Gluten Free Paris: Bio Sphere Cafe

DSC05735In the 8th Arrondissement, just beyond Haussmann Boulevard and Place St. Augustin is Bio Sphère Café. Its charming owner Sylvie, opened the organic (Bio is french slang for organic) cafe in 2010, but at first it wasn’t 100% gluten free.

” From the beginning, I wanted to open an organic bakery. I wasn’t aware about coeliac decease. As I propose the galette bretonne with buckwheat flour which is gluten free, I have customers that were asking me for gluten free cakes. I did some research about the disease and recipes.  I started to make one cake : it was a success. Another one and so on. Then the baguettes & the pizza.”

 

Les Baguettes Sans Gluten
Les Baguettes Sans Gluten

 

 

Yes, you read that right…. Gluten-Free Baguettes. And can I tell you they are sublime? Just what you’d expect a baguette to be- crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. A slightly pliable crust that crunches when you squeeze it.

And I have to say, walking around Paris with a baguette in my bag like a real Parisian made me feel somehow like I…. belonged…..like the best of Paris was accessible to me too!

Zucchini Soup w/ Gluten Free Baguette
Zucchini Soup w/ Gluten Free Baguette

 

But there’s more to Bio Sphère Café than phenomenal baguettes. Oh yes, there are delicious galettes sarrasin (the buckwheat galettes mentioned above), creamy fresh soups, creative pastas, quiches, salads..and oh yes- pizza. According to the Kitchen Divas in Training (and I happen to agree) the best gluten free pizza crust they’ve enjoyed to date!

 

 

Gluten Free Pizza!
Gluten Free Pizza!

 

 

One of the big challenges in creating a gluten free pizza crust is keeping a consistent texture. Too often the crust is chewy on the outside, but mushy on the inside, and that’s just not enjoyable. Or, if it’s a good texture on the inside, it can be overcooked at the edge. Sylvie’s pizza crust was perfect! A lovely texture- not too thick, and evenly cooked from crust to center. The Kitchen Divas in Training simply could not get enough!

 

BioSphere Cafe

Lastly, there were the desserts! A whole case of gorgeous patisserie. In addition to singlehandedly running her restaurant, somehow Sylvie manages to have the time to make great patisserie too! We enjoyed creamy lemon tarts, an array of macarons (she learned from the fine folks at Laduree no less!) eclairs, little cakes, and lighter than air tiramisu! Seriously, it was like eating a cloud- I could have eaten 10! I did actually, by the time you count all the desserts we sampled!

 

 

Gluten Free DessertGluten Free Lemon TartGluten Free Raspberry CakeMore often than not, in commercial venues gluten-free=not so good. So to find an organic & certified gluten-free restaurant like Bio Sphère Café which also happens to offer delicious, excellently prepared meals, and pastries, and gluten free baguettes? Oh yes, let’s not forget a pretty tasty gluten-free beer to accompany your pizza!

C’est un miracle!

Merci Sylvie, pour votre généreuse hospitalité, votre charmant restaurant, et vos baguettes incroyables! Nous sommes très heureux de vous avoir rencontré!

If you don’t have time to enjoy a meal at the restaurant, but would like to try a baguette- they are available a emporter (for take away) by reservation. You may contact Sylvie via her website here.

Gluten-Free Paris: Helmut Newcake

Helmut NewcakeJust off the Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement, is one of Paris’s best gluten-free patisseries (pastry shops- and yes, there’s more than one!), Helmut Newcake.

Helmut Newcake is one of 3 dedicated (and certified) gluten-free eateries in Paris. In addition to the incredible patisserie they make, they also have a daily lunch special and offer brunch on Sundays. Brunch is very popular here- in fact the first time I called to reserve a spot- 2 days in advance– they were already booked up! After reserving 4 days in advance so I wouldn’t miss out, I can see why!

Helmut Newcake Interior

The space is warm, friendly, and eclectic. Mismatched furniture, interesting art, and cosy tables are tucked into corners alongside a mini grocery area & bookshelves filled with Marie Taglioferro’s personal cookbooks.

gluten free eclair helmut newcakeWho is Marie Tagliaferro? The inspiration behind Helmut Newcake. Her husband, François, runs the front of the house while she makes magic in a tiny kitchen 1/2 the size of my own! Several years ago she was working for Lenôtre, one of the best pastry establishments in Paris, when she was diagnosed with Celiac. Imagine being a pastry chef diagnosed with celiac- it’s like being an opera singer who’s told she can never sing again.

Like many of us who’ve struggled with a transition to a completely gluten-free diet, François agreed the transition was not easy. “Marie gave up cooking. For awhile we both managed restaurants in London.” Thankfully for us, she couldn’t stay away.

“At first, she started experimenting, and at first it was a disaster.” smiled François. (sound familiar home chefs??) “But eventually it got better and she started working on specifics- percentages and writing down exact measures. Then in December, 2011 they took the plunge and moved back to Paris to open Helmut Newcake.

Gluten Free Pastry Helmut NewcakeSince then, they’ve been taking the gluten-free world by storm. They’ve been featured on David Lebovitz’s blog, the New York Times Magazine, The global news agency AFP (see their video about Helmut Newcake here), and many other well respected European publications.

We visited on several occasions- enough times to enjoy nearly everything in the pastry case. While everything we tried was delicious and beautifully presented, the stars were the eclairs. *Hands Down*, these are the lightest, most perfectly balanced eclairs I’ve ever enjoyed. The filling is creamy and a delicious contrast to the light and airy pâte à choux. And, for those of you who can still eat gluten- I guarantee in a blind taste test you could not tell which one has no gluten- and in fact, I bet you’d prefer Marie’s eclairs. They’re that good.

From a pastry standpoint, I know that gluten-free pâte à choux can be a challenge. Too often it gets tough and stringy, and then it won’t puff in the oven- or it will collapse. Marie has elevated gluten-free pâte à choux to an art form, and if you only have time to stop by for one pastry- get an eclair, or another treat made with pâte à choux. Gluten-free paradise indeed.

As for that brunch we enjoyed? Heavenly. Think baskets of fresh gluten-free bread, smoked salmon, bacon, pancakes, savory tarts, and perfectly coddled eggs. And dessert? Let’s just say the sign on the counter about gluten-free paradise is correct.

I think the next time we visit Paris, we may need to stay in the 10th, just so we can stop by every day!

DSC05882Brunch at Helmut Newcake

Merci Beaucoup Madame (et Monsieur) Tagliaferro! Vous êtes une source d’inspiration pour les chefs sans gluten partout. Nous vous remercions de votre persévérance, de dévouement et de passion.

The Markets of Paris

Marche D'Aligre
Marche D’Aligre

My favorite time of day in Paris is early Sunday morning between 8-10am. The city seems to take a deep breath and exhale. And for a moment- all is calm. There are few people on the streets, save for a couple tourists hurrying to catch the train to the airport, a garbage man or two, and perhaps the random shop owner who opens to sell a breakfast café or croissant. You can walk through the old cobblestone streets, watch the sun peeping over the buildings, and hear yourself think. For a very brief time, I feel like I have this glorious city all to myself.

