In 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.”
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!
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!
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!
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!
More 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 posts will return soon, but today I want to tell you about what’s happening in the Austin food scene. I’ve been in Austin for the last 4 days at a conference and have had the chance to experience some great gluten-free food.
Like any city with a thriving local restaurant scene- Austin is pretty easy to navigate if you eat ‘sans gluten’. (Yes, I can’t help the French references at the moment!) Restaurants in Austin are committed to supporting their local growers. It has been absolutely delightful to repeatedly see long lists of growers whose food is used across the city. I was very fortunate to have a conversation about this with up and coming chef Erica Beneke- executive chef at MAX’s Wine Dive (207 San Jacinto Blvd.). Erica is super talented and after enjoying one of her creations- a flavor packed, fresh take on grits with spicy butter broth, shrimp, bacon, scallions, parsley and jalapenos- I know her career is going to rocket to the moon and beyond. Of Course, appearing on this Sunday’s episode of Chopped is going to help too! Chopped is on The Food Network, and will air tonight (June 2) at 7pm Central. I suggest tuning in to watch this talented young lady make food magic. You can watch online after its first airing- the episode is called Fry Fry Again.
Half of MAX’s menu is all about gourmet comfort food. Think pork stuffed piquillo peppers, burgers made from brisket, chuck and beef belly, and ‘Haute’ Dogs made from Wagyu beef. The other half of the menu is a celebration of seasonal, local ingredients and changes about 5 times a year. Right now you can find creative items like a raw kale, avocado, and beet salad; or seared scallops with sweet corn, purple potato and rainbow carrot succotash. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to eat my way through the whole menu!
Other delicious finds have been at Cedar Door, one block south of MAX’s. The quinoa salad came with an enormous hunk of peppered avocado, and a carrot habanero reduction. The pulled pork and green chile tacos they serve are easily the best outside of Albuquerque. I was also thrilled to see that they use beef that is antibiotic and hormone free, and that they grind their own beef in house for burgers etc., to keep the flavor as fresh as possible.
I was also really impressed with the kitchen staff at Old School Bar & Grill in the heart of 6th street. They cooked me up a salmon filet that was to die for. For those of you who’ve never been to Austin- 6th Street is lined with bars- all sporting their own band, hawker bouncers who shout out the evening’s specials, and signature drinks. It’s also the mecca for all things weird about Austin. Great fun- especially if you’re looking to step outside of your comfort zone, or dive into local flavor!
Moonshine, immediately south of the Hilton Hotel on Red River, was also a great find. Housed in a building from the 1850’s, the site has been a domino parlor, saloon, and general store. They make an incredible popcorn appetizer that was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. I was ready to beg the chef for the recipe. Imagine popcorn with paprika, celery salt, a bit of cayenne, and a little bit of Texas Magic. I’ll be attempting to recreate this at home very soon. Like the other local restaurants mentioned, Moonshine held its own with green chile grits and super fresh salads.
Twin Liquors on 7th & Red River also has a great selection of gluten-free beers, as well as a knowledgeable wine staff.
Basically, if you’re gluten-free in Austin, throw a dart and wherever it lands- you’ll be golden. Everywhere I went, I discovered waitstaff and chefs who were happy to work with my gluten-freeness! There were so many good choices, I didn’t begin to scratch the surface. If you go- you are certain to enjoy yourself, and eat well- what more could you ask for?
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.
Of 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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
For the last 9 months, the Kitchen Divas in Training and I have been studying the Middle Ages. This has included the creation of timelines, multiple art projects, reading kid-lit versions of the great Medieval tales like Robin Hood, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which takes place in the Middle Ages) The Cantebury Tales, and Sir Gawain and the Green Dragon.
But the most fun we had was researching food of the Middle Ages. It was completely eye-opening to all of us. Here are just some of the facts we learned:
Almond milk was a dominant ingredient. In the Middle Ages, dairy and meats were not consumed during Lent. Almond milk was used in everything from pastries, to soups and stews.
Fusion cuisine had its advent in the Middle Ages, thanks to the burgeoning spice-trade brought on by the Crusades.
The Middle Ages was the first time that cooking was elevated to an art form.
The introduction of sugar into the diet caused early tooth decay, frustrating dentists for generations to come. Study of skeletons from the early Middle Ages shows that most people had their teeth into their later years- until sugar became a sought after ingredient. Go figure.
Far from being a time period of bland, tasteless gruel, food in the Middle Ages was richly spiced with saffron, cinnamon, cloves, roasted meats and vegetables, fruit pies and puddings- a veritable feast.
Italians ate lasagne and gnocchi in the Middle Ages- different than today’s recipes, but no less tasty.
Blanc Mange, Blamage- Literally “White Eating” was a staple across all regions, and the forerunner of chicken and rice. Each country had their own twist on this casserole type dish.
Our culminating activity was a Medieval Feast, complete with costumes, project presentations, candlelight, and company.
I’m telling you- our ancestors knew how to eat! That was the biggest surprise of the evening- everything was delicious!
Sauteed Asparagus with Saffron Sauce
Roasted Carrots in Almond Milk
Lamb Chops braised in red wine & cherries
Blamangez (Chicken & Rice with Almond Milk & Pancetta)
Rice Pudding with Almond Milk & Rosewater
Cherry Pottage (Cherry Pudding cooked with red wine- delish!)
Bread made with Ale (Adapted to be gluten-free, and quite tasty)
There were several recipes I wanted to try, but ran out of time- my favorite of these: “Orange Omelette for Harlots and Ruffians“- a simple dessert type recipe with the comment that “(it) can be tasted without running the risk of moral turpitude.”
Spring finally arrived with the Easter Bunny this past week. And we welcomed it in style! To see a round-up of some of the fabulous food we cooked up in The Adventuresome Kitchen for Easter, go check out (and be sure to ‘like’) our facebook page.
While this post does include an egg recipe, it won’t be a ‘what to do with your leftovers’ kind of recipe. For that- I recommend checking out my Pesto Deviled Eggs. I did toy with the possibility of a new deviled egg recipe, but that will have to wait for another day. We ate all our hard-boiled eggs!
