Saturday, June 2, 2012

Getting There

Finally, I’ve arrived!
Future Home of Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread
I know this photo isn’t much to look at, but it depicts the actual, real home of Luce’s Gluten-Free Artisan Bread. Once the plumbing goes in and equipment installed, this site will be recognizable as a clean, safe environment for producing what I do best: ready-to-mix and virtually instant artisan bread dry blends. 
This is a very exciting time for me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from retirement, it’s that I need a lot of physical activity. The amount of desk-sitting I’ve done over the past year - calling bakeries, writing contracts and emails, finding and communicating with suppliers - and waiting, waiting, waiting for people to get back to me - has not set well. I’m ready to get my hands dusted with flour. Work up a sweat. Mix and package and sell my remarkable blends.
As work on my facility progresses I’ll post more photos, as well as a narrative of the “action,” which in this case means coping with bureaucracy. Lots of it. 
(A note to my friends in New Jersey: this isn’t a retail sales operation, so you can’t drop by and pick up a package of Bread-In-A-Bag. Sorry!)
And something for all of you, gentle readers: first notice that my virtual store is open will go to people who’ve signed up for my newsletter. This is an easy thing to do - just click HERE, wait for the page to open, scroll to the bottom and enter your email in the noted place. My newsletter is quarterly, ad-free, and contains recipes and special offers as well as opportunities to purchase my newest products, which I hope to roll out regularly.
OK - so much for self-promotion. Let’s talk about food! 
Black trumpet mushrooms - arriving in NJ in July
I’m writing this at lunchtime with hunger stalking my insides, a sensation that’s enhanced by the aroma of cooking mushrooms. A saucepan of chicken mushrooms (Laetiporus sulphureus) in milk is simmering on the stove. Later, I’ll strain off the orange colored, mushroom flavored broth to make a wild mushroom custard, which I’ll serve with braised bone marrow. The mushrooms themselves will have to be tossed into the garbage - this batch is too tough to chew. I knew when I found them they were stale. Chicken mushrooms that are beyond fresh have the texture of cardboard, but their rich, excellent flavor is undamaged. I’m simply transporting it into a fat vehicle (whole milk) for later use. 
Shredded bread 
But my intent wasn’t to write about mushroom custard. Instead I want to share my recipe for veggie-burgers. 
As most of us with celiac disease have discovered, restaurant or store-bought vegetarian “hamburgers” are unsafe. Luckily, making one’s own is not hard. Cooked beans, a bit of onion, an egg, GF oatmeal if you can tolerate it, GF bread crumbs if you can’t, and whatever seasoning floats your boat, is all it takes. You can be sloppy, measuring ingredients by eye or intuition, and still end up with good tasting results. The “burgers” cook up splendidly in a skillet or electric griddle like the George Foreman Grill, but shine as well when seared over charcoal.
My recipe includes bread crumbs sautéd in a blend of butter and black trumpet mushrooms (Craterellus fallax). If you can’t find black trumpets or don’t like them, a substitution is listed.
Ingredients for Veggie-burgers

Black Trumpet Veggie-Burgers
4 TBLS black trumpet butter (recipe below).
1 cup coarsely-chopped bread crumbs (GF or other).
1/2 cup oatmeal (GF or other).
2/3 cup cooked white beans, drained. Liquid reserved.
2 TBLS coarsely chopped red onion.
1 egg 
Spices to taste: garlic flakes, paprika, salt, cumin, parsley, black pepper.
Black trumpet butter: 
Sauté 2 quarts of fresh, cleaned, chopped black trumpet (Cantherelles fallax) mushrooms in 1 stick of unsalted butter. When mushrooms are done (about 8 minutes), remove from heat and allow to cool.  Soften another 3 sticks of butter to room temperature. Put mushrooms and their cooking fat, plus the three sticks of soft butter, in a food processor and process to a smooth, dark paste. Divide into small units, reserving 4 tablespoons and freezing the remainder. 

If you are unable to find or don’t like black trumpet mushrooms, substitute the bread crumbs and trumpet butter (step 1) as follows: Sauté 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms in butter, increase amount of oatmeal to 3/4 cup and increase beans to 1 cup.
If you cannot tolerate GF oats, substitute with quinoa flakes.
1) Melt the black trumpet butter in a skillet over medium flame. Gently sauté the bread crumbs until they are slightly crisp and saturated with the mushroom mixture. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
2) Place the oatmeal, beans, onion and about 2 tablespoons of the bean liquid in a food processor. Pulse 4 - 5 times to blend. You do not want to make a purée, only a coarse chop. Add the egg, bread crumbs and spices and pulse a few more times. Scoop up mixture in your hand. If it holds together in a ball when shaped and squeezed if is wet enough. If not, add a tablespoon or two of bean water and pulse a few times.
3) Allow the mixture to rest 10 minutes. Add a bit more liquid if necessary. Shape into patties, and fry in an oiled skillet, in a home griddle, or on an outdoor grill. Thorough cooking is essential - about 5 minutes per side, or twice as long as the average hamburger. 
4) Serve on a bun with condiments of your choice. 
(A bun recipe will be part of my summer newsetter. Sign up HERE)
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days or frozen in a sturdy plastic bag.

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