Adoption: Ellen of Gluten-Free Diva with Roasted Potato Slices and Smoky Aioli Dip & Balsamic Fudge Drops

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Did you just moan a little bit when you read Roasted Potato Slices with Smoky Aioli Dip in the title, or when you saw the photo above? Oh, that was me? Sorry … where on Earth are my manners? I have a good excuse though. The name of this recipe sounds like pure comfort food and it is. Elegant comfort food at that, but still comfort food and I have a hard time suppressing my feelings when it comes to comfort food. And having made this dish now, I know exactly how comforting and wonderful it truly is. How about the other recipe mention in the title—Balsamic Fudge Drops? I bet your eyebrows shot up at the mention of those cookies. I’m going to make you wait on my report for them. These were the two recipes that I chose to make for my adoption of Ellen of Gluten-Free Diva for this month’s Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event.

Yes, Ellen Allard is the Gluten-Free Diva. You may remember that when she first started blogging she declared I Am Gluten Free in her blog name. Then a few months back, she transformed her blog and herself into the Gluten-Free Diva. That’s a natural progression if you ask me. When I used to read Ellen’s former blog title, I always thought of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” song—another bold affirmation of sorts. Borrowing Reddy’s lyrics, I love the associated “roar” that comes with such affirmations. Once one has declared themselves as woman or gluten free—and that person is extremely proud of it I might add—well, it just makes sense to move on to being a diva. After all, Gluten-Free Diva has a certain je ne sais quoi  don’t you think? Especially when it comes to Ellen, who is certainly more warm, fun, and giving, in her gluten-free ways than she is diva-ish. Just look at her blog photo … doesn’t she look like a lot of fun? Maybe gluten-free divas are made from a different mold. Well, hmmm, no, I don’t actually think that’s it. I think that it’s just Ellen herself who is special. She’s the full-of-life diva with none of the ‘tude (if you know what I mean). And Ellen’s motto and tag line on her blog is “it’s so easy to be gluten free.” Of course, you know I embrace that philosophy, too. Yet another reason to love Ellen, the Gluten-Free Diva.

Just so you know, I’m not going off of my impressions of Ellen from her blog alone. I first met Ellen in person last year at BlogHer Food. Since that time we’ve become great friends and have gotten to see each other a couple more times in person. In fact, I just got to catch up with her at the Gluten-Free and Allergen-Free Expo! She was working beside her friend, Anna (Breads from Anna), at the vendor fair each day. (Side note: Anna has great bread mixes for folks who need to eat free of more than just gluten.) Ellen’s a joyful person who is very active in the gluten-free community. She not only blogs gluten free to share and help others, but also teaches gluten-free cooking classes. And you might not know this, but Ellen is also an acclaimed children’s musician. My buddy, Tia (Glugle Gluten Free), says that her son chooses Ellen’s musical CDs over all the others he has—that’s way cool!

Back to Ellen’s recipes … Ellen shared her Roasted Potato Slices with Smoky Aioli Dip when several of us participated in the Gluten-Free Progressive Oscars Dinner Party last year. I salivated over them then. Hey, it was roasted potatoes! Like I said earlier … that’s some serious comfort food. Plus the aioli dip involved some of my very favorite seasonings—garlic, cumin, onion, and paprika. But time slipped away as it often does and I forgot about Ellen’s ever so appealing potatoes and aioli dip. However, I knew if I adopted Ellen, I’d have a great reason to make her potato dish. That is one of the many benefits of adopting someone through Sea’s Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event. You can finally make some of those recipes that quickly slipped off your radar screen after you initially thought they looked so good and you must make them immediately. Life just seems to happen that way. Another benefit of the Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event is exploring different baking and cooking methods. For example, I’m often drawn to vegan or at least eggless baking recipes because that’s not normally how I bake. I’m fascinated by the chemistry that takes place, allowing one to bake successfully without eggs.