So in the spirit of fast meals- which seems to be how we’re rolling in the kitchen these days (With the exception of super-fancy-snobby-food-extravaganzas like Easter), it was breakfast for dinner again the other night. I tend to gravitate towards frittatas over omelets because I confess, I have trouble flipping the omelets. Julia Child might say that I’m not committed enough to my flipping- and that very well may be the case. There has to be no fear when it comes to flipping the omelet. Incidentally, if you want to read the best-ever description of flipping an omelet, go out and purchase Dearie– a biography of Julia Child by Bob Spitz. His description of her first television appearance will have you crying with laughter.
At any rate, I like frittatas because they’re fast and they make a great canvas for whatever leftover food pieces you need to rescue from certain death in the back of the fridge. Oh yeah- and they’re naturally gluten-free, so they’re a no-brainer. Quiche, omelets, risottos and polentas can all work in the same manner, but I say frittatas are the fastest and easiest- hence their continual appearance in my kitchen.
This mushroom leek frittata also includes goat cheese. If there had been any leftover bacon from Easter (there wasn’t), I would have added that as well. The roasted asparagus literally took 10 minutes and cooked while the frittata was finishing in the oven. So delicious there were no leftovers!
The Adventuresome Kitchen is working on some long-term and very exciting projects, including collecting stories of people’s gluten-free experiences. If you are interested in sharing your story, or know someone who would be willing to share their story, please contact me at: adventuresomekitchen (at) gmail (dot) com
Mushroom Leek Frittata w/ Goat Cheese
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (about 2)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup goat cheese
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil- about 2 Tbs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Heat a large pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, drizzle a generous swirl of olive oil in the pan (this is not an exact science). When the oil shimmers add the leeks and mushrooms. Cook about 5 minutes, until they are softened. Allow any juices to cook off so the pan is fairly dry.
While the leeks and mushrooms are cooking, beat the eggs and whisk in the goat cheese. Most of the goat cheese will ‘melt’ into the eggs, but there will be some pieces that don’t. This is fine.
When the leeks and mushrooms are ready, add in the eggs and give the pan a quick swirl to evenly distribute the egg mixture. Don’t stir the eggs- unless you want egg scramble (which would be okay). Sprinkle salt and pepper over the mixture and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.
When the eggs start to pull away from the pan, and begin to get a little firm in the middle, place the pan in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.
The eggs are done when they are firm in the middle- 10-12 minutes.
Oven Roasted Asparagus
This is one of my favorite ways to prepare asparagus. For a small batch, use the toaster oven, for a larger batch, use the regular oven.
Rinse the asparagus and snap the bottom ends off. If you’ve never snapped asparagus, it’s pretty easy. Grab the woody end with one hand, and hold the stalk with the other. Bend until it snaps. This gets rid of the tough woody part.
Place asparagus side by side on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your desired taste. Cook at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Et Voilá! Finger licking good.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This also happens to be the 3rd Anniversary of The Adventuresome Kitchen- so my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have shared the journey and spread the word about this community. Without your support and encouragement, none of this would have been possible. I am so excited about what The Adventuresome Kitchen will be rolling out in the next couple of months- so stay tuned!!
One of the inspirations for starting this blog three years ago was my ongoing effort to come up with a good Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread. I don’t make it much anymore- especially since our diet has moved away from a lot of unnecessary carbs. But for St. Patty’s or another special occasion, where you want a simple quickbread with great flavor and texture,try it out.
However- if simple and fast is all you have time for- and that about sums up my life these days. Enjoy a nutritious, healthy and delicious meal of Sauteed Kale over quinoa. We’ve been eating this a lot lately. It’s one of those dishes that leaves you filled up both in stomach and heart. And it’s super high in protein and antioxidants. How can you go wrong?
Sauteed Kale with Quinoa
2 cups uncooked quinoa (we used tri-color, but any will do)
4 cups water
2 bouillon cubes (optional)
16oz de-stemmed kale leaves, chopped into small strips
2 tbs olive oil or butter
salt or other herbs of your choice
lemon juice and/or parmesan for garnish
Rinse quinoa and place in a medium pan with 4 cups water. Add bouillon or salt if you desire. Bring to a boil and turn heat to low. Cook until water has absorbed and seeds have popped- about 20-25 minutes
When the quinoa is ready, heat a large skillet. Add olive oil or butter. When the olive oil shimmers, add the kale. Saute very briefly- no more than 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. The residual heat will wilt the leaves the rest of the way. Add salt, truffle salt, herbes de provence, or other seasonings of your choice.
To serve- place quinoa in a bowl, top with Kale. Garnish with your preferred flavorings: A squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of parmesan, or a drizzle of garlic tahini or even pesto. YUM!
It’s Pi-Day! Pie Day….3/14 What better way to celebrate than with a gluten free chocolate pumpkin pie?
3.14 Pi… I was never great at geometry. And although I forget the exact formula to find the area of a circle, I do remember pi. However, I much prefer contemplating this circle of chocolate pumpkin pie perfection invented by none other than my oldest Kitchen Diva in Training. She has not yet engaged in the geometry struggle. I hope that when she does my negative feelings don’t rub off on her. And, if she struggles- I hope she remembers the joy she found in filling the area of this circle with something that brought a smile to our faces.
Make a pie today. Make several.. Roll out your dough and contemplate how many bites it will take to fill the tummies of those you love. That’s my kind of geometry.
We had some friends over for dinner the other night. Normally when I host an intimate gathering I get out the fancy dishes and I spend all day in the kitchen concocting. But these days, with our mile-a-minute life, I just don’t have the time. I wanted to put together something elegant and flavorful, that wouldn’t take me hours of prep time.
I grabbed dessert from our neighborhood chocolaterie- Annedore’s. Sadly for my waistline Annedore’s is within walking distance of our house, and over the last year we’ve become regulars. Happily for my tastebuds, I love everything they make! I am absolutely not ashamed to buy dessert- especially from an artisan.
As for dinner? For the first time ever, my prep time took less than an hour. And dinner came together very quickly once our guests arrived. It was great to enjoy our guests as well as the food, and I will definitely be pulling these recipes out again the next time we have company- in about 3 weeks! Below is our dinner party menu, complete w/ paired wines.
Aperitif: Goat Brie, cured olives, and marcona almonds. Wine: Andre Delorme Brut 100% Chardonnay- sparkling reserve
1st: Pan Seared Scallops in brown butter with Orange Hollandaise w/ vanilla & rosemary. Served with roasted asparagus and garnished with truffle salt. Wine: 2011 Domaine Talmard Macon-Chardonnay, unoaked.
