Swiss-Italian Dove Cake for Easter

When I visited our local Swiss-Italian market a few weeks ago, I saw some beautifully wrapped packages on display in the front window. The brightly colored paper and ribbons caught my eye. After a closer look, I realized the packages were another sign of spring: the famous Swiss-Italian cake for Easter, Colomba Pasquale.

windowdisplay_colombeColorful packages of Colombe de Pâques in Suisse romande

Also known as Colombe de Pâques in French, the cake has a distinctive shape, as it’s supposed to resemble a dove with outstretched wings. On top, it often has a generous coating of powdered or coarse-grained sugar, along with a few almonds. Inside, you’ll traditionally find candied orange peel, but I’ve also seen versions in our Suisse romande grocery stores with chocolate.

2014-04-03 17.33.47Chocolate Colomba at the grocery store


Colomba Pasquale in Lugano

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Lugano in Ticino—Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton. Wandering through the streets of downtown, I came across another festive display of Colomba Pasquale in the windows of the historic Ristorante Grand Café Al Porto.

DSC04521Colomba Pasquale at Lugano’s Ristorante Grand Café Al Porto

While some say the cake originated centuries ago, others place its birth in Milan at the beginning of the 20th century. Either way, today’s Colomba is popular throughout Switzerland, but especially in Ticino. Apparently, the Swiss commonly eat Colomba after lunch on Easter day, accompanied by chocolate eggs and sparking wine.

After my morning run on Sunday, I quickly spotted another bakery in downtown Lugano. I picked up a mini-Colomba and some other goodies, found a quiet spot along Lake Lugano and enjoyed a peaceful breakfast with an amazing view.

DSC04518My breakfast spot along Lake Lugano

DSC04512A mini-Colomba from Lugano sans candied orange peel

Colomba Pasquale

Adapted from swissmilk’s recipe for Colombe de Pâques.

2 pieces
(dairy/nut-free)

Dough:

Phase I
250 grams all-purpose flour
60 grams sugar
100 ml very warm water
7 grams of dry active yeast

Phase II
250 grams all-purpose flour (and extra flour for kneading)
scant 200 ml canola or vegetable oil
100 ml rice milk
3 egg yolks
lemon zest from 1-2 lemons (2 lemons, if they’re small)
1 1/2 tablespoons orange flower water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional: 100 grams candied orange peel, finely chopped

Topping:
1 egg white, lightly beaten
coarse-grain sugar and/or powdered sugar

1. In a large bowl, whisk together 250 grams of the flour and all the sugar. Set aside.

2. Add the yeast to the warm water. Gently stir together and let sit for a few minutes until the yeast has dissolved.

3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture. Then, stir the mixture vigorously until well combined.

4. Add the other 250 grams of flour and the remaining phase II dough ingredients and continue to stir together until a soft dough forms. The dough will be sticky, but work through it and add additional flour as necessary. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, springing back when touched. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

5. After the dough has risen, punch down the dough to remove any air bubbles. Divide the dough into four equal parts.

6. Form two doves on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. First, make the “wings” of the dove by forming a C-like shape. Then, form the body of the dove and lay it on top of the wings. Let the shaped doves rise for about 20-30 minutes. Please note: It’s best if you have a paper mold, but it’s possible to do this recipe without it. For some step-by-step photos of the dove shaping, check out this recipe at cookaround.com.

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7. Brush the top of the doves with egg white. Then, sprinkle the top with some coarse-grained sugar, if you can find it, and then cover completely with a generous topping of powdered sugar.

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8. Bake at 180°C/350°F for about 40 minutes. The doves should be nicely browned on top and no longer soft on the bottom.

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During the next two weeks, I’m taking a blogging break due to the school vacation. As a reminder though, World Allergy Week is April 7-13, 2014. Throughout next week, I’ll be sharing info related to this event via Facebook and Twitter.

As always, thanks for your continued support. Bon week-end!


The April Fish

Happy April Fools’ Day! Are you eating chocolate fish today? Did your local newspaper publish a few nonsense articles this morning? Have you put a paper fish on someone’s back? If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, you may be living in French-speaking Switzerland (or France, for that matter).

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Poisson d’avril

In Suisse romande, April Fools’ Day is known as Poisson d’avril (April Fish). There are many theories for why this name developed, but the tradition of playing practical jokes on friends and family remains the same, as in other parts of the world. Long ago, people would apparently give fake fish as gifts on this day as a joke. Today, the tradition continues with beautiful chocolate fish displayed in store windows.

