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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious


Recipe: Candied Orange Peels


The Story

When looking for candies that would complement my dairy-free Simply Coconut Chocolate Truffles, I came across this recipe from The Food Network Kitchens.  I found the recipe a few years ago, but it immediately brought back the memory of family trips to Florida to visit my Grandparents.  They had wintered and later retired there and for many years, rented a house with a Kumquat tree in their back yard.  There was a lemon tree, a grapefruit tree and an orange tree, as well.  But my first taste of the tart, tangy, sweet kumquat was so memorable, that I still have a picture of that moment imprinted in my mind.  I think I was six or seven years old, and when I asked how one might peel such a tiny thing, my Grandfather said, "Just eat it all at once - peel and all."  I was rather pleased to have permission to partake in a substance that was here-to-fore forbidden.  (The peel.)  And it was good.

This recipe isn't on Food Network's web site anymore, but it is still a favorite of mine.  I make this and an array of truffles every Thanksgiving.  I love the brightness and color that the orange brings to the table.  I also recently made this for a Power Chicks Brainstorming Party this winter and those sweet, tangy peels still reminded me of warm breezes, kumquats and my Grandfather's extraordinary talent of wiggling his ears without moving any other muscle on his face.  He taught me that trick, too, and I think I can still pull it off. 

So in honor of Grandpa Veltman (hello Grandpa, wherever you are :)), I hope you enjoy these beautiful and unusual treats.



Prep Time:  30 minutes

Inactive Prep:  4 Hours

Cook Time:  1 Hour 13 Minutes

Yield:  about 4 cups of peel (depends on your orange size)


The Ingredients

9 thick-skinned Valencia or navel oranges (try to find organic, since you are using the peel)

6-3/4 cups of sugar, plus an extra cup for rolling

2-1/4 cups of water


Do a Little Orange Surgery

Cut the tops and bottoms from the oranges.  Then score each orange into quarters.  Cut down into the peel without cutting the fruit (do your best).  Peel the skin and the pith from the orange - it will come off in a large piece.  Set the orange aside and use for another recipe.  Cut the large sections of peel into 1/4-inch wide slices - the long way. 


Boil the Peels

Put the orange peels in a large saucepan with cold water to cover.  Bring the water to boil over a high heat.  As soon as the water boils, remove the pan from the heat and pour off the water.  Repeat this one more time.  (If you would like them softer, you can do it a 3rd time, but this makes the peels a little mushy for my taste).  Remove the orange peels from the pan and set aside.


Give the Peels a Sugar Bath

In the same pan, whisk the 6-3/4 cups of sugar with 2-1/4 cups of water.  Put it back on the stove, bring up to a boil, then reduce the temperature so that the peels simmer and cook for 8 or 9 minutes.  The sugar mixture temperature should be at the soft thread stage, 230-234 degrees F after 8 or 9 minutes.  Add the peels to the sugar mixture and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.  You will be tempted to stir the peels - do not do this or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup.  You can swirl the pan to get the floaters to sink down into the sugar if you need to. 

Drain the peels and save the syrup for another recipe.  There is a good 8 or more cups of simple syrup left over, and I'm still looking to find the perfect way to use such a copious amount of syrup.  It can be used in iced tea, drink recipes, cakes and other candies.


Roll & Dress the Peels

Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack for 4 or 5 hours.  Store the peels in a litte of the left over sugar, and store the rest.   You will have a little orange flavored sugar for another recipe.

The peels can be dipped in melted bittersweet chocolate.  I like to do a mixture of both plain peels and chocolate dipped peels. Yum.


Many thanks to the Food Network for introducing me to a recipe that has inspired such great memories.






Food Allergy News Recap (March, 2011)


Recipe: Simply Coconut Truffles


Yes, Coconut is Good For You

Coconut had long been considered a decadent delight, consumed only by those purporting a devil-may-care attitude about their cholesterol levels.   How untrue that has turned out to be.  This misinformation (that coconut is bad) was proliferated throughout the marketplace because scientists and docs didn't yet understand the importance of -- and differences in fats.  Coconut is still a delight, but it is now considered an ultimate health food (and one of my favorite dessert ingredients).  Coconut is said to have anti-microbial properties (watch out you little bacterial and viral invaders).  It is also very high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.  Coconut even contains those rare medium-chain fatty acids that absorb easily and directly into our human bodies.  Well, these truffles are, of course, candy, but with coconut coupled with a the heart-healthy flavenoids of bittersweet chocolate - how could we feel guilty about such a tiny & tasty dessert? 


Simply Coconut Truffle Recipe

Makes about 24 or so truffles.

Prep time:  10 minutes

Inactive prep time: 20-30 minutes

Roll time:  watch your favorite TV show and it will go more quickly.




1/2 pound of dairy-free bittersweet chocolate (recommended brand, Barry Callebaut)

2 tsp.  coconut extract

1-1/2 cups of angel flake coconut

1/2 can (13.66 oz can) of organic coconut milk (recommended brand:  Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk)


Chop the chocolate into teeny tiny little pieces and place in a heat safe glass bowl.  Bring the coconut milk to a boil and quickly remove, then pour over the chocolate.  Shake the bowl so it is evenly distributed and cover quickly with a plate to seal in the heat. 

