Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Book Review - 1000 Gluten-free Recipes

It's Friday, which means it's once again time for a book review.  Today's offering is 1000 Gluten-free Recipes by Carol Fenster.
This massive tome begins with the usual description of what constitutes gluten-free, but then gives a more-than-usually helpful breakdown of how to use certain gluten-free ingredients to achieve specific characteristics in baked goods.  Basic ingredients are described, and suggestions on meal and menu planning follow.  And although it isn't mentioned on the cover, the book also specifies how to prepare the recipes to accommodate a casein-free diet as well.
The bulk of the book is made up of chapters covering everything from quick breads, through appetizers and salads, main dishes, and desserts.  Everything from Swedish Meatballs and Hungarian Goulash to homemade Twinkies and Pineapple Meringue Pie turn up in this comprehensive volume.  All of the recipes seem to be well written, and I've had good luck with everything I've tried.  The author makes a point of specifying which ingredients the reader should be particularly careful to obtain in a gluten-free variety, which is helpful.  She also tries to not just make gluten-free substitutes for familiar foods, but also employ unique and creative ways to replace a problem item with something entirely different - and often better.  I particularly enjoy the many variant 'pie crusts' presented.  There are traditional recipes, blended with more modern presentations - you can find Old Fashioned Molasses Cake and Chai Spice Cake on the same page.  Head notes are brief and to the point, but helpful.
To round out the usefulness, the final chapter provides a library of recipes for homemade mixes and ingredients - bechamel sauce, broths, almond milk, etc.  A useful jumping off point for pantry management or emergency substitutions.

Take home message - despite it's somewhat unassuming cover, this is a fabulous book with both depth and breadth.  If you're gluten-free or cook for someone who is, this book needs to be on your bookshelf.  Or better yet, open on the counter.


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