Recipe: Swiss Rice Tart for Easter

Discover a dairy-free version of a typically Swiss tart made for Easter with rice, vanilla, lemon zest and a thin layer of apricot jam.


For our first Easter in Switzerland, I attempted a few dairy-free and egg-free Gâteau de Pâques. My experiments always looked bad, and the texture was never right. Honestly, I think some of it ended up in the trash. (Please note: For those of you still avoiding eggs AND dairy, I found an Easter tart recipe from aha! Centre d’Allergie Suisse).

According to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the first tarts in Switzerland resembling today’s Gâteau de Pâques (in French) or Osterfladen (in German) may have started as early as the 16th century, and several sources pinpoint Basel as the birthplace. These tarts typically contain either rice or semolina. At our local Suisse Romande bakery, the Gâteau de Pâques has semolina and a thin layer of apricot jam. One of the bakers I spoke with there said he preferred using semolina over rice because it makes a lighter cake.

I tend to prefer the semolina-based tarts, but for this year’s Gâteau de Pâques (which I can now make with eggs), I really wanted to tackle a rice-based tart—especially since my past attempts were so unsuccessful. My dairy-free recipe uses the apricot jam layer instead of the more traditional raisins (the thought of moist raisins mixed with sweet rice just isn’t appealing to me). Both of my sons loved this tart, so I’m finally ready to share my recipe below.

Gâteau de Pâques

Recipe adapted from cuisine de saison.
(dairy-free, nut-free)

Tart pan, 24 cm (9-10 inches) diameter

500 ml soy milk
60 grams sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
120 grams rice (e.g., Camolino rice or risotto)
30 grams dairy-free margarine, melted
2 eggs, separated
about 320 grams prepared allergy-friendly pâte brisée (i.e., shortcrust pastry or pie crust)
100 grams apricot jam
powdered sugar for dusting


1. Stir together the soy milk, sugar and vanilla paste in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then add the lemon zest. Stir in the rice. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the rice becomes tender. Set aside to cool.

2. Add parchment paper to a greased tart pan (using dairy-free margarine), and then place in the prepared pâte brisée. Trim the sides, if necessary. Prick the bottom with a fork in several places. Spread the apricot jam evenly on the prepared crust.

3. Melt the margarine, and stir it into the cooled rice mixture. Separately, beat together the two egg yolks, and then stir them in as well, until well-combined.

4. Separately, beat together the 2 egg whites with an electric mixture (it will take forever to do this by hand) until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the rice mixture. Take the rice mixture and spread it evenly over the apricot jam in the prepared crust.

5. Bake the tart for 40-45 minutes at 180°C/350°F until it’s set (it doesn’t wobble when you take it out) and lightly browned.

6. Once the tart has cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar (I made a quick bunny stencil with a sheet of paper, which I held down against the cake with some dried beans).

School vacation starts tomorrow, so I’ll be offline for the next two weeks. Happy Easter! Joyeuses Pâques! Fröhliche Ostern! Buona Pasqua!


Recipe: Reine-Claude Coffee Cake

Reine Claude

What are Reine-Claudes? Maybe you know them as Greengages? Now after two years of living in French-speaking Switzerland, I finally discovered these little green plums with a sweet fresh flavor. Typically grown in southern France, we see Reine-Claudes at our farmers’ market and all the local grocery stores. Their size can vary, but most often they’re smaller than purple plums (pruneaux) and slightly larger than the yellow-hued Mirabelles.

Reine Claudes market

Reine Claude
Named after a 16th century French queen, these special Reine-Claudes have a distinct flavor and are really best eaten raw. Even so, I’m not a huge fan of plums—although I’m slowly acquiring a taste for them. Generally, I prefer them baked in a cake or tart.

Over the last few weeks of summer vacation (my son’s school year started on Monday already!?), I’ve been perfecting my recipe for a cake with Reine-Claudes. When I served my second test-cake to my father-in-law last week, he suggested calling it a coffee cake, given it’s overall appearance and texture. I agreed with him, and since I’m usually downing a large cup of coffee (or several) when eating cake, it seemed like a good name for my new recipe. I had lots of coffee cake growing up in Minnesota, and this one reminds me of one my mother used to make with a cinnamon-streusel topping—except it’s made without dairy and contains French plums befitting a queen!

