Sunday, February 22, 2015

Veggie Burgers! Red and Black Bean Burgers on a Vermont Country Roll

Sometimes you just want a veggie burger.  Sometimes, like here in Vermont where it has not been above freezing for two months, you’re desperate to make something on the grill. I found my recipe in mother and daughter, Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams’ new cookbook Soul Food Love. When I first received the book, I thought I would scan through the recipes and find something that I could adapt to gluten free. Imagine my surprise when I learned that just about everything in the book is gluten free. Out of all the recipes, only three, Pepper Coins, Moorish Pizza, and Crepe Stack use any ingredient that contains gluten. It is a simple matter to substitute gluten free bread products in the first two recipes. For the Crepe Stack, we’ve got you covered in my new cookbook Against The Grain for light buckwheat crepes. But you simply have to try assembling the crepes using the mother and daughter's recipe for a healthy mint custard based on Greek yogurt.

Back to the Red and Black Bean Burgers. I followed the recipe just as written, but when I realized I only had smoked paprika instead of regular paprika, I added that as well as two teaspoons of Liquid Smoke. When I went to form the patties, I was stunned by how well they held together and how delicious (and legit) they looked.

It was then that I decided to deviate from the recipe, which calls for cooking the burgers on the stovetop with two tablespoons of oil. Stepping through snow on the front porch, I fired up the grill to medium-hot (about 400 degrees Farenheit.) I lightly brushed both the grill and the sides of the burgers with olive oil, and taking a guess based upon the recipe, grilled them for 6 minutes on each side. Just look at that burger!

It is quite a testament to the recipe that the burgers held up beautifully for grilling. And compared to commercial veggie burgers, of which there are very few that are gluten free, there is no comparison. This was a moist, kind of southwestern-tasting burger (probably because of my additions of smoked paprika and liquid smoke, but I loved the flavor.) I served the burgers on one of our dairy-free Vermont Country Rolls on a bed of arugula and topped with a sauce I made from one part Green Mountain Gringo Salsa to one part sour cream.  In a word, outstanding! Soul Food Love is worth that recipe alone, and those burgers will be a staple in this household for meatless dinners and vegetarian dinner guests.

I received Soul Food Love through Blogging for Books for reviewing purposes.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mary Margaret’s Crab Cakes With Basil Aoili

Every family has a recipe lore. Someone, whether it be a mother, grandmother, aunt, brother, or uncle is known for a recipe that is passed down from generation to generation. It can be an old-world pastry, an authentic Italian tomato sauce, or the world’s best sour pickles. In our family, it is a delicacy; it is Mary Margaret’s crab cakes. Mary Margaret was Tom’s mother. She wasn’t an especially great cook, but she knew a winner of a recipe when she saw it, and she was unparalleled when it came to hosting dinner parties.  This is a woman who was determined to have 50 couples celebrate her 50th anniversary in her home using her own china, silver, and crystal. She spent her entire life scouring antique shops and estate sales to make this happen, and she lived long enough to host that 50th anniversary dinner party. Sadly, she died all too young at age 76. There is no one who would have more into the recent publication of my cookbook than Mary Margaret. Honestly, she would have struggled with the notion of gluten free. She would have been astonished to learn that her son had celiac disease, but in retrospect, we know that she, too, most certainly had celiac disease. These crab cakes are an adaptation of her most memorable, knock-out recipe using Against The Grain Original Baguettes.

(based on a Ladies Home Journal, 1986 recipe)
Makes 8 crab cakes or 4 servings

Crab Cakes:
1 Large egg plus 1 egg yolk
4 teaspoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 drops Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons baby leeks (or green onions,) finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ Against The Grain Original Baguette, finely diced
½ pound lump crabmeat
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup arugula (optional for serving)

Basil Aoili:
½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup mayonnaise (such as Hain Safflower Mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 clove fresh garlic, very finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, salt, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper.
3. Whisk in the parsley and leeks. Add the chopped baguette and crabmeat and toss until fully moistened and the baguettes absorb some of the liquid.

