Posts Tagged cookbook review

Review: The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen

When I was offered a copy of The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen for review, I wasn’t sure if I should accept.  It’s not a vegan book, not even vegetarian, and even though the recipes were dairy-free they could still contain eggs, which can be hard to replace in gluten-free recipes.  I looked into the author, Denise Jardine, and found out that she lives in the Bay Area and has worked at Whole Foods as a Healthy Eating Specialist.  And, I figured the publisher wouldn’t offer me a copy unless they thought I’d like it, so I signed on.

And I’m glad I did!  I don’t need to eat gluten-free, but I do sometimes coincidentally by eating a whole food vegan diet, and I certainly sympathize with those who do need to eschew gluten for medical reasons.  The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen is a great book to show anyone who might be worried about cutting out gluten that it can be done.  There is a chapter on basics like gluten-free flour mix, milk alternatives, beans and whole grains, and other sections for breakfast, small bites, salads and dressings, soups, vegetarian and companion dishes, sauces and spreads, yeasted and quick breads, sweet endings, and meat and fish dishes.  Vegetarians beware – there are pictures of meat and fish dishes sprinkled throughout those sections.

The first dish that caught my eye was Oyster Mushrooms Rockefeller.  For some reason I assumed the recipe wouldn’t be vegetarian, but it was completely vegan as written!  To turn it into a meal, I also made the Spicy Roasted Cauliflower.

The Oysters Mushrooms Rockefeller was really interesting and tasty.  You layer oyster mushrooms, wilted spinach and seasoned gluten-free bread crumbs, then top it off with a cashew cream.  The recipe calls for making bread crumbs from homemade gluten-free bread, but I had some store bought gf bread in the freezer so I just used that.

While the flavor of the overall dish was fantastic, I would change up the method a bit next time.  The mushrooms and spinach go in basically unseasoned, then the very flavorful bread crumb mixture went on top, so unless you got a bite with every layer it was a little unbalanced.  I would add a pinch of salt to the mushrooms and spinach, and maybe mix some of the breadcrumbs through, and then I think it would be really outstanding.

The Spicy Roasted Cauliflower was good, and also included carrots, potato and onion.  It was a basic roasted vegetable dish with curry powder and other spices, with some gf bread crumbs tossed in for crunch.

Next I wanted to veganize one of the meat dishes, since I figured it was a shame to skip over two whole chapters.  I chose the first recipe listed, Poached Cod Over Glass Noodles, because it sounded really healthy and flavorful.  My plan was to substitute tofu, although I wasn’t sure how well braised tofu would work out.

The answer is that braised tofu can be amazing.  You can’t really tell from the picture, but this tofu was so flavorful.  The broth was hearty, sweet, sour and pungent, with flavors from tomatoes, date syrup, lemongrass and ginger.  The bean thread noodles were a great textural complement, and while the bok choy was tricky to cut into, it made for a nice presentation.

I figured in order to do the book justice, I ought to try one of the breads using the gluten-free flour mix.  Many of the bread recipes do have eggs, so I attempted to veganize the Sweet Potato Cornbread.  I rounded out the meal with the Spicy Green Smoothie and the Sweet and Tangy Jicama Slaw.

I served the Spicy Green Smoothie as a cold soup, which worked out nicely.  It was light, refreshing and spicy, but also smooth from avocado.  The Jicama Slaw was crunchy and tasty, with cabbage, carrot, red bell pepper and a dairy-free mayonnaise based dressing.  I wouldn’t really say that I got the “sweet and tangy” part though, I thought the dressing could’ve been a little more flavorful.  Maybe it just seemed that way because I was having it with the spicy smoothie though.

The Sweet Potato Cornbread worked out pretty well, considering it was gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free AND sugar-free.  Right after baking it was pretty squishy and had a soft, dense texture, but after sitting overnight it firmed up a bit and felt more like “normal” cornbread.

Even though it’s not a vegan cookbook, I’m happy to have The Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen in my arsenal.  While some of the recipes are quite basic (I don’t think you need a recipe to make gf French toast if you know that gf bread exists), some of the recipes are really interesting and quite delicious.  I would definitely recommend the book to anyone seeking whole foods based dairy-free and gluten-free recipes.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.  The words, opinions and photos here are entirely my own.

