Recipe: Swiss-French Red Cabbage Salad with Apples and Raisins

It’s that time of year again, when I try to serve more vegetables to my family after weeks and months of feasting on baked goods—and I’m usually the worst offender!

My latest plan involves trying to work vegetables into all three meals, and ideally in at least two dishes. For breakfast, that means scrambled eggs with spinach. At lunch or dinner, we’ll have a salad and steamed green beans with lemon, for example. With more and newer options, I’m hoping my kids’ interest increases so they actually like eating vegetables, instead of viewing them as a necessary evil.

After a recent Sunday walk, I tried out a new a new red cabbage salad recipe from a local Swiss-French cookbook. I served it as part of leisurely brunch during our last day of the holiday break. My husband, who usually HATES mayonnaise, liked this salad. Unprompted, my 7-year old said it tasted good after his first bite. My 3-year old gave it a thumbs up, but I think he really only liked (and ate) the raisins, to be perfectly honest. We’ll keep this cabbage salad in our mealtime rotation, and I’ll have to try another one I saw recently from Migros’ Saison.ch made with orange juice (here’s yet another salad recipe with cabbage, orange and fennel that also looks good).

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Sunday walk on Mount Vully


Salade de Chou Rouge (Red Cabbage Salad)

Recipe adapted from Recettes du terroir neuchâtelois by Francis Grandjean (2002).

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free)

Serves 6-8

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Salad:
500 grams red cabbage (about 1 cabbage)
1-2 apples, diced
about 1/2 cup raisins (I like golden raisins)
Optional: finely chopped chives and lettuce leaves

Sauce:
100 ml vegan mayonnaise (use really mayo if you can!)
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons mustard
salt, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

Instructions:

1. Slice the cabbage into thin strips and place in a large bowl.

2. Prepare the sauce by whisking together all the ingredients until smooth. Pour the sauce over the cabbage and toss until well-incorporated.

3.Stir in the raisins and diced apple(s). Best served the same day. Top with chopped chives and serve with fresh lettuce leaves, if desired.

For 2015, we have lots to look forward to in terms of managing my son’s milk allergy, like a food challenge next week and starting school in August. I hope you do too! Happy New Year, and Bonne Année, everyone!

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Recipe: Irish Soda Bread on the Griddle

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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

During our trip to Dublin for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Meeting 2014, my family and I made time for an excursion to Northern Ireland to see friends and visit Giant’s Causeway.

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).

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The famous hexagonal rock formations at Giant’s Causeway

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The Bushmills Inn Restaurant

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Dunluce Castle

Ulster Fry

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.

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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.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

Dry ingredients:
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
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.

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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.

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The secret is out, I’m a very messy cook!

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.

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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!

Recipe: Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes

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My oldest son—who doesn’t have food allergies, had previously stopped eating the vegan pancakes I made for his brother. He claimed to no longer like ANY pancakes. Thankfully, he’s changed his mind in the last few weeks. With a new ingredient, I’ve developed a recipe that both my sons really like: Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes sans dairy, eggs and nuts.


MozzaRisella Vegan Cheese

While I don’t usually share recipes that call for specific brands of food products, I make an exception when I find something really great, especially if it could be helpful to others living with food allergies. My latest discovery here in Switzerland is MozzaRisella—a vegan cheese made from germinated brown rice. I’ve seen it in our small Swiss city at several bio (organic) shops, and I know you can also find it in the UK.

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We started buying MozzaRisella to make dairy-free pizza for our son. Compared to the frozen pizza with fake cheese we tried last summer in the US, the homemade pizza with MozzaRisella is so much better. This product even tastes good uncooked and straight from the package. My boys and I were sampling pieces last night when I was making pizza again, and my 3-year old with food allergies kept asking for more.

In addition to pizza, we also tried using MozzaRisella for nachos. I would have never considered this before, but we recently had nachos with mozzarella at our local Swiss-Mexican restaurant. We hadn’t made nachos for years, but during the World Cup, we ate dairy-free nachos with black beans and corn and topped with cilantro and thinly sliced radishes. Not as good as ones made with real cheese, but still an excellent alternative.

