Collection of easy gluten free recipes – both French and inspired on my travels

Basil & Lime Pesto: Quick and Saucy

Could you get me some basil, please? Antoine came back from the market with not just a few leaves but two huge plants of my favourite herb. There was only one thing for it; while it was so fragrant and fresh, I needed something that was quick to make: PESTO and pronto!

 

Only one problem: as I was finishing up stocks in the fridge before going on holiday, I had run out of fresh parmesan (and also the traditional pecorino) cheese.  So, the cheese was simply replaced with more toasted nuts and the juice of a lime.  Hey pesto, this could be adapted to add to all sorts of sauces at the last minute. It’s a great flavour enhancer to add to all kinds of dishes – even Thai rice noodles.  Adapt it to your own taste, using cashews or walnuts instead of pine nuts; add a red or green chili for some heat; use coriander instead of basil…

What’s more, the sauce freezes well.  As it’s oily, it won’t be a complete solid mass when frozen so you can use the amount needed without having to defrost a whole jar.

Hey pesto!

Basil and Lime Pesto

For 2 jam jars

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

2 basil plants, leaves only
2 garlic cloves, peeled and inside core removed
60g toasted pine nuts (or cashew)
1 untreated lime, zest and juice
140ml olive oil
seasoning

Throw all the ingredients in a blender, adding the olive oil gradually while mixing.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Guest Recipe: Rum and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream (low carb/gluten free)

How often do you dream about food?  Do you think about lunch at breakfast, dinner at lunch and breakfast at dinner – and then continue dreaming of recipes in between meals?

Let me present you to my friend, Carolyn, who is otherwise known as FoodDreamer.  When I first discovered her blog, All Day I Dream About Food, there were a number of names that kept ringing out. Sugar was replaced with interesting names such as erythritol and stevia, for example.

What baffles me about Carolyn, is that each time I see her beautifully sweet and mouthwatering photos of cakes, cookies, tarts, bread, and candies, you wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.  They all look stunning.  But study each recipe carefully and there’s also something extra special behind each and every one she produces. They are ALL low carb and/or gluten free. You see, Carolyn is diabetic and has been ever since giving birth to her third child. It’s amazing how she has relearned how to cook all of our favourite treats but transformed them into low carb / gluten free masterpieces.

I am so honoured to have her on MadAboutMacarons, to concoct another stunning low carb recipe for us.  Let me hand you over to the sweet – but with no sugar added 😉 – Carolyn Ketchum.

FoodDreamer: All Day I Dream About Food

When Jill asked me to guest post on her blog, I may or may not have let out a squeal of delight.  I am not saying I did, but I am also not saying I didn’t.  See, if you are a regular reader of Mad About Macarons, you already know that Jill is brilliant.  She is an amazing cook, and has taken on the world of French cooking and that now infamous treat, the macaron.  She has written a cookbook devoted to them, and for those of us who are wildly scared of actually attempting to make macarons, she assures us that it’s really not that difficult.  I have promised myself to put her assurances to the test and make some very soon, but I haven’t quite worked up the courage.

So you can see why I was so delighted to be asked to guest post on such a wonderful blog.  But that delight was also tinged with a little fear.  Would I be able to come up with something that was Mad About Macaron-worthy? Jill requested that I develop a recipe that uses egg yolks.  I love that most of her guest posters do this, it makes so much sense.  After all, macarons use the whites, and we can’t let those leftover yolks go to waste.  I’ve made plenty of things that use yolks, and I am not one who fears undercooked or raw eggs, so I figured I was up for the challenge.

But what to make?  Mousse or crème brulee seemed too obvious, too…French.  I love both these desserts, but I thought if I made them, I might look like I was trying too hard to belong on Jill’s blog.  My mind kept circling back to ice cream, but I dismissed the idea several times.  Ice cream was just too unsophisticated, too child-like for Jill’s lovely blog.  But I couldn’t shake the idea.  It’s hot here in New England and ice cream is fun to make. Besides, I really wanted to try making it with some coconut milk, and the idea of coconuts made me think of rum.  And adding rum to ice cream takes it to a whole new level, so maybe it was Mad About Macaron-worthy after all?