2nd: Argula tossed with mustard tarragon vinaigrette, served with chopped apples & bacon. Lemon zest. Wine: 2011 M. Chapoutier “Belleruche”. Cotes-du-Rhone.
Dessert:Annedore’s Fine Chocolate– dark chocolate covered strawberries and dark chocolate Imperial Truffles Wine: Ramos Pinto Quinta de Ervamoira 10-Year-Old Tawny Port
The wines can be found locally at my favorite wine store- Cellar Rat Wine Merchants. I love being able to take my recipe ideas in and get great wine recommendations. Excellently paired wine and food elevates even the simplest of meals. And if you’ve never taken a recipe in to a wine shop and asked for a pairing recommendation, I suggest you do so- next meal! Any wine-person worth their salt will hook you up with something delicious. If they can’t- find a new shop!
What are your favorite go-to recipes when throwing a dinner party? Pork loin? Pasta? Grilling in the summer? Post your favorites in the comment section, and don’t be afraid to try something new!
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.
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.
I 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!
Because 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)
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
1 tsp Herbes de Provence for each salmon packet
1 lemon for zesting
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.
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.
Before I get going, I must thank my friend Steve, author at Oui Chef, for inspiring me to hop on the fondue bandwagon last night. Kansas City has been buried under snow again. This is highly unusual- especially considering that the last two winters left us with less than 11 inches of snow combined! Steve is one of my favorite bloggers. He trained at Le Cordon Bleu, and is passionate about subjects such as local food and food sustainability. And most importantly, teaching his children to cook- as am I. While not everything on his blog is gluten-free, it’s a place I go for inspiration and encouragement to explore new flavors and techniques. If you don’t subscribe to his blog-you should!
Yesterday, Steve posted a great fondue recipe by Rachel Ray (it also happens to be gluten-free!). As I was sitting at home wondering what to cook as the snow started to fly- fondue seemed perfect. It brings up images of snowy chalets, cosy fires, and decadent eating.
Now, I am probably the only fondue fan in the world who doesn’t actually own a fondue pot. They’re unitaskers, and I am firmly opposed to unitaskers. Until I can justify a rarely used piece of equipment taking up precious space in my cabinets, I won’t be buying a fondue pot. But don’t despair. If you find yourself in the same boat, a good stainless steel pot or my favorite- enameled cast iron, will do the trick nicely. I pulled out my small Le Creuset and went to town. If you opt to use a regular cooking pot, your fondue will thicken as it cools and get a bit stringy. If that bothers you- simply place the pot back on the stove for a few minutes to melt everything again.
My gluten free fondue recipe was adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook. Many cheesy fondue recipes call for the addition of a few tablespoons of flour. You can easily substitute sorghum flour, rice flour, or even cornstarch in these instances, and not compromise the flavor or texture of the end result.
I also opted out of the traditional nutmeg seasoning in favor of the sunnier and warmer flavors invoked by herbes de provence. I happened to be lucky enough to receive some freshly dried herbes from my dad, and they’ve gone into everything I’ve made over the last few days. They are a great way to jazz up everything from broccoli to eggs to soups and salads.
Lastly, there are no hard and fast rules about what to serve with fondue. We enjoyed broccoli, mushrooms, gluten-free toasted garlic bread (directions will appear below), pears & bresaola. Basically- anything you enjoy with cheese is a candidate to dip in the fondue pot. As always- feel free to modify this recipe as your heart desires. Fondue is a fun finger food to enjoy with the people you love!
Gluten Free Fondue (a main dish for 4 or an appetizer for 8-10: adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook)
1 1/4 lbs shredded gruyere, emmental, or comte cheese (or a combo)
5 tbs sorghum flour (other gf flours would work too)
1 garlic clove, + 2 tbs minced garlic
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (we used a burgundy)
3 tbs herbes de provence
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
Toss the shredded cheese with the flour. Make sure that the flour is evenly distributed and coats and many of the cheese shreds as possible.
Rub the whole clove over the inside of the pot. Place the minced garlic and the wine in the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add the cheese one handful of a time and allow to absorb completely before adding the next handful. It is really important to not let the mixture actively boil. Your pot needs to be hot enough to melt the cheese, but not so hot that it boils. For my stove, this was just under the half-way mark on the stove.
When the cheese has been fully incorporated add the milk, herbes, salt & pepper, and continue to stir. The fondue is ready when it’s a thick, liquidy (ie non-stringy) mass. Bring to the table and enjoy with your dipping ingredients.
raw vegetables or fruit, gluten-free crackers, or gluten-free garlic bread. Gently roasted vegetables (enough that they’re partially cooked and softened, but not so much that they’re mushy- you want them to hold up in the sauce)
To Make Gluten Free Garlic Toast
Take 4 (or whatever number you like) pieces of gluten-free bread. Place them on a toaster oven tray or a cookie sheet if using the oven. Brush olive oil over the tops- make sure you get into the little nooks and crannies. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until you start smelling the bread toasting.
Remove from the oven. Take a clove of garlic, cut off the end, and rub it vigorously over the toasted top. One clove is usually good for about 4 slices. Of course, if you like bread that is more garlicky- you can be more generous, or scrape the garlic on both sides of the bread. Discard the skins and enjoy!
Kansas City was the recipient of an epic- century sized- snowstorm today. We’re at over 12 inches and counting- making this the largest February snowstorm since 1900. And- this wasn’t your typical blizzard- here in the midwest we get Thundersnow! Yes- you read that right- Thunder, lightening, and heavy snow- all at once! Thankfully, there were no “snow-nado” warnings!
Now for those of you who live out west or in New England, 10-12 inches may not seem like much. But to the flatlanders out here 3 inches is enough to cancel school and tie up traffic for a good day or so. And when we start getting into the double digits- well- besides sledding, making snow people, and shoveling out the cars from the driveway, there’s not much else to do besides make hot cocoa and watch movies… Unless you feel brave enough to tackle homemade marshmallows!
Not feeling like reinventing the wheel, I hopped online and ended up at David Lebovitz’s site. Not only do I love reading about Paris, but David is great at sweets- something I am not. So, when I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone- this is where I go.
I was happily surprised to discover that marshmallows are one step removed from italian meringue, which I am now very comfortable with thanks to our Adventures in macaron making last month!
