brown butter

gluten-free Super Bowl

Back in January, when Danny and I were planning out the food we’d make for the blog in February, we both looked at the calendar and thought, “We should probably make some Super Bowl food.”

Good idea, right? Most of the country seems seized by the need to sit in front of the television and cheer or grow so angry when the wrong player runs down the field for a touchdown that the veins in their foreheads bulge or at least tune in to watch the commercials that we’d be missing our chance to make great gluten-free food for people who need it in a party situation.

Here’s the problem. Our friend Adam laughed the other day when I told him we’d be cooking all the next morning to make Super Bowl food for this site. “You guys don’t make Super Bowl food.”

“What kind of food is it?” I asked him.

“You take a jar of that pre-melted cheese, dump it over a bunch of chips, and heat it in the microwave. Or you get that box with the summer sausage and the cheese ball rolled in nuts and you dig in with crackers. Or you fry up ground beef and make tacos with those hard taco shells that come 12 to a package.”

Oh dear. I wanted to dispute him. Sure,  it’s football, but it’s also a party. People can eat anything at a Super Bowl party, right? I’m seeing blog posts flying through the sky these days. Everyone has Super Bowl appetizers.

And then I realize this: I have never been to a Super Bowl party. Never.

I’ve watched a couple of times over my life, at home with the family, or with Danny when he wasn’t working that day. But I have never once thrown a Super Bowl Party. Or attended one.

So, you’re saying that this tray of fresh vegetables with romesco sauce, green goddess dressing, and blue cheese dip with green onions (all inspired by our friend Cynthia Nims’ fun cookbook, Gourmet Game Night: Bite-Sized, Mess-Free Eating for Board-Game Parties, Bridge Clubs, Poker Nights, Book Groups, and More) probably wouldn’t show up on most Super Bowl party tables? Particularly the way Danny decorated the tray with escarole?

(Lu enjoyed it for lunch, however.)

Popcorn. Surely there must be popcorn at a Super Bowl party, right? Sometimes I feel like there should be popcorn at every meal. This is a staple.

However, this popcorn was made with herbes de provence, a blending of thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, and lavender.

Shoot. This isn’t Super Bowl food either, is it?

However, I will tell you this: you MUST make this popcorn. The slight sweetness of lavender combined with the savory herbs, all blended with butter and salt? Unbelievable. I first tried this combination when I was at a fascinating spice weekend at the McCormick headquarters in Maryland. (As I have written here before, we have been paid by McCormick to use their spices and write about how we use spices in our kitchen.) When the McCormick people told us they believed that the combination of herbes de provence and popcorn might be one of the big flavor profiles for this year, I was a little dubious. However, since I ate this cheesecake with an herbes de provence-popcorn crust, I have been fixated. This is the one of the best cheesecakes I have ever eaten — so light — and it’s naturally gluten-free.

(The McCormick folks were lovely. They made the entire menu for the weekend gluten-free for everyone so that I could eat everything offered.)

So maybe this wouldn’t show up at most Super Bowl parties. But it should show up in your kitchen soon.

Nachos! This has to be the world’s best party food, right? Surely those will show up at Super Bowl parties.

Some folks might think that mini nachos are a little fussy to make. Treating each chip as its own individual tray of nachos? Why not just throw the cheese and salsa on and call it good?

Seriously, make it this way. Each chip is its own nacho nirvana.

(You can see the recipe for these mini nachos over at the Food Network’s website. We’re honored that they have asked us to create gluten-free recipes for them on a regular basis now.)

Lamb shepherd’s pie. Is this Super Bowl food?

It’s meat and potatoes and gravy. That’s a crowd pleaser.

Just don’t tell people that there’s lavender in there. Lamb and lavender are best friends, says Danny. It will just taste fantastic and people won’t know why.

(This recipe will be posted on the Food Network’s site today, so watch for it!)

I suppose this isn’t typical Super Bowl food either, is it?

I suppose it’s probably pretty clear that I don’t really understand the food that’s right for a Super Bowl party. How could I if I have never been to one? Danny has been to plenty of Super Bowl parties in his time, but this is the food he likes to eat.

From listening to my other friends, I know that there are plenty of people out there who love great food and love the Super Bowl too. They’re not mutually exclusive, no matter what my friend Adam says.

