I am not quite sure how to review a cookbook. I have so many, but have never yet attempted every single recipe, or probably even half, from any of them! What sample size gives a good idea of the quality, or compatibility with my tastes and my family’s? Hm. Well, a while back my kids complained that I was “going about it all the wrong way” attempting to adapt my habitual handful of recipes to be gluten-free (I admit the results were not always good). So I borrowed home a pile of cookbooks of specifically gluten-free recipes. Much better results. Held on to them as long as I could, but now they have to go back to the library. I copied out a few dozen more recipes I really want to try, that I haven’t got around to yet. Then I had to plan for my younger daughter’s birthday in May. She wanted a gluten-free cake. Late April I started baking half a cake a week, to test some recipes. We tried four. The last was the winner.
Gluten-Free Family Favorites
by Kelli and Peter Bronski
This is a really family-orientated cookbook. It’s about making the kids happy, food that pleases everyone at the table and isn’t difficult to prepare. The introduction is quite comprehensive, discussing why gluten-free cooking was important for this author’s family, especially her children. How to get kids involved with the cooking. Tips on shopping wisely, parsing ingredient lists on labels for hidden gluten, avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen and so on. Lots of familiar recipes easily made gluten-free like pancakes, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, sandwich bread, snickerdoodle cookies. I really want to try the pupusas, “fig einsteins”, lemon bars and spanakoptia hand pies. The chocolate birthday cake I made from this book was fantastic- moist and light. My daughter’s eyes actually bugged out when she took the first bite (previous cakes I tried had come out too dry, or were dense). She even insisted I make it twice, as we had two celebrations. The flour blend that’s a staple for recipes in this book uses brown rice flour, sorghum flour, cornstarch, potato starch, potato flour and xantham gum.
232 pages, 2013 Rating: 4/5
Gluten-Free Girl American Classics Reinvented
by Shauna James Ahern
Instead of telling a personal story about how hard it is to avoid gluten or going into details on medical issues, this book just dives right into enjoying good food. The author wrote it with her chef husband, together they experimented with cooking to make new recipes. They had a food blog where they asked people what kind of things they missed eating since going gluten-free and they traveled all over America to experience regional dishes which they then converted into gluten-free versions. It’s an amazing undertaking.
This book seems to have everything, from basic bread to homemade pretzels and pizza, corndogs, scalloped potatoes and lasagna, fried pickles (!! my kids say these are good but I’ve never tried them), pound cake, Navajo fry bread and whoopie pies, to name just a few. The recipes use one or the other of two custom-made flour blends the author came up with after lots of trials. I made a batch of her all-purpose blend (millet flour, sweet rice flour and potato starch) and have used it for other recipes, too. I tried the yellow cake recipe- it was not great honestly, came out too dry. But I think that might be because I didn’t weigh the flours but guesstimated with measuring cups as my digital scale was dead, and I substituted plain yogurt instead of the sour cream it’s supposed to have. My scale is now fixed (it just needed a new battery). I’ve also made the cornbread and the Indian corn pudding (like a hasty pudding but made with cornmeal instead of wheat flour) – both pretty good. Yes, the recipes in this book call for measuring stuff in grams, and a lot of them take quite a bit of time- for some the dough or batter has to sit overnight. There’s so many more I want to attempt making. It’s lovely that every recipe has a bit of a story attached to it, telling where it came from, who inspired her to put it in the book, how it was requested, or the particulars of making it work gluten-free.
320 pages, 2015 Rating: 4/5
I had a few other gluten-free cookbooks checked out, with more recipes from them copied down to try later, but from one I only made one item so far, and the other none yet at all yet. So I don’t feel like I can say anything about them until I’ve done more work in the kitchen.