Best of Kosherfest Part 2—Vermont Tortillas, Gluten Free Baking, & Pretzel Challah

This is the second in our series about Kosherfest 2021, reviewing some of the more interesting plant-based items that may find a way to your table, restaurant, or catering hall.

The show was quite lovely, and in addition to the food producers, I had the opportunity to chat with some wonderful folks, including Elan Kornblum of Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine (who also runs a fabulous Facebook group for kosher foodies and restauranteurs), Chaim Silverberg of Tripping Kosher (also on Facebook), who makes fantastic videos of visits to kosher restaurants around the globe, and representatives of certification agencies, including the Circle H, a halal certifier that works with the OU and other kashrut agencies, the London Beis Din, Rabbi Menachem Genack from the OU, Dr. Avrom Pollak, President of the Star-K and Rabbi Reuven Flamer of Natural Food Certifiers (Apple K). It is always great to meet and chat in person with fellow internet foodies, the people who make kosher certified foods possible, and of course, friends of Mipikale.  In this installment, I will discuss three grain products, two of which are gluten-free, all of which were delicious.  As a bonus, at the end, I include a recipe using one of them and encourage you to try it out!      

Vermont Tortillas

Vermont may not be the first place you think of when thinking about tortillas, but perhaps you should. April and Azur Moulaert are the founders and owners of the Vermont Tortilla Company. Leaving positions that involved extensive travel and constant grant applications, they decided to pursue their passion for Mexican cuisine and supporting the local organic food culture. Thus began their business of making real stone ground corn tortillas, something unavailable and vastly superior to the commercial tortillas on the market.

Only a handful of places in the United States make authentic stone ground corn tortillas, without additives or preservatives. What you are probably familiar with are corn tortillas made using rehydrated corn flour. While this is great for mass production, few use traditional methods, using a process called nixtamalization that goes back thousands of years.

First developed in Mesoamerica, the process was also used by Indigenous People in North America, from Texas to New England. The corn kernel is soaked and cooked in a lime solution which removes the skin and produces a softer dough than unprocessed ground corn. The resulting product is more nutritious, has less mycotoxins, and has better flavor. The nixtamalization process also converts bound niacin (vitamin B3) in the corn to free niacin that the body can absorb.

What they make is a superior and delicious product that supports local, organic farmers and sustainable agriculture. The tortillas are available in 4” and 6” diameter and have an amazing texture and flavor, quite unlike the bland product you get in the supermarket. I was really surprised by how different they were from any other tortillas I have tasted. They are the perfect base for tacos, enchiladas, taquitos, tostadas, and nachos.

You can use them in any recipe calling for tortillas, of course. At the end of this post, check out a recipe for Chile Lime Cauliflower Tacos. There are plenty more, many vegan, on their website. Ask for them at your local retailer or order direct from the manufacturer online.  Supervised by MK (Montreal Kosher).

Arnel and her mixes

Gluten Free Baking Mixes

Arnel McAtee, namesake of Arnel’s Originals GF, Organic Baking Mixes was the first person I met at Kosherfest 2021. She was cheery and enthusiastic as visitors sampled her organic, gluten-free, and common allergen-free baking mixes. Arnel offers five wonderful mixes:

  • Buckwheat Bread – for a large, soft loaf
  • All Purpose Flour & Pie Crust Mix – for flakey pie crusts, cookies, and sweet breads.
  • Pancake & Waffle Mix – made with buckwheat, organic flax meal and organic brown rice flour, for fluffy pancakes
  • Make-a-Cake, your way – for moist delicious cakes in any flavor you want (works for brownies, vanilla cake, lemon cake, spice cake, etc), and allows you to add your own sweetener.
  • Pizza Crust Mix – each pound makes 8 individual pizza crusts

I was able to sample a lemon cake and a spice cake from the “Make-A-Cake” mix. Both were moist and fabulous. Arnel’s Originals, based in southern California, makes gluten-free baking easy. Certified pareve by Earth Kosher.

