Category Archives: Book review

The Ultimate Gluten Free Cookie Book

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Right before Christmas, I received another cookbook.  This time, it was a cookie book put out by Roben Ryberg called, "The Ultimate Gluten Free Cookie Book".  I have another one of Roben's book called "You Won't Believe it's Gluten Free".  We have used that book so many times, especially the biscuit recipe, that it automatically opens to the biscuit page!  I was very excited to get this book. 

Roben does not have celiac, nor is she gluten intolerant.  She can eat all the gluten she wants.  That might be part of why she has such fantastic recipes.  She can compare the two together.  The other part is the science behind what she does.  Roben tries to make recipes that only call for one or two flours instead of using multiple flours in one recipe.  Myself, I get so tired of measuring all of them out.  So much so, I have gone mainly to a gluten free blend for most things or a "Roben" recipe.   Roben uses either just brown rice or just sourgum in her recipes which not only makes them healthier, but much simpler as well.  I like that concept because I'm all about simple!  

As I said, I received this book just before Christmas.  I had been making some other recipes and trying to make some Christmas cookies and many of them were a complete failure.  I was so discouraged, that I wasn't going to make any other cookies, but then this book came.  I had to try it out.  

If you get this book, I encourage you to read all of chapter one first before starting.  Roben explains a lot about the science of gluten free baking and why she put the recipe together as she did.  Always follow the directions to the recipe exactly how it is written.  It will alter how your cookies turn out if you don't.  There is just about every conceivable type of cookie recipe in this book.  From the basic chocolate chip to homemade versions of Girl Scout Cookies.   

The book has two recipes for chocolate chip cookies.  The first recipe I tried was chocolate chip #1.  They had a really good flavor and were a soft cookie.  Three days later they were still soft and tasted fresh.  I however, don't like a soft cake like cookie.  I wanted a firmer crisp cookie.  I found that in chocolate chip #2.  This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie.  It has surpassed my own recipe that I've been using for many years.  Roben's recipe is not only better than mine, but waaaay simpler.  When you make the #2 recipe, it will look weird in the bowl.  The recipe calls for oil and the dough will look oily.  It will seem as if the chips don't want to stick inside the dough.  But trust me!  Just mush it together and stick on the cookie sheet.  They turn out fantastic!  I love these cookie!  My families favorite too.  Gluten eaters will not know the difference.  YUM!    

Next, since it was Christmas, I had to have Peanut Blossoms.  This was one of my favorites when I was a child.  I have not made them in a long time.  Her recipe was so easy to make.  I think I made three batches of this cookie over Christmas.  It was our favorite.  It was perfect and tasted just like I remember the original!  This is a new tradition.  

Then of course I had to have a cut out cookie with icing.  I made Rolled Sugar cookies.  If I remember right, I think the book said to oil the surface you are rolling out on, but I didn't have any luck with that, so I used flour and it worked perfectly.  These cookies have a really good buttery flavor.  I loved them and think they will be great for Valentines Day cookies too!

Next up were the Chocolate Crinkles.  These were great too and went together so easy!  I had had trouble with my mexican wedding cake cookie that I had tried to make the week before I got this book.  Roben told me to try making Sand Balls.  They are just like wedding cakes.  My family loved these cookies.  Problem solved!

The last one I tried was the Orange Cream-cheese Tassies.  On my.  These were so rich and yummy.  Basically the tassie has a cookies crust filled with cream cheese and orange marmalade.  Wow.  I have no idea how I made it through Christmas without gaining weight!  

In a nut shell, this is my new favorite cookie book.  I was feeling a little discourage before receiving it.  I was known as the cookie baker growing up.  Christmas cookies were my specialty.  I had an old cookbook my mom had given me probably 30 years ago that I always pulled out at Christmas and used.  No matter what I made from that book, it turned out.  I had tried to take those recipes and convert them and they just weren't turing out.  I was so close to deciding to just not make Christmas cookie anymore and then this book arrived.  I think what I really needed was a gluten free cook book with recipes that had been tested and perfected.  That's what Roben has put together here and I thank her so much!  

I have heard that Roben has a new book coming out next summer that is just bread recipes and I just can't wait.  I am so thankful for people like her.  I have no interest in writing cook books or trying to invent recipes.  It just takes so much time!  I just want to be able to have a simple gluten free life and I am so thank to those like her that put the time in to find things that not only work for us, but are simple.  

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Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

I received a copy of "Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef" by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern a little over a month ago.  I've been just dying to cook something from it but life has just had me too busy!  Finally, I had a chance to make what I most wanted to make….the pasta.  But more about that in a minute.

