Jean Anthelme Brillat-Severin states in his grand work The Physiology of Taste (a delightful book which I recently began reading, and that I recommend to everyone whose love for food leans as much toward the philosophical as to the epicurean side) that “good living is an act of intelligence, by which we choose things which have an agreeable taste rather than those which do not.” This aphorism, I believe, probably resonates strongly with people who must eat gluten-free and are always searching for the most agreeable gluten-free version of a gluten-containing food. Individuals may disagree with each other in their judgments concerning which foods taste agreeable and which do not; however, most people do have preference for food they find pleasant in flavor and texture. Usually, one has a standard by which he judges the quality in each category of foods he prefers, and he measures all food in that class by that standard. For this reason, a person who would never refuse a slice of pizza from such places as Mello Mushroom or Via 313 will often forego having pizza if her only choice is a piece of much less quality grocery-store frozen pizza. Continue reading
Another January arrives; another Christmas now lives on in memory and hearts, only. Christmas time is truly the best time of the year. The weather, though not exactly frigid, is less harshly hot. Houses and lawns sparkle with brightly colored lawn decoration and lights. Selections from Handel’s Messiah flow through the air in random places. My favorite Bible verses from the books of Isaiah and St Luke are highlighted in the liturgical readings of Advent. I can finally watch the original The Bishop’s Wife (1947), the original Christmas in Connecticut (1945), the original Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Scrooged (1988), A Christmas Story (1983), and Elf (2003) openly without comment from family and friends. Limited edition Christmas products show up on store shelves, and we indulge in delicious, favorite foods we cook, bake, and eat only during this most glorious of seasons.
This year, we added a new treat to our canon of Christmas comestibles: gluten-free cookie coated peppermint truffles. For years I’ve made truffles by hand, but only at Christmas time. I used a fairly easy truffle recipe, rather unsophisticated but easy enough for Jacob, Christopher, and Elizabeth to help with the making and rolling when they were younger. Over the past year, however, I have devoured and re-devoured a used copy of Alice Medrich’s combination memoir and cookbook Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate (2003). Inspired by Medrich’s work to create classic ganache truffles, I decided to use her technique and recipe to make some classic truffles for Christmas. Beginning in November, I made a couple of practice batches. I wanted to know what I was doing, come Christmas time. For my first attempt at truffle-making, I made a dark chocolate cognac ganache, which I coated in dark chocolate, then rolled in pumpkin pie spice. These turned out pretty well, actually; the centers were velvety and the flavor combination was scrumptious . Continue reading
These days are a bit harried, barreling toward Christmas as we are. Shopping, baking, and cleaning are edging out my running time; sadly, my runs are the easiest activities to give up when deadlines and other responsibilities expand to squeeze my limited time. In less than a month I will run a half-marathon for which I am currently NOT training! In some ways I am preparing for this particular half-marathon, though. It’s the Women’s Cocoa Half, in SATX on January 18th: a chocolate themed race. I’m eating plenty of chocolate these days, and baking with plenty of chocolate as well – which leads me to this quick post about the cheesecake I made yesterday. I want to have a special dessert for Phillip, our children, and grandchildren Christmas day. For the past year, my mind has been working on a cheesecake recipe, using seasonal Mi-Del Gluten-Free Candy Cane Cremes. I did a test run of my recipe this weekend, to see if it works, or whether it needs some adjustments if it does work. I am pleased to report that the recipe does work, and although I hate that whole proverbial toot one’s horn thing, I have to be honest and say that this cheesecake is one of the best I have ever baked or tasted. No kidding. I never kid about matters as serious as cheesecake. Now, I don’t have much time to put into writing a post this week, and most people don’t have time to read a long post this week, so I’ll get right to it. I want to share this recipe while we’re in the midst of the Christmas and New Year season just in case some people might find it useful as they search for a perfect, easy, gluten-free dessert to take to a Christmas celebration. Continue reading
Earlier this week, the first week of December, we had temperatures in the upper eighties. Temperatures this high around Thanksgiving and Christmas are not that unusual in South Texas; in fact, one reason so many few people seem to be choosing to run the half, rather than the full, San Antonio Rock and Roll Half Marathon / Marathon seems to be the consistently high temperature we have on race day every year (next year the race has been moved from November to December, but we consistently have high temperatures throughout December, too, so the move may not do much to improve race conditions). At any rate, considering the number of extremely warm and down-right Hellishly hot days we experience all year long, we have a legitimate reason to down gallons of sweet iced tea all year long. Sweet tea goes down so smoothly; it’s so cold and tastes so clean and sweet – so pure. As a beverage, it complements just about any food at any meal, served at any time of day. It can even complement dessert, as a part of the dessert, as served in the form of sweet tea pie at Lucy’s Fried Chicken in Austin.
I’ve never eaten at Lucy’s Fried Chicken. I’m sure such sides as the collard greens, black-eyed peas, and the grilled corn on the cob may be gluten-free, and probably some of the oyster dishes are too. I just can’t see myself sitting at a table at Lucy’s Fried Chicken, watching my dining companions enjoy such delicious but glutinous fare as deep fried deviled eggs, fried chicken spaghetti, or a fried chicken salad sandwich. Sometimes, I confess, I lean a little toward bitterness when I have to manipulate and twist menu items in a restaurant to form a gluten-free meal for myself while Phillip and others order with ease – totally without angst – whatever they want from the menu. As I watch others at the table bite into juicy, plump pieces of fried whatever (because just about anything fried is delectable in taste and texture!), I take on the characteristic of Aesop’s fox who, finding the grapes on the tree beyond his reach, assured himself that the grapes were probably sour, anyway. But I know I just lie to myself at those times. Sigh. Continue reading