DSC03773Poisson d’avril display at the Musée d’horlogerie du Locle

Similar to giving fake fish, another unique tradition here and in France involves people secretly affixing paper fish to people’s backs. Whoever wears the paper fish is the Poisson d’avril. I’ve been talking about this tradition with my 6-year old, so I’m expecting a surprise paper fish from him at some point today.

To make sure a certain 2-year old can participate in Poisson d’avril, I bought a silicone mold with small springtime shapes, including a few little fish amongst the bunnies and Easter eggs. I melted some Divvies chocolate and added some grated coconut, poured it into the molds, and voila! Delicious little chocolate fish that our family can share together.

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I hope you enjoy your April Fools’ Day or Poisson d’avril. Be wary though, pranksters will be lurking everywhere today!


Pear-Rhubarb Spéculos Crumble

We almost always have Lotus spéculos cookies and/or spread (a.k.a. Biscoff) on hand. These cookies are still one of the few allergy-friendly treats I can buy for my son in Switzerland. So when I recently saw a recipe for pear crumble with spéculos cookies in a French-cooking magazine, it didn’t take long for me to try it. I grew up eating fruit crisps (no oats) and crumbles (with oats), and I’m not sure I’ll ever make one again without these cookies!

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For the pears, my favorite vendor at the farmers’ market recommended a Swiss-grown pear, la poire Conférence. This pear is apparently one of the most commonly grown in Europe. It was originally introduced at a “Pear Conference” in 1885—hence its name.

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While my 2-year old loves pears, my 6-year old does not. However, he gladly ate them baked with rhubarb in this crumble. As you can see from the photo above, we’ve been generously topping our crumble with whipped soy cream mixed with powdered sugar and vanilla sugar. It’s made with fruit and oats, so I think it’s perfectly suitable for breakfast, right?


Pear-Rhubarb Spéculos Crumble

Inspired by the “Crumble poíres-spéculos” recipe in Saveurs magazine N°208.

(dairy, egg and nut-free)

Crumble:
3/4 cup spéculos cookies, crushed
1/2 cup oats (I use flocons d’avoine complète)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
1/4 cup sugar

Fruit:
juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
1 1/2 to 2 cups rhubarb, cut into pieces
4 1/2 to 5 cups pears – peeled, cored and cut into pieces
1 packet of vanilla sugar (7 grams) or 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon sugar

For use with a 9×13-inch (22x33cm) baking pan or an oval gratin pan of roughly the same size.

1. Prepare the crumble. Crush the cookies and mix together with the remaining ingredients. Set aside.

2. Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl with the vanilla sugar. Add the cut fruit and stir frequently to keep the pears coated with lemon juice to prevent them from browning.

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3. Pour the fruit mixture into the pan, making sure it’s evenly dispersed. Then, sprinkle and spread the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit.

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 180°C/350°F until the fruit has softened a bit and the topping is golden brown. I recommend eating the crumble while it’s still warm. Otherwise, try and eat it the same day or shortly thereafter.

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Later today, I’ll be catching a train to Ticino. I’m hoping to discover some new food specialties from Italian-speaking Switzerland. Bon week-end, everyone!


Switzerland’s National Day of Allergy 2014

March 27, 2014 – Today marks Switzerland’s 6th annual Journée Nationale de l’Allergie (National Day of Allergy), which is organized by the aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse (Swiss Allergy Center), a nonprofit organization based in Bern. According to aha!, about 3 million people in Switzerland are living with allergies, asthma or intolerances. The key message for this event is to ensure that people are well-informed and taking preventative measures in order to significantly improve their quality of life.


Source: aha!

In Switzerland today, you can view allergy-related issues and themes broadcast on large screens at the following train stations. These images are intended to stimulate interest and encourage thousands of commuters to learn about allergies.

  • Basel*
  • Bellinzona*
  • Bern*
  • Geneva*
  • Lausanne*
  • Lucerne*
  • St . Gallen
  • Zug
  • Zurich HB Stadelhofen
  • Zurich*
  • Zurich Enge
  • Winterthur

*Informational materials will also be distributed at these stations.

Thanks to aha! for all their hard work to prepare for the National Day of Allergy. It’s great to see an annual event like this—and in locations throughout the country—to help to increase awareness of allergies and provide support for those living with allergies every day.

FYI – The aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse is also organizing a children’s camp in Crans-Montana in October 2014 for kids ages 8-12 living with allergies, asthma, intolerances and atopic eczema. For more information, click here or contact aha! at 031 359 90 50 or info@aha.ch.


