Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gluten Free Spiral Pasta With Basil Cream Sauce


This past fourth of July, like all the rest of them for the last 13 years, we spent it on the St. Lawrence River. Families flock to the River, some cottages hosting as many as four generations. The fourth begins with a flag raising at the Main dock and a flotilla of non-motorized craft, it features strawberry shortcake on the green, and always ends with swatting bugs while trying to take in fireworks over Boldt Castle or watching firework displays on distant islands. 

This summer for the first time, our community decided to offer organic garden plots to its residents. Not quite sure what to expect, I signed up for one, and was amazed to witness the creation of a large block of raised beds, surrounded by pea gravel.

Never having gardened before in a raised bed—all 32 square feet of it—I prepared my soil with a compost mixture and planted nine tomato plants, six broccoli plants, three kinds of peppers, purple and green basil, red onions, bib lettuce, and musk melon. If that sounds like a lot for a small raised bed, you’re right. With near perfect weather, and heat retained by the pea gravel, my plants shot up and flourished. The same tomato plants that I started from seed in Vermont are now four times the size of the ones growing in Vermont.  And my first experiment with melons surprised me--those things grow everywhere. Without something to climb, they started preying on the onions. Imagine trying to climb up an onion!

My first harvest was basil, both purple and green, as well as a hot cherry pepper (which was really tongue-searing hot.) I decided to make a cream basil sauce for our gluten free pasta, and everyone declared it a success.

Gluten Free Spiral Pasta With Basil Cream Sauce

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Fresh hot cherry peppers to taste, minced
1 tsp tapioca
1-1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 C heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 C freshly shredded Parmesan
16 ounces GF pasta

Directions:
1, Melt butter and olive oil.
2. Sauté garlic and hot peppers for 3 min or until just browned.
3. Stir in tapioca--it will be slightly pasty.
4. Reduce heat very low.
5. Add cream and stir until blended, and it begins to thicken.
6. Add Parmesan and stir until melted and sauce is smooth.
7. Meanwhile, begin boiling pasta (I prefer Tinkyada)
despite what the package says, I find that the spirals are perfect at 8 minutes.
8. Two minutes before the pasta is done, stir in the fresh, chopped basil.
9. Toss sauce and pasta and serve.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

SOURDOUGH PRETZELS!! Help Us Bring Yummy Gluten Free Sourdough Pretzels to the Market

Yes, this is the real deal. The tastiest, gluten-free, grain-free sourdough pretzel you can imagine. The recipe is all ready to go

Did you know that small businesses like ours generated over 60% of net new jobs over the past 15 years? Investments in small businesses are investments in our economic growth. Chase Bank and the social media firm, LivingSocial, realize this and have teamed up to offer grants of $250,000 to 12 small businesses (defined as <100 employees.)

Against The Grain is applying for this grant, and view it as an opportunity to bring a really cool gluten free product to market. As you may know, we have spent the past five years in business working extremely hard to keep up with the demand for our products. No one is happier than us that our products have been met with such enthusiasm and devotion, but it has been at the expense of innovation. This is an opportunity for us to fast-track a new and incredibly delicious product. Given the participation of the social media company, LivingSocial, we are required to amass 250 votes by June 30, in order to qualify. This is where you come in. Want to help us innovate? Want to have REAL sourdough soft pretzels that are naturally gluten- and grain-free? Soon? Here’s what you do:

1) Go to http://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/

2) Click on “Log on and Support”

3) Log in with your Facebook account

4) Type in “against the grain gourmet” in the search, then click on the search button

5) Cast us a vote.

6) Cast a vote for all your favorite companies.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pizza Party for the 4th of July: Three Pizzas to Wow The Crowds


Backyard fireworks launched from a small sandpit my dad would create for the occasion, sparklers, black snakes (the kid-friendly firework kind, not the reptiles,) watermelon seed spitting contests with my siblings, and mounds of barbecued chicken. These are my early memories of the fourth of July. The fourth of July comes just at the time in the summer when everyone needs a fun holiday, an excuse to have a picnic with red and white checkered tablecloths and decorate with red, white, and blue. It is fun to decorate with food, too, but as it turns out, there aren’t too many blue ones—lots of red and white, but blue? None-the-less, we came up with three patriotic pizzas that will leave family and guests smiling. The first recipe idea comes from Alex, who didn’t miss a beat when asked what foods were blue. “Blue cheese!” obviously.