Marche Bio- RaspailOf course, there’s another reason to get out early, especially on the weekend, and that is to hit the Marchés (Markets). Just like our farmer’s markets domestically, the marchés are filled with every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable- this time of year grown primarily in Southern France or Spain. You will also find pop up fromageries (Cheese Shops), boucheries (butchers), boulangeries (bread shops), vendors of soaps, table cloths, cool kitchen gadgets, fresh eggs, jams, honeys, and the like. And the beautiful thing? If you’re willing to walk a distance or ride the metro- you can find a plein air (open air) market every day of the week.

Petite Marche- Rue du Seine
Petite Marche- Rue du Seine

The Marché d’Aligre is probably one of my favorite markets, and one of the most unique. It’s enormous and takes place nearly every day. What sets this market apart is that all of the vendors loudly call out to you and the other shoppers as you walk down the rows, offering samples of produces and claiming the best price. It’s all good, really. We purchased food from many different vendors, and enjoyed all of it. But, it does make marketing more of an exciting experience.

 

Marche Bio- Raspail
Marche Bio- Raspail

There are two marchés biologique (organic markets) marchés bio for short, where everything- including the take away food (cuisine a emporter) is certified organic. I found the produce prices there to be a bit out of my league (trop cher), but I felt the dairy, eggs, and meat were on par with what I’d expect to pay elsewhere. I worry less about organic produce in Europe thanks to the EU’s much more stringent policies on which pesticides are allowed to be used on crops designated for human consumption. In fact, 2 weeks ago they banned neonicotinoids, a group of pesticides known to be toxic to honey bees. Of course at the same time the USDA approved a new toxic pesticide already shown to be incredibly harmful to honeybees. Way to go USDA. Makes me wonder who’s back pocket you’re in. It doesn’t appear to be the honey bees’.

Miel d'Acacia
Miel d’Acacia

For those of you who don’t know, honey bee populations in the US and around the world are in a freefall thanks to colony collapse disorder. This winter, honey bee farmers sustained record hive deaths. So much so, that California almond growers are concerned that they might not have enough honey bees to pollinate the entire crop this year. Almond trees are exclusively pollinated by bees. Over 25% of America’s food crops need bees to pollinate them. If we lose our fuzzy buzzy friends, our food supply is in serious jeopardy.

Petite Saucisson
Petite Saucisson

In Paris, they are doing something about this. Chemical sprays are banned within the city limits, and all of the major gardens- the Tuileries, Luxumbourg, etc., have bee hives and fruit trees planted. Once a year, the honey collected goes on sale.

Unlike the US, the markets of Paris take place year round. Thanks to the Gulf Stream Waters, even though Paris is super-far North, it’s possible to get fresh produce that was grown close by. Just like in the US, it varies seasonally, and if you want to eat locally, you still have to eat what’s in season- but you definitely have options.

Charcuterie Notice

 

Purchasing food at the marchés is also a great way to eat gluten-free or on a budget. I was very surprised to see the sign on the left regarding the charcuterie. You’ll also notice the prices. Meat in general, is very expensive. I believe their prices actually reflect the true cost of raising quality meat. But as a consequence, only the very rich eat fresh meat every day. Most folks will regularly enjoy a little cured meat, paté, or foie gras, and then a few times a week, perhaps a steak or a roast chicken. Roast chickens are available at most of the markets and at most bucheries, are delicious, and very affordable. Even the farm-raised ones (fermier).

 

 

I’ve included a link here to a complete run-down of the markets of Paris. Each market, just like each arrondissement, has a unique personality. Why not enjoy them all? Oh yes, and Les Baguettes pictured below….. Gluten Free and Delicious! I’ll be writing about them soon!

Les Baguettes: Gluten Free & Delicious!
Les Baguettes: Gluten Free & Delicious!

Special thanks to my daughter, the elder Kitchen Diva in Training, for taking the photos you see in this post. She’s getting quite good with a camera, don’t you think?

Donkey Milk Soap- very good for the complexion.
Donkey Milk Soap- very good for the complexion.
Marche d'Aligre
Marche d’Aligre

 

Dinner with Jim Haynes

Jim Haynes and our evening's Chef- Evgenia
Jim Haynes and our evening’s Chef- Evgenia

Jim Haynes has fed over 150,000 people.  For Jim, like many of us, a shared meal is a means for breaking down barriers, sharing a story, and recognizing our common humanity.

For over 30 years Jim has been hosting Sunday night dinners and introducing people to people in his Paris apartment.  It all began when Jim was hosting a guest who he realized he didn’t know very well. This guest loved to cook and offered to cook dinner for Jim and a few friends. Out of this was born a tradition that has spanned the globe. When Jim goes to the Edinburgh festival every August, the dinners go with him. People who’ve attended Jim’s Paris dinners have started their own Sunday dinners on nearly every continent.

Handmade desserts- the white ones were gluten free!
Handmade desserts- the white ones were gluten free!

Last night, we were fortunate enough to be on the guest list. Dinner was cooked by Jim’s friend Evgenia, who is Macedonian. We enjoyed traditional Macedonian stews and desserts. A salad of shredded carrots, beets and cabbage, a stew of roasted peppers which were then fried in olive oil until they were so tender they fell apart. A green salad of spinach, onion, & yogurt. And desserts- a tray of hundreds- all hand-made by Evgenia. And, because the Kitchen Divas in Training and I are gluten-free- she also prepared a special meat dish for us, as the main course was made with Filo. Talk about hospitality. Talk about delicious.

People from all over the world find Jim. We met local Parisians, students, folks from Houston & Austin, Australia, England, Ireland, Germany, Mexico, and left with contact information for many newly made friends. When you arrive at Jim’s, he separates you and asks you to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Rather than this being an awkward experience, everybody is enthusiastic about talking to someone they don’t know and discovering something unexpected.  The best part for me? Seeing Jim beaming at all the happy people and all the connections being made. For those of us who believe world peace can be achieved over a meal, it’s nights like this that provide the proof.

The evening winding down

Seamus, from Ireland, who helps with the serving every week.
Seamus, from Ireland, who helps with the serving every week.
Jim and his guests
Jim and his guests

If you know you are going to be in Paris on a Sunday night, or at the Edinburgh Festival in August- contact Jim and get on his guest list. The people will surprise and delight you, and no matter how far away you live, for a moment, Paris will feel like home.

L’Express Bar- Paris

Monsieur Le GarrecThis- is Monsieur Le Garrec- a Celtic Frenchman, formerly of Le Dorac, now living in Paris. How is it, you might ask, that an American family comes to spend time with such a gentleman? It is thanks to the miracle of the universe and the help of our neighborhood watering hole- L’Express Bar (23 Rue du Roule, 75001).

Every arrondissement in Paris has a gathering place like this. Some more than one. I very nearly wrote about another- Le Rubis, only to be scooped by David Lebovitz just the other day. I guarantee you- in every neighborhood bar there is a story as riveting as Monsieur Le Garrec’s waiting to be told. The story just needs a listener. This conversation took place entirely in French, and if the details aren’t 100% accurate, it is because of my faulty comprehension.