Petits Pains with Bear’s Garlic

Even though it snowed yesterday, there’s a sign that spring is on its way: ail des ours (bear’s garlic). Bear’s garlic supposedly got its name from les Germains (Germanic people). They thought this plant gave bear-like strength to whoever consumed it, since it’s a popular plant for these powerful animals to eat in the springtime, post-hibernation. After learning about this local herb last year, I first used it for an allergy-friendly pesto with pumpkin seeds. There are many ways you can cook this versatile plant, but this year I wanted to try it in savory petits pains for summer sandwiches.

2014-03-16 12.02.07


I remembered the place where our friend took us last spring to pick bear’s garlic, and sure enough, we found a large patch of fresh green leaves poking out of the ground about 2 weeks ago (see this map for where to find bear’s garlic in Switzerland). If you don’t have a place to pick your own, I also saw vendors at the local farmers’ market selling it, and even our local Coop is selling large packages of this fragrant herb.

2014-03-16 12.09.33
We picked the bear’s garlic before it started flowering, which seems to be the typical practice—when the leaves are still young and relatively fresh. If you can’t find bear’s garlic where you live, I think chives would make a good substitute for the recipe below.

Please note: If you’re planning to forage for wild bear’s garlic, you must be very careful and make sure you’re picking the right stuff! At this time of year, other plants are sprouting that look similar to bear’s garlic, but are toxic. The Centre Suisse d’Information Toxicologique has some helpful information, which you need to review if you’re planning to eat the wild plants.

2014-03-22 14.36.18


Petits Pains with Bear’s Garlic

Recipe adapted from swissmilk (see p. 3).
Makes 8 rolls.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

500 grams all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
7 grams active dry yeast
250 ml very warm water
75 ml olive oil
1-2 tablespoons bear’s garlic (or chives), finely chopped

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

2. Separately, stir together the warmed water, sugar and yeast. Let set for about 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves.

3. Make a trough in the center of the flour mixture, and pour in the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir together until a dough forms. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Place in a covered bowl and let the dough rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.

4. Punch down the dough, and then divide into eight equal pieces. Form into small rolls and place on a pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with a towel and let rise again for about 20 minutes.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut an “X” on top of the roll and sprinkle with a little flour.

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6. Bake in an oven heated to 230°C/450°F for 10 minutes, and then reduce to 180°C/350°F and cook for another 5 minutes until the rolls are nicely browned.

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Last week, I made these petits pains for a picnic lunch at our local botanic garden and for American-style hamburgers at home. This recipe makes a small batch. You can throw them together very quickly and with few ingredients. I’ll be using them a lot now for outdoor lunches and when we’re traveling.

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What do you make with bear’s garlic? Do you buy it or pick it yourself? Please leave a comment below if you have tips or recipes to share. Thanks so much!

Also, this Thursday is Switzerland’s Journée Nationale de l’Allergie 2014 (National Day of Allergy 2014), sponsored by aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse. I’ll have more information later this week, so stay tuned. 


Spaghetti with Barba di Frate

Beautiful spring weather means a new crop of spring veggies, including something I thought looked like seaweed at our local market. Its shape resembles a thick chive, but looks more like a succulent plant that might even grow under water. When I asked about it, the store clerk told me it tasted like spinach and is often served with pasta.

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Back at home, I searched for more information about this mystery vegetable. For starters, I found out it’s known by many names. At my local Suisse romande market, the sign for it was labeled with one of at least three Italian names: barba di frate.

Name Language
salsola soda Latin
barba di frate, agretti, roscano Italian
saltwort, barilla English
barbe de moine French
mönchsbart German

The barba di frate I bought came from Italy. It’s typically found in salty, coastal areas of Southern Europe, such as along the Mediterranean Sea. If you want to grow it yourself, you don’t need to be in Italy though; it looks like you can buy seeds from various online sources.

Besides eating barba di frate as a vegetable, people once used this plant to make “impure” sodium carbonate (barilla) for soap and glass, for example. In terms of taste, I think it does have a mild, but somewhat salty flavor that certainly reminds me of eating seaweed.

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Everything I read about this springtime delicacy said to serve it with lemon and olive oil. With this in mind, I immediately thought of a recent favorite recipe from the Food Allergy Mama, “Spaghetti with Garlic Oil.” Using this recipe as a guide, I incorporated barba di frate into an easy weekday supper. If you can’t find it though, you could substitute another quick-cooking green like spinach.