Let the coconut milk melt the chocolate for about 5 minutes.  Then uncover and whisk by hand until the chocolate is smooth and shiny.  You now have chocolate ganache.

Whisk in the coconut exract.  This will help bring out the flavor of the chocolate as well as enhance the coconut flavor.  Stir in a 1/2 cup of coconut.  Then place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate is firm (but not hard). 

With a small melon baller, scoop out the chocolate and roll into truffle balls.  Roll each truffle into a bowl of coconut so that it has a nice little coconut coat.  Place in a container - preferebly with coconut flakes as a bed (this will help keep the truffles from sticking together) and place in the refrigerator. 

Serve cold and with confidence. 


Serve These With . . .

Candied Orange Peels

Almond Cognac Truffles

If you want to mix it up with a few different bite-sized morsels of yumminess, try these recipes, too. 


What is a Coconut?

According to the Library of Congress:

Botanically speaking, a coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, also known as a dry drupe.  However, when using loose definitions, the coconut can be all three:  a fruit, a nut, and a seed . . .

Coconuts are classified as a fibrous one-seeded drupe. A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive) and comes from the word drupa meaning overripe olive. A coconut, and all drupes, have three layers:  the exocarp (outer layer), the mesocarp (fleshy middle layer), and the endocarp (hard, woody layer that surrounds the seed).


Allergen Note

Some folks who are allergic to tree nuts are also allergic to coconut.  Coconuts are required by the FDA to be labled "contains tree nuts", but not everyone reacts to coconuts in the same way.  So if you have a nut allergy, ask your doctor if  coconut is something you should consume or be tested for before trying this recipe.


This blog does not offer, assume or intend to be medical advice.  Please consult your doctor and manage your unique health and wellness concerns responsibly.









Power Chicks & Lemon Chicken

Photo taken by Lisa Visbeen Lehmann of Studio Jewel

Brainstorm Party


Sometimes you need a little extra IQ.  A shot of cool, quick inspiration.  A few of the best peops in your corner. 

Since The Tender Palate is a budding business, I can use as many healthy brain cells as I can get.  So I brushed off my rusty entertaining skills, dished up a light supper for a few new power chick friends and “experimented” on them with a totally gluten- and dairy-free menu.  These fun and generous women agreed to help me jump-start a couple of ideas, so I made a variety of dishes that were fairly well-practiced.  I use the word “experiment”, because I’m always curious to see how the palates of people without food allergies react to alternative ingredients.  

We met at one of my favorite event venues, the historic The Leonard at Logan House.  A couple of bottles of Natura Organic Wine added just a teensy-weensy bit of creativity as well.  Both the cabernet sauvignon and the gewürztraminer got rave reviews.  I usually prefer red, but that evening, I tried the white and stuck with it.  I loved the Gewurztraminer’s unusual and pleasant mix of dry and sweet.  I could even taste the promised hint of jasmine.  I think it is my new favorite white (and “gewürztraminer” is really fun to say.)  The cabernet drinkers were especially happy when alternating bites of chocolate truffle with sips of the deep, toasty red.  


The "No Men" Menu

Although no men  were invited to this particular party (next time I'll do an ALL MEN Menu), I threw a bone to equality by serving the same number of dessert items as savory-type dishes.  Because when it comes to chocolate . . . baby, there ain’t no glass ceiling. 

My unsuspecting power chicks were not aware, however, that many of the yummy ingredients in each dish were also power foods.  Here’s the menu plus a little of the moxie behind it. 


Recipe: Cilantro-Lemon Chicken Strips (RECIPE COMING SOON)

*cilantro is purported to be anti-bacterial, there are theories that it can attach to and remove heavy metals from the body (like mercury), and is thought to also balance blood sugar.


Recipe:  Grown-Up Chili

*Lycopene is an anti-oxidant that is thought to reduce the incidence of cancer.  The lycopene in tomatoes is activated best when cooked.


Recipe:  Ina Garten’s Grapefruit/Avocado Salad
               (I also added blanched asparagus to the dish)

               Link to Ina's original recipe

*Adding more lycopene to the dinner is the wonderful and sweet red grapefruit.  A healthy fat, like the avocado in this salad, is the lycopene activator for the grapefruit.  And with the Dijon vinaigrette, the two taste incredible together. 

*Asparagus is high in folate (6 spears contain almost ½ the recommended daily intake), Vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants.  The dijon vinagrette liked the asparagus, too.


Recipe:  Almond Cognac Truffles (RECIPE COMING SOON)


Recipe:  Simply Coconut Chocolate Truffles 


Recipe:  Candied Orange Peels


*Chocolate (particularly dark, minimally processed chocolate) contains flavanols and oleic acid both thought to have healthy effects on your heart.


Natura Organic Gewurztraminer 2010

Natura Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2009


*Red wine is also full of heart-healthy flavanoids.  Of course, doctor’s orders, moderation and other such laws of your own personal health trump any information given here. 


