Art of the French Macaron


Last night the Sans Gluten JWU club was privileged to have Chef Lumi, master of French Macarons  share her vast knowledge and experiences of making these delicate little treats.

Chef Lumi is originally from Transylvania, Romania and moved to the United States in 2001. When first moving to the United States, she lived in Chicago where she enrolled in Culinary School at Kendell College. She earned her Associate’s Degree in Baking & Pastry in 2008. Over the years she gained much experience in the field of baking & pastry arts, and we are fortunate to have her as a Chef at Johnson & Wales and learn from such an amazing and accomplished Chef.

Below are some photographs I took last nights demo and production of French Macarons. This was the first time I had ever tried a French Macaron and oh my goodness these little gems are delicious! Still kind of nervous to make them at home, mostly because I don’t want to be dissapointed in the final product!

Thank you Chef for taking the time to share your tips and knowledge with us, it is truly appreciated.

Poached Peaches with Raspberry Sauce and Pecan Tuile Cookie


Each term of school I take either one or two culinary labs. This term I took a culinary lab called Designing Healthy Desserts. This course is broken up in to six groups with three students each. Each group chooses a dietary restriction from the following list: Gluten-Free/Celiac, Strict Diabetic, Pre-Diabetic/Celiac, Vegan, Vegetarian-Lacto, and Lactose Intolerant. I was asked to not be in the Gluten-Free/Celiac group because lets face that it would have been rather easy to do seeing as I live it on a daily basis so we created the Pre-Diabetic/Celiac group instead. Each class we were assigned a subject matter and had to create a dish with five components (main item, two sauces, crunch factor, and garnish). We were asked to use or create recipes that did not meet our dietary restrictions and then recreate them so they would meet our guidelines.

My group consisted of two other members, Lauren (who is AMAZING and her father is diabetic), and Peter (again he is AMAZING, and also has Celiac!). I loved working with the two of them. Probably the best group I have worked with since being in school. We all were on the same page and just had so much fun, wish we could have all the same labs for the rest of our time here (which is only a year!!!).

Below is one of my favorite recipes that we created. It is a poached peach recipe in a delicious raspberry sauce and served with a pecan tuile cookie. Seeing as our group had to incorporate not only gluten-free components but also had to be suitable for a pre-diabetic so we came up with a flour blend that worked very well in the cookie recipe we found, and instead of sugar we used xylitol. We didn’t want to use splenda in any of our creations so we used mostly xylitol and frutose which worked out very well for what we were trying to achieve.

IMG_5060_5274 copy

~Poached Peaches with Raspberry Sauce!

Adapted from “Poached Peaches with Raspberries.” Poached Peaches with Raspberries. Yummly, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2013.

These peaches are poached in a flavorful blend of white wine and spices, which is then reduced to a sauce.  The sugar is substituted with xylitol, making it a low sugar dessert.

Yield: 8 servings                                                                      Serving Size: 5 ounces

Ingredients:                                                                             U.S. Standard

  • Water                                                                                       1 1/3 cup
  • Xylitol                                                                                     7/8 cup
  • White wine                                                                               ½ cup
  • Salt                                                                                           1/6 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon stick                                                                        1 each
  • Lemon zest                                                                              1 lemon
  • Peppercorns                                                                             1/8 teaspoon
  • Peaches                                                                                    4 peaches
  • Raspberries                                                                              4 ounces
  • Mint leaf                                                                                  8 each

Method of Preparation

  1. Put all of the ingredients except the peaches and raspberries into a large pot.
  2. Halve the peaches and remove the pit.
  3. Add the peaches and bring the pot to a boil.
  4. Cover the pot with parchment paper and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook the peaches in poaching liquid for 7-10 minutes (time depends on the ripeness of the peaches.)
  5. Take the peaches out of the cooking liquid.
  6. Add half of the raspberries to the cooked peaches.
  7. Add the remaining raspberries to the pot and bring it back to a boil.  Reduce the cooking liquid to about half.
  8. Strain the poaching liquid.
  9. Pour the poaching liquid over the peaches and raspberries. 