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Spaghetti with Barba di Frate

16 oz./450 grams spaghetti
1 bunch of barba di frate, trimmed and rinsed (or a couple handfuls of baby spinach)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lemon, freshly squeezed juice from one half and zest from the whole thing
kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta in boiling water, as instructed on the package. During the last 2 minutes or so of cooking, put the barba di frate in the boiling water with the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, simmer the garlic in the olive oil over low-to-medium heat for at least 5-7 minutes. The garlic can lightly brown a bit, but just don’t let it get dark brown or burn.

When the pasta and barba di frate is finished cooking, drain it in a colander and place it in a large bowl. Toss it with the warmed olive oil and garlic mixture, the lemon juice and zest and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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While spring has arrived to Switzerland, along with lots of new fresh produce to discover, I’ve heard rumors of snow this weekend… We’ll enjoy the beautiful weather again today, while we can. I hope spring flowers, like the daffodils below, are blooming (or will be blooming soon) wherever you are.

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If you’re looking for more recipes, Swiss travel info and other food allergy news from Dairy-Free Switzerland, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Thanks for your continued support. Bon week-end!


“C’est horrible, les endives!”

For his 6th birthday, my son received a wonderful book in French called, “Emile et invisible.” This funny book follows Emile as he tries to avoid eating les endives for lunch by making himself invisible. Emile’s mother tries to make the bitter endives more palatable by smothering them in ham and gruyère, but he still isn’t convinced.

2014-03-08 10.26.28


Endive in Switzerland

According to the Union maraîchère suisse (Swiss vegetable union), the first endive in Switzerland was grown in 1909 in the Geneva region. That seemed relatively recent to me, until I learned about how endive is grown (in the dark) and how it started. The prevailing story of endive’s birth claims it was accidentally discovered by a Belgian farmer, who was storing chicory roots in his cellar. When he noticed the white buds growing from the thick roots, modern endive had arrived.

Today, about 80 percent of the Switzerland’s endive is grown in the canton of Vaud. In German-speaking Switzerland, you’ll find fresh endive used in salads, particularly during the winter months. Cooked endive is more common in French-speaking Switzerland, or Suisse romande, where we live. The process of cooking endive helps remove some of its bitter taste, which certainly helps, but unfortunately that means you lose its fresh crisp texture.

Before last week, I had very limited experience preparing endive. I typically ate them raw and in salads, most often with cheese and nuts. So, when I saw an easy recipe for braised endive in a French-cooking magazine that I could (hopefully) make dairy-free, I figured I would give it a try—even though my boys were less than thrilled.

I was happy with the result, and the recipe below is quick and easy—especially if you’re new to cooking endive and just want to try it out. Also, feel free to double the recipe, if you’re cooking for people who will actually eat it (this is not the case in my home just yet!).

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Braised Endives à l’Orange

Recipe adapted from Saveurs magazine, N°208.

Serves 2-3 people.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

4 heads of endive
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine
1 orange (half for zest, all for juice)
1 tablespoon of honey

1. Zest about half an orange, and squeeze the juice out of the whole thing. Whisk together half the orange juice with the zest and honey. Set aside, along with the reserved orange juice.

2. Remove outer leaves, if necessary from the endive. Rinse the endive in cold water. Slice off the stems, and then cut them in half, lengthwise.

3. Melt the dairy-free margarine in a large pan. Cook the endive over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Then, pour over the orange and honey mixture and cook the endive for another 10 minutes on medium to medium-low heat.

4. Pour over the remaining orange juice, add salt and pepper, and cook the endive for 5 minutes, so the sauce becomes slightly thickened. Serve immediately.

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Similar to lentils, I’m hoping to discover some kid-friendly recipes for endive. How do you prepare this bitter vegetable? Cooked or raw?


Swiss Green Lentils in Coconut Milk

During an afternoon excursion to Château de Vaumarcus, I discovered Swiss green lentils: Lentilles de Sauverny. These lentils are an excellent source of protein, locally-grown and shelf-stable—particularly important for those Sundays when I have nothing to cook and nothing here is open. While I’m sharing a new recipe for an allergy-friendly version of Lentilles à l’ancienne (dairy/egg/nut-free), I must disclose that even though my dear children have tried it twice now, they refuse to eat lentils. If you like lentils, however, this is an easy recipe for a nutritious legume with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

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At the castle in Vaumarcus, we found a small store selling produits du terroir, such as local wines, baked goods, and jam, etc. It was a nice surprise, and I found a few Swiss food products I hadn’t encountered before. The lentils immediately caught my eye, so I grabbed a bag to take home. A farm in the Geneva region, Ferme Courtois has been growing green lentils since 1995. Lentils are often paired with la longeole (IGP), a fatty Swiss sausage, also from Geneva, made of gelatinous pork and fennel seeds.

