Archive for the ‘cookbooks’ Category

Book Review – The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread

October 6, 2010


The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread: More Than 200 Wheat-Free Recipes was a book that sounded promising, so I took it out of the library. There are definitely some good recipes in here, but the big disappointment was a lot of the recipes use odd ingredients and don’t seem to offer an alternative: most recipes use egg replacer (which contains potato starch if you are avoiding potatoes), many recipes use powdered milk, and some recipes call for nut meal (which is bad if one is allergic to nuts). There was no reasoning for why these ingredients were used, leaving it as a sort of magic instead of science. I tried a few recipes that call for egg replacer by substituting an egg and then using less water, and it seemed to work, but required a little bit of math to do.

I did make the cinnamon raisin English muffins, and they were a hit. The non gluten-free members of the household enjoyed them, and toasted with a little goat cheese I felt almost like I was eating a cinnamon raisin bagel. There is a foccacia recipe I would like to try, a few bagel recipes, a pita recipe, and some crumpet recipes, as well as a recipe for graham crackers.

The big hits from this were the hot cross buns, French bread (it came out a little flat when I did the subs, but it was very tasty and was great with French onion soup), and pizza crust. The pizza crust (modified recipe) has to be the best gluten free pizza crust I have tried, in that it is the closest to “real” pizza crust. The various other substitute crusts that I have tried are good, but they don’t taste like regular crust.

One thing that she does (which is annoying to just try one recipe but handy if you do a lot of baking) is offer a set of different types of mixes that you prepare, and then different breads are made from different types of mixes. This means some of the annoying measuring ingredients can be done ahead of time. None of the regular loaf breads seemed to appeal to me enough to try, but I probably will try them one of these days.

At the end of the day, if you are an experienced baker and don’t mind experimenting with substitution (or don’t have any issues besides gluten), I recommend this book, if only for the pizza recipe.

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Book Review: Sugar-Free Gluten-Free Baking and Desserts

December 19, 2009

Normally I don’t get a cookbook sight unseen, but this one wasn’t available (even to order) at my local library and I thought it would be a really handy addition.

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Book Review: French Farmhouse Cookbook

November 21, 2009

I had just been reading somewhere about French Farmhouse Cookbook, and then I stumbled upon it at my library book sale today, so I had to pick it up. I have another cookbook by the same author (), and I really like it, so I figured this would be another good addition to my cookbook library.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected. I was hoping for some recipes for French peasant food, lots of soups and inexpensive ingredients. There are a few soup recipes, and a few intrigue me, like Winter Potage and Green Cabbage Soup. Many of the recipes (like traditional French cooking) call for wine, and lots of (sometimes expensive) ingredients. However, it seems to be a good cookbook in its own right (since the recipes in her other book are all very good, I expect that these will be the same).

Now that I am wheat-free, dairy-free and avoiding refined sugar, there are many lovely sounding dessert recipes that I won’t ever even attempt. I might try converting one or two desserts from this book at some point.

One of the real strengths for this cookbook is the fact that it gives you many different ways to prepare various kinds of meat. Looking for a spin on roasted chicken and not feeling creative? How about Chicken in a Bread Crust (converting the recipe to use a diet-appropriate bread), Chicken with Walnuts, or Chicken with Lemon Thyme (that makes me want to plant some in my garden next year). There is a really good sounding recipe for using stewing hens (although it does have quite a few ingredients). Do you need a way to prepare guinea hen or rabbit? This will help out. There are seven duck recipes, and several beef, lamb, veal, and pork recipes. I look forward to trying some of these out on a weekend when things aren’t hectic.

Now, does anyone have a suggestion for a cookbook for cheap peasant cooking ideas, since this one doesn’t fit the bill for that?

Book Review: Fast Food My Way

November 9, 2009

I recently heard Jacques Pépin on the radio, talking about his new cookbook, More Fast Food My Way. I thought, this sounds like a great idea: a French chef who wrote two books on cooking quickly. As a working mom with special dietary needs, I love the idea of fast meals that don’t involved processed foods. (Note: some of these books do include processed foods for the sake of speed, especially the new one, but it’s mostly for desserts).

