Read-through Reviews: New Gluten Free Cookbooks

Earlier this week, I posted about my library loot: four new gluten-free cookbooks!

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I check out a lot of cookbooks from the library. When I get them home, I do a quick read-through of each one to make sure that it’s something that fits my family’s tastes and needs. In the area of gluten-free cooking especially, some books may rely on a flour or ingredient that we don’t use. Do I want to spend my time making substitutions in an unfamiliar cookbook, or move on to something that’s a better fit?

1. Bread & Butter by Erin McKenna

Written by the author/owner of BabyCakes, this is no simple bread cookbook: It’s all about everything bread – first the recipes, and then what you can do with what you’ve made. Loaves, sandwiches, pizza, crackers, pastry, dips and spreads, and sweet breads (but no muffins or cupcakes). It does have a few odd entries like kale chips – are those just obligatory now? – but overall presents a comprehensive collection of bread recipes, from a basic white loaf to puff pastry to Ethiopian bread.

My family’s take: We don’t eat yeast, so bread books are tricky. Some, but not all, gluten-free bread cookbooks include yeast-free loaves: Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread gives it a good try; Celeste’s Best is a lot more successful. Bread and Butter doesn’t even go there. But I am eager to try some of the cracker recipes: imitation cheez-its, Ritz crackers, and wheat thins look promising. Since most of the recipes include gluten-free oat flour, we’ll have to add that to our repertoire before trying anything out.

2. Gluten-Free Flour Power by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot

This thick cookbook covers much of the same turf as Bread and Butter, plus adds in pasta and desserts. It looks – and reads – like a more serious cookbook, with lots of detailed instructions and pictures. The format reminded me of the America’s Test Kitchen series, and some of the recipes – kimchi cavatelli with bulgogi sauce – were too ambitious for my purposes.

But can I find some good recipes in it for my family?: The first thing I noticed is this is one of those “flour blend” cookbooks. They offer you three possible flour blends up-front. One, the low-allergy blend containing tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, arrowroot, sorghum, potato flour, and golden flaxseed meal, will work for us. Once again, though, the yeast bread section is just that — all yeast breads, followed by yeasted flatbreads and puff pastry. They’ve even got yeast in the bundt cakes (which are numerous).

I was almost ready to set this book aside, when I found the microwave sweet rice cakes. They’re based on traditional Japanese mochi, but made from sweet rice flour. They look so easy and delicious, and can be served with sweet or savory accompaniments. The authors suggest grilled shrimp or fresh berries and ginger ice cream.

From there, it gets better: peanut butter blondies, chocolate piecrust, and banana butterfinger cream pie all sound good.

Final Haul: A few recipes to try (Ritz crackers and microwave sweet rice cakes)  before putting these two books back in the library bin. I’ll review the other two books in a later post.

Remember, I haven’t tried any recipes from these cookbooks yet. Have you? If so, please post here and add your recommendation!

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