Happy National Bundt Day 2014! One of the most satisfying celebrations of the year, Bundt Day marks the start of the holiday baking season. I usually end up with about 3-4 cakes to share with family and friends. This year is no exception. We’ll be making and eating way too much cake today.
The Swiss Bundt: Kugelhopf/Gugelhupf
As I’ve written before, Switzerland has a rich history of making the precursor to Bundt cakes—the kugelhopf (a.k.a. gugelhupf and many other names). Since the early 19th century, according to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, nearly all Swiss cookbooks contained at least one recipe for this fluted cake with a whole in the middle. In comparison, the Nordic Ware company introduced the Bundt pan to the United States in the 1950s.
I love discovering old Swiss-style molds for these cakes and need to add one to my collection. The photos below show some examples of these antique molds, which are on display at the Alimentarium in Vevey, Switzerland
I recently found a recipe for a gugelhupf in a Swiss cookbook for children that I borrowed from a friend. Here’s dairy-free version of the gugelhupf, which reminds me of an American-style pound cake. It’s delicious served with fresh berries and a big dollop of whipped dairy-free cream.
Adapted from Backen mit Globi (2013).
Wet ingredients – Mixture #1:
7 egg yolks
250 gram dairy-free margarine, soft
100 grams powdered sugar
7 grams vanilla sugar
zest of 1-2 lemons
Wet ingredients – Mixture #2:
7 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
150 grams sugar
150 grams all-purpose flour
100 grams corn starch
1. With dairy-free margarine, grease and flour a cake mold with a diameter of 20 cm (8 inches) or a 10-cup Bundt pan.
2. Mix together all the wet ingredients for mixture #1 in a large bowl until well-blended. (Please note: separate the eggs and save them for mixture #2).
3. In a separate bowl, mix the egg white and salt vigorously until they form stiff peaks. I did this by hand, but use an electronic mixer if you have one! Then, stir in the sugar.
4. In a third bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
5. To the large bowl with mixture #1, gently fold in mxture #2 and the dry ingredients in multiple and alternating batches. Do not overbeat.
6. Pour the batter into the pan, and spread the batter evenly. Bake at about 45 minutes at 180°C/350°F until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the cake.
7. Leave the cake in the pan to cool for about 10 minutes, and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. When completely cooled, dust generously with powdered sugar.
Are you making an allergy-friendly Bundt cake today? If so, please share your recipe in a comment below or send me a photo. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a video of some of my dairy-free Bundt cakes from over the years. Bon week-end!
After discovering my son’s milk allergy when he was about 9 months old, we found ourselves identifying more potential allergens he needed to avoid, including eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame. Even though he had never eaten these foods, blood and skin prick tests indicated a positive result—the possibility an allergic reaction could occur. His allergist in the United States recommended avoiding these foods until further testing could be done with a new allergist after our move to Switzerland in 2012. Today, I’m happy to report that my son passed his most recent oral food challenge, which means he only has one allergen now: milk—the original inspiration for this blog.
Eating Raw Eggs at the Hospital
On Halloween, my 3-year old son had his fifth food challenge at a Swiss hospital. Scheduling a food challenge on a holiday—although not widely celebrated in Switzerland—probably wasn’t the best idea. It can be hard to get an appointment though, and I was feeling optimistic. After passing a baked egg food challenge in April 2013, my son’s pediatric allergist decided it was time to try a food challenge with raw egg.
The rationale for using raw egg—as opposed to lightly cooked egg that’s been boiled or scrambled—was that if he “passed” the test, he could safely eat eggs in any form. Spaghetti carbonara? Chocolate mousse? Swiss meringues? A food challenge with a negative result for raw egg would give a clear sign that any of these egg-based dishes would be okay for him, as long as they’re made without milk.
Based on our son’s last food challenge for baked milk, when he refused to eat his third dose, I knew we needed a different approach. My thoughtful cousin suggested giving him “prizes” after each of the five doses, so I picked up some little Matchbox cars. I don’t normally bribe my kids (to this extent, anyway!), but for this particular test with raw egg, it seemed especially necessary.
Even though the final dose was mixed with applesauce, the look of that large bowl of runny, yellow egg made me grimace for a moment when my back was turned. The nurse suggested using the oral syringe for this last dose (see the photo above), so it could bypass his taste buds and arrive more quickly to his throat. As he was halfway through that final dose, I reminded him that the last prize was the biggest of all, and it was his favorite color (red). The prizes certainly did the trick, and thankfully he finished the test.
