Dairy-Free Junk Food Files: Golden Rolls

81Qv8SiuWTL._SL1500_-1These crisp and airy yet densely buttery-tasting confections feign dairy effectively, yet contain none.

Equally at home in a fruit salad or an ice cream sundae, their only downside is that they are maddeningly hard to find in the United States. I think I picked up my most recent box at a local German deli that has a great selection of British and German groceries but I can’t swear to it!

The seal on the front of the box intimates a Royal warrant but actually says that they have been making these beauties in Carlisle since 1841. According to the internet, they usIMG_2066ed to have a warrant but lost it in 2012. They lost it for their water crackers — which are also excellent.

I think it’s very unfair for the water crackers to have tanked these wonderful little cookies. If you can find them, let me know how you did it — and buy a bunch.

They are also great with blueberries and lactose-free yoghurt.



Posted in British food, Cookies, Dairy-free, dairy-free junk food | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Biscuits d’Affinois

Fromager d'affinoisLe Dauphin (or dolphin) means lots of things in France — the son of the king (when there was one), a beautiful region which includes the Alpes, and several delicious cheeses, including Fromager d’affinois which is a corruption of “dauphinois.” (I blatted on about this when I was making Gratin Dauphinois all the time and trying to do it without real cheese.)

A word about real vs. fake cheese
My blog tries to be lactose-free (to mirror my life!) but in seeking out cheese substitutes while still needing to eat a certain amount of protein each day, I have discovered that most fake cheeses, in addition to tasting terrible, also don’t contain much nutrition. Yes, very aged cheeses don’t contain much (or any) lactose but I’m still not really able to eat them. This a topic for another day, but I wanted to explain why I sometimes use real French cheese in my recipes (see Macaroni and Mimolette). It’s not just because the French pay me to eat their cheese! Although, that is a combo that’s hard to resist…Panorama_grenoble

Speaking of good friends, my lovely friend Sabine is from the Dauphin. She’s a big reason I’m so fond of the cuisine of that region. She took me in when I was having an existential twenty-something crisis and she was living in Grenoble, the biggest city in the Rhône-Alpes (see above). She let me sleep on their beautiful couch in her gorgeous apartment in one of those old buildings with wrought iron railings and an elevator that is basically a glorified cage. She kept me sane. I owe her!

One of the outstanding cheeses of Sabine’s home region is Fromager D’Affinois. It has the tang of brie but with more richness — stopping just short of Saint André (which might as well be considered butter). It stands up to baking and infuses these biscuits with the flavor of France.

Biscuits d’Affinois
modified from Real Simple Brie Biscuits


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
A pinch or two of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces or a stick of Earth Balance
6 ounces Fromager d’Affinois, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces (including the rind)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or green onions
3/4 cup half and half (I used lactose-free kind from Organic Valley)

FDA Plain Wedge w-backgroundDirections:

Heat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

Add the butter or Earth Balance and, using a pastry blender or a knife, cut it into smaller and smaller pieces until crumbly. Add the Fromager d’Affinois and green onions and toss to combine. Add the half and half and stir just until moistened. Don’t overwork or your biscuits will be tough.

At this point you can either roll out the dough and cut round biscuits or do what I did and drop them on the parchment-covered baking sheet for a free form scone-like appearance. I find this kind of dough incredibly sticky to work with but you may not. Remember to use ample flour and keep your kitchen cool if you go the rolling out route.

No matter which way you go, bake until golden– about 15 to 18 minutes. Yields a couple of dozen biscuits depending on size.

Biscuits daffinois: Printer-ready recipe

Biscuits au fromager d'affinois

Posted in Baking, Biscuits | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Making a Hash of It

hashI honestly can’t figure out how the expression “making a hash” of something, which has a negative connotation and means to mess things up, is related to that delicious solution to leftover meat (or almost any protein) — the culinary hash.