~Pecan Tuile Cookies~

Adapted from “Pleasant House.” Pecan-Bacon Lace Cookies. Pleasant House, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2013.

These cookies can be used to add a crunch to a dessert that might otherwise be lacking.  They are made with xylitol, making them suitable for diabetics.

Yield: 8 servings                                                                              Serving Size: ½ ounce

Ingredients:                                                                                       U.S. Standard

  • Unsalted butter                                                                                    2 tablespoons
  • Milk, 2%                                                                                              1 tablespoon
  • Bourbon                                                                                               ½ tablespoon
  • Pecans, very finely ground                                                                  3/8 cup
  • Brown rice flour                                                                                   1 teaspoon
  • Potato starch                                                                                        1 teaspoon
  • Tapioca starch                                                                                     1 teaspoon
  • Xylitol                                                                                                 ¼ cup

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat.  In a saucepan, combine the butter, milk, and bourbon over low heat.  In a small bowl, combine the ground pecans, flour, and Xylitol.  Once the butter is melted, add in the dry ingredients all at once.  Cook until gently bubbling.  Remove saucepan from heat but keep warm
  3. Drop small spoonfuls of the batter onto the lined sheet pan, leaving at least two inches between each cookie as cookies will spread.  Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove cookies from oven and cool on sheet pan slightly until cookies can be lifted off the pan and hold their shape but are malleable.  Cook cookies on a cookie rack, or mold into desired shape and cool until set.

Kabocha Squash Soup


This past week as “lacto-ovo” week in my Vegetarian Cuisine lab. With that being said, the following recipe originally did not have either lactose or egg in it but I had to make a quick decision at the end to add a dollop of cinnamon sugar sour cream to the top before presenting it because it didn’t meet the criteria for that weeks lesson. But honesty, this soup needs no such additions, it is naturally creamy with a bit of spice so the additional of the cinnamon sugar sour cream help off set that a bit for those who do not enjoy so much spice.

I picked up the kabocha squash (aka, Japanese pumpkin) which is an Asian variety of a winter squash. The outside of the kabocha is rough and dark green in color and may have some off white lines through it. The flesh is a beautiful yellow-orange. I would have to compare the flavor of this squash to that of a butternut squash, maybe a tad bit sweeter though and I found the texture to be similar to a pumpkin or sweet potato. Once blended, this was so thick and creamy…I was tempted to lick my bowl.

Kabocha Squash Soup

Yields about 40oz, Serving Size: 8oz, Number of Servings: 5

Soup Ingredients:                                                                              U.S. Standard:

  • Olive oil, extra-virgin                                                                      2 tbsp.
  • Kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, large dice                                35 oz.
  • Carrot, peeled, large dice                                                               5 oz.
  • Celery, large dice                                                                            5 oz.
  • Apple, granny smith, peeled, seeded, large dice                            4 oz.
  • Onion, white or yellow, large dice                                                    5 oz.
  • Garlic, rough chop                                                                           2 tbsp.
  • Ginger, grated                                                                                  1 tsp.
  • Paprika                                                                                             1 tsp.
  • Cayenne pepper                                                                               1 ½ tsp.
  • Cinnamon, ground                                                                            1 ½ tsp.
  • Vegetable stock, divided                                                                   4 ½ cups
  • Salt, kosher                                                                                        1 tsp.


  • Pine nuts, toasted                                                                               ¼ cup
  • Mushrooms, crimini, sliced and blanched                                           4 oz.
  • Sour Cream                                                                                         ¼ cup
  • Cinnamon                                                                                            1/8 tsp.
  • Sugar                                                                                                   ¼ tsp.