Monsieur Le Garrec- Marcel- was 8 years old in 1943 when the Gestapo marched into his village of Le Dorac- a small village not quite halfway between Limoges and Poitiers that was right on the dividing line between Occupied and Vichy France. Eight years old. Not much older than my younger daughter. The fear he said he felt was unimaginable, untranslatable. His parents were both active in the Resistance.

The elder Le Garrec's Carte d'Resistance- still carried by Monsieur Le Garrec
The elder Le Garrec’s Carte d’Resistance- still carried by Monsieur Le Garrec

Often he was left home alone all night to sleep by himself, while his parents risked their lives for the sake of a free France. His mother, like many women of The Resistance, carried messages. His father, part of the Maquisard– the men of The Resistance; guerrilla fighters located primarily in Vichy France, was involved in more dangerous activities: Radio transmittals to Britain that moved every night, smuggling downed Allied paratroupers to Spain using Russian papers, distributing weapons or sabotaging German stations in advance of the Allied Invasion.

Marcel told us with great emotion that when he was 10- his mother brought him to Normandy- to Sainte-Mère-Église – the site of a violent battle during the D-Day invasion, where many Allied paratroopers were killed. She showed him the tomb of a fallen American soldier, instructed him to say a prayer for the young man, and in a Private Ryan-esque moment, told him to  “earn this”. These men died so that young Marcel, young Arianwen & Katerina could live in a world free from the worst type of evil and prejudice. That same year, his father- also Marcel- introduced him to an American General at a reunion of Resistance fighters and rescuees in La Doret. This general shook the hand of the elder Marcl and thanked him for resisting. ‘Without the Resistance, we could not have succeeded.’ The highest accolades for a gentleman who refused all decoration from the French government in the years to come.

Marcel- now 78, is an artiste- a singer with a lovely tenor voice, who will be traveling to Bologna for 2 months next summer to better study opera. He calls himself a ‘comédien’. In France that means an entertainer/actor  of song, poetry, and writing. His wife has passed, his daughters remain, and still he sings and reaches out. We spent the better part of the evening discussing the finer points of movies, music, art and food.

Ouefs Mayonnaise- typical wine bar fare. Delicious
Ouefs Mayonnaise- typical wine bar fare. Delicious

The first night we met him he was enjoying an excellently prepared steak frite at our Bar. He heard us speaking English to the girls and asked if we were American. He thanked Jack for the aid of the Americans in WWII. Neither of us has ever had that experience. Jack responded that we still remember the aid of the French in our own Revolution.

It is encounters like these that make me happy I’m an artist and a writer. Stories like Marcel’s need to be shared- alongside the wine, l’eau mineral, and planchettes (charcuterie planks) that are part and parcel of a neighborhood gathering place.

I hope to meet Monsieur Marcel again for a verre du vin, or perhaps ‘ouefs mayonnaise’. before we hop a plane to come home. I hope we can spend the evening talking about the finer points of Gershwin, Cole Porter, George Brassens, and the importance of making music and sharing food- wherever we are…because artists naturally seem to find each other.

Wherever you are- I encourage you to find your local watering hole- your own L’Express Bar, and for a moment, put aside all preconceived notions about who people are and just listen to the story of the person sitting next to you. It’s likely you’ll be amazed.

Le Bistrot St. Germain

Notre Dame in Spring

 

 

Bonjour a tous! The Adventuresome Kitchen is on the road again- back to Paris where we are working on an exciting project to be unveiled later in the year.

Paris in spring is much different than Paris in December. I have to say I’m just as enchanted. Flowers are peeping out everywhere, and on the sunnier days, the cafes are filled to bursting with people watchers.

 

 

ChateaubriandOne pleasant discovery has been Le Bistrot St. Germain. On a little side street, just off St. Germain de Pres, I stopped to read the menu, and Monsieur Alex, immediately invited us in. I confess it was a bit of an awkward moment- we had intended to eat at a creperie a few doors down (we later found out it was closed that day!), but I like to stop and read the menus and look at the prices. The menu looked good, and the restaurant looked really cosy, and after a few moments of hemming and hawing, I explained that the Kitchen Divas in Training and I must eat meals ‘sans gluten’. “Pas de problem” (no problem) he said. “I will take care of you!” And so adventuring we went.

Monsieur Alex certainly did take care of us. I asked him about a number of ingredients and he even brought out onion soup sans bread, and clarified it was not thickened with ‘farine’ or ‘ble’. Those words mean flour, and can be used interchangeably.

Moules He brought the girls veal steaks perfectly grilled and seasoned without sauce. I enjoyed a tender lamb chop, and Mr. Kitchen Diva had the best meal of the day- a starter of plump, sweet mussels cooked in wine and shallots, and a juicy chateaubriand (a porterhouse steak). It was cooked to perfection, and not too big. The pomme frites and haricourt verts were perfectly seasoned and appropriately crispy. The ladies were in french fry heaven!  I realize I have just used the word ‘perfect’ about 6 times, but it was really, really good. There were several gluten-free desserts on the menu, and we settled for mousse au chocolate and creme caramel. Creme caramel is just like creme brulee, only the sugar hasn’t been crisped. Brulee means to burn. All this for a mere 12.50 euro per person! A price that for the quality, would be hard to beat in any neighborhood in Paris! I noticed after we sat down, that they also have a slightly more expansive menu for 17.50 euro, and we intend to return to sample some of the more adventurous options.

The restaurant is tiny- only 10 tables or so on the ground floor, with exposed beams and a lovely old wooden bar in the back towards the kitchen. The walls are covered with old pots and pans, artwork, and even a pair of skis. It definitely has the feel of a cosy mountain chalet. The cuisine here is hearty, and they claim to make ‘Savoyarde’ (Swiss) cuisine as well, namely fondue. I don’t know if they serve fondue in spring, but if they do, that might have to be on our next menu as well!

Le Bistrot St GermainCreme Caramel

 

 

Of course, all work and no play makes everyone a bit grumpy. And given that there’s so much food to try, we need to walk and run to build up hearty appetites. In spring, this means multiple visits to the Jardin du Luxumbourg, where they have one of the best play areas I’ve ever encountered. The Jardin du Luxumbourg isn’t just for children. There are plenty of play areas for adults as well. We noticed lots of tennis courts, but our favorite was the Boules area. These men and women take their Boules seriously- including trash talk and commenting to the watchers. Seriously fun entertainment.

Jardin du Luxumbourg

 

 

 

 

 

Boules in the Jardin du Luxumbourg

Salmon in Parchment a lá Rosalie

Salmon ready to be cooked in parchment
Salmon ready to be cooked in parchment

Have you ever been on the receiving end of an epic meal? I can think of at least three such meals off the top of my head: The Inn At Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island where I spent an incredibly romantic evening on my honeymoon (pre gluten-free). Our meal here was so fantastic I was dizzy. And not from the wine! It was the first time I realized that a meal could be a full-on sensual experience. This realization inspired me to start actively pairing food and wine, and taking serious flavor risks in the kitchen. I wanted to recreate how I felt eating this meal all the time!

And yes, nearly 15 years later, I could tell you exactly what we ate!

