Classic recipes that have been handed down from generation-to-generation are often difficult to alter, without losing the essence of the original dish. I have many friends who have put aside the pleasures of breads, pasta, and crackers because they were advised by their doctors, nutritionists, or friends to be on a gluten-free diet. Several OCJL readers have also posed questions to me.
Fortunately, many food manufacturers and markets have seen this change in many shoppers’ habits, and have created gluten-free mixes and substitutes. Many gourmet and specialty markets now display tags throughout the stores, pointing to the gluten-free products.
Levels of a gluten condition include the simple allergy to wheat, rye, and barley, which may cause rashes, itchy eyes, or stomach problems. The next level, intolerant, may cause headaches, fatigue, joint and muscle discomfort, or stomach bloating. The auto-immune intestinal disorder referred to as celiac disease is the most serious condition and may cause severe intestinal damage and diseases, including nutritional deficiency and malnutrition.
Besides products like bread, pasta, cookies/cakes/pie crusts, gluten can be found in some medicines, vitamins, lip balms, chips, dips, soups/sauces, some salad dressings, processed lunch meats, ice cream and soy
sauce, and, oddly toothpaste and stamps. People with celiac disease (as well as most of us, anyway) should always read food ingredient lists. Be aware.
Among the safe grains and starches allowed in a gluten-free diet: amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, cassava, corn, Job¹s tears, legumes and beans (including soy), millet, montina (Indian rice grass), oats (only uncontaminated, be careful), potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, sweet potato, tapioca, taro, teff, wild rice, and yucca. Other very important foods to eat include: eggs, fish, fruit, meat, milk, nuts, poultry, and vegetables.
For my readers who would like further information, here is a sampling of excellent resources:
Celiac Disease Foundation, 13251 Ventura Blvd., #1, Studio City, CA 91604, (818) 990-2354, email: email@example.com, web: www.celiac.org; http://www.celiac.org
American Celiac Disease Alliance, 2504 Duxbury Place, Alexandria, VA 22308, (703) 622-3331, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com, web: www.americanceliac.org
The following are several simple-to-prepare, gluten-free “traditional” Jewish recipes.
DAIRY RICE KUGEL
Gorgeous, delicate, and oh so tasty, this dairy kugel suggests using instant rice. You can substitute another favorite cooked rice, but I like this the way it is. This is excellent for a large family gathering or a buffet. You can cut it in half, and therefore, use a smaller glass casserole. Leftovers are welcome.
Three cups instant rice
Eight eggs, separated
Three fourths cup sugar
One-fourth pound butter (or margarine), melted
Four ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
Kosher salt, to taste
One sixteen-ounce container cottage cheese
One cup sour cream
One half cup low-fat milk
Cook rice and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks, sugar, butter (or margarine), and cream cheese together, until well blended.
Add salt and cottage cheese, and beat to mix. Add sour cream, milk and rice. Beat egg whites until lightly stiff, and fold into rice mixture.
Spoon mixture into a greased (I use an aerosol spray), glass ten by fifteen by three inch casserole (not a shallow casserole). Place into a preheated three hundred and fifty degree oven, and bake for one hour.
Serve hot out of the oven, or allow to cool to room temperature (which I prefer).
Yield: Ten to fifteen servings.
SIMPLE EGGPLANT-VEGETABLE APPETIZER
Serve this as a very colorful and veggie-rich appetizer or a chunky salad, with gluten- free crackers.
One large eggplant
One large onion, chopped
One large tomato, chopped
One green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
One half cup zucchini, cut into small cubes (approximately one half medium
Two tablespoons tomato paste
Cider or Balsamic vinegar and/or fresh lemon juice, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes, if desired
Prick whole eggplant all over with a fork to keep it from exploding. Place in a four hundred degree oven, on top of a foil-lined pan; meanwhile chop the remaining vegetables. Bake eggplant until soft, turning occasionally, for approximately forty-five minutes, or until tender. Allow to cool enough to handle, then peel, discarding some of the center, seedy area. Chop to desired consistency. Place in a large mixing bowl and spoon in the chopped vegetables, along with the tomato paste, stirring well. Add vinegar and/or lemon juice, to taste, and salt and pepper, and optional red pepper flakes, to taste.
Serve as an appetizer or salad with gluten-free crackers.
Yield: Approximately two to three cups.
YOGURT AND CUCUMBER APPETIZER
You will want to serve this simple dip-appetizer throughout the holidays ahead. A few ingredients, mixed together this is fresh with vegetables, thick yogurt, herbs and nuts. It is also excellent as a cold sauce to complement cooked salmon.
One large, unwaxed cucumber, unpeeled, finely chopped (hot-house variety is best)
Three large cloves garlic, or more to taste, peeled and finely minced
One cup plain yogurt, preferably the thick Greek-style
One cup sour cream
Three tablespoons chopped fresh dill
One fourth cup chopped walnuts (or, pine nuts or pistachio nuts), optional
Kosher salt to taste
Gluten-free crackers or raw vegetables for crudites
Place cucumber, garlic, sour cream and dill in a mixing bowl. Stir to mix and season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate.
At serving time, spoon into an attractive bowl and garnish with chopped nuts. Serve with gluten-free crackers or crudites.
Yield: Six to eight servings.