Michel Nischan

When I get the opportunity to meet an incredible person I like to share some of that with you. Michel Nischan was recently given the Humanitarian award at IACP Austin 2011 and because he couldn’t be there in person to accept, I drove out to his brilliant restaurant in Westport, CT to interview him. Now, when I say “I drove,” what I really mean is Doug Duda, VP of IACP, picked me up and took me along for the ride.


I will admit to knowing little of Michel’s work before I was contacted to do this piece. Cursory research online bounced me to the website of his foundation, Wholesome Wave, and I liked what I saw. Michel started this program to get fresh, local produce in the hands of those needing it most. Among the many wonderful programs started by Wholesome Wave is the Double Value Coupon Program. To entice those living on SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) to shop at farmer’s markets this program doubles the value of every dollar spent from SNAP on local produce.


It was an honor and a pleasure to spend the afternoon talking with Michel, he is a most gracious man. Check out the interview above and if you find yourself in Westport, CT, make sure to stop by for a meal at The Dressing Room.

Video, Recipe

The Winner!

It is one thing to consider yourself a judgemental person, it is a completely different game to be considered  a judge by others. With great honor I took the role of judge in Rudi’s Gluten Free Recipe Contest a few months ago, and I must say it was more challenging that I imagined. Rudi’s sponsored a contest to create recipes using their products and the top three contestants were flown to Boulder, CO for an Iron Chef-style battle. Each contestant had a very personal connection to Celiac Disease, whether it was their own diagnosis or the careful preparation of food for a loved one, and these stories pulled on familiar heart-strings. This disease is still not readily diagnosed and I’m shocked that most doctors don’t think of Celiac out the outset of any treatment plan. Needless to say, the work the NFCA does to raise awareness is critical.

The cook-off was held at Restaurant 4580 in Boulder and Martin Hammer, the owner, was also a judge. Martin spoke at length about training his staff to not only smile and nod at requests for gluten free meals from patrons, but to actually engage customers. His approach is one I’d like to see all restaurants take: active, positive and scrumptious.

The winner of the competition, Annalyn Varalla Wills, is my special guest on this episode of Alternative Appetites. Annalyn spent the morning cooking with me and sharing her stories. I love a guest who’s ready to laugh with me on camera and Annalyn was just ripe for the occasion. Her winning recipe is easily adaptable to any season, something that earns high marks in my book. Make a tray now and throw it in the freezer, the next time you have guests over you’ll be thrilled to have a tantalizing dessert already prepared and ready to rock.


Video, Summer

IACP 2011

IACP 2011.

I was in Austin, TX for a week at the beginning of June with a collision of foodniks. The International Association of Culinary Professionals. We talked, we ate, we drank, there were some fantastic panels and there were reasons to play hooky. IACP is at an interesting crossroads (so say I). The organization has been around for over 30 years and acts to connect food professionals from all corners of this industry-photographers, chefs, food stylists, producers, bloggers, authors, eaters, etc. But in an ever more youthful food industry it seems that IACP struggles to bring in the under 35 demographic. Indeed, I was one of a handful of attendees under the age of 30. This was my second year as an IACP member. I joined because it put me in direct contact with people who knew more than me, plain and simple. I started this website in my imagination (honestly, I told people it existed but “was down for service” for a good 6 months before I even launched). It was an idea bubbling in my head and when the bubbles started to burst I found myself with questions questions questions. I needed to meet people (face-to-face, not pixel-to pixel) who had done this before, who had started a website on a whim and turned it into something more. For me, IACP is the place to get face time with peers you’ve known online for ages. It’s a deep resource and I’m happy to have it at my fingertips.

So why is it so hard to get us young folks in the door?