We just make the food we like. If you like it too, great.

And maybe, like me, you’ll be avoiding the whole thing anyway, sort of horrified by the spectacle and kind of amazed that people would actually gather in front of the television, eager to see advertisements.

(Secret: I don’t even know which teams are playing.)

If that’s you, maybe you’d like to do what I will be doing on Sunday: making a new batch of these pear-cardamom brown butter muffins.

Go team!

HERBED BISCUITS WITH SMOKED SALMON, adapted from Gourmet Game Night: Bite-Sized, Mess-Free Eating for Board-Game Parties, Bridge Clubs, Poker Nights, Book Groups, and More by Cynthia Nims

Clearly, looking at our friend Cynthia’s book, game nights and football parties do not have to mean dumbed-down food. With recipes like mole flank steak with pickled peppers, tuna tartare on daikon slices, empanadas with chicken and walnuts, and polenta squares with spicy sausage and spinach, this book inspires us to throw even parties than we do now.

With all these choices, we wanted to make these biscuits first. We’re still working on cut-out buttermilk biscuits, and you can make this recipe that way if you wish. But making them drop biscuits removes the anticipation of perfection. Cynthia makes them, then slices them open and tops each half with smoked salmon and creme fraiche. (Damn you, South Park!) We decided to put the smoked salmon right into the biscuits. Such a nice surprise in some of those bites.

We decided to work with specific flours here for their properties. Millet makes a good crumb. Buckwheat groats, ground into a flour, have a hearty taste and a bit of the feeling of whole wheat flour. (The raw flour is pretty darned different than the packaged flour, however. We just grind some groats in our blender. Flour happens immediately.) Potato flour adds a lovely softness. Arrowroot binds. Cornstarch adds a bit of crunch. But feel free to substitute our whole-grain flour mix or any combination of gluten-free flours that work for you. Just be sure to substitute by weight.

Notice that these do not have xanthan or guar gum in them, so if you use a mix with those ingredients, the texture of the biscuits will be different.

Have fun playing!

75 grams millet flour
75 grams buckwheat flour (not the toasted kind)
45 grams potato flour
42 grams arrowroot powder
42 grams cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
115 grams (1 US stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons fine-chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons fine-chopped fresh dill
2 ounces smoked salmon

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 400°. Put a large cast-iron skillet into the oven.

Combining the dry ingredients. Combine the millet, buckwheat, and potato flours with the arrowroot powder and cornstarch. Whisk to combine and aerate the flours. Add the baking powder and salt. Whisk.

Finishing the dough. Working quickly, put the butter into the flours. Using a pastry cutter or two table knives, cut the butter into the flours. You want the butter and flour to mix, with the final pieces of butter about the size of lima beans. Pour in the buttermilk and the smoked salmon and stir until the dough is thoroughly mixed. Only mix until the dough comes together. The less you work with the dough, the flakier the biscuits will be.

Baking the biscuits.  Scoop up about 3 ounces of biscuit dough (this is about the size of a baseball) and loosely form it into a ball. Set it aside then finish the rest of the dough the same way. Run the end of a stick of butter around the hot pan, then put the biscuits into the hot pan, nestling up against each other.

Bake until the biscuits are lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 8 biscuits.

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gluten-free shortbread

Scottish shortbread II

I made three batches of shortbread yesterday.

Yes, I’m a little nuts. It’s the last day of posting holiday cookie recipes around here. After jam tarts, gingerbread men, coconut sugar cookies, cannolis, plus 8 more, you think I’d be done. That’s an even dozen, right?

(Plus, if you go over to our friend Silvana Nardone’s blog, Dish Towel Diaries, you’ll find our recipe for chocolate crackle cookies, inspired by our friend Tamiko.)

So I could have stopped. I have to admit — I’m a little exhausted. After I finish this post, we can leave for the city and do our first Christmas shopping. (shudder.) Perhaps no one would have screamed if I had let go.

However, I wanted to give you a baker’s dozen. You know that sweet little act of kindness, when the baker slips one more sugar cookie into your bag of dozen, a small surprise you find when you walk into your kitchen? That’s what I wanted to give you. (I guess I’m not being very silent about it.)

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