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: 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: Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad

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I served a lunchtime salad today with a new vegetable for the kids: kohlrabi, or chou-pomme (cabbage-apple) in French. It’s apparently one of the first spring vegetables in Switzerland. We see it all over our farmers’ market this time of year, but I didn’t feel compelled to buy any until I saw a recipe calling for kohlrabi and carrots.

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Instead of cooking the vegetables for the salad, as the recipe called for, I peeled and grated the raw kohlrabi and left them that way. Also, I cheated and bought two bags of pre-grated carrots from Coop, so it all came together rather quickly.

It seems like I’m throwing almonds in everything I make these days, following my son’s successful food challenge. Keeping with this trend, I sprinkled some toasted almonds on top, which I thought were a nice addition.

While the boys were hesitant to try a kohlrabi salad, the carrots certainly helped make it more appealing. I could definitely see us bringing it on a picnic or two this summer. Like my celery root salad, it reminds me of an American-style cole slaw—minus the mayonnaise and other dairy-based ingredients.


Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad

Recipe adapted from Migroscuisine de saison.
Serves 4-6

(dairy/egg-free)

Salad:
6 cups raw carrots, grated
6 cups raw kohlrabi, grated
1 bunch of fresh mint, roughly chopped

Dressing:
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple juice

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Optional: toasted almonds

1. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients. Add the dressing to the salad, combining until well incorporated. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

3. In a small frying pan, toast some thinly sliced almonds over high heat, tossing them frequently, until they become fragrant and very lightly browned. Sprinkle on top of the salad.

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How do you prepare kohlrabi? What are your favorite kohlrabi recipes? Please leave a comment below or send me an email with the details. Bon week-end, all.

 

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!

Crêpes for Chandeleur

I love food traditions tied to holidays. First, we made steamed chicken buns for Chinese New Year. Then on Sunday, I was happy to recognize another holiday that I only recently learned about: la Chandeleur—a wonderful excuse to eat too many crêpes! 

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Chandeleur, also known as Candlemas in English, is celebrated 40 days after Christmas on the second day of February. Along with the strong link to Christianity, the celebration of Chandeleur has connections to pagan and Roman traditions. Long ago, making crêpes helped use up surplus flour, and the round pancakes loosely resemble the shape and color of the sun—fitting for the celebration of light and the coming of spring.

In Switzerland, I’ve been hearing that Chandeleur isn’t celebrated as much as in France. At the same time, I’ve been reading about Chandeleur-related events at various locations around us in Suisse-Romande, so it does exist in some forms here.

On Sunday, we made dairy-free and egg-free crêpes for a special Chandeleur lunch. I used a different recipe this time, but it didn’t measure up to my favorite vegan crêpe recipe from VeganYumYum. Next time, I want to use sarrasin or buckwheat flour to try making vegan galettes—a special crêpe from Brittany, France.

For my homemade crêpes, our toppings included lingonberry jam, maple syrup, Véron molasses spread and my latest discovery… Whipped soy cream! I did a ridiculous little dance in the kitchen after I tasted it (really) because it was so close to the real thing. A little vanilla sugar, powdered sugar, and soy cream whipped together with my immersion blender, and I had faux chantilly cream for our thin little pancakes.

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After eating way too many crêpes, we took the funicular up and walked in the woods above our small Swiss city. Without any snow, it’s already starting to feel like spring. Of course that could change any day now, but we’re enjoying the mild winter while we still can.

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While we’ve lost the tradition of hot wings and nachos for the Super Bowl here in Switzerland, we’ve gained Chandeleur and crêpes. And, be prepared to see soy whipped cream making many future appearances on this blog!

Serving Vegetables: Fresh Salads for Lunch

My 2-year old with food allergies can be quite a picky eater, particularly when it comes to vegetables. He rarely eats anything green—unlike his older brother who absolutely loves broccoli. I just started reading the NY Times Motherlode’sPicky Eater Project” series, so I’m hoping to get some good advice! In the meantime, I’ve been serving salads for lunch with some basic Swiss recipes for Sauce à salade from my Croqu’menus cookbook: Italian, French and yogurt dressings (see the recipes below sans dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts).

In the following photos, you’ll notice the Swiss versions of French and Italian salad dressings differ from those in the United States. For example, French dressing in the United States typically has a reddish-orange color, while it’s white or cream-colored in Switzerland.