Evaluating the Symptoms: A Contact Reaction
Altogether, my son consumed over 35 grams of raw egg during the test. After the fifth and final dose, he developed a little redness and a few raised hives around his mouth where the raw egg came in contact with his skin, but he did not experience a systemic reaction. As usual, the allergist and nurse were monitoring his heart rate and blood pressure throughout the test, and he had no other symptoms. When the egg on his face was washed away with water, the redness and hives disappeared almost immediately.
Since it was a non-severe and late-phase reaction, and because my son has mild atopic dermatitis (excema), his allergist determined he only experienced a contact reaction to the raw egg, and therefore he had a negative test result. He can now safely eat egg in all forms. I was given the go-ahead to start serving him eggs, and this time they don’t have to be baked for 30 minutes in bread or cake at 200°C.
Back at home, he’s been gobbling up the egg-based version of already familiar foods, such as waffles, pancakes and crêpes. He’s a little more reluctant to try savory eggs, like in one-eyed monsters sprinkled with salt and pepper. With time, I’m sure this will improve.
As with every negative food challenge, I’m thrilled to start cooking and purchasing new foods. Once again, we’re feeling incredibly lucky.
What was the result for your food challenge with raw or lightly cooked egg? I’m always curious to hear how our experience in Switzerland compares to others. Please leave a comment below, if you have the chance.
Next Steps: Baked Milk Challenge in 2015
In January 2015, my son will repeat a food challenge for baked milk. This time, I’ll be making the cake with a recipe provided by his allergist. A successful test would mean he could move on to food challenges with other forms of milk, like baked yogurt and baked cheese. I don’t know what the future will bring, but there’s a good chance he’ll outgrow his milk allergy as well. As usual, I’m cautiously optimistic, and as I’m required to do, I still always carry two adrenaline auto-injectors, an antihistamine and an allergy action plan with us at all times, just in case.
Thanks for your continued support, advice and encouragement! I hope you’ll be getting some good news about food allergies soon too.
On Wednesday, October 23, the aha! Allergiezentrum Schweiz (Swiss Allergy Center) held its 2014 awards ceremony at the Bern Stadttheater. I somehow snagged an invitation to this year’s event. The thoughtful staff members at aha! are often fielding my questions via email, and it was such a pleasure getting the chance to meet them all in person. I was also excited to learn about the people and projects receiving awards, as they represent some important new opportunities to increase awareness and improve the quality of life for children and adolescents living with food allergies in Switzerland.
Unfortunately for me, all the speeches and presentations during this event were in Swiss German, but I guess that’s to be expected on the other side of the Röstigraben! Thankfully, the French version of the written program and the PowerPoint presentations helped me to follow along. To learn about the award winners, aha! has information on its website in German and French. Three projects shared the grand prize this year, all with a particular focus on peanut allergy and anaphylaxis. Here’s my quick summary of the 2014 grand prize winners:
- Angelica Dünner: Erdnussallergie und Anaphylaxie (Peanut Allergy and Anaphylaxis) is a nonprofit organization based in Zurich that provides information for people living with food allergies, which Ms. Dünner helped to create three years ago. In 2014, among other activities, Ms. Dunner obtained permission from Food Allergy Research & Education in the United States to translate into French and German two children’s books about Alexander, an elephant with a peanut allergy. You can purchase these books via the organization’s website. When my 3-year old starts school next year, I’m planning to order a copy for his new classroom. I’ve exchanged emails with Ms. Dünner several times in the last year or two, and I was delighted to finally meet her. Her group is doing important work in Switzerland, so please consider becoming a member today.
- Dr. Alice Köhli: At the Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich (University Children’s Hospital) in Zurich, Dr. Köhli is the head of the Allergologie department. She has been working in collaboration with Ms. Dünner to offer food allergy and anaphylaxis training for parents, teachers and other caregivers of children with food allergies. The purpose is to help prevent anaphylaxis and to teach people how to respond to severe allergic reactions, should they occur. To date, these workshops have only been offered in German.
- Dr. Ferdinanda Pini-Züger: For the Canton of Zurich, Dr. Pini-Züger is the director of the Sektor Schulärztlicher Dienst (School Medical Sector). Also working with Ms. Dünner, Dr. Pini- Züger helped introduce informational sheets for parents and teachers on peanut and tree nuts allergies and anaphylaxis. She also helped to develop a legal agreement between parents and the school district on how to manage food allergies in the classroom, based on existing primary school law. According to aha!, this is the first time informational sheets on food allergies have been prepared by a school district and shared on their website. This project is of great interest to me, and working with aha!, I would like to develop a similar set of materials in French for my son’s school.
