Strawberry Shortcakes

Once summer starts, I find myself getting excited all over again each week when I do my food shopping. Cherries! Peaches! Plums! Strawberries! Figs!
Each taste of an in-season fruit convinces me that it’s my favorite, until the next fruit comes into season and I taste it, and am convinced THAT ONE is actually my favorite.

I do really love strawberries though (and NOT the giant ones that you see around Valentine’s Day dipped in chocolate. I swear, once I found a strawberry that was bigger than an avocado I had sitting on my counter. shudder). I wanted to pick strawberries at a local farm this year, and planned to make strawberry shortcakes with my haul. There really is nothing better to me than the small, fragile, juicy strawberries that come into season for just a few weeks at the beginning of each summer.  Emphasis on just a few weeks, as I found out yesterday that I completely missed the season! We are in the midst of a heatwave with temps in the 90s (I am sweltering in my living room at the moment), and according to the farmers, that spells doom for this season’s remaining strawberries. Here’s hoping I can make it next year…

I made the shortcakes anyways, and had to make due with some bruised organic strawberries from the grocery store SIGH. I used a shortcake recipe from Alanna at Bojon Gourmet, as I’ve found her gluten free recipes to be consistently and reliably good. I like the ingredients she chooses to use, particularly since she uses chia seed instead of xanthan gum as a binder.
Shortcakes
As usual, Alanna’s recipe turned out wonderfully, although my cakes seem softer and not as sturdy or crisp as hers look in her photos (admittedly, it could be because they are sitting on the counter wilting since it’s 96 degrees outside – waahh). Mine also have a fine, sandy crumb that falls apart easily, like so many gluten-free breads and pastries. I think I’ll try toasting them, but may also make them again and tweak the tapioca and corn starches.

At any rate, I plan to serve them with diced strawberries and peaches, then top them with freshly whipped heavy cream. If you can find heavy cream in your grocery store without any additional ingredients, like carrageenan – ugh, buy it and immediately make whipped cream. You can add a dash of your sweetener of choice, and it is absolutely delicious! I love to eat it simply with whatever ripe fruit is in season. You’ll taste the difference, fresh heavy cream is just so. much. better.

I’m about to make gazpacho for dinner, since it’s too hot for anything else. If you have any good cold soup recipes, please share them with me! I’ve had a few I’ve liked in restaurants (particularly a cold zucchini soup from Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn), but the ones I’ve made at home are always a bit womp womp. I’ve never been wow-ed or found a recipe I’d repeat. Tonight, I’m making this simple one from Bon Appetit. Fingers crossed it’s a good one.

Have you ever had to explain to someone what gazpacho is? If so, did you say it was essentially a veggie smoothie? I find that people who aren’t familiar with it are equally unimpressed by that definition, haha.

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Last Day in Paris

I discovered this post in my drafts, from 3 years ago. It made me miss our time in Paris, so I’ve decided to post it now. 

We’ve spent the last three months in Paris on sabbatical, but the time has come to head home (to a new home, since we’ve moved out of Brooklyn and we’ll be living with a friend in the Hudson Valley).

We spent our last day packing, finishing off the last of our real French Brie cheese (Brie de Meaux), and then had tea time at my favorite gluten free cafe, Helmut Newcake.

Helmut TeaThere are two locations in Paris, one is near Place de la Madeleine and is only for take away meals.  It’s about a 10 minute walk from Jardin des Tuileries, so it’s perfect for grabbing a picnic lunch to eat in the garden.

The other location is near Canal St. Martin.  It’s a cute café with an eclectic atmosphere that serves lunch, pastries, coffee, and tea.  They even have a small section of gluten free packaged products to purchase such as cereal, pasta, and beer.

My absolute favorite dessert while in Paris was Tarte au Citron Meringuée, a lemon meringue tart.  It’s sweet but so fresh and light, and Helmut Newcake’s was absolutely lovely!

Helmut Lemon TartAfter tea, I walked home a different direction than normal and stumbled upon a great little magasin, a health food store called Welcome Magasin Bio.  They had a great gluten free selection and I was so sad to only discover it on my last day in Paris!

Coutume Café

So I found the most delicious gluten free cake today, but I don’t have a picture because honestly, it was so good I forgot it was gluten free!!

Coutume Café is a place I’ve visited frequently for tea and coffee.  It’s hard to find a good latte in Paris, but Coutume Café is known for their quality coffee and house roasted beans, which you can now find at many cafés throughout Paris.  They have a few locations around Paris, but I usually go to the café in the 7th on Rue Babylone.  It’s close to Bon Marché (home of La Grande Épicerie – which also has gluten free products among many naturally gluten free French foods), and the Rodin Museum.  You could even take your coffee to go and sit in the Rodin Gardens for 2€.

Sidenote: if you’re in Paris and looking for good coffee, I recommend checking out the blog Good Coffee in Paris, which is how I found Coutume Café in the first place. 