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French and Italian salad dressings in the United States

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French and Italian salad dressings in Switzerland

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Salad #1 – Salade Niçoise with Italian Dressing

On Saturday, I made a salad reminiscent of Salade niçoise. Of course, I didn’t have any olives on hand for which this recipe gets its name, but black olives aren’t a favorite in my household anyway. My little guy loves fish, so I used fresh tuna. The Italian dressing recipe, or Sauce à salade à l’italienne, was easy and didn’t make a huge amount, so I will definitely make this again. Thumbs up from both the boys!

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Italian Salad Dressing

Adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 163).

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as basil or cilantro
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
Zest of half a lemon
Salt, pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients into a blender jar. Use an immersion blender (or stand blender) to blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a sealed jar and use within 3-4 days.

 

Salad #2 – Beet, Pepper and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salad with French Dressing

My homemade version of Sauce à salade à la française took on a slightly yellow hue from the Dijon mustard and tarragon I threw in. We liked this dressing a lot. Even though my oldest thought it was a bit tangy, we’ll make this one again too.

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French Salad Dressing

Adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 162).

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped onion
1 clove of garlic
Salt, pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients into a blender jar. Use an immersion blender (or stand blender) to blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a sealed jar and use within 3-4 days.

 

Salad #3 – Crispy Chicken Salad with Soy Yogurt Dressing

Finally this week, I made a soy yogurt dressing. Unfortunately, this was our least favorite dressing, so I won’t be sharing the recipe. However, the boys LOVED the “crispy chicken” I made—even the picky eater who doesn’t usually eat chicken, unless it’s hidden in something like a quesadilla! This salad will be appearing on our table more often, but likely with one of the other dressings mentioned above.

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After many salads this week, I don’t want to give you the impression that my kids ate all their vegetables. My oldest complained about the beets. My youngest wouldn’t touch the green beans. I still think we made some progress though, and hopefully it will continue this year as I push vegetables to the forefront of our meals a little more often and reduce the need for that commonly heard phrase from parents everywhere—“Eat your vegetables!”

If you have any good allergy-friendly, veggie-focused recipes or if you have advice for how you’ve dealt with picky eaters, please leave a comment below. Thanks, and bon week-end, everyone!

Coming Home for Lunch: Bread & Sausage

Students of all ages at Swiss public schools generally come home for about 2 hours to eat lunch. As a “mère au foyer” or stay-at-home mom, I prepare about 21 meals per week, not including snacks. As a working mom in the United States I numbered about 13 meals. While I sometimes complain about having to cook, I feel very lucky to be spending more time with my boys.

In many ways, this lunchtime routine will be ideal for my food-allergic son. When he starts school, his lunch will be safe because I’ll still prepare everything he eats. Of course, I’ll need to pack along an allergy-friendly cupcake when there’s a birthday party in his class. At the same time, I won’t have to pack an entire meal or worry about friends in the cafeteria offering him food he can’t have.

With all this meal preparation, I’m always looking for quick allergy-friendly meals I can serve at lunch. For example, bread and sausage is a typical street food in Switzerland, and a super fast meal I can make for hungry kids. Most recently, I saw street vendors selling bread and sausage with mustard at the finish lines of my recent running races, both in Basel and Lucerne.

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At Coop, I can buy allergy-friendly baguettes and sausages without milk, eggs and nuts (Please note: the baguette contains gluten and traces of sesame). The “Saucisse à rôtir de campagne,” which I loosely translate as “country sausage for roasting,” reminds me of bratwurst from home in Minnesota.

After I walked the boys home from school yesterday, we celebrated the beginning of our weekend with a bread and sausage lunch. I always try to savor our lunchtime moments, especially on Fridays when we talk about the past school week and make plans for the weekend. When I’m feeling cranky and frustrated amidst all the chaos and cooking and cleaning, I have to remember that my little critters are growing so fast, and we won’t always have this special lunchtime together.

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What do you serve your kids for lunch? If you have any quick and allergy-friendly ideas for us and others, please share them below. Bon week-end!

Super Quick: Tarte aux Pruneaux

This week at school, my 5-year old and his classmates made little plum tarts or tarte aux pruneaux. On Tuesday, their teacher took them to the marché to buy fresh plums. With 4 plums purchased for each student, they all walked back to school. Then on Thursday, they prepared and baked the tarts. When we went to the playground after school that day, my son unveiled his baking creation, carefully wrapped up in a colorful napkin.

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Our 2-year old with multiple food allergies didn’t taste the tart because I assumed it contained some type of milk-related ingredient. To give him that opportunity, I made a super quick version at home using a pre-made crust from Coop—a convenient allergy-friendly product I’ve recently discovered. The Coop-brand Kuchenteig (German) or Pâte brisée (French) contains gluten, but the label doesn’t list any of my son’s allergens—milk, egg or almond.