The second such meal was at Q’s at the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder. This was my first fancy gluten-free meal, and it was a revelation. I could still enjoy an incredible, flavorful, visually stimulating, and texturally interesting meal and feel great after! More recently, Salon Helene Darroze in Paris was another epic meal. It was also the first super fancy meal (not cooked by me) that the Kitchen Divas in Training got to enjoy. They savored every bite and commented on the dishes as if they were the Iron Chef judges. It was truly delightful.

What constitutes an epic meal? In my mind there are 3 things:

  • Company: A meal shared is a meal enjoyed. Food is meant to be shared, lingered over, experienced. The better the company, the better the meal- even if the food is average. Laughter can fill us up as much as the food.
  • Food that is prepared with heart and care: Notice I didn’t say super-snobby, fancy ingredients, fine crystal, etc. Often snobby-food meals like that are epic. But eat in a fine establishment with a rude waiter and your hopes for epic-ness are dashed. When you’re aware that you’re eating food that has been prepared with love, it’s transformative- no matter where you happen to eat it, or what the food is. I can think of a picnic I enjoyed in the middle of an ancient stone circle on a cool, sunny March day in the Cotswolds over a dozen years ago. We enjoyed freshly made local cheese and beer while we waited for the faeries to hop out and dance with us. Incredible. I can still remember the conversation I had with the shopkeeper who told us what cheese and beer to buy and where to find the faerie circle.
  • Heightened Senses: Think about the meals you’ve had where you remember the minute details of smell, texture, music, taste…Those meals that engage all of our senses, or that sharpen them, are the ones we remember for years to come.
Whether it's a meal for 2 or 20. Any shared meal can be epic.
Whether it’s a meal for 2 or 20. Any shared meal can be epic.

The other day, my friend Rebekah, who is currently living in a tiny village in Southern France, excitedly skyped me to tell me about this epic meal she’d enjoyed the night before. By the end of our conversation not only was I dying of jealousy, but I wanted to recreate a tiny fraction of what she experienced. This recipe is a loose interpretation of one component of her host Rosalie’s epic meal, and is named in her honor. I hope I get to meet Rosalie someday. She sounds like my kind of fellow cook and food-lover.

Saumon en PapilloteI have never made Salmon en Papillote before, and was surprised at how easy it was. The prep time is more lengthy than just putting salmon in a ziplock to marinate, but the results are worth it. The salmon is juicy and the flavors are intense. Don’t be afraid to really pile on the flavors. Salmon is rich and if you’re too delicate with your seasonings you will be left wanting something more from the dish. I was surprised at how generous I needed to be with the herbes de provence I used.  When I daintily sprinkled the herbes over the first few pieces, we couldn’t even taste them! It took sprinkling the herbes through every layer before they stood out and really added something to the dish!

Poached egg with Saumon en PapilloteBecause this dish at its core is so simple, you have complete freedom to add or subtract flavors based on your own personal tastes. Food should be a reflection of who we are, and those personal touches are often what elevates a meal from sustenance to memorable. In fact, we added a poached egg to the leftovers for breakfast, along with more herbes de provence, lemon zest, and truffle salt. Ooh Lo Lo! I just wish I had a bottle of champagne on hand to accompany it.

So here’s a toast to the Rosalies of the world. The love you bring to others through your food is a gift indeed!

What epic meals have you experienced in your life? Share them in the comments!

Saumon Rosalie (Salmon in Parchment a lá Rosalie)

Saumon en PapilloteIngredients

Salmon Filets, sliced into little 3-inch squares. (we used 2 sizable filets and made 10 packets.)

Fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly

Fresh tomatoes, sliced thinly

Fresh basil leaves- enough for 1-3 leaves on each piece of salmon

olive oil

1 tsp Herbes de Provence for each salmon packet

salt

1 lemon for zesting

Directions

If your salmon does not come de-skinned, remove the skin. Slice filet into 3-inch squares. No need to be exact on this. I made the squares bigger on the thinner side of the filet, and some squares were more rectangular. Do what seems right for your meal.

Cut a length of parchment paper- about 8-10 inches wide. Fold it in 1/2 with the short sides touching. Then fold in 3rds- so it’s about the size of an envelope, and turn the paper so it’s long and skinny and fold in 3rd again so that it’s a rectangle that can fit in your hand. Unfold the 3rds, but leave so that it’s still folded in 1/2- you should see 9 sections. Pre folding helps once you’re folding the parchment around the filet. I learned this the hard way!

Place a filet in the center of a folded piece of parchment. Sprinkle a bit of salt and part of the herbes de provence. Add a piece of mozzarella (Cream cheese can also work as a substitute). Sprinkle more herbes de provence. Add a thin slice of tomato, or two. Sprinkle more herbes de provence. Top with a few basil leaves and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Just about anything can be used to close a parchment packet
Just about anything can be used to close a parchment packet

Fold the packet around the salmon and tie with a bit of string. You will notice in these pictures that I used kitchen string, satin ribbon, and a clothespin. I discovered just as I reached for the string that the Kitchen Divas in Training had absconded with my kitchen string and used it for a Mideval art project of epic proportions! Use what you’ve got on hand- the oven temperature is only 350, and will likely not damage anything you use to secure your packets.

Place the packets on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan and cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 180 degrees Celsius) for 20-25 minutes. The thinner filets will be done at 20. The thicker ones need a little more time.

IF and only IF, you know your fishmonger and you can get superfresh salmon – we cannot here in the Midwest- you might cook your thicker filets to 20 minutes. This would be very tender in the center. Ideal, but only if you trust your food source. Otherwise, make sure your fish is opaque at the center.

To Plate: Unwrap the packets and slide each piece of fish onto a plate. Sprinkle with more herbes de provence, a tiny bit of salt (we like truffle salt for this) and a generous sprinkle of lemon zest. You could even squeeze a bit of lemon over the top.

Most importantly- enjoy with people you love!

Gently reheat leftovers and top with a poached egg.
Gently reheat leftovers and top with a poached egg.

Galettes de Sarrasin

This is the last post surrounding our Gluten Free Adventure in Paris…sort-of. I have one more, but it deals with everything truffles, and that’s not exclusive to Paris.. Part of the delay in today’s post was weather related- the ladies have had back to back snow days, altering the schedule a bit. The other reason for the delay was that I was trying to duplicate the galettes I enjoyed at the aforementioned creperies- but more on that in a moment….

Paris is synonymous with many things: romance, lights, croissants, baguettes, lights, le Tour Eiffel, crepes- just to name a few…Now I’ve posted about crepes here on several occasions, and our trip would not have been complete without me whipping up a few batches of crepes in our apartment, or figuring out where we could get gluten free crepes somewhere around Paris…As it turns out, it was easier than I thought to find gluten-free crepes. In fact, our very first meal on our very first day was at a tiny creperie that I’d read about over on David Lebovitz‘s blog.

Breizh Cafe

Located in the heart of the Marais, Breizh Cafe is a traditional creperie from Bretagne– that’s Brittany to we Anglais, and Breizh in the Celtic rooted Breton dialect from that area. Traditional fare from this region of France includes galettes de sarrasin– buckwheat crepes. What I’d read about their preparation at this restaurant led me to believe that I could actually eat said galettes, and as soon as we dropped our suitcases in le petite appartement, we called and made a reservation. An easy twenty minute walk from our new digs, and I was enjoying a heavenly lunch while wrapping my head around a new language. I explained that I was allergic to gluten- something I suspect this server had heard before, because she very nicely assured me that their crepes were indeed gluten-free.