Face time is a hard sell. And with a $600-800 ticket price (not including travel expenses), we have to prove a return of equal or greater value. For people starting out in the food world, be they young chefs or baby bloggers, this is a major expense. Hell, for people not starting out in the food industry this is a major expense. And when I’m about to drop serious cash I look long and hard at the product before I write that check. At the relatively minor cost of $100 I decided not to attend the regional conference in NYC this year. What kept me away? A quick demographic breakdown of the speakers instantly deterred me. I believe that we are drawn to speakers for one of two reasons: 1) They are like us 2)We want to be like them. The average panelist at the regional conference was certainly not like me, late 40′s to early 50′s, but the real struggle I felt was that I didn’t see panelists I wanted to be. Sure there were fascinating speakers, and there were even some people talking about what’s happening in the digital world. But those people were not my people. These were not speakers I’d have picked to talk about food in the digital age. Let’s get the folks behind Foodzie on a panel. I want to hear from the team. I want to meet the people my age who are game changers in the online food world. And more than that, I want action. As someone under the age of 30 (and I know many over-30 year olds who’d agree) I don’t want to sit in a room while someone talks at me for 2 hours. Even if it’s a topic I’m enthused about, I lose interest when my participation isn’t necessary.

If we want to change the demographic of our attendees at the national conference we need to change the demographic of our speakers.

If we want to prove value to a younger generation we need to build active programming.

One place IACP really does it right? The Kids in the Kitchen committee hosts an event each year that is both active and youthful. This year we went to the excellent UT Elementary school and gardened with the kids. We then drove to Whole Foods and showed these funky eaters how to cook what they grew. I left with dirty hands, as sure a sign of value as anything. The best face time at IACP is there, working with culinary peers to educate a new generation. Second best face time? Eating and drinking with new-found friends and old-school cronies while you ditch a few panels and make connections that will last a lifetime. We have to find a way to showcase this value, this nebulous, unplanned, off-campus “networking” that changes your career.

I want IACP to grow, to change, to be the best it can be. It has played a major role in my professional development and I want it to do the same for my peers. I made a video highlighting the Kids in the Kitchen event this year, it encapsulates the energy, passion and integrity that I see in IACP members.

There is great value in knowing people who know more than you. Thank you IACP for another great conference.


Dr. Lucy in the house…

Darlings-every now and again I have the pleasure of cooking with a guest in my kitchen. Recently, Lucy Gibney (of Lucy’s Cookies) stopped by to make me dinner. She is a smashing human being. Before Lucy jumped into the baking business she was an ER doctor. I’d tell you more about her career jump but I don’t want to spoil the episode. Lucy showed me how to make her tender chocolate cake and some pan fried chicken. I figured the least I could do was provide some veggies so I turned out a quick salad dressing. Get with it friendos, here’s what Lucy has to say:

This is one of my two favorite gluten free, vegan cakes. As you know, it is hard to make a cake without wheat flour, dairy butter and eggs. The trick to making this cake is carrots! Yes, carrots! Don’t tell the kids.

In gluten free, vegan baking my first real cake success was with a carrot cake. I realized that the carrots actually add structure, they don’t just make it a carrot cake. So, I decided to develop a chocolate cake recipe including carrots. I also thank the cocoa for adding structure in this recipe. It really helps too. The results are pretty amazing. Enjoy!


Tales from the Graveyard

My oven is just like yours. I promise. It’s dark, hot and has some burnt bits on the bottom (ovens come like that, right?) It isn’t a golden cabinet billowing forth light and blessed pastries. In fact, the light is so dim that I have a hard time checking on cakes without opening the door (something I am loathe to do lest I let loose the built up heat). The cakes, cookies, breads and brownies that parade across the screens of Renegade Kitchen are not the first, third or even the fifth batch to come out of the oven. No, the goodies you see are closer to round 15 and sometimes, upwards of 25. I don’t have a golden touch, just frighteningly high standards and a level of persistence on par with telemarketers.

While it may seem like it takes a great deal of patience to wade through round after round of testing, it is, in fact, my bubbling impatience that keeps me going to the end. I know when something isn’t right in a recipe. And I want to fix it. Now. It’s easy to see what’s wrong when it comes out of the oven, but frequently (nod along with me bakers) I know before it even goes into the heat that something is amiss. Baking E.S.P. It is the beautiful fatalism of baking. Even when I can sense that there’s a gremlin in the dough, if I’ve spent time working a batter I will slide it into my preheated oven (if only to confirm my foresight). Of course, as soon as it’s out I’ll break the dough apart for analysis and start writing the next iteration. Which can lead to two, three and four rounds in one day. For me, this is the only way to move forward! If I were more patient perhaps I’d wait a day in between rounds, but I must credit my impatience for helping me to quickly assess a challenge and move forward with a new plan. How do you go about testing recipes?

