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Gluten-Free Doesn't Have to Be Flavor-Free

Throughout the week on "The Early Show," we've been featuring foods for people who suffer from food allergies and other conditions that restrict the foods they can eat. The series concluded with foods for people who are allergic to gluten, a condition called celiac disease.

Rob Landolphi is author of "Gluten-Free Every Day." Landolphi, who calls himself "the gluten-free chef," presented some unexpected foods on "The Early Show" that celiac disease sufferers can still enjoy to the fullest.

But what exactly is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is the technical diagnosis for people who are allergic to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn and faro), barley and rye. When celiac disease sufferers eat or digest glutens, their immune system destroys or damages the villi, which are microscopic finger-like protrusions that line the small intestine. Normally, these villi allow nutrients to be absorbed by the small intestine to be fed into the blood stream. So without them, people become malnourished, no matter how much food they consume. Celiac disease is therefore often a more serious allergy than most. Not only does the body of a gluten allergy sufferer reject the gluten proteins, but it also causes the immune system to destroy the villi, causing malnutrition if untreated or ignored.

The most common thought is that celiac disease is genetic. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, one in 133 Americans suffer from celiac disease. Celiac disease occurs in five to 15 percent of the offspring and siblings of a person with celiac disease. In 70 percent of identical twin pairs, both twins have the disease. It is strongly suggested that family members of a diagnosed celiac be tested, even if asymptomatic. Family members who have an autoimmune disease are at a 25 percent increased risk of having celiac disease. Celiac Disease is not a food allergy -- it is an autoimmune disease. Food allergies, including wheat allergy, are conditions that people can grow out of. This is not the case with celiac disease.

Adults and children often have different symptoms. With children, celiac disease tends to manifest itself in digestive problems such as bloating, vomiting. It also might show itself in growth failure or extreme changes in behavior. In adults, celiac disease may manifest itself in a number of ways such as recurring bloating, gas, or abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea or constipation or both , unexplained weight loss or weight gain, unexplained anemia, bone or joint pain , behavior changes such as depression/irritability, fatigue, weakness or lack of energy, missed menstrual periods, infertility, miscarriages, canker sores inside the mouth, and or tooth discoloration or loss of enamel. Celiac disease can appear any time in a person's life. The disease can be triggered for the first time after surgery, viral infection, severe emotional stress, pregnancy or childbirth.

Planning your shopping and eating around celiac disease can be very difficult, according to Landolphi. He pointed out the Food and Drug Administration does regulate labels that say gluten-free. However, Landolphi said, you should always do your research and educate yourself for safety's sake.

Tri-spiced Onion Rings with Horseradish Dipping Sauce

Serves 6

Any fan of beer-battered onion rings will love this recipe. Rob always uses a hearty gluten-free beer from Bard's Tale Beer called Dragon's Gold.

Horseradish Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon McCormick seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 cup white rice flour
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup gluten-free beer

Canola oil, for deep-frying
2 white onions, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings and separated

For the horseradish sauce: In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together and set aside.

For the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the white rice flour, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt. Gradually whisk in the egg yolks and beer until a smooth, thick batter forms.

In a large, heavy sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat 3 inches canola oil until it registers 360°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Dip a few onion rings at a time into the batter and then add to the hot oil, cooking until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the cooked onion rings to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining onion rings until all are cooked.

Place the onion rings on a platter and serve with a bowl of the dipping sauce.

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes 12 biscuits
Also known as baking soda biscuits, these buttery morsels are delicious on their own or can be used to make the perfect strawberry shortcakes.

1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, combine the tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch, cornstarch, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Stir with a whisk to blend.

Using your fingers, a pastry blender, or two dinner knives, rub or cut the shortening and butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Add the buttermilk and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Drop 1/4-cup mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm.

Toasted Coconut Shrimp with Peach Marmalade Dipping Sauce

Makes 2 dozen shrimp

Coconut lovers are in for a real treat-succulent shrimp, deep-fried and dipped in a tangy, sweet sauce. Aloha!

2 dozen medium shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sweetened finely shredded coconut
Canola oil, for deep-frying

Peach Marmalade Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup peach marmalade
1/4 cup country Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and set aside. For the coating: In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch, tapioca flour, and Old Bay seasoning together. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Put the coconut in a shallow bowl.

Coat the shrimp with the cornstarch mixture and shake off the excess. Dip into the egg whites, and then roll in the coconut. In a large, heavy sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat 3 inches of oil over medium-high heat to 360°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Deep-fry 6 shrimp at a time until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat to cook the remaining shrimp.