DSC03403Vaumarcus Castle

2014-02-20 10.32.14Swiss green Lentilles de Sauverny

On the package, I discovered an easy recipe for Lentilles à l’ancienne. I first made it with olive oil and soy cream, but greatly preferred the version with dairy-free margarine and coconut milk. Since my finicky boys won’t eat it (for now, at least), I’ll continue to use it as a side dish, while searching for new ways to prepare lentils they may actually enjoy…

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Lentilles à l’ancienne (Lentils of old)

Adapted recipe originally from Ferme Courtois.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1 cup green lentils
3 cups water
1-2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine (vegetable/olive oil works too)
Scant cup of coconut milk
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
Toppings: chopped parsley, cilantro or green onions

1. Rinse lentils thoroughly and pick out any debris or rocks. Place in a pot with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

2. Drain the lentils. Whisk together the coconut milk and dijon mustard and set aside. Then, saute the chopped shallots in dairy-free margarine until they soften a bit and turn slightly translucent.

3. Add the drained lentils and the coconut milk and mustard mixture and stir together. Simmer over medium to low heat for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with freshly chopped parsley, cilantro or green onions to add some color.

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How do you prepare lentils? Any and all suggestions are welcomed. I just received a recipe this week from a kind reader that I’m looking forward to trying. Bon week-end!


Vermicelles: Sweet Chestnut Noodles

Spring must be arriving soon, as our local roasted chestnut stand finished up its season on Saturday. The stand had been open for business since November, marking the start of colder weather and the holiday season. I love the smell of roasted chestnuts, and even though I have to wait until next year to enjoy them again, the Swiss have another popular use for chestnuts that’s available almost all year long: vermicelles.

DSC02236Vermicelles from Wodey-Suchard, Neuchâtel


Roasted Chestnuts

On the last day of roasted chestnut season, my boys and I bought a paper cone filled with the hot, sweet-smelling nuts. After removing the hard outer shell, you’ll find a warm chestnut inside with that distinct, yet mild flavor. The texture can be a bit dry and almost like paste, so a hot drink like mulled wine or tea makes a nice accompaniment. We brought our chestnuts to the park, and I snacked on them while the boys played on the slides.

chestnut_collageRoasted chestnuts at the park

From what I’ve read, Swiss chestnuts are primarily grown in Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. During the holiday season, Swiss Christmas markets often have a stand selling marrons chauds (hot roasted chestnuts). Beyond using chestnuts for roasting, they can also be ingredients in other food products, like beer, flour, pasta, jam and vermicelles—a popular Swiss dessert.

DSC04019Marrons chauds: roasted chestnut stand, Neuchâtel


Chestnut Vermicelles

Before moving to Switzerland, I associated the word vermicelles with a thinner version of spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce, for example. Here in Switzerland, however, it can have an entirely different meaning—except the shape remains the same.

I noticed these noodle-like desserts in the grocery stores almost immediately after we moved here. You can find them as part of layered whipped cream desserts, little tarts or larger cakes. For some reason, I always imagined them being coffee-flavored though. Right before Christmas, I figured out that vermicelles was actually made of pureed roasted chestnuts, and these desserts always contain dairy. If a milk product isn’t mixed in with the chestnuts, then of course it’s in the whipped cream.

vermicelles_coopVermicelles at the grocery store

Finally in November of last year, I purchased my first vermicelles from our local patisserie, and now I’m a fan. The combination of chestnut and whipped cream with pastry was sweet and nutty and smooth. After trying to make my own marron purree—which was a ton of work and not properly executed—I was thrilled to find a tube of ready-made vermicelles at Coop, made by Hero, that’s dairy and egg-free.

I had leftover puff pastry from last week’s gâteau aux noisettes, so I made two little round circles and baked them for about 25-30 minutes. After they cooled, I squirted out a nest of vermicelles on top. Honestly, this took a long time because I wasn’t using the tube properly. Thankfully, this video helped me figure out how to do it! I topped it all off with some soy whipped cream mixed with vanilla sugar and powdered sugar and some mini-chocolate chips from Enjoy Life.