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Christmas with Candle 79

Candle 79 is one of those “dream” vegan restaurants…one that you absolutely don’t miss if you have the chance to eat there.  Sadly, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Candle 79 myself, and I have no plans to travel to New York in the near future.  However, with the Candle 79 Cookbook, everyone has the chance to experience their food!

The cookbook is a large hardback volume with gorgeous color photos and delectable sounding recipes.  Including appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, sides, sauces, brunch, desserts and drinks, there are plenty of different types of dishes to try.  What first caught my attention about this book is that it is high end, yet it doesn’t call for expensive ingredients or crazy techniques.  It’s just good cooking methods mixed with quality ingredients and interesting flavor profiles, resulting in delicious food.

I received the cookbook just before Christmas, which seemed like a great time to try out a few recipes.  We had a few friends over for Christmas dinner, and Dave made steak for their entree.  I wanted to prepare some sort of vegetable side dish, and the Wild Mushroom and Cipollini Salad with Fresh Horseradish Dressing seemed like a perfect match.

The salad starts by roasting the onions and sauteing the mushrooms.  I couldn’t find cipollini onions, so I used small sweet onions instead.  The flavorful and creamy horseradish dressing calls for sauteed shallot, horseradish, silken tofu, white wine vinegar and olive oil.  It was a perfect, rich and spicy counterpart to the fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes.  The recipe calls for pre-mixing and plating the salad, but I chose to serve it buffet style so that everyone could choose the quantity of ingredients.

The dressing also made a nice sauce for my entree, which was Gardein Beefless Tips.

After Christmas, I went to visit my family for a vacation in Anna Maria Island, Florida.  I wanted to cook a nice big fancy meal for them as a gift, making interesting vegan food that wouldn’t scare my brother away.  I chose the Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Cakes with Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce and Apricot Chutney as the entree.

(The only plates at the rental house were bright red!)

Upon searching for images of this dish online, I found out that at the restaurant they serve the cake on top of a round of vegetables, so that is what I did.  The base is Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce, which includes coconut milk, onion, tomato paste, cilantro and spices.  The sauce was very tasty, but personally I could’ve used a little more spice.  I roasted the cauliflower very simply with olive oil and salt, and even my self-professed cauliflower-hating brother liked it.  To make the cakes, you combine chickpeas, onion, celery, flour and spices, including Old Bay.  I didn’t have access to a food processor, so I just mashed everything up with a fork.  My cakes were probably a little more chunky than they’re intended to be, but they held together fine.  The apricot chutney toed the line between savory and sweet, with onion, ginger and agave nectar.  It was decidedly not apricot season, so I bought dried apricots and reconstituted them in hot water.  To top it all off, you sprinkle on some toasted slivered almonds, which provided a nice texture contrast.

This dish was a little bit of work, and it’s definitely not weeknight meal material, but I would make it again for company or a fancy dinner at home.

I wanted to try one more recipe, and I got some really nice avocados in my recent CSA delivery, so I chose the Stuffed Avocado with Quinoa Pilaf and Chipotle-Avocado Dressing.  I’m watching my fat intake, so the stuffed avocado half became more of an avocado sliver, but this dish was delicious regardless.  The recipe is technically a salad and calls for mixed greens as the base, but I had kale in the fridge and steamed it to use instead.  This turned out to be a good decision, because the kale stood up well to the somewhat heavily dressed quinoa pilaf.  The pilaf incorporates corn, bell pepper, carrot, scallions and parsley, and you mix it with the dressing of  shallot, cilantro, guajillo chile, chipotle chile powder, white wine vinegar and even more avocado.  The dressing was very strong in flavor, but didn’t overpower the vegetables, and radish and hemp seeds were nice fresh toppings.  Plus, now I have chipotle chili powder in the pantry and I want to put it in everything.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the recipes in the Candle 79 Cookbook.  The recipes are well written, and range from simple to complex, so there’s something for everyone.  Some recipes that I hope to try in the future are Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Sage Leaves,  Kale, Vegetable, and Spelt Berry Salad with Chive Vinaigrette, the famous Seitan Picatta, and Chile-Grilled Tofu with Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.  The words, opinions and photos here are entirely my own.

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