BRAZILIAN CHEESE ROLLS: Gluten-Free, Chewy, & Oh So Good!

brazilian rolls10 textBrazilian Cheese Rolls – where have these been all my life?!  Crusty outside, stretchy inside. An added bonus for those of you who have a problem with gluten: they’re gluten-free!

I recently watched an America’s Test Kitchen episode that featured these yummy rolls. The gluten-free aspect caught my attention. Even though I’m not gluten-free myself, I like to expand my horizons and post recipes for people with a variety of needs.

Note: It can be a little tricky to find the tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch). It, most likely, will be found in the area where the alternative flours in small bags are kept. I was only able to find Bob’s Red Mill brand in my area.

Note: Weighing flour is always the best way to go – especially with tapioca flour. It’s very powdery (like cornstarch), and using a measuring cup will give you vastly different amounts, which may make a difference.

Note: If you like, you can try different cheeses.

BRAZILIAN CHEESE ROLLS – makes 8  3″ rolls

  • 12 oz (about 3 cups) tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (or 1 tsp of table salt)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup + 2 T milk (175 ml)  (I used 1% milk)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil (you can use vegetable oil, too)
  • 1½ T butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3½ oz (1¼ cups or 50 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3½ oz (1¼ cups or 50 grams) Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated
  • optional:  egg wash – 1 egg + 1 T water + pinch of salt), beaten together

In the large bowl of your electric mixer (if you don’t have an electric mixer, just use a large bowl and mix by hand), put the tapioca flour, salt, and baking powder. Gently swirl together to blend. brazilian rolls1Put the milk, olive oil, and butter in a small saucepan. Over a low/medium flame, bring just to a boil, stirring constantly. Immediately pour into the flour.brazilian rolls2 Turn the mixer on low and beat until all the flour is incorporated – about 1-2 minutes. (It will look rough and crumbly.) brazilian rolls3Add in the eggs and mix on low speed. Once it looks creamy (like frosting), continue to beat another minute.brazilian rolls4 Add in the cheeses, and mix just to blend on low. brazilian rolls5Scrap down the dough and smooth top. Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours – this will firm up the dough, making it easier to work with. brazilian rolls6

Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit, rack in the middle position. (Don’t short-change the temperature.)

If using an egg wash, beat together 1 egg with 1 T water and a pinch of salt. I highly recommend using an egg wash – it gives the rolls an appetizing sheen.

Score the dough into 8 even wedges. brazilian rolls7Using a large spoon, scrap out each wedge and roll into a smooth ball (it helps to have one of your hands wet so the dough doesn’t stick). Place each ball on a parchment lined baking sheet. They’re going to rise as they bake, so make sure to space them. One large sheet will hold all 8 rolls.brazilian rolls8 Using a pastry brush, paint the sides and tops of rolls with the egg wash. brazilian rolls9I’m going to use all caps because this is important!: PLACE SHEET IN OVEN, THEN IMMDEDIATELY LOWER TEMPERATURE TO 375º F. (The initial high heat is important to give the rolls a spring, but you need to lower it so they don’t burn.) Bake for about 40 minutes (yes, this is a long time). Remove to wire rack to cool enough to handle – about 5 minutes before eating.brazilian rolls12


CLOUD BREAD: Gluten-Free & Light As A Feather!

cloud bread text

Never heard of Cloud Bread?  Neither had I until googled a bread question and happened to see this term. Intrigued by the name, I clicked the site and read about Cloud Bread. I assumed this was something the blogger made up, but then I googled “cloud bread” and found it’s a thing. Who knew?!

Cloud Bread is a gluten-free alternative to grain bread. In its basic state it’s made with just 3 ingredients: eggs, cream of tartar, and yogurt. I see no reason not to add spices or cheese to jazz it up, although I haven’t tried doing this.

