Wedding Menus for Those with Food Allergies

When this email landed in my inbox I knew it was a must feature. Having recently went gluten free with my daughter, I'm always interested in finding great recipes that fit the new daily menu we now have. 

For many brides, planning a wedding menu can be difficult just in itself. Especially when you have extended family with food allergies. And, when you throw in a challenging gluten-free diet, it can be even more difficult. But, according to Mike Lathbury, Owner and Chef of High Pointe Catering in Lake Tahoe, CA, a "gluten-free cuisine can be just as tempting and delicious as standard party fare and guests will be none the wiser". Lathbury says "gluten-free menus can be creative and sexy and still be as tasty and eye-appealing as any regular party menu. We offer 100 percent gluten-free menus that allow the gluten-free host to be worry-free and really enjoy the party,".

Lathbury suggests hiring a caterer who is well-versed in the idiosyncrasies of gluten-free cooking. Lathbury says, "Many professional chefs are aware of gluten in bread, but they don't realize that is also found in many common ingredients used during cooking, including sauces with flour, glazes, MSG, modified food starch and textured vegetable protein".

Gluten-free hosts need to be mindful of cross-contamination if they are offering a few items with gluten. To cross that worry off the list, Lathbury suggests a 100 percent gluten-free menu. Do you think gluten-free food can't provide the celebratory vibe that good party food evokes? Think again, says Lathbury, whose specialties range from Dungeness Crab Cakes to Roasted Garlic Brie on Flat Bread with Blueberry and Apricot Puree. Oooooh, both sound delicious!

"Great parties feature great food, and everyone – the host and the guests – should be able to join in the fun" Lathbury says.

A favorite of High Point's customers is the gluten-free recipe, Dungeness Crab Cakes with Mango Relish, which Mike has been so kind to share with my readers today . . .

Dungeness crab Cakes with Mango Relish - Gluten-free
By Mike Lathbury, owner and chef of High Pointe Catering

If you are starting with live crabs follow the recipe from the beginning. However you may start with precooked crabs that you would find in most super markets. Or you could substitute pretty much any crabmeat available. Having grown up on the East coast, Blue crabs were the only crab I ever knew of. Simply substitute approximately 3lbs shelled meat.

For the Crab cakes
2 whole Dungeness crabs 1 ½-2 lbs each
2 cup chop scallions
½ cup chop parsley
1 ½ tbl Old Bay
1 cp ground flax flakes
1 cup Best Foods mayo
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
3 eggs
Potato flour for dredging
Virgin Olive Oil

To cook the crabs, bring enough salted water to a vigorous boil to in a pot big enough cover the crabs completely. Toss in the crabs for about 2 minutes. Remove from the pot and cool under cold running water until cool enough to handle. Place the crabs top side up and stick your thumb under the edge of the top shell, then pull forward and lift the shell up and off. Scrap out the gills and discard. Turn the crabs over and on the under belly you will find the “apron.” This is a triangular flap, which can be lifted off and discarded. The soft yellow matter inside is the fat or also known as the crab butter. For our recipe it can be discarded or saved for a different use later if you wish. Rinse the crabs thoroughly of all of the spongy material found inside. Next is to remove all of the meat from the body and legs. You can use a large knife to split the legs and body to more easily remove the meat inside and set aside.

For the ground flax, I use flax cereal flakes. There are several brands and flavors available. The best for me have the least amount of additional flavors, which might contrast the flavor of the crab. Using a food processor, grind the flakes into the consistency of course breadcrumbs.

I use Best Foods or Hellman's Mayonnaise for 2 reasons. It has excellent flavor and is always gluten free. Some mayos are not, so read the labels to be sure. Old Bay seasoning can be found in most grocery stores.

In a large mixing bowl gently combine with your fingers the crabmeat, scallions, parsley, lemon juice, and Old Bay being careful to not break up the crab lumps. Add the mayo, eggs, and flax and gently fold with a rubber spatula until it is just mixed and clings together. The consistency should allow you to form small balls that hold together and won’t fall apart.

The size of the crab cakes is up to you. For appetizers about 2-3oz’s will suffice. 5oz for an entrée sized portion. Form the mixture into balls then gently press down into cakes that are about ¼ to ½ “thick.

Heat a skillet with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan, about 1/8th of an inch deep. The pan should be just hot enough to sizzle when the crab cakes are placed inside. Gently dredge the crab cakes in the potato flour and coat lightly not allowing the flour to cake up then place the crab cakes in the hot skillet. Use a spatula to loosen from the bottom so they don’t stick. When golden brown, flip to the other side and continue until golden. Remove and set on a platter ready to serve. Spoon the Mango Relish (recipe follows) over the top and enjoy.

Mango Salsa
1 cup mango, fine dice
2 oz red bell pepper- fine dice
2 oz red onion- fine dice
1 tbl cilantro, chopped
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbl sugar
2 limes juiced
1 tsp Sambal (a chili-based sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste

The salsa can be prepared ahead of time. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.