Most of you will probably know Shauna from the blog, Gluten Free Girl.  I have been reading her blog for years!  It was because of Shauna and a couple other bloggers that I started blogging.  These were also the people who kept me from feeling sorry for myself when I first went gluten free.   

Shauna and her husband Daniel, the chef, have spent a lot of time putting this book together.  It's a little bit different format from the typical cookbook.  Throughout the book, there are many stories of how Shauna and Daniel met.  And, most recipes have a small story or some kind of introduction to them.  Daniel gives a lot of cooking advice and instruction throughout the book as well.  This is very helpful even if you've been cooking a while.  There is always something new to learn when you cook!  

The only drawback in the book, for me personally, was the recipes are not divided into catagories like salads, meat, dessert etc.  It's random.  So if you want to look at a whole catagory of desserts, you need to go to the index and then you will jump around the book to see all the desserts.  The book is sectioned according to their stories.  It's really not a problem, more of a personal preference.  

There are lot's of interesting recipes.  Some sound challenging and some are simple which is a good mix.  I am looking forward to trying the Asian tart, crackers, chicken braised in red wine and several others.  But the one I wanted to try the most was the pasta.  

I have never made pasta.  Ever.  I always wanted to, but never got around to it.  After going gluten free, I just thought it would be too hard.  But it was so easy!  I should have done it sooner!  

Shauna's recipe mixes up very quickly.  I do not have a pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid.  The instructions said to make 8 small balls out of the dough and roll it out by hand.  It went pretty quick and my only problem was I probably could have rolled it out thinner.  Fresh pasta cooks really quick and has such a good texture and flavor to it.  This would be really good in chicken noodle soup!  And I"ll definetly be making it again.  I might even have to spring for a pasta maker!  

After rolling out…..

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After cooking….

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Free For All Cooking

Today I'm reviewing a new cookbook I just received.  It's called "Free For All Cooking", by Jules E. Dowler Shepard.  I was really excited about getting this cookbook because I've been to Jules website on numerous occasions, and had always wanted to try her cookbook recipes.  You may be familiar with her website http://www.julesglutenfree.com/.  She is a cookbook writer and has a flour blend that many of you might already be using.  

This cookbook contains 150 gluten-free and allergy friendly recipes.  You do not have to have her flour in order to make her recipes.  She provides a recipe so you can make your own blend or you can use any other commercial blend.  I did not have her blend so my own.  

There are so many recipes in this book I want to try!  My short list is…Dark Chocolate Beer Cake, Popcorn Bread, French Baguette, Pumpkin Corn Muffins, and Lemon Poppyseed Muffins.  I love the fact that she has some unusual things in the book.  I mean really, beer cake?  It sounds wonderful to me!  I would have made that right away, but I'm out of gluten free beer.  It's number one on my list.  

This cookbook contains recipes for breakfast food, appetizers and sides, breads and rolls, soups, main events, and desserts.  She's got all the basics covered here.  The book is laid out nicely and all recipes laid out in an orderly, easy to read fashion.  Each recipe also has a short introduction to the recipe explaining what you are about to make.  

The first thing I wanted to make were the flour tortillas.  I had leftover flank steak and that just sounded so good.  Of course I eat corn tortillas all the time, but it's been almost 4 years since I've had a soft flour tortilla.  The recipe was simple and really didn't take that long to make.  You use the food processor to mix the dough, then roll 8 balls and let them sit for a bit.  Then flatten them.  I used a heavy skillet.  Next, you cook them in a hot skillet on each side for just a couple minutes.  Delicious!  They were tender and had a great flavor. I will be making them again!  

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The black specks in the picture is from the rice flour browning in the skillet.  As you roll the tortillas out, you need to have some flour down to keep them from sticking.  I used rice flour.  It tends to brown in the skillet but did not cause a bad flavor.  

As I make other recipes from the book I will post the pictures here and let you know what I think about it.  In the mean time, you might want to check this book and her website out!  

Update:  Since this post was written, I have also made the Chocolate beer cake and it was fabulous!  It will be my "go to" chocolate cake recipe from now on.  I made a chocolate glaze for the top instead of icing which worked out really well.  

Also, on super bowl Sunday I was looking for a flat bread of sorts to serve with a pizza dip I was making.  I happened to remember this cookbook had a focaccia recipe and decided to try it.  It was fabulous as well and I will use this recipe over and over!  It worked perfectly for the pizza dip and tasted really good.  

