Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gluten-Free Fresh Berry Trifle & Greek Green Salad

Eating Gluten-Free at Social Gatherings

We were invited to a friend and colleague's house for the Fourth of July.  We went last year and we were excited to go back this year.  It's a potluck, so everybody brings a side dish or dessert to share, along with some grill-able (meat) items of their choice.

I've learned the hard way to be sure to bring something gluten-free to such events. I very rarely go to such an event and encounter anyone else who needs to be gluten-free, nor do I usually find very many safe things to eat. So, I make sure I take something that is safe and that I want to eat. This works, but I found that it still wasn't satisfying if I took a dessert, but couldn't eat any of the salads or side dishes. And vice versa. Having no safe dessert is a real bummer when everyone is happily chowing down.

Now, I take two dishes. Two gluten-free dishes. One salad or side and one dessert. Two delicious dishes.

I've never had a gluten eater complain about what I bring.

For the Fourth, I really wanted to do something with red and blue berries. They are in season at this time, and our yard is usually full of ripe, red raspberries. Perfect!


This year, most of our raspberries ripened a bit early, and we had been picking them as they did. That left only a few for the Fourth. So, in shopping for more berries, we bought strawberries and blueberries.

Now I had berries. Now what to do with them?

Gluten-Free Fresh Berry Trifle

I scavenged my cookbooks. Last year we made blueberry cupcakes (some had raspberries) and decorated the tops with red, white and blue icing. They were delicious, but I wanted to do something different.

I found a Trifle. I'd never heard of a trifle. I don't come from English roots, but apparently lots of folks know what a trifle is. I was about to learn.

In Washburn and Butt's "125 Best Gluten-Free Recipes", I found "Summertime Trifle". I could use fresh berries and wasn't cupcakes or muffins. And it sounded good.

Gluten-Free White Cake

But first I had to make "White Cake" in the same cookbook. This cake turned out so incredibly delicious, I couldn't stop sneaking the crumbs from the pan! It tasted better than any plain white cake I've ever had! Gluten or no gluten. Everyone in the house agreed.

Then I had to make the custard. This isn't hard, but paying attention is wise so that the eggs don't curdle. I didn't have enough eggs to make a second batch, so I paid close attention the first time. It was working fine, but after thickening, it still seemed a bit thin. But then I remembered that it would firm up more once it had chilled for a few hours. I pulled it off the stove and moved on to the last step.

Then I assembled the trifle by layering the cake cubes, some sprinkles of blackberry brandy, half of the custard, half the berries (all three), and then repeating the layers in a glass casserole dish.

It was lovely to see those berries peeking out through the custard. But I wasn't done yet.

Fresh, real, home-whipped, whipped cream. With sugar and vanilla, of course. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, quite like fresh whipped cream. Wow. Even the guest who made two berry pies from scratch asked me three times if it was real whipped cream. Yes. Oh, yes indeed.

Gluten-Free Greek Green Salad

Once dessert was well in hand, I threw together the Greek Green Salad. This is of my own invention, based on the flavors in the Greek Pasta Salad from the same cookbook. Romaine lettuce, kalamata olives, feta cheese, red onions, red bell pepper, with a dressing made with lemon juice, fresh garlic, herbs, and olive oil. It turned out quite good, and I got several compliments on it. The large bowl was empty before even half of the guests had served themselves from the side dishes. That's the best compliment.

I even overhead others, who didn't know me or who had made the trifle, announcing that there was a trifle to be had! People were seeking out my first attempt at a trifle. And I didn't even know what a trifle was the previous day! It turned out delicious! And that's according to the gluten eaters! I had to hold back my family members to reasonably small servings to save some for the other guests.

At the end of the day, both bowls were empty. Wiped clean.

That's success. And both gluten-free!

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