They are super easy, and taste Waaaaaay better than the plastic-y cylinders we all grew up eating. We added a touch of peppermint schnapps to ours, and then toasted them in our mini oven to gently carmelize them. They were the perfect addition to our post-snow shoveling cocoa!
For a great read, and a beautifully easy marshmallow recipe- click here. And the next time it snows buckets in your neck of the woods- try making your own marshmallows!
Remember- we’re experimenting with Gluten-Free Croissants this month….. How’s it going? Post your comments below.
Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re cooking ‘in’ this year, you might want to consider this delicious Gluten Free Caramel Apple Cake that the Kitchen Divas in Training and I developed yesterday. You may recognize the technique of whipping the eggs and sugar, then adding very soft butter- it’s a classic cake technique outlined by Julia Child in many of her recipes.
This was the big girl’s first effort in making a cake all by herself. One change she recommended was skinning the apples. The skins look really pretty, but as she discovered this morning, they are hard to cut through. With the rest of the cake so tender, she thought it would be best to be able to cut through the apples too.
Using good caramel is key- and I happened to have this lovely, lovely jar of caramel that a friend had given me for Christmas. When you receive a fabulous gift like that, it demands special treatment. This is a rich, moist cake. I think it’s perfect with a cup of coffee- and therefore a delicious candidate for breakfast! It’s tender and moist, and the gluten eaters in your life will have no idea this cake is gluten free!
If you like the flavors in this cake, be sure to check out a pie of similar flavor- our Caramel Apple Pie– so yummy!
In other news: Feel free to post your comments, stories, food photos and recipe questions here or on our new Facebook page! Please stop by and say hi! And don’t forget to ‘like’ us!
Gluten Free Caramel Apple Cake– makes one 8 1/2 inch round cake
6oz unsalted butter
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond meal flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1 apple- sliced thinly, skinned, and sprinkled liberally with lemon juice & water
1/2 cup good quality caramel
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Trace the bottom of the cake pan on a piece of parchment and cut out the circle. Place it in the bottom of the pan. If you are using a non-stick baking pan, this is all you have to do. If you’re using a different pan- grease and flour the sides, then place the parchment in the bottom.
Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer if you don’t mind a little extra work) mix the butter using the paddle attachement until it is verysoft and creamy- about 6-7 minutes. You want the butter to feel like frosting. Remove the butter from the stand mixer bowl and set aside. Scrape the bowl clean and then either wipe with a paper towel or clean the bowl. (This is a pain, I know- it’s either wash the bowl or have your arm fall off using a hand mixer. I decided the path of least resistance was to wash the bowl.)
In your clean stand mixer bowl, now place the eggs and sugar. You can use the whisk attachment for this. Start off on low, and gradually increase speed to high (between 8-10) and set your timer for 5 minutes.
While the eggs are beating, you can slice the apple and set them in a bowl of lemon juice and water- this will keep them from turning brown.
After 5 minutes, the eggs should be pale and very, very fluffy. Turn the stand mixer to low and quickly add the dry ingredients in a steady stream. Then add the softened butter. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for 5 seconds.
Remove the bowl from the stand- try and get as much batter out of the whisk attachment as possible- it will be thick. Spoon the mixture into the pan. It will come out in a big blob and you will have to use the spatula to smooth it out and over to the sides.
When the batter has been smoothed, place the apples on top in a pretty design- pressing the apples into the batter.
Bake for 40 minutes at 350. When the cake is done, gently remove it from the cake pan, peel the parchment, and place on a plate- with the apples facing up.
While the cake is still hot, poke holes in the top with a toothpick. Then, using a small, flexible spatula, spread the caramel over the apples and let it drip down the sides. The heat will help thin the caramel and it will fill in the holes.
Allow to fully cool before enjoying. We waited overnight, and the caramel really sunk in to the top layer of the cake. It also cooled along the sides, so we enjoyed a bit of the caramel with the ‘crust’.
Happy Ground Hog’s Day! Happy Crepe Day! (In our house that’s gluten free crepe day!)We’re halfway through winter!
The History of Crepe Day
Crepe Day is February 2nd, and in Europe is also called St. Brigid’s Day, St. Bride’s Day, or Candlemas. In France, Crepe Day is called Chandeleur. Originally a Pagan fertility and planting festival called Imbolc paying tribute to the Mother Goddess Brigid, it was co-opted by the Catholic church in the Middle Ages and turned into a celebration marking Christ’s presentation at the temple.
This is where the Candles come in- Priests would bless candles on this day and hold candlelight processions honoring the idea that Christ was the light of the world. However, the Goddess Brigid was so popular throughout the British Isles that the priests eventually made Brigid a ‘Saint’ and gave her the feast day of February 1. The origins of Brigid predate even the Celtic Druids, and as February 2nd marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, this date has been important to humanity for millenia. It has always been associated with light coming out of darkness, new growth and birth. In fact, many farmers today begin planting spring crops like peas, kale, radishes and broccoli on February 2nd.. (at least if you live in a place where the ground is likely to be unfrozen!)
In France- Chandeleur has become “Crepe Day”. People across the country take the opportunity to stop and make crepes together. It’s said that on February 2nd, if you can flip a crepe with only your right hand you will have good fortune for the rest of the year! I like that, and intend to make some crepes today.
I realized that I have several gluten free crepe recipes already posted- so below you’ll find links to previous Adventuresome Kitchen Gluten Free Crepe posts. Wherever you find yourself, and whatever your spiritual belief- know that for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere- we’re halfway to warmer, sunnier days! Cheers!
This is The Adventuresome Kitchen’s final installment of How to Make Macarons. (really we should call this post Gluten Free Tiramisu)
“There are never any mistakes- only happy accidents.” So says my PBS painting hero Bob Ross. I used to be transfixed by Bob Ross’s shows as a child- and I actually learned a thing or two about painting. But what always stuck with me was his cheerful demeanor whenever the paintbrush slipped and left an unexpected mark on the canvass. He never grumbled (granted- it’s possible those moments were left on the editing room floor) and cheerfully changed course based on what was happening in the moment.
Gluten-free cooking is a lot like that… sometimes you just have to change course. We gluten-free bakers and chefs are pioneers. We constantly live on the edges of what’s possible- often not by choice. For me that means lots of trial and error-being willing to make grand mistakes for the sake of learning and growing. And, when life gives you lemonade- or flat macarons- you’ve got to be willing to recognize the fabulous “not macaron” in front of you and develop a new dessert.
