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Fork foods that accommodate restricted diets

I'm hosting a board game party, and I want to make a few fork foods for people to eat. No knives and cutting, but also not finger foods, because people need to be holding cards and moving pieces and some people get right cranky if you get BBQ sauce on their D20s, you know?

I'd also like all of the dishes to be free of pork (sigh, there goes half my repertoire), and for at least some of them to be gluten-free and vegan, though I am very explicitly not planning to do a full-on gluten-free and vegan menu. Ideas that include meat and cheese and flour are welcome, but ideas without them are also needed.

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  1. The first thing that came to mind was macaroni and cheese... obviously wouldn't work for the gluten-free and vegan folks, but it's probably the easiest least messy thing to eat with a fork only. You could do them in individual ramekins to make it even easier to handle.

    I also think anything on a small stick/skewer would be good for what you want. Caprese for the veg/gluten free folks, and something with meat for the nons.

    1. Risotto, which would also satisfy the gluten-free. Might be easier to eat with a soup spoon than fork.

      4 Replies
      1. re: masha

        I always put a crapload of cheese in risotto. Is there a good substitute to make it vegan? Or can I just leave it out?

        1. re: Jacquilynne

          I've made it without.

          A alternative is baked brown rice. Short grain brown rice gives it a great chewy and creamy texture.

          1. re: Jacquilynne

            You may need to increase the salt, if you leave out the cheese.

            1. re: Jacquilynne

              Pssst -- nutritional yeast! ;) Gives a cheesy flavor without cheese. Gluten free (at least Bob's Red Mill version is). Vegan.

              Here's a couple of examples of nooch risotto:
              http://cleangreensimple.com/2011/06/m...
              http://deliciouslyella.com/tag/vegan-...

          2. Wild or brown rice salad
            Chopped salad

            1. Veggie chili (though that could get messy)
              Variety of salads -- quinoa tabouleh, bean salad, rice noodle salad, etc
              Potato gratin made with veg stock http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/he...
              Potato leek soup
              Beans and rice with grilled meats and veggies
              Baked potato bar

              1. How super fun!

                How about scanning this thread from when Penelope Casas books were COTM? So many great tapas ideas, including the mushrooms in garlic sauce(sub for the chicken stock) , shrimp in garlic sauce(not for vegans obviously), garbanzos and spinach, cauliflower salad. (I have the names all wrong, but you'll see what I mean when you scan the thread). Since olive oil, rather than butter, is the primary source of fat in most Spanish recipes, for the most part, anything that is vegetarian will also be vegan.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/524515

                Lots of us have this book, I'm sure, so we can paraphrase any recipe you need.

                The other Casas books also had tapas recipes in them, but "Tapas" is easiest to scroll through since it's exclusively tapas.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/524513, love this garlic shrimp, for instance: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5245... and the fried peppers http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5245...

                ~TDQ

                1. pasta salad
                  quiche
                  ratatouille
                  chili - so many variations...
                  baked potato bar - use a smaller variety of potato to avoid knives
                  stuffed peppers - very tender - I use a sausage from Field Roast in the stuffing for vegetarian.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: meatn3

                    Along the lines of a baked potato bar, I think a mashed potato bar would be fun, and easy. Have a bunch of different toppings, mashed potatoes in a crock pot. For low carbers, have mashed cauliflower.

                    1. re: chowser

                      That's a great idea.

                      I went to a wedding reception that had a mashed potato bar with all sorts of "toppings", from braised short ribs to chili to vegetable soup, etc., etc.

                      1. re: chowser

                        Oh! Mashed potatoes would be much better! I tried keeping them warm in a crockpot for Thanksgiving and it worked like a charm.

                        To keep them vegan they could be made with Earth Balance and soy/almond/rice milk. A friend served me some made with a non-dairy milk and they weren't bad (says the person who believes potatoes were created as a vehicle for massive amounts of dairy).

                        1. re: meatn3

                          Another option is to use vegetable stock and olive oil. Earth Balance has several potential allergens (plus I personally find the flavor nasty, though many adore it).

                      1. I'd consider making (really pretty!) skewers of grape tomatoes, mozzarella balls and basil leaves and keep them at room temp well before serving. Crudite and dips, smoked salmon rounds or little pumpernickel squares with creme fraiche. For the gluten free folks, crustless quiche, can be veggie ones and lorraine; great that they're good at room temp or warm.