Congratulations again to the three deserving winners of the aha! 2014 award, and a special thanks to the generous aha! staff members for allowing me to attend the ceremony. I hope these projects can be replicated soon in other regions of Switzerland and in different languages, namely French and Italian. I will continue to follow their progress and share updates in the future.
A Peanut-Free and Tree Nut-Free Giveaway
Since peanut and tree nut allergies were a focus of this year’s aha! awards—and one of the kind organizers of the 2014 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference just sent me a complementary box of allergy-friendly products—I wanted to share some of these treats by trying my first-ever giveaway. Here are the details, if you’re interested in entering:
- How to enter: Please leave a comment below with the answer to this question—What is your favorite allergy-friendly product?
- Deadline: Saturday, November 8 at 12:00 PM (Swiss time). I will randomly select a winner and announce their name in a comment below on Monday, November 10.
- What you win: I will send to you, wherever you are, a box of peanut-free and tree nut-free goodies, including:
Full Disclosure: As I mentioned, I received a complementary box of allergy-friendly products from the Food Allergy Blogger Conference. However, I did not receive any compensation from the Food Allergy Blogger Conference or from any of the product manufacturers listed above, nor I was expected to hold a giveaway via Dairy-Free Switzerland with these products. Any opinions expressed in this or other posts on Dairy-Free Switzerland are solely my own. The King Arthur Flour Golden Flax Meal is my contribution to the giveaway. As always, please read labels carefully to make sure these products do not contain any of your known allergens.
I hope you all had a wonderful (and safe) Halloween and an excellent weekend. Thanks in advance for those of you entering my giveaway, and good luck!
If you crossed an English muffin with elements of a baked pretzel and a fluffy American-style biscuit, then I think you would have something like an Irish soda farl. Unlike baked versions of Irish soda bread I’ve made in the past, the Northern Irish soda farls are cooked on a stove top. With only five ingredients, you can quickly throw these together for breakfast, serve them warm and eat up the whole batch.
Belfast and Bushmills
While we were in Belfast, our dear friends took extra effort to prepare an allergy-friendly dinner for my son, and even helped pack a lunch when we went out the next day. I appreciated this so much. It kept my son from feeling excluded or from limiting what we could do—the two things I always try to avoid when it comes to managing his allergies.
In Bushmills, we stayed at a wonderful self-catering cottage just up the road from Giant’s Causeway. The boys had fun exploring along the scenic coastline, and we especially enjoyed Dunluce Castle and Whiterocks Beach. Also, I’m happy to report we had an excellent meal at a local restaurant two friends had recommended to us: the Bushmills Inn Restaurant. Per my request, the chef prepared steamed veggies and fresh fish cooked in olive oil for my son, which he loved (except for the broccoli, of course).
My favorite food discovery of the trip is the Ulster Fry—a traditional Northern Irish breakfast with beans, tomato, mushrooms, sausage, bacon, eggs, pudding, soda farls and potato bread. Please keep in mind that the “pudding” is not a sweet and creamy dessert, but rather a coarse beef sausage made with oatmeal and suet. The pudding is either black or white, and both are apparently made with the same ingredients, but the black version gets its color from dried blood powder.
The Ulster Fry from St. George’s Market in Belfast
If you want to try making a homemade Ulster Fry, here’s a dairy-free recipe for Irish soda farls to get you started. Instead of the buttermilk, I used a mixture of rice milk and vinegar. Soy milk works too, and seems to thicken more with the vinegar, but my family preferred the ones I made with rice milk.
Irish Soda Farls
Recipe adapted from Ita at allrecipes.com.
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Put 2 teaspoons white vinegar in a measuring cup and then add rice milk until it reaches the 3/4 cup line. (Please note: Here in Switzerland, I use vinaigre de table, since I couldn’t find white vinegar this week.)
1. Whisk together the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and mix together to form a soft dough, adding extra flour as needed.
2. On a well-floured surface, gently knead the dough a few times until it can be rolled into a 8-9 inch (20-23 cm) circle with with a well-floured rolling pin. It should be about 1/2 inch thick (1-1/4 cm). With a sharp knife, cut the dough circle into four quarters.
3. Over medium heat, cook the four quarters of dough on a frying pan sprinkled generously with flour (I use a cast iron griddle). Cook the soda farls for about 5-10 minutes on each side until lightly browned and firm.
