Oh my God, where should I start? It’s been almost a month. To any of my regular readers, please forgive me for being absent. I have been really busy, and just didn’t make it a priority to blog. I will confess to being VERY frustrated by my blogging abilities, or lack thereof. I would really love to learn how to create tags on my blog, but I just haven’t been able to figure it out. I think that’s why I’ve stayed away. Perhaps with this admission, someone will come forth and help me:)
First I want to tell you about a gluten free loaf of bread baked from a Breads From Anna mix (gluten free, corn, dairy, soy, & rice free also) that I made in my Zojirushi bread machine. I made the loaf after a class that I attended taught by Anna Sobaski creator of the most marvelous Breads From Anna line of gluten free (she also has corn free, dairy free, soy free, rice free, and yeast free) breads. This past Tuesday, Anna came to Worcester to give a two hour bread baking class which I arranged. She was teaching at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in NYC and agreed to take the three hour trip north to Worcester to teach the class. It was very well attended and everyone loved it. I’m getting emails every day from people who attended. Everyone hopes she will return and teach another class, perhaps for a longer period, as she has so much to teach us and we have so much to learn! We “borrowed” a kitchen at a local synagogue and all 20 of us fit in the kitchen and watched as she demo’d her pie crust, pizza crust, hamburger rolls. The pizza crust and hamburger rolls were made from one of the bread mixes. She gave us plenty of helpful tips and recipes along with a very informative handout . At the end of the two hours, which flew by, we sat down to a fabulous gluten free meal. We ate chicken pot pie (bottom and top crust), salad with lemon-honey vinagrette, bread, white bean dip, and pumpkin pie and pumpkin quick bread for dessert. It was a superb meal. Everyone was sated and inspired to return home to bake bread. And if that weren’t fabulous enough, each of us received a complimentary bread mix from Anna. As for me, besides being pleased that the event was well-received, I found a bread that I can honestly say tastes like wheat bread, or at least tastes like the bread I used to eat pre-Celiac diagnosis. And it is so unbelievably good that you can eat it WITHOUT toasting it. That is a total and complete and marvelous miracle. I feel like I’ve been given a new lease on life. I’ve already ordered a case of the bread mix and a case of the pie crust mix. I never want to be without it. I think it is the first gluten free baked item that I can say will make living life as a Celiac acceptable. And the great thing is that the bread is full of gluten free flours that have a high protein content. I’m doing my best to get as much good nutrition out of the food I eat, including the bread. I want everything I eat to help me heal and get the most out of the food I eat. THANK YOU ANNA!!! It was a superb meal.
Anna made pizza crust during the class which we ended up not using so I put it in my freezer for a few days. We had it for dinner a few nights ago, topped with broccoli, carmelized red onion, tomato chunks, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Divine! My husband thought heâ€™d landed on another planet, a pizza planet, and he was in heaven.
Earlier in the afternoon (on the day of the bread baking class), in preparation for the meal the class would share, Anna and I made a pumpkin pie and pumpkin quick bread that was served for dessert. Both were excellent. In fact, Anna left me an extra piecrust which I used to make another pumpkin pie for last nights’ dinner (First night of Rosh Hashanah) and it was happily eaten by everyone at the table, even the young Celiac who is a pretty picky eater. She even commented on how much she loved it!
September has all kinds of reasons for being on my calendar. The beginning of my year always seems to start in September, maybe because it’s because the Jewish New Year always begins either in or near September. And I love autumn. And I love the foods that begin to appear at this time of year – beautiful apples and squash and pumpkins. But the other reason I love September is because Ed Hyder’s Mediteranean Marketplace (great middle eastern market) always runs a 2 for 1 sale on all their dried herbs and spices. So, I always fill up my supply during the month of September.
Some of the delicious spices I brought home were immediately used in our dinner. I made Morrocan Tagine with chickpeas, kalamata olives, and prunes. It was full of middle eastern flavors and went beautifully with the Basmati Rice and Yellow Dal side dish. And the green salad with a White Balsamic Vinagrette was also ideal with it.
serves 6 – 8
This recipe comes from The Bold Vegetarian Chef by Ken Charney
4 shallots, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and slivered
2 garlic cloves, slivered
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Â¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 32 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15 ounce can cooked chickpeas
1 small butternut squash or sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small bite-size chunks
Â½ fennel bulb, cut into 1 inch pieces
Â½ to 1 cup vegetable stock or water
Â½ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
Â½ head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
6 ounces green beans, steamed until tender
3 ounces pitted kalamata olives
4 ounces pitted prunes, cut in half
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large flameproof casserole, cook the shallots, celery, inger, garlic, and cinnamon stick in the olive oil over medium-low heat for 5 â€“ 7 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.
Add the paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Cook, stirring for about 1 minute, until the spices are nicely fragrant. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, then add the chickpeas, squash, carrots, and fennel. Pour in just enough vegetable stock to cover. Mix well and add the saffron. Cover and bring to a boil.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Add the cauliflower and return to the oven for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender.
About 5 minutes before the tagine is done, stir in the green beans, olives, and prunes. Garnish with the parsley and serve hot over grain (originally recipe called for couscous, but I used basmati rice mixed with yellow lentils).
Note: The next time I make this, I want to add dried apricots and slivered toasted almonds. Also, make sure not to overcook or the vegetables will get too mushy.
Anyway, life as a Celiac continues. More adventures, new things learned almost daily. Life is good, I can tell you that. Quite honestly, to eat bread that tastes like the bread I remember from pre-Celiac days is nothing short of a miracle. Anna Sobaski, you are a total and complete genius.