Method of Preparation:

  1. Gather all the ingredients and equipment.
  2. Wash, peel, and wash the squash, carrot, celery, and apple. Set aside.
  3. In a large stock pot add olive oil and heat over medium heat.
  4. Add onion, and cook until translucent. This should take about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Next, add in the kabocha squash, carrot, and celery.
  7. Cook for 8-10 minutes until slightly softened.
  8. Add in paprika, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon, stir to coat evenly.
  9. Next add in 4 cups of the vegetable stock. Reserve the remaining ½ cup – this will be used to blanch the mushrooms.
  10. Bring stock pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
  11. While the soup is simmering, take a small dry sauté pan and add the pine nuts.
  12. Cook over medium heat until lightly toasted but do not burn them.
  13. Remove the pine nuts and set them aside to garnish the soup with.
  14. In the same sauté pan add the remaining ¼ cup of vegetable stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 6-8 minutes.
  15. Once the mushrooms have finished cooking, set them aside in a small bowl to garnish the soup with.
  16. Add the mushroom stock to the simmering stock pot.
  17. To create the sour cream topping place the sour cream in a small bowl.
  18. Add the cinnamon and sugar and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  19. Turn off the stock pot.
  20. In a heavy-duty blender puree soup (in batches if needed), until smooth.
  21. Return back to the stock pot, season with salt.
  22. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  23. Soup temperature must reach 165°F before serving.
  24. Soup should be held at 135°F
  25. Serve immediately in a large bowl topped with mushrooms, pine nuts, and a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar sour cream.
  26. Cool remaining soup to 41°F as quickly as possible, by placing the a container of the remaining soup in an ice bath to help with the cooling process. Store in a refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  27. To reheat the soup, place it in a stock pot and cook over medium-low heat (do not boil) until it has reached 165°F for 15 seconds.

 Chef’s Notes:

  • This is a blended soup, so using a rough chop on the vegetables is a good way to save some time during preparation.

  • For a vegan option you may substitute out the sour cream for vegan sour cream such as “Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream”

Spicy Tofu and Cold Noodle Salad


I love soy products and sadly I don not consume enough of them, but that will be changing soon. I actually fell in love with soy milk when I lived in China.  I would wake up early to head down to the dining hall on the campus where I was working just so I could grab as many of the cups of fresh made soy milk that I could. I love both warm and chilled so I would drink one or two with my breakfast then put the rest in my refrigerator for later.

To me tofu is like risotto. By that I mean they are both blank canvases and you can do so much with them. Tofu is very versatile it can be used in smoothies, soups, desserts, stir-fries, fried, enjoyed as is, and so much more. It also takes on the flavor profile of whatever you marinade or cook it in. If you haven’t had a chance to try it, you really should. I feel like tofu gets a bad rap some times, people say they have had it and hate it but I wonder how they had it? Was it a not so good preparation or recipe? If so maybe this recipe will change your mind?

Here is a little information about Soybean and Soy Products

(information take from lecture notes, Vegetarian Cuisine lab at JWU with Chef Cwynar)

  • Soybeans are a wild plant from East Asia and have an edible seed.
  • The seed colors can vary from yellow, green, brow, black, or multicolored – here in the US we consume the green beans.
  • Soybeans are oilseeds – which are mainly grown for oil extraction.
  • Soybeans are great sources of protein and their composition is: 33% protein, 39% fat, and 28% carbohydrates. 1 cup cooked soybeans = 28 gm of protein (about 1 ounce)
  • Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Great sources of protein for diabetics
  • Low in saturated fat
  • FDA recommended soy food intake: “25 grams of soy protein a day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease”
  • Soy protein is one of the only plant proteins that is equivalent to animal protein.
  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids with high digestibility (.91)
  • Other benefits of soy: Reduces Cholesterol (could cut heart disease risk by 25-30%), Slows Artery-Clogging (neutralizes the ability of LDL cholesterol to infiltrate artery walls and trigger plague buildup which aids in avoid a heart attack), Fights Cancer (soy isoflavones – genistein, suppresses the growth of cancer cells), Strengthens Bones (new evidence that soy foods can cut the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in later years),  Eases Hot Flashes (because soy has estrogen like activity, a decrease of hot flashes may occur), and Helps Equalize Blood Sugar (for diabetics).
  • Isoflavones – studies show that as little as 25% grams of soy per day (less than 1 ounce!) reduces the risk of: heart disease, breast cancer, digestive disorders, eases symptoms of menopause, eliminates the problems of lactose intolerance, prevents symptoms of milk allergies, and is beneficial in diabetic diets (equalizes blood sugar)

