Great Taste No Gluten is the new cookbook about gluten free diet by Sherry Brescia. It contains not only the background information on why you should eat gluten free, but also a large number of very practical recipes.
It can be difficult for many who wish to pursue a gluten free diet to
shop for every day basics like bread, pizza, and cakes, but,
fortunately, the author, has the answer by way of setting out
straightforward recipes to enable you to make these basics at home.
Sherry Brescia explains in her book how her own early life was blighted by intolerance to certain foods that wasn't recognized as such for a long time. She points out that food intolerances are more widespread than most people realize, and that a prime antagonist to our efficient digestion is gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, but a relative newcomer to our table. It is only since farming became widespread as a way of feeding an increasing population that gluten in wheat became a commonplace food.
Before that, man's diet had not changed significantly since ancient times, being made up of natural foods that were obtained directly from nature, such as berries, nuts, fish and meat. When the industrial revolution took hold, it encouraged the mass production of bread, (especially nutrient poor white bread), and then later the increasing production of many different, processed and convenience foods, that contain gluten.
Unfortunately, we have not had sufficient time, in evolutionary terms, to adapt to this new food element, and many of us find our digestive systems can't cope with large amounts. Our reliance on convenience foods has caused our consumption of gluten to go through the roof, and it is difficult these days to avoid it. It is no wonder, therefore, that so many people in the US are gluten sensitive or intolerant.
Fortunately, Sherry Brescia has produced a cookbook that answers their needs, and, because there is so little reliable advice available about a gluten free diet, this book will be of great interest to a large number of people.
The book has chapters of recipes for different meals and circumstances, such as: breads and breakfast, salads, soups, entrees, side dishes, snacks, and desserts, plus a classification system of foods that go well together.
The chapter on breakfasts includes some tasty and nutritious recipes such as:
plus several other kinds of specialised breads that you will want to try!
There is a slight concern, perhaps, that the bread recipes rely heavily on the use of xanthan gum to replace gluten as the binding agent, and add volume and thickness. Xanthan gum is fairly easy to obtain, but is quite expensive.
It is, apparently, made by fermenting corn sugar with a microbe so that it might be a problem to those with a corn allergy. There is an alternative in Guar gum, made from the seed of a legume plant sometimes called the Indian Tree. Making bread by hand can be a time consuming process but Sherry includes details of amounts of ingredients suitable for machine bread making.
There is in the book, a short chapter on condiments and salad dressings, some of which are very zesty, and then follows a comprehensive chapter on salads including Italian style salads, calamari salad, chicken, spinach and feta cheese with beets, plus several other inspiring combinations that one would never have thought of.
The next chapter on soups is again handled in an efficient and creative way, eschewing the ordinary in favour of some exotic sounding creations such as spicy black bean vegetable soup with a number of nutritious vegetables and tongue-tickling spices.
There is an interesting take on cabbage soup which relies not solely on cabbage but includes ground beef or turkey and kidney beans, to make a thick, unctuous, soup that is a meal in itself. There is also a good version of the classic French onion soup, and the traditional stand-by leek and potato.
The chapter on entrees for the gluten free diet is similarly stimulating, with a version of chicken with Marsala wine, chicken and vermouth, macaroni cheese, and some previously little known combinations such as curried eggplant with chickpeas and spinach. There are also several gluten free diet recipes for pasta dishes which are always popular.
There are several novel ways with vegetables in the chapter on side dishes, and the section devoted to snacks is excellent in that it does not rely on bready, or pizza based snacks, but shows to advantage what can be done with nutritious ingredients like avocados, feta, eggs, cucumber, tomatoes and vegetables.
Finally we come to the desserts, which is as it should be, and this chapter is a revelation for its ability to present fantastic dessert recipes with a minimum of starchy ingredients. A store-bought gluten free pie crust is allowed for some recipes such as Lemon Meringue Pie, or you can make your own with a recipe thats included. The recipe for chocolate mousse sticks in the mind as being eminently suitable for a special dinner party.
The gluten free diet cookbook is an excellent achievement a solid and comprehensive cookbook judged by any standards, but, having to restrict itself to gluten free recipes has in no way diminished its diversity and creativity. Should we finish with a few cinnamon pecan squares and coffee? I think so.