Title: Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick and Easy
Author: Nicole Hunn
239 pages; Softcover
Publisher: Da Capo Press, Boston MA 2012 $19.00 US / 12.99 UK / $22.00 CAN
Reviewed by Chef John Vyhnanek
We all must know someone who has a
problem after eating foods with gluten: "celiac disease" is now getting more attention. I know
several myself and they all bemoan finding ways to eat normally
again, as they did before their condition developed. They also
wish there were more good cookbooks that have recipes that are
appealing, easy to prepare and not terribly expensive. Their wishes have been answered with a new cookbook,
Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick and Easy by Nicole Hunn.
The one hundred recipes range from breakfast to dinner ideas and appetizers to desserts. Some have a comparison of the "make your own" cost vs. store-bought. Many of the recipes have been calculated to use gluten free flour and an food additive xanthan gum, that adds tackiness and fluffiness to baked items that are lacking when gluten isn t present. So with the usage of gluten free flour and xanthan gum you can still make items like Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks, Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts and Twinkie-Style Cupcakes! Without the flour substitute you may choose Tomato and Corn Risotto, Chicken Meatball or even Beef Taquitos. Whatever you choose you won t be bored as you flip through the pages looking for something to cook next.
It's important to note that gluten free flour isn t cheap, usually around $4.00 a pound compared to $.60 for regular flour. But major brands like Betty Crocker have come on the scene and offer a wider choice including gluten free Bisquick mixes. Bob s Red Mill brand has reasonably priced gluten free flour for about $2.00 a pound when purchased in 11 pound units. The bottom line on this book is that It's good, particularly it you have a problem with gluten in your diet and need help formulating meal ideas that you don t feel are lacking in appeal, flavor and cost. You d be surprised that there are even recipes in this book that appeal to those with no gluten problems.
Good Cooking tried the following two recipes and found them easy to make, visually appealing and tasty. Judge for yourself and be pleasantly surprised!
Yeast Free English Muffins
Time Estimate: 15 minutes active time, 15 minutes inactive time
MAKES 6 FULL-SIZE MUFFINS
Can be doubled or halved
You know how beautiful these are. You can see for yourself in the photos. But what you maybe can't see is how authentic they taste or how speedy they are to make. Freeze a batch and you'll have them on hand all week for breakfast. Be sure to pick up a few English muffin rings. I have a couple of sets made by Fox Run, and they come in very handy since they force the muffins to rise up instead of out.
2 cups (280 g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons (8 g) sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons (24 g) vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup milk, at room temperature (low-fat is fine, nonfat is not)
1. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Grease the inside
of six English muffin rings and set them aside. Line a rimmed
baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
2. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt, and whisk well.
3. Add the 2 tablespoons of melted shortening, vinegar, egg, and milk, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough should come together and be soft and a bIt'slick.
4. With wet hands and a bench scraper, divide the dough into six equal portions. Wet your hands once more, and gently press each portion into a disk about the size and shape of one of the muffin rings.
5. Heat a cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet on the stovetop over high heat. Place as many greased rings in the skillet as will fit comfortably. Drop a disk of dough in the center of each ring. Sear for a few moments on the first side, or until it begins to develop some color on the underside. Then flip each muffin with a wide spatula and sear the other side. Transfer the seared muffins (in their rings) to the prepared baking sheet and set aside. Repeat with the remaining muffins, if any.
6. Place the baking sheet with the English muffins in the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the rings and bake the muffins for another 5 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly browned on the sides. Serve the same day, or split them and freeze for later use.
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
Time Estimate: 15 minutes active time. 20 minutes inactive time Can be doubled or halved easily
My family loves meat loaf, but I love meatballs of all kinds even better. They come together just as quickly, they're easy to pack with flavor, and they cook so much faster than a large meat loaf does. These chicken meatballs are a nice change of pace from traditional meatballs, and can help make chicken an easier sell if you have any pint-size family members who are currently boycotting chicken as each of my three children did at one point or another.
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken (or an equal amount skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced)
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
10 ounces frozen whole-leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated finely
3/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 3/4 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed
baking sheet with nonstick (or greased) aluminum foil.
2. In a large bowl, place all of the ingredients and mix well.
3. Form the mixture into twenty meatballs, ea ing a spring-loaded ice-cream scoop. Place the meatballs prepared pan, and shape into proper balls, using a spring-loaded ice-cream scoop. Place the meatballs about 1 inch apart on the prepared pan, and shape into proper balls, using wet hands, if necessary.
4. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 165 degrees F.
Serve over pasta or rice.