Gluten-Free Southern Comfort


Big flavors, bold taste, no gluten

What do you think of when you hear the words “comfort food”? Two deceptively simple words can mean so many things to so many people. Every person defines “comfort food” in his or her own way. To us, comfort food means big flavors and bold taste.

Our father, Emeril Lagasse, is famous for his bold Creole cuisine and we grew up loving rich foods full of big flavor. In 2001, Jessie was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity and in 2004, Jilly was finally diagnosed with celiac disease. The following years saw us both on the path to good health but that required a lot of persistence, perseverance, patience and experimentation. We had to take charge not only of our health but also of our kitchens (and if you know our dad, you know what that means!). We both spent several years adapting and de-glutening our favorite old recipes while adding new dishes to our portfolios. Our mission was to demonstrate that gluten-free most certainly does not mean flavor-free.

These recipes remove the “c” out of celiac and put it back in “comfort.” Taken from our cookbooks, The Lagasse Girls’ Big Flavor, Bold Taste and No Gluten (DaCapo LifeLong) and The Gluten-Free Table: The Lagasse Girls Share Their Favorite Meals (Grand Central Life & Style), they come from our kitchen and most certainly our hearts. Even with a gluten issue, people can still be comforted by the foods they grew up eating, loving, sharing and craving. We truly hope you enjoy these wonderful gluten-free dishes.


Jessie’s Favorite Gluten-Free Potato Salad


Every year for our birthdays, our Dad let us choose what we wanted him to make us for our special days. Our wishes changed from year to year. Sometimes it was baked stuffed shrimp, sometimes gumbo, sometimes hamburgers with all the fixings. One of Jessie’s recurring favorites was Dad’s potato salad. Super bacon-y with crisp onions mixed in, it was always a perfectly balanced mouthful of tasty potato goodness. This delicious version is the one Jessie now makes for her family and it’s always a hit. Naturally gluten-free, potato salad is a versatile accompaniment to many meals, from burgers to ribs to fried chicken. This quick and easy recipe takes 30 minutes or less to make and is the perfect pairing with any summer barbecue. We know your gang will love it as much as we do. If you’re sensitive to eggs, omit the hard-boiled eggs.

2 pounds small red potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely diced celery
½ cup finely diced red onion
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Creole or spicy brown mustard
6 large hard-cooked eggs, cooled, peeled, roughly chopped
1 pound bacon, cooked until crisp, roughly chopped

1. Put the cut potatoes into a stockpot filled with cool water and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until they’re fork-tender (soft enough to eat but still firm enough to maintain their shape). You don’t want them mushy and falling apart. Depending on the size of your potato chunks, this could take 10 to 20 minutes.

2. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and transfer to a large salad or serving bowl.

3. Add salt, pepper, celery, red onion, mayonnaise and mustard. Stir until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Gently fold chopped eggs and bacon into the mixture.

5. Serve potato salad warm or cover and chill until ready to serve.

Each serving contains 489 calories, 29g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 224mg cholesterol, 1620mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 2g sugars, 29g protein, 9 Est GL.

Photography by Chris Granger

Momma’s Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake with Homemade Biscuits


One of our favorite desserts growing up was our mother’s strawberry shortcake. A Louisiana summer means two things—the need for air conditioning and strawberries! There are strawberry festivals throughout Louisiana in the summer months, so this dish is a true bite of the South for us. Our momma would make the whipped cream and biscuits from scratch, pouring much love into this delicious summertime treat. When we went gluten-free, we made some adjustments to her recipe. These deliciously tender biscuits are the perfect way to soak up all the juicy strawberry yumminess. This is a quick and easy recipe that will take 30 minutes or less to make. For a dairy-free version, substitute a dairy-free whipped topping. (See Shopping List, right). This recipe can be made with egg replacement.