These cookbooks are more “mainstream” than the ones I have been focusing on; I have been reading a lot of cookbooks based on special diets or “traditional foods” (ala Weston Price) or allergy/gluten-free cooking. Many of the recipes have wheat and/or dairy, so they are just out, but Fast Food My Way has a lot of recipes without all of those things, or that can have substitutions. Some recipes are still a little complex (too many ingredients to want to deal with after working all day), but many of them just sound great, such as:

Chicken Tonnato (chicken breasts with anchovy and tuna)

Chicken on mashed cauliflower with red hot salsa (great for those of us who can’t have potatoes!)

Codfish in walnut-cilantro sauce

Glazed salmon in mirin

Bean puree with anchovies

Pumpkin soup with toasted walnuts (this one was excellent, although I changed it up a bit; even my husband liked it)

I think this would be a great addition to the home cookbook library, and would make an excellent holiday gift! I prefer this one to the newer one, although the newer one has some gems as well; but if you just want to get one book, this is the one to pick.

Book Review – The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook

June 3, 2009

We have been trying to eat more veggie meals, for health, budgetary, and planetary reasons. I often need inspiration for good ideas. Also, with the increased protein requirements from breastfeeding, I want to make sure I plan meals with enough protein. I was thrilled to hear about The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook: Whole Foods To Nourish Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women – And Their Families.

This book has a lot of useful information. There is a lot of information on nutritional requirements for pregnant and lactating women, with suggested recipes that are especially good for the different stages. There is also a sample menu for 3 days of meals. All of the recipes have nutritional information, for aiding in planning. The only thing that I wish it had was suggestions to serve one dish with another, like my two other favorite veggie cookbooks have.

All of the dessert recipes use non-refined sweeteners, and give you suggestions to pick one of several (stevia, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, honey, or maple syrup), so if you are avoiding a specific sweetener you still have options. With the dairy recipes, she gives you alternatives if you are not doing dairy. While some of the recipes call for whole wheat, there are many recipes (including crackers and cookies) that are gluten free and or use alternative grains, including millet and quinoa.

Another great thing about this book is all of the breakfast and lunch ideas. I get stuck in a rut with eating my homemade granola every day, and if I don’t have leftovers for lunch, I don’t end up coming up with anything too exciting. There are both hot and cold breakfast ideas (I want to try the millet granola or making my own cold buckwheat cereal). I tried the Cranberry-Pear Crunch Cereal this morning because I had leftover brown rice from last night and one overripe pear that needed to be used up, and it was a nice change. Now I have to get the rest of my family to kick the prepared cereal habit and try some of these.

A lot of the meals are quick to make or can be made ahead, and meals that can be frozen have freezing instructions. This is another great thing for pregnant or postpartum moms. There are several casserole recipes. I plan to integrate a few of the main dish recipes into my menu over the next few weeks, and I look forward to having feedback on more of the recipes. Now I just have to figure out which cookbook to kick off the shelf so I can make room for this one when I buy it. And get a food processor so that I can try the Better Than Ice Cream.

Book Review – Allergy Cooking With Ease

December 20, 2008

I came across this author’s books when looking for yeast-free spelt bread recipes, so I borrowed Allergy Cooking with Ease: The No Wheat, Milk, Eggs, Corn, and Soy Cookbook from the library to check out. She has 2 others I want to look at, one I have on order from the library, the other one is a breadmaking book.

So far, I think this book is great. Pretty much anything in this book I can eat, I think. So far, I have tried to make Harvard beets (excellent) and yeast-free, quinoa bread, and we decided that quinoa is a disgusting flour to use as a main flour. Oh well. I want to try the yeast-free spelt bread (there are 2 recipes). She also has a yeast-free pizza crust that I will try on one of these pizza Fridays, and recipes for making homemade manicotti with spelt and goat cheese. I haven’t made manicotti in years, so I want to try it.

Some of the recipes are pretty basic, because she caters to the fact that people may have really restricted diets. There aren’t a ton of main-dish recipes that I want to try, but there are some great baked goods, salads, condiments, etc. I love this book just for the fact that there is a sugar-free, vinegar-free ketchup recipe! I miss ketchup. You can’t find sugar-free commercial ketchup, at least not near me, not even in the health food store.

Another great thing about the book is with a lot of baked goods, she offers several versions, the spelt version, the quinoa version, the kamut version, the amaranth version, etc. I wasn’t able to find a cookie recipe to satisfy a crowd of friends with various food sensitivities and allergies (gluten-free, nut-free) — well, there were quinoa carob brownies, but I opted to make other treats for the party.