A word here- crepes and galettes are NOT pancakes. Please do not ever call them pancakes. Galettes are made of buckwheat, and are served open faced. Crepes are typically made with white flour and served folded over. Sometimes galettes can be referred to as crepes. And, if you want to totally offend and alienate your server, by all means ask loudly in English for their best pancake and then on your own switch tables. (yes- we actually saw that happen)

Breizh is a tiny place- perhaps 10 small tables in all, and incredibly popular. One day we were in for a 2pm reservation, and the foyer was crowded with people- some who’d  been waiting for a table for over an hour. I can’t stress enough the importance of making a reservation wherever you choose to eat. Every time we ate here- we were here three times during our stay since it was fairly close to us- we tried something new on the menu. It was all delicious! Galettes are traditionally served with Cidre– a fermented apple cider. I’m now hooked on it- fortunately our favorite wine shop carries it. What’s great is that it comes in a stone pitcher and it’s traditionally drunk out of bowls instead of glasses. I’m now on the look out for some cidre bowls when I go to the antique/thrift stores around town. Dessert on our last day was a galette sarrasin with buckwheat ice cream and buckwheat honey- absolutely delicious.

That last day, I finally got up the courage to ask the owner if I could take some pictures to post when I went to write about our experience. I say this because I felt rather awkward just going places and surreptitiously snapping pics- so I only have restaurant pics from the two creperies. If you’re interested in reading about the rest of my gluten-free restaurant and shopping adventures in Paris, and receiving a little travel advice, I’ve put up a new page and you can read everything here. If you know a celiac heading to Paris soon, by all means, send them a link!

Aux Ducs de Bourgogne

Towards the end of our stay, we stumbled upon an equally lovely and tiny creperie, just around the corner from the Musée Rodin. Aux Ducs de Bourgogne is run by the charming Charles Azzi, a welcoming gentleman, fluent in multiple languages. He spent over 20 years in high end hospitality- several of those years working in food service- before coming to France and opening the creperie. He studied crepe making in Bretagne, and taught me a little of the history of galettes, as well as the difference between a crepe and a galette. A little trivia for you- Buckwheat first arrived in Europe during the Middle Ages, brought back by the soldiers of the Crusades.

For Charles, hospitality is of the utmost importance- and it shows. On our visits there we easily heard 6 different languages being spoken. His restaurant is very popular with state officials- it’s located right behind the Assemblée National, actors, and regular folks like us, who just happen upon it. We felt so welcomed on our first visit that we made sure we returned before we left. The galettes were phenomenal, and he was very willing to make dessert crepes using the buckwheat flour only. While their website doesn’t seem to be up at the moment, I did discover they have a facebook page- so look for them there if you like!

Whether you prefer the Right Bank or the Left Bank, know there are at least two creperies where you can enjoy fabulous, gluten-free food. I feel so fortunate to have met so many amazing people on this trip- people who reminded me of the importance of vocation, and who shared such kindness, generosity, and hospitality. We all came home changed from our experience, and we’re going to do what we can to get back as soon as possible. It is not Au revoir Paris, it’s A bientot.

Now, as for the other reason this post was a long time coming….when you experience galettes like these, you have to figure out how to duplicate the experience! After a few bad batches, false starts, and shots off the backboard, I finally got the taste right! While mine don’t look as pretty- I don’t have a large griddle. The taste takes me right back to these spots, and we’ll be enjoying many more galettes de sarrasin this winter. Fill these with whatever your heart desires- savory, sweet, seafood- you won’t be disappointed!

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The best macarons in Paris

I Looooovve dark chocolate. I don’t need much, just a tiny square of high-quality dark chocolate at the end of a good meal, in the middle of the day with a cup of espresso, with a friend- you get the picture.  So, it’s a bit of a big deal when I say that for two weeks I didn’t even think about chocolate. Not even once. Why? you might ask… What could possibly do that- especially in a country well known for fine chocolate, and in a city where chocolate shops are prevalent in every neighborhood?

I fell in love with Macarons.

Actually, we all did. Most patisseries make and sell macarons, but then there are the macaron shops…..

Elegant little boutiques with mouth watering window displays; and inside, rows of beautiful, pastel-colored (think Easter eggs), soft pillows of flavor. Somebody cue the harps!

Macarons are naturally gluten-free, made with almond flour and meringue, and filled with beautiful creamy fillings. They’re tiny too, and just sweet enough that one or two are just perfect with….well anything. We made it our mission to try as many different macarons as possible on this trip- in order to determine for ourselves who makes the best Macarons in Paris. And, towards the end of our stay, when the long days of walking started to catch up with two little girls, I confess that I shamelessly bribed them to walk ‘just a bit further’ with the promise that we would stop and enjoy some of the beautiful macarons we had just purchased. OK- I was bribing myself too! Macarons are as delicious and lovely at 10am, as they are at 11pm. We couldn’t get enough. And while I have not yet attempted to make these at home, they are going on my list. Maybe instead of dying Easter eggs this year, we’ll make oodles of Macarons!

Our top 3 pics in Paris

  • Pierre Hermè– they get top points for flavor creativity and texture, but be warned- you do pay for this. They are about twice as expensive as the other top pics- especially if you purchase the pretty box. (I bought two!) Our favorite flavor was Olive oil and Mandarin Orange. I think I’m going to have to invent a Pierre Hermè salad with those flavors! The kitchen divas in training also gave Pierre Hermè points for the sparkle-y macarons with flavors like White Truffle with Hazlenut, and Creme Brulèe. Really, when isn’t it about the sparkle for little girls?

 

 

 

 

  • Ladurée– excellent texture and a good flavor selection

 

 

 

 

  • Stohrer– a great macaron, doubly good because they were steps from our apartment- really- about 19 steps! And, they have the added distinction of being the oldest patisserie in Paris- founded in 1730. In addition to selling the regular ‘petite’ macarons, they also offered large macaron ‘cakes’ for La Noël. We ordered one called Le Rosier, literally translated as ‘the rose’. It was a rose-flavored macaron with rose petal creme, and fresh raspberries. Can you say heavenly?? Who needs a buche when you can enjoy a beautiful macaron cake?

 

 

 

 

There were many other macarons we tried- we tried as many as possible, and enjoyed them all. I don’t think you can go wrong with a macaron in Paris.

Bresse Chicken Fricassee with Apples, Morels, and Thyme

One of the things I have really come to appreciate about French cuisine, and the people who make their living growing and cooking food, is the respect for terroir. As I have wandered the markets and foodstalls over the last two weeks I have been continuously surprised at the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) designations for things like cheese, honey, foie gras, and even butter.

I had no idea prior to this trip that AOC designation applied to anything but wine. But after seeing and experiencing what I believe are the best food products in the world, and learning how seriously the growers and producers take their craft, I have new respect for the AOC designation and its importance in protecting smaller producers and keeping food production sustainable.

