Standing in line at the grocery store right before Thanksgiving, what do you see on the covers of all the food magazines? Turkey. What's gluten-free? Turkey!
Thanksgiving can be pretty easy on a gluten-free diet, since most of the classic dishes are naturally g-free or can be made so with a small adjustment or two. Green beans? Check. Cranberry sauce? Check. Mashed potatoes? Check. Sweet potatoes with pecans and maple syrup? Yum, check. Gravy? Substitute a gluten-free blend for the regular flour. Pie? Try my Almond Crust.
Even the stuffing/dressing is possible. Instead of regular bread or croutons, just get a loaf of good gluten-free white bread (for this, I like Whole Foods' Gluten Free Bakehouse Light White Sandwich Bread from their freezer case. It's dairy-free. Their Gluten-Free White Sandwich Bread has milk.) Cut the bread slices into small cubes, spread them out on a cookie sheet, give them an hour in the oven at 275 degrees until they're hard and dry. Then do your usual recipe. Mine is celery, onion, sage, thyme, and rosemary, lots of salt and pepper, broth, olive oil or butter. Use that as your base, then add dried fruit, sausage, etc. etc. at will. Bake it in a greased dish for an hour or so until it's crispy and brown on top. Or stuff some crimini mushroom caps, drizzle with olive oil, and bake those for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. A really great side.
So, all that to get to the part of a wheaty Thanksgiving that I do miss: ROLLS! I love soft, fluffy white rolls with my turkey dinner. I love them the next day with leftovers. I can't eat them anymore, and frankly, I hadn't found a gluten-free version that I loved. And then I remembered Brazil's cheesy, moist, delicious pão de queijo cheese rolls. They're made with tapioca starch, which lends them a sticky, toothsome texture. They're savory and salty and decadent, worthy of a holiday table.
I make mine in mini muffin tins with a loose batter, which lends a super moist and pretty result. (Traditionally, the batter is drier and formed into balls.) The texture and shape is very similar to popovers, and who doesn't love a cheese popover? Plan on at least 3 per person, more for kids and bread fiends like me. They will disappear. (And, yes, you can make them dairy-free with Daiya!)
For about 20 mini muffins, you will need:
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1/2 cup milk, either dairy or a non-dairy alternative. For non-dairy cooking, I almost exclusively use So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage for its neutral flavor, good texture, and lack of sweetness.
1 cup lightly packed, finely grated, flavorful, good quality hard cheese. I use Percorino Romano. Parmesan or the like is also great. You'll want cheese that is grated in a food processor rather than on a box grater, because it will integrate better into the batter. OR, if you're doing dairy-free, you can use Daiya Shreds. I suggest putting the batter in a blender to integrate the Daiya.
Black pepper, to taste, optional
1 1/2 cups tapioca starch/flour
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a non-stick mini muffin pan with a touch of olive oil.
In a large bowl, whisk together everything but the tapioca starch. (If you're using dairy-free cheese, now's the time to blend the batter.) Now whisk in the tapioca until it's completely integrated into the liquid with no lumps. Pour the batter into the mini muffin pan. One full tablespoon should fill each cup almost to the top. You should get 20-21 muffins.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. They should be pale blond on top, light golden brown on the bottom.
Flip them out of the pans right away to cool - they should fall right out. They are infinitely better if served IMMEDIATELY!
(However, you can make them a day ahead, store them in an airtight container, and reheat them on a sheet pan at 350 degrees for a few minutes right before serving. Please, don't serve them cold, and don't microwave them! They just won't be as delectable.)