Ellen’s Elegant Roasted Potatoes and Smoky Aioli Dip (Shown with Flowers from Son)

Let’s start with my experience with Ellen’s Roasted Potatoes and Smokey Aioli Dip. I made the Roasted Potato Slices as she directed. Well, except for the second part where I turned the oven up to 500 degrees for a few minutes and then turned it off while I took an hour-long walk with my friend. A multi-tasking girl must take such shortcuts, you know? I followed the intent of Ellen’s directions and by the way, this method worked great; the potatoes were cooked perfectly when I returned. However, I left them in the oven a bit longer to keep them warm while I made the Smoky Aioli Dip. I did modify Ellen’s Aioli dip slightly, but again just enough to use ingredients I had on hand. So instead of yogurt, I used slightly less sour cream. (Next time I plan to make Ellen’s dip dairy free by using coconut cream and adding a bit of fresh lemon juice to equate the taste of yogurt.) I also used smoked paprika, which Ellen suggested as an alternative to sweet paprika.

The potato slices were that fabulous combination of crunch on the outside and that ideal mouth “give” once you bit into them. By themselves—coated and cooked in olive oil and seasonings—the potato slices were delicious, of course. But dipping them into the Smoky Aioli Dip took them to an entirely different level. That OMG, these are so good, they could be an appetizer on a very upscale restaurant menu level and yes, they’d make me so happy that I’d buy that high-priced bottle of wine that the cute waiter offered me to go with them. Anyone else ever had the food-induced, spend more money on spirits phase? Okay, I digress, but I did grab a nice Australian chardonnay off our wine “rack” to go with them and life seemed supremely good while we enjoyed them. The truth is that I wanted to bathe in Ellen’s Smoky Aioli Dip. And that’s saying a lot considering it wasn’t chocolate. It is a very simple, but fantastic aioli dip. While this recipe is fancy enough to be an appetizer for a dinner party, it would also make a great side dish for any meal and might even lift your basic cookout to new heights. And if there are any leftovers, you can eat them for breakfast the next day like I did. I did not enjoy a Mimosa with them at the time (work frowns on that type of thing), but they would have certainly been worthy of such accompaniment!

On to dessert … which was chocolate! Ellen has many eggless and vegan recipes, even ones you might not expect to so easily be made that way. In the Balsamic Fudge Drops recipe, she uses yogurt and balsamic vinegar to offer the action and texture that the eggs would normally provide. I had no idea how balsamic vinegar would taste in a cookie recipe, but I’ve used apple cider vinegar in baking recipes and it’s always worked just fine. And balsamic is milder than apple cider vinegar, plus I trusted Ellen to not steer me wrong. My good friend, Ali (Nourishing Meals/The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen), also often uses vinegar in eggless baking.

I made Ellen’s Balsamic Fudge Drop cookies twice. The first time I used coconut cream versus yogurt and it wasn’t “coconut creamy” enough if you know what I mean. (Do not buy Goya coconut milk if you want dense coconut cream! Unfortunately, that’s all my local store carries.) The resulting cookies were a cross between cookie brittle and lace cookies. They were totally delicious and even a mistake worth repeating, but they were not the cookies Ellen intended. (That is no reflection on Ellen or her recipe at all. That is just what often happens when one doesn’t follow a recipe.) The next time I used a better alternative to yogurt, the sour cream which I had left from the potatoes. This time the cookies came out just as Ellen described and showed. There is no sour taste at all from either the balsamic vinegar or sour cream. These cookies are just rich and chocolatey. You should note that these cookies are a softer cookie. As Ellen warns, the cookies do look “terrifyingly soft” when you take them out of the oven, but they continue cooking to provide lovely cookies in the end. (Note: I left mine on the parchment paper on the cookie sheet to finish cooking.)

