Brazilian Tapioca Crepes {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

My life has been blessed with many Brazilians. There’s my dear friend Lili, and then there’s the hordes of Brazilian students I have in my classes right now.

They are lovely people; friendly and upbeat, and their cuisine is pretty spectacular. If you’ve never had a Brigadeiro (a kind of chocolate truffle), well, you’re missing out.

I recently got turned on to a new-to-me ingredient that is popular in Brazil. This followed on the heels of me watching the episode of Chef’s Table that featured Brazilian Chef, Alex Atala. In his episode, he talks quite extensively about manioc.

manioca brazilian tapioca

Manioc is known by many names. It’s often called tapicoa, yucca or cassava. It’s a starchy root, similar to a potato. Up until now, my only experience with this particular ingredient was eating it sliced thinly and deep fried as yucca chips, which was delicious.

But it turns out you can make a flour out of manioc as well, and this flour happens to be gluten-free. Now, I’m always looking for new (read: better) gluten-free ingredients. Most of them out there are pretty disappointing. Manioc has some interesting potential.

Daiya, for example, a vegan cheese, is made from tapioca. What makes it interesting is that the tapioca has a kind of natural elasticity to it, that makes it stretchy, like cheese. I’m experimenting currently with vegan cheese recipes using tapioca flour.

In Brazil, this flour is often made into a kind of pancake or crepe. It’s often eaten for breakfast, or you can buy it as street food with various fillings.

Here in Vancouver, it’s challenging to find, but a new company, Manoica Vancouver, has started to manufacture it. This stuff is ready-to-use, as opposed to other kinds, that require soaking and straining.

The texture is denser than a French crepe, more robust, less delicate. It’s filling and hearty.

I made two versions; one with cheese (you can also use vegan cheese) and one with Nutella and blueberries. I wanted to try both savory and sweet options. The cheese one was my favorite, but they were both pretty good.

brazilian tapioca crepes

Brazilian Tapioca Crepes {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

Ingredients (for each crepe):

  • 1/2 cup manioca flour
  • generous pinch of salt
  • crepe fillings: butter, grated cheese, fruit

Method:

  1. Place a sieve over top of a bowl, and measure 1/2 cup of manoica flour into the sieve. Push it through the sieve with the back of a spoon. Add a generous pinch of salt and stir.
  2. While you’re doing that, heat up a flat (ideally, crepe) pan over medium heat. You don’t need any butter or oil for this.
  3. When the pan is pre-heated sprinkle the manoica flour all over the pan so it’s evenly distributed. Now, using the back of your spoon, push it down to flatten and even out the layer. As it cooks, it will bind together to make a crepe.
  4. After about 30 seconds, flip it and cook it briefly (20 seconds) on the other side.
  5. Remove to the side, and brush with butter and sprinkle with cheese. Roll up the crepe and put it back in the pan briefly, just to melt the cheese. Eat while hot.

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Boxed Vegan Mac and Cheese Taste-Test

Mac and cheese. The ultimate comfort food?? Discuss.

For me, it’s definitely one of my top go-tos for comfort food, maybe only eclipsed by the grilled-cheese-creamy-tomato-soup combo.

When I was kid, it was all blue-box, nuclear-orange cheese mac and cheese, but as I grew up and got older, I began making it from scratch. Scratch-made mac and cheese with a creamy bechamel, different kinds of cheeses, and crumbly topping… mmm… so very good.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with vegan options. I’ve done, in the past, a straight-up substitution mac and cheese, using a vegan cheese like Daiya in the place of the regular stuff, and a cashew-and-chickpea bechamel is my current fave.

But pre-prepared vegan mac and cheeses are now a thing, which is very convenient, especially when you’re in a hurry.

We still don’t have all the brands here in Canada yet, though. Earth Balance does one, and Annie’s, who currently makes my favourite non-vegan boxed mac and cheese, also makes one. These two I have not been able to get my hands on, but I’ll be picking some up on my next trip down south.

I found three convenience vegan mac and cheeses at my local Whole Foods: Road’s End Organics, Amy’s (in the freezer section) and Daiya.

Michael and I did a live taste-test on Facebook. You can watch that here.

Here are the results of our Vegan Mac and Cheese Taste-test:

3rd place: Road’s End Organics. Ugh. My face says it all. Do not buy this. It’s not good. First off, it’s made with whole wheat pasta, which, I suppose is good. More fibre, right? Then, it comes with a dry sauce packet. So, it’s the most like Kraft Dinner of the three; you boil the macaroni, then add water or non-dairy milk to the pan with the dry sauce packet, and then finally mix in the boiled macaroni. I found it got really thick and clumpy, and it didn’t taste very cheesy. Big disappointment.

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2nd place: Daiya. You boil the noodles, then add the sauce packet. This is a wet sauce packet, and it has that satisfying, nuclear-orange colour you’ve come to love. It also is nice and cheesy.

1st place: Amy’s. This one is microwaveable, or you can bake it in the oven. It’s also made with Daiya cheese, and bonus! It’s gluten free, as the noodles are made with rice. This had all the proper cheesiness we required.

Have you tried vegan mac and cheeses? I’d love to hear in the comments below which is your favourite brand and why.

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