My final macaron experiment did not go as I had planned. I had grand visions of a new macaron called “The Kansas City”… fabulous blend of maple, pecan, bourbon and bacon. “Un Homage” to Kansas City and the Southern/Midwestern borders it straddles…. what I got something new and unexpected. Well many somethings new…My first attempt in grinding my own nuts led to a very delicious maple-pecan butter. I’ll be using that as a filling for one of my croissants this next month. The second something looked and tasted more like a really awesome GF ‘Nilla Wafer (even though there was no ‘nilla in this whatsoever!) than a macaron! Go Figure!
To make our newly named GF ‘Nilla Wafer, we subbed out pecans for almonds and used maple sugar and maple syrup. To be honest- that was the most unscientific thing we could have done. When working under proper conditions with plenty of time- you should only ever change one variable at a time….never all of them! But- would I have ended up with a GF ‘Nilla Wafer if I’d tried that? Nope….so there you go- a case for just going for it and seeing what happens.
To those of you who joined me on the Macaron Journey this month- thanks for your participation, and I hope you enjoyed the results- whatever they were. My cousin Hannah sent me a few pictures of her Macaron party. Hannah and her friends are to be commended. They are college students with limited equipment, and in this case, also limited ingredients! They did a great job, and I’m so proud of their endeavors! I have to point out that Hannah is an aspiring Marine Biologist, and so it’s fitting that one of her macarons looks like a little fish!
To create GF Tiramisu, use my GF Ladyfinger recipe here, or use your failed macarons.
The Kansas City Tiramisu incorporated maple sugar and bourbon in place of white sugar and marsala, used sprinkles of pecans and maple sugar, and a bacon garnish.
** Harvester Brewing Company is now Ground Breaker Brewing! Still the same fabulous beer though! They just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign so look for their beer to appear in cans soon!
Happy Friday fellow Foodies! Thanks to my friend Tana Fryer- proprietor of an awesome new joint in Tuscon called Blu-a Wine & Cheese Stop– for introducing me to what is quite possibly the best gluten free beer anywhere.
Harvester Brewing Company– a dedicated GF craft beer company in Portland Oregon (how come Portland has all the best beer?) is setting the GF Beer-world on fire. I tend to be pretty skeptical of GF Beers. Before being diagnosed with celiac I was a craft-beer drinker who especially appreciated a good, thick, creamy dark beer. Stouts, Porters- you name it. I am desperately waiting for some brewing genius to come up with a GF Oatmeal Stout that will make my dreams come true. Sadly, that hasn’t happened yet. And in the meantime, I will have to comfort myself with the fabulous beer that is being produced by Harvester Brewing.
Since I don’t live in Portland, the only way I can get this beer is via mail at Let’s Pour. (click on the link and then search for ‘Harvester Brewing’) And so in the spirit of Adventure, I took the plunge and ordered a couple of bottles of each beer they offer.
I have to say- shipping was almost as much as the beer itself- but was it ever worth it.
Here’s a brief rundown of what I got in the mail:
Harvester Brewing Experimental Ale
This Experimental Ale was a fall seasonal produced with squash and spices. Of all their beers, this was one of my favorites. I don’t know if I got a bottle from the first batch, or the second, stronger batch-but either way, it was great, and it worked beautifully with our family favorite Vegan Chile. I found the flavor to be smooth, and the squash and spices subtle.
Harvester Brewing Pale Ale
This was perhaps the biggest surprise for me. Unless it’s the middle of a God-Awful Sticky Kansas City Summer, I tend not to gravitate towards Pale Ale. Even then, my taste lies more in the Raspberry Ale land- like the one New Planet Beer makes. But this…. This pale ale was a delightful surprise. It’s not sour or overly hoppy. It’s light, balanced, and has a faint hit of citrus. I found myself gravitating to this repeatedly, and really enjoyed it- with or without food accompaniment.
Harvester Brewing Red Ale
It’s been ages since I’ve been able to enjoy a good Red Ale. I tend to gravitate to the more malty less hoppy beers, and no one in the GF Beer World has successfully managed to come up with a full-bodied Red Ale. Congrats to Harvesters for pulling this off.
Harvester Brewing Dark Ale
Can I just start out by saying this beer pairs perfectly with a brick of Comté?!? It was so good in fact, that neither cheese nor beer lasted long.
I was initially surprised at how light the beer was in terms of mouth-feel. To me it’s reminiscent of the German Black-Beers. There is a definite toast that comes across in the flavor that I really appreciate.
One of the things I admire and respect most about Harvester Brewing is their dedication to locally sourcing ingredients. In this era of factory farming, I firmly believe that local/regional sourcing helps rebuild, preserve and maintain our local economies.
But what’s a celiac to do when your local economy (like mine) has no immediate plans or desire to hatch a GF Brewery? Well, fling your net far and wide, and support those who support a local economy somewhere.
My hat goes off to the Brewmasters at Harvester Brewing. You are doing incredible, innovative work, and bringing hopes of decent beer to celiacs everywhere. Just please, please, please- consider distributing beyond the boundaries of the Pacific Northwest? Pretty Please? I know some great shops in Kansas City who will happily carry your beer!
For those of you who are lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest- run- do not walk- to your nearest vendor and support these folks. For the record- Mr. Kitchen Diva, who can consume gluten at will, enjoyed these beers as much as I did.
In closing, I have one request for you folks at Harvesters- How about a Stout? Porter? Milk Stout, Coffee Stout, Chocolate Stout, Imperial Stout? Bourbon barrel aged Stout? If anyone can create something like this, I have faith it will be you!
I don’t fail. I epically fail. Which, if you’re going to fail at all is the way to go. No half-assed, wimpy attempts that inevitably result in disaster. If you’re gonna fail, go down in flames.
Failure is not all bad. Thomas Edison went through 10,000 incarnations of the light bulb before landing on incandescent genius. Scientific studies even show that the more you fail, the faster you learn. Makes sense. So- failure in this household is not only an option, it’s expected in the name of learning. What happens when we encounter colossal failure? Well as long as nobody has been injured, it generally results in lots of sheepish laughter.
As in this week’s Macaron experiment. Boy did I blow it. I tried a different recipe because the process was simpler, and as the youngest Kitchen Diva in Training wanted to get in on the action, I figured this would be more her pace than the in-depth versions of Pierre Hermé. Of the two young ladies, she is definitely the more passionate in the kitchen. And when she saw her sister making macarons ‘all by herself’ she insisted in choosing one to make on her own as well.