pretzel challah

Pretzel Challah

Like many stuck at home during the pandemic, I baked a lot of bread. I even grew my own sourdough starter: The Queen of Corona, and probably gained about 15 lbs from all that bread. In the first few weeks, it was hard to get challah, so once I scored some yeast from a neighbor, I baked a batch of Challahs that lasted for about 6 weeks. I don’t bake challah often, despite a bunch of wonderful recipes, but one I have not yet tried is pretzel challah. Maybe I will someday, but it is not necessary since there is Yoni’s Pretzel Challah. Combining two classic breads, it has the crust of an old-school soft pretzel with a moist and fluffy inside that we all know and love from challah, even without eggs! That is right, this is a vegan challah, and of course is pareve and free of nuts (note that the facility does process sesame, soy, and eggs). Their challahs come in a variety of flavors, including traditional or with everything, whole wheat, dried fruit and cinnamon crumb, jalapeño, chocolate chip, olive and za’atar. Challah mini rolls and half-size challahs, as well as pretzels, are available in traditional, everything, and whole wheat.

Three great grain products for your next meal! The next installments will feature Italian condiments: balsamic vinegar and truffle products. 

As promised, here is a recipe from the Vermont Tortilla Company.

Chile Lime Cauliflower Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw

tacos

From the makers of authentic, stone ground, organic corn tortillas, a recipe for Chile Lime Cauliflower Tacos. Vegan, Kosher, Gluten-Free, Whole Grain.

Photo and recipe courtesy Vermont Tortilla Co.

DifficultyBeginner

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time20 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time50 mins

 8 Vermont Tortilla Co. 6” corn tortillas
Caulifower
 1 Head cauliflower, cut into florets
 3 Jalapeños, stems & seeds removed, thinly sliced
 4 Cloves fresh garlic, crushed & minced
 2 tsp Ground cumin
 1 tsp Ground chili powder
 1.50 tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
 Fresh ground black pepper to taste
 4 tbsp Olive Oil
Slaw
 1 Small red cabbage, shredded
 1 Small red onion, thinly sliced
 3 Scallions, thinly sliced
 1.50 cups Fresh cilantro, leaves & stems, rinsed & rough chopped
 2 Limes plus extra wedges for serving

Make the Cauliflower
1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2

On a sheet pan, combine the cauliflower, jalapeños, garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, 1 tsp kosher salt, black pepper to taste, & olive oil. Roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender & lightly browned.

Make the Slaw
3

In a mixing bowl combine the red cabbage, red onion, scallions, 1 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste & the zest & juice of 1 lime. Mix well; let sit to macerate.

Make the Tacos
4

When the cauliflower mix is done, squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the sheet tray; mix gently to combine. Adjust seasoning as needed.

5

Fill each soft tortilla with the cauliflower mix, top with some of the slaw & some fresh cilantro. Serve with extra lime wedges!

Ingredients

 8 Vermont Tortilla Co. 6” corn tortillas
Caulifower
 1 Head cauliflower, cut into florets
 3 Jalapeños, stems & seeds removed, thinly sliced
 4 Cloves fresh garlic, crushed & minced
 2 tsp Ground cumin
 1 tsp Ground chili powder
 1.50 tsp Kosher salt, plus more to taste
 Fresh ground black pepper to taste
 4 tbsp Olive Oil
Slaw
 1 Small red cabbage, shredded
 1 Small red onion, thinly sliced
 3 Scallions, thinly sliced
 1.50 cups Fresh cilantro, leaves & stems, rinsed & rough chopped
 2 Limes plus extra wedges for serving

Directions

Make the Cauliflower
1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2

On a sheet pan, combine the cauliflower, jalapeños, garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, 1 tsp kosher salt, black pepper to taste, & olive oil. Roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender & lightly browned.

Make the Slaw
3

In a mixing bowl combine the red cabbage, red onion, scallions, 1 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste & the zest & juice of 1 lime. Mix well; let sit to macerate.

Make the Tacos
4

When the cauliflower mix is done, squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the sheet tray; mix gently to combine. Adjust seasoning as needed.

5

Fill each soft tortilla with the cauliflower mix, top with some of the slaw & some fresh cilantro. Serve with extra lime wedges!

Chile Lime Cauliflower Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw

_____________________

Credits: Featured photo of turmeric flavored tortilla and recipe photo courtesy of Vermont Tortilla Company. Product photos courtesy of the respective companies. Kosherfest Photo by Mipikale.

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