytinyağlı pirasa). It required no doctoring on my part: thus, it does not suffer from missing or substituted ingredients. 

    3-4 Tb. olive oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
    1 pound favas (young pods, not more than 6 or 7 inches long and sliced into 
         a few chunks, and/or seeds from larger pods.  These should also be 
          relatively young, not more than an inch or so across. If you do use larger 
          pods, you need to pull the "strings" off from each side of the pod.)
     1 small onion, chopped
     (optional) 2 cloves of garlic, minced
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     fresh squeezed juice from 1 lemon (See Juice in the Glossary)
     1/2 tsp. sugar (See Sugar in the Glossary)
     sprinkle of black pepper (See Spices in the Glossary)
     2 Tb. washed, chopped fresh baby dill (See Produce in the Glossary)

     Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Add the favas and onion. Sprinkle with salt and saute on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the favas are somewhat tenderized and the onion is translucent.  Do not brown. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. stirring constantly. Add  the lemon juice, sugar, black pepper and baby dill and a cup and a half of water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until the favas are nicely tenderized but not mushy. Most of the water should boil off, but do not allow the favas to get dry. How long this takes depends on the size of the favas, how thoroughly they were sauteed, etc. The ones in the picture took about half an hour. Adjust salt to taste. Chill.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Rice with Favas

     Beans are excellent with rice. So are peas. If you're allergic to both beans and peas, it's time to remember that favas are a vetch, not an actual bean. Allergies to beans, peas or lentils do not necessarily mean an allergy to favas. Note that there is a rare genetic enzyme deficiency (not a true allergy) that makes some people, especially of Middle Eastern or African descent, sick when they eat favas. 

     In this classic pilav recipe, fava "beans" (not the pods) are cooked into rice.  If possible you want to use fava beans that aren't much bigger than baby lima beans. The herb that complements favas the best is baby dill.

     4 c. water or chicken broth (See Broth in the Glossary)
     2 c. long-grained rice (See Rice in the Glossary)
     1 c. fresh young fava beans (not in pods)
     2 Tb. washed, chopped fresh baby dill (See Produce in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. salt, more or less, depending on the saltiness of the broth (See 
          Salt in the Glossary)

     Bring the water or broth to a boil in a medium-sized pot.  Add all the other ingredients, bring back to a boil and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie With No Wheat, Dairy, Soy, Corn or Peas

     Chicken pot pie usually contains a bunch of common allergens, but it doesn't need to. If you're allergic to corn and/or peas, the bags of "vegetable medley" in the frozen foods section at the grocery store are all useless, but there are plenty of fresh vegetables that taste good with chicken! 

     oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
     2-1/2 c. of diced veggies (whichever you like of carrots, celery, cauliflower, 
          fennel, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. Peppers can be good, but note that 
          most grocery store peppers are covered with wax containing soy, 
          corn or dairy.)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     black pepper (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1/4 tsp. thyme leaves (See Spices in the Glossary)
     2 c. of teff gravy 
     just over 1 lb. of raw, boneless chicken, diced and sauteed with a 
          smidge of oil just until it turns slightly golden and is cooked 
          through (See Oil in the Glossaryor 2 cups of diced previously 
          cooked chicken
     1 recipe of nonallergenic pie crust 

     Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a skillet, add the onion and other veggies, sprinkle with salt, and saute on medium heat, stirring frequently, just until the veggies are tender and somewhat "cooked down." Add a sprinkle of black pepper and the thyme and continue cooking for another half minute or so. Stir the gravy into the cooked vegetables, add the chicken, and adjust salt and black pepper to taste. Chill (this is so the filling doesn't sog up the crust before the crust has a chance to cook). 

     Follow the instructions for filling and baking the pie crust.