Certain foods have proved more vexing than others. Biscotti? Don’t even blink. I polished off that recipe in a mere three rounds, practically unheard of in my kitchen. Chocolate chip cookies, on the other hand, were my crucible. What was it, 43 rounds? Every batch provided new insight, but also new mutations, new problems. One batch was spongy. Horrid. Another, crisp and light but brittle as Nicole Ritchie’s over-processed hair. I could barely lift one from the tray before it shattered into a thousand unsplendid pieces. Of course, conquering the chocolate chip cookie gave my ego a boost on par with Simon Cowell’s frigid praise.

I’ve told you about cupcakes. Though they went through fewer rounds than the chocolate chip cookies, the hand held cakes were, perhaps, twice as fickle. I’d solve a problem only to find that the pendulum had swung too far in another direction, producing bastard cakes which leached out their oil or had the texture of low grade foam rubber. And now, it seems, I have a new adversary.

The pretzel.

Let me first inform you that my obsession with the pretzel borders on insanity. There is hardly a meal I can imagine that would not be improved with a handful of small, crisp pretzels strewn across the plate. Butternut squash soup? Pretzels offer the perfect balancing crunch. Salad for dinner? You’ll need some croutons-here, take a handful of pretzels. Late night trash-snack of hot dogs and baked beans? Obviously you should top the bowl with some tiny pretzels. Yes, I know it is unhealthy, I’m aware it is unsavory, but here I am baring all before you.

And while I love little bite-sized pretzels out of a bag, one thing I’m missing in my life is a giant, salty, soft pretzel. Philadelphia or New York style, I’ll take either as long as it’s gluten free. I know I’ll get there at some point, but for now I leave you with these final pictures. The very first round. Full of problems.

You may snicker. I am fully aware that this looks like a giant scatological joke.

It is not. It is truly a first round of experimentation.

Impatience onward!

Video, Summer

IACP White House Event

Did this really happen?

Just over a week ago I found an email in my inbox from the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) asking if I would be interested in attending an event at the White House. Michelle Obama wanted to launch the next phase of her Let’s Move campaign to end childhood obesity with a lawn packed full of chefs. I couldn’t (and still can’t) think of anything that would stop me from going, so I sent in the requested security information and hoped for the best. Would there be a selection process? Was I eligible? Could I bring my camera with me?

I bought a ticket on the excellent Bolt Bus (plugs at every seat and wifi on the bus, it’s like Virgin Airlines hijacked Greyhound) and tried to pack wisely. I knew we’d be required to wear our chef’s coats on the White House lawn, so that took care of the tricky part (I dread to think what I would have dared to wear without a requirement). And then I received another email, this one from our White House contact. We would be allowed to bring in phones, cameras, video cameras…technology! I was surprised at the time, but I shouldn’t have been: more press=more press

The morning of the event we were invited to a sponsored breakfast from Share Our Strength. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke about the challenges we face when it comes to overhauling the school lunch program, but more importantly, he focused on the danger of doing nothing. He said, “What keeps me up every single night is that we have a dropout rate in this country that is staggering. We have 1.2 million students leaving our schools for the streets each year. We have to do everything we can to reduce that dropout rate and increase the graduation rate. But we can’t do it if we don’t start to address their health. We can’t do it if we don’t improve the quality of the food they’re eating.” I couldn’t agree more. Food is powerful.

I love hearing politicians discuss the connection between academic achievement and our current food culture. The processed foods that have taken over school lunches (not to mention the general American diet) don’t set students up for success. I’d love to see more relationships between local farms and schools. Is there a financially feasible way we can get fresh and local produce into cafeterias? I know a number of schools have started gardening programs, not only as a way to bring in unprocessed foods, but also as a learning tool for the students. Science classes can teach plant-life biology in the garden; English classes can discuss the various ecological influences in some of our most famous works of literature (When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils). This weekend in D.C. showed me how badly our food system needs overhauling, but also how much our education system stands to gain from that change.

And then we walked to the White House, where we mingled in the garden until Michelle Obama’s speech. It was hot, I was wearing a black chef’s coat (poor choice of color), and I could not have been more excited. I didn’t know what to expect (my favorite state of being). Among the guests were a number of chefs from The Food Network (Anne Burrell, Aaron McCargo Jr.) and a few past Top Chefs (Carla Hall, Ron Duprat). Everyone in the crowd (celebs and civvies alike) was simply charming on camera and I thank you all for lending me your time and voices.