Reine-Claude Coffee Cake

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Purple Plum Torte, a recipe adapted from Marian Burros’ Famous Purple Plum Torte from Elegant but Easy and The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

A 9-inch round cake tin or springform pan
Parchment paper and/or dairy-free margarine for greasing the pan

Dry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons ground almonds (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon

About 8 Reine-Claudes (Greengages), pitted and halved
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, vanilla sugar and margarine. Add one egg at a time, and combine until the mixture is smooth. Then stir in the lemon zest.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring together gently until combined, but do not overbeat. Put the cake batter into the prepared pan, spread evenly.

4. Place the Reine-Claudes face down and evenly dispersed on top of the cake batter. Then, sprinkle the lemon juice over the plums and the cake batter.

Reine Claude Cake

5. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the top of the cake. Finally, sprinkle on the sliced almonds.

Reine Claude Cake

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 180ºC/350ºF until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Best served warm, but also very good the next day!

Reine Claude Cake

Reine-Claude Coffee Cake Piece 2702x2794

We’ve had a cool and rainy Swiss summer, so I’m hoping for a warm autumn season. Hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the final weeks of summer.

Recipe: Lemon “Ricotta” Pancakes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 2713x2971

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.

MozzaRisella1 3098x2370

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


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.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 2 2736x2726
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!

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.


Colorful 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 17.33.47

Chocolate 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.


Colomba 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.


My breakfast spot along Lake Lugano


A mini-Colomba from Lugano sans candied orange peel

Colomba Pasquale

Adapted from swissmilk’s recipe for Colombe de Pâques.

2 pieces


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

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


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.


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.



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!

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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!

Suisse-Romande Roast Chicken

Despite the cold weather in the United States, we’ve had a relatively mild winter thus far in our small corner of Switzerland. My 6-year old’s ski lesson was cancelled one day over Christmas vacation due to heavy rain and not enough good snow. Having grown up in Minnesota, I always enjoy a cold and snowy winter. This year’s Swiss winter hasn’t met my expectations yet.


We can find snow up in the mountains, but it hasn’t arrived down by the lake where we live.

Even without the wintry weather, we’ve had many cloudy and foggy days without much sunlight. This weather calls for roast chicken, and I’ve found a recipe that’s become almost a weekly meal in our household: Poulet au citron de Suisse romande (loosely translated, Swiss-Romandy Lemon Chicken). We’ve made this at least a half dozen times now—when I manage to have all the ingredients, and I don’t forget about the 2-hour marinating time! Roast chicken is such a warm and comforting meal for our Sunday night dinner, and it’s great for Monday leftovers.


Poulet au Citron de Suisse-Romande

chasselasAdapted from Les recettes de Grand-Mère, Tome 5. Published in 2011 by the Association Alzheimer Suisse, Yverdon-les-Bains.


1 whole chicken
juice of 2 lemons
6-7 shallots
3 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, softened
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
2 lemons
100 ml white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place the raw chicken in a large, oven-safe pot or roasting pan. Rub the chicken with lemon juice and place in the refrigerator to marinate for about 2 hours.

2. Set-aside 2 shallots in a small bowl. Cut the rest in half and arrange in the pot around the chicken.

3. Mix together the dairy-free margarine, mustard and herbs. Take out 1 tablespoon of the mixture and mix together with the remaining shallots. Stuff the shallots and half a lemon into the chicken. You can truss the chicken with some kitchen string, if you want to.

4. Spread the remaining margarine mixture evenly on the outside of the chicken. I threw half a lemon into the pot before baking too, but it’s not necessary.


5. Place chicken in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for 1 1/4 hours. Then, drizzle with wine, add lemon slices and let simmer briefly in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.


6. Using a meat thermometer, check to make sure the chicken has reached the recommended temperature of 75°C/165°F. Take the chicken out of the oven and allow to sit for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the lemon and shallots and place them around the chicken on a serving platter. Then, reduce the sauce over medium-high heat until slightly thickened.


On Monday night, I made Sher-Ping Pancakes with some of the leftover chicken, this time using basil instead of cilantro. What do you make with your leftover roast chicken?

Updated: I (finally) removed the directions about rinsing the raw chicken in cold water. Recent guidance indicates this step isn’t necessary and can actually increase the risk of foodbourne illness. November 2, 2014.

Swiss Christmas Cookies: Milanais/Mailänderli

A very typical Christmas cookie in Switzerland is the “Milanais,” in French, or “Mailänderli,” in German. At Coop yesterday, I found at least three different kinds of Milanais among all the baked goodies for Christmas. Dating back to the 18th century, these cookies come in a variety of small shapes. Apparently they did not come from Milan, despite what the name suggests.