1½ cups GF&M self-rising gluten-free flour blend  or all-purpose gluten-free flour blend of choice
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup coconut oil (not coconut butter)
½ cup cold whole milk of choice
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1 pound fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1-2 tablespoons water
1 pint heavy whipping cream or dairy-free whipped topping of choice
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 vanilla bean pod, sliced and seeds scraped

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Sift flour blend, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt together in a medium bowl. Add coconut oil and use your hands to mix until similar-size crumbles form. If the coconut oil is solid, it will melt naturally with your body heat and help form the crumbles. Blend this as smoothly as you can, keeping in mind it will still be a bit lumpy. (We highly recommend you use your hands for this instead of a food processor.)

3. Add cold milk and egg and stir well with a wooden spoon to make dough. Dough should be quite thick and cohesive.

4. Measure out eight ¼-cup portions of dough and place them on prepared baking sheet.

Photograph by Steven Freeman

5. Place biscuits in preheated oven and bake 14 to 16 minutes or until they are golden brown on top.

6. While biscuits are baking, mix sliced strawberries with granulated sugar and water in a small bowl. You want the strawberries to retain their shape and to allow the sugar mixture to coax the fruit’s natural juices out so you have enough juice to spoon over your biscuits. If your strawberries are super ripe, you may only need 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside while you make the whipped cream.

7. In another medium bowl, whip the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and scraped vanilla bean seeds with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form.

8. Once your biscuits are cooked, split each one in half and place them in small bowls. Scoop a generous amount of strawberries with juice over each. Top with a few heaping spoonfuls of whipped cream and serve.

For Egg-Free Biscuits, omit 1 egg. Combine 1 tablespoon golden flax meal with 3 tablespoons hot water. Let cool. Use this mixture to replace 1 egg in step 3.

Each serving contains 398 calories, 30g total fat, 21g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 106mg cholesterol, 155mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 6g sugars, 4g protein, 16 Est GL.

Editor’s Note: The Lagasse girls suggest using Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix in their recipes. We tested these biscuits using our gluten-free self-rising flour blend  with excellent results.

Photography by Chris Granger

E.J.’s Crunchy Gluten-Free Fried Chicken


Whenever our little brother, E.J., comes to New Orleans, we can usually find him at Emeril’s, our dad’s restaurant, cozying up to a big ol’ plate of fried chicken and waffles. He never really makes it to the waffles but he can almost eat his own body weight in fried chicken. We came up with this recipe just for him and it seems everyone agrees that this may be the best fried chicken ever! And, yes, it happens to be gluten-free. You can make this recipe two ways: crispy or super crispy by either battering the chicken once or twice. If you go for the double batter, you may need to increase the fry time slightly and try not to chip a tooth! You’ll need to have a candy/deep fry thermometer to ensure your oil is at the peak frying temperature and also a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F and fully cooked. If you have a dairy allergy, use Dairy-Free Buttermilk.

2 cups buttermilk or Dairy-Free Buttermilk
8-10 dashes hot sauce
2 pounds chicken pieces (wings, thighs, breasts)
2⅔ cups superfine white rice flour
1⅓ cups cornstarch
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning of choice
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
-Vegetable oil, for frying

1. In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine buttermilk and hot sauce. Add chicken pieces and seal the bag firmly. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate at least 3 hours but no more than 24 hours.

2. When chicken is done marinating, carefully transfer buttermilk and chicken mixture into a large mixing bowl. Discard the plastic bag.

3. Prepare the batter. In a large bowl or casserole dish, combine the rice flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, salt, Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper. Mix together until well combined.

4. Set up a cooling rack or baking sheet on which to place your battered chicken. Work piece by piece. Remove a piece of chicken from the buttermilk mixture and let the excess buttermilk drip off slightly before placing the chicken in the dry batter mixture. Thoroughly coat the entire piece with a layer of the dry batter as evenly as possible before laying the breaded chicken piece on either the cooling rack or the baking sheet. Repeat this process until all the chicken has been battered. (If you want the regular one-breaded version, stop here. If you want the super crunchy double-breaded version, repeat the battering process once more so that each chicken piece gets dipped into the buttermilk and dry batter two times. Discard any remaining batter and buttermilk.)

