From whipping up five-tier gluten-free wedding cakes to perfecting the gluten-free chocolate chip cookie, Tie Lewis, pastry chef and owner of Buttermilk Boutique, believes that when it comes to keeping things gluten-free at Thanksgiving, the best thing a host can do is rely on dishes — from dinner to dessert — that are inherently gluten-free and play to the areas you're most confident in.
"Usually when someone is following a certain diet or has a certain lifestyle that they adhere to, they know how to approach the meal in a way that keeps themselves safe and healthy," says Tie. "That doesn’t mean as the host you can’t still make a few things that they can enjoy — and that you enjoy cooking or baking as well. As a pastry chef and someone with a strong knowledge of gluten-free baking, dessert is where I'm going to put my focus."
The contentious nature of the gluten-free lifestyle has made it both trickier and easier to find safe food. On one hand, there are more options than ever, but the saturation of the topic has created some disbelief that it's an issue for some at all. Rather than negotiate who's entitled to what, Tie's strategy is safety across the board. "Regardless of whether someone has a sensitivity, Celiac disease, or chosen a gluten-free lifestyle, I prepare gluten-free food in a way that safely covers those choices and situations across the board.”
Often gluten-free desserts come with a stigma of being dry, chalky, or generally lesser than their gluten-containing counterparts. "If you're new to gluten-free cookie or baking, look to options that are naturally gluten-free," say Tie. "Meringues, caramels, and fruit chews are a great place to start because no matter what your experience level, you can be creative, seasonally minded, and have fun making them."
If you still have to have that pumpkin pie and it needs to be gluten-free, use premixed gluten-free flour and make some time for experimenting. "Do some research ahead of time to find one you like," Tie says. "And be sure the filling is gluten-free as well."