As the crowd started to move from the garden, I realized it was time for the speech. We made our way to the South Lawn and sat down in sweaty anticipation. Sam Kass (assistant executive chef at the White House) opened for the First Lady and then it was showtime. Michelle Obama spoke to us about the Let’s Move campaign and our collective opportunity to change the future. I could paraphrase her, but I’d rather quote:

“We are going to need your time and talent to solve the childhood obesity epidemic and I am calling on our nation’s chefs to get involved by adopting a school and working with teachers, parents, school nutritionists and administrators to help educate kids about food and nutrition. You have tremendous power as leaders on this issue because of your deep knowledge of food and nutrition and your ability to deliver these messages in a fun and delicious way and I want to thank you for joining the Chefs Move to Schools campaign.”

Thank you, First Lady Obama, for letting me be a part of this. I’m thrilled.

Of course, I also made a video:

Dinner, Fall, Holiday, Video, Summer

Dinnergeddon 7

Dinnergeddon, I shall miss you. This was the seventh incarnation and by far our largest gathering. As usual the menu was Paleo friendly: tamarind-citrus chicken, poblano plantains and cilantro-jicama slaw. With the new TechStars teams in attendance we reached full capacity and spilled out onto the patio. Thankfully Boulder held back her Springtime tears and rained down only perfect sunshine and clear skies.

This will be my last dinnergeddon for a while; I’m moving back to New York in a few days. I want to send hearty thanks to Andrew Hyde for letting me cook and bringing me into his fold. Dinnergeddon will always be one of my favorite memories of this past year in Boulder. I am lucky to have met so many people through these parties, and I’ll miss the laughs.

Cheers to all!

Dessert, Dinner, Fall, Holiday

Dinnergeddon, Western Style

First thing Andrew Hyde said to me last night?

“Hold on, I’m shaving a dirty ‘stache.”
And thus began Dinnergeddon 4.

This time the dinner party had a theme, inspired by the anonymous delivery of a life sized John Wayne cutout to Casa Hyde. Andrew requested a Western motif, which was music to my ears. This boy loves a good theme party.

So. Let’s get down to it.

The menu:
Braised Chipotle Chili
Vegetarian Chipotle Bean Chili
Salt and Pepper Cornbread
Raspberry Peach Cobbler

As usual, everything was gluten free and dairy free. Because this is how rockstars eat.

This may have been my favorite Dinnergeddon menu to date. Smokey, meaty, sweet and salty-this food filled all my cravings. By Andrew’s calculations we served 30-35 people, a new record for Dinnergeddon!

Thanks to all who came, conquered and dressed in their western best.

I cannot wait for the next one.

Enjoy some pics of the food being cooked. And some pictures of some special guests. Extra special.


Fall, Dinner, Holiday

Matzoh Diaries #2

You’ve read the prequel,
now onto the main event.

Matzoh Making!

After I cleared the flour hurdles, I had one more rule to consider:
Matzoh must be made in under 18 minutes. According to the Talmud, the leavening process begins after water and flour have been in contact for 18 minutes, and leavened bread is exactly what we’re trying to avoid on Passover.

I knew that my mix would have to include some oat flour, much to my chagrin. In order to fulfill the commandment in the Torah, matzoh must be made from one of these five grains: wheat, spelt, rye, barley or oat. Knowing oat flour’s penchant for dusty textures and its preference for the crumbly over the crisp, I decided to use it for only half of my flour blend. I had hoped this would mitigate its more unfortunate character flaws.

I was wrong. The first batch was 50% oat flour and 50% quinoa flour-it had an irritatingly sour taste. I obviously poured scorn onto the oat flour, blaming it for the poor taste and thoroughly un-crisp texture, but I was mistaken. Well, partially mistaken. There were, in fact, two villains in this culinary caper. As a firm believer in tasting all ingredients, I pinched some quinoa flour into my mouth and discovered the source of the unfortunate bitterness.

I apologized to the oat flour for my quick condemnation and scurried the quinoa flour away for another day (perhaps it would lend a good flavor to my sourdough…).