Tips on ways to add soy products into your diet

  • Soymilk – don’t expect it to taste like cows milk, it has a nutty flavor, comes in many varieties such as: plain unsweetened, sweetened, vanilla, and chocolate
  • Tofu: use silken tofu in soups (miso soup), smoothies, and custard like desserts, it takes on different flavor profiles, if you marinate it before cooking it will have a deeper more intense flavor, you can grill it, bake it, fry it.

Last week was soy week in vegetarian cuisine and below is the recipe that I created.I like to make different noodle dishes at home, some warm, some cold, and I never write down how I make it because usually it is one of those “what do I have in the house” type meals. So when I knew that I had to make a salad for class that night I thought, “oh this is the perfect opportunity for me to actually write it down!”. I tend to change up the ingredients based on what I have on hand so feel free to get creative with this. Sometimes I drizzle in a little toasted sesame seed oil, and chili oil (we like spice in this house!), and even top with some toasted sesame seeds.

This salad works great for summer cookouts because there is no dairy. It travels well and the longer it sits the more intense the flavor. I would suggest eating it within a day or two though (if there is any left).

Spicy Tofu and Cold Noodle Salad

IMG_4496(close up)

Sauce/Marinade (divided)

  • Ginger, fresh, grated                                                                                       1 tsp.
  • Garlic, fresh, grated                                                                                        1 ½ tsp.
  • Tamari, gluten-free, low sodium                                                                      4 tbs.
  • Chili paste                                                                                                       1 tsp.
  • Hoisin Sauce, gluten-free                                                                                1 ¼ tsp.
  • Agave or honey                                                                                               ½ tsp.

Cold Noodle Salad

  • Tofu, extra firm, diced                                                                                      6 oz.
  • Mushrooms, baby portabella, diced                                                                10 oz.
  • Zucchini, diced                                                                                                10 oz.
  • Bell Pepper, red, diced                                                                                    4 oz.
  • Bell Pepper, yellow, diced                                                                               4 oz
  • Water, tap                                                                                                        1 qt
  • Rice noodles, Medium                                                                                     12 oz
  • Green onion, cut on a bias                                                                              ½ oz
  • Bean sprouts                                                                                                   4 oz
  • Cilantro, chopped (divided)                                                                             1 tbsp.

Method of Preparation

1.   Gather all the ingredients and equipment.

2.   Peel the ginger and garlic and grate them into a medium bowl using a microplane.

3.   Add remaining sauce/marinade ingredients (Tamari, chili paste, hoisin sauce, and agave), mix well.

4.   Check sauce/marinade for spice level and adjust if needed.

5.   Take 2 tablespoons of sauce/marinade and place in another medium bowl. This will be used to marinade the tofu.

6.   Gently wrap tofu in a several paper towels and press it lightly to remove any additional moisture.

11. After you have pressed the tofu, dice it into ½ inch chunks and add to the second bowl to marinade for 20 minutes.

12. Gently wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt.

13. Cut the mushrooms into quarters and set aside.

14. Wash the zucchini and pat dry. Cut in half, length wise, then cut in half, length wise again. Dice into ½ inch pieces and set aside.