This week, we used Brave Tart’s basic macaron recipe, and went for the Champagne and Roses flavors variety. Sorry, Stella- our colossal failure has nothing to do with your recipe, and everything to do with user error!
Here’s what we learned this week:
1)We definitely overbeat our meringue.
This, in fact, was our number one issue. People always say baking is an exact science, which it is…..but, I’m finding it’s also highly intuitive, and you have to be bold enough to know when to trust your intuition.
For instance- one of the things I was very curious about with Brave Tart’s recipe is the meringue making process. Much easier for a 6yo, because you through all the sugar and egg-whites into the bowl and let ‘er rip. The addition of salt alters the flavor somewhat, but also helps stabilize the meringue (provided you don’t overdo it.) We doubled our batch, which was our first problem. Stella is very clear about how long to whip the meringue, and I went a lot longer because I wasn’t getting a big blob of meringue stuck in my whisk- the reason, I learned when I made a second attempt with the regular sized batch, was because I had too much meringue in my bowl. When I whipped again- I got an ENORMOUS blob..clue, that for me and my bowl, I likely went too long. I did, as the pictures sadly show.
2)You can simultaneously overbeat and underbeat your egg whites!
On batch two- I not only overbeat the meringue, I under-macaronaged! In layman’s terms, this means I over inflated the egg-whites in one step, and then failed to deflate them enough in another step. You can see this by all the little ‘nipples’ on the top of the cookies… sigh.
Brave Tart’s recipe also calls for adding the almond mixture to the egg whites, not the other way around. I’m used to adding the whites to the flour. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make a difference one way or another, but I think I was definitely more freaked out about over incorporating with the heaviest stuff on top. I think this is one reason why I didn’t macaronage long enough. In fact, the reason we salvaged any at all from the first batch was because the mini Kitchen Diva in Training insisted on mixing it herself. Apparently, she knew what she was doing!
3)Food Coloring Fades in the Oven
Who knew? No one was more surprised than me when the pretty pink circles came out brown, footless, and horribly cracked. Stunned, speechless. The second attempt was much pinker because I used a TON of red food coloring. Red is definitely less forgiving than yellow in the oven.
4)I really, really need a new oven
For the first time *ever* my oven temperature started fluctuating wildly. At one point it was actually the set temperature, which meant it was too hot for cooking macaron. I’m just going to have to deal with this little bit because I refuse to spend money on a new oven right now. If I buy a new oven, we will end up moving in less than 3 months. Guaranteed, and I will have purchased my dream oven for someone else. No thank you! Of course…what if we wanted to move? hmm….maybe a new oven is in order.
So I failed. Big Whoop. Were they delicious? Umm…… YES! Did we eat more broken, hollow, cracked ones than we should have? Hell yes. Am I going to curse myself for setting up a year of sugary, carbo-loaded, fatty baking challenges for myself? Probably. It’s too cold to run and I don’t have much self discipline to yoga on my own. A moment on the lips….
We did pick a few of the least ugly ones to try out the champagne flavored buttercream. The hollow batch still stated great- was kind of chewy, but again that’s a selling point for some. I prefer more pillowey myself, and the second batch (likely not over cooked), even in its under-macaronaged state, definitely softened to a more pillowey state.
Here’s the deal: For those of you reading this- don’t let this deter you from trying to make macarons- any macarons. Pierre Hermé is my macaron hero, but so is Stella Parks. Both are innovators, both have endeavored to simplify and demystify macarons, both are doing tremendous work by testing the boundaries of flavor and ingredients. I love this. I will probably go back to my Pierre Hermé Italian Meringue method, because for me, that feels more comfortable. Truthfully, if I had the time, I would continue to work on Stella’s method until I could perfect it-because it’s way less hassle. And, for the record (my sincerest apologies Monsieur Hermé) I don’t leave my egg whites out for a week. I don’t have the counter space. And I don’t use mineral water- I use tap water. They still taste great.
And that, my fellow kitchen adventurers, is the whole point.
Next Week: Tune in for the last installment of Le Macaron
Some friends and I will be venturing into foreign territory as we develop our own macaron. What will happen? It will be an adventure.
Have you been brave enough to attempt some macarons this month? Email your pictures to adventuresomekitchen(at)gmail(dot)com. I’ll post them in our final installment. Feel free to post your stories and experiences here.
This is the second installment of The Adventuresome Kitchen’s 4 part “How to Make Macarons” series. Join me by posting your stories, thoughts and questions, or by emailing me a picture of what you’re working on in your kitchen!
Maybe it’s that we read the recipe 25 times. Maybe it was the sunshine, or the incredibly smooth school-day, or the fact that since I wanted my daughter to succeed at this, I took it down a notch from warp-speed and wasn’t a total spaz while I was cooking. Did you know that? I’m often a total spaz in the kitchen. A whirling dervish; a white tornado. Pots and pans seem to enter my gravitational pull and then get flung aside with enough force they could be catapulted into orbit like the Voyager heading to Saturn. I nearly set a dish-towel on fire the other day. Mr. Kitchen Diva would beg to differ and say that I did set it on fire.
In spite of the high energy in the kitchen, stuff rarely boils over, burns, spills, or catches fire. And somehow in the midst of the creative frenzy that is my brain, I manage to take pretty copious notes. But with a Kitchen Diva in Training at the helm today, working on a complicated recipe she picked out, things had to slow down. What ensued was a luxurious afternoon spent cleaning, prepping, measuring, timing, teaching, singing, dancing, and enjoying the fruits of our labor.
The elder Kitchen Diva in Training, just past 11, went for Gold- literally! She picked a lovely, somewhat intimidating macaron called The Inca. Lemon yellow with gold glitter, its filling is comprised of avocados, bananas, white and dark chocolate. We were all a bit unsure when she picked it. I’m guessing it’s not the most popular treat in the macaron shop- but it should be. Holy Guacamole Bat-Man! This filling could exist on its own as a cream pie and people’s eyes would roll back with ecstasy. It’s not too sweet, just slightly tart, and Ka-Pow! Then you’re hit with a tiny square of bittersweet chocolate. This is why Pierre Hermé is the master.