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Triumph Dining Guide

I just received my updated Gluten-free Restaurant Guide by Triumph Dining.  I love this guide and have had several editions of them.  The most current one is the 5th edition.  I like the fact that the book is divided into states and cities.  That way if you are traveling, you can look up where you will be and see a list of the gluten free restaurants in that area.  The back part of the book has the restaurant menus.  This is the good part……what you can order and how to order it!  

This years guide has several new restaurants added which is always nice to see.  It's important to know that menus can change so you want to check from time to time the favorite things you order out.  Triumph also makes a grocery guide and several cell phones apps which are so helpful.  You can see what they have to offer at http://www.triumphdining.com/.  Check it out!  

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Cookbook reviews!

I have two new cookbooks to review!  The first one I'm going to review is called Gluten Free Everyday Cookbook by Robert M. Landolphi

Roberts' wife has celiac disease.  Robert is a chef.  Like any good chef, he started experimenting with gluten free recipes for his wife.  The result of that is this cookbook.  

It's a very simple cookbook.  I like that.  Sometimes cookbooks can be overwhelming.  He's got all the basics covered.  There is an introduction to ingredients and even brands of products to use.  It starts out with soups, entrees, side dishes and moves on to pies, cake, desserts and breads.  

I was trying to decide what to make first from this cookbook.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  Bryan (non-compliant gluti boy) was coming over for dinner and you know, you have to fill those boys up!  I already had my main dish figured out so I wanted a simple bread.  Parmesan Popover Bites caught my eye.  They looked easy.  They were easy!  

For me, if I get even just one recipe from a book that I will use over and over again, it's worth it to have bought that book.  This is one of those recipes that is already a family favorite.  We don't call them Parmesan Popover Bites.  We affectionately call them, those weird little things.  No offense Robert.  We mean that lovingly.  You see, they look a little weird.  Like they might not be good.  You eat one.  Then you eat another.  Then your addicted!  

At dinner, Bryan kept eating them.  Then after dinner he went out on a bike ride (like Lance) and came in starving again.  He looked at me and said, "Do you have any more of those weird little things?'  Next thing I know he's feeding them to a friend he was riding with and the friend wanted the recipe.  Then Kati's boyfriend came in way later in the evening and asked, "Do you have any of those things leftover?"  I had to laugh.  A whole day goes by.  Bryan comes in again looking around, "Do you have any of those weird little things left?"  I gave him everything that was left!  

They are Chebe like in nature.  Only better!  The recipe is very similar to Chebe using tapioca as the main flour and parmesan cheese, but somehow they are even better.  And, the recipe makes a boat load!  I used 6 of my mini-muffin pans.  They hold 12 each!  This will be perfect for company.  An instant classic.  I even made more of them for Sunday night dinner.  

Better yet, I think you could add stuff in them in different combinations, like sun dried tomato and basil or bacon and cheddar.  They would make great hordouves.   The flavor combos would be endless!  

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Thank you Robert!  We have a new family favorite!  

The next cookbook I'm reviewing is Bake Deliciously! Gluten and Dairy Free Cookbook by Jean Duane.  Jean is also known as the Alternative Cook.  The recipes are mainly baked goods.  I am very interested in this book for a couple reasons.  One is the non-compliant gluti boy who is suppose to be dairy free/wheat free.  He might wise up one day and see the errors of his ways.  It's a bonus to make a yummy treat for him to eat that's wheat free and dairy free.  But, secondly, my mom was just diagnosed as casein intolerant.  She has already given up gluten.  

Jean also has recipes that use more whole grain flours and less refined things.  This has bothered me since starting a gluten free diet.  I always ate whole grain before.  Switching over to a gluten free diet was really different.  I love this book.  Jean does a really nice job laying out gluten free ingredients, how to convert a recipe, food substitutions, and general gluten free casein free baking tips. 

For most of her recipes she uses brown rice flour, sorghum and other gluten free whole grains. She also calls for organic sugar which is less processed and sucanat.  I didn't even know what the heck sucanat was!  Sucanat is pure dried cane juice.  It retains the natural molasses content so it's less refined.  Many of the recipes are vegan as well.  So if you are looking for vegan, gluten free and dairy free baking recipes, this is the book for you.  

Jean has a website and even sells cooking videos there.  So check it out!  

I had no trouble deciding which recipe I was going to make first out of this book!  Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars caught my eye.  I love peanut butter and it's even better with chocolate.  Bars are great for summer since you cook it in one pass as opposed to cookies in and out all afternoon!  

These are as yummy as they look. I know Bryan will love these!  Right now he's in Michigan riding his bike across the state!  It's the long way, so it will take about 4 days.  Crazy huh?  He already did that in Indiana.  The short way.  It only took a day.  

