Gluten-Free Tapas with Chef Michelle Tampakis

It’s not every day that a student inspires a chef-instructor to write a class. That was exactly the case when ICE Pastry Arts Instructor Michelle Tampakis and resident gluten-free expert had a student suggest writing a gluten-free tapas class. Not a bad suggestion, she thought, once she considered how even a tapas menu can leave those with a gluten-free diet feeling, well, left out.

Living and working in the food industry with a gluten allergy for four years now isn’t all that bad when you live in New York City.  With access to some of the first gluten-free restaurants in the country and amazing specialty food stores and bakeries, I can’t complain. Working in ICE’s Recreational Cooking Department, I was thrilled this past August when we published the Fall 2012 Main Course, ICE’s newsletter and schedule of courses, as it now denotes which classes in our curriculum are “Gluten-Free Friendly.”

Of those classes, I thought Gluten-Free Tapas with Chef Michelle might be a fun one. I brought my mother-in-law along for the class, as she just recently returned from San Sebastian, a coastal city in the Basque region of Spain. Class began with a brief history on tapas, which comes from the Spanish verb tapar, which means “to cover." Pieces of ham or cheese were originally used to cover and keep the flies out of clay cups of wine.

Tapas can vary from region to region and are more a style of eating rather than specific recipes. Generally, it is a small bite, hot or cold, to enjoy with wine. Then Chef Michelle began talking about bread. Bread is almost always present with traditional tapas, whether it is toasted or left plain. Fortunate for us, she had everyone in class kick-off the evening by baking buckwheat baguettes, using a combination of buckwheat, white rice, brown rice, and tapioca flours. We toasted these baguettes and used them in Pan con Tomate y Jamon (olive-oil brushed toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic and tomato and topped with Serrano ham), perhaps Spain’s most iconic small-plate, Chickpea and Pimento Salad on toast, and a creamy Crab Salad Tapa topped with a slice of hardboiled egg.

We moved on to croquetas (a breaded deep-fried filled treat), a treat that those with a gluten-allergy usually do not get to enjoy. Chef Michelle demonstrated how to make Artichoke Fritters with a rice and yeast batter that fried wonderfully and turned a gorgeous golden brown.  For Shrimp Croquetas, we made a béchamel sauce with rice flour and potato starch, which we combined with cooked shrimp, rolled in gluten-free breadcrumbs and baked in a hot oven until crispy. And what would tapas be without wine? At the end of class, we sat down to several platters of gorgeous, gluten-free tapas and passed bottles of red and white wine. Looking to serve gluten-free tapas at home? Bake some of Chef Michelle’s delicious buckwheat baguettes.

Chef Michelle Tampakis’s Buckwheat Baguettes

Yield: 3 baguettes


  • 4 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 1⅔ cups warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1⅓ cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon white rice flour
  • ⅔ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1¼ teaspoon salt


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yeast and warm water and set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer bowl, combine buckwheat flour, white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, salt and xanthan gum. Using the paddle attachment let the mixer run on the lowest speed to combine dry ingredients.
  3. Whisk eggs, oil and vinegar into water. Add to mixer with machine running. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl. Allow mixer to run on low speed 4 to 5 minutes, to thoroughly incorporate the ingredients.
  4. Meanwhile, spray a large piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray, or brush it with oil. Line three baguette pans, allowing the foil to extend above the edges by several inches on each side.
  5. Divide the bread batter into three long shapes in the oiled foil. Smooth the top surface of the loaves with an oiled spatula.
  6. Put loaves in a warm spot to proof, loosely covered with plastic wrap. Allow loaves to proof 30 to 50 minutes. Preheat oven to 425° F -Bake 20 to 35 minutes, until loaves are golden brown.
  7. Cool before slicing.

To find more gluten-free friendly classes with Chef Michelle, please visit this link.

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