Christmas came in October this year when a review copy of Carol Fenster’s latest cookbook, 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes was delivered to my home! The jacket states, “It’s like getting 5 cookbooks in 1!” and I totally agree. I would consider this book to be the GF (and frequently CF) version of The Joy of Cooking, destined to become a classic for those of us who have dietary restrictions or cook for loved ones who do. With this book, I think Carol Fenster has definitely established herself as an heiress to the cooking-style of the late and much-beloved Bette Hagman.
Introduction to Gluten-Free Living In the first chapter, “Gluten-Free: A New Diet for the 21st Century,” Fenster includes an easy-to-understand discussion of what gluten-is, and why one might need to avoid it. She references Celiac Disease, of course, but also Autism, Allergies & Intolerances, and Asthma. She explains how to read labels, discusses how certain ingredients affect GF-cooking, and offers dairy substitution suggestions for those who are lactose-intolerant or must avoid casein. This chapter will be a very useful guide for anyone just starting a GF diet, and also for parents just beginning the GFCF diet for their ASD-children.
Novice Cook, Busy Parent, or Experienced Chef—Something for Everyone! Fenster includes menus and recipes for all-occasions and cooks of any ability-level. She has full menus for “Comfort Food Supper” and “After Soccer Practice Dinner,” but also “Thanksgiving Dinner,” “Breakfast Buffet,” and an elegant dinner party. The titles of her recipes are clearly marked “V” for Vegetarian or “Q” for quick and easy. Many slow-cooker recipes are also included. Fenster relies on her own GF Flour Blend recipe (given in the introduction, along with some suggested variations) where needed, but many recipes are naturally gluten-free. In most recipes where dairy-products are used, she provides dairy/casein-free substitutions and often names products (Tofutti “better than sour cream,” for example), which will be helpful to GFCF Mommies and Daddies just starting out.
Kid-Friendly, Family Fare… I was attracted to the kid-friendly, family recipes, such as PB & J Pancakes, Mini-refried Bean Quesadillas, a trio of meatloaf recipes: Italian, Southwestern, and Turkey, ice cream cones, Peanut Butter Cheesecake with GFCF Cookie Crust, No-Egg Banana Bread, and Banana Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (yes, all are GF with suggested CF substitutions!) There are many recipes for fajitas, wraps, tacos, and pizza, which any family can enjoy. Fenster also includes a multitude of rice recipes, which I found inspirational, as well as recipes for the “new” yet “ancient” grains such as quinoa or millet. I also appreciated the many cornbread and quick bread recipes.
Some recipes I intend to try soon use unexpected ingredients in creative ways. The Fudgy Vegan Chocolate Brownie, for example incorporates dried plums, coffee, and Tropical Source Chocolate Chips; three of my favorite things! Fenster’s jazzy Chicken & Rice Casserole uses Imagine Potato & Leek Soup, or Sweet Corn Soup (your choice) instead of the Campbell’s “Cream of” which is not GFCF.
…but Elegant Enough for Gourmet "Foodies" If you are an experienced cook, and a GF-medical diagnosis has you wondering how to make some of your favorite culinary creations, Fenster has them all, revised in GF form. Coq au vin, Beef Wellington, Moussaka, Pfeffernusse, Black Forest Trifle, Sauerbraten, just to name a few. If you are a skilled baker, she includes recipes for popovers, Yorkshire Pudding, brioche, Challah, Buche de Noel, and more.
I am very interested in her more “trendy” and naturally gluten-free recipes like Pumpkin Pancakes with Pomegranate Syrup, Tequila-Marinated Steak Fajitas with Guacamole and Pico de Gallo, or Sage Dusted Pork Chops with Autumn Spiced Apples.
Home-made GF Ingredients Fenster also includes a useful chapter of recipes for making your own buttermilk, almond milk, seasoning (such as “onion soup seasoning”), béchamel sauce, BBQ sauce, and more. In this way, she reminds me of Bette Hagman.
I think I am really going to enjoy using this book, both as a reference for all things GF, and for recipe inspirations. My only concern might be that the novice cook might feel overwhelmed by the truly tremendous scope of this book. But don’t worry, this is the kind of book you will grow into as a cook, which is why it reminds me of The Joy of Cooking.
1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes, by Carol Fenster, Ph.D. is published by John Wiley and Sons. For more information, and for Fenster’s other cookbooks and newsletter, see her website at http://www.savorypalate.com/