My Warmest Thanks 


As suspected, it turned out to be a really great evening with great conversation.  If you have an idea that needs some kicking around, try throwing a brainstorm party – and drop me a note to tell me how it went!


Warmest thanks to my power chicks for the evening: 

Kelly Jansens Boos of Green Dog Pet Accessories   & Black Dog Productions, LLC 

Jennifer Phillips Wilson of Grand Development Associates, LLC.

Lisa Visbeen Lehmann of Studio Jewel  


Thanks again to Dave Russo of G.B. Russo & Son for recommending these great wines.







Recipe: Grown-Up Chili (w/ dairy-free chocolate)

The wonderful thing about chili, is that it is easy to make allergen-free.  Of course, most chili recipes do not contain nuts or gluten anyway, and the dairy is usually "on top", so you can choose to leave it off.  But with most chili recipes, you still miss that taste and texture of dairy - to either compliment the spice or to simply make you happy.

So, if you cannot consume dairy products, have I got a recipe for you.  There is no cheese required, and these flavors will demand that you leave it off.

This recipe has a mix of French and Mexican flavors, with a sauce that compels you to lick your bowl.  I call this "grown-up" chili, because this is not your kids' chili (not your normal kid, anyway).  With this blend of flavors and a 1/2 bottle of red wine, it's for adults only.


Grown Up Chili Recipe

Prep Time:  30-45 minutes

Cook Time:  1.5 hours

Serves:  8 hungry people (and 10 not-so-hungry people)


Gather the Ingredients

3 lbs Ground Beef (organic & grassfed if you can!)

1 TBS of Sea Salt (plus a few extra pinches as you go)

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

3 tsp. ground cumin (1 and 2)

2 tsp. ground coriander (1 and 1)

4 TBS chili powder (2 and 2)

½ c. extra virgin olive oil

2 large yellow or white onions (chopped well)

6 cloves garlic (smashed and finely minced)

4 fresh serrano chile peppers, finely chopped with seeds (no stems) OR (6 – 8 frozen serrano) - if you want a milder chili, remove the seeds from the peppers and use only the pepper flesh (throw seeds away).

4 mulatto chile peppers, soaked for one hour and chopped finely (can also use soaked ancho chiles) - include 1/2 of the seeds (no stems).  If you like it hot, keep all of the seeds in.

1/2 c. organic tomato paste

2 tsp. dried oregano (or 2 TBS of fresh oregano, finely chopped)

½ bottle of dry, full-bodied red wine (cabernet or an equivalently full bodied “good” red table wine)

1 quart organic chicken broth

2 - 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes

3 - 12 oz. cans of black beans

6 oz. dairy-free, bittersweet chocolate, chopped into large chunks



Season the Beef

Place the ground beef into a large bowl and season generously with sea salt (about 1 T. salt).  Then continue seasoning with:

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of coriander

1 tsp of cumin

2 TBS of chili powder

Mix well.


Brown the Beef

Prepare a 13x9 inch pan by lining it with a paper towel.  Set aside.

In a large cast iron pot, Doufeu (my favorite pot, bar none) or stew pot, cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil (3 TBS to 1/4 cup).  When the oil is hot, add the ground beef in a layer that is about 1 inch thick (don't crowd or clump so it browns evenly).  Resist the temptation to stir the beef.  Let it brown - when the blood starts to rise on the beef, turn each piece over and brown the other side.  Once browned / carmelized, removed the beef from the pan, and place it in the prepared 13x9 inch pan.  Set aside.


Layer the Flavors

Add the onions right into the juices in the pan.  Saute until they start to get soft.  Add a pinch of sea salt, then add the garlic and saute until you smell that yummy garlic aroma.  Throw in the serrano and ancho chile peppers.  Saute for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Then add the remaining spices:

1 T. of chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp oregano

Stir to incorporate the spices, then stir in the diced tomatoes. 


Add the Grown Up Stuff & Simmer

Now add the meat back into the pan, and stir to incorporate everything really well.  Let the meat get used to its new spicey friends, then pour in the red wine - all of it.  Stir it well, then add the chicken stock and incorporate that juicy goodness.  If your chicken stock is unsalted, another pinch of salt here might be a good idea.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

In the meantime, drain the black beans and rinse them well to get the “gas out”.  Simmer for another ½ hour. 


Top it Off with a Secret Weapon

Stir in the chopped chocolate.  Stir until it melts brilliantly, then serve immediately and enjoy the beans out of it. 

(Please note: if you make this recipe a day or two ahead of time, its best to wait to add the chocolate until you reheat it.)



Other toppers....if you must....

In my opinion, this chili needs nothing else (except a glass of red wine).  But if you would like a little more flavor, chooped cilantro is a nice garnish.  And if you make it really hot and you are not alergic to soy, a dairy alternative could be a dollup of tofutti (a soy-based cream cheese).  Its a bit heavy, so dollup lightly. 


This recipe can be made a day or two ahead, stored in the refrigerator, and reheated in the cast iron pan.