Friday, December 12, 2008

Dairy-free, gluten-free, creamy sweet potato gratin

I came home from work yesterday, after walking around on my feet for 8 hours, ate dinner and, even though the kitchen was already a total disaster, set out to make chocolate chip cookies.

I had been craving something sweet yesterday, but it's not like I could walk over to the corner store and pick up something to satisfy my sweet tooth. This is why I usually have SOMETHING on hand, waiting for me, for those days when I want something sweet. I bake double batches of goodies and throw them in the freezer.

My treats wait for me in there, with their little ice crystals, for me to take them out, nuke them a bit in the microwave, and enjoy.

Over thanksgiving, I did a lot of baking, like I mentioned. In addition to my sugar cookie cutouts, I made those delicious little pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (sans pecans) on Karina's site. I stuffed them in the freezer and took two or three to work with me each day (believe me, I need the calories). Unfortunately, I ran out mid-week and, after walking around on my feet for 8 hours, I just don't have the energy to bake when I get home.

Friday afternoon I wished desperately that my situation were different; that I could pop over to the coffee shop on the corner and pick up a lovely little treat (or any other shop, for that matter) with no worries.

I've found that it isn't until moments and days like this that I ever feel frustrated with my diagnosis - when I'm tired, hungry, want something ready-made, and everything around me is filled with gluten. Experience has told me that having a stockpile of things ready to go in the freezer (sweet or not) helps eliminate these woe-is-me, pity-party-conjuring, situations. I also try to keep a well-stocked kitchen in general, with ingredients I need to create something delicious.

With no gluten-free bakery next door yesterday afternoon, I had to find comfort in promising myself I would go home at the end of the day, put on a holiday movie, and bake cookies. And, that's what I did.

Well, almost - Ben was working on a music project, so I didn't want to put on that holiday movie, I just listened to his music instead, which turned out very pretty :)

Until last night, I hadn't yet tried making regular chocolate chip cookies at all. The picture above shows the perfectly functioning dough I created (with our christmas tree in the background!). Unfortunately, once baked up, they revealed themselves to be overly delicate and a bit too grainy. They turned out sweet and delicious, and they will do for me right now, to satisfy that sweet tooth, but I am going to have to do some more experimenting before I post a recipe. Just a couple small tweaks, though, is all I think it will take!

In keeping with my desire to keep a well-stocked kitchen, I went overboard again last Saturday (is this really a surprise?) at the farmer's market and picked up a ton of squash, apples, onions, and pears. And then I couldn't resist a new crop of winter broccoli, from my favorite farm (Sungold Farm) - it looked so beautiful and green, with long stalks and slightly elongated florets. At the time, I wasn't sure what I would do with them, but I was sure I would find a way to cook them.

Wednesday night I put together the sweet potato gratin you see pictured below, with andouille sausage, broccoli, and mushrooms. Just the perfect thing for a non-dairy, comforting, creamy meal!

Gluten-free, dairy-free sweet potato broccoli gratin:

2 andouille sausages, cut into small pieces

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes

1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced

1 cup mushrooms, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 1/2 cups hazelnut milk (or your favorite milk)

2 1/2 tablespoons tapioca flour

Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise and slice into 1/4 inch pieces. In a large bowl, mix the broccoli, sausage, onion, and mushrooms. Layer the broccoli mixture with the sweet potato pieces in a large casserole dish.

Bake covered at 375F for about 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, make your sauce. In a large saucepan, combine tapioca flour and milk and stir until tapioca is dissolved. Heat over medium heat until mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in sage, rosemary, and sea salt.

When potatoes are tender, remove the casserole dish from the oven and drain excess liquid. Stir in the sauce. Return to oven, uncovered, and heat through.


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