4. Eat the bread while warm, straight off the stove. If you have some left over, try to eat them the same day—either lightly toasted or fried on the stove with some dairy-free margarine. My friend in Belfast says she likes to use them for pizza bases as well.
Tomorrow, I’m heading to Bern for the aha! Swiss Allergy Center‘s annual award ceremony, thanks to a kind invitation to join in the festivities. I look forward to sharing what I learn during this event!
As a parent of a child with food allergies, I am always seeking out the latest news and research in an effort to improve my son’s overall health and quality of life. For this reason, I attended Europe’s leading conference on food allergies: the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Meeting (FAAM) in Dublin, hosted by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI). With about 600 participants from roughly 50 countries, the multidisciplinary seminars at FAAM 2014 covered various topics related to managing food allergies, as well as prevention and finding a cure.
EAACI represents doctors, researchers and other medical professionals. It has over 7,800 individual members and also works with National Societies and patient organizations, such as the aha! Swiss Allergy Center in Bern. Most recently, I wrote about EAACI’s efforts to raise awareness of food allergies via a written declaration on allergic disease presented before the European Parliament.
FAAM 2014: A Few Highlights
The FAAM 2014 seminars spanned over three days, and nearly 200 abstracts were presented as part of the conference. In the coming weeks and months, you’ll notice that these seminars will be informing many of my future blog posts, as well as the management of our son’s allergies (e.g., requesting a consultation with a nutritionist). In the meantime, I just wanted to share a few of the key findings presented at the conference that I found especially interesting.
- Mr. Jerry Buttimer TD (Ireland), a member of the Irish Parliament, said that if President Barack Obama can sign into law a bill encouraging schools in the United States to have access to epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) auto-injectors, then surely a similar law could be passed across Europe. Mr. Buttimer was referring to the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (H.R. 2094), which enables states to pass legislation requiring schools to carry “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors for emergency use.
- Dr. Audrey Dunn Galvin (Ireland), a registered physiologist and lecturer at the University College Cork, presented her research on the socioeconomic cost of food allergies. She discussed the high levels of stress and anxiety that parents can experience due to the constant monitoring of their child’s food allergies. In particular, she discussed how parents must balance the need to protect their child’s environment, while ensuring their positive development. In addition, she mentioned several recent studies socioeconomic costs, including a study of adults with food allergies in Sweden.
Oral Food Challenges
- Dr. Carina Venter (United Kingdom) talked about food challenges as the best way to identify a true food allergy, and questioned the reliability of self-reported data to determine the prevalence of food allergies. Overall, she stressed the need for more and better data on food allergy prevalence, particularly to evaluate changes over time. As part of her presentation, Dr. Venter discussed her research on trends in the prevalence of peanut allergies in the UK.
- Dr. Galvin’s research on the socioeconomic impact of food allergies found that routine oral food challenges help to improve health-related quality of life for families living with food allergies. From our own experience, I certainly find this to be true, as food challenges have either allowed us to introduce new foods into our son’s diet or have provided us with greater knowledge and awareness of his allergies, even though he didn’t “pass” the test.
- Dr. Margitta Worm (Germany) discussed her research examining an anaphylaxis registry for German-speaking countries, including Switzerland. Her study found that adrenaline was rarely used. More specifically, for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis among 197 children and adolescents between 2006 and 2009, adrenaline was used in only 22 percent of the registered cases.
- Dr. Kirsten Beyer (Germany) described oral immunotherapy (OIT) as a promising treatment for allergies, but highlighted that it is not yet ready for clinical practice. She said that many different protocols exist for OIT, which makes it difficult to compare results and assess its effectiveness. Generally, researchers agree on three primary phases for this treatment: 1) a starting dose, 2) dose escalation and 3) a maintenance dose. During her presentation, she cited a recent study on the side effects of OIT for peanut allergy.
You can also review the tweets from other FAAM 2014 participants by searching for the event hashtag via Twitter: #FAAM2014.
EAACI Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Guidelines
Throughout FAAM 2014, presenters referred to the EAACI Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Guidelines, which were published earlier this year. The purpose of these guidelines is to translate knowledge of food allergies into clinical practice, and in particular, for such areas as diagnosis and management, prevention, quality of life and anaphylaxis. EAACI included a hard copy of these guidelines as part of the printed materials I received during the conference, and I will be sharing what I learn as I review them. While the full document is only available for EAACI members to download, sections of the guidelines are also via the EAACI website.
I will continue to provides updates on the research presented at FAAM 2014, and next week, I also plan on sharing a recipe from our excursion to Northern Ireland. Bon week-end, everyone! Thanks for your continued support.