                        One veggies meal salad that's easy to eat neatly with a fork always disappears before everything else I make, so I always make a ton (well, two lbs of tortellini minimum): cheese tortellini, pre cooked and chilled, with halved grape tomatoes, feta cubes, EVOO, chopped flat leaf parsley, salt and fgbp. Small pieces, very lightly dressed so not drippy, so very neat and also pretty.

                        Mini meat loaves and mini vegetarian ones are cute and neat to eat as well; maybe some mashed fauxtatoes and spuds on the side.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mcf

                          Jacquilynne, it's been nagging at me that I was missing something for the tortellini salad... OLIVES. Black or kalamata.

                          Add flavor and contrast.

                          1. re: mcf

                            Love the tortellini salad idea.
                            I've also seen something like this on mini skewers

                          2. Hush puppies?

                            Meatballs (or shrimp balls just to be "pork" free)

                            Caviar

                            Tempura

                            Fritters

                            1. Melon balls, fruit wedges, tea sandwiches, cheese squares, cut veggies, mini beef sliders, chic fingers on a stick, chili bites served on a tablespoon.

                              1. In New York's Chinatown there is a store called Pearl River Store that is like a 3-story Chinese dime store that sells all kinds of little bamboo forks for stabbing cocktail-type foods---and this store is ONLINE in case you live where there's no Chinese dime store. Such fun. Little paper umbellas for drinks, too, and trainer chopsticks for children BTW. But for this thread, think little bamboo stabber forks.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Querencia

                                  That store is one of my stops each time I'm in NYC! Great stuff...

                                  1. re: Querencia

                                    Damnit, Querencia, now I want little bamboo stabber forks, and there's no way I'm going to get them up here to Toronto by Sunday.

                                  2. Why not get some of those trendy tasting spoons and serve in this? Just about anything can go in those spoons.

                                    1. Based (somewhat loosely) on the suggestions in this thread, I think I'm going to do something along the lines of a mushroom pilaf, rather than a mushroom risotto, just because I think it'll hold a little better throughout the afternoon -- game day is a pretty casual come as you can affair so not everyone will eat at the same time.

                                      I'm also pondering pulled chicken in a tomato sauce, and a corn and tomato salad, because the former can be kept warm in either the crock pot or the rice cooker, and the latter doesn't need to be kept either particularly warm or particularly cold.

                                      One of the party invitees recently graduated from a pastry arts program, and I've hired her to do lemon squares and some vegan/gluten-free cookies for dessert and noshing.

                                      I really like the mashed potato bar idea, and I'm going to save it for another time. mcf's tortellini salad also sounds super tasty.

                                      I really appreciate everyone's answers -- I'd been struggling with the whole concept and just not having anything come to mind at all, but the ease with which you were throwing suggestions out really made it seem less difficult than I was making it in my head.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                                        Sounds like a plan!

                                        Just an idea - perhaps add black beans to the corn and tomato salad so it can double as another main for the vegetarians. The pulled chicken would be yummy with a mild tomatillo sauce too.

                                        1. re: meatn3

                                          Or even better yet, Eden canned black soybeans... protein, no starch.

                                        2. i know you're pretty set, but i thought i'd throw a few more ideas into the mix...

                                          slice and roast some sweet potatoes with rosemary and chives, then crumble goat cheese on top of some.

                                          stuffed mushrooms with onion, brown rice, nutritional yeast, etc.

                                          polenta stacker rounds -- make polenta (with or without cheese for the vegans), spread and cool. cut out small squares or rounds with a shot glass. top with some sundried tomato or olive or eggplant tapenade and a bit of basil or parmesan cheese.

                                          soup shooters in shot glasses -- keep warm in crockpot

                                          mini quesadillas -- cut them into bite sized wedges. gluten free or corn tortillas if necessary.

                                          marinated teriyaki tofu cubes

                                          herbed roasted baby new potatoes

                                          1. Just a report back on this:

                                            The pulled chicken was a big hit. I dramatically undersalted the mushroom rice, which I didn't realize until I started eating it, so that was less of a huge hit. The leftovers were quite good when I added salt to them, though, so at least I had something to eat for the rest of the week. The corn salad was also good, and held up well in leftovers.

                                            I really liked the boost the nutritional yeast gave to the mushroom rice. I had to buy a fairly giant bag of it, but I look forward to trying it in other things. I tossed some in the pasta I had for lunch today, and it was good there, too. So, super thanks to DuchessNukem for that suggestion -- it's an ingredient I would have sniffily dismissed as hippy granola crap and never tried if not for this thread.