It’s easy and quick to prepare, which is always a bonus. BUT, don’t expect it to be quite as sturdy as wheat bread. That being said, it held up which I made an avocado/tomato/cheese sandwich:cloud bread1

CLOUD BREAD – makes about 8, depending on how you ladle the batter

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt

NOTE: You’ll need to line a cookie sheet with parchment. The parchment should lay flat, so if your cookie sheet has a rim, cut the parchment to fit inside.

Preheat oven to 300º Fahrenheit.

Separate eggs, putting whites in the bowl of your electric stand mixer, and yolks in a small bowl.

Into the yolks, whisk in the yogurt. Set aside. cloud bread6Turn your electric mixer on medium to break up the whites. When the whites begin to foam, add in the cream of tartar. cloud bread7Increase mixer speed to high and beat whites until stiff peaks form. cloud bread8Pour the yolks/yogurt into the beaten whites and turn on mixer to very low. Beat until the yolks are blended into the whites – this won’t take long. Don’t overbeat – you don’t want to deflate the whites. cloud bread9On a parchment lined cookie sheet, ladle out the batter into whatever shape you want, making them about 1/2″ thick. Space them at least 1″ bread4 Bake in 300º F oven about 25 – 30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes) – until beginning to brown. cloud bread3Place the Cloud Bread still on parchment on wire rack. After about 5 minutes, remove bread from paper to wire rack to completely cool. They should really rest at least an hour before using, in order to set. Store in fridge.

AREPAS – A Central American Favorite

arepas textI’ve been on a mission to try making foods from scratch that you would normally never think of, such as tortillas (flour and corn), Italian rustic bread, yogurt, cream cheese, and pasta. I think you get the idea.

But all the aforementioned foods have been homemade for centuries, and without the aid of modern kitchen conveniences.  How hard could it be? So far – not very. Yes, it takes more time than buying ready-made, but at what price? When I cook, I know what’s in my food. Plus, the price mark-up is incredible. Did I mention that I’m cheap?

Arepas are cornmeal flat, round bread patties (like an English muffin) that are slit open and stuffed with whatever you like. I’ve included a recipe for my favorite filling. You can even spread them with jam or honey. Use your imagination. They are amazingly easy it make – even kids (with very clean hands) can prepare the dough.

NOTE: The most common masarepas is PAN Harina. Below is a photo of what I bought. PAN is a brand, but others make it, too. You may need to go to a specialty store for hispanic foods (I had to). PAN Harina is NOT the same as masa harina, which is used for corn tortillas.

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TIP:  Store masarepas, and all extra flours & grains, in the freezer until use to prevent bugs and keep them fresh. Bring to room temperature before using.

AREPAS – makes 6

  • 2 cups (310g / 10 6/8 oz) masarepas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • about 2½ cups  (650 ml) water
  • about 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil

Put the masarepas, salt, and baking powder is a bowl. Use your dominant hand to mix it. (Yes, you’re going to mix the dough with your hand – it’s the easiest way.) With your non-dominant hand, pour in about 1 cup of the water. Slowly squish the mixture until water is absorbed. Add another cup of water and slowly squish. (If you squish quickly, the water squirts and makes a mess.) The end result should be a soft dough (softer than Playdoh), but not so soft that it sticks to your hand and won’t stay formed. Add more water, if needed…or more masarepas, if you’ve added too much.

Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each into a patty 4″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick.

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.

Have ready a wire rack sitting on a cookie sheet.

Over medium flame, heat 2 T oil in a 10″ skillet, or 4 T oil in a bigger skillet. When oil is hot, place in as many discs that will fit. When bottom is browned (about 3 minutes), flip cooking again until browned. Place on wire rack. Add more oil to skillet with each batch.

When all arepas are fried, place cookie sheet into oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool until you can slice them in half without burning yourself.

BLACK BEAN & RICE FILLING – makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup cooked black beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice (I use Brown Rice Medley from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup SALSA VERDE
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 cup jalapeño jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1  2.25 oz can jalapeño sliced black olives

Blend all ingredients together.