Let me preface this post by saying I’m not Gluten Free nor do I have any plans, God willing , of turning to a Gluten Free diet. As of late the whole food allergy issue is just exploding. Now all of sudden people are claiming to be allergic to Gluten, or this and that and it creates many challenges as a host or cook to make sure everyone is taken care of. Look in any aisles of the supermarket and the Gluten Free Category is taking off .
… In fact, the number of kids with food allergies went up 18 percent from 1997 to 2007, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 3 million children younger than 18 had a food or digestive allergy in 2007, the CDC said…
I admit I’m a bit of a cynic with all these professed limitations food wise people claim to have. The reason being I have seen a few people in my world just latch on the fad and diet craze, believing Gluten Free will make them thinner. However I do acknowledge , there are many with serious allergies out there. And for them I applaud Cooking For Isaiah by Silvana Nardone for the love of her child Isaiah , who was stricken with both gluten and dairy allergies. Silvana is a former bakery owner and founding editor of Every Day With Rachel Ray. She defiantly has the food chops and credentials, but love is her motivating factor in writing Cooking For Isaiah. 135 recipes of gluten and dairy free recipes from breakfast to desserts, and all that falls in between. As with any great book her basic sections includes her Silvana’s All Purpose Flour Blend , Silvana’s Pancake Mix, and charts for substitutions to cook and bake gluten and dairy free.
As baking is my primary interest I went ahead and made Silvana’s All Purpose Flour Blend. If you look on a grocery aisle a small box of Gluten Free Flour ranges in the neighborhood of $5. Making Silvana’s blend gave me probably 6x that amount. Way more economical , as going Gluten Free isn’t cheap or easy. Silvana is very pro certain brands likes Bobs Red Mill or Shiloh Farms as she believes they influence taste. I had most of her brands but went with a bulk off brand of Rice Flour purchased in an Ethnic Market (Swad Brand for Indian Foods).
I’m not one to follow a cookbook exactly but use it for inspiration. So having made the flour blends, I attempted to make the Cherry Turnover recipe with Cinnamon Glaze. The whole texture and feel of Gluten Free dough takes some getting used to, and while she warned to not be afraid of crumbling dough, and to make water your friend, my turnovers didn’t turn over. So I plopped the dough and my cherry blend into a mini loaf pan made a cobbler with that pie crust. I also made a mini pie with the other half of ingredients.
I found the dough was crisp and flaky. The taste took some getting used to, but that can be attributed to the rice flour brand I used.As I’m not dairy free, I want to use butter next time for this Gluten Free Pie Crust rather than vegetable shortening.
Having plenty of Silvana’s All Purpose Flour Blend left I decided to make her Pizza Crusts. All of her Pizza Recipes are Dairy Free. I need cheese on my pizza, and just worked on her crusts from the book. The Gluten Free Pizza crusts are assembled and pre baked. One can freeze them or make up the pizzas right there. No real rising time is needed with the yeast which perplexed me. Again, another oddly textured dough .You need to forget about your preconceived notions of traditional baking when baking Gluten Free. My crust didn’t puff in my new super hot oven. Maybe I rolled it to thin. What I got was a tasty crisp flat bread with the right sugar/salt content, that I added cheese , Mortadella , and basil to. Was it tasty? Yes , it was, . Was it what I think of as pizza dough, not quite. But it was pretty good for what I expected from Gluten Free. From the two recipes I tried, I prefer the savory applications as the topping of the pizza absorb the different tastes of Gluten Free flour blends. The texture still takes some getting used to.
Cooking For Isaiah is great introduction to the world of Gluten Free. Besides baking, Silvana has many main dishes, soups, rice, salads, vegetables and sides to chose from. I’m amazed at her creativity with the limitations set. You will find recipes the whole family can enjoy, In my case I will use this book to be conscientious host, cook, friend, and caterer to those that have gluten and dairy restrictions. Cooking for Isaiah has a wealth of ideas.