I had a sandwich at Assemble, one of three restaurants that is walking distance from my house, and the Tri-Tip in it was too rare for me. Or maybe I don’t like the taste of whatever is being fed to the trendy cows these days, because lately beef tastes odd to me. At any rate, I saved the beef — and the giant slices of red radish that they used instead of a pickle or whatever in the sandwich — and sliced them both up with some tiny potatoes that I had parboiled beforehand. I fried the whole thing up and presto — lovely hash.

I associate hash with my Dad, whose cooking philosophy was basically, “Fry it up with some potatoes.” No matter what it was. Or maybe I associate hash with him because of red flannel hash, the hash that includes a bit of cooked beet with the potatoes, beef (and typically onions — I’m just too lazy to chop onions in the morning), turning the whole thing red. He was a big wearer of flannel shirts, even in summer time.

I think hash, like my parents, is a New England thing (via Britain) and there’s no more comforting meal.

Assembling Hash(For the record, Assemble has astonishing desserts — memorably good — and amazing pot pies on the menu. Their fries are pretty epic too.)

Standard Hash Recipe


Leftover beef, corned beef, salmon, chicken or whatever you’ve got (already cooked — the exception to this would be tofu which can cook along with the potatoes)
Potatoes, preferably Yukon gold or a small, tasty variety.
Oil or butter for frying
Onions — finely chopped (about half as much by volume as you have potato)

Parboil your potatoes which means boil them until you can pierce them easily with a fork but drain them and cool them down before they start to fall apart or the skin gets loose.  Cool and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

hash close upHeat oil — or butter if you are being traditional — in a good, no-stick skillet and brown your onions, keeping the heat low so that they are allowed to caramelize. Just before all of the onions are soft and clear, add the meat and potatoes. Cook on a medium heat, avoiding stirring, to allow the potatoes to get crispy on both sides.

You can crack an egg on top at the end and let it cook on one side (also traditional) or garnish with plain yoghurt and avocado as I have.



Posted in Breakfast, Cooking with leftovers, Family recipes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sanctuary Bistro Opens Friday!

Sanctuary ceilingI have written before about my friends Barry the Vegan Chef and Jennifer the Teacher and Amazing Organizer. In my post, Some of My Best Friends are Vegans, I mentioned their Kickstarter campaign to open a restaurant as an offshoot of their gluten-free and vegan catering business.

Tonight, I attended the soft opening of that restaurant — dubbed Sanctuary Bistro — and it is everything I had hoped and more. Even though they have vowed to keep a low environmental profile by recycling much of what was already in the space (formerly a beloved Berkeley sushi spot), the touches they have added make the new place elegant yet friendly. There was already a fun, community vibe going (with many well-behaved small children in attendance) and lots of local wines and beers being poured.

They brew and tap their own kombucha!IMG_0964

Of course the food is amazing — especially Barry’s killer desserts. I had the soup of the day, a mushroom chowder, followed by the fried soca cakes and then the pan-seared tofu with garlic roast potatoes.


sanctuary soupsanctuary soca










10487396_253255868196935_3879308611549967384_nHurry up and make a reservation today, unless you want these adorable children on the left to starve (plus Jenn and Barry’s three rescue dogs and two rescue cats).

Doesn’t look as if they are on Open Table yet, but you can find all of their contact information here: http://www.sanctuarybistro.com/about/contact/.

Their official opening is this Friday, August 1st but I will consider the place really open when the ice cream freezer arrives and they start serving Bananas Foster.

Posted in Gluten-free, Reviews, Vegan | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Eggs of the Devil

eggsMy Aunt and Uncle’s first date hinged on deviled eggs. I am unclear on the story and somewhat puzzled how they ended up married (going on 50-something years) because apparently, my Aunt-to-be put the deviled eggs on the bottom of the picnic basket. My Uncle, from whom I inherited my natural fussiness about such things, flipped out and pointed out that the eggs were being crushed. And yet, they got married! Before Internet-dating, you had to eat squished eggs — and like it. A simpler, happier time.

According to the food timeline blog, deviled eggs originated in Ancient Rome, along with other less important innovations such as cement and indoor plumbing. Here’s a link to a recipe, if you want to make your eggs like the Romans. Warning: It involves rancid fish guts.