I tried making Milanais sans milk and eggs in my home kitchen yesterday. These lemon-flavored cookies get their golden top from an egg yolk and sugar mixture brushed on top before baking. Even though my son can safely eat baked egg, I was concerned that 10-15 minutes of baking wouldn’t change the egg proteins enough to prevent an allergic reaction. My son probably would’ve been fine, but he’s had a few reactions with my baked egg experiments before, so I decided to make some changes.

Milanais recipes commonly call for equal amounts of butter and sugar, which I’ve maintained in my version belowexcept with dairy-free margarine. Also, I’ve replaced the egg in the dough with a flax meal mixture. Finally, instead of the egg yolk wash, I used a tart lemon icing sprinkled with some chopped dried cranberries, inspired by Swiss Milk’s recipe.


Petits Biscuits de Milan

Adapted from the recipe in Croqu’menus and also inspired by Swiss Milk’s version.


125 grams dairy-free margarine, softened
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons of lemon zest
250 grams all-purpose flour

200 grams powdered sugar
5-6 teaspoons of lemon juice

Dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1. Beat together the wet ingredients in a large bowl: margarine, flax meal mixture, vanilla sugar, salt and lemon zest. Then, mix in the flour until dough forms.

2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a flour-dusted rolling pin to about 1/4 inch (6mm) thick. Cut out into desired shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for about 10-15 minutes.

3. Place cookies on a wire rack to cool. Whisk together the icing ingredients and spread on the cooled cookies. Sprinkle dried cranberries, roughly chopped, on top of the icing.

DSC02348It’s hard finding good daylight for photos these days; our foggy Swiss winter has begun!


We’ll be visiting our neighborhood Marchés de Noël this weekend and searching for new Swiss street foods. Bon week-end!

Swiss Blackberries in a Bundt Cake

Swiss blackberries or “mûres” have started appearing at our local farmers’ market. Of course these are delicious eaten fresh, but I wanted to try them in a new recipe. During a recent lakeside run—when I have time to let my mind wander sans enfants—I envisioned them in a blackberry bundt cake, bien sûr!


Later during the afternoon, when the little squirts had their quiet time, I discovered a recipe online from Bon Appétit that became the basis for developing my own dairy and egg-free bundt cake. I whipped it together that night, and we had cake for breakfast the next morning, yet again. It’s no different from a muffin, right? Everyone around the table gave it a thumbs up and declared it “blog-worthy.”

I baked my last successful bundt cake in March 2013. Since then, I’ve made a few attempts, but none were good enough to share. With autumn quickly approaching, this cake serves as a harbinger of the upcoming bundt cake season, which officially starts November 15 with National Bundt Day. It’s time to start thinking about which recipes I want to make this year!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this extremely easy and satisfying summertime cake. For the glaze, I added a little elderflower syrup, but only using lemon juice and powdered sugar tastes great too. A dusting of powdered sugar is another superfast option


Vegan Blackberry Bundt Cake

2 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
½ cup soy yogurt
1 tablespoon flax meal plus 3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar or vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 cup soy milk mixed with 1 tablespoon cider or rice vinegar
2 cups fresh blackberries

  1. Grease and flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. Separately, mix together the wet ingredients until well blended: canola oil, sugar, flax meal mixture and yogurt. Then, mix in vanilla and lemon zest.
  4. Next, prepare the “buttermilk” mixture by whisking 1 tablespoon vinegar with 1 cup of soy milk.
  5. In 3 additions, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the “buttermilk” mixture, and mixing together just until incorporated.
  6. Then, pour about one-third of the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Gently place half the blackberries evenly on top of the batter. Repeat by adding another third of the batter, and sprinkling the last half of the blackberries on top. Finish by pouring in the final third of the batter, so no blackberries are visible.
  7. Bake at 180°C/350°F for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Set on a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.
  8. Serve dusted with powdered sugar or drizzle the cooled cake with a lemon glaze. I mixed 1 cup of powdered sugar with fresh lemon juice and elderflower syrup, until I got the right consistency.




Less than 2 weeks until school starts… We’re heading to Valais this weekend to watch one of Europe’s premier mountain races. I’m hoping to try some local specialties, like glacier wine and rye bread. Bon week-end!