After round one, the flour blends became distinctly more complex. I found that there were several features of matzoh I was trying to mimic, and each time I conquered one, I lost another to the abyss. I wanted my matzoh to be easily rolled out, crisp, and relatively neutral in taste. I also knew that what I’d be producing would have much more in common with shmura matzo than with its angular, commercially produced brother we see on most grocery store shelves. It would, of course, not be white.

The amount of oat flour in my blend began to drop as I realized its only redeeming quality was a name drop in the bible. Buckwheat stepped in when I wanted to use sorghum, providing some backbone and crunch to the cracker. Then, as I rounded the bend of blend #5, things got sticky. Literally. The dough was incredibly difficult to roll out, partially due to excess water, but mostly the fault of tapioca flour. I was getting nostalgic (a potential kitchen chemistry killer) and tried to lighten the color of the matzoh by adding in more tapioca flour.

And it was a mistake.

I liked the taste of the un-rollable cracker #5, but knew it was terribly impractical to release a recipe that was more mess than success. On a whim I began using potato flour, a staple in the “kosher for Passover” kitchen. What a joy it was to roll batch #6! It was springy and didn’t stick to the table or the rolling pin. I could roll it so very thinly without much trouble and then slide it into the oven without it splitting and tearing. A true joy.

And then it came out of the oven. Ugh.

I had certainly solved the rolling issue, but in the course of tackling that beast, I lost control of the flavor wagon. This new batch tasted distinctly of potato flour, not terribly unpleasant in and of itself, but far to un-neutral. It would simply stand out too much, everyone invited to dinner would wonder about its ingredients. To get the flavor under control without losing the supreme rollability of batch #6 I began incrementally cutting back the potato flour.

And then another thought struck me (bluntly as they usually do)-what about using an additional potato product to improve the texture? My love affair with tapioca dashed to pieces, I felt no hesitation adding another starch into the blend (tapioca is a jealous lover, very absorbent in baking). I tossed some potato starch into my mix and rolled out batch #8. When it came out of the oven I knew I was on the right track. One more batch to finalize the proportions and I was finished!

Now, as you look through the recipe you will notice there are five different flours in this final blend. Do not distress! If you don’t already have them on hand, these are all ingredients you will use for other gluten free baking adventures. And trust me-I would not have needlessly made a complicated blend. If I could make matzoh that was easy to roll out, crisp and distinctly flavor neutral with only two flours I would have. But I am chasing perfection (more dangerous than Chasing Amy), and that has led me to this point.

As for the baking, do it on a pizza stone and you are guaranteed the scorched flavor of traditionalshmura matzoh. Spending only 4-5 minutes in the oven, the baking is the easiest part of this journey.

Stick around for the next installation of The Matzoh Diaries: Matzoh Balls!

No joke. 
I really make them.
And so will you.

Fall, Holiday

Matzoh Diaries #1

 will not be satisfied until I master gluten free matzoh.

I’ve had a list of hurdles in the back of my recipe box for years, and with Prince on the radio and a clean apron around my waist I’ve been able to fly past a number of those gates. Biscotti, an easy win. Almond Genoise Cake? Significantly more challenging. As I shaved down the list, one contender remained brooding and defiant in the corner.

Gluten Free Matzoh.

This journey began four months ago. I knew I’d need some help in the biblical department so I called upon my favorite rabbi (don’t we all have one?), Rabbi Deborah Bronstein. While we discussed the challenge she dropped this rabbinical gem: “The gluten free matzoh on the market that is kosher for Passover is oat-I’ve tasted it and if anything is the “bread of affliction” described in the bible, this is it.”

Growing up with the commercially available gluten free oat matzoh, I knew exactly what Rabbi Bronstein meant when she referred to it as the “bread of affliction.” Chalky barely hints at the dessicated texture, but the real offense comes at the checkout line. Gluten free oat moatzoh regularly prices in at $20-25 per box. Passover is all about retelling the story of suffering in exodus, but this seems to take the idea a little too far.

Since I was bouncing between New York and Boulder, Rabbi Bronstein and I conversed through email to hammer out all the rules. Here’s what I knew: All bean and rice flours would be off limits. Sephardic Jews (mostly of Mediterranean ancestry) eat legumes and rice during Pesach, but Ashkenazi Jews (mostly of Easter European descent) do not. I wanted this recipe to work for as many people as possible, so I planed to make something Ashkenazi Kosher.