If you happen to follow my blog too, you know that I am a diabetic and most of what I make is low carb and gluten free.  This ice cream is no exception, as I sweetened it with a stevia  blend called Stevia In The Raw.  But you could easily use whatever you like to sweeten it, it’s very versatile.  It’s also incredibly rich, as I used full-fat cream as the base.  But once again, you can change that up and use whole milk or a combination of cream and milk.  Adding the rum is up to you.  I find that a few tablespoons of alcohol in any homemade ice cream gives it a better texture and keeps it from freezing too hard.  And the dark rum in this particular recipe gives it a distinctive edge and flavor that is unmistakeable.

Rum and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

2 cups cream, whole milk or a combination thereof
½ cup Stevia In The Raw* (or sugar, honey, splenda)
4 large egg yolks
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
½ cup unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
3 tablespoons dark rum

Set a medium bowl in a large container of ice water.

In large saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and sweetener and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 170F on a candy or instant-read thermometer.

Meanwhile, beat egg yolks until light yellow and thickened, about 3 minutes.  Very slowly whisk ½ cup of the hot cream into the yolks to temper them, then gradually whisk tempered yolks back into the saucepan.  Continue to cook mixture, stirring continuously, until it reaches 175F to 180F.  Do not let it come to a boil.

Stir in the coconut milk and toasted coconut.  Pour mixture into the bowl set into the ice bath and let cool 10 minutes, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill until cold, at least 3 hours.

Stir in rum and pour into canister of an ice cream maker.  Churn according to manufacturer’s directions until thickened and creamy, about the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  Transfer to an air-tight container and press plastic wrap flush to the surface.  Chill until firm but not rock hard, about 2 more hours.   Serve immediately.

If you will be freezing the leftovers for later use, be sure to let them warm in the fridge or on your counter to make them soft enough to serve.

* Stevia In The Raw is a stevia blend that is meant to be measured cup for cup like sugar.  Pure stevia extract (liquid or powder) is much stronger and a little goes a long way, so sweeten to taste.

Thank you so much, Carolyn, for not only such a deliciously melting-in-the mouth rum and toasted coconut ice cream but you’ve done it again.  It’s not just ice cream but low-carb-with-no -sugar ice cream!  It’s high time I tried out baking without sugar – you have inspired me so much.

Don’t forget that Carolyn is on Facebook via ‘All Day I Dream About Food’ and don’t forget to drop in to her blog, All Day I Dream About Food to check out many more fabulous gluten-free and/or low carb recipes and say bonjour from me!

Cherry Tomato, Wild Strawberry & Rocket Salad

When Mum came to visit recently, she left an enticing pile of magazines from the UK.  It’s a real treat to read magazines in English every so often – even if I no longer recognise some faces that go with the gossip – is that what happens after being in France for so long? Flicking through the YOU Magazine, this inspiring salad by Lucas Hollweg had been earmarked by Mum – I think it was something I was supposed to make when she was over. Sorry, Mum.  I’m a bit late but voilà, here it is!

Argula rocket, tomato and wild strawberry salad recipe

I discovered this “Spicy Globe” basil plant a few years’ ago.  The leaves are so small that there’s no need to chop them up for cooking.  They are also particularly powerful and, when added to a salad like this one, it adds a touch of peppery spice to it. Speaking of peppery spice, the rocket leaves (or arugula for my American friends) balance out the sweetness of the strawberries.

spicy globe basil

Spicy Globe Basil

Perfect on a sizzling summer day, this is sheer bliss with a glass of chilled rosé, a soft-on-the-inside and freckled, crusty-on-the-outside French baguette, listening to Strawberry Fields forever. I could eat this forever with its fresh, fruity and savoury flavours. Here, I also tossed in a few pre-cooked asparagus spears (7 mins in boiling water) since I was surprised to find them still at this late stage at the market.

argula rocket, cherry tomato and strawberry salad with basil

Cherry Tomato, Wild Strawberry & Rocket Salad

Adapted from Lucas Hollweg’s recipe for Tomato and Strawberry Salad
(YOU Magazine from the Sunday Times
.)