The Italian company that makes MozzaRisella also makes CreamyRisella, but I didn’t start buying this other product right away. Then, The Kitchn posted their easy recipe for Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes, and I wondered about using the CreamyRisella as a substitute for the ricotta. It worked from the start, and with a few other modifications, I now have a pancake that even my oldest son will eat. On Sunday, I served them for brunch with fresh raspberries and a side of bacon.


Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes

Serves 3-4 people

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with 1 tablespoon flax meal
1 package of CreamyRisella (200 grams)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup soy or rice milk (I’ve been using Alnatura’s Soja Drink-Vanille from Migros)

1. In a large bowl, stir together the zest of the 2 lemons and the lemon juice with the flax meal and set aside for a few minutes.

2. Then, add the next five ingredients to the flax meal mixture and whisk together until smooth: CreamyRisella, oil, sugar, cider vinegar and vanilla sugar.

3. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Next, gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in about 2 batches, alternating with the soy or rice milk. Do not overbeat.

4. Using a measuring cup, pour pancake batter on a medium-high heated skillet. Flip the pancake once air bubbles throughout the pancake begin to burst. Cook about 1-3 minutes on each side, until light golden brown, and serve warm.

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Full disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, nor did I receive any compensation. The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own.

What’s your favorite vegan cheese? Have you tried MozzaRisella? I’m curious to hear about other vegan cheeses in Switzerland and beyond. Please leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks!

Recipe: Handmade Brioche à Tête

Brioche à Tête

I recently purchased a pan for making mini-Brioche à Tête. Traditionally made with lots of dairy and eggs, these little French pastries have fluted edges and a little dough ball baked on top (a.k.a. the tête or head). It’s been over a year now since my son’s successful food challenge for baked egg, so I decided it was time to finally tackle making a dairy-free version of Brioche à Tête at home. While not a typically Swiss recipe, you can easily find these at bakeries all over Suisse romande.

Store window Brioche à Tête

Brioche à tête may seem like a challenging pastry to make at home, but I’ve tailored a recipe to meet our family’s needs—including an option for overnight preparation. We’ve been eating them all week for breakfast, served warm and slathered with apricot, ginger or raspberry jam. I wish we could use real butter instead of margarine, but I hope my version comes close to the real thing—just with more streamlined instructions and without the dairy. Please note: As you may know, I don’t use an electronic mixer. All the ingredients are mixed by hand.


Dairy-Free
Brioche à Tête

Recipe adapted from Saveur, Issue #109.

(Dairy/nut-free with baked egg)

Makes 6 rolls.

Dough:
2 1/2 tablespoons warmed rice milk
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

Egg wash:

1 egg, beaten

1. Add a pinch of the sugar and all the yeast to the warmed rice milk. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. During this time, whisk together the remaining sugar, flour and salt in a separate bowl.

2. Whisk the yeast mixture into a large bowl with the 2 eggs. Then, add the flour mixture and dairy-free margarine. Stir together to form a dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Please note: The dough will be soft, but do not add any extra flour. Let the dough rise, covered in a bowl, for approximately 2 hours. (After this first rise, you could put the dough into the fridge and pick up with the next step in the morning, so you can serve warm brioche for breakfast).

3. Punch down the dough and divide into 6 equal pieces. Form the brioches into the desired shape, and I recommend using Saveur’s photos as a guide. Place in a pan greased with dairy-free margarine and let rise for another hour.

First rise, Brioche à Tête

4. After the second rise has finished, use a pastry brush to apply a light coating of the egg wash to the tops of the brioche. Please note: Rising may lesson the indentation for the têtes. You may need to do a little re-shaping, to make sure they retain their têtes while in the oven.

Second rise, Brioche à Tête

5. Heat oven to 190°C/375°F. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until deep golden brown. Let stand in the molds for about 10 minutes and then remove from the pan onto a cooling rack. Best served warm.

