So I finally have my review of The Gluten-Free Table. Yes, it took me long enough to write it! As you all know, I struggle with cooking – especially following a recipe out of a cookbook that isn’t made for 2nd graders. You can purchase the book here.
I originally met these lovely ladies at the CDF National Expo in Pasadena, CA last May. They were there doing a meet-and-greet with their readers and promoting this book. While I couldn’t really leave my booth to mingle, I had a chance to hang with Jilly there for a bit and connect via Instagram. She rocks – seriously a celiac soul sister. So although I am terrible in the kitchen, I was excited to get this book and take a stroll through their world. *DISCLAIMER: I did receive this book at no cost, but it did not influence my review*
As you could probably tell by all my Instagram photos documenting my successes out of the book – this book really changed how I felt about myself and my skills in the kitchen. Now, please note that not all of the recipes in this book look easy enough for me to make, so don’t assume that this cookbook is for beginners.
The foreword to The Gluten-Free Table is by Emeril Lagasse. I never really watched any of his programming before he became a judge on Top Chef. Clearly I know who the man is because he’s uber famous, but I wasn’t familiar with any of his cooking styling besides his guest stints on my favorite reality cooking shows. While I think it’s awesome that these ladies have an amazing dad to learn from, I think they’ve proven with this book that they can stand on their own in the kitchen with their recipes.
The introduction and “living gluten-free and lovin’ it” section talks about their story of diagnosis and gives a background on what celiac disease and NCGS is all about – the basics that you expect to see in an informational book. It was nice that they included it in this cookbook too. This includes places where cross-contamination hides like shared fryers, grills, toasters, cutting boards and utensils.
Many of these recipes are naturally gluten-free – so not everything requires gluten substitutes. I really appreciate that because I don’t necessarily want to use grains in every meal. In fact, the recipes that I chose to create are gluten free by nature. I figured, if I can make anything good, it would prove that this book could really teach someone something. They do, however, use gluten-free flour – they do not mix their own (which is helpful when you want to already use what is in your cabinet without fancy flours).
When it comes to the recipes, I like that they give a few paragraphs about why they included the recipe and a little bit about what the food is. For something unique like an Indian vegetable pakor and cucumber raita – it’s nice to see why they included it and what it’s all about.
Some of these recipes are way over my head – I’m just not that skilled yet. However, here are some things that looked awesome from the book that I think that you just might dig too:
- Crab cakes
- Homemade crackers (using an all purpose baking mix and limited other ingredients).
- Collard greens
- Baked macaroni & cheese
- Baked stuffed shrimp with GF bread crumps and crabmeat
- Proscuitto-spinach chicken roll with lemon butter sauce
- Maple-glazed pork loin, with rosemary, thyme and green onions
- Roasted rosemary chicken with veggies
- Chicken fried rice
- Emeril’s Gltuen-free pizza (recipe from Emeril Lagasse – with eggs, soy flour, rice flour dry milk powder, dry yeast)
- New Orleans-syle pecan pie with gluten-free crust (another Emeril Lagasse recipe)
- Apple betty
- Pumpkin spice muffins
- Coconut chocolate chip cookies
I created two recipes from the book Roasted Rosemary Chicken with Veggies and the Proscuitto-Spinach Chicken with Lemon Butter Sauce. If you followed my Instagram or Facebook, you know that these went over incredibly well – and I’ve recreated the recipe several times using many different subs (like basil instead of spinach and dairy-free cheese and dairy-free cream cheese instead of “real” cheese). I even highlighted it in my Go Veggie NFCA Summer Block Party post! We made these dishes for non-GF friends, and since it didn’t use any GF packaged goods, they definitely couldn’t tell that these dishes were made without gluten. Although I think they might have been suspicious that they were made without real cheese.
I’ve seen some reviews that some of the recipes in this book are too simple. However, when they present something as simple as green beans with bacon and onions or glazed carrots, they tell you how to prepare it – including how to shock the beans (not something I would have ever done) and how to use orange juice in carrots. It’s all about the details in this book.
Not all of the recipes have photos – which makes it hard for someone like me to know what the finished product is supposed to look like. Then again, I’m not a great chef. I think this is my biggest complaint about the book, because like a child, I need pictures in order to understand the entire story.
Although the book’s influence is heavy in Italian and New Orleans (what more could you expect from a Lagasse family cookbook) It’s definitely not all Italian style cooking – there’s thai turkey meatballs with homemade thai sweet chili dipping sauce and stories from food experiences overseas.
I also enjoyed that there were resources and websites on where they buy their gluten-free stuff including places where Jilly gets her favorite (or should I say favourite?) British essentials.
Overall, I really liked digging into the Gluten-Free Table. I’m looking forward to tackling more of the recipes, maybe even dabble in some of the more difficult ones when I’m feeling more confident.
I would recommend this book for those who are not classically-trained chefs, but more of the average gluten-free home cook looking to spice up their repertoire. While this book may not have the simplest of recipes for someone who is as dense as myself in the kitchen, I loved the two items that I created. Therefore, I’ll give the two recipes in this book a 5 out of 5 wheat stalks. I know I can’t speak for the cookbook as a whole because I haven’t tried all of the recipes, but I loved what I made.