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 Another favorite!  I've had a lucky week!  After last week, that's a good thing.  I was in a rut, which I'll explain in another post, another day.  I am anxious to try more recipes from this book.  I just feel better making treats that I know are healthier, but still taste really good!  I also like the fact the nutritional breakdown is included for each recipe as well.  Next I've got my eye on either the orange or lemon cupcakes!  Thanks Jean!  

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Book Review

Last week, I was contacted by a representative from Da Capo Press.  They have a new book out called "The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten Free" by Jules E. Dowler Shepard.  They asked me if I would be interested in a copy for review.  This sounded like a really good book, so of course I said yes!   

I received it at the end of the week and have been looking it over throughout the weekend.  Gosh, I wish I had this book 2 years ago!  There is everything you need to know about your first year of living gluten free.  The author covers everything from your kitchen and cross contamination, to shopping, eating out, getting an invitation to someone's home, birthday parties for your children, holidays, you name it.  There are even recipes.  The way she does it is day by day, week by week and month by month until the whole year is covered.  I think it's a very cleaver way of doing it.   


If you have just been diagnosed or know someone who has, this is one of a couple books I would recommend because it is very user friendly.  There are so many challenges one comes across the first year.  So many ups and downs.  Just when I thought I had it all figured out, something new would come up.  Even after two years, that still happens.  I know this is a book that I will refer to even though I have already made it through the first two years!  I give it two thumbs up!  
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1000 Gluten Free Recipes

I have a new cookbook!  And I'm so excited about it.  I received it a couple weeks a back and I've been trying out some of the recipes.  It's called "1000 Gluten-Free Recipes" by Carol Fenster.   

I really like it so far.  It's a huge book.  Hardback and several inches thick.  Carol has covered all bases when it comes to this book.  There are recipes for anything and everything you are craving from main dishes to breads and desserts.  This is one of several books I would recommend to new people just starting out on a gluten free diet, it's that good.   

In the past, my pet peeve with gluten free cookbooks, is that every author has a flour blend for each type of product you would be making.  Example, one blend for cookies, one blend for yeast breads, one for quick breads….you get the picture.  Carol has done this in some of her past cookbooks, but in this book, there is just one blend.  You might add other flours per recipe depending on what you might be making.  I love that!  I know if I have her blend ready, I can make any of the recipes in the book on the spot without having to mix up another blend.  

My biggest problem is that she uses potato starch a lot and I can't eat potatoes.  So when I convert that, I don't know if I'm doing it right.  
She has a wonderful recipe for blueberry coffee cake that I served to gluten eaters that will be my "go to" recipe for coffee cakes.  Everyone loved it.  But my favorite thing is the chocolate chip cookies.  For almost two years now, I have been searching for "that recipe" for what is the perfect chocolate chip cookie to me.  I had found some I really like and I've tweaked and converted my old gluten chocolate chip cookie recipe.  They've been good, but this was the best I've had in almost two years.    

I did have to play with her recipe though since her flour mix calls for potato starch.  Since I  can't eat potatoes, I used cornstarch instead.  I don't know if that made a difference or if I didn't have my butter the right temperature, or what I did, but when I mixed it up, the mixture was really crumbly.  It wouldn't hold together.  I know I had the right measurements of everything.   

To compensate, I added more butter.  They turned out perfect!  Crispy outside and chewy inside.  Even the next day!  How they were at 3 days, I don't know because we ate them all!
Hopefully I can replicate what I did wrong again because they were great!   Good flavor, good texture.   

Speaking of no potatoes, it's still really weird making dinner at night.  It's amazing how often we ate potatoes.  Geeze, one can only eat so much rice!  I am having fun trying new vegetable dishes with things like parsnips.  Since it's getting to cold to grill, I've been stir frying a lot.  Last night we had zucchini which I've always loved.  
 

Two chopped zucchini 

One chopped onion 

One small can chopped mushrooms 

One (last of the season) tomato 

Saute onions and mushrooms in olive oil till caramelized and tender.  I like to use a stainless pan for this.  It caramelizes better in stainless.  Add the tomatoes and zucchini and cook till heated through.  I don't like mushy zucchini, so the minute it's hot, I stop cooking.  You can add basil, garlic, salt, pepper, what ever pleases you!  Serves two.   

I  made a huge batch of brown rice on Sunday, so I served the veggies on that.  For our main dish I made Fish Caesar.  It went really well together.  
I was so sad to see frost covering the ground this morning.  No more fresh tomatoes.  The hubster pulled all the wilted vines out of the garden today.  Some of my herbs are still hanging in there.  It won't be long till they've had enough too.  I guess it's time to get out the soup recipes!  Without potatoes of course 🙂

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