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

300g cherry tomatoes, halved
200g rocket salad 100g strawberries, hulled & quartered
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
100g parmesan reggiano (ensure it’s shaved, especially for good company)
a few asparagus spears, cooked (optional)
a handful of small basil leaves sea salt & ground peppercorns,
to taste
a handful of wild strawberries

Mix together the olive oil with balsamic, season and toss all the ingredients together gently.

Serve immediately, adding the wild strawberries as a decoration. And, since we’re on a Mad About Macarons website, then why not accompany it with a garden herb macaron?

Sweet Garden Herb Macarons

Bon appétit, enjoy!

Guest Recipe: Crème Caramel (Purin)

This has been a LONG week. I’m such a party-pooper since cancelled my trip to Provence this weekend en famille for my mother-in-law’s (belle maman) 70th Birthday Party. Just the thought of the TGV train and car trips back and forward is trop – too much.  The back/sacrum has played up so much that, if I sit longer than 30 minutes a stretch, I turn into a chair – just like that!

Just like that – my good friend, Nami (Namiko), author of her blog, Just One Cookbook, came to the rescue with the most perfect and best crème caramel recipe I’ve ever seen. I should say Purin recipe, as Nami is Japanese and lives with her husband (who is her blog assistant – what a team!) and gorgeous children in San Francisco.

For those of you who know Nami, I’m sure you will agree:  she not only has an amazing blog with perfect Japanese recipes and stunning presentations, but she is also one of the most genuine and sincere people I know. When you receive a comment from Nami, you can’t help feeling the need to leap out the screen and hug her for offering such encouragement.

I’m sure many of you know what I mean.  Blogging is fun but it’s also time-consuming: often when you post something into the great empty void of the w-w-web, there is nothing that can beat an adorable comment to prove that someone has not only read it, but actually liked it!  It’s what keeps the essential motivation going.

The other motivation is seeing a recipe like this to lure us into the kitchen. So let me hand you over to Nami with her gorgeous Purin recipe.  It uses up 4 lovely egg yolks…

Nami, Just One Cookbook

Hello everyone!  I’m Nami from Just One Cookbook.  I was so thrilled and delighted when Jill asked me to be her guest blogger.  I am a big fan of Jill’s beautiful macarons and love visiting her website to see what new macaron recipe she’s come up with.  Personally I don’t bake or make desserts too often but I definitely have a sweet tooth and I am also a recovering chocoholic.

As part of the “using up your egg yolk” series, I want to share a recipe for Crème Caramel and as you might have guessed it does not require an oven.  In Japan we call it Purin (it came from Pudding) and it’s definitely one of the most popular desserts.  We can buy very good-quality Crème Caramel from neighborhood convenient stores or fancy pastry shops.  My husband really loves Purin and today I’m sharing the recipe my husband said it’s the best ever.

Thank you Jill for having me over.  Cheers!

Crème Caramel (Purin)

Difficulty: Easy

Cooking Time: <45 minutes (excluding chill time)

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

10 g gelatin

4 Tbsp. (1/4 cup)* water

Caramel Sauce

140 g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar

4 Tbsp. (1/4 cup) water

8 Tbsp. (1/2 cup) boiling water

4 egg yolks

80 g (1/3 cup) sugar

400 ml (3/4 cup) milk

8 Tbsp. (1/2 cup) heavy whipping cream

2 tsp. vanilla

* I also added measurement in US measuring cup in parentheses, but I highly recommend using a food scale to follow this recipe precisely.

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, combine gelatin and water and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water.  Caramelize the mixture on medium heat.  Shake the pan once in a while but you don’t need to stir with spoon.  Patiently wait until it turns into a nice caramelized color.