15. Wash peppers. Remove tops, seeds, and ribs. Dice into ½ inch pieces and set aside.

16. In a large sauce pan add 1 quart of water and bring to a boil.

17. Once the water is at a boil, add the rice noodles and cook for 7 minutes.

18. Add all mushrooms, zucchini, and red and yellow bell peppers to the boiling water. Continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes.

19. Strain all contents of the pot in to a chinois and run cold water over the noodles and vegetables to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

20. Add the noodles to the first bowl with the sauce/marinade and mix well to make sure all the noodles are coated with the sauce/marinade.

21. Add in the green onions, bean sprouts, and ¾ tablespoon cilantro, mix well.

22. Place the noodles and vegetables on a serving dish and top with marinated tofu and the remaining ¼ tablespoon of chopped cilantro.

Chefs Notes:

A)    The medium rice noodles work very well in this dish, they absorb the sauce nicely, however you may substitute thin or thick rice noodles, buckwheat noodles, or gluten-free spaghetti (Sam Mills corn pasta works great in this).

Sweet Potato and Pine Nut Risotto


Below is a recipe that I created a few weeks ago while in my vegetarian cuisine lab at school. Each week we are all assigned a component of the meal and we need to create a recipe based on that and what our lecture and demo are on that day. Right before break our lecture and demo were on fruits and nuts and I was assigned the entrée portion of the meal. One thing I really love about this class is that we have the freedom to create recipes each week instead of being handed a recipe and asked to make it, or our twist on it. It took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to make that I could incorporate fruits and nuts in it.

I decided to start with my favorite “blank canvas”…a risotto! The idea just grew from there. I looked around the kitchen saw some golden raisins, pine nuts (one of my favorite nuts), baby spinach, and sweet potatoes (another favorite of mine!). I didn’t want the risotto to turn out sweet (because of the raisins), so I added a bit of cinnamon and grated Gruyere cheese instead of the traditional Parmesan cheese.

My chef and class really enjoyed the flavor combination and I can’t wait to make this again. Hope you all enjoy it.

Sweet Potato and Pine Nut Risotto

A hearty risotto with sweet potatoes, pine nuts, golden raisins, and spinach, a savory dish with a hint of sweetness.

Yield: 3 cups      Serving Size:  ½ cup     Number of Servings: 6


  • Vegetable Stock                                                                4 cups
  • Sweet Potato, brunoise                                                     4 ounces
  • Shallot, fine brunoise                                                         2 teaspoons
  • Garlic, fine brunoise                                                           2 teaspoons
  • Olive Oil, divided                                                                4 tablespoons
  • Cinnamon, ground                                                             1/8 teaspoon
  • Ginger, grated                                                                     ¼ teaspoon
  • Arborio Rice                                                                        1 cup
  • Pine Nuts, toasted                                                               ¼ cup
  • Golden Raisins                                                                    ¼ cup
  • Spinach, fresh                                                                      ½ cup
  • Wine, white                                                                           ¼ cup
  • Pepper, white                                                                       1/8 teaspoon
  • Gruyere cheese, grated                                                        ¼ – ½ cup
  • Parsley, chopped                                                                  1 tablespoon

Method of Preparation

  • Gather all ingredients and equipment.
  • Heat vegetable stock in a medium pot to a simmer, then lower heat to keep warm.
  • Wash and peel the sweet potato, then wash again.
  • Brunoise the sweet potato and set aside.
  • Peel the shallot and garlic. Cut brunoise and set aside.
  • In a large, heavy bottom skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add brunoise sweet potatoes and cook until lightly browned.
  • Sprinkle the sweet potatoes with cinnamon and toss to coat. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
  • In the same skillet add the remaining three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add shallots and cook for two minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute.
  • Add rice and stir to evenly coat with oil. Cook for one minute, until there is a slight nutty aroma, you do not want the rice to brown.
  • Add 1 cup of stock to rice and stir constantly until almost absorbed.
  • When the stock is almost absorbed, add an additional cup of stock. Repeat until the grains of rice are tender with a slight bite to them. About 20 minutes.
  • Add pine nuts, raisins, spinach, sweet potatoes, and wine. Stir until evenly incorporated and spinach has wilted.
  • Season with pepper and stir to incorporate evenly.
  • Remove from heat and add in cheese. Stir well.
  • Add parsley, and stir to incorporate.
  • Serve immediately.