The Swiss bake their bread in all different sizes and shapes, and in Suisse-Romande, there’s a loaf resembling a cluster of grapes—Grappe de Miches. Last weekend, when our small Swiss city celebrated the grape harvest with its annual fête des vendanges (wine festival). I noticed two boulangeries with these festive loaves prominently displayed in their windows.
Grappe de Miche
Inspired by the “Pain blanc en couronne” from Supertoinette.
(dairy, egg, nut and soy-free)
500 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
7 grams of dry active yeast
300 ml of water, very warm
2 tablespoons sunflower oil (plus about 1 tsp. more)
1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.
2. In a separate container, add the yeast to the warmed water and set aside for a few minutes to let it dissolve. Stir until it’s completely absorbed in the water.
3. Pour the yeast mixture and the sunflower oil into the large bowl with the flour mixture. Stir together until a dough forms. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it become smooth and elastic.
4. Add about 1 teaspoon of oil to a large bowl, and turn the kneaded dough in the oil mixture. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise for about an hour, until it’s doubled in size.
5. Next, divide the dough into about 13 pieces. Form 10 round buns of equal proportions as the “grapes.” Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, as shown below, leaving a little room between the buns. Next prepare the decorations (I used a maple leaf cookie cutter and made a small grapevine) and place them on top. Finally, using the remaining dough to make a stem. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it rise again for about 30 minutes.
6. Sprinkle the loaf generously with flour and bake at approximately 30 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF.
7. When the top of the loaf is nicely browned and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, then it’s done. We like eating this when it’s still warm, but the buns can be kept for a day or two, if they’re tightly wrapped in plastic.
My 3-year old and I had a picnic yesterday with sandwiches made from our Grappe de Miche, while my 7-year old hiked along the lake with his school. I hope you have a wonderful first weekend of October. Bon week-end, all!
As I’ve done in the past, I like to share allergy-friendly product recommendations when I find something exceptional. Here in Switzerland, I often buy the following products, all of which are free of dairy and eggs. We really like these products because they’re allergy-friendly (at least in our home), and because they taste great. Maybe they’re some of your favorites too?
Please note: Ingredient lists and allergen information can change, so please make sure to read food labels carefully. We recently noticed a new allergen warning added to one of our favorite products, Roland Sticks. It occurred because of a change in the company’s manufacturing practices, so we’ve unfortunately had to stop buying it.
I. A Savory Spread: Crème à Tartiner
Allergen info: Free of the top-10 allergens.
Where to buy: This product can be found in select Migros stores in German-speaking Switzerland or online via LeShop.ch. The full ingredient list and nutritional information for this product are available at Alnatura’s website (in German and French).
My review: This versatile German product has “creme” in its name, but doesn’t contain milk. I probably wouldn’t have given it a second look at the store because of the name alone, but when Migros sent me a complimentary box of allergy-friendly Alnatura products, including the Streichcreme-Toskana, we had to give a try. Since then, we’ve been hooked. Somehow this smooth spread made of sunflower oil and seeds, red pepper, tomatoes, herbs and more tastes deliciously creamy. It’s great on a sandwich with turkey or chicken. I also toss it with hot pasta and steamed veggies to make a quick lunch for the boys. Along with the Toskana, Alnatura’s Streichcreme comes in other flavors, which I have yet to try: Aubergine (Eggplant), Curry Mango Papaya and Beet.
II. Biscuits sans Dairy and Eggs (contains: tree nuts)
Original Dar-Vida 5-Korn Biscuits
Where to buy: Available at Coop and Migros. Hug AG makes Dar-Vida products, and information is available in English via their website.
My review: We always have a box of Original Dar-Vida crackers in our house, and now we’ve discovered this company makes an allergy-friendly biscuit as well. This Swiss product reminds me of the Belvita biscuits my mother brings us from the United States. While these biscuits are a safe treat for my son, some of the other flavors with pear or chocolate either contain or may contain traces of milk, so please read labels carefully.
III. Allergy-Friendly Ice Cream
Glace à l’arôme de cacao or vanille, Glace avec gaufrette
Where to buy: Migros. You can search for these products via Migros’ Migipedia website (in German, French and Italian).