DSC04041Vermicelles sans milk and eggs

Unfortunately, our little guy was sick with a stomach bug when I made vermicelles, so he didn’t have an appetite for anything—even dessert! I’ll likely be making them again soon. It’s so nice having a quick and allergy-friendly way to do it.


Part II: Gâteau aux Noisettes Success

For February vacation week, our family went searching for snow in the Jura mountains of Switzerland. Thankfully, we found it in Le Locle and La-Chaux-de-Fonds. Since 2009, UNESCO has listed both cities as World Heritage sites for their watchmaking history and how it shaped their development. When we came home, the trip had inspired me to finally tackle an allergy-friendly version of a local Neuchâtel specialty: Gâteau aux noisettes (hazelnut cake, but I call it a tart).

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Allergy-Friendly Accommodations

In Le Locle, we stayed in a 2-bedroom apartment in a wonderful old farmhouse outside of town. Relais de La Baume sits on a hillside, surrounded by evergreen trees and snow-covered pastures. Our apartment had a kitchen, so we planned to make all of our meals there. At the same time, I emailed two local restaurants in advance to inquire about allergy-friendly options for my son. I never heard back from one, and the other said they couldn’t guarantee a safe meal for him. While it would have been great to eat out together as a family, we played it safe by buying groceries at the Coop in Le Locle and cooking for ourselves in our well-equipped kitchen.


Neuchatel’s G
âteau aux Noisettes

During our trip, I had the chance to sample yet another gâteau aux noisettes from a bakery in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. I first discovered these hazelnut tarts last year when we visited a well-known bakery in Valangin. These nut-filled tarts traditionally have a thin layer of icing and are a local treat here in the canton of Neuchâtel. They come in all shapes and sizes. You can find similar ones in German-speaking Switzerland, but likely without the icing. In my opinion, they taste best with a strong cup of coffee.

interlakennoisettetartHazelnut tart from Interlaken with Rivella, a popular Swiss soda that contains whey

DSC03752Gâteau aux noisettes and other baked goods from La-Chaux-de-Fonds

In the canton of Neuchâtel, according to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the gâteau aux noisettes was originally developed in Colombier at Confiserie Zurcher. The bakers started using hazelnuts in the tarts instead of almonds, when they became too expensive during World War I. Yesterday, I finally made it to Zurcher with my 2-year old. We picked up a petite gâteau aux noisettes—the last one in the case.

DSC03982Home of Gâteau aux noisettes: Confiserie Zurcher, Colombier

DSC03999Gâteau aux noisettes from Confiserie Zurcher

When we got back home, I had the Zurcher gâteau for my second breakfast, while my 2-year old had the allergy-friendly version I made the day before. While shortcrust pastry is more traditional, and what Zurcher uses for their version, my homemade tart used allergy-friendly, pre-made puff pastry. Puff pastry is an acceptable alternative, and one used by the bakery in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. Plus, it’s nice taking a shortcut once in a while with store-bought pastry dough!


Gâteau aux Noisettes

Recipe adapted from the vegan blog, Loetitia Cuisine—another one of my favorites from Switzerland.

(dairy/egg-free)

Makes 1 tart in a 9-inch American-style pie pan or 4 smaller 4-inch tarts.

Dough:
Prepared pâte feuilletée (i.e., puff pastry to fit the specs listed above)
Dairy-free margarine, for greasing the pan/s or line the pans with parchment paper

Filling:
100 grams ground hazelnuts
100 ml rice milk
25 grams brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (optional)

Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 teaspoons water

1. Lightly grease the pan with dairy-free margarine and lay the puff pastry into it. Press in the pastry dough, and cut away any excess dough. Please note: the pastry dough should only go about halfway up the sides of the pan.

2. Mix together the filling ingredients until well-blended. Pour and spread the filling evenly into the prepared dough in the pan. The filling should roughly be the same height as the edges of the dough.

3. Bake at 180°C/350°F for 30-40 minutes, until the crust has lightly browned and the bottom isn’t soggy.

4. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Whisk together icing ingredients and spread a thin layer on the tart while still a little warm.

DSC03960My homemade hazelnut tart sans dairy and eggs

My husband just discovered this morning that he has a minor allergy to hazelnuts, among other things, which helps to explain why he’s not a huge fan of this tart! However, if you can tolerate hazelnuts or almonds, this is an easy and satisfying recipe. Bon week-end!


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