The indulgent taste of gluten-free Latin American cuisine
Go gluten-free while treating yourself with these great dishes, as featured in The Gluten-Free Cookbook
Dietary restrictions don't have to mean dull meal times. There are many great cookbooks that work around ingredient choices, to offer great vegan, vegetarian and raw food options. Cristian Broglia’s new one , The Gluten-Free Cookbook, is no exception. This extremely considerate and well-travelled chef and author isn’t willing to settle for poor imitations of otherwise gluten-rich foods. The book skips any ersatz versions of wheat-based pastas and pastries, choosing instead to focus on dishes that work perfectly well without any gluten at all.
Latin American cuisine features quite prominently in this new book, as it's a place where wheat alternatives, such as maize or cassava are widely favoured. Get this book and you can indulge yourself with simple, familiar comfort dishes such as guacamole with homemade tortilla chips. “The secret of a good guacamole is definitely the use of perfectly ripe avocados,” explains Broglia, “which should be soft, but not too soft, when you squeeze them gently.”
Get those perfect avocados, and you’ll also need some onion; serrano chilies; fresh cilantro (coriander); sea salt; and some chopped tomatoes; as well as sunflower oil and some corn tortillas, cut into triangles.
In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Carefully drop a small piece of tortilla in the oil. If it sizzles, it is the right temperature. Working in batches, carefully add a handful of tortilla wedges to the hot oil, turning them with tongs or a slotted spoon. Increase the heat to high and fry until the tortilla chips just begin to turn golden and firm. Move the chips to a plate lined with paper towels using a metal slotted spoon.
Reduce the heat under the frying pan. Working in batches, cook the chips a second time until really crispy. Transfer the freshly fried chips to the fresh paper towels again and sprinkle them with coarse salt.
Then, for the guac, get a large mortar, combine the onion, serranos, cilantro (coriander), and fine sea salt to taste. Grind with the pestle until you have a smooth paste. Scoop the avocado flesh into the mortar and grind until the mixture is still slightly chunky. Fold the tomatoes in with a fork. Add more sea salt to taste. Serve the tortilla chips and guacamole in separate bowls, garnishing the guacamole with a little more serrano and tomato.
For a less familiar, though no less indulgent gluten-free Latin American dish, try Venezuela’s milk flan. This dish is also known as “quesillo (or ‘little cheese’),” even though there’s no cheese in it. The name arises because the flan “develops air holes as it bakes, making it look like Swiss cheese.”
To make it you’ll need sugar; eggs; condensed milk; regular milk; and vanilla extract. In a saucepan, combine the sugar with some water and cook until it caramelises. Remove from the heat and pour into a cake pan. Let the caramel cool on the bottom of the pan. In a bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs, condensed milk, milk, and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the cake pan over the caramel.
Set the cake pan in a roasting pan on a pulled-out oven rack. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan with the flan. Bake until firm and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven. Remove the cake pan from the hot water and let cool, then refrigerate overnight until well chilled. To serve, invert the flan out of the pan onto a serving plate, so the caramel is on top.
For full recipes, including weights, times, temperatures and other measurements, order a copy of The Gluten-Free Cookbook here. And if you like Latin American food, consider ordering a copy of The Latin-American Cookbook too.