As for the process? Well, it was a little tricky. There were some language issues in this recipe that were not resolved either with editing or translation. Namely with the drying of ripe bananas. The recipe calls for 120g of ripe bananas to be ‘sprinkled’ with lemon juice and dried in a low oven for 2 hours. The recipe then says to chop it into 60g pieces for the ganache filling? Whaa? 60g is most of a banana, and there’s no way that’s going to fit in a piping tube… And, as you can see from the picture below- ‘sprinkling’ with lemon didn’t quite get the job done. Those babies went straight into the trash. Cue the whining trombones.
We tried again with the last banana we had left and tossed them all liberally in the lemon juice with much better results.. Now, I admit, perhaps the tang of the lemon might not be what Monsieur Hermé was after, but they were good, and at least they didn’t turn black!
Thank goodness we’d read the recipe 25 times! One of the challenges I told my daughter about is that often things happen very fast in the kitchen- even when I’m not flying about at light speed. Sugar hits a temperature and has to be moved to the egg whites. Egg whites have to be whipped only so much or they go from light and fluffy to saggy and separated in the blink of an eye. If you’re prepared, and you’ve considered your work space, set up your ingredients, and know your recipe, you can tackle these timing issues with ease- and hopefully without throwing too many pots and pans into orbit. And if you’re very lucky, your macarons will turn out just like the picture!
Here are some of the things we learned today:
I need 5- yes 5 cookie sheets to fully pipe a batch of macarons. Back to the kitchen store before Friday.
I need more piping nozzles. They definitely work better than the ziplock bag, but we had to stop during piping to replace the bags etc.. It would be much easier with 4 bags and 4 nozzles set out ready to go.
My oven is simultaneously too hot and too cold. It runs 25 degrees cold. But today while we were baking, I realized that 350 degrees for these yellow macarons was too much. They were sticking to the parchment and were slightly gummy on the inside, even when their tops showed they needed to be pulled from the oven. Ultimately, we landed on 300 degrees for 14 minutes. They peeled off the parchment with the ease of a ripe banana, and were perfect on the inside.
Chocolate colored macarons are infinitely more forgiving than lemon yellow colored macarons. There’s no hiding when they’ve been ever so slightly over done.
According to the Kitchen Divas in Training, macaron parties are lots of fun and the only way to make macarons is in a group.
The younger Kitchen Diva in Training is getting quite good at photo documentation. Most of the pictures you see today are hers, or her big sister’s.
The elder Kitchen Diva in Training really shined. She was nervous about piping,
macaronage-ing, working with boiling sugar, but she rocked it all, and showed herself she can do anything in the kitchen.
You’re never too old to have fun getting covered in gold glitter.
Anyone can make macarons. Yep. You read that right. It’s true. Anyone can make macarons.
Lastly- these macarons should always be enjoyed after a delicious bowl of Vegan Chili!
There are still two weeks left to join in the macaron fun! Grab a friend, or tackle it on your own. You too can master these delicious gluten-free treats! Next week, the younger Kitchen Diva in Training will be picking out one of Brave Tart’s magic creations to try in our kitchen!
In addition to dealing with the ups and downs of being Celiac, I am also allergic to peanuts (there are other things I’m allergic to, but those two are the worst offenders and the ones I have to avoid completely). I am extremely grateful that my peanut allergy was diagnosed long before I ever had an anaphylactic reaction. While the smell of peanuts makes me feel yucky, the worst I get upon accidental consumption is a bad case of indigestion.
I count myself among the lucky.
The only place I find myself really wishing peanuts weren’t so evil for me as at the Thai restaurants we like to frequent around town. Most Thai food is naturally gluten-free, and I find that I prefer the fresh flavors and lack of soy sauce over Chinese food. How can you not fall in love with a bowl of Pho with its cilantro, basil, chile, and lime? And the spring rolls! Mr. Kitchen Diva informs me that spring rolls are even better dipped in the peanut sauce….sigh…That left me with only one choice- make my own substitute.
Cashews seemed like the obvious choice, especially becuase they are so prevalent in Asian cooking. You could easily use ready made cashew butter for this, I didn’t have any on hand, and found it just as easy to grind my own cashews. In addition to using the sauce for dipping home made spring rolls, we discovered it tasted great on gently sauteed kale. I’m ready to schmear it on a piece of toast next!
Below you’ll find the recipe for the Thai Cashew Sauce, and a few basic instructions for making your own spring rolls. Spring rolls, like pizza and pasta, are a great canvas for whatever you like. We filled ours with rice noodles, fresh basil, and a shredded salad (recipe to come in the future) the Kitchen Divas in Training invented. While we call can use more practice in the act of rolling, the end result was delicious and we’ll be happy to attempt them again in the near future. In fact, the next time I go out for Thai food, I’ll be packing this along in a mini to-go container!
Remember, this month’s GF Baking Challenge is to tackle Le Macaron! Join me and feel free to post your comments or questions. Better yet- send me a photo of your baking experience and I’ll post it on the final month’s round-up!
Thai Cashew Sauce- makes about 3 cups
1 1/4 cups cashews (we used roasted & unsalted, but you could use any kind)
1 can of coconut milk (do NOT use lite coconut milk!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
4 tbs Thai red chile paste (we used Thai Kitchen- use more for more heat)
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs fresh ginger (1 tsp ginger powder would also work)
juice from 1/4 of a lime
1/2 tsp salt (omit if you are using salted cashews)
3-10 drops of fish sauce
If you are grinding your own cashews: Place cashews in a food processor and grind. In order to get a smooth paste you may need to add a bit of oil. We used toasted sesame oil, but you could use grapeseed, canola, or another unflavored oil. I do not recommend using olive oil.
In a medium saucepan, place all of the ingredients- including the cashew paste. Stir over medium heat until well combined and slightly soupy. Mixture will firm up in the refrigerator. You can soften it by adding a bit more liquid, or rewarming. Will keep at least a week in the refrigerator.
For making Spring Rolls
Making spring rolls is easy. Before you assemble them, make sure you have all of your ingredients laid out and ready to go. You can fill spring rolls with pretty much anything you like, fresh vegetables, tropical fruits, tofu, meats..the possibilities are unlimited.
Spring rolls are made from rice paper, which is naturally gluten-free. You can find them in both small and large sizes in the asian section of your market, or at an asian specialty store.
Soften the rice paper round in a bit of warm water. We find a large dinner plate works perfectly for this. When the paper has fully softened, lift it up, gently shake to remove extra water and lay flat on your prep surface.