Ellen’s Balsamic Fudge Drops (shown with impatiens from my mother for me on Mother’s Day)

Ellen has so many recipes that folks rave over that I still want to make: Multi-Grain Bagels (gluten free, dairy free, and egg free), gRAWnola, Oatmeal Almond Waffles, Peanut Butter Lace Cookies (gluten free, vegan), and her Birthday Cake Pops. Okay, I might hold out for her to make those cake pops for me! (I’ll email you my birthday info, Ellen!) Oh, wait, I almost forgot to mention Ellen’s Almost Raw Chocolate Balls of Deliciousness. Those are so easy to make; you can make them in two minutes in your food processor. But, warning, you cannot make them in your mini-chopper. Don’t ask me how I know this info. I’ll just say that chopped dates are magical for binding and making naturally sweetened treats, but they do stick to the blades of one’s mini chopper and make everything go off balance. Sort of like the mini-chopper version of a washing machine getting out of balance. Sigh. (It seemed so doable; I’ve even made cashew butter in my mini chopper before. Sadly, it’s not the omnipotent, shortcut kitchen appliance I thought it was.) Anyway, be sure to check our Ellen’s Recipes page! While I have little patience for typical divas, Ellen is a Gluten-Free Diva that you must check out!

Incidentally, Lauren-Lucille, The Celiac Diva, is another delightful gluten-free diva. I had the extreme pleasure of meeting her at the Gluten-Free and Allergen-Free Expo this past weekend. And by “extreme pleasure,” I mean screams and hugs from both of us upon greeting each other! Maybe the truth is that she who calls herself a diva can’t really be one … at least not in the usual meaning of the word—thank goodness! Be sure to check out all the other adoptions in this month’s event when Sea (Book of Yum) gets the roundup posted. I must admit that I am tickled pink at Maggie’s (She Let Them Eat Cake) adoption of me … you can check that out here. Maggie always puts her adoption posts in her Fabulous Finds category … talk about making a girl feel special! I got to meet Maggie for the first time at the Expo, too. I think our joy on finally meeting and spending time together shows in the photo she has up of us eating her awesome vegan version of my Chewy Granola Bars! After you read Maggie’s post, you’ll want to check out my adoption post of her from from last month. There are milkshakes and cookies involved … just sayin’.

Not just gf, but gfe!

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35 Responses to “Adoption: Ellen of Gluten-Free Diva with Roasted Potato Slices and Smoky Aioli Dip & Balsamic Fudge Drops”

  1. AndreAnna on May 10th, 2011 9:58 pm

    Okay, now I’m going to blame you for making me click through all of Ellen’s recipes because OMG I just can’t stop!!!

    Everything looks so amazing – great choice!

    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 9:53 pm

      Hey AndreAnna–Isn’t that true about Recipe pages? Especially Ellen’s! That IS one hard part about doing an adoption. ;-)


  2. Ellen @Gluten Free Diva on May 10th, 2011 10:19 pm

    Shirley – you are so sweet. How did you know that I needed a boost tonight??!!! This was just what the doctor ordered. Thank you my good friend:).

    xoxo, Ellen

    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 9:59 pm

      Hi Ellen–So happy to give you a little boost with my adoption post. Your recipes were a real treat for me, dear. If I’d just had more time, I could have kept cooking and baking. Maybe proper adoptions should be making one recipe a day from the adoptee!Oh, to have that luxury and joy. :-)


  3. Christy on May 11th, 2011 8:52 am

    Good one, hehehe, and what a whole lot of recipes to share at one go! ;)

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2011 5:15 pm

      Hi Christy–Your comment was lost in Spam for a while. Welcome to gfe! :-) From your chuckling, I take it you’ve known some other kinds of divas. ;-) Ellen is the best kind, and yes, she has a whole lot of great recipes to share. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!


