Friday, December 26, 2014

NEW RECIPE: A Gluten-Free Christmas

© Constantine William Spyrou

I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and holiday season! Our family got together for the first time in a while, and it was great to have everyone at home. Because my sister has Celiac, I was tasked with creating a gluten-free Christmas meal that could be enjoyed! This recipe contains three different dishes, each gluten-free, that I made for the dinner! 

The first recipe is a simple crab cake recipe that focuses on the crab flavor. It has a good background of traditional ingredients like spring onion, Old Bay, and the like, and is a tasty opener to the meal. 

I also made another appetizer: Indian "Arancini." Arancini are Italian risotto balls filled with meat or cheese and deep fried. This is a much healthier version, with curry-spiced rice and peas in the center. Instead of deep-frying or battering, these are simply crisped up in a pan, making them stress-free, easy to make and create, and a unique spin on an Italian classic! 

The main course was Roast Beef tenderloin with mushroom au jus and sauteed mushrooms. It went with a spiced purple sweet potato mash to bring it all together and make a tasty base for the steak! 

Recipe 1: Crab Cakes

Makes 8-10 crab cakes.


1 1/2 pounds jumbo lump crab meat
1 1/2 cups bell pepper, diced (I went tricolor with this, but any bell peppers you have work fine!)
1 egg
1 cup roughly chopped green onion
1 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 clove minced garlic
Salt and pepper to season


1. Combine all of the ingredients together for the crab cakes and form into 4-inch diameter patties at least 1/2 inch thick. You can leave these to set up in the fridge or cook with them straight away.

2. In a pan on medium-high heat, cook the crab cakes with some vegetable oil for 1-2 minutes on each side to ensure that the cakes are heated and a golden brown color is on each side. Serve!

These crab cakes are mostly crab with almost no other filler. The combination of egg and xanthan gum serves well as a binding agent while helping the Old Bay and other spices to evenly distribute throughout the crab as it is mixed, as xanthan gum with liquid does great with holding spices evenly. These are super simple to prep and cook, making them a great and tasty choice for a stress-free Christmas appetizer or entree! 

Recipe 2: Indian "Arancini"

Serves up to 8 people.


2 cups arborio rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tablespoon turmeric
4 teaspoons garam masala
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to season
1 package frozen peas
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder


1. Mix together the rice, half of the garam masala and curry powder, all of the turmeric, and the vegetable oil in a rice cooker or pot. Add in the chicken or vegetable stock, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed. The rice should be somewhat mushy and overcooked, this is on purpose to help it stick and form the rice balls.

2. In a separate pot, blanch the peas in salted boiling water for about 5-7 minutes. Drain, then mix with the remain garam masala and curry powder, along with salt and pepper to taste, the ground ginger, and the garlic powder.

3. Let the rice and the peas cool to room temperature. Then, take 3-4 tablespoons of the rice (a small scoop) and form it into a flat shape. Cup it, then place 5-6 peas in the center and form the rice around them to make a football or ball-like shape. Keep going until all of the rice is formed into balls.

4. In a pan on medium-high heat, crisp the rice balls on each side with a small amount of vegetable oil for about a minute on each side. Serve!

This dish took the longest overall time to prep and make, but the overall flavor is worth it! The garam masala and curry powder are two spice blends that combine to give the rice nearly 15 different spices to punch up its flavor! The stock makes a nice, rich background for the rice as well, and it being soft makes it perfect to encase the spiced peas. Once everything is cooled, the prep and cooking is super quick, making it another stress-free appetizer to add to your list! 

Recipe 3: Beef Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Purple Sweet Potato Mash

Recipe serves 4 people.


3-4 pounds beef tenderloin (we went untrimmed, but its best if trimmed!)
2 purple sweet potatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 cup oyster mushrooms, separated into individual stalks
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cups beef stock
Salt and pepper to season
2 sprigs thyme
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons grated horseradish
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons butter, roughly chopped
Finely chopped chives for a garnish


1. Place the purple sweet potatoes into salted boiling water, and cook for 15-20 minutes until they are soft.

2. Season the potatoes and mash them until smooth with a fork, adding in the butter, half of the garlic powder, and all of the ginger in the process.

3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

4. Liberally season the tenderloin with salt, pepper, and the remaining garlic powder. Place into a pan on high heat with vegetable oil and sear until golden brown on each side. Be sure to sear the top and bottom of the tenderloin as well in this step!

5. Remove the beef from the pan and place on a roasting tray. Brush with the horseradish, and give it 5 minutes to absorb the horseradish before placing it in the oven. 30-35 minutes should give it a medium-rare temperature.

6. As the beef cooks, make the mushroom gravy by sauteeing the button mushrooms with salt, pepper, and a clove of garlic. Deglaze with the beef stock, and bring up to a boil. Leave it uncovered on a medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the stock reduces by half. Strain, and transfer to a serving bowl.

7. Sautee the chanterelle and oyster mushrooms together with salt, pepper, the remaining garlic clove, and the thyme.

8. When the beef is done, let it rest for 10 minutes before carving slices. Layer some of the sauteed mushrooms over the beef slice on a plate coated with the purple sweet potato mash, and ladle a small amount of the au jus over the top. Garnish with fresh chives to balance out the flavors.

This dish is all about rich, savory flavors from the beef and mushroom. However, the sweet potato mash provides a background that makes these flavors stand out even more because of the more neutral and sweeter flavors that contrast against the rich beef and mushroom flavor. This is a great entree for Christmas or any other holiday! 

I hope you enjoyed this trio of recipes for Christmas, or any other holiday! Let me know what you think or what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy, and happy holidays! =) 

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