I ran my list of potential flours by Rabbi Bronstein and she gave most of the alternatives a thumbs-up. The few flours that made the no-no list, however, were devastating. Sorghum and Millet were off limits. I needed some explanation, so Rabbi Bronstein brought in a heavy hitter-Reb. Zalman (even rabbis have favorite rabbis). Here’s what Reb. Zalman had to say about Sorghum: “Sorghum remains in doubt to me since it is a grass, thus related to wheat. Yet what is rice if not a grass? So the question remains, is oneyotze with rice? I think not with Sorghum Matzoh.”

I wanted some clarification on the meaning of yotze from Rabbi Bronstein, so she helped me out with this: “Reb. Zalman asks: Can one be yotze, that is, has one fulfilled the mitzvah of eating matzoh at the seder by eating matzoh made of something unclear which may be related to rice? Reb. Zalman rules no.”

With Sorghum out of bounds I knew I’d be up against a wall when it came to texture. Still, Buckwheat, Tapioca, Arrowroot, Potato Starch, Potato Flour and Quinoa were all safe, so I had plenty of room to play. I thought I was ready to strap on an apron and get in the kitchen when I received one more cryptic rule from Reb. Zalman: “For matzoh to be yotze you will need a grain in the mix…”

I did some research and learned that fulfilling the biblical commandment of eating matzoh during Passover meant that the cracker had to be made from one of five grains: Wheat, Barley, Spelt, Rye or Oat. On that list only one flour is gluten free, and it happens to be my least favorite baking alternative. Oat.

The very thought of oat matzoh conjures a dry mouth and a heavy stomach. But the matzoh didn’t have to be all oat flour, it just needed some in the mix to fulfill the commandment.

I like challenges.
Game. On.

Fall, Dinner, Holiday

Dinnergeddon 3

Raindrops on Roses and Mittons on Kittens,
Sparkles and Ice Skates and Pants I can fit in,
Carnivores, Dinosaurs, show-tunes to sing,
These are a few of my favourite things


Last night was another wonderful rendition of Senor Hyde’s magical mystery evening. In preparation for the party I asked Andrew if he had any requests for food. His response?

“Would love to do something with bacon.
Yep. Went there.”

Of course, in addition to this request, the dinner would have to stick to the Paleo Diet for our CrossFit members. Here are the rules:
-The first rule of CrossFit is: You do not talk about CrossFit. Except when other CrossFitters are around. Then talk about it a lot. Seriously.
-Meat, Veggies and Fruit are in.
-Sweeteners, Dairy and any foods that cannot be consumed raw are out.

The real goal for the evening? Make a meal for all the guests (of the paleo persuasion and otherwise) that wouldn’t feel like “special-diet food.” No one likes that. Especially not Kirstie Alley, to whom I dedicate all meals.

In my mind.
(side note, I know we talked about getting Johnny Weir as our guest of honor next time, can we maybe find a seat for Madame Alley as well?)

So, the menu:
Chicken Legs braised in White Wine, Pancetta and Leeks
Mashed Delicata Squash with Sage Oil
Parsley and Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

The braising of the legs left me with mucho extra chicken skin. I normally take it off the legs if I’ll be braising, otherwise it turns into a rubber flap in the stew. Gross. Do not, however, mistake me for the type of person to remove skin from chicken and other meaty things for the sake of calories. I would not discard this extra skin, but rather, give it the royal treatment it deserves.

Warning-this gets slightly Hannibal Lecterish:
I stripped the legs of their skin, sliced each piece so it could lay flat and then stretched all the skin over a rack. I put the rack inside a roasting tray, sprinkled everything with salt and pepper and then placed another rack on top-chicken skins have a mind of their own and I wanted neither curls nor shrivels, I wanted thin, delicate, flat crisps. Throw that in the oven at 500 degrees for 10 minutes (or until golden) and you’ll never regret it.
The skins would be the garnish, a salty/crispy bite atop each bowl.

The meal was lovely, the company-divine and the evening a success. Thanks to all who came!


Cupdate Cakes

I’ve been working on Cupcakes since March 8th, 2007.

Yes. These took a while. 
See, March 8th marks the birthday of the woman who introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Obviously an important person, a geek in arms. 