Baked Brioche à Tête

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If you try making Brioche à Tête, please let me know how they turn out. I love being able to make these at home for my family, since the dairy-filled versions at the bakeries just aren’t safe for my son right now. Bon week-end, everyone!

Le Cédrat: Cooking with Bumpy Lemons

Citrus season continues! One fruit in particular often catches our eye as we’re walking through town. My boys and I have started referring to them as “bumpy lemons.”

First, we noticed these large yellow fruits in store window displays. Then, one of my favorite Swiss food blogs wrote about them and their many uses. Finally, our favorite vendor at the farmers’ market started selling them. It was time to try them out!

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My 2-year old still calls them “bumpy lemons,” but we know them now as cédrats (Citrus medica). We bought about half a dozen cédrat at the farmers’ market last week that were grown in Sicily. As the vendor weighed out our fruit, he wanted to make sure I knew they weren’t citrons or lemons. I may be wrong, but I think he assumed that as an American, I wouldn’t know the difference between a lemon and a cédrat!

Besides the added texture of the yellow skin and their larger size, cédrats have a much thicker rind than a regular lemon. In terms of smell and taste, the difference is more subtle. Maybe cédrat is a bit more bitter? This could also be my impression because cédrat have a larger proportion of bitter peel, compared to the juicier interior of a lemon.

After careful consideration, I decided to make two things with my cédrats: 1) marmalade or confiture and 2) arugula salad with seared scallops.


Confiture de Cédrat

Making jam always seems like a daunting task, and it does take time. Sterilizing jars, in particular, I imagine as very laborious. However, you don’t have to do this if you make jam that will be eaten quickly—which in my home isn’t a problem!

Here’s what I did, using a recipe from Parmesan et Paprika as a guide:

1. Sliced 1 kilogram of cédrats (in my case, 4 of them) into very thin pieces with a mandoline.

2. Added the cédrats to a liter of water in a large pot and brought it to a boil. Simmered for about 1 1/2 hours over medium-low heat.

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3. Stirred in 1 1/2 kilograms of sugar and the juice of one lemon.

4. Simmered for another 30-60 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the jam began to thicken. When I put a small amount on a plate and it thickened as it cooled, I knew it was ready.

And, voilà! Delicious homemade confiture. We have so much that I’ve been handing out small jars to friends and neighbors. I’ll likely be having some on my zopf for second breakfast again today.

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Arugula and Cédrat Salad with Seared Scallops

After making my jam, I use the remaining cédrat to make a savory lunch. During my cédrat research phase, I discovered two recipes for salads that looked intriguing. So, while I was stirring the jam, my dear husband picked up some scallops from our local fishmonger for an easy salad.

I tossed some of the finely shaved cédrat with arugula and a quick dressing: 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice with salt and pepper to taste. The scallops were cooked quickly with some olive oil, lemon juice and chopped shallots. Before serving, I sprinkled some fresh lemon zest on top.

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Citrus fruits are still abundant in our markets. I may need to tackle oranges amères (bitter oranges) next!

Bergamot-Cranberry Kugelhopf

For Valentine’s Day, I thought about making candied orange peel dipped in chocolate. While searching for a recipe, I came across David Lebovitz’s post about bergamot. If you had asked me about bergamot before seeing his post, I would have described an herb. I didn’t know about a citrus fruit bearing the same name.

The bergamot herb I was thinking of, also known as bee balm, has mint-like leaves that can be used to make tea. My mother had a huge patch of bee balm in her flower garden when I was growing up in rural Minnesota. Similarly, bergamot the citrus fruit is used in Earl Grey tea. Even though it resembles a sweet little orange, bergamot has a very distinct scent and a subtle tart flavor.

I found organic bergamot over the weekend at our local farmers’ market, thanks to a friend’s suggestion. He uses bergamot to make flavorful gin and tonics—which I need to try after my French class one of these evenings (have I mentioned I’m the worst in the class?). Not being a citrus expert, what I bought may not be true bergamot (Citrus bergamia). According to Mr. Lebovitz, French bergamot are typically Citrus limetta, and based on the photos I’ve seen, I think that’s likely what I have.

