Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cookbook Review: The Complete Guide to Naturally Gluten-Free Foods

By: Michelle Hershman
I was super excited to receive The Complete Guide to Naturally Gluten-Free Foods cookbook. I have a family member who is gluten intolerant so having this cookbook on hand makes my life so much easier. But, even if that wasn’t a factor, I would still be psyched for this book. It’s amazing.
Let’s talk about the introduction section – it’s more than 70 pages and three chapters long. Normally, I would find that annoying. Get to the recipes already, right? But not with this book. There is a lot of confusion about gluten intolerance and sensitivity, so it’s nice to have an extremely organized start manual that details how to go gluten-free, how to go about having a gluten-free kitchen, and includes a gluten-free food directory. The author, Olivia Dupin, provides some serious health information about diagnosing gluten issues and testing for Celiac disease including how to deal with daily life issues such as ordering out, gluten-free kids, and, even, weddings. There is an incredibly helpful cheat sheet and a detailed list of pantry stables for a gluten-free kitchen. There is also a section that explains “recipe jargon” such as what it means to blanch and score which is helpful regardless of your gluten stance. And, finally, there is a list of foods to avoid, hidden offenders, and another detailed list of naturally gluten-free foods. I was seriously impressed with the amount of pertinent information provided.
After all that, I was ready to give this cookbook an A+.  Then, I got to the recipes - and they all looked delicious! Three Cheese Tomato and Eggplant Stacks, Clementine and Honey Cake, Scallion Risotto Cakes, and Parmesan Polenta Fries. The yummy list goes on and on.
I just had to test out some of these recipes. I started with the Almond-Crusted Brown Butter Trout. As described in the cookbook, “the pan-fried almond coating gives a crunchy, flavorful exterior to this tender, savory fish.” The impressive dish is supposed to come together in no time and look very elegant. I’ve had a lot of experiences with cookbooks promising easy, tasty, and elegant looking dishes but not delivering so I was blown away that this trout not only delivered but tasted incredible. Seriously, no matter how you dress up fish, it’s never that exciting, but I wanted to lick the plate. I was dipping everything in sight in this sauce!
Next, I tried the Asparagus and Leek Tart with Polenta Crust. I made a few changes based on ingredients I had on hand, but it was still a pretty good recipe. Not quite as amazing as the trout but a good basic recipe that can be easily adapted based on what’s in your fridge. Plus, the polenta crust is a genius idea! Check out my tart here.
If all that wasn’t enough, there is a recipe in the dessert section for Prosecco Zabaglione with Strawberries and Peaches. If you knew how obsessed I am with Prosecco, you would know that recipe clinched this book as my new favorite cookbook!

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