But today, I took a look at the dessert menu and was surprised to see two gluten free choices, one being a chocolate earl gray cake.  I immediately chose that, since it was made with two of my favorite flavors – chocolate and earl gray.  OMG – it was delicious, really dense, fudgy, and not too sweet.  A perfect accompaniment to my earl gray tea.

I highly recommend checking out Coutume Café, I can’t wait to go back!

Coutume Café, 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007

GF Sandwich Bread & Teatime Snacks

I read over this post once I’d finished writing it and realized it sounded a bit like an advertisement.  I absolutely hate advertisement-blog posts, so I just wanted to say that’s not my intent.  This post is written because sometimes, I want to eat the same food as everyone else (a freakin’ sandwich, or  some bread with delicious French cheese on a picnic), and I want it to be as easy and convenient for me as it is for everyone else.

Before I came to Paris, I didn’t know that it would be easy to find gluten free bread, pasta, and cookies in the regular grocery store, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised!
One of the places I frequent is Monoprix (basically a French version of Target), which carries two different brands of gluten free products: Gerblé and Schär.

Gerblé Products

I’ve tried the gluten free bread from both brands, and have found my favorite to be Gerblé’s which basically translates to “country bread.” Obviously, it’s no baguette, but it’s got a good chew, it’s not too dry, and has more of a “normal” whole wheat flavor. It also holds together nicely, unlike other gluten free breads that tear easily or have large holes.
I also recently tried Gerblé’s Crousti’Pause Cacao Noisette, which are crispy chocolate hazelnut biscuits.  I found the exterior to be slightly bland and the texture a little dry and cardboard-y (reminded me of a rice cake), but overall they were ok as a goûter, or afternoon snack, with my tea.  I’m curious to try some of their other products too, like the butter biscuits, and I heard that Schär has some gluten free frozen meals too.

Two other stores that carry gluten free products are Naturalia and Bio C’Bon, both of which are natural food stores.  I’ve gotten gluten free pasta, crackers, bread and other healthier foods here like jam made without sugar, and tomato sauce and soup made without additives.  They’re good for dairy free products as well.

I’ve been so encouraged to find certified gluten free products readily available in Paris!!

A Gluten Free Travel Miracle!

We were in a jet lagged haze, wandering down the street, looking for something quick and affordable for lunch.  This is a worst case scenario for me on a regular day, as I usually like to have a plan for eating so things go more smoothly and I end up eating better food and avoiding the foods I can’t eat.  But in a foreign country??  I didn’t know the neighborhood or the language, and I was having a hard time discerning good quality food from mediocre just by looking at the menu or peeking in the windows.

We were in Paris, known for it’s bread and long lunches, not a quick gluten free bite.  But within ten minutes, we received a travel miracle!  We stumbled upon a small restaurant with a sign out front proclaiming gluten free crêpes, and additionally, English spoken.

When traveling with dietary restrictions, my cardinal rule is to have a plan for when and where I can eat.  And even then I sometimes end up needing to pull out the stash of almonds that I always carry with me in my bag.  I am still amazed that we happened to find gluten free food just by walking down the street, and then went on to see some beautiful sights, all without a plan!

View from the café on the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette
View from the café on the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette

So, should you also be in a jet lagged haze in the 9th arrondissement in Paris, I would recommend a little place called Krêp (11 Rue La Fayette).  They serve traditional Breton crêpes, called galettes, which are made with buckwheat flour, and are therefore naturally gluten free.  Note that the sweet dessert crêpes are made with regular flour, but you can ask to have yours made with buckwheat flour instead.

Afterwards, you can continue on down Rue La Fayette to the department store Galeries Lafayette.  There’s a café on the top floor with amazing views, perfect for an afternoon coffee or tea.  Across the street (35 Boulevard Haussmann) is their gourmet food hall, with lots of delicious French foods that are naturally gluten free (cheese! wine! chocolates! macarons! spices! fancy mustards! jams!) and they also have a small gluten free section, great for cookies, bread, and pasta.

There are many other crêperies in Paris serving traditional buckwheat galettes, and two that I’ve tried include West Country Girl (6 Passage Saint-Ambroise, 11e) and Breizh Café (109 Rue Vieille du Temple, 3e. This place is more popular, so call ahead to make a reservation).  If you end up at another crêperie, look at the menu for crêpes made with “farine blé noir” or “farine sarrasin,” both of which mean buckwheat flour.

