I am sure the title will encourage many a cookbook-shelf scanner to move right on by this book. Gluten-Free! That’s got something to do with being ill, hasn’t it? I’ve never felt better. Not interested. Well, OK, all that having been said, let’s actually have a look.
You might have heard the word coeliac. Sounds like a type of small pterodactyl but it is, in fact, an autoimmune disease affecting the gut. It can sometimes be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome and has symptoms as diverse as skin rash, defective tooth enamel, nausea and abdominal pain. These symptoms are triggered by gluten found in wheat, barley and rye and sometimes oats.
Phil Vickery is a well-acclaimed chef in the UK who oft graces our TV screens. He noticed a gap in the market for gluten-free products and this book is a continuation of that interest. It doesn’t, however, read like a Red Cross manual. It’s not about avoiding food, it’s rather about good food that the whole family can eat together.
There are a surprising number of foods that include gluten. I would not have expected fizzy drinks to be a problem but they often contain barley flour. Coffee from vending machines and beer, lager, stout and ale all contain gluten. This volume has recipes that avoid those products that would be upsetting for a coeliac.
One might expect that a waffle would be out of the question but Phil has Salt and Pepper Eggs on Rice Waffles. It contains rice flour and gluten-free baking powder, and those same ingredients are seen again in Flat Mushrooms with Basil Pancakes.
The food here isn’t bland and beige. Crispy Pork Salad with Lemon Dressing is a riot of colour and taste. Marinated Smoked Salmon with Pickled Ginger is exotic but simple to make and contains tamari, a Japanese gluten-free soy sauce. Quick Tofu Miso Soup stays with the Japanese theme.
Cakes and pastries are rare in the diet of anyone avoiding gluten. They are all heavy on flour but this book has quite an array of goodies that will cause no problems. Soft Lemon and Lime Bar Cakes uses chestnut flour. Orange and Lime Shortbread has cornflour and rice flour.
There are several outstanding recipes here. They are noteworthy because they are delicious and just happen to be gluten-free. Rich Chocolate Brownies with Caramel Sauce uses chickpea flour, Fudgy Almond Cake with Mint Syrup and Frosting has ground almonds instead of regular flour. But the pick of this book is Tangy Lime Mousse with Mint Muddle. Phil made this on the Paul O’Grady TV show and has had lots of requests for it. This is rich and comforting and a visual stunner.
Seriously Good Gluten-Free Cooking will be sought after and appreciated by coeliac sufferers but it’s a book with great healthy ideas for all of us. It’s an attractive book with simple recipes that use ingredients that might be new to you, but that’s the charm of cooking – exploring something deliciously different.
Cookbook Review: Seriously Good Gluten-Free Cooking
Author: Phil Vickery
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018