Red, White, and Blue Cheese Pizza

Ingredients:

1 Against The Grain Cheese
¼ fresh organic red pepper
2 ounces of blue cheese (we have several great local choices, and I used blue cheese from Boucher Family Farms)

Directions:

1. Cut the pepper into thin strips and arrange it like fireworks bursts on your pizza. Ours looked like this:
2. Crumble the blue cheese and put little mounds in the middle of the pepper bursts. Sprinkle the rest around the pizza (like random fireworks?)
3. Bake directly on the rack at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.

Blue Potato Pizza With Red Pepper Confetti

The idea for the blue potatoes in this recipe came from Jeremy, who is way into organic gardening. Thinly sliced, the potatoes bake until just tender. The aroma is pleasing, the polka-dot effect arresting, and fresh potatoes on pizzas are unusually yummy toppings.

Ingredients:

1 Against The Grain Cheese Pizza
6 small blue potatoes, very thinly sliced
1/8 fresh organic red pepper
Dash of salt
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

1. Place the sliced blue potatoes and crushed garlic in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and toss with olive oil. Let the mixture marinate for approximately 30 minutes.
2. Chop the pepper into small pieces.
3. Arrange the potatoes on the top of the pizza and sprinkle with the red pepper. Ours looked like this:


4. Bake directly on the rack at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.

Red, White, and Blue Cheesecake Pizza

Yes, you read that title right, with cheesecake and pizza in the same sentence. This pizza was inspired by our resident dessert pizza creator, Josh. Since our organic strawberries have just started ripening in our garden, it seemed like a great way to share some of them. Besides, we’ve already shared way too many with the pesky voles who seem to have moved in over night and made a pool table’s worth of holes in our strawberry patch. Just wait until you try this one. While we all thought that one never eats a cheesecake hot, we couldn’t resist and were rewarded with the bursts of hot blueberries and strawberries tucked into a divine cheesecake layer. My test pizza, more like a cheese danish, disappeared in nanoseconds. Who says pizzas are for dinner? This pizza is a dessert you won’t forget... now, I’ve already promised to make two more for the staff for tomorrow.

Ingredients:

1 Against The Grain Pizza Shell
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
½ cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh strawberries, cut in half

Directions:

1. Blend together the cheesecake ingredients with a wisk. Spread the mixture evenly on the pizza shell.
2. Top with a mixture of strawberries (cut-side down) and blueberries.
3. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, just until the cheesecake starts to brown slightly.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Three Winning Gluten Free Baguette Recipes for Super Bowl Sunday

I have to confess right up front that I have never been a televised football fan, even though I grew up in a family with three football fan brothers. I love the Tour de France and actually got a chance to watch some of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge live in Colorado, but football, well, I don't know.

Like the estimated 111 million viewers, though, I have watched my share of Super Bowls. My greatest association with the Super Bowl is when it was played twice right next door to my dorm in the Tulane Stadium (since torn down) while Tom and I were undergraduates. It was the only event that even comes close to Mardi Gras for which I have seen so many revelers in one place. I particularly remember Super Bowl VI, being awakened EARLY on a Sunday morning with the sounds of hoards of people streaming through Tulane’s campus already in a party state.

The best thing about Super Bowl Sunday is that there is something for everyone. Aside from the sports competition, there is entertainment and entertainingly outrageous commercials. It is a time for people to gather, and food-wise, it is the second largest day for food consumption in the US after Thanksgiving.

At Against The Grain, we’ve been developing and tasting scrumptious gluten free Super Bowl foods. This year, we decided to focus on baguettes. Yesterday, Ruth prepared “Fiesta Panzanella,” a Southwestern take on the traditionally Italian salad of bread and tomatoes, and we sampled it throughout the day. We’re in Vermont, after all, where spicy sounds really good on a freeze-dried day. Besides, real tomatoes are scarce, and after reading Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit (a must read,) I’m pretty suspicious of grocery store winter tomatoes.