  4. Kay Guest on May 11th, 2011 10:39 am

    How did you know that “Roasted Potato Slices” made me moan? Do you have a secret camera on me?
    Thanks for all these links to these great gluten free gals just like yourself!
    :-) Cheers! Kay

    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 10:01 pm

      Hi Kay–Haha … a fellow potato lover, I see! ;-) Happy to share great gluten-free gals with all! And thank you, Captain of the gfe cheerleading squad. :-)


  5. Ina Gawne on May 11th, 2011 11:58 am

    These recipes look fabulous! And so does Ellen’s blog! The expo sounds like such a supportive great way to meet people too!

    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 10:04 pm

      Hi Ina–I know Ellen will appreciate your compliments very much! :-) The Expo was great for meeting folks I’d followed a long time online and to reconnect with other favorites. It seems that each event has a different set of attendees, according to location, schedules, etc. So each one is a new treat in that regard! ;-)


  6. Tina @madame gluten-free vegetarian on May 11th, 2011 1:17 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    I feel the same way you do about chocolate! Ellen’s potatoes look fabulous. The flowers from your son look amazing, too. :) Tina.

    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 10:11 pm

      Hi Tina–I think there’s a HUGE number of us in that chocolate group! Yes, those potatoes were divine. A basic staple in the pantry made into elegant deliciousness.. ;-)

      Thanks so much re: the flowers! They are truly a lovely bouquet. The funny thing is that Son said he looked and looked until he could find a bunch that included a sunflower, but the yellow flower in the bouquet is actually a Gerbera daisy (I think!) vs a sunflower. I didn’t tell him … it’s still quite lovely. :-)


  7. Carol, Simply...Gluten-free on May 11th, 2011 3:08 pm

    Oh man you had me at the recipes titles and then the fact that you picked such a great gal to adopt? Well, I am with the others, moaning away! LOL at your comment about not having much patience for typical divas :)

    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 10:13 pm

      Hi Carol–LOL … we better not get all of us potato lovers together, huh? ;-) It’s so much fun to be friends with and adopt a non-diva diva … even if that sounds a bit odd!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Carol!

  8. Mary on May 11th, 2011 8:16 pm

    Dear Shirley,

    Could you please post your coconut cream recipe??


    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 10:15 pm

      Hi Mary–When I say coconut cream, I’m just talking about the solids that are in most cans of coconut milk (full-fat coconut milk, that is). Place your can in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. When you open it, you’ll see a big white firmer glob … that’s the coconut cream!


  9. Karen on May 11th, 2011 9:38 pm

    A link to the actual recipes would be nice. Are they there and I just didn’t see them? I am tired… Those potatos would be the dealth of me. Trying to go low carb but man those look good!

    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 9:50 pm

      Hi Karen–LOL … no, you’re not tired … they weren’t there! I included all those links at the end, but not the links to the recipes that I made and talked so much about. Thanks for being my quality assurance! Some days I really need a second set of eyes. ;-)

      The potatoes were wonderful even without the dip. I have to admit I’ve only made French fries or wedges in the oven. In the future, I’ll be making slices instead. So much crispiness to be had and they cook faster. :-)


    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 9:52 pm

      Karen–One additional note … it looks like you are new here–welcome! :-)


  10. Gluten Free Steve on May 11th, 2011 9:38 pm

    Those look quite tasty. I’m a sucker for anything potato wise.

    • Shirley on May 11th, 2011 10:16 pm

      Hey Steve–I wonder how many there are of us who just love potatoes. I think you’d really enjoy this recipe!


  11. cheryl on May 11th, 2011 11:06 pm

    I was planning to go to bed like a mature woman…and then saw balsamic fudge drops and drooled like a 5 yo. Great adoption!

    • Shirley on May 12th, 2011 8:02 pm

      Oh, Cheryl, you crack me up! Hope you were able to sleep after seeing them. ;-) Thanks so much, dear! :-)


  12. Alisa Fleming on May 12th, 2011 2:30 am

    Oh my amazingness. Ellen is so incredibly creative with recipes! I’m going to check out that cookie recipe now.

