Yes, you can enjoy a gluten-free afternoon tea!

Parisian macarons, a gluten-free tea table treat. Photo: Keven Law. Creative Commons 2.0

San Jose tea-lovers who also follow a gluten-free diet may be intimidated by the idea of having a traditional afternoon tea.  Although traditional tea tables feature sandwiches made with wheat bread, scones and cakes made with wheat flour, it is entirely possible to put together a gluten-free tea table menu.  If you can bake your own gluten-free treats, so much the better, but there are many products on the market for your consideration, that can make it easier, like packaged gluten-free flour mixes and even scone and cake mixes.

Of course, if you have a good gluten-free bread recipe, then you can use your own bread to make your tea sandwiches, and if it is too crumbly to be thinly sliced for sandwiches, gluten-free bread will make perfect toast rounds to put fillings on.  However, you don’t have to use bread at all; try using fried polenta slices, potato pancakes, cucumber slices, lettuce or endive leaves, or Bell pepper cups to hold fillings.  Keeping in mind that tea table fare is finger food that is not covered in sauce or messy to eat, and does not require a fork and knife, you can even alter traditional tea-table foods – like cucumber sandwiches – for the gluten-free diet.  Desserts like flan and panna cotta, Parisian almond macarons, or American coconut macaroons are perfect gluten-free additions.  Here are some other suggestions:

Mochi, a gluten-free Japanese treat. By Charles Nguyen, Creative Commons 2.

Clotted cream
Lemon curd

Mini quiche with gluten-free pie pastry
Asparagus tips or fresh figs wrapped in prosciutto and broiled
Rice Paper Salad Rolls

Lettuce Wraps
Gluten-free Baguettes with Greek Olive Tapenade

Fresh fruit and cream
Japanese mochi
Parisian-style macarons
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Gluten-free Russian Tea Cakes
Gluten-free Mexican Chocolate Brownies
Gluten-free Lemon Thyme Olive Oil Tea Cake
Gluten-free Pignoli Cookies
Gluten-free Scotch Shortbread

Safeway stores in the San Jose area, as well as Nob Hill in Milpitas and, of course, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods stores carry gluten-free scone and other baking mixes. Also, check out San Jose’s Asian markets for edible rice paper, and rice-based sweets like mochi and rice cookies.  Nob Hill in Milpitas sells clotted cream, as does the City Store at History Park on Senter Rd.  Macarons are a little harder to find; Starbucks sometimes sells them, and they’ve been seen at Trader Joe’s and perhaps Cost Plus World Market, but you should call ahead to make sure.  Remember to read the labels on all packaged products – including flavored tea and tea in teabags — to make sure the item is gluten-free and wheat-free before you buy it.  That’s the way to have a safe and healthy gluten-free tea time!

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

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For more information:
“Fresh Blueberry Scones – Gluten Free, Casein Free”
“How to make gluten-free scones like a bakery”
“Sugar Blues?  Gluten-free baking without sugar”
Gluten-free Non-dairy Cherry Coconut Scones
“Gluten-free biscuitry”
“Bread alternatives for afternoon tea”
Gluten-free Sandwich Bread
Gluten-free cocktail bread for appetizers
“Favorite Gourmet magazine tea-time recipe: Meyer lemon curd”
Raspberry Mascarpone Macarons
Low Allergy Kitchen
Gluten-free recipes from General Mills
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Recipes
Gluten-Free Baking Tips + Substitutions
Gluten-free Recipes – Gluten Free Goddess


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