Recipe I: RUTH’S FIESTA PANZANELLA

2 Against The Grain Original Baguettes (cut in cubes)*
1 cucumber (peeled)
1 head of lettuce
fresh cilantro
½ red onion
1 fresh avocado
1 15-oz can black beans
1 cup corn (or substitute sunflower kernels if avoiding corn)
1 package Mexi-blend cheese
16 oz tub fresh salsa
Additional oil and vinegar (apple cider suggested) to taste (or bottled vinaigrette dressing)

Toss all ingredients, except avocados, together. Slice avocados and arrange on top. Optional add-ins are limited only by your imagination, but how about: chicken, olives, peppers (bell or jalapeno? This salad can be prepared a few hours ahead of time. Unlike other salads, this one improves with time as the yummy baguette soaks up the seasonings.

* Note: To make this a gluten free and dairy free dish, you can substitute Vermont Country Rolls for the bread and omit the Mexican cheese blend.

Recipe II: JOSH’S LAYERED BAGUETTE BOAT DIP

This is a recipe for all of you out there, like me, who need to avoid corn but have been missing nachos. With all the ingredients of nachos, held together with a “U” of crusty baguette, this is a messy but very satisfying gluten free appetizer that everyone will enjoy.

2 Against The Grain Original Baguettes (sliced horizontally)
15 oz can refried beans with green chilies
1 jar salsa
1 package prepared guacamole
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium contained sour cream
sliced and pitted black olives

Slice two baguettes horizontally. Divide the refried beans into quarters, and spread a layer of refried beans into the sliced baguette's holes and grooves. Top the refried beans with a layer of salsa, and then top the salsa with a layer of guacamole.

Bake the baguettes directly on the rack at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. The crust of the baguettes will crisp up and the dip layers will warm up.

Remove the baguettes, top with the shredded cheddar cheese, and return to the oven until the cheese is bubbly. To serve, spread sour cream on the top and dot with sliced black olives (Optionally, you could used chopped scallions, chives, or cilantro.) Using a serrated knife, slice each baguette into 1 to 1-1/2 slices, creating a dip-filled “U” and serve with plenty of napkins. Expect to get sour cream on your nose!

RECIPE III: NASH’S PORK BALL CURRY BAGUETTES (gluten and dairy free)

Nash is particularly fond of Anglo-Indian cuisine, which he brings from his native country, the south of India. Here at Against The Grain, he has treated us to some delicious Anglo-Indian Gluten Free Fusion dishes. This recipe, when served on baguettes, will leave your family a guests, full and smiling.
Pork Balls:
1 pound ground pork
½ medium red onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, pressed
½ bunch fresh cilantro, minced
½ bunch fresh mint, minced
2 to 3 small green chilies, minced
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt

Curry:
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods
1 large red onion, chopped
1-1/2 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste (or ¾ Tbsp each minced ginger and garlic)
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cayenne
¼ tsp ground turmeric
15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 C unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
½ bunch fresh mint, chopped

Make the pork balls: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix very well. Using your hands, form the mixture into 16 equal-size balls measuring about 1-1/2 inches each. Place on a plate and set aside.

Make the curry: In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon and cook until sizzling and aromatic—about 1 minute. Add the garlic paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the coriander, cayenne, and turmeric and cook, stirring for about 1 minute until the bottom of the pan becomes coated with the spices and very well browned, but not burnt (this is an important flavoring step.)

