A few weeks ago, my children went back to school after the winter holidays, and back to school means back to school sports. This term Mr J started min cricket, which is a bundle of laughs so far!
I love watching my children take part in school sports. I love watching Mr J learn and grow, interact with his team mates, and have fun. What I don’t like about afternoon sports, is the fact that it happens from 5-6pm, twice a week, which means that me and my two hungry little boys only get home around 6:30 on sports nights. Before going gluten-free, that meant picking up takeaways or throwing together a quick pot of pasta. Now that those are no longer options, I have had to work on new ideas to get dinner on the table quickly after practise. My go-to meal for these instances at the moment: baked potatoes!
Baked potatoes – golden, fluffy mounds of starchy goodness, perfectly customisable to suit any taste. I have tried numerous toppings with my boys, and so far our favourite is bacon with cheese sauce. I spent a long time after my gluten-free diagnosis lamenting the fact that I would never again be able to enjoy a creamy, decadent white (or béchamel) sauce, which is traditionally made by mixing a roux base (melted butter mixed with cake flour) with cream or milk and then heating it up until thick, creamy and luscious. After feeling very sorry for myself for quite a while, I decided to sit down and rethink the situation, which is when the solution dawned on me. Cornstarch (or maziena to us South Africans) turns out to be the perfect substitute! Now, my favourite go-to dinner for busy nights is back on the menu!
Baked potatoes with Gluten-Free Cheese Sauce
Potatoes or sweet potatoes – I use about 1 medium potato per person
Your choices of toppings – bacon, chicken, mince etc
2 tablespoons butter
2 – 2.5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
¾ cup grated cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Scrub potatoes and pierce well with a fork. Put into the microwave on high for 5-10 minutes, turn occasionally, until soft.
2. Cook toppings
For the sauce:
3. Melt butter over low heat in a sauce pan.
4. Add cornstarch little by little, mixing well, to form a stiff paste.
5. Mix in the milk, whisking well to ensure all the cornstarch is incorporated.
6. Keep over a low – medium heat and simmer gently, stirring often to avoid lumps from forming.
7. I’ve noticed that cornstarch white sauce takes longer to thicken up than regular white sauce, but once it starts thickening, it thickens quickly. Once it has reached your desired consistency, remove from heat and add seasoning and cheese.
8. Stir while to melt the cheese. You can add a little bit more milk if the sauce has thickened up too much.
9. My children prefer me to cut up their potatoes into chunks before serving, but use your own discretion for this.
10. Serve potatoes in a bowl topped with your toppings and cheese sauce.
11. Garnish with some extra cheese or fresh herbs.
I used some left over mince and veggies out of the freezer as our topping, which made dinner even quicker and easier!
From famished to fed in 20 minutes! Enjoy!