Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gluten Free Goodies from the Raisin Rack - Ravioli, Sub Buns, and Challah

Even though I'm a happily happy gluten-free girl, there are a few gluteneous items that I really do miss. I like to think of these as holy grail gluten-free items, things that exist as lovely dinner fantasies in my mind, but I doubt really exist. 

Well, until now. Thanks to the Raisin Rack and their insanely fantastic array of products, I recently had some of those foods I've spent so very many years missing. And if this is a dream, I don't wanna wake up. 

Conte's Cheese Ravioli 

Growing up, I remember my mom taking us to museums, enrolling us in music lessons, and making sure we knew basics of environmentalism and sustainability. With that busy of a day (plus her day job), cooking generally went by the wayside. But for a non-food allergy family like ours, easy dinners were never hard to come by. One of her favorite last-minute dinner standbys was frozen peas and frozen ravioli. There's something about that insanely easy freezer dinner that always said home to me. 

But ravioli are one of those too hard too make, too unlikely to find gluten-free goods, the kind you just kind of have to give up on in favor of a healthy, happy digestive system. But oh ravioli...

All nostalgia aside, who doesn't love ravioli? Those puffy cheese filled clouds float along beautifully in a hearty tomato sauce, sure, but I'll always prefer them aside a nice crunchy pea. However you like to dress up (or down) your ravioli, know that Conte's Gluten Free Pasta comes as close to gluten-free perfection as rice and potato flour can muster. Perfect texture, perfect chewy tenderness, perfect everything. 

Conte's makes all sorts of amazing pasta shapes -fusilli, spaghetti, elbows - and various stuffed pastas - raviolis, stuffed shells, and even pierogies. 

Kathy's Creations Sub Buns

I have yet to actually get myself out to Kathy's Creations bakery, but this sub bun might just convince me to make that hour plus drive. They look like bread. They feel like bread. And oh my goodness, they taste like bread. Not just bread - fresh bread. These buns don't have to be toasted to taste amazing, just ripping into one straight from the package was pure bread perfection. 

Allow me to repeat myself: without being toasted, this bread tastes just like bread. 

I can't tell you the last time I had a sub sandwich and the truth is, it probably wasn't all that memorable. But this one - piled high juicy, tender with oven roasted eggplant and sweet peppers, sprinkled with roasted garlic, smeared with cream cheese, and topped with ripped parsley - this is a sandwich I won't soon be forgetting. Served up with a side of grapes and a banana, this healthy, hearty alternative to anything Subway or Quizno's could mass produce and send down the line in crinkly paper wrapping. 

Kosher Naturals' Challah Muffin

I always assumed taste memory was like bike riding memory. Once you ate something, once it became a part of your sense memory, you couldn't possibly forget the way it tasted, right? Well, not right, as I found upon trying to explain the superiority of challah to all other breads to my gluten eating, non-Jewish boyfriend. While I knew in my heart that there is truly nothing like a chunk of it ripped straight from the round or a thick slice of it battered in egg washed and grilled to french toast greatness, the ability to explain just why this is so eluded me. It had been that long since my last challah crumb. 

Like the food itself, I thought the memory of challah was lost to me. 

But funny thing about sense memory, it doesn't go away, it just hides really, really well.  While my eyes didn't quite believe that puffy little ball of dough would taste anything like the bread passed out on Saturday mornings at Hebrew School, it took only one bite of Kosher Naturals' Challah Muffin for me to be absolutely sure this is challah. Moist, thick, slightly sweetened by brown sugar or honey, this was challah. And thank goodness they come 4 to a box - 3 for me and 1 to share. Well...maybe. 

Checking out their website, I discovered Kosher Naturals offers their muffins in 4 flavors - original and toasted onion  (both of which are kosher), as well as blueberry and chocolate chip. Chocolate chip challah? Yum.

Admit it, there are times you kind of love being gluten-free. Times when you eat a great meal and don't have a stomach ache. Times when people marvel at your dedication to your life and your health. Times when you discover some of your favorite foods really might be in reach and that having celiac doesn't really bar you from social or traditional activities. Thanks to great products like these, you can live those times breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  


Sophie said...

I miss challah bread like crazy! You can save that 1 piece for me :)!!! I need to try this...I don't know if I can wait, might have to find a way to make it :P...not gonna be easy!

H.Peter said...

Those items look unreal.
Is raisin rack a chain? Or stand alone?

Maureen "Hold The Gluten" said...

Hooray for Conte's!!!!! I recently discovered them in my local grocery store here in New Jersey. I had the gnocchi and they were DELICIOUS! I will have to try their raviolis - they seemed "too good to be true", so I didn't buy them :)

Endless Possibilities said...

I wish you were my gluten free Jewish mommy! LOL! My mom is wonderful but she doesnt find me goodies like those and I miss those items like you wouldn't believe! I want hallah bread! Wow, yummy. I am very hungry now! I love your posts :)

jacobithegreat said...

Ohh my gosh ravioli. I missed it so much I tried to make it myself, and it was just oK. I can't wait until it makes its way into my stores.

Dana aka Gluten Free In Cleveland said...

These items actually seem unreal to me too. And I've eaten them. They were that good.

The Raisin Rack is basically stand alone - there's one in Westerville, Ohio, too - but the ravioli and the challah can be ordered from the Conte's and the Kosher Natural's websites!!

Endless Possibilities - Hah! Thank you! :) One day, when I have little children who whine that their mommy is too betty crocker for her own good, I will remind them that someone somewhere once wanted ME to be their jewish mother...and then guilt them about something as I fill them full of GF challah goodness!

SuzanneAnnMarie said...

A one hour drive to Kathy's Creations! I only wish! We drive 4 hours from the Toronto area, and it's well worth the drive. We stop by the Raisin Rack too. We've got lots of gluten free stuff in this area, but nothing as good as Kathy's.

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