Food & Drink

Sharon Thompson's Tidbits: 'Cake Mix Doctor' becomes specialist in gluten-free recipes

Sharon Thompson
Sharon Thompson

Anne Byrn, who is known as the "Cake Mix Doctor," is helping gluten-free cooks make scrumptious meals and delicious desserts with new recipes in Unbelievably Gluten-Free! (Workman, $18.95).

In her series of cookbooks called The Cake Mix Doctor, Byrn has taught millions of Americans how to turn ordinary boxed cake mixes into lavish desserts. While on tour with these books, dozens of fans requested recipes they could make for those who cannot tolerate gluten in their diets.

When a reader told her it was possible to make an angel food cake that was gluten-free, and still remain light and airy, Byrn decided to experiment.

Using sweet rice and sorghum flours, she made a cake that captivated her as it turned out perfectly. She wrote The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free and has now come up with even more recipes for Unbelievably Gluten-Free!

Byrn, who finished up her most recent book tour in Lexington last week, is back in her kitchen in Nashville working on a book called Save the Day.

"I do believe that we all need those recipes that save our day. What I've done is sort of look for those great recipes with stories about why the recipe saves the day — whether it's a go-to, easy recipe or it literally saved the day," Byrn said. The book should be out next year.

Recipes in Unbelievably Gluten-Free! include gluten-free fried chicken, pasta with fresh pesto sauce, saucepan brownies and cornmeal drop biscuits.

Equus Run releases Kentucky Derby wines

Equus Run Vineyards has released its commemorative wines for the 139th Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby.

This year's trifecta of wine selections are the white Derby chardonnay, red Derby merlot and Derby Bluegrass blush labeled with the official 139th Kentucky Derby artwork.

The Derby chardonnay is clean and crisp and fermented in stainless steel tanks; the Derby merlot is medium-bodied and full of fruit, while the Derby Bluegrass blush has a sweet profile perfect for sipping at the racetrack or tailgate picnic. Go to

Make an award-winning hamburger

Bill Keyer of Louisville has been named the winner of the Derby Burger Challenge. His creation, "Beef, bacon, bourbon and blue burger," will be featured as the local legendary burger at Hard Rock Café Louisville from April 25 through the end of May. Samplings of it will be featured in Lexington-area and Louisville-area Kroger stores from Monday to May 11. Here's Keyer's winning recipe:


Beef, bourbon, bacon and blue burgers

1½ pounds ground chuck

2 tablespoons steak sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon whiskey crumbled blue cheese

4 large sesame hamburger buns, split, toasted

4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut in half, cooked crisp

Combine ground chuck, steak sauce, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into four ¾-inch thick patties. Sprinkle evenly with herbs de Provence.

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, cook until lightly caramelized stirring occasionally. Stir in bourbon; continue cooking about 5 minutes or until almost evaporated.

Meanwhile, place patties on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 11 to 15 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 13 to 14 minutes) until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160 degrees, turning occasionally. During last two minutes of grilling, top each burger with blue cheese, as desired.

Place 1 burger on bottom of each bun. Evenly top with onions and bacon. Close sandwiches. Makes 4 servings.

Winning cookbook idea

The Lisa Ekus Group, a literary agency focused on promoting culinary talent, announced the winner of its "So You Want to Write a Cookbook" contest on Twitter.

Participants were asked to pitch their best culinary non-fiction ideas to the agency via Twitter.

The winner is Ashley Blom of Greenfield, Mass. Blom, 25, writes and manages the blog "Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine." She has been blogging on and off since age 13, and her cookbook concept was "life advice for lost twenty-somethings with recipes designed to save your sanity while you're trying to figure it all out." The book will discuss which recipes are best for breakups, layoffs and zero bank account balances.