We will call this woman “Britt.”
Because that is her name.

Here is a list of things Britt loves:
Harley Quinn
Of Montreal
The Real World
South Park

Britt is a cartoonist, and the wonderful instructional guide to the right is courtesy of her. Britt and I lived together for a year when I moved to New York, and there is no singular person from whom I have learned so much about cooking. I’m sure you had no idea that asparagus boiled in Budweiser was palatable.

It is not.
Of course, Britt and I still argue this point.

Anyways, Britt’s birthday was fast approaching and I wanted to make something extra delicious for my cartoon comrade. Mere cupcakes would not suffice, so I looked for inspiration and ripped a page from Madame De Laurentiis’ book and baked up a round of almond cupcakes. Knowing that Britt would rip the top off the cupcake and invert it, I decapitated each cake and plastered the top back on with a dollop of raspberry whipped cream. The cakes were then stacked on a platter in a giant pyramid and dusted with powdered sugar. A birthday celebration fit for a queen. Queen Britt.

And so, since March 8th, 2007, when I made a tray of lovely princess-y cupcakes for Britt’s b-day, I’ve been thinking of making a gluten free and dairy free version for myself.

Because I was jealous.

I wanted to make gluten free cupcakes as light and delicious as the platter I prepared for Britt, and the experimentation has led me down some horrible paths. Consider, for instance, the batch that began to leech out its oil. Once out of the oven, their tops rejected the oil I had mistakenly thought to be baked into the batter, which left me with vile little grease cakes. Of course, in correcting this mistake I accidentally swung the pendulum too far in the other direction. This time? It seems I had invented foam rubber. Now these cakes had some interest factor. I held one in the palm of my hand, closed my hand (crushing the cake completely) and when I opened my fist, the cake re-inflated, like some perverse stress ball.

I’m sure school children would have loved them-take a bite, stuff it in your pocket, pull it out an hour later and it’ll show no signs of distress.


Why am I even telling you about the mistakes?
Because here at Renegade Kitchen I make the mistakes so you can make the food.

The final cupcakes are awesome.

Get ready for the Pretty in Pink Valentine’s Day post.
You might gag it’ll be so cute.

Please don’t.


Powdered Palm Sugar

Dig it.

We don’t want to leave anyone hanging.
For all the recipes that call for powdered palm sugar, we’re putting the recipe right here.

Eat it.


Make it now.

Get Busy

  1. Put the sugar and arrowroot in your blender and buzz until the mixture is fine and powdery, about 45-60 seconds. Be careful to avoid over-buzzing, this can lead to burnt smelling sugar.

Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 cup

Video, Dessert

Seth Ellis Chocolatier

Everyone living with nut allergies out there-
This is for you.

Seth Ellis Chocolatier is a bonafied Wonka wonderland in our very own mountain town. We first found their chocolates at the Boulder Farmer’s Market, and then proceeded to see them all over town. Whole Foods, CU, OZO Coffee, Brewing Market, Glacier Ice Cream- Everyone wants to carry this chocolate.

Let me give you a rundown on why they’re so hot-
Dedicated Nut Free and Gluten Free facilities. You’ve all seen the back of normal candy bars: “Warning-May have been processed in a facility that handles nuts.” We like our chocolate warning free thank you very much. Seth Ellis Chocolatier produces fine artisanal chocolates for those of us living with food allergies. Rock on.
Organic Ingredients. Feel good about eating these chocolates. Rick and the team at Seth Ellis Chocolatier have meticulously sorted through hundreds of varieties of organic chocolate to bring you the finest, cleanest, and best tasting chocolate.
Great People. Seth Ellis Chocolatier is great people, plain and simple. Rick started making chocolate with his kids, and that turned into a full blown chocolate shop. Want a specially labeled chocolate bar for your restaurant? Get in touch with these guys, they already specially wrap bars for CU and OZO coffee.

Here’s what you need to know:

Buy online:
It’s Only Natural Gifts

What are you waiting for?
Get gone.

Eat it.

RK Interview: Oogave

Friends, it is time we discuss something serious.

(or pop)
Call it what you like, it’s usually full of junk.

Enter Oogave.

This, dear friends, is a soda Renegade Kitchen can get behind.
The fine gentlemen (and one lady) of Oogave invited us for a tour of their bottling plant and when we left, we swore to spread the good word.