While AOC designations come with a multitude of regulations, which American growers would likely find too restrictive, the regulations stem from a respect for what the earth can sustainably produce, and an understanding that where animals are concerned the better the animal is treated in production, the higher quality food it will yield. Makes sense to me. Happy plants/animals = happy, healthy food = happy, healthy people. Beyond that, EU (European Union) regulations mandate that no subtheraputic antibiotics or growth hormones can be used on any animal contributing to the food supply. Pesticides and Herbicides that are indiscriminately used by large factory farms here in the US are strictly regulated, and at times outright banned for use on food crops…Paris proper has banned the use of all herbicides and pesticides in its parks and gardens, and in a time where the honey bee population has suddenly and dramatically declined worldwide by more than 30%, Paris has experienced an explosion of honey thanks to its thriving bee population. There are rooftop and garden apiaries all over the city, and during honey harvest time, you can purchase honey from the hives at Opera Garnier, the Jardin des Luxembourg, and the Pere Lachaise cemetery among other places. And we wonder why the EU longevity is higher and per capita healthcare costs are lower! Maybe, just maybe, respecting the earth has something to do with it……but I digress…

I had the good fortune to strike up a relationship with the extraordinarily kind people at the boucherie (butcher) just steps from my apartment. To share conversations with people who are so proud of the quality of their goods, and who love to talk about which person made the sausage and the foie gras, and where the best chicken and ham comes from, is for me a delightful and profound gift. Not only was I, a stranger speaking not-so-great French, welcomed unconditionally, but we also quickly discovered our mutual appreciation and passion for quality food.  (So much so, that the kitchen divas in training and I brought them a freshly prepared box of my Oma’s cut-out cookies!) This enthusiasm, and yes- joy, seemed to permeate even their smallest interaction with people. Although I experienced this most profoundly at le boucherie, I saw this same passion and joy in most of the shops I frequented on my little market street; people deeply knowledgeable about their craft and willing to share their knowledge if given the chance. And while I didn’t get to know the other shopkeepers as well as I would have liked, I did have the pleasure of learning about Bresse chicken, and received a mini-butcherie demonstration to boot!

It is said that Bresse chicken is the best in the world. It received AOC designation in 1957, and growers are required to give a minimum of 10 square meters (107 square feet) of land per chicken- talk about free range! They grow up outside where they are allowed to live as chickens, eating bugs and weeds, and then, just before they’re brought to market, they are brought inside to rest for a week and fed nothing but the finest grains. This is what gives the meat its white color and beautiful texture. And yes- I have to say the texture of this meat was unequaled.

I have to admit, that I was a little concerned about preparing such a fine bird. I was terrified that I would overcook or undercook it, and either way, ruin it, and have to report back to monsieur le boucher that I had ruined the best bird in the world.  Thankfully, I nailed it, and it truly was a Christmas dinner to remember. After reading up on le Bresse, I opted for a fricassee, something that I never tried before, but that was recommended for more gamey types of meat. And, since we were in Paris, I thought it would be great to try something from Patricia Wells “Paris Cookbook”. I found a nice recipe, but of course didn’t have the discipline to leave it alone. Below is my significantly altered version of her Chicken with Morels and Cream. It was pretty delicious, and I even went so far as to spend the extra coin for dried morels- why not? The best bird deserves the best mushroom at least once! For dessert, we enjoyed a fabulous gluten-free pastry from Strohrer- the oldest patisserie in Paris, and just steps from my door. But you’ll have to wait until my macaron post to read about that!!

In conclusion, my heartfelt thanks to the dear people at Boucherie Davin. . Getting to know you has been the highlight of my trip, and I hope to be back soon buying sausage, ham, foie gras, and yes, another Bresse Chicken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bresse Chicken Fricassee with Apples, Morels, and Thyme

Serves 4-6 people

 

 

 

Ingredients

1 4-5 lb chicken (preferably a Bresse or free range chicken), separated into 8-10 segments

4 tbs butter + 2-3 tbs extra

2 cups dried Morels (can substitute dried porcinis or criminis)

2 shallots, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 cups cidre (hard apple cider) or a white wine with apple & pear overtones

2 apples, peeled and diced- about 2 cups (use a Comice or a similar yellow skinned apple)

3 sprigs of fresh thyme, bound with string + 4 tbs fresh thyme leaves

1 cup of heavy cream

salt to taste

Directions

Reconstitute the morels by rinsing thoroughly under cold water until all the gritty bits have been removed. Then place morels in a heat safe dish and just cover with boiling water. Allow to sit while you brown the chicken. You can save the mushroom water and use for vegetable stock. Remove the reconstituted morels using a slotted spoon.

Preheat a large dutch oven or similar vessel on medium-high. When you can feel the heat emanating from the bottom of the pan, add 4 tbs of butter and allow it to foam. Place 3-4 chicken pieces in the pan at a time, allowing the skin to become a deep golden brown- about 5 minutes on each side. To keep the butter from scorching, use a spoon to lift the butter over the chicken pieces, adding more butter to the pan if necessary. Remove browned chicken to a plate and lightly salt. When all the pieces have been browned, pour off most of the fat from the pan, leaving the browned bits.

Reduce heat to medium and add another tablespoon of butter and allow to foam. Add shallots and garlic and allow to soften in the butter. Do not let the garlic burn as it will turn bitter. Add the apples and the thyme sprigs, and stir for one minute. Add the cidre or wine, turn up the heat to medium high, and allow the wine to boil for 5 minutes to eliminate the alcohol.

Add the morels to the pan and stir gently. Add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Return the browned chicken to the pan, as well as any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Arrange the pieces so they all fit on the bottom of the pan, and spoon some of the mixture over the top. Reduce heat to medium, cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, turn the chicken pieces so that the side on top is now submerged in the mixture. Ladle some of the mixture over the chicken, and recover.

When you are ready to plate, place a piece of chicken in a shallow bowl or plate, ladle some of the cream mixture over the top, and sprinkle a teaspoon of fresh thyme over both the chicken and the morel apple mixture. Serve with a glass of the cidre or wine that you cooked with. In other words, you should only cook with wine you would enjoy drinking! Et Voilà!


 



Cream of Zucchini Soup & Haricorts Verts with Shallot Mustard Viniagrette

Joyeux Noel!!

In this household we celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas, and although we’ll have to leave our mini-tree here in the beaucoup petite Paris apartment, the Spirit of Christmas we’ve encountered here will follow us all the way home to Kansas City! It is remarkable that The Adventuresome Kitchen’s first-ever roadtrip is beginning to wind down- just as my french is beginning to show signs of improvement! Today nobody asked me if I prefer to speak in English! Of course, I am far from being able to converse about topics other than food, but I am happy with small improvements!