Add the tomatoes and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the coconut milk and ½ cup water and bring to a simmer. Carefully add the pork balls, one at a time, and bring the mixture back to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for 25 minutes. Add the salt and lemon juice; taste and add more salt and lemon juice if needed. Remove from heat and add the cilantro and mint. Serve as pork ball sandwiches on horizontally sliced baguettes.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas The Night Before Gluten Free Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas…well, actually it was four o’clock in the morning, but technically by the calendar, the night before Christmas. Not a creature was stirring… except Marty and his computer mouse. The children were not all snuggled in their beds; rather, Marty was wide awake talking online to his “Sleepless in Spokane” friend. I woke up, and the lights downstairs were all ablaze, so I sprang from my bed to turn the lamps off. The moon cast long, lavender shadows in the yard below. Tom was wide awake, so I commented on the beauty of the night. With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head, he said, “Let’s go for a walk!” Hearing the word “walk,” Chester sprang to his feet, and down the driveway he flew like the down of a thistle. He would have liked nothing more than to have scared up some reindeer.

Down Ames Hill Road we sauntered in the 16-degree cold, under the light of the moon and crunching snow. Chester barreled ahead, and every so often we gave him a whistle so as not to awaken the neighbors, sound asleep with thoughts of sugar plums and credit card debt in their heads. We turned around at Fox Road and walked back to the top of the porch, through the stone wall. Back inside, we stoked up the fire and had a marvelous early morning breakfast of Against The Grain Dairy Free bagels and eggs. By 9AM, Tom climbed back into bed and shuttered the sash. Although it was Christmas Eve, I’m still a slave to gender stereotypes, so I went down to the basement to put in a new load of wash. In the quiet of the half-sleeping household, I accidentally snapped the dryer door shut with a “pop.” Much to my astonishment,

Up in the living room, I heard such a clatter.
I sprang upstairs to see what was the matter.
When, what horror to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Chester crouched, quivering on the stairs with fear

Strewn across the carpet was the eight-foot tree
The lights all askew, the ornaments thrown free
His eyes how they rounded, his hackles so hairy.
His tail between his legs, and countenance so scarry.
His droll little mouth was as wide as could go,
The color of his nose, blanched like the snow.

Best I could deduce was that the dryer door startled Chester, asleep by the tree. He must have jumped up, entangled himself in a dangling LED strand, panicked, and took the tree with him. Alex was upstairs, so I called out to him for help. He came down the stairs and viewed the wreckage.

“I need some help,” I said, mopping up the tree stand water with multiple dish towels.

“Let’s just throw it back in the woods!” Alex said indignantly, referring to the fact that it has been a family tradition since moving to Vermont, to cut our Christmas tree off our land.

As far as he was concerned, the tree was now “damaged goods,” but he reluctantly held it up for me, as I readjusted it in the stand, and wired it to the wall with some floral wire (no way that puppy is going to fall again, I thought, as the crashing tree was already on the verge of ruining Alex’s Christmas.) I picked up the remarkably intact glass ornaments that skidded to a stop across the room, and in no time at all, had the chaos restored to normal. Chester wouldn’t even enter the room for hours, and still won’t venture within five feet of the tree.

Somehow, when we drift off to sleep tonight with visions of dairy free bagels dancing in our heads, it will seem anticlimactic. Christmas Eve 2010 will be the year we took an invigorating walk in the moonlight, and the tree took an invigorating spill, all before the day got started. Okay, so I have a psychotic dog and a lop-sided Charlie Brown tree, but we have so much more to be thankful for.


Happy Holidays from Against The Grain!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gluten Free-Dairy Free Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Pudding

It is trying to snow outside this morning, but it is rapidly turning to rain. It is kind of odd that it is mid-December in Vermont, and the ground here in the southern part of the state is bare. What better thing to do on a damp, rainy day than to bake a traditional favorite that will warm the house with the smells of times past: bread pudding. Bread pudding is an old-fashioned dish that was developed mainly to use up the stale ends of bread, back when bread used to be all-natural and not loaded with anti-molding agents and preservatives.

This bread pudding recipe has a few twists, though. It is gluten free, dairy free, and made from our new gluten and dairy free cinnamon raisin bagels. They’ve been on the market only a few weeks, but boy will you want to seek them out. In our household, where we can choose among all of our bread flavors for breakfast, the cinnamon raisin bagels have risen to the top. For me, a toasted bagel with my homemade rose petal jelly is simply a divine way to begin the day. But I am digressing. For all of you out there who cannot eat dairy, this Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Pudding is the ultimate bread pudding treat.

