Relish is a compendium of things to enjoy greatly and that add a little flavor to your gluten-free life. And sometimes things are uncertain.
Hello, June. Thanks for showing up. After a long winter, and a May that just seemed so very, very long – which happens when you are excited about something big that happens to be imminent.
I moved the last week in May to an apartment less than half an hour from my office – a huge change from my old 2.5 (and often longer) commute. I now live with one of my good friends, Helen. I am currently living in a 1920’s apartment decorated in what my cousin called “transitional nomad” style. Soon, I hope to have it feeling like home – but for now, Old Faithful, my KitchenAid, has a home. And that is good enough for me.
Thank goodness the weather here in Chicago has finally warmed up and (mostly) stayed that way. Meaning produce is starting to appear at the farmers markets. Walks to the grocery store are enjoyable. And it’s time for food that tastes like summer.
There is something about popcorn. It’s comforting. It’s tasty. And it is a flavor chameleon. This Coconut Cacao Popcorn (01) from Aime at the Healthy Apple looks simply fantastic. Summer is here, and I love a good smoothie to cool down. An Açaí Smoothie (02) from Kitchen Confidante fits that bill perfectly. Brussels sprouts and potato salads are two of my favorite foods, and Irvin’s combination of the pair (03) seems downright genius. Some nights, you just need a little steak, and Pete from No Gluten, No Problem delivered some (04). He even made it better by adding bourbon – sounds like celebration food to me.
I know most people don’t share my outright aversion to box mixes. I’m sure if you scroll through the archives here you will find more than one post where I have talked about how little I like them. And that’s mostly true. I’ve eaten one too many beany, gritty, dense cake from a mix in my life. The chemical after taste from many commercial baking mixes feels like an insult to anyone who is eating a dessert.
These days, there are a few standouts out there. Mixes that I don’t mind cooking from and am not embarrassed to serve to my friends. so if you are more comfortable baking from a mix or you need something that comes together easily, these mixes are all ones that I have no problem keeping a spare of in my pantry.
Brownies are one of my favorite desserts, and I have my recipe memorized, but I know that isn’t reality for most home cooks. Cup4Cup is my favorite commercially available flour blend, so when I heard they had a brownie mix (01), I knew it was going to be good. Their products are developed for customers who don’t settle for something that is good for gluten-free. It has to be actually good. And they succeeded.
Hands down the best gluten-free cake mixes on the planet are Kyra’s Bakeshop cake mixes (02). They make great cakes and cupcakes as-is, or you can dump the cake mix (the snicker doodle variety, if you have it) on a pan of frozen peaches, add a little melted butter or oil, and you have an easy, peasy cobbler.
When I saw this mix at the GFAF Expo in April, I wasn’t sure what I loved more – the mix or the outfits that all the Bumbalooza staff members were wearing. Their mixes are unique, fun and delicious. If baking from scratch isn’t your thing, and you want to make something a little more exciting than a basic cake or brownies, this pink lemonade donut mix (03) is a great place to start.
Last but not least is the bread and pizza flour blend (04) from Karen at Blackbird Bakery. It is by far my favorite pizza crust mix. All of the blends have been developed with a specific end-use in mind, rather than being multi-puropse like other blends. I think that is how this one is such a stand out. A pizza crust that is crunchy with just enough chew is hard to find in the gluten-free world, but this one is head and shoulders above the rest. It requires a bit more work and patience than some of the other blends out there, but it is well worth it.
I have officially moved into my new apartment, and it feels great to be cooking my food for every meal. I’ve started exploring the rich food culture in my new neighborhood. There is an asian grocery, a persian market, a middle eastern deli and a european importer all in walking distance from my new home. There is even a grocery store that I have dubbed food heaven on my way to work.
The lovely folks at Cup4Cup are giving away one of their brownie mixes to one of my readers. Enter by leaving a comment with your idea of the perfect brownie. You must be in the US and over 18 to win. Entries must be in by 12am CST on June 12, 2014.