One of the things that has really impressed me about cuisine here is the availability of high-quality fresh produce in every neighborhood. I think it is one of the reasons that as a culture the Parisians tend to be far healthier than their city-dwelling American counterparts. For example, in Kansas City, there are vast stretches of the city that have no grocers- so no fresh fruits and vegetables, no quality meat or dairy.. How can you be healthy if the only option close to you is a QT or a DQ?? Here, the produce is so fresh, and so beautifully and artfully displayed you can’t help but fall in love with an attractive looking clementine, or a beautiful leek. I think we’ve actually eaten more produce here than at home- and that’s saying something! When you have access to quality ingredients, often they demand a simple preparation. Fresh greens with a simple vinaigrette, or even just a squeeze of lemon. Or a few veggies brought together in a simple soup. Being here for two weeks, and living with a dorm fridge has radically altered how I approach meals- and I have to admit, I like it. There’s a local grocer I go by every day on the way home from picking up the girls from school, and when I get home I plan to try to shop like I have here. We’ll see if it works stateside. But I digress…

For our family, Christmas Eve has always been the pinnacle of Christmas Preparations. As a former full-time Church Musician, the entire focus of my fall, starting in about October, was Christmas Eve. In years past, Christmas Eve began with a festive family luncheon of seafood and champagne before heading off to several hours of services, culminating in a late-night drive home through the Christmas lit streets. Now, even though there is no marathon of Christmas Eve services to oversee, the tradition of seafood, champagne and Christmas lights still continues. Here in Paris, among other things, it’s oyster season (it’s also Truffle season, but that’s a future post!) So what better way to spend Christmas Eve than visiting my local market street in search for stellar ingredients including freshly harvested (as in that morning!) seafood? We enjoyed a lunch of fresh oysters and lentil salad (also a new favorite!) right on the street, then bought a dozen to bring home. Champagne is always a stellar accompaniment to oysters, but we’ve also learned that Muscadet, a white wine from France’s Atlantic coast, is an often suggested pairing with oysters here. If you love oysters, it’s certainly worth checking with your local wine vendor to see if you can purchase a muscadet- it’s a briney, mineraly compliment to a fresh oyster!

Christmas Eve in Paris wouldn’t be complete without Foie Gras!  I confess, that I absolutely Love foie gras. Can’t get enough of it, and I’m also proud to say that my girls seem to be following in my footsteps. How lucky were we to learn that the local butcher we’ve befriended makes it in house? Maybe it was knowing the maker, maybe it was the excitement of being in Paris for Christmas, but it was the most heavenly foie gras I’ve tasted- like silk, with a perfectly seasoned flavor that just melted in your mouth! We paired it with fresh greens and a simple mustard vinaigrette (recipe below!). You can see from the picture, that a little goes a long way- and that really is the key with any rich food- be it foie gras, caviar, oysters, chocolate or macaron- indulge moderately.

Our evening ended by celebrating Christmas Eve with our temporary neighbors at the parish church- for us, St. Eustache. Although this church was built during the 1500’s, there’s been a parish present there since the 1200’s… talk about history. The soaring gothic cathedral houses an enormous pipe organ, and every window and side chapel was lit with candles. It was quite an  experience to sing ancient carols in such a place.

Christmas Day dawned, and the first sunny day of our whole visit shined gloriously down on us. We enjoyed a second round of feasting, including the pinnacle- a Bresse Chicken! The bird is every bit as delicious as it’s rumored to be, and deserving of its own post. But as a teaser, here are the preludes- a creamy zucchini soup recipe given to me by a dear friend of my grandfather’s here in Paris, and simple haricorts verts (that’s green beans for the rest of us!) A delicious and necessary contrast to the preparation of the Bresse Chicken. It’s only the third day of Christmas, so keep feasting, wherever you are!

Mustard Vinaigrette

use for salads or over vegetables

Ingredients

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs good quality mustard

2 tsp sherry or red wine vinegar

Directions

Mix ingredients together vigorously until an emulsion has formed. Adjust mustard/vinegar to taste and drizzle over fresh salad greens.

Cream of Zucchini Soup

This recipe came to me from a dear friend of my grandfather’s. The original recipe calls for zucchini, bouillon, and Vache qui rit (laughing cow) the small triangle processed cheeses that you see in the grocer. I couldn’t find at my local grocer, and opted for creme fraiche, as well as adding a few extra ingredients. Whatever incarnation you choose to use with this recipe, the end result is a simple and tasty soup.

serves 4

Ingredients

2 small-medium zucchini, peeled and diced

2 shallots, finely diced

2 tbs butter

2 cups water

1 bouillon cube (I used chicken, but vegetable is okay too)

1/2 cup creme fraiche, or 2 triangles of vache qui rit

1/4 cup fresh tarragon, finely minced

Directions

Place butter in a 4-quart sauce pan. Heat on medium until butter foams. Add shallots and gently stir. When the shallots have begun to turn translucent, add the zucchini. Stir to incorporate, and cover. Allow to cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Zucchini is a high-water content vegetable, so the water in the zucchini should be enough to prevent them from sticking. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them, and add a little butter or water if necessary.

When zucchini has softened, add 2 cups water and one bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and turn heat to low. Using a heavy fork, or an immersion blender, puree to your desired degree of thickness. Add creme fraiche or the cheese and stir gently to incorporate. Add tarragon, stir for another minute, and serve immediately.

Haricorts Verts (Green Beans) with Shallot Mustard Vinaigrette

serves 4 as a side dish, double for more substantial portions

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups green beans, stems removed

3 tbs butter

3 shallots, diced

1 tbs sherry or red wine vinegar

1 tbs good quality mustard

Directions

Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. While you are waiting for the pot to boil, place a bowl in the sink, fill it halfway with water, then fill the remaining part with ice.

When the pot is boiling, add the beans. Cook for 3 minutes, until the color has turned bright green. Pour off the boiling water and add the hot beans to the ice-bath. This stops the cooking, and preserves the brilliant green color of the beans. When you are ready to serve the beans, place a saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter, and when the butter is foaming, add the beans. Sautee for 1-2 minutes and add remaining ingredients. Cook until beans are warmed through and still bright green. Serve immediately.

Cream of Carrot Leek Soup

The snow has started to fly again in Paris, but tonight we were warmly tucked inside before it started sticking to the streets. And while we were damp upon returning to le petite apartment we were not drowned rats- a welcome change from some of the past days. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow we’ll have been here a week. I haven’t seen one museum, nor done half the things I set out to do, but we have had an amazing visit so far, with more to come. Today, a few more pictures from the last few days, and a recipe for a simple and very warming soup- Cream of Carrot Leek Soup- something nice for a cold snowy evening!

This picture here is representative of the way we’ve been eating most days- a little cheese, a little sausage, a little fruit, and then after, a little salad. Very simple and satisfying fare-the kind that gives you the energy to walk four miles or more taking it all in amidst the drizzle and cold.

In many ways, today was a very special day- we met a longtime friend of my grandfather’s who welcomed us with open arms, and we spent an afternoon speaking in French and English. Of course, I left with a handful of recipes that I can’t wait to attempt!

And before that, I met a fellow food blogger and made a new friend. I have only been blogging about gluten-free food for nine months. In that time, I have encountered a world of amazing new people. People who are as generous with their time and encouragement as they are with sharing their recipes on their own blogs. As a result,  I regularly have conversations with people around the world about food and cooking, and have felt my horizons expanding exponentially. But it is extra special when you get to meet- even for a brief time- someone with whom you have an instant rapport and mutual appreciation. Cristina who writes the blog From Buenos Aires to Paris, met me and my family today for a delightful walk along the Champs Elysées. If you’ve never visited her blog, I suggest you hop over and prepare yourself for some great recipes and exquisite photos- all delivered with great enthusiasm and a marvelous sense of humor! We traded stories while the girls enjoyed some hot pomme frites from the Village du Noel and ended our time together with a visit to a fancy store at the top of the Champs to purchase some Pierre Hermé macarons. Thank you Cristina for a lovely visit, and for making us feel so welcome here!