Weeknight Cookies

nobakes01Most days after work, when I get home I just want to sit on the couch and do nothing.
And while I’m doing nothing, I usually want a glass of wine and something chocolate (total cliche girl activity, I know).

nobakes02

So tonight I will be doing just that with these yummy cookies.  They are easy enough to make on a weeknight because they require no baking.  We called them “no bakes” growing up and they were hands down my favorite school cafeteria cookie, even if I didn’t (and still don’t) think oatmeal belonged in cookies (oatmeal raisin cookies will always be a breakfast cereal trying hard and failing miserably at being a dessert).
I’ve re-made my mom’s tried & true recipe, making them dairy-free and refined sugar-free.  They are vegan and delicious!

nobakes03

No-Bake Cookies

2 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (my favorite is unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
7 dates, cut into 1/4″ pieces
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsalted peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 1/4 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking or steel cut)
3/4 tsp. vanilla

  1. Combine oil, milk, cut dates, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over low heat.  Mash and stir until dates are incorporated.  If the mixture gets too dry, add more milk by the tablespoon full.
  2. Add peanut butter and stir until just combined.
  3. Take off the heat and stir in vanilla and rolled oats.  Drop onto wax paper in balls about 1.5 inches in diameter.
  4. Let cool until cookies are solid.

Gluten-Free, Yeast-Free Pizza Crust

Gluten Free Pizza

I’m just going to come out and say it. I LOOOVE pizza.

As a kid, if you asked me what my favorite food was, I’d answer, “pizza,” I mean – wasn’t that every American kid’s favorite food?? Or maybe some of you had a more sophisticated palate than I did…?

But as an adult, I always thought my tastes were more grownup and refined. I love trying new foods and going out to eat, I’ve become healthier and eat more veggies, and one of my favorite things about living in Brooklyn is the food – the Middle Eastern grocery store, $1 dumplings, Thai food, Indian food, etc etc…

But one day (probably around the time I changed out of my pjs at 10:30pm to go down to my neighborhood pizza place in the WINTER and satisfy my craving for a NY slice) I realized that despite it all, my favorite food was still pizza. I didn’t even want to admit it, it sounded so unsophisticated and boring.
However, it was getting to the point that my favorite NY slice wasn’t even that appealing since I knew that with my gluten sensitivities I’d feel bad for a couple days after eating it. So I set about trying to make a pizza crust that fit into my dietary restrictions. One that was yeast-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, but still tasted delic!

Oh my goodness did I eat a lot of mediocre, barely edible, very meh homemade pizza. I tried various thickeners like xanthan gum, arrowroot, and flaxseed, I tried versions of flatbreads and soccas, but I had issues with the crust sticking to the pan, with the taste, with the texture, I even had a crust that curled straight up in the air on one end for no apparent reason!

Finally, while watching an episode of Cook’s Country, I found inspiration in their St. Louis-Style Pizza. I modified the recipe to make it gluten-free and I could hardly believe it when it turned out! So I made it several more times and it. turned. out. every. time!!

Pizza Dough

However, there is one small detail that you can’t ignore to make this crust. You must roll the crust out thinly on parchment paper, then bake it on a very hot surface/pizza stone. This is what allows your pizza to crisp up on the bottom and not stick to the parchment paper. And I get it, I know it’s annoying to have to go out and buy things for one specific recipe – so you can easily use an inverted pizza pan or cookie sheet instead of a pizza stone, and a wine bottle instead of a rolling pin.

Finally, my favorite part of making pizza is the toppings, because it’s fun to dream up unique combinations. I love to use up whatever fresh fruit or veggies are in my fridge and going limp. The same goes for leftover pieces of cheese, I mix them together for one pizza.  Or I’ll go to the farmer’s market and pick up whatever strikes my fancy, then find cheeses or meat to pair with it. I often toss whatever leftover salad greens we have in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle on top of the baked pizza. Makes me feel like I’m upping my “healthy” quota.  What are you favorite or most creative pizza toppings?

Pizza w Arug and Fig

Gluten-Free Yeast-Free Pizza
Yield: 2 (11-inch) pizzas
Ingredients
2 cups of gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour because that’s easiest)
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of marinara sauce
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese or goat cheese
Toppings such as: sliced figs, prosciutto, rosemary, caramelized onion, pepperoni, salami, thinly sliced pears, sausage, arugula tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, roasted fennel, roasted broccoli

  1. Place pizza stone or inverted baking sheet on the lower rack of an oven. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Combine water and olive oil in a measuring cup.  Stir water mixture into flour mixture a little at a time until dough starts to come together.
  3. Layout a piece of parchment paper about 12 inches wide and dust with flour.  Turn dough out onto parchment paper and knead 3 to 4 times, until it comes together.  Dough should be moist but not gummy.  You may need to add another tablespoon of water if the dough will not come together.  If the dough is too sticky, knead in another tablespoon of flour.
  4. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and set 1 piece aside.  Form the other piece into a flat circle on the parchment paper and roll out until very thin and 11-12 inches in diameter.  If the rolling pin is sticking to the dough, dust it or the surface of the dough with more flour.
  5. Top the pizza with 1/2 cup of sauce, shredded cheese, and whatever other toppings you desire.
  6. Pick up parchment paper by opposite corners and carefully place on hot pizza stone/inverted baking sheet.  Bake until edges and underside of crust are golden brown, 9-12 minutes.  Meanwhile, roll out remaining half of dough and top with sauce, cheese, more toppings.
  7. When pizza is done, transfer to a cooling rack for several minutes, then slice and serve.