A new book from gluten-free guru Carol Fenster is always welcome on my shelf, and when the publishers of her newest cookbook, "100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes" (NY: Wiley, 2010) offered me a chance to review a copy, I say yes. Absolutely.
I use Fenster's massive opus "1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes" on a regular basis, particularly for her recipes for baked goods, and this volume of her "greatest hits" from the bigger cookbook is much easier to work with on the kitchen counter. It is also packaged with color photos for about a third of the recipes, which always makes things easier for the home cook when trying out a new recipe or cooking technique.
The proof of a good cookbook comes when giving it a test drive, so I asked the Old Man to pick out some recipes for us to cook together in the Crispy Kitchen. He selected two baking recipes to challenge me and one savory fish dish. First requested was a batch of Soft Pretzels. Her recipe has been previously published over at the Bob's Red Mill site, so you can give it a spin yourself.
I had a little trouble squeezing out the pretzel dough from my freezer baggie (my cheapo baggie split at the seams), which Fenster suggests using as a pastry bag to shape the dough. Instead, I floured up my hands with white rice flour and make little pretzel snakes, which worked out fine. The pretzels were a hit with some spicy brown mustard on the side.
Next up I tried the recipe for Decadent Chocolate Cookies, and these came out a bit dry, though even so we managed to scarf them all down rather quickly. They are studded with nuts and dried cranberries and were quite tasty.
Finally, we dined on Mediterranean Fish Fillets Baked in Parcels, trying out the technique of nestling one's dinner ingredients into little packages of parchment paper and then steaming them in the oven. The combination of fish, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and herbs was really scrumptious and we will be making these again soon.
Overall, another wonderful effort for the gluten-free community and a cookbook that will be particularly helpful for novice cooks and those new to the gluten-free lifestyle. I would recommend this cookbook to anyone in search of some stylish new recipe ideas and certainly, any public library would find this a popular book on its cookbook shelves. Bravo Ms. Fenster!