Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Studying at the feet of the master

This article with the recipe was published with Lee Tobin's permission. You can find other Whole Foods Gluten Free Recipes on the wonderful Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse Site.

When was the last time you attended a cooking class and didn’t worry for a second whether or not the food was safe for your gluten-free lifestyle?

When I heard Lee Tobin, the mastermind behind the Whole Foods Gluten-Free Bakehouse was holding a cooking class at Harry’s Farmers Market/Whole Foods in Alpharetta the night before 2009 Gluten-Free Vendor Fair, I couldn’t wait to sign up. An evening of gluten-free food from a gluten-free master? Heaven!

After all, who among us hasn’t marveled at the selection of gluten-free baked goods at Whole Foods? Whether it’s the pie crust (ah, the pie crust), the Nut Meal and Raisin Cookies, or the Scones, the selection at available at Whole Foods makes it a gluten-free person’s best friend.

But a cooking class with Lee Tobin? For me, it was like studying at the feet of the master. After all, Lee Tobin’s experience as a person diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1996 led to his development of the Gluten-Free Bakehouse. If you read his inspiring story on the Whole Foods Gluten-Free Bakehouse websit you will see that it was both a love of food and a need for a quality, safe gluten-free product that made this product happen.

When I found my gluten-free friends Lori Pocock, Jennifer D. Harris, and Carol and Ron Hinton were going to be attending the class, too, I couldn’t wait for the evening.

The fifteen students in the class had the opportunity to taste a full-course meal called “Gluten Free Alternatives for the Holidays.” The menu included gluten-free chicken tenders, cooked with the new gluten-free bread crumbs, Turkey Pot Pie, Roasted Squash Stuffed with Quinoa, mini Yucca cakes with avocado vinaigrette, a classic Caesar salad with croutons, and a beautiful purple sweet potato pie.

With his kitchen helpers scurrying around him filling water and wine glasses and chopping ingredients, Lee prepared each dish for the audience. The chicken nuggets, soaked in buttermilk, were dipped in sweet rice flour, then in an egg wash, and dredged in the GF bread crumbs. Deep fried, the nuggets were crispy and delicious.

The turkey pot pie (recipe below) could become a standard around the holiday season. Though Lee used freshlycooked turkey, leftover cooked turkey or chicken would work. A step that that surprised me, though, was turning a GF pie crust into the top crust. I never thought to roll the thawed pie crust into a ball, then rolled it out for a pie crust.

My favorite recipe of the evening was the mini yucca cakes with avocado vinaigrette. Lee grated one yucca root, then mixed in a can of black beans, corn, red pepper and green onions. He seasoned with mix with cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper, and baked them in the oven. Topped with the vinaigrette, the caked were crunchy and savory.

As the evening’s meal came to an end, Lee asked the audience for any gluten-free requests. People suggested pita bread, French bread, and croissants, but several simply urged him to keep doing what’s he doing. For a long, long time, please?

If you want to see more pictures of Lee and Daniel Lyons in action at the GF Vendor Fair, go here:

Gluten-Free Turkey Pot Pie
Serves 6 to 8
There's always something comforting about eating rich and creamy turkey pot pie and this version is no exception. Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey, or even shredded roasted chicken, to make this simple take on a classic even easier. Lee Tobin adapted this classic Whole Foods recipe for the gluten-free diet.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 pound button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour flour
1 1/2 cups turkey or low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1 1/2 cup fresh peas
1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
2 (9-inch) frozen Whole Foods Gluten Free pie shells (in pie pans)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy skillet. Add leeks, carrots and celery and cook over medium heat until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and set aside. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in skillet. Add mushrooms and cook over medium high heat until they have given off their moisture and are tender, about 10 minutes. Add leek mixture to skillet and toss to combine. Add flour, stir well and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add broth while stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until very thick. Add turkey, all but 1 tablespoon of the cream, thyme, salt and pepper and stir well. Transfer contents of skillet to a large bowl and set aside to let cool.

Remove pie crusts from the freezer and set one aside to let thaw. Fill remaining pie crust with cooled turkey mixture and moisten the edges with a bit of water. Roll second pie crust into a ball and after kneading it, roll it between two pieces of parchment paper into a round top crust. Place the crust on top of the turkey mixture, then crimp the edges with a fork or your fingers and cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Brush crust all over with remaining tablespoon of cream and bake until golden brown, crust is cooked through and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Set aside to let cool for 15 minutes, then cut into slices and serve.

Much love, and Lee, many thanks for everything you do!

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