Friday, September 28, 2012

Gluten-Free Yom Kippur

We observed Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, earlier this week. By tradition, a day of fast is followed by a "break the fast" meal designed to fill your stomach without overwhelming it.

This is the first Yom Kippur my daughter has been home in four years since she had been away at college. But now she has graduated and is working nearby so she returned to the Yom Kippur table.

That meant I had to keep her gluten-free diet in mind as I decided what to serve. After the years away, she had a few special requests, too.  I have to admit I was surprised by how easy it was to fill those requests and allow her to eat the same dishes as everyone else even if a few had to be separately prepared.

It's a reflection of tremendous change in the availability and quality of ready-made gluten-free foods over the past four years. Meanwhile it also shows how much more comfortable I am switching up recipes to make them completely gluten free.

On the first point, I no longer have to make her bagels from scratch. That used to be a multi-step process not for the faint of heart. You had to make the dough, let it rise, boil the bagels and then bake them. I wish I could say they were so terrific it was worth all the effort. Now I can easily choose from a variety of gluten-free bagels right in the supermarket freezer.

I was also easily able to find gluten-free noodles just like the wheat-based noodles used in the apricot noodle pudding I always make. Again I just picked them up at the grocery. I did not make the whole recipe gluten free because I was not sure how well the noodles would hold up being boiled and then baked. Instead I reserved a bit of the sauce (naturally gluten free) and mixed the gluten-free serving in a small ramekin. Next year, the whole dish can be gluten free.

The carrot pudding my daughter wanted most of all was easy to convert to a gluten-free dish by simply substituting gluten-free flour for the exact amount called for in the recipe. This rather unusual recipe, which is more bread than pudding, tastes exactly the same as it did when I used to use wheat flour.

Homemade chicken soup is a favorite with my whole family and naturally gluten free, as is the chicken salad I make from the chicken used to cook the soup.

But matzo balls are another story. In the past I've had a lot of failures -- think a pot of mush when the balls don't hold together -- and a few successes. So I was excited this year to find a recipe on the Gluten Free A-Z Blog complete with photos of matzo balls that look just like the "regular" kind. One of the reasons they work is the use of Glutino gluten-free bread crumbs that look more like matzo meal than anything I have ever seen. (They are made from milled corn). Happy to say the matzo balls turned out perfectly.

With all the holidays that will come sneaking up faster than you can imagine, I hope you will find that it's easier than ever to make a wider assortment of gluten-free dishes. There's nothing better than a celebratory table where everyone gathered around feels included in the meal and part of the joy and conversation.

Our next issue of Gluten-Free Living is all about the Winter holidays and is full of advice and recipes to help you enjoy the wonderful foods of the season. It will be mailed to our subscribers about mid October and will be on newsstands across the country beginning Oct. 30. That will give you plenty of time to plan holiday meals and treats that are perfect for everyone.

Amy Ratner

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