Sunday, October 23, 2011

Overcoming Party Anxiety

Big, family parties can be a bit intimidating when you can't eat wheat.

Typical party fare for the Chicagoland area is catered Italian beef, fried chicken and baked ziti.  While Italian Beef may be OK on the surface (roasted beef, thin sliced and swimming in au jus) it's bound to get crumbs in it while people make up sandwiches.  The chicken is out.  The pasta is out.  Salads usually involvce croutons.  Chips and dips can have wheat, or be contaminated by dipping (like one party when I brought a HUGE amount of clam dip and potato chips, only to go and get some and find someone had obviously dipped a cheese Dorito - which has wheat - in the dip, making it all off limits for me after that point).

Now, I've also been raised that when you go to a party, you offer to bring something to help out.  Which makes it easy to say "I'll bring the baked pasta" and make it gluten-free.  No one can tell gluten-free pasta from the regular stuff once it's baked.

I do an adaptation of an America's Test Kitchen recipe.  And it's easy.

I usually do two half-trays of pasta.  For that, there is two pounds of pasta.

For the sauce, 2 cups of cream with a half tablespoon of cornstarch stirred in. Heat that until it thickens.

Into that, dumo in a jar of your favorite jarred sauce.

Stir to combine.

 Take your cooked pasta.......

Dump sauce on top....

 The ATK recipe calls for cottage cheese.  I forgot that fact and bought a big tub of ricotta.  Ooops.

Add your parm (and I also use some romano) and stir....

Dump into baking tray, and add 1/4 pound of cubed (NOT THE PRE-SHREDDED) mozzerella cheese.  Stir it in.

Top each tray with another 1/4 pound of cubed cheese.

 I make it the day before, and then stash that in the fridge.  The day of the party, pull it out, heat up the oven to 350, and cook for 30 minutes covered, then 30 minutes uncovered.

Bring to the party and let everyone dig in.

I promise you, no one will know it is gluten-free unless you tell them.

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