    I think it was you who recommended the Thai Kitchen coconut milk. It looked awesome at the GFAF show (they had two cans for me), so I was excited when the local co-op had it on discount and there were Thai Kitchen coupons online! I stocked up on several cans of the organic Thai Kitchen coconut milk for just $1 each! Thanks for the recommendation Shirley.

    • Shirley on May 12th, 2011 9:44 pm

      Hey Alisa–I agree re: Ellen’s amazingness! I think you can make her recipe using non-dairy better. :-)

      Oh, I miss my Thai Kitchen coconut milk. Great score on a discount AND online coupons! I need to find the organic version somewhere locally.


  13. Kim (Cook IT Allergy Free) on May 12th, 2011 10:18 am

    I just loved this – such a perfect adoption! And those potatoes?? They sound unbelievable! I am so going to make them since my kiddos will absolutely ANYTHING with potatoes. And I have actually made her smoky aioli before – when Heidi and Mike came to visit with the boys! I did not actually make the potato slices, but instead got some fresh ones from the farmer’s market (not enough time). That sauce so amazing! I could eat it on anything! And those cookies look so naughty. I love the Thai Kitchen brand when I need coconut cream. It is the perfect amount of “creamy”.
    Shirley, thank you for sharing Ellen with everyone here. All of us who have met her now know how amazing she really is!!

  14. Linda on May 12th, 2011 11:03 am

    You always do amazing adoption posts, Shirley. Both recipes look delicious. I’ve never had aioli before, but I’m sure I would like it.

    • Shirley on May 12th, 2011 9:54 pm

      Thanks so much, Linda! Adoption posts are always fun to do. The aioli dip is a great contrast to the seasoned potato slices. And how can you beat yet another recipe for chocolate cookies? ;-)


  15. Maggie on May 12th, 2011 1:43 pm

    Shirley you do such a thorough job with your adoption posts! I am so excited to check out the recipe for the potatoes (loooove potatoes). And I will of course check out the dip, I love that you use coconut cream to replace yogurt. I’ve never thought of that. Thanks for more Maggie love :) xoxo

    • Shirley on May 12th, 2011 9:57 pm

      Hey Maggie–Thank you, dear! My cooking/baking life has never been the same since I started using coconut milk with all its possibilities.

      I’ve got lots more Maggie love! ;-) xo,

  16. Heather @ Life, Gluten Free on May 13th, 2011 2:37 pm

    Those potatoes look good. For the past couple of days, it’s been rainy and dreary. I’ve made “grandpa potatoes” which is what we call them because my grandpa made the best pan-friend potatoes and only he knew the real secret. Everyone in my family has tried to duplicate them but no one can make them just like he did. I think only he can :) Anyways, I do my best and they sure are good!

    • Shirley on May 13th, 2011 6:50 pm

      Hi Heather–Oh, I like the sound of your grandpa potatoes! You must have such sweet thoughts of your grandpa every time you you make those potatoes. :-) It’s funny how many recipes can’t be exactly duplicated by others. It sure makes them very special and allows the rest of us to have fun trying to get them just right. ;-)


  17. Tom @ Tall Clover Farm on May 14th, 2011 10:18 am

    Wow, there’s a whole lot of gluten-free love here to choose from. In searching for a potluck dish to bring, who knew the options were so numberous. Thanks for showcasing some great gluten-free options for the uninitiated.

    • Shirley on May 15th, 2011 9:01 pm

      Hey Tom–Never a shortage of gluten-free recipes to share at a potluck! Either my gfe recipes or those of friends. I bet once you start checking out the recipe, you’ll see that you already make tons of naturally gluten-free recipes anyway. :-) You just have to be sure you don’t have any pesky cross contamination going on, like accidentally using the same utensils to cut/serve your gluten-free dish as you did for your gluten dish. Those kind of mistakes are easily made by the “unitiated.” Thank you for taking care of your gluten-free friends, Tom!


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