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.