For the dipping sauce: In small bowl, whisk together the marmalade, mustard, and honey. Serve the shrimp with a bowl of the sauce on the side.

Chef's Tip:
For safety purposes, I strongly recommend using a deep-fat-frying thermometer to maintain the proper oil temperature when cooking the shrimp.

Pecorino Pizza Crust

Makes two 12-inch pizzas

After months of testing and tweaking, I finally developed this gluten-free pizza crust to the point of perfection. For me, the ultimate accolade was achieved when unsuspecting friends chose the gluten-free version as their favorite when this pizza was served with two "regular" pizzas ordered from our local pizza place. This will guarantee shouts of, "Mama Mia! Pizzeria!"

1 cup warm water (110°F)
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup golden milled flaxseeds
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons dry milk powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
5 cloves garlic, roasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings, as desired

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. In a food processor, combine the sorghum flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, flaxseeds, cornstarch, milk powder, sugar, xanthan gum, salt, and pecorino and pulse until mixed. Blend in the mozzarella cheese and garlic, and then add the olive oil, egg, and yeast mixture, pulsing until a dough ball begins to form.

Transfer the dough to a pastry board lightly floured with tapioca flour. Divide the dough in half and form each into a ball. Place each ball of dough in an oiled bowl, and turn the dough to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough springs back when touched.

Preheat the oven to 500°F with a pizza stone on the bottom rack. Place a dough ball on the lightly floured (with tapioca flour) board and flatten the dough into a round, beginning in the center and working outward. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough from the center outward until the round is 12 inches in diameter. Roll and pinch the edges to make a rim. Lightly sprinkle a pizza peel or baking sheet with cornmeal and slowly slide it under the dough. Dough could also be rolled on a pizza peel, or formed into a pan.

Spoon 1/3 cup sauce, 1/3 cup cheese, and the desired toppings on top of the crust. Try not to overload the pizza with toppings, or you will end up with a soggy pizza.

Transfer the pizza to the oven by carefully sliding it off the peel or pan onto the pizza stone. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the cheese is lightly golden brown. While the pizza is baking, prepare the second pizza crust, using the same method.

Pecorino Bread Sticks:

Follow the instructions in the above recipe for preheating the oven and flattening the dough, but form the dough into an 8-inch square. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using a knife, cut 1/2-inch-wide strips. Roll the dough into rounded sticks.

Dust a pizza peel or baking sheet with cornmeal and place the sticks on the pan. Brush the sticks lightly with melted butter, and sprinkle with your choice of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, grated Parmesan cheese, or kosher salt. Cover with a dry towel and let rise for 1 hour, or until the dough springs back when touched.

Gently slide the bread sticks off the peel or pan onto the pizza stone. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 2 dozen bread sticks.

Chef's Tip:
A preheated pizza stone is the key to making a crisp crust. But if you don't have one, simply bake the pizzas or bread sticks on a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet.

For an apple pie recipe, go to Page 2.

Sugar and Spice Apple Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

This American classic delivers a luscious burst of brown sugar and cinnamon. Serve it on its own, or with vanilla ice cream.

3 pounds McIntosh apples (6 to 8), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Double-Crust Pie Dough
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, combine the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir to blend. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough between two pieces of waxed paper into a 12-inch round. Remove the waxed paper from the top of the round and invert the pie plate on top of the dough. Place your other hand under the waxed paper and turn the round over so that the dough falls into the pan. Tuck the dough into the pan and then peel off the waxed paper. Let the overhang drape over the edge of the pie plate, while gently fitting the dough into the pan. Using scissors, trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under evenly. Crimp the edges of the piecrust with your thumb and forefinger or press it with the tines of a fork.

Stir the cornstarch into the filling and pour into the pie shell, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the butter over the filling.

Roll the other dough ball into an 12-inch round between two pieces of waxed paper. Remove the waxed paper from the top of the dough round and invert the dough over the filling, carefully peeling off the waxed paper. Using your fingers, tuck the edges of the top crust under the lower crust and press together lightly to form a seal, and using a knife, trim the dough even with the edge of the pan. Then, using a fork, crimp the edges of the piecrust around the border of the pan.

Cut a few air vents in the top crust and bake the pie for 20 minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 300°F and continue baking for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into wedges to serve.

Chef's Tip:
To avoid a mess, place a sheet pan under the pie while baking in the oven, to catch drippings.

All recipes are from "Gluten-Free Every Day" by Robert M. Landolphi/Andrews McMeel Publishing.

For more information on Celiac Disease, go to the Celiac Disease Foundation Web site.
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