My review: These Italian-made products from Migros saved me a lot of time this summer. In April and May, I began collecting allergy-friendly ice cream recipes, free of dairy and eggs. Then, I somehow came across these aha! products online when I was placing order via LeShop.ch. First, we tried the vanilla ice cream with much success. After that, my sons tried the Cornets, or ice cream cone treats, which they both loved. Finally, we sampled the chocolate ice cream, and it’s just as good as the other products. Instead of having to experiment with my ice cream maker all summer, I served these products to my son instead. Plus, it was so wonderful being able to give him his first-ever ice cream cone!
Full disclosure: As I mentioned, I received a complimentary box of Alnatura products from Migros, including the Streichcream-Toskana. However, I did not receive any compensation from Migros, Coop or other manufacturers to write about these products. Any opinions expressed in this or any of my other posts are solely my own. If you produce an allergy-friendly product and would like to send me a sample, please feel free to contact me. However, please keep in mind that I will only share information about a product if I think it’s exceptional and could be helpful to others.
What are your favorite allergy-friendly products that are available in Switzerland? Please leave a comment below and let us know. These products can make such a difference in expanding the options available to people with food allergies and intolerances. Many thanks!
Public schools don’t provide lunch here in Switzerland, as I’ve mentioned before. Kids either go home for lunch or to a grandparents house, for example, or they participate in an offsite parascolaire program. These programs in our Swiss city pick up kids from school at 11:40 AM, feed them and then bring them back to school by 1:45 PM.
Since I’m still working as a mère au foyer (i.e., stay-at-home mom), my son comes home for lunch. With a fixed amount of time to get him fed and returned to school, I find myself needing to do some meal prep in advance. This way, our time together isn’t too rushed (i.e., I keep my cool and don’t yell as much!), and he’s not late getting back to class.
This week, I wanted to share a very Swiss recipe from the canton of Schwyz that I’ve adapted to be dairy-free: Benediktinereintopf Kloster Einsiedeln (Benedictine Stew from Einsiedeln Abbey). It’s a hearty Swiss-style meal that can be made relatively quickly, with a little chopping done beforehand. So far, I’ve served it with mashed potatoes (which most of us prefer) and elbow macaroni (which my son with food allergies prefers). Surprisingly, it’s a dairy-free cheese that makes this dish work!
Our family visited the Einsiedeln Abbey this summer, where the Benedictine Stew apparently originated, but the torrents of rain prevented us from having a leisurely visit. We still enjoyed our time there, but I would love to return someday during the holiday season for the town’s famed Christmas market, as the Abbey makes a dramatic backdrop to the festive stalls of craft makers and food vendors.
The current Monastery and Abbey Church in Einsiedeln were constructed in the 18th century, but religious pilgrims have been visiting this site for over a thousand years. The courtyard include stables for the historic Einsiedeln breed of horses. The boys would have loved seeing them, but it was raining so hard that day, none of us wanted to venture out across the courtyard!
Back home after our trip, I came across the Benedictine Stew recipe in my Betty Bossi cookbook. Other than it being from the Einsiedeln Abbey, I haven’t learned much else about this Swiss dish. Although, I saw the Jewish Museum Berlin has a recipe online for a cheese soup served at the Abbey on “minor fasting days,” with leeks as a suggested addition. If you know anything else about the Benedictine Stew, please let me know!
The Betty Bossi recipe calls for a soft cheese with herbs, like Boursin. Instead, I substituted a dairy-free alternative: CreamyRisella, a soft Italian cheese made from brown rice. For the herbs, I just added some fresh tarragon. If you can use real cheese in this recipe, you should! However, if you’re like us and need to avoid milk-based products because of an allergy, CreamyRisella is a very good alternative.
Recipe adapted from Betty Bossi’s “The Swiss Cookbook” (Zurich, 2010).
400 grams ground beef
1-2 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
400 grams leeks, cuts into thin strips lengthwise (or into rounds—it’s easier and tastes the same!)
3 small onions, finely chopped
500 ml vegetable broth
200 grams CreamyRisella (or another very soft dairy-free cheese)
1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1. Brown the ground beef in a large pan. Remove the beef and set aside. Drain the fat from the pan.
2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of dairy-free margarine to the same pan, and sweat the leeks and onions slowly for about 5-10 minutes over medium heat.
3. Pour the vegetable broth over the leeks and return the ground beef to the pan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
4. Stir in the CreamyRisella (or other cheese substitute) and tarragon, over medium heat, until both are fully incorporated and the dish is heated throughout. Serve immediately over your choice of an accompaniment: allergy-friendly boiled or mashed potatoes or elbow macaroni.
The Swiss holiday, Jeûne Fédéral, is this weekend, so I’ll be making a Tarte aux Pruneaux to celebrate. Bon week-end, everyone!