3. When you see nice (dark) golden caramelized color, immediately pour ½ cup of boiling water because it will quickly get darker and darker (resulting in bitter taste).  Make sure to wear a kitchen mitten so you won’t get burnt from the hot liquid splashing.  Remove from heat.

4. Quickly soak the ramekins under warm water so sugar doesn’t solidify right away.  Pour the caramel sauce in the ramekins.

5. In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk until it becomes creamy and smooth (That’s my husband mixing it up.  I asked my husband to be my assistant while I took pictures).

6. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, bring half of milk (200 ml) to a boil.  Remove from heat right before it starts to boil.

7. Slowly stir in a few drops of the hot milk at a time into the egg mixture and mix together.  Do not pour milk at once as the hot milk could cook the egg mixture and make it lumpy.  Whisk all together.

8. Pour the mixture back into the small saucepan.  Heat the mixture on low heat and whisk until it’s completely blended.

9. Once it gets warm again, add the gelatin and mix.  Make sure it melts completely. When the gelatin is completely mixed in, remove from the heat.

10. Pour the mixture over the sieve into the clean bowl.

11. Prepare iced water in a larger bowl and place the mixture bowl inside.

12. Add the rest of the milk (200 ml), heavy whipping cream, and vanilla.  Mix all together well.

13. Pour the mixture into the ramekins, and chill in the fridge for more than 1 hour.

14. After chilled, insert knife around the Crème Caramel and flip the ramekin on to the serving plate.  If it doesn’t come down, hold the ramekin like this (below) and shake once vigorously.  You should hear the Crème Caramel drop on the plate.

Enjoy!

My husband and my kids like lighter caramel sauce but I personally like dark and bitter caramel sauce like this…

 

Nami’s Crème Caramel (Purin)

When you caramelize, make sure not to make it really dark, because it will be too bitter.

Don’t you just love it? You can imagine what her savoury dishes are like if she doesn’t make desserts that often, my goodness. Nami is also a self confessed “recovering chocoholic”? Well, after Nami’s beautiful dessert I think I’ll have to admit that I’m not just a macaronivore but also a crème-carameloholic.  Thank you so much for sharing it with us and these beautiful photos.  Don’t forget to pop over to Nami’s blog, Just One Cookbook, and say cheers from me!  This week she has been making the most outstanding Japanese fish recipes.

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Nettles are full of healthy nutrients.  So this Stinging Nettle Pesto is particularly high in iron, packed with other minerals and vitamins, plus it’s a great detox for the liver.

Nettles are best in the Spring.  Ideally, pick nettles that are quite high (you don’t want them “sprayed” by animals) and the younger leaves are best since the older, outer leaves can be quite bitter.  Never pick nettles from the side of the road, as they are in danger of being sprayed by herbicides.  It’s best to get them far into the forest, as nature intended. Check out my previous post about picking nettles in the forest.

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Like classic pesto, this nettle variation is handy to have in the fridge.  It can keep for 3-4 days (just keep topping it up with olive oil after use) and it freezes well, too.  Pesto is SO quick and easy to make, it’s a crying shame if you buy that mass market stuff sold in jars at the supermarket. Although – this nettle version does take a bit longer but it’s worth it.

stinging nettle pesto

 

Stinging Nettle Pesto

Ingredients

100g stinging nettle leaves, stalks removed
30 pine nuts, (or walnuts) toasted
2 cloves garlic, core removed
40g parmesan, freshly grated (reggiano, although grana padano will do)
1 tsp sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
200ml extra virgin olive oil

1.  Keep your gloves on at this point, as the nettles still have their sting!

Don’t forget the gloves!

2.  Remove all the leaves from the stalks then soak them in cold water for a few minutes.

3.  Still with gloves on, plunge the leaves into salted boiling water for 2 minutes.  The salt keeps the green colour bright.  Blanching the nettle leaves like this removes their sting.