4. Shape the mixture into 8 equal patties (the mixture will be crumbly) on the baking sheet. Drizzle each crab cake with approximately one teaspoon of butter. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

5. Preheat the oven to 475°F and place the oven rack in its top-most position. Bake the crab cakes for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve on a bed of arugula with basil aioli.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Healthy Banana Chocolate Muffins

A couple of weeks ago, I was staying with my mom in South Carolina attending to another family member who was ill. I had picked up a bunch of bananas for my mom, but in the hub-bub of coming and going, they began to ripen …and ripen. I don’t know what it is with bananas, but seeing a perilously ripe banana inspires tremendous guilt in me. No one, including me, wants to throw away a perfectly good banana, even if it is kind of mushy and sickly sweet (at least in my opinion.) I searched around my 93 year-old mom’s pantry, which wasn’t particularly well-equipped for baking projects, to see what I could cob together with bananas. The result was banana muffins. Honestly, the crumb was so tender and moist that these could have easily passed for healthy cupcakes.

Back at home in Vermont, there were more overly ripe bananas waiting for me. At my mom’s, she had a box of King Arthur’s All-Purpose Gluten Free Baking mix, but at home, I decided to try my own combination of flours and see how a little cocoa changed the flavor profile. Both versions were absolutely the best banana muffins I’ve ever eaten, gluten-free or not. Feel free to try either version by simply omitting the cocoa and using either King Arthur flour or the blend shown below.  And go ahead and ice them with cream cheese frosting, if you like.

Makes 12 cupcakes plus a little banana cake
3 ripe bananas
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup honey
¼ cup olive oil
2 large eggs
¼ cup cocoa
1 packed cup King Arthur Flour (or ½ cup (60g) light buckwheat flour, ½ cup (70g) tapioca starch and 1/8 cup (15g) coconut flour)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 12-muffin tin plus a small ramekin.
Mash the bananas with a fork and using a hand mixer, blend the bananas with the yogurt, honey, olive oil, eggs, and cocoa.
Beat in the flour(s) and then beat in the baking powder and baking soda.
Spoon about ¼ of batter into each muffin cup and spoon the remainder into the ramekin.
Bake for 19 to 20 minutes or until the tops spring back and a toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Vegan Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

Makes 3-1/2 dozen

Our baking day at Against The Grain runs from 5AM until 9PM, five days a week. Sometimes, due to snowstorms or holidays or just to keep up with demand, we need to run a voluntary Saturday shift. It isn’t easy for anyone to give up his or her Saturday after a 40-hour week of hard work. I try to make it a tad more pleasant by baking something special for the crew (and they are always good sports about being guinea pigs for my endless creations!) As you might expect in a bakery, especially a gluten free bakery that works with fresh ingredients, our staff is populated by health-conscious foodies as well as individuals with various dietary restrictions. To meet everyone’s needs, I developed my first vegan chocolate chip cookie. This grain-free, gum-free, and nut-free cookie is soft and tender, a tad chewy, and melts in your mouth--you’ll wonder whether you are nibbling on a brownie or a cookie. The combination of coconut, light buckwheat, and tapioca gives it an excellent crumb, and the acidity in the cocoa and molasses interacts with the baking powder to give the cookie a light rise. Made in a food processor, this is a versatile cookie dough that can be prepared in minutes, made into cookies, or frozen into logs for later use and then sliced to bake.

½ cup palm oil
½ cup packed brown sugar (100g)
¼ cup white sugar (50g)
¼ cup molasses
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup coconut flour (30g)
1 ½ cups (180g) light buckwheat flour
½ cup (70g) tapioca starch
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 to 5 tablespoons water
175g soy-free chocolate chips (such as Equal Exchange Semi-Sweet)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the oil, brown sugar, white sugar, and molasses in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the salt, coconut flour, light buckwheat flour, tapioca starch, cinnamon, and cocoa powder and blend until full mixed. The dough will be crumbly. Blend in the vanilla and baking soda; then add the water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Transfer the dough to a medium bowl and mix in the chocolate chips by hand. Form the dough into 1-inch balls separated by about an inch-and-half and flatten the balls until each cookie is about ¼ to 3/8-inch thick. The unbaked cookie will be about 1-3/4 to 2 inches in diameter. Bake for 10 minutes until set. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. The cookies will be tender and will continue to set as they cool.