Eggs from Pompeii in the British Museum

Eggs from Pompeii in the British Museum

Like so many of my blog posts, there’s nothing particularly novel about my take on deviled eggs, but I do have a few things up my sleeve. I boil my eggs gently for five minutes and then leave them on the stove with the heat turned off and the lid on for another five. To quickly remove their shells, run the hot eggs under cold water. Conversely, if you have cold hard boiled eggs in the fridge, run them under warm water to remove their shells.

Tip 2: Make way more eggs that you think you will need. Unless you are a lot more dexterous than I am (and you probably are), there will be wipe outs when you remove the yolk from the whites. Wipe outs can be eaten as you go (in good news) but you will need loads of deviled eggs, so boil more than you think you need. I have never  brought a single egg home from a party I brought them too — even at parties where there were multiple plates of deviled eggs.

My final tip? I use liquid mustard instead of mustard powder so you need less mayo. I like that seedy French mustard. You also don’t need salt if you use moist mustard unless you like your eggs super salty.

deviled eggsDeviled Eggs

Seven to ten eggs or more — hard boiled (see above)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
Capers for garnish (if desired)
Paprika to dust

Slice your eggs on the long end and pop out the yolks. Mix the yolks with mayo and mustard. Put a rounded teaspoon of the mixture back into the halved whites. Garnish with capers or parsley, as desired. Dust with paprika.

Yield: Theoretically, twice as many deviled eggs as you boiled.

This happens

This happens


Posted in Lactose-free, Snack | Tagged | 2 Comments

Fancy Food Show: Candy Edition

petit-carre-michel-augustinHere are the top 5 trends from the Winter Fancy Food Show:

  • Sriracha. Wasn’t that big a while ago?
  • Weird chips (like pasta chips or sprouted wheat)
  • Stuff with mint
  • Low-sugar, nasty sounding drinks (though what I mostly saw was coconut water which tastes fine)
  • Fancy condiments with things added such as herbs. I guess the guys with the “Creamy nuts” dressing would fall into this category!

Well, I don’t think I need to tell you that I tasted none of the above. I did have a cup of tea (technically from the “low sugar” drinks category) but I studiously avoided samples of anything that sounded too healthy — like quinoa chips (see above). You have limited calories at an event like this if you want to stay mobile and not have to be rolled out of the Moscone Center. emerging_square_400x266

I tried to mostly sample candy (you have to pick your battles!). The candy that tends to show up at this kind of event (not counting Ghirardelli who has to come because they are local) usually has an angle — i.e., environmentally-friendly, super old school, or organic.

Here’s what I loved:

MIcheletaugustinMichel et Augustin gave me a killer cookie square with chocolate on top. It tasted totally unexpected. The cookie wasn’t dry and the chocolate was soft instead of hard. It was delicious though I gathered from their website they are all about social justice and organic ingredients and being “cheeky” — thus their slogan which I believe translates into “Troublemakers of Snacking” or some such.

jellybeanplanetJelly Bean Planet makes natural jelly beans in Ireland. I am normally not a fan of high-end jelly beans. Give me the generic bag from CVS every time. I make an exception for these beans. I didn’t realize that organically-flavored jelly beans could be this good. I just wish I could get some around here without having to order a fortune’s worth online!

chocolate-barshammondsmitchellHammond’s Candies is the old-fashioned candy maker of the bunch. They have been making these caramel wrapped marshmallow surprises in Denver since right after the Great War. Or maybe it was the other war…You can read all about it on their website. Is their caramel extraordinary? Not really. I think I like their packaging most. They have a handsome, pinstriped look to their candy bars that screams to me “appetizing!” Another thing I learned about these shows? They tape the candy bars to their booth so you can’t steal them. I got a caramel or two though.

