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Review: Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cooking

Posted May 21 2012 12:00am

When I was offered the opportunity to review this cookbook, I jumped at the chance.  General Mills and Betty Crocker were some of the first mainstream grocery providers to initiate gluten-free lines. They seem to have a commitment to making gluten-free products affordable and widely available. I have enjoyed their gluten-free website, Live Gluten Freely , which includes recipes, product information, online shopping, and gluten-free blogs.  I was hoping that this cookbook might include some of the recipes on the website.  It does, and much more.

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cooking offers recipes for what I would consider basic comfort food.  Recipes are coded “easy,” “quick,” and “low fat.”  It would be a good book for someone who is a novice cook or new to the gluten-free diet. The photographs are gorgeous!  Most of the recipes are very-kid-friendly.  Those that do include dairy are easy to adapt for our dairy-free kiddos.

The introduction to Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cooking offers an overview of the basics of gluten-free cooking and Celiac Disease. I was amazed at the amount of information packed into a few pages and written in an easy to understand style.  Topics covered include nutritional considerations for those on the gluten-free diet, sources of gluten, tips for working with GF ingredients, tips on dining out, and how to read labels.
Although some of the recipes call for Betty Crocker Gluten-Free mixes, many do not.  Several use Silvana Nardone’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend, or Juan Duane’s Gluten-Free Quick Bread Mix (recipes for both are included).
The appetizers are delightful, easy, little bites; such as Basil and Roasted Red Pepper Bites, Greek Salad Kabobs, and Bacon-Wrapped Figs.  There are a couple of recipes using Rice Chex, such as Italian Chex Mix and Chili and Garlic Snack Mix. Ginger-Rice Crunch was the favorite at our house, which includes banana chips, almonds, peanuts, dried cranberries and coconut.  Several of the appetizer recipes call for cheese, but you could substitute casein-free cheese in most cases, or just leave the cheese out.
The breakfast section features Silvana Nardone’s Hazelnut Streusel Coffee Cake recipe, several variations of "bacon and egg” recipes (frittatas, quiches, scrambles).  The main course selections include many kid-favorites, such as pizzas, meat loaf, and chicken pot pie. The Prince loved “Ultimate Chicken Fingers” which uses GF Bisquick (the recipe calls for parmesan cheese, but I omitted it and replaced the butter with Earth Balance buttery spread).  For more adult tastes, the Champagne Shrimp Risotto and Chickpea and Tomato Curry were easy and delicious.  I also was happy to see a simple recipe for Cranberry-Orange Stuffing which uses cornbread and a gravy recipe.
The bread and dessert chapters, in my opinion, are the best in the book.  Duane and Silvana’s expertise shines here.  Duane’s quick bread mix is the basis for several yummy recipes, such as Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Applesauce Quick Bread, and Gingerbread-molasses Flax Muffins.  All of Duane and Silvana’s recipes are GFCF, so you do not need to worry about converting ingredients.  There are two scone recipes and even one for doughnut holes!  Banana bread, sandwich bread, pretzels, there is a recipe for any kind of bread, muffin, or roll that you can imagine!
The dessert section is decadent!  Duane’s Chocolate Snack Cake with Creamy Butterscotch Frosting is a knockout.  The Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake is super easy and delicious (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese in place of the Cream Cheese). Nardone’s Blueberry Pie with Cornmeal Crust looks fabulous, though I have not tried it yet, but I will.  There are several berry pies which have innovative crusts.  I happen to love crisps and Duane’s Apple-Cranberry Crisp is easy to make and Prince-approved.  There are several brownie, cookie, and cookie-bar recipes.  I am looking forward to trying Nardone’s Peanut Butter and Jam cookie bar recipe.
If you are looking for gourmet fare, this book may not be for you (you might enjoy Barbara Kafka's   , but that is another post!).  But if you are looking for easy to prepare, every day meals for busy school nights, this book is for you.  I was very impressed and can tell I will use these recipes quite a bit.  I highly recommend it and am grateful to Betty Crocker for pulling this together.  I know it will benefit many families facing the challenges of cooking without gluten and casein.

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