Summer Foraging Recipe: Elderberry-Blueberry Jam with Chia Seeds

In the woodland valleys of Central California, Elderflower trees have been in bloom all spring with their prolific, lacy white blossoms.  I've enjoyed making Elderflower syrup, candied elderflowers and sweet Elderflower Tempura.  A few days ago, I noticed that some of the trees are starting to bear fruit -- diminutive, tart little berries, deep purplish-blue growing in heavy clusters.  

Inspired by a love of biscuits and jam, foraging, and adapted from a recipe from Simply Beyond Herbs, I whipped up a simple and delicious jam made from the foraged Elderberries, fresh blueberries and using chia seeds for a perfect jammy consistency.

Enjoy and Happy Foraging!
PrintWith ImageWithout Image Elderberry-Blueberry Chia JamYield: One half-pint jarAuthor: Jenn Erickson Prep time: 10 MCook time: 10 MTotal time: 20 M An easy and delicious sweet-tart jam to make from foraged Elderberries. Ingredients:1 1/2 cups elderberries, rinsedPinch of salt1 cup blueberries, rinsed2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds1/2 Tabl…

So-Good-You-Won't-Miss-the-Gluten Baked Macaroni & Cheese #glutenfree

It's been hard, to say the least, for my daughter to make the change to a gluten-free diet.  She most lamented having to give up her favorite dinner -- Baked Macaroni & Cheese. After trying half a dozen brands of GF pasta, and lots of trial and error, I'm thrilled to say that the recipe has been perfected!  The key to the success of this recipe lies in quality substitutions.  The best GF pasta that I've found comes from Italy (figures!).  Corn starch is the perfect replacement for flour in the classic roux that forms the base of the cheese sauce.  A combination of sharp cheddar and grated Parmesan add flavor and richness. I love a crunchy crumb topping on my mac & cheese, but bread crumbs, panko, and cracker crumbs were out.  I found my solution in gluten-free rice cereal.  It provided the perfect cracker-like crunch, without giving an off-flavor.

The entire casserole was devoured with gusto by my family, and it was agreed that this recipe yields a rich, creamy and perfectly toothsome dish that rivals any of the best gluten-filled macaroni and cheeses we've enjoyed.  I hope it brings you much comfort-food bliss as well.

So-Good-You-Won't-Miss-the-Gluten Baked Macaroni & Cheese

(serves 4-6)

  • 12 oz. Italian Gluten-free pasta*
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups lowfat milk
  • 12 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded (1 ounce reserved for topping)
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the stuff in the green can), grated, (1 ounce reserved for topping)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. crushed GF rice cereal
Butter a 2qt. casserole dish and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Step 1:  Cook pasta according to manufacturer's instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Step 2:  While the pasta is cooking, melt butter over medium heat in a large nonstick saute pan.  Whisk in cornstarch and cook till bubbly and slightly browned (the cornstarch will not brown as intensely as flour).

Step 3:  Whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly until thickened.  Turn off heat, then whisk in the salt, 10 ounces of the cheddar and 1 ounce of the Parmesan.  Whisk sauce until smooth.

Step 4:  Stir in the cooked noodles.  Pour into the buttered casserole dish.  

We couldn't resist enjoying a few spoonfuls right out of the pan.  It's great this way too!
Step 5:  Sprinkle with crushed rice cereal.  Top with remaining cheeses.

Step 6:  Bake on center rack of oven for 20 minutes (until bubbly).  Then, broil for an additional few minutes until golden.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.  


*My favorite gluten-free pasta, after a multitude of tastings, is the Organic Gluten Free Penne Rigate from Bionaturae.  The Archer Farms GF past from Target is excellent too.

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