Monday, July 11, 2011

Valerie's Mexican Fiesta

For my sister's birthday this year, she wanted a Mexican Fiesta. Having themed family parties is always fun - there's a variety of foods to eat all fitting neatly under one theme. And having a party at my mom's house means I can have some say in how much gluten there will be. There was only one offending item: flour tortillas. For appetizers/munchies (my family is big on grazing on food throughout the afternoon, so much so that on family party days, my siblings and I never really ate a proper lunch), we had veggies, fruit, and corn tortilla chips with five different kinds of salsas and a few dips, guacamole, and hummus. Since nothing contained gluten that was out, I was free to dip my food from the bowl like everyone else.

For the main course to our fiesta (yes, I appreciate the irony that in celebration
of my sister's Independence Day birthday we had Mexican food - even if it was watered down Mexican) we had tacos - there were two different kinds of corn shells - tostadas and the traditional crispy corn variety - and soft shell flour burriotos. I was in charge of cooking our rice - I used Guy Fieri's Mambo Rice recipe from to great fanfare from the family. It was made with basmati rice, gluten free chicken stock from Sam's Club and loads of fresh ingredients finely chopped. This was an easy rice cooker dish - the ratio of liquid to rice was spot on! My mom meanwhile grilled the meats and my sister made her "spicy corn" dish - made two ways - with or without butter. Everyone loved the build your own taco idea and the easy dishes naturally lent themselves to more time with the family and less time in the kitchen.

My sister decided that she didn't want a cake this year. My mom wanted me to find a recipe with rhubarb that I could eat since she harvested some from her garden. After twenty minutes of surfing the internet, I only found gluten-free recipes rather than naturally gluten free options (except for the compote). Another trip to and we were eating Mexican Brownies, again from Guy Fieri. Brownies were the easiest since I was able to buy Bob's Red Mill mix and dump the bag into the bowl rather than try to measure everything out (I have a lot of dairy-free substitutions at my mom's house but not that many flour options other than white rice flour.) I did my best to combine the two recipes, always defaulting to Bob's instructions when there was a discrepancy. The required about 5-10 minutes longer than recommended and due to the liquid from the rhubarb compote, I omitted adding water. For the brownies, you could really taste the chocolate - I used Baker's chocolate - and they turned out to be very rich and decadent. We even successfully passed them off to some of my sister's friends and no one noticed that they were gfdf (made with a vegetable oil spread stick to keep it dairy free) - they just tasted different because of the extra chocolate, rhubarb, and cinnamon. This must be the way to go with gf baking! Make something so different that no one can compare it! Overall, it was a great party with lots of delicious food and company to celebrate my sister's latest trip around the sun! Happy Birthday, Valerie!

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