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In Switzerland, bergamot oil has historically been used in several traditional food products, such as absinthe and hosenknöpfe, a small button-shaped confectionery. I’ve never seen bergamot oil for sale before, but now I’ll be on the lookout. If you know of where I can find some in Switzerland, please let me know! In the meantime, I’ll keep experimenting with the real thing. And my husband just told me about some bergamot IPA from Belgium, which will likely be appearing in our fridge soon.


Making Kugelhopf

Over the last 3-4 weeks, I’ve been trying to learn the art of making kugelhopf. These yeasted cakes take some time. Time for the sponge to foam. Time for the dough to rise (twice). Time for the cake to bake and cool. I find them extremely satisfying to make (and eat). So with the bergamot I purchased, I was inspired to make yet another kugelhopf over the weekend, the recipe of which I’m sharing below.

A few things to note about my baking techniques… I don’t use a mixer. My kitchen isn’t big enough to use the big American one I have with our converter. Instead, everything I make is by hand, including the somewhat labor intensive kugelhopf. The soft dough needs to be stirred vigorously. In fact, my Alsation source for kugelhopf advice says you need to sweat a little bit to know for sure the dough is ready. While he uses his hands to work the soft and sticky dough, I use a silicone spatula.

On Monday, my 2-year old and I took our dairy-free cake to our favorite castle for a mid-morning picnic (i.e., second breakfast). It’s hard for me to think of a better way to spend my morning than outside eating cake with my son.

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Bergamot-Cranberry Kugelhopf

Recipe adapted from swissmilk.

(dairy/nut-free)

Sponge:
300 grams zophmehl/farine pour tresse*
42 grams fresh yeast
100 ml rice milk
50 grams sugar

Dough:
1 teaspoon salt
50 grams sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
150 grams dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled
1-2 teaspoons bergamot zest (or another citrus fruit, such as lemon or orange)
1 packet of vanilla sugar (7 grams) or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100 grams dried cranberries or raisins

Topping:
Powdered sugar

*Please note: If you live outside of Switzerland and can’t find Zopfmehl, you can try making your own. Laughing Lemon recommends a mixture of 15 percent bread flour and 85 percent all-purpose flour.

1. For the sponge, put the flour in a bowl and form a trough in the middle.

2. Place the yeast and rice milk in a small saucepan. Gently warm the rice milk and until the yeast has dissolved. It should be slightly warmer than your body temperature. Once it’s dissolved, stir in 50 grams of sugar and pour the mixture into the trough. Mix a little flour in from the sides of the trough until a thick paste forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 20 minutes until the yeast mixture becomes foamy.

3. Add the remaining ingredients—except the dried fruit—to the dough. Mix the dough vigorously until it becomes smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and become somewhat stringy.

4. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

5. Generously grease a kugelhopf or Bundt pan with dairy-free margarine, and then dust it lightly with flour. (Please note: I have a Nordic Ware kugelhopf pan, but the company has discontinued this model).

6. Add the raisins to the dough and mix them until they’re evenly distributed. Add the dough to the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

7. Place in an oven preheated to 200°C/400°F for 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then turn onto a cooling rack. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar before serving. Best the day its made, kugelhopf also tastes great the second day after the flavors have matured a bit.

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No school next week, so I’ll take a break and be back online in March. Thanks so much for your continued support, and bon week-end!

Dairy-Free Hazelnut Crescent Rolls

On Sunday morning, we packed up some freshly baked hazelnut crescent rolls for a visit to our neighborhood Christmas market. I prepared the hazelnut filling the night before and quickly made the dough in the morning. This easy recipe makes a nice dairy-free pastry without too much effort!

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I had been searching for a new Swiss holiday recipe to try when I came across this one from Swiss Milk for “Croissant aux noisettes.” The recipe calls for crumbled up pieces of leftover Christmas cookies. Perfect for me, because I burned a pan of “Etoiles à la Canelle” while getting ready for a holiday party last weekend. I couldn’t bear to throw them out and was looking for a creative way to use them up. I still have cookies leftover, so I’ll be making these rolls again before the holiday season is over. I hope you like them too!

