Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Carol Fenster: 100 Best Gluten Free Recipes

Carol Fenster is a name I became familiar with 9½ years ago when my daughter went on a gluten free diet (three weeks later, we removed casein from her diet, also). I own a couple of Carol Fenster gluten free cookbooks, both are paperback with no photos. (And yes, I purchased them.) And Fenster's recipes were gluten free - not casein (dairy) free. I don't cook from them often because I have to figure out how to alter recipes to fit all of our other dietary requirements. (Fenster is NOT an allergen free baker/cook.)

I trust Fenster. She's well known in gluten free circles everywhere; she's a popular speaker, and her flour blends are often recommended and shared. As I become more comfortable making substitutions for our specific allergens, I am more comfortable trying recipes from folks who, like Fenster, aren't completely allergen free.

100 Best Gluten Free Recipes is different from the other cookbooks by Fenster that I own in that it is hardback and it contains color photographs, and offers recipes that are vegetarian (meat/dairy free) and offers substitutions for some milk-based ingredients in some of her recipes.

Fenster gives us a little bit of everything in this cookbook. Here is theTable of Contents:

Breakfast, Breads and Muffins
Small Bites: Appetizers, Soups, Salads and Sandwiches
Grains, Beans, and Pasta
Main Dishes

There are photographs of some of the completed recipes. The pictures are wonderful. (I like a cookbook with photos of completed recipes.) I have a short list that grows longer by the minute of recipes I want to try. If I can find a soy free, milk free cream cheese substitute, I want to try the Individual Fruit Tarts in Coconut Crusts pictured on the back cover. I'll try the crusts without the filling. The corn dogs pictured inside are the neatest, most "normal" looking corn dogs I've seen in any gluten free cookbook. (Will I be able to make mine look like those? Hmmm.) I want to make my own ice cream waffle cones. (Yum!) Lemon chicken. Chocolate chip muffins (they're actually chocolate muffins w/ chocolate chips, and yes, there's a photo).

For the most part, Fenster cooks with "regular" ingredients. If you're a gluten free cook, you'll recognize all of the different flour substitutes, the gums needed for baking, etc. Chia seeds are used in one recipe and are one of the few unusual items in the cookbook (I haven't seen them in a store yet).

If you are looking for a strict GFCF cookbook, this isn't it; although there are plenty of GFCF recipes to try here. If you're allergen free, you'll have to make quite a few substitutions. (I've said this before and I'll say it again, being simply gluten free would be so easy!)

This book is small, physically, too, giving it advantages and disadvantages in my opinion. A smaller book travels more easily, fitting into my tote bag on a trip or to the waiting room of an autism therapy appointment. On the other hand, a smaller book is more challenging to cook from (thank goodness for my StudyPod to prop it upright and open in the kitchen). A smaller book means the font is smaller, although I need my reading glasses for pretty much any book I cook from now.

Priced at $16.95, yes, I'd buy this book to add to my collection.

Wiley sent me a complimentary review copy of Carol Fenster's 100 Best Gluten Free Recipes to review here. I am not otherwise compensated for reviews and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

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