5. Let battered chicken sit at room temperature 20 to 25 minutes while you prepare your frying station. If you’re using a deep fryer, heat the oil and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. If frying on the stove, fill a large, deep frying pan or cast-iron skillet half way with vegetable oil. Using a candy/deep-fry thermometer, heat the oil until it’s between 350 to 375°F. Once the temperature has been reached, carefully drop in a few pieces of battered chicken, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fewer is better. After about 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the cuts of chicken, carefully turn the chicken pieces over and fry the other side another 4 to 5 minutes. Be sure the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove a test piece, check the temperature and return the chicken to the pan to continue cooking, if necessary. Don’t test the temperature while the chicken is immersed in the oil. Once fully cooked, remove the pieces with tongs and place on a large, paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet to cool.

6. Repeat until all chicken pieces have been fried. Keep an eye on the thermometer and try not to let the oil temperature dip below 350°F, paying special attention to the temperature right after you remove the finished chicken pieces and are getting ready to add new pieces.

7. Let chicken cool a few minutes before serving. Enjoy warm or cooled.

TIP Feel free to use any cuts of chicken you prefer, keeping in mind your fry time may vary depending on the size and thick-ness of the cuts.

Each 4-ounce serving of light meat with skin contains 310 calories, 17g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 94mg cholesterol, 321mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 26g protein, 6 Est GL.
Each 4-ounce serving of dark meat with skin contains 334 calories, 21g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 100mg cholesterol, 330mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 24g protein, 5 Est GL.

Photography by Chris Granger

Dairy-Free Buttermilk


Buttermilk is used quite a lot in Southern cooking in both savory and sweet recipes, from fried chicken to desserts. It’s the base for lots of rich cakes, sweet breads and frostings. We realize that a lot of our fellow celiacs have a sensitivity to dairy so this is a great recipe to keep in your gluten-free cooking arsenal. We recommend using unsweetened rice milk for fried chicken, but feel free to use any dairy-free milk you prefer. Coconut is better for sweeter dishes. Almond and rice are better for savory. This recipe can be halved.

2 cups plain rice milk, unsweetened, or dairy- free milk of choice
2 tablespoons vinegar (white or apple cider) or lemon juice
-Pinch of salt

1. In a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk together rice milk, vinegar or lemon juice and salt.

2. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature. The milk will thicken and separate a bit.

3. Whisk well before using.

Each cup contains 120 calories, 2g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 136mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 1g protein, 7 Est GL.

Photography by Chris Granger

Gluten-Free Grilled Halloumi and Watermelon Salad


Halloumi is a delicious Cypriot cheese. Usually made with goat’s or sheep’s milk, it can be tolerated by some who have issues with cow’s milk. Halloumi is quite salty in flavor and has a very high melting point, making it perfect for barbecuing, grilling or frying. You can replace it with feta cheese (don’t grill feta) for a different take. Omit it entirely if cheese is off limits for you.

½ small red onion, finely sliced
-Juice of 1 lime
2½ ounces (roughly 4 cups) arugula
1 (8-ounce) block Halloumi cheese, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 cups watermelon, seedless, cut into bite-size chunks
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. In a small bowl, combine red onion and lime juice. Let stand 15 minutes. (The acid in the citrus juice sweetens the onion.)

2. On a large plate or serving platter, arrange arugula leaves evenly to create a base for the dish.

3. Heat a griddle or sauté pan on medium heat. Grill or fry Halloumi 4 to 5 minutes or until golden on each side. Turn off heat and set aside.

4. Drain any liquid from red onions.

5. Arrange watermelon, red onions and grilled Halloumi on top of the greens.

6. Sprinkle mint over top and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.

Each serving contains 245 calories, 18g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 38mg cholesterol, 567mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 6g sugars, 13g protein, 4 Est GL.

Jilly Lagasse and Jessie Lagasse Swanson are authors of The Gluten-Free Table: The Lagasse Girls Share Their Favorite Meals (Grand Central Life & Style) and The Lagasse Girls’ Big Flavor, Bold Taste and No Gluten! (DaCapo Lifelong). Recipes reprinted with permission.