 

Hazelnut Crescent Rolls

(Dairy-free, baked egg)
Adapted from Swiss Milk’s recipe (in French).

Makes 6 rolls

Dough:
250 grams all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
100 ml rice milk, very warm
50 grams dairy-free margarine, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling:
180 grams ground hazelnuts, toasted
50 grams cookies, crumbled (e.g., crushed in a plastic bag with a rolling pin)*
100 ml water
100 grams sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Glaze:
5 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1-2 drop(s) freshly squeezed lemon juice

*Christmas cookies like Etoiles à la Canelle, Basler Brunsli, Milanais, or other chocolate and vanilla cookies, etc.

1. For the filling, mix ground hazelnuts and crumbled cookies. Separately, boil water and sugar until sugar is completely melted. Stir together with the warm hazelnuts , adding the lemon zest and juice and cinnamon. Cover and let cool completely. Put in the fridge and leave overnight.

2. For the dough, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warmed rice milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Pour into the yeast mixture in the well, along with the butter and egg. Knead to obtain a soft dough that bounces back when pressed. Please note: The dough will be sticky, so be patient, but add a little flour, as needed. Cover and let stand at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle and cut into 6 triangular pieces. Divide filling evenly, and roll into crescents. Please note: There’s lots of filling, and I had some leftover.

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4. Bake 20-25 minutes in an oven preheated to 200°C/400°F.

5. While the rolls are still hot, whisk together all the icing ingredients. Smooth the glaze on the top of the rolls and let them cool completely (or if you can’t wait, like me, eat them while they’re still warm!).

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What are your favorite allergy-friendly recipes for the holiday season? Please share by leaving a comment below or sending me an email. Thanks!

Afternoon Gaufres (Waffeln)

On Sunday afternoon, we ate delicious homemade “gaufres” or waffles. I smothered the perfectly browned and rectangular waffle with fresh “griotte” or sour cherry jam. Then, we sprinkled powdered sugar on top and ate them with our hands. Apparently, waffles aren’t a typical breakfast dish in Switzerland. Instead, people eat waffles as a snack or for dessert. Also, I’ve been reading that Swiss waffles typically contain lemon zest.

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Waffles generally contain dairy AND eggs, so our 2-year old ate the homemade cookies I had packed along. He didn’t seem to mind at all. However, he’s starting to notice more and more that his snacks and meals don’t always match those of the people around him. This afternoon, I really wanted to try and make waffles he could safely eat at home.

Unfortunately—even though I made two different batches of waffle batter—neither recipe worked with my waffle iron. When the green light clicked on and I lifted the lid, both waffle versions stuck and had to be gently scraped out with a fork.

My waffle iron just might be getting old. Maybe I didn’t grease it enough (although it’s non-stick)? Maybe the absence of dairy and eggs had something to do with it? Or, maybe it’s because I used a transformer for my US-purchased waffle iron?

Either way, I gave up. I threw away my waffle iron. We stopped making waffles, and I put the remaining batter in the fridge. Tonight, I used the leftover batter to make pancakes, and we had breakfast for dinner. My oldest son has been asking for this anyway, so he finally got his wish.

If you have a favorite waffle recipe (sans dairy, eggs and almonds), please comment below or send it my way! And, for those who might be keeping track of such things, there will be a rectangular Swiss waffle iron on my Christmas list this year…

Apricot Couronne for Breakfast

I am eagerly awaiting tonight’s finale of The Great British Bake-Off. As you may have noticed, this show has inspired some of my baking experiments during the last few months. For example, I bought a kitchen scale after watching the clever bakers weigh out their ingredients. I also made allergy-friendly English muffins. And, I’m currently working on a new vegetable cake for Bundt Day 2013.