Curry Mango Smoothie

IMG_4211_4825(don’t mind the spoon and mug…I couldn’t find a tall zombie glass to display it in)

In Vegetarian Cuisine we are learning so much about the different vegetarian diets and how to achieve meeting your requirements for carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc. Two weeks about our class was all about legumes and protein alternatives.

Legumes are seeds in pods and include: beans (garbanzo, kidney, mung, soy, anasazi, and more) and Lentils. All of these are great gluten-free options as well as vegetarian and vegan. When looking at legumes you want to make sure that they are fresh looking, uniform in size, no holes (little bugs may have gotten in), brightly colored, and free of dust.

There is so much that can be done with legumes: soups, meat alternatives, breads, flours, you can use them in salads, and ice creams. If you are using fresh beans (beans not from a can) you want to soak them before cooking them. Beans should be soaked for at least four hours but no more than 8. To start you want to sort through the beans and look for the things listed above, discard any beans that fall into those categories. Rinse the beans, and soak them in 4 x the amount of water (1 up of beans = 4 cups water), rise them again and discard the soaking liquid, then cook as directed.

When you are cooking beans you do not want to add any salt or anything acidic to the water – they wont cook!! Salt or season the beans after they have been completely cooked. If you shy away from beans because you experience gas after eating them a few tricks to reduce this is – eat more of them! Over time your digestive system will adjust to the beans. Soaking the beans also helps – be sure to change the water at least 2 times during the soaking process, and also adding Kombu, fennel or cumin to the water while cooking helps to easily digest the beans.

Cooked beans can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for about 3-4 days or frozen for up to one year.

I was assigned to make a beverage with using legumes. I thought for a minute and came up with a smoothie using tofu and garbanzo beans. I found some fresh mango in our kitchen and orange juice as well. I mixed all together and it tasted good but I felt it needed a little something extra…curry powder. I know this all sounds weird, but it is mighty delicious! The curry powered is not overwhelming at all, it is just a little hint at the end. This would be perfect in the summer on a hot day, nutritious and delicious.

Curry Mango Smoothie


Garbanzo beans, cooked                                                      4 ounces

Silken Tofu                                                                            4 ounces

Mango, fresh or frozen                                                          4 ounces

Orange juice                                                                          4 ounces

Honey                                                                                    2 teaspoons

Curry powder                                                                         ¼ teaspoon

Ice                                                                                          8 ounces

Method of Preparation:

1.    Gather all ingredients and equipment.
2.    Cut mango (see Chef’s Notes) and set aside.
3.    In the pitcher of a blender add the garbanzo beans (if using canned, rinse and drain well), silken tofu, mango, orange juice, honey, and curry powder. Cover tightly with lid.
4.    Blend on high-speed until smooth.
5.    Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
6.    Add ice and blend until ice is well blended.
7.    Serve immediately.

Chef’s Notes: How to cut a mango: Place the mango on one of its flat sides on a cutting board. Slice the mango lengthwise around the seed. Turn the mango over and repeat on the other side. Set aside the seed and remaining mango flesh. Carefully with a paring knife cut the mango with a cross-hatch pattern. Be sure to not cut through the skin. Invert the mango half by placing your thumbs on each end, and your fingers underneath on the skin. Press upwards with your fingers and then with the paring knife, cut off the cross-hatch cubes of mangos. Repeat with other side. Discard the skin. Cut the remaining mango flesh from the seed. With a paring knife remove skin from the mango flesh and cut into cubes. Discard skin.