The good word:
Oogave is an all natural soda sweetened only with Agave.
i.e.- mega low on the glycemic index
Watching your sugar intake?  This is the soda for you.
The company is one of the few independent bottlers in the nation (Go Colorado!) and they have wonderful homegrown roots in the Denver restaurant scene.

They currently bottle six flavors:
Cola (caffeinated only with green tea)
Watermelon Cream
Ginger Ale
Mandarin-Key Lime
Root Beet (our favorite)

Oogave is soda done right.  Go out and buy some today.
Your body will thank you.

This is where you can find them.

Now watch our interview and go out and spread the word.

Dig it friends

Welcome to the Beta test of

While we’re getting busy, look around, check out some recipes, watch a few videos, let us know what you think.

If you found us, chances are you’ve got some sort of food allergy.
It’s all gonna work out.

Renegade Kitchen is here to provide you with the best alterna-recipes.
Anyone living a gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, anything-you-want free life,
We’re here for you.

Renegade Kitchen
Serious Food for the Allergy Bound

Outrageous Baking

5 4 3 2 1
Get ready.

This is Outrageous Baking.

Welcome to the first Renegade Kitchen Interview. 
Outrageous Baking is your source for the tastiest gluten-free/dairy-free cakes.

What kind of cakes you ask?
Pumpkin, Chocolate Zucchini, Coffeecake, Banana Bread and Lemon Poppyseed.

Here’s the deal friends-
Pamela Fletcher is the brains behind Outrageous Baking. She is rocking out cakes that you can (and should) serve at your next party.  These cakes are the supreme crossover delight-eat them because you are living gluten-free, serve them to your friends and family because they will never know they are eating something alternative.

Check out the video above.

We have a special guest in the kitchen.

The inimitable Grace.
(cook with your kids, smiles make everything taste better)

Live in Colorado?
Outrageous Baking can be found in over 40 coffee shops from Boulder to Eagle and everywhere in between.  Now you don’t have to carry your own GF snack in your backpack every time you grab coffee with your friends.

Coming Soon-Outrageous Baking in your local Whole Foods.

Can’t find Pamela’s cakes at your favorite hangout?
Talk to the owner.
Tell them to watch our interview.
Get in touch with Pamela (
They should be carrying Outrageous Baking.

Don’t live in Colorado?
Craving some GF cake?
Talk to your stores, shops, bakeries and restaurants.
Put them in touch with Pamela.

Let’s get the word out on Outrageous Baking.
Buy the cakes, Share the cakes, Eat the cakes.

Pamela is the ultimate Renegade Baker.
Thank you for inviting us into your kitchen and sharing your story.

Get online:


Rudi’s GF Cook Off

Rudi’s Gluten Free Bakery of Boulder, CO held a recipe contest recently. The authors of the top three recipes were flown to Boulder to compete in an Iron Chef-style cook off. I was tickled pink to be invited as a judge, it was a pleasure to spend the day with these fine contestants. Check out the video recap of the event!


Recipe, Video

Caramelized Onions

We all have a secret weapon. Under ice in the freezer, in the back corner of the fridge, on the shelf in the pantry-a special ingredient you keep on hand at all times. Sriracha, homemade chicken stock, duck fat, preserved lemons, the weapon takes many forms but always serves the same purpose. Whether you’re pressed for time or creating an elaborate meal you pull out your weapon and attack the food. The weapon rarely takes center stage but always elevates the meal from mediocre to crave-inducing.

In that light I give you this:
Caramelized Onions

This is my all-time favorite secret weapon. Caramelizing onions can take some time, so it’s worth the wait to caramelize a metric sh@t-ton at once. I slice 3 or 4 giant yellow onions and throw them in a pot with some salt and a drizzle of olive oil. With the pan over medium-low heat I can bumble around the kitchen or take care of some writing without worrying over the onions burning. Bonus point? It makes the house smell glorious.

Why are caramelized onions my favorite secret weapon? They bring a savory sweetness to stews, blend up into a beautiful paste for dips and are a fantastic crostini spread for last minute guests. They freeze effortlessly and the onions coated in oil defrost without losing their flavor. Check out the video above, it’s a tutorial on caramelizing.

What’s your secret weapon?