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The French-speaking cantons of Switzerland eat tarte aux pruneaux this time of year, in part because it’s plum season, but also because of the upcoming mid-September holiday—Jeûne  Fédéral. Historically, this was a federal fasting day “in remembrance of wars, pestilence or other misfortunes.” A traditional fast-breaking feast included tarte aux pruneaux, which could be made in advance.

While I haven’t heard of anyone planning to fast on September 16, the practice of making and eating plum tarts has continued—as demonstrated by my son’s recent classroom activity. This tart took almost no time to make, and my husband finished it up at breakfast this morning.

 

Vegan Tarte aux Pruneaux

Adapted from a recipe featured in Migros’ cuisine de saison.

(dairy/egg-free)

Pastry:
1 prepared tart crust, such as Coop’s Pâte brisée

Filling:
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
15-20 plums, pitted and quartered
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Place prepared tart crust in an 11-inch/28-cm, nonstick springform pan (use greased parchment paper, if necessary). Prick the crust with a fork. Spread ground hazelnuts evenly on the crust.

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Next, gently arrange the pitted and quartered plums on top of the hazelnuts. Please note: you can pack the plums tight and overlap them a bit; they’ll shrink as they bake. Then, sprinkle sugar over the fresh plums.

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Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the plums have softened and the crust is lightly browned.

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My Sunday plans include a huge, 4-course feast celebrating local Suisse-Romande cuisine. I look forward to discovering some new Swiss foods I can safely recreate at home for my family. Bon week-end!

Cucamelon and Farmers’ Market Lunch

A morning visit to our local farmers market or “marché” is more than just a shopping trip. We enjoy seeing our favorite vendors, trying new foods and running into friends. The boys often receive small gifts as we’re purchasing our fruit and veggies, like a small carrot or half an apricot. We’re all usually gnawing on some fresh treat as we’re strolling and browsing through the market

Today, we discovered a new fruit: the cucamelon. One of the organic sellers had some for sale, and he offered them up for us to sample. The French word he used to describe it sounded to me like “concombre” (cucumber). So, I figured these were a new variety of cucumbers, but it turns out these have been grown in Central America for a while now. They resemble a teeny tiny watermelon, but have the taste and texture of a cucumber crossed with a lime. We bought a large handful of them, finished our shopping and headed home.

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When we got back home, I threw the cucamelon into a spinach salad with some tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper. I also served up some slices of dry-cured sausage, fresh bread and blackberries (full disclosure: I bought the sausage and bread at Coop so I could read a food ingredient list). A delicious farmers’ market lunch—free of milk, eggs and nuts—that took little to no time to prepare. Now if I could just get my boys to eat their veggies…

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If you’re looking for farmers’ markets in Switzerland, see below for two helpful links. I have yet to find a complete directory of all these markets in Switzerland, but will share it if/when I track one down.

Have you tried cucamelon? If so, how do you prepare it? And, what are your favorite super quick, farmers’ market lunches during the summertime?

Super Quick: Birchermüesli sans Lait

You’ve probably heard of müesli before, right? Did you know it was invented in Switzerland over 100 years ago? Honestly, I think my initial introduction to müesli was via Kellogg’s “Müeslix” cereal in the US. Since then, I ate müesli when I traveled, but never at home. And, I didn’t know it was a Swiss thing until we moved here.

In Switzerland, grocery store shelves are lined with müesli options. Birchermüesli was the first müesli, named for its inventor, Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Brenner. The Zurich nutritionist was a major proponent of raw foods, and he developed müesli using freshly grated apple mixed with oats. The original recipe also included sweetened condensed milk (he was apparently concerned fresh milk at the time would contain tuberculosis), lemon juice and water, which were all soaked overnight to soften the oats by morning.

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Using my Swiss cookbook, I adapted a recipe to create a dairy-free, single-serving of Birchermüesli. I think you don’t really need a recipe though, so this can be a loose guide for your müesli adventures.

 

Dairy-Free Birchermüesli

Serves 1

1 apple, grated
1 tablespoon oats
1 tablespoon soy yogurt
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
honey, to taste
Optional garnishes: red currants or other berries, ground hazelnuts or almonds

Mix together the above ingredients, and voila! A quick and healthy dairy-free breakfast.

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Along with this müesli recipe, I wanted to share two other food allergy resources I came across recently:

How do you make müesli? Have you found a store-bought müesli that’s dairy, nut and egg-free? Please share your recipes and recommendations. Thanks so much!