The following recipe includes an optional ingredient: bourbon. It adds a richness and complexity to the dessert if you want to wow your guests, but it is excellent without it. If you choose to include the bourbon, reduce the coconut milk by ½ C. Move over Paula Deen!

Gluten Free/Dairy Free Cinnamon-Raisin Bagel Pudding

Ingredients:
1 Bag Against The Grain Gourmet GF/DF Cinnamon Raisin Bagels (6)
1 C raisins, pre-softened in boiling water (or soaked overnight in 1 C of bourbon)
3 C unsweetened coconut milk
¾ C brown sugar
2 Tbsp pure VT maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
6 eggs
1 cup toasted coconut (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Slice bagels into ½ to ¾ inch cubes. Toss with raisins and cinnamon and cover the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
3. Heat coconut milk, water, and sugar in saucepan until it begins to foam.
4. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup and vanilla.
5. Wisk eggs into mixture, beating constantly until uniformly blended.
6. Pour mixture over bagels and top with toasted coconut (optional)
7. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
(To toast coconut, spread in large skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often until coconut is evenly browned.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

GF Pecan Pie, a Southern Tradition

Despite the fact that pies have become the new bakery front fad, replacing all sorts of gourmet cupcake concoctions, I have to admit that I have never been a real fan of pie…except pecan pie. Now that, in my opinion, is PIE. I didn’t even know what pecan pie was until I went away to college in New Orleans, where authentic pecan pie making is considered an art. It didn’t take me long to place pecan pie right up there with boiled crayfish and Oysters Bienville.

There are essentially two kinds of pecan pies: those that use corn syrup and those that use brown sugar. The former comes out a little custardy or gooey, and the latter is more like a praline pie. Once I tasted great pecan pie—the praline kind--I knew I had to find a fool-proof recipe. I found it in the Houston Junior League Cook Book from 1968, given to me by my late mother-in-law over forty years ago. The cook book makes me chuckle for a number of reasons, but it is the pecan pie recipe page that I love. The top billing is for “Southern Pecan Pie” and underneath is a recipe for “Yummy Yankee Pecan Pie.” Guess which one includes white corn syrup as an ingredient? I can only imagine the two recipe authors (probably a native Texan and a “transplanted” Yankee) having a tiff over which was the best pie, so readers are given a choice. The “Yankee” recipe includes maple syrup; I can’t imagine how a) maple syrup could be desecrated by corn syrup, and b) it would taste anything like a real pecan pie. I can just hear my mother-in-law grumbling from her grave about those “damn Yankees thinking they can come down here and improve things.”

We have a Thanksgiving tradition in our household that everyone can pick one food for the dinner, aside from the main course. And yes, we went through a few years when the kids were younger and pizza was on the menu (although I always managed to relegate it to the appetizer category.) I never have to ask Tom his choice. It is always pecan pie, and that hasn’t changed in the six years we have been gluten free. I simply make my no-fail pie crust recipe  http://tinyurl.com/2ffxcyy and fill it with my favorite pecan pie recipe. No gluten free compromises here. And what were the four menu choices for 2010, aside from the pecan pie? Potato, bacon and kale (from our garden) casserole, pumpkin pie, and garlic bread made from Against The Grain Gourmet baguettes. Happy Thanksgiving to your family from ours. An d now you know what I do while the turkey is cooking—catch up on my blogging!

Southern Pecan Pie

Ingredients:
1 unbaked pie shell
1 C light brown sugar
½ C white sugar
1 Tbsp GF flour
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ C butter (softened)
2 C pecans (1 C chopped and 1C whole for topping)

Directions:
1. Beat brown sugar, white sugar, and flour with softened butter until creamy.
2. Add eggs and vanilla and beat 2 more minutes on high.
3. Fold in chopped pecans.
4. Pour into unbaked shell.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-55 minutes (until center of pie is set.)
6. Top with whipped cream or serve with ice cream, if desired.