Friday, March 22, 2013

Gluten-Free and Kosher for Passover (Pesach)!

Readying a Gluten-Free Passover

Courtesy of CARLO WOLFF--CJN Staff Reporter

Chandra Morgan-Henley is going to her mother’s for Seder. Mom will make Morgan-Henley Gluten-Free Matzah balls. “She’s wonderful,” said Morgan-Henley. “She’s the only mother I’ve got.”

So accommodating, too: Mom is broadening her culinary perspective – as well she should, given that her daughter is not only celiac, she’s in the celiac food business.

Part of what makes mom wonderful is that a few years ago, she began to “dip her toe into cooking gluten-free for me,” said Morgan-Henley, who runs Gluten Free Catering, a gluten-free baking company, out of her home in Cleveland near the border of Lakewood, OH.

Morgan-Henley bakes pastries and bread for people like her who cannot eat anything with wheat, barley or rye. Oats, too, are forbidden unless they’re certified Gluten-Free.

Morgan-Henley swore off grains altogether in 2006 after she wound up requiring transfusions of iron, she said. She was already “mostly wheat-free, but that kicked me all the way to gluten-free.

“I started baking because I got tired of feeing deprived, and I started baking for other people because they were tasting stuff I was baking and going, ‘Oh, my G-d, this is wonderful,’” Morgan-Henley said. Over the past several years, she said, there has been “a boom” in the availability of Gluten-Free foods; before, “a lot of the products were pretty awful. There are probably 15 or 20 times as many products available now as there were six, seven years ago.”

That may be because there are many more people who need such products than was assumed even 20 years ago.

According to Cindy Koller Kass, a Solon woman with high praise for Morgan-Henley’s baking, celiac, technically known as celiac sprue, affects approximately one in 100 people. If a celiac ingests a forbidden grain, the villi, projections from the intestines that absorb nutrients, flop, so the nutrients never make it into the person’s system.

“Depending on where in the intestine the villi flatten out, you may have iron deficiency anemia, you may develop osteoporosis; everybody’s different. If you’re female, you might have miscarriages as a result of not absorbing nutrients. Because it affects everybody differently, it’s hard to diagnose if you’re not looking for it,” said Koller Kass, who discovered she was celiac about 20 years ago.

Koller Kass is president of the Greater Cleveland CeliacAssociation, the local chapter of the Celiac Sprue Association of the United States.

There are 50 to 75 active members in the support group, which meets monthly. The chapter has a mailing list of 500 names.

Koller Kass discovered her condition when her mother was about to enter a hospital for gall bladder surgery and coincidentally, Koller Kass wasn’t feeling well herself. Her mother suggested Koller Kass see the mother’s doctor, who diagnosed her as celiac. At the time, the disease was so rare the doctor ordered another round of tests.

When the diagnosis was affirmed, her mother’s doctor warned her that a Gluten-Free diet was “very difficult to follow”; meanwhile, Koller Kass’ brother, who is also a doctor, told her to adopt it immediately. At the time, she said, a Gluten-Free diet was a challenge; no products were so labeled.

“I figured I would go out to dinner one last time because I didn’t think I could go out to a restaurant ever again because there’s flour in everything,” said Koller Kass, who attends Park Synagogue. “My favorite food was Eggplant Parmigianino; I thought I would miss that the most. So I went to an Italian restaurant, and as it turns out, they did not bread their eggplant.”

After that meal, she fasted for Yom Kippur, and then began the gluten-free diet. “Psychologically, I cleansed my body for Yom Kippur and started the diet the next day.”

As for Passover (Pesach), Koller Kass said “a Gluten-Free diet is a Passover diet all year long, minus the Matzah.

“Matzah is the biggest barrier to truly observing Passover,” she added. “For many years I had to make Hillel sandwich with just the bitter herbs and charoses, but recently Yehuda came out with a Gluten-Free Matzah-style cracker, which is actually very good. It looks like regular Matzah, but because it does not have any wheat in it, it is not technically Matzah; but it is Gluten-Free and kosher for Passover.”

Here is Morgan-Henley’s Passover “Matzah” recipe:

You will need about four eggs and about a half-cup of vegetable oil; a pinch of onion powder; salt and pepper to taste, and enough dried potato flakes to make it thick.

Beat the eggs and the oil together until they emulsify, then sprinkle in some potato flakes and seasonings. Keep stirring with the fork and sprinkling in the potato flakes until there’s enough to form little balls.

Let it rest for five to 10 minutes, stir with the fork again; you can do it with bare hands if you want to wash your hands with Dawn detergent afterwards.

Then form it into balls the size of walnuts, drop it into boiling water, boil for 18 minutes with the lid on, and there you have it.

Morgan-Henley has used three kinds of gluten-free Matzah, all available at Unger’s on South Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights, OH.

The first is Shmurah Matzah, made from certified Gluten-Free oats, but expensive; the next is Yehuda Matzo squares, made mainly from tapioca starch; the last is Manischewitz, new to Unger’s this year; she wasn’t sure how the Manischewitz would work – it’s “sturdier” than the Yehuda, she said – but she will be back for more.

This year, she’ll bring her mother something new: gluten-free cake meal. “They make the Matzah and then they grind it up to be made it into a cake. I bought a package for my mother so she can make her sponge cake Gluten-Free.

“When I bake, you can’t tell it’s Gluten-Free unless you see me eating it,” Morgan-Henley said, laughing.