Carb-loving coeliacs, rejoice! The Star’s resident expert on coeliac-friendly food, Gabriele Taddeucci, shares his tips on how to enjoy gluten-free Italian foods.
At The Star, we know how important it is to meet the diverse dietary requirements of today’s food lovers. That’s why this month on The Star Moments, we caught up with Gabriele Taddeucci, Executive Chef at The Star Sydney’s Sovereign Dining Room and our resident expert on the foods to avoid if you have coeliac disease. Having the condition himself, Gabriele has developed a menu of delicious Italian foods that are coeliac friendly.
Gabriele says his style of cooking drastically changed when he found out he had coeliac disease. “Going out and not being able to enjoy the best food is one of the hardest things about living with coeliac disease,” he tells us. It’s a key reason why Gabriele wanted to create food experiences for coeliacs that were just as wonderful as those non coeliacs enjoy.
“I started to do lots of study and product research in order for me to be able to replicate the best Italian preparations that are free from gluten,” he says. His intimate knowledge of GF flour, for example, reveals how passionate this chef is about coeliac-friendly foods.
GF flour is a generic name used to identify a product which is often made by combining different ingredients together. Not every GF flour is suitable to all preparations, so that’s why it’s always very important to read the label and have a deep understanding of all ingredients and how they react in different preparations.Chef Gabriele Taddeucci
“I never buy “premade” GF flour, as I always like to find the best GF grain to match my recipe. When I bake my bread or focaccia I usually mix cornflour and brown rice. For sweets and cakes I use white rice, almond meal and potato starch, while for pasta I mostly use buckwheat. This preparation also requires the use of binding agents, which are usually natural gums that help the ingredients bind together, replicating the same effect that the gluten normally does to a mix.”
We asked Gabriele to share the secrets of cooking and enjoying coeliac-friendly Italian foods.
What are some of your favourite gluten-free Italian foods to eat?
“Focaccia, pasta and pizza.”
What’s your favourite gluten-free Italian meal to make?
“It’s usually bread or focaccia. I am always fascinated by the recipes in which it’s extremely important to take care of every single step.”
Can you share any secret gluten-free Italian sweet treat ideas?
“Absolutely! I’d like to share a very simple recipe for a biscuit that is suitable for this time of the year. It’s called ‘canestrelli’ and it makes for the perfect accompaniment for an afternoon tea.”
- 300g gluten free flour
- 200g potato starch
- 300g soft butter
- 1 lemon zest
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- ½ vanilla bean
- 6 boiled eggs (use only the yolks)
- 150g icing sugar
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and put it into a kneading machine or a table bench. On a separate bowl mix the butter with the sugar, the vanilla and the lemon until smooth.
- Add this mixture into the other batch of ingredients and start combining the ingredients together. Add the grated yolks as last and work the dough until it won’t stick to your table bench anymore.
- Ideally the dough should rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough up until you reach 1.5cm thickness, cut the biscuits into the classic round shape and bake them for 10-15 min t 170 degreed. When they come out of the oven sprinkle them with icing sugar.
What are your top tips on enjoying a gluten-free diet when dining out?
“My number one rule is: we can live without gluten and still enjoy life! A GF diet is also considered healthier by many people. Gluten is a protein which is very hard to break down for a wide majority of people, and if we abuse the consumption of ingredients containing it, we tend to slow down our digestive system. This is one of the reasons why people feel lighter after having a GF meal. That’s why I encourage everyone from time to time to have a break from gluten to experience the benefits of it.”
What are some of the best gluten-free Italian dishes you cook at The Star?
“Gnocchi has become my signature GF dish. Our guests don’t even realise it’s gluten free. Alongside the gnocchi, I’ve got pasta and my classic tiramisu.”
Gabriele’s 3 top tips on cooking gluten-free Italian food at home
- Allow time to learn how the different flours can be used to make your favourite recipes.
- Remember to use smaller amount of binding agents when you mix your GF flours together (such as xanthan gum, guar gum and psyllium husks) – otherwise your products might become too chewy or gluey.
- Be patient. You might have to try a few attempts before you finally reach a result that you’re happy with.
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