Paris Sans Gluten

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

I’ve been in Paris, but you knew that because the title says so.  This was perhaps our strangest visit but no less enjoyable for that.  We’ve visited Paris four times, on the first visit I was a happy gluten eating honeymooner chomping my way through pastries, baguettes and anything else I could lay my hands on.  Since then I’ve had to be gluten free in Paris.  It’s not easy but it’s doable and my husband was always very kind about not eating piles of croissant in front of me.  On this visit however I wasn’t the only one with a diet restriction.  Thanks to a recent illness my husband couldn’t have caffeine, alcohol, butter, chocolate, tomatoes or citrus.  So there we were, two people in the city of pastries, butter, red wine and chocolate unable to eat any of it!  So what did we eat?  There was a lot of salad...

This is a sort of round up of research I’ve done about managing a gluten free diet in Paris (complete with random pretty Paris pictures).  Rule number one, rent an apartment.  It’s just as cheap as a hotel and you get to play at being a Parisian.  This takes the pressure off having to eat out all the time as you can cook your own food.  Paris has some wonderful food markets abundant in fresh produce.  If you are anything like me, then wandering through a market will make you happy.  Even the small supermarkets have a pretty good stock of fresh produce.  Not the kind of limp lettuce and bruised fruit you find in your average UK corner shop. 

I found this chain of organic shops called Naturalia very useful.  They stock a good range of gluten free products including pastas and flours.  Supermarkets also carry a range of gluten free foods but these tend to be more processed and less healthy.
Take your own gluten free snacks.  You can deal with croissant cravings a lot better if you have food to cram in to your mouth to distract yourself.
If you are a braver soul than me and more confident in your French speaking abilities then eating out is much more possible.  I always find myself rather intimidated by the speed of French waiters.  It’s always a good idea to phone ahead to your chosen restaurant and explain your condition.  These restaurant cards come in handy as they explain the coeliac diet clearly.
There is a gluten free cafe called Helmut Newcake.  I was desperate to try this place but sadly it was shut on the one day we were planning to go.  I hadn’t realised how many shops and museums close in Paris on a Monday!  Don’t get caught out like me when you are planning your trip.
David Lebovitz has a great post all about dining and eating gluten free in Paris.  This is a great place to start.
If you are unfortunate enough to be unable to enjoy caffeine and alcohol then sipping tea at one of Paris’ tea salons is always an option.  MariageFrères do a good range of tea, with many caffeine free options.  We sipped a cup of their Casablanca blend at Chez Félicie.
Finally, a couple of Paris blogs I like to give you a few ideas of things to see and explore, sometimes off the well beaten tourist track.  The HiP Paris Blog and Lost in Cheeseland
Bon appétit!

Cinnamon Kissed Apple Crisps

Sunday, 21 October 2012

I bring you apple crisps, sprinkled with cinnamon, warm flavoured, earthy, crunchy and light. They even look a bit like autumn leaves...sort of.  It’s best to eat them on the day of making as they begin to lose their crunch after a couple of days.  They are so addictive that they won’t hang around for long.  I don’t have an apple corer so I had to, rather inelegantly, hack the core out.  I used a mandoline to get them wafer thin.  This was my second time out using my mandoline.  I thought I had it down...then I cut my finger.  It was apple crisp carnage.
Recipe from BBC Good Food
1 large apple cored (I used royal gala)
Cinnamon for sprinkling
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven gas mark 3, 160°C, 325°F
Core your apple and then using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice through the equator.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  In a bowl drizzle the apple slices lightly with oil.  Place the apple slices in rows across the parchment.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Keep an eye on them and turn half way through.  Once the apples have dried out and are golden remove from the oven and cool.  Store in an air tight container.

Sweet Roasted Figs and Porridge

Saturday, 13 October 2012

I’m having a bit of fresh fig craze at the moment.  In truth this is the first year I’ve tried them.  In the past my association with figs went no further than the bags of dried ones my Dad used to buy.  I can’t remember why I bought fresh figs at the market.  I’m prone to impulse shop.  Some people impulse buy too many pairs of shoes, I impulse buy fruit and veg.  Roasting figs makes them juicy and sweet.  Adding them to a bowl of steaming hot porridge was sheer comfort food indulgence for me.  I can see these figs working with mascarpone, natural yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.  Maple syrup or honey might be good drizzled over.
Adapted from Joy the Baker.  I made one bowl of porridge.
Figs (I cut mine in to 1/8ths but ¼s is fine depending on the size of your figs)
Drizzle of olive oil
Demerara or other brown sugar to sprinkle over.
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Place the chopped figs on a baking tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Roast until soft and bubbling, approx 8-10 minutes.
While your figs are roasting make your porridge according the pack instructions.  I like to make mine with half gluten free oats and half rice flakes.  I use rice milk to make the porridge.  ½ cup of porridge flakes needs 1 cup of rice milk.  Throw it all in a pan, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes stirring occasionally.
Once your porridge is ready, serve in a bowl and top with the roasted figs.


Happy Birthday Blog

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

My blog turned one today.  To celebrate I made it a gluten free orange, fig and olive oil cake.  It tasted pretty good!  It is a very moist cake, sweet with a real hit of citrus and fresh figs are so good right now.  It seemed appropriate since I made an orange cake for my first ever post.
Find the recipe here at Shutterbean
To make it gluten free I used gluten free all purpose flour (approx 210g) and gluten free baking powder.  I also reduced the sugar down to 1 cup (approx 110g).  Otherwise everything else was the same.
Here’s to many more years of blogging fun.  Thanks to all those who read and comment!  It means a huge amount to me and keeps me going. J 

Blackberry Coconut Banana Bread

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Sadly there won’t be many more photos of food on my rickety old garden table.  Summer has sloped off, the table is in the shed spending quality time with the spiders where it will remain until next year.  Banana bread is welcome any time of year but I think it is particularly suited to autumn/winter as it has a certain cosy feel about it.  Whenever we have a surplus of spotty bananas hanging around I always hunt down another banana bread recipe.  This one comes from Nigella Lawson and is a little bit different in that it includes coconut.  The original recipe uses dried cherries but I switched to frozen blackberries thanks to the glut in my freezer now also sadly used up.  This moist bread has a hint of coconut with bursts of gooey blackberries to add sharpness to the flavour.  I adapted this to make it gluten free and it worked out pretty well.
Adapted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter
4 small ripe bananas
100g (4oz) Demerara sugar (the original recipe calls for 150g caster sugar if you want it sweeter)
2 large eggs
175g (6oz) gluten free plain all purpose flour (I used Doves Farm)
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g (4oz) desiccated coconut
100g (4oz) blackberries (mine were frozen)
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3, 170°C, 325°F.  Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment.
Melt the butter. I did this by placing the butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Once melted set aside to cool.   Meanwhile mash the bananas.  In a large bowl beat the sugar in to the cooled butter then add the mashed bananas followed by the eggs and mix well.  Fold in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.  Finally add the desiccated coconut and the blackberries.  Combine well and pour in to your prepared loaf tin.  Bake in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes until a skewer inserted in to the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and leave to stand in the loaf tin for ten minutes before turning the loaf out on to a rack to cool.