4.  Strain the leaves and cool.  You could reserve the cooking water (for stock, soups etc.)

5.  Once cool, squeeze out any excess water and place in a food processor or blender with the other ingredients. Add the cheese at the end.

Toss the pesto into cooked pasta.  There is no need to heat the sauce.  That way you get all the beautiful flavours oodling their way between the noodles…

stinging nettle pesto

 

Garnish the dish with crispy nettle leaves which have been deep fried for 30 seconds in 150°C and left to drain off excess oil on kitchen paper.  That way you get Le Crunch and not a sting…

Enjoy with a glass of red Bordeaux, such as a Fronsac, a chilled fruity rosé or a white Vermentino.

Santé! To your good health!


Guest Recipe: Blueberry Curd

Blueberries are guarded like the crown jewels by my daughter.  When Julie was a toddler she called them black balls.  Not very poetic, I know, but since they are packed with anti-oxidants and many more healthy benefits eating plenty blueberries is to be encouraged, whatever you call them.

When Erin from BigFatBaker.com came up with a blueberry curd, it was time to rejoice.  She was just in time to add a touch of blue to my first batch of Royal Wedding inspired macarons in honour of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Big Day.  Stay tuned for Monday’s post with a Royal Macaron procession.

blueberry sapphire macarons

Will Kate say yes today?

 

I am delighted that Erin said yes and has returned to share her fruit curd recipes with us.  They use up your egg yolks, are gluten free and can be used to fill your fruity macarons – that’s if there’s much left after relishing it by the spoonful!  Let me hand you over to Erin now while I find my hat for a Royal Wedding Party.

Erin, BigFatBaker.com

Having a second opportunity to write a guest post for Jill is truly an honor. I am in love with her egg yolk section, and I can only imagine what recipes we will see in the future.

Speaking of recipes, have you checked out my pineapple curd recipe? And what about Manu’s recipe for Genovesi? Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I can’t wait until I have a chance to make that one for myself!

To continue on the egg yolk journey I made a delicious and thick organic blueberry curd. It is sweet, but balanced and I can only imagine how amazing it would taste sandwiched between some of Jill’s vanilla macarons.

Making this blueberry curd recipe is just as simple as any other curd recipe out there.

Blueberry Curd:

6 tbsp unsalted organic butter at room temperature

10-12 oz. organic blueberries

3 large egg yolks

¾ cup white sugar

pinch of salt

¼ cup water

First, defrost the frozen berries, or rinse fresh ones (if you are lucky enough to find them). In a small saucepan combine the water with the berries and cook down until the berries have burst, and there is a slightly syrupy liquid forming in the pan.

Go ahead and remove the pan from the heat, and smash the berries with a spoon. Strain the contents of your pan through a fine mesh strainer. Be sure to press on all the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Dispose of the remains in the strainer.

In the same saucepan whisk together the sugar and butter. Slowly add in the egg yolks and mix until fully combined. Mix in the blueberry juice and salt.

Set the pan over low heat, and gradually increase the temperature of the mixture while stirring frequently. Gradually, over the next 5-7 minutes, increase the heat to medium while constantly stirring. At this point the mixture should be starting to thicken up.

Cook without boiling for 5-7 more minutes, or until the mixture has reached 170ºF. Do not forget to stir constantly!

Remove the pan from the heat and stir for 5 more minutes, and allow the mixture to cool slightly (about 5-10 minutes). Once it has cooled, pour into a pint sized jar for storage.

This curd turns out to be fairly thick compared to a traditional lemon or lime curd. I recommend allowing the curd to sit out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before trying to spread on something soft like bread or macarons.

But, there are many ways to enjoy this delicious curd. One of my new favorites is a peanut butter and blueberry curd sandwich, yum!

The curd will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

A huge thanks to Erin for sharing this with us to further our repertoire of egg yolk recipes.  Don’t forget to pop by BigFatBaker.com and say hello to Erin from me and check out many more wonderful organic recipes.