This is definitely one for the library if you have severe diet limitations. Like the author says in the foreword, it gives you a way to still enjoy the things you like to have, even if you have limitations.

Book Review – Sweet and Natural

December 16, 2008

This time of year is birthday season in my family, so I want to be able to make desserts that I can actually eat too. I saw Sweet and Natural: More Than 120 Sugar-Free and Dairy-Free Desserts and decided to take it out of the library to check out. It’s excellent. All the recipes are dairy and egg free, and many use alternative grains or have suggestions on how to substitute alternative grains (usually spelt). Most recipes have no refined sugar, although there are many sweeteners used that are currently on my no-no list: brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, and FruitSource (brown rice syrup and grape juice concentrate). Still, there are plenty of recipes that are completely acceptable, and many that can be altered, and I don’t have to worry about figuring out if replacing eggs in this or that recipe will come out OK, and the recipes sound great.

I tried the Almond Mocha Cake with Mocha Mousse Frosting, using carob instead of chocolate, and it was pretty good. It was nice and moist and light. I think it would have been really good with chocolate, but sadly, I am not allowed it right now. It was a big hit with a few family members who aren’t health food/carob people, they actually took home some of the leftovers.

Even if you don’t have food restrictions, this book is great and a must-have. My only complaint, and it’s not much of one, is that there aren’t a lot of gluten-free recipes. I was trying to find something to bring to a Christmas party with there are 3 people who can’t have gluten, and I couldn’t find anything that really interested me. I made my coconut balls instead.

Book Review – The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook

November 16, 2008

I stumbled across something online about The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook by Cybele Pascal, so I borrowed it from the library. I need to get myself a copy of this book. It seems like a lot of the gluten-free recipes I have found online (and a lot of the ones in Spelt Healthy!) contain some combination of corn, potatoes, sugar, and eggs, none of which I can have. This book does have corn and potato ingredients, but there are plenty of recipes without either. And finally there are some dessert recipes that I can actually make without any/much modification! I’m still trying to get used to the multiple ways to substitute for eggs (and what works where). There are a few recipes that call for Ener-G egg replacer, which contains potato (and I think corn) flour, so I haven’t been able to find a sufficient substitute for that.

A few good-sounding recipes:
Turkey Noodle Soup with Spinach (planning to try as a post-Thanksgiving recipe)
Avocado Mayonnaise
Creamy Avocado Chicken Salad (wishing I had not frozen the leftover chicken from this weekend)
Artichoke Spread
Lasagna with Eggplant, Portabello Mushrooms, and Fresh Tomatoes
Old-fashioned Oatmeal Cookies
Rolled Maple Sugar Cookies
Carrot Bundt Cake
Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

It also has some good nutritional info in the back (how much calcium is in which foods, and so on).

I tried the Carrot Bundt Cake for a church supper. I replaced the raisins in the recipe with a drained small can of crushed pineapple, used spelt instead of the barley flour, and made my own oat flour by grinding oats in the mini food processor (so it came out a little less smooth). It was a really nice cake-tasting cake that passed as an acceptable dessert to my son. Next time I make it, I would add chopped walnuts.

Book Review – Spelt Healthy!

November 11, 2008

I went to the library and borrowed Spelt Healthy!
It is not all baking recipes, there are a lot of meal recipes as well. Many of the meal and dessert recipes are not OK for me to make. It seems worth buying just for some of the recipes:
3 bread machine bread recipes
light and dark rye/spelt breads
French bread
dinner rolls
several “regular” spelt bread recipes
maple scones
tortillas (I have been missing being able to have enchiladas and quesadillas)
A few other pizza dough recipes (maybe I should try one of these others next week)
char shiu bao (Chinese filled buns — this recipe will need some tweaking to make it OK but I love these meat filled dim sum buns)

So far I have tried one of the bread machine recipes that uses honey and goat’s milk. I made it with my whole wheat and white settings, the whole wheat setting made the bread come out too hard. It sinks down in the middle, but that seems to always happen with my bread machine. It is a really tasty bread, so far it’s the best spelt bread recipe I have tried. I made it with all whole grain spelt flour, since it’s hard to find the “white” spelt flour around me.

Edited to add:
The French bread recipe is excellent. It has a real French bread style crust, although it tastes more like a nice honey wheat.

The maple scones were a hit among my family and guests.