Macarons are naturally gluten-free, and we have made a point of sampling as many different ones as possible during the last six days. Pierre Hermé macarons are far from traditional- try adventurous flavors like Rose, White Truffle with Chestnut, and Chocolate with Green Tea for starters. I’d post a picture, but they didn’t fare well during our walkabout today, and so sadly, I will have to return to purchase more so that I can post a nice photo!

After such a lovely day, imagine returning to our ‘home street’ to enjoy a little conversation with the shopkeepers while we purchased ingredients for dinner! C’est tres jolie!

In keeping with the late hour, the impending snow, and the need to prepare something quick, a simple soup seemed to be in order. Carrots and leeks looked good, so we decided to add some creme fraiche and voilá! Le bonne soup!

Enjoy the photo montage below, and if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere tonight, may you be as warm of heart and body as we have been today. Bon Appétit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gluten Free French Onion Soup – Braised Endive Apple & Bleu Cheese

Should I start with the story of how I ventured out on my own today, and purchased enough ingredients for two delicious meals? (Gluten Free French Onion Soup and Braised Endive w/ Apples & Bleu Cheese- see recipes below) or how I asked for eau mineral avec gas, when the waiter asked me how I wanted my steak done?

I may be able to make myself understood in the food department, but I still have a long way to go in terms of actually understanding what is said to me! C’est la vie! Two days in, and we’ve experienced sunshine, snow, sleet, and rain. The kitchen divas in training have been real troopers and have logged at least twelve miles of walking over the last two days. Once again, I’m such a proud mommy! The mini experiences are too vast to number, and I’m still crummy about taking pictures on our adventures out and about. Hopefully, as I get to know some of the vendors in this neighborhood, I’ll be able to post some cool food pics, but in the meantime, you’ll have to be content with a few anecdotes.

First off, being gluten free in Paris is far from a death sentence. In fact, I was thrilled to discover that on my market street (Rue Montorgueil) I can even get fresh gluten free bread! Now, after eating a few gluten free loaves around town over the last few days, I do think the French are behind the curve when it comes to gluten free bread- but I can see why- it’s not really their thing. I’ve had better fresh gluten-free bread in the states, and am still working on a GF sourdough-ish of my own that I like to think, when perfected, would make any Parisian smile. The Parisians take their bread very seriously- so much so, that as I wandered down the snowy street this morning in search of today’s meals, I noticed a woman leaving a boulangerie clutching a freshly baked, still warm loaf to her chest and smiling beatifically as if she was holding a baby!

We’ve eaten three meals out- and I’ve had no issues at all being gluten-free. I won’t go into that here, I’ll save all the restaurant reviews for a later post. I can say though, that in spite of the foul weather, I LOVE Paris! I always felt I was a New Yorker, but I think I can say unequivocally, after visiting here a few times in the winter, that if I could live anywhere in the world, it would be next to a market street in Paris. I do appreciate that everything here is done with an artistic eye. There’s an understanding here that food is as much as an art as music, or dance, or paintings. As an artist with experience in multiple disciplines, I respond to that.

On that note, enjoy a few visual highlights of The Adventuresome Kitchen’s first few days here, and a few very quick and easy recipes.  Groceries, by and large, are very affordable, although, finding ingredients that you need is another story. I accept that perhaps, I’m just looking in the wrong place- for instance, where does one find chicken stock? I ended up using vegetable bouillon for my onion soup- with surprisingly delicious results. But that was only because chicken stock was not on the shelves at the mini grocery store, nor did I see it at the meat vendor…. If anyone knows how to ask for it, and where to find it, by all means let me know.. The same for lardon… I know that lardon is the closest thing to bacon the French have, but I didn’t see it at the meat vendor’s…. I did, however, purchase something that had it been cured, would have been bacon, and the butcher behind the counter looked at me like I had three heads when I asked for one tiny slice, totaling 0.41 Euro.  And so what I hoped would be endive with bacon, was endive with pork. Still heavenly, but not what I had intended.. But, that’s part of the adventure, right? Cooking with new ingredients, less cookware, etc… and in the process, learning a thing or two! For instance, the oven in the petite apartment is too small for the jelly roll pan I brought. And now, I have to visit E. Dehillerin tomorrow to purchase something appropriate…. oh so sad (she says with a twinkle in her eye) and yet- if I’m bold, another adventure awaits!  More to come, and in the meantime, enjoy the recipes below!

Braised Endive with Bacon, Apples, Shallots and Bleu Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients 

2 endive, sliced in half, lengthwise

2-3 tbs olive oil

1 thick slice bacon (or uncured pork if bacon is not available)

3 shallots, diced finely

1/2 golden apple, diced

1 1/2 tbs sherry vinegar

1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles

Directions

Preheat the oven to broil. Slice endive in half lengthwise, and brush both sides with olive oil. Place face down on a broiling pan covered in parchment. Place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until outer layer of endive has begun to carmelize and brown. Meanwhile, in a separate pan on the stove, sautee bacon (or pork) over medium until well cooked and beginning to crisp. Add shallots and stir briefly, allowing to saute until  shallots are translucent. Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, and pull from the heat. Add the apples and gently stir.

Remove the endive from broiler, and with a pair of tongs, flip the pieces over so that the cut side is face up. Replace in the broiler for another 2-3 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the broiler. Spoon the bacon/shallot/apple over each endive, and crumble about 2 tablespoons of  bleu cheese over each half. Replace in the broiler, and allow to cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the bleu cheese is bubbling. Remove and serve promptly.

Golden Onion Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

6 medium onions (white or yellow)

4 tbs butter (unsalted- if using salted, omit salt initially, and adjust for taste)

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tbs sorghum flour

1/3 cup white wine

2 cups vegetable stock (for traditional onion soup use beef stock)

1/2 tsp pepper

4 slices gluten-free bread

2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

Directions

Finely slice the onions lengthwise. Meanwhile, warm a stock pot over medium heat. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the onions. Cook until the onions have begun to change color- at least 20-30 minutes. The longer you cook the onions, the darker they will become and the darker your soup will be.

While the onions are cooking down, turn the oven on to broil. Take the slices of bread and place them on a parchment covered broiling pan. Sprinkle a 1/2 cup of gruyere cheese onto each slice, spreading evenly. Broil for 5 minutes, or until  cheese is bubbly and brown.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the sorghum over the onions and stir until sorghum has turned golden brown, and is beginning to stick to the bottom of the stock pot. Deglaze with the white wine. Stir until everything that has been sticking to the bottom of the pan has been removed. Add the two cups of vegetable stock and stir to incorporate the ingredients. Add the pepper, and if needed, more salt to taste. Cover and allow to heat through.

When you are ready to serve, ladle soup into the bowls, and float a piece of the toasted bread in each dish. Traditionally this is achieved by placing the soup in ovenproof ramekins, and broiling all at once. If you don’t have oven proof ramekins, this method will achieve the same result.