Another great recipe I discovered from the show is for “Apricot Couronne.” Couronne means “crown” in French, which this pastry resemblesexcept it’s filled with raisins, dried apricots and orange zest. The contestants on the show made it look so easy, but it takes some careful rolling and shaping to get it right. After two attempts, I still need more practice.

For an allergy-friendly version (dairy and nut-free), here are the changes I made to the recipe:

  • No walnuts (my husband is allergic)
  • Canola oil instead of butter
  • Rice milk instead of cow’s milk
  • Roughly chopped pumpkin seeds instead of almonds

In addition to these substitutions, I baked the couronne for exactly 30 minutes, to make sure the egg was safe for my son to eat. He cannot eat raw or undercooked eggs. However, since his baked egg food challenge, eggs cooked for 30 minutes at 200°C/400°F (generally in baked goods, like breads and cakes) are okay.

We had my homemade version of Apricot Couronne for breakfast on Sunday. Both boys gave it a two thumbs up. This pastry takes time to make, so I’ll probably wait for a special occasion to attempt it again. Maybe Christmas morning when my in-laws are visiting us?

IMG_20131019_203044I finished the Apricot Couronne before bedtime (it’s a little lopsided, I know)…

DSC01761…and ate it for breakfast the next morning.

I’m hoping to discover more new recipes during tonight’s GBBO series finale. Will you be watching too? Which recipes have you tried making at home?

British TV and Homemade English Muffins

At the end of the day, I almost always gravitate to the 10 or so British channels in our cable package—even though I should be watching French TV to improve my lackluster language skills. I feel guilty every time (and lazy), but I just can’t help myself. And yes, I’m counting down the days until the Season 4 premiere of Downton Abbey this Sunday night!

As I mentioned earlier this week, one of my favorite British “programmes” is The Great British Bake-Off. Each week, home bakers compete to see who can produce the best cakes or biscuits or breads. I absolutely love it.

During GBBO’s recent bread week, the contestants made English muffins. At the time, my experience with English muffins was limited to packaged versions from American grocery stores. While I’d seen recipes for them before, I figured it was too time consuming to actually try it. After watching all the delicious English muffins on GBBO, however, I was finally inspired to make my own—without dairy and eggs for my son.

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I made the recipe below just two times, and my family has declared it “blogworthy”—although, I’m still working on getting those nooks and crannies just right… We had them for breakfast this morning with Karamellgebäck Creme (a.k.a. Biscoff spread) and will probably do the same tomorrow. I hope you like them as much as we do.

 

English Muffins 

Adapted from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger (1999, pp. 268-9).

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
A pinch of sugar
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water (or 1 egg, if you can)
1 1/4 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons melted dairy-free margarine
1/4 cup cornmeal or semolina for sprinkling

1. In a large bowl, add the warm water and sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over its surface. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the flax meal mixture, soy milk, margarine, salt and 2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture in the large bowl. Mix together vigorously until well-blended, about 2 minutes.

3. Add remaining flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, as needed, until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes. Keep the dough soft, using extra flour as needed to prevent sticking. “The softer you leave the dough, the lighter the muffin.”

4. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coast the top and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

5. Gently deflate the dough and place it on a work surface lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle the top of the dough with cornmeal and roll it so it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the muffins with 2 1/2 to 3 1/2-inch cutter. Roll out the trimmings and cut out the remaining muffins.

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6. Preheat a griddle, either an electric or cast-iron stovetop griddle, over medium heat to about 180°C (350°F) to 190°C(375°F). When a drop of water is sprinkled on the surface, it should quickly roll across the surface and evaporate. Lightly grease the pan with dairy-free margarine, as needed.

7. Place muffins on the hot griddle and cook for about 10 minutes on each side, turning when quite brown. They need that much time to cook all the way through. Refrigerate uncooked muffins to prevent them from rising more while the others are baking.

8. Transfer cooked muffins to a cooling rack, when done. Store tightly wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator or freezer.

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I’ve been absorbed with birthday party preparations, which included today’s finishing touches on an Angry Birds piñata. There may be some new recipes to share next week, if our little fête isn’t a total disaster… Bon week-end!