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.

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.

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.

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.

Broccoli Rabe w/Polenta

Broccoli Rabe– a veggie that defies classification. Kind of like myself actually- a little bit hippie, a little bit diva, although depending on the context I might be a lot of either of those…More closely related to the turnip than broccoli, it’s a little bit like broccoli met turnip, took a whirl on the dance floor and ended up with some unique collaboration that no one knew how to classify. My kind of veggie. And how can you turn up your nose at something so glorious and enormous?!?- Notice mine is as big as my stovetop! And to top it off, nobody can decide if it’s native to China or the Mediterranean…. It’s called Rapini, Broccoli Rabe, Broccoli Raap or Raab….it all depends on the context, or perhaps the veggie’s mood….a woman of mystery if you ask me. Since I originally heard that this lovely specimen was native to Italy, I chose a traditionally Italian presentation, briefly sautéed with lots of garlic, olive oil and tomatoes, served over a creamy polenta.  If I see it next spring in my CSA bag, I’ll certainly make this again. It was gobbled up like there was no tomorrow, which is a good thing, given that we’ve had some funky meals lately in an effort to clean out the refrigerator for our upcoming adventure.

There are parts of the fridge that haven’t seen the light of day, or a sponge, for quite some time, and there’s no time like the present to do a little spring cleaning, right? What else are you going to do when the temperatures are in the basement and you don’t have a fireplace to sit in front of while enjoying Christmas music and Hot Toddies? Actually the real reason is that I hate to come home to a yucky house. (and I won’t leave the housesitter with a fridge full of nasty leftovers) I will be the first to confess publicly that I am not the world’s neatest person. I’m a creative artist whose creativity can’t be contained in the brain, and so it spills over.. But I do have enough of an organizational streak to make sure I have a nice clean house to come home to, and to start packing for a big adventure days in advance.

You can see here from this picture, that the Adventuresome Kitchen is hitting the road for the first time ever- to Paris!! Not only will I be celebrating a milestone birthday in the shadow of the Tour Eiffel, I will be blogging about all things gluten free! There is an idea in the allergy world, and a perception in the non-allergy world that travel and adventure are impossible if you’ve got serious dietary issues. Not so. More challenging, yes- but I really look at this as an opportunity to get a little creative, as well as dive into and experience cuisine on a new and deeper level. There are celiacs who live quite happily in Paris. And yes, some people can enjoy all that Paris has to offer and never eat a croissant- not that I won’t be trying to duplicate one gluten-free…. I’m working on it! In the meantime, in addition to being a little entertaining for you, I hope that this type of documentation becomes a resource and an inspiration for people with food allergies. The world is your oyster- you just have to know how to shuck it!

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Tomatoes 

Serves 4-8

Ingredients

1 large broccoli rabe plant (about 6-8 cups)

1 bulb garlic, minced

3 tbs olive oil

1 32 oz container of stewed, chopped tomatoes (fresh is even better, but they’re now out of season)

Directions

Chop broccoli rabe- leaves and stems, discarding the thickest part of the stems.

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. When oil is hot, add the minced garlic. Stir for about 1 minute. When garlic is fragrant, add broccoli rabe stems. Saute for 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe leaves and florets. Saute another minute. Add stewed tomatoes and heat through-about 1-2 minutes. Serve over creamy polenta.