Remember the woodruff hard candy from Germany that regulates your period? The joke is on me with that one. Icandy meistert was tasty and now I wish I could get a whole bag of it — in case it really works. Again — Candy Meister requires you to order such large amounts. From Canada. According to their website, the only place in the US that sells it is in Portland and I bet they don’t carry the woodruff sweets. Why am I so obsessed with medicinal candy? Don’t answer that.

palacechocolatecafeI rounded off my busy day at the show with a stop at the relatively new Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop in the Palace Hotel. They always give you free samples there, no questions asked. It may not be the best chocolate on earth (though it’s getting better — less wax than in  my childhood) but they are a hometown favorite and the people who work there are awfully nice.

Posted in Candy, Chocolate, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Personal Awards from the Winter Fancy Food Show

Some of my haul

Some of my haul

I attended the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco last week. For those of you who have never heard of it, this is a trade show for people who make or import specialty food stuffs to peddle their wares to grocery store chains, restaurants, retailers, and other professionals in the food industry. I had no real business there, other than a love of food — “fancy” and otherwise. More on that in a later post.

For now, here were some of my favorites from the show:

Award for Food I Ate First Upon Getting Home
Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle. Salted caramel was the flavor they were handingSGBB-Product-Page-SC-2013-e1367515813606 out samples of. Oh. My. God. I had been avoiding this product in Safeway for the past few months. As I told the people at the show, I just knew I would take the bag to bed with me and eat the whole thing. While it didn’t end up in bed, it was eaten first and fast. Brittle implies crunchy, which it’s not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious. I see on their website that Weight Watchers recommends them which I think is funny. It’s not exactly a health food though it could be argued that it has a relatively low calories-and-fat-to-deliciousness ratio. Some dairy, alas, but not brimming with it at least.

barneybutterAward for Most Generous Vendor (and best nut butter by a long shot) goes to Barney Butter. This is my absolute favorite almond butter and I have tried them all, including the make-your-own almond butter machines at health food stores. The man at the booth was either touched by my emphatic praise for his product or eager to get me away from his booth so he could sell to real reps. He gave me a giant jar of my preferred butter (crunchy) and coupons for three more free 16 ounce jars.

Most Generous Country with Free Food: Japan
The booths were partly arranged by country, with some of the bigger players like Italy and Germany boasting their own pavilions. Japan had a big presence, preparing sushi, hand sandwiches (OK, they were basically hot pockets), and handing out samples of everything from the cutest cheese cracker you have ever seen to candies, both strange and tasty. Unlike the understandably suspicious Europeans (why is this woman with no badge trying to acquire free food?), the Japanese were only too happy to hand over whatever they had. Note to the Japanese vendor selling the salad dressing called “Creamy nuts,” I tried to warn you.

candy-meister_green_woodruff_leaves_german_candyWeirdest Flavor of Candy
This award goes to woodruff, which I kept trying to assure the nice German man who represented the candy company is NOT a thing in English. He urged me to Wikipedia it. (A verb in German, apparently.) Guess what? Wikipedia refers you to the Latin name for this tiny white flower that grows in European forests. To be fair to woodruff (aka Galium odoratum) it tasted really nice. As I walked away from the booth, the guy called after me that the candy in my mouth helps to regulate your period. A young, attractive man. I have never dated a German. Now I know why.

Isigny butter and creamMy Hero
Benoit, from Isigny Sainte-Mere, purveyors of the best cheeses, butter, and cream in the world. He was the reason I was able to peruse the fancy foods of the world and he was recently featured in a short piece in the New Yorker called “The Cheese Stands Alone.” You can’t read the whole thing without a subscription, but the gist is that the FDA forced him to destroy some beautiful aged mimolette. This is a crime. Mimolette is one of the most versatile and succulent of cheeses, fabulous as a snack, amazing as an ingredient in recipes. Benoit had a big ball of it with him at the show and he kept handing me pieces off of it. You know I am lala mimolettectose-incapable. I am equally unable to refuse mimolette, the true Queen of Cheeses. I haven’t been able to find a photo that does justice to the vivid orange hue of this gorgeous cheese but I will keep trying.

Posted in Brownies, Candy, French food, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments