Gluten Free Not Flavor Free!

I think at this point almost everyone has a friend or family member who is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease.  More and more restaurants are accommodating these diners and there are a ton more gluten free products on the market.  I entertain friends that are vegetarian, vegan, allergic to shellfish, mushrooms, even poultry!  However, gluten free was uncharted territory until our dear neighbors the Ryan’s had their cousin Kaycie come and stay with them.  As a carboholoic, avoiding gluten sounded like my worst nightmare but when coming up with a menu that Kaycie could eat and others could enjoy I started to realize that there are a lot of terrific options out there.  I don’t want to minimize the hassle these folks go through at all, I was only doing this for one night, but if you are careful and conscientious about what you are putting into your food I was delighted to find out you can have a very hearty and delicious meal without gluten.  This dinner party feeds a small army (about 8 to 10 very hungry people) and is delicious whether you are gluten free or not.

Winter Squash Soup With Cider Cream

This super creamy soup is really complex with the addition of the apple cider and the toppings of cream, chili oil and chives.  I got it from the Edible DC magazine – if you have never checked this mag out you must immediately!  The pictures are beyond gorgeous and they have delicious, seasonal recipes.  Inexplicably it’s free and just an incredible resource to find local purveyors.  You can find it at lots of places around the city like Union Market, most Whole Foods and Glen’s Garden Market (there is also a list on their website).  Edible is in several other cities, so if you are not in DC check and see if your city has one.  This soup got rave reviews from the youngest guest at the dinner party!

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Aleppo Pepper-Roasted Pork with Shallot Vinaigrette

Cooking a 10 pound bone in pork shoulder is not for the faint of heart or if you are on a short time frame (it takes over 7 hours to cook!) but is totally worth it.  The boys were totally drooling over this somewhat Flinstone-esque roast when it came out of the oven.

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 The pepper crust is so delicious and a great foil to the rich meat.  This thing screams for leftover sandwiches the next day so go ahead and get the full 10 pound roast, also keeping in mind that bone is pretty big.

Peas and Prosciutto

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If the 10 pound pork roast wasn’t enough for you (I said gluten free not vegetarian right??) then add this easy side of peas sautéed with a bit of prosciutto.  It was important to have something green on the table and with frozen peas you add a dash of springtime to a cold weather meal.

Parmesan Polenta

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Polenta is a lifesaver for gluten free folks – since its made of ground cornmeal there is no gluten but it satisfies the “starch” component of a balanced menu.  You can use any recipe you like, just make sure not to skimp on the parmesan on top!

Chocolate Cassis Cake

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It’s not a big celebratory dinner party without dessert but I didn’t want to have to resort to ice cream or some sort of gluten free mix.  Instead I went with this amazing flourless cake from the Barefoot Contessa.  There are no leavening agents in it so it sort of crumples when you take it out of the oven, but never fear that’s what the delicious ganache topping is meant to cover up!  Served with cassis soaked berries it’s a super-rich delicious way to end the meal.

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