Place your ingredients in a mount slightly off of center. To wrap, fold the shortest end of the paper over the filling and pull tight. Next, fold over the sides so that the filling doesn’t fall out. Then roll tightly on itself. Et Voilá!
Nine and a half years ago, Mr. Kitchen Diva and I landed here in the midwest on a new adventure with nothing but our two kitties, a Ryder Truck full of mostly college-type furniture, and the apple of our eye- our eldest Kitchen Diva in Training. We had moved here for a job I took that among other things didn’t allow us to leave town during the holidays. That first year, far from friends and family, we were pretty lonely. But into our lives walked a Christmas Angel of sorts.
A fellow singer and adventurous chef took us under her wing and said “Let us be your family here!” She invited us for Christmas Dinner and didn’t bat an eyelash when I somewhat timidly mentioned my issue with gluten. In fact, she promptly set about making sure there was plenty on the menu I could enjoy. The twist in this story comes because everything on the menu was Polish. Kansas City has a very strong Polish heritage and community, and my dear friend and her husband both grew up in the heart of this community.
That Christmas, we were introduced to the delicious aromas and tastes of galumpkies, borscht, and kapusto- all naturally gluten-free. We also tasted pierogies for the first time- yes, even me. My friend called a few days before Christmas saying she’d found a GF recipe for pierogies and would I like to come see how they’re made? Quite frankly, I was blown away.
Even after years of being GF, there are times when it still feels very awkward to disclose my dietary needs. There’s so much emotion tied up in food. Double that around the holidays. To this day, that simple act of hospitality has informed how I set my own table.
A few days before Christmas, the mini Kitchen Diva in Training (who was just more than two) and I arrived; aprons, rolling pins, and GF flours in hand to consult the grandmother’s Polish cookbook, and compare with a GF dough recipe we thought might work. A beautiful friendship was born in that warm kitchen 9 years ago. One that has sustained us, and led to many ensuing meals of Polish deliciousness. The pierogies? Not bad. Honestly, I didn’t care. I was so amazed someone cared enough to cook something special for me. We decided there was room for improvement, and over the years we’ve attempted to create Gluten-Free Pierogies off and on. A few years ago, Conte’s Pasta came out with their own version of Gluten-Free Pierogies. We started using them namely for the sake of time. Pierogies of any kind are an undertaking. We agreed there was still room for improvement.
Fast forward to this year, when for some crazy reason it seemed like I had gobs and gobs of time before Christmas. So I volunteered to tackle and improve our Gluten-Free Pierogies and bring them for Christmas Dinner. The traditional filling for Pierogies is a mixture of potatoes, onions and melted (usually cream) cheese. I got all ambitious and decided to improve upon this by adding green chiles, chives, and bacon. I even peeled the potatoes! Sadly, the filling was so delicious we gobbled it up while we were making and rolling the dough for the other fillings, and only made about 4!
We also made two additional fillings. The first blended crimini and black-trumpet mushrooms, onions, sour cream, rosemary & nutmeg. The second- butternut squash, onion, cream cheese, and sage.
According to the Polish Kitchen Diva, the dough we finally settled on ‘tastes like it should’. I don’t think there could be higher praise. Be warned- this dough is very delicate, and at times can fall apart. I found that a little water helped fix the cracks, and that in spite of the delicacy in rolling out the dough, it held up nicely through the boiling and frying steps.
On this Twelfth Night of Christmas, as we celebrate the end of a season and remember the gifts of the Magi- I invite you to remember those unbidden, seemingly small gifts you may have received from friend or stranger. The best gifts are usually not material. Rather they are acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and hospitality. May we all have the grace to receive such gifts, and the boldness to pay them forward.
Gluten Free Pierogies-makes 2-3 doz depending on the size
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup millet flour
1 cup corn starch
1 cup potato starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 stick salted butter (if using unsalted, increase salt to 1tsp)
1 cup sour cream (full-fat)
ingredients for the filling are up to you
Before starting, have your filling ready to go, and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Allow all the dough ingredients up to room temperature- it’s important to let the butter get very soft.
Place dry ingredients in a stand mixer, or if working with a 1/2 batch, in a food processor. I actually prefer to make my dough in the food processor, so I work in 1/2 batches.
Give the dry ingredients a whirl or a few pulses so that they are sufficiently mixed together.
Mix the eggs and sour cream, and softened butter together. It should have a smooth consistency. Add this to the dough. Mix or begin to pulse. As soon as the dough has come together, pull it from the mixer/food processor and place on a large piece of floured (with cornstarch or tapioca starch) parchment. Break off a chunk of dough, and sprinkle with additional cornstarch (or tapioca starch). Knead gently, reflour, and roll to 1/8th inch thick.
Using a biscuit cutter, make circles in the dough and remove the scraps. Place a generous tablespoon of the filling in each center and gently fold the dough in half. Using wet fingers, press the dough together so that the edges are slightly scalloped. You can also use a fork to get a different look.
Note: This dough is very fragile and more prone to breakage. Overfilling will definitely lead to breakage. However, it’s easy to squish the dough back together again- they just won’t look as pretty.
Place 3-4 pierogies in the boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes. They will begin to float to the top as they near readiness. Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove them from the water and gently shake them to remove excess water.
If you are planning to fry and eat right away: Preheat a medium saute pan while the pierogies are boiling. Place a dab of butter in the pan (I am generous with my dabs, but the amount is up to you. You could even use Olive Oil). Once the butter has foamed, place the boiled/shaken pierogies in the pan and fry on each side until they start to turn a nice golden brown. How long you cook is really up to you. I like the color of a longer-cooked pierogi, some prefer them gently warmed through and not golden brown.
If you are saving for later use: you may place the boiled pierogies in a storage container (I used a stainless steel mixing bowl) and place a little butter on them. The heat from the pierogies will melt the butter, and help prevent sticking when you’re ready to fry them. Seal. I have read that pierogies will last over a week in the fridge, and even longer if you choose to freeze them. Mine have never stuck around that long!
Ideas for fillings
Potatoes, cheese, onion (traditional)
Sweet potato or butternut squash and onion
broccoli and cheese
sausage and onion, or sausage and kraut
mushroom and shallot
blueberries, cream cheese and lemon zest (dessert, obviously, sprinkle these with powdered sugar before serving)