Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Birthday celebration gluten-free

Well, we're now in the midst of winter, not a very harsh one I'll admit but still finally we have a  great weather. The end of the year and the beginning of the new one is a time for many birthdays of both family and friends. These events echo the birthdays we celebrate at the end of summer of other family members. Since we're partying I was reminded of the great gluten-free cake I made for my eldest birthday. Hope you'll enjoy it.

Summer is when dozens of farewell parties at school and other places are celebrated. And since parties mean food, as a celiac family we need to be prepared.  In our household, summertime is among many other things, birthday time because both my daughters were born in the height of summer.  Each year there is a whole festival: A party with the class and with the family, very specific present requests and of course for each event a candle lit birthday cake.
So when my gluten-free daughter is invited to any of the mentioned festivities we usually prepare her own dessert (a piece of gluten-free cake I make or buy) and because she’s very mature and responsible she sticks to munching potato chips and pop-corn, staying away from the pizza and hotdog in a roll. I must admit that once in a long while a conscientious parent from the class will call me in order to prepare a real meal without gluten. There was a mum that cooked especially for my girl a corn based pasta Bolognaise.
When we entertain at our house it is much easier. The cakes are gluten-free and my girl gets to gobble a lot of pizza without wheat. Her latest birthday party with the class included watching Shrek 4 in 3D. With the mounds of pop-corn from the cinema, I supplied the cake that was my own version of a recipe that my daughter saw in a cookbook and liked very much.
For a festive and yummy cake you’ll need:
For the sponge cake
4 medium eggs
225gr soft butter
Cup of sugar
1 cup soy flour
2/3 cup corn starch (Gilam gluten-free flour)
2 tea spoons baking powder
For the chocolate cream
200gr chocolate 60% cocoa solids
100ml cream 38%
20gr butter
A 22cm round baking cake tin
  1. Pre-heat an oven to 180C and oil the tin and place a piece of oiled baking parchment.
  2. Break the eggs to small bowl and stir them well with a fork.
  3. Mix the butter and sugar until you get a foamy mixture, and then add the eggs while mixing.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder and add them while mixing.
  5. Pour the mixture to the tin and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. While the cake cools, melt the chocolate with the butter and cream either in the microwave or in a double bath on the gas. Mix the chocolate and cream to unified crème.
  7. Slice the cake in the middle so you'll get 2 parts. Smear some of the chocolate on the bottom cake and then place the second half to create a "sandwich". 
The cake cut in half
Putting the cake together
  1. Coat the cake with the rest of the chocolate.

Coating with chocolate

Happy Birthday!
For more information about gluten-free dining you can leave your comments and questions and I'll be happy to answer.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A night out at the Bistro

After a few hectic weeks I finally got a chance to spend a quiet evening alone with my husband. Going out with our 3 energetic kids is not my idea of a romantic experience. I think in one of my next posts I'll describe Israeli kids behaviour at the table, very different than what we saw abroad.
Anyway, we finally found a new reliable babysitter because our former one was enlisted to the army.
Dating my husband is no trivial matter these days. Finding good babysitters is just half the problem,  the other half is we're just too tired. A lot of times we're just giving in and stay at home  Zombie Mode in front of the TV.
Sometimes though, one of us takes the initiative, books the restaurant ,calls in the sitter and voila! We're going out!
Our last date has taken place in a lovely bistro near Shuk Hacarmel in Tel-Aviv. The place is called "Carmela Banachala" ( it roughly translates to Carmela in the Estate). The restaurant is a part of an old building from the beginning of the 20th century which is now being restored.
I loved the interior decor, it was simple but not shabby comprised of a lot of white wood and lovely photos of old beautiful building of Tel-Aviv on the walls. Though they sat us near the toilettes, we were not interrupted. The atmosphere in the place was quiet with a lot of chatter in English. It seems many tourists visit the place or are taken there by their Israeli companions.
We first ordered bubbly Cava cocktails. Not as stylish as real Champaign maybe, but good enough for us. The food part was a bit trickier; everything in the menu looked so good!
After consulting our cute and helpful waitress, we decided on a tasting menu, when you can order each dish in a smaller size to sample as much food as possible. It turned out to be a wise choice. Now I'm no food critic and not a great gourmet eater, so I won't analyse each dish and describe every nuance of taste. Everything we've sampled from the starters like beef fillet carpaccio, through the extremely fresh fish tartar was excellent. The crab bisque was creamy and well seasoned. When the "homemade sausages with sauerkraut and bacon served with "shpetzley" arrived we were already full, but bravely moved on. I wasn't too enthusiastic about the sausages dish but my husband was extremely pleased with them. The food was consumed with a carafe of local wine (Yekev Yatir) that was tasty and not expensive.

We hardly conquered the desert, but we were very content. The food, the atmosphere, the service were terrific. The best part was to be reminded that my husband is a fun and interesting person, and that we can have animated conversation on various subjects not only the kids.
It's good to have a night out from time to time.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The first weekend of 2011

The past couple of weeks and weekends were spent in a similar way to the one I've already described a year ago, when I reflected about getting myself a tattoo of a washing machine

This last weekend was a really pretty one. The sky was grey and rain drizzled from time to time and finally we were all feeling well.  We decided that no kind of weather will deter us and we'll get out of the house. Our plans for some grand hike were cancelled when we discussed the issue with some friends of ours who wanted all of us to spend the Saturday together. We went instead to the big city Tel-Aviv. Actually it was closer to Jaffa because we went to wonder around the old train station that led from Jaffa to Jerusalem.
The place was recently renovated and reconstructed and now it's a yuppie shopping center with some nice cafes, but it still holds a nostalgic charm. 


We mostly run around the old tracks with the kids and admired the architecture because of our  friend Shiri who is an architect. 

Shiri's favourite: old wood shutters holders in shapes of human heads.

There were lovely shops that we liked looking at but they were quite expensive. I liked the interior design though

A pretty store for utensils

Even inside the shops they tried to keep the old decoration.
After a short burst of rain the sun came out and we decided that we must go down to the sea. The children wondered what is the sense in that but Shiri explained it to them by declaring that "the sea in winter is not the sea in the summer", which I found to be a very Zen saying. So we went down to the board walk to watch some crazy surfers. It was quite beautiful.

Sea in winter
One crazy surfer
We ended the lovely tour back home with a great diner of steaks and fries. 

A wonderful start for a new year.