                                            13 Replies
                                            1. re: Jacquilynne

                                              Nutritional yeast is great in kale or Brussels "Caesar." We eat tons of the stuff.

                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                LOL @ hippy granola crap. Glad you enjoyed. Funny thing is, I first tried nutritional yeast when I saw a recipe for dehydrator vegan Cheezits (love love love Cheezits - prob worst food on earth). Also nice in gravy, sprinkled over pasta, added to veg soups.

                                                Since you have some left, try cheezy kale chips sometime (can be made in oven):
                                                http://www.thekitchn.com/snack-recipe...

                                                1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                  The only Kale chips I've ever had were beyond disgusting; bitter, nasty, unpleasant things, the absolute worst kind of hippy granola crap: foods that are supposed to be like other foods only somehow lower calorie or healthier or vegan. They're just never as good as the real thing.

                                                  But I find myself wanting to try it, because the goodness that was the nutritional yeast idea has engendered my trust. If I do, I will report back.

                                                  1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                    Totally going to try this tomorrow!!! Have all the ingredients. Would it work with precut kale?

                                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                                      Sorry, missed this post cheesecake. I don't see why precut wouldn't work, but fat stems are best removed and used elsewhere (textural). Hope you tried it!

                                                      And Jacquilynne, good kale crisps should be crisp, salty, and a little greeny/earthy, not bitter. (But then, I like raw beet slices. YMMV.) Sorry you had a bad experience! You can try nuts.com's version sometime if you ever want to try again:
                                                      http://www.nuts.com/snacks/kale-chips...

                                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                        I used the precut kale and sifted thru it to remove the stems.
                                                        Truly fabulous!!! My 2 year old ate several bowls of it as a snack. Everyone who walked into the house grabbed a handful.

                                                        A lot of time, but definitely worth it.

                                                        Next I want to try making carrot "Chips"

                                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                                          I saw vegan kale chips at my grocery store this weekend for $7+ for a tiny little box. Who knew they'd try to sell this stuff? I've only ever had it homemade (and love it). It's so curious how it melts in your mouth.

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            Did you see the ones with the cheezy coating? My Friday night dinner guests saw the container in my pantry and went NUTS over it. They couldn't believe I made the chips and asked me three times where I bought them!!

                                                            I guess I could see people buying them. They do take quite a whole to make and require a food processor.

                                                            GHG do you have a recipe for the carrot chips they sell? Usually they're next to the kale chips. I've seen green bean chips, okra chips, turnip chips as well...

                                                            1. re: cheesecake17

                                                              Yes, I saw the ones with the cheese-like (not cheese as these were vegan) coating.

                                                              The plain salted kale chips I've done before do not require a food processor... Maybe that's why I'm so shocked by the price.

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                Is crazy. But I guess better than buying chips. I could see myself buying these a few years ago when I was working full time(crazy long hours)

                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              "I saw vegan kale chips at my grocery store this weekend for $7+ for a tiny little box. Who knew they'd try to sell this stuff?"

                                                              They're a huge thing. Around four or five years ago, a friend who then worked for a local raw-foods company that's one of the big commercial suppliers, told me that people would order by the case (or multiple cases) retail for their own consumption.

                                                              She brought me a bunch of samples, and what I realized on trying the various flavors is that they're super popular with people who are into vegan, raw, "natural" and so on, but still have a jones for Doritos - because that's what "ranch," "nacho cheese," etc. kale chips (all made with various combos of spices and nutritional yeast) are mimicking. And pretty effectively, I'd say, based on my own atavistic response! Of course, I've never bought them myself, only made my own non-"cheesy" ones.

                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                It's hard to imagine buying them by the case, but I guess if kale is one's vice, you're not doing too badly. I might have to try making the fake-cheesy ones.

                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  Make them. Totally worth the time and effort. My toddler inhaled bowls of them

                                                  2. Hi Jacquilynne. I'm glad everything worked out well. Your reference to D20s had me thinking that maybe some of the board games were set in fantasy realms, and perhaps even fantasy realms where the speech and technology was that of medieval times, so I though you might enjoy checking out this old thread, were Chowhounds were very helpful in linking to recipes from the medieval and Elizabethan periods. Perhaps for your next party you can find some period recipes from there.