Gluten-Free Holiday Tips from Cooking Expert Carol Fenster

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Gluten-free folks can still enjoy pies, stuffing, and breads at holiday time (even though these foods are traditionally made with gluten-containing wheat flour) if they use these special tips from Carol Fenster, gluten-free cooking expert and blogger at CarolFensterCooks.com.

Pecan Pie witih Gluten-Free Pie Crust

Pecan Pie with Gluten-Free Pie Crust

No one should feel left out during this special season, especially at the dinner table,” says Fenster.

Gluten-free folks can still enjoy pies, stuffing, and breads at holiday time (even though these foods are traditionally made with gluten-containing wheat flour) if they use these special tips from Carol Fenster, a gluten-free cooking expert and blogger at CarolFensterCooks.com.

“Holiday traditions focus on our favorite wheat-laden foods. I developed ways to make them without wheat as well time-saving tips for busy cooks,” says Fenster, author of Gluten-Free 101, a cookbook that uses gluten-free flours in place of wheat flour.

“No one should feel left out during this special season, especially at the dinner table,” says Fenster. This includes the 3 million Americans with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which gluten damages the ability to absorb nutrients as well as the 18 million with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. “When you serve people the food they love (minus the harmful ingredients that make them sick) everyone is happy,” she says. Fenster offers the following tips so everyone can safely indulge during the holidays.

Perplexed by pie crust? For quick and easy assembly, make the dough in a food processor and press it into a fluted-edge pie dish or tart pan with your fingertips. This makes a professional-looking pie crust without rolling pins or hand-fluting. To save time on the big day, shape the crust in the pan ahead of time and freeze; thaw and add filling the morning of the dinner and bake. Or, buy a ready-made gluten-free pie crust. “No one will know that your holiday pie―whether it's pumpkin, pecan, or mincemeat― took a shortcut,” says Fenster, who has mastered these gluten-free techniques after writing ten cookbooks.

Stumped by stuffing? Use your favorite recipe but instead use the same quantity of gluten-free bread. Stuffing texture is more dependent on the amount of liquid used and whether it is baked inside the bird or separately, rather than the type of bread, says Fenster. Trim crusts for more even browning, cut into cubes, and dry out in a 300 degree oven so the bread can better absorb liquids and the flavors from the seasonings, says Fenster. “Bake it in a dish like bread pudding, which is far easier than wrestling with the bird―and safer because the stuffing bakes more evenly,” says Fenster.

Bewildered by bread? Instead of dinner rolls (which Fenster says are hard for beginning cooks to shape because gluten-free dough is soft and sticky), make French baguettes which bake quickly because they are thin and narrow. For ease, assemble the dough in a food processor. Use a metal, spring-action ice cream scoop to drop uniform balls of dough into the French baguette pan trenches, then shape the dough into long narrow logs with a wet spatula and let rise. Pop them into the oven while the turkey rests. By the time the turkey is carved and the side dishes are done, the bread is ready for slicing, piping hot from the oven and tantalizing your guests with its heavenly aroma. Or, for a really simple approach, bake yeast bread dough in muffin pans, says Fenster, who offers other time-saving recipes at her weekly online cookbook at GfreeCuisine.com. For gluten-free vegetarians, Fenster also offers her latest cookbook, 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes.

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