Cooking For Isaiah…Gluten Free and Dairy Free… A Book Review

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.

Visit Silvana’s  Blog Dish Towel Diaries

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17 thoughts on “Cooking For Isaiah…Gluten Free and Dairy Free… A Book Review

  1. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle

    I talked at length to a friend today who has to cook Gluten Free for her hubs; she indicated that though many do benefit from the gluten free diet as a necessity; that others have found it can be one way of losing weight…and anything with the potential for weight loss will see huge popularity. I would probably go a different direction but just sharing what she said!

    Good for you for trying; I’ve tried some GF products…I would rather eat a salad then give up the bread I love!

  2. Jamie

    Funny because my husband just ranted the other day about the glut of people all of a sudden having to eat gluten free. We are skeptical, too, but then I can eat almost anything so who am I to naysay? Your recipes look awfully delicious so I just have to take your word about the texture and quality. I did eat a tart last month with a gluten-free crust and yes it did taste different from what I was used to but the flavor of the whole dessert together made it delicious.

  3. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen

    I have some mom friends that have kids with the same allergies, that I will recommend this book too. Many people have gluten sensitivities that are not severe allergies. Believe me, I would love nothing more than to gorge on a nice loaf of French bread, but there will be consequences for me if I do. So I have to weigh the pros and cons.

  4. Lori Lynn

    Love your photos in this post.
    I haven’t tried any gluten free baking, not sure that I will, but I do keep gluten-free English muffins in my freezer for when a friend with allergies comes over, they toast up quite nicely.

  5. Abigail @ Sugar Apple

    Just curious – is the gluten allergy primarily an American issue (caused by something in the diet, environment or genetics maybe)? It seems so common these days but I’ve never run into anyone outside the US with this problem.

  6. A Monroe

    Abigail & Courtney…..Many other countries than the US have large Celiac disease rates, we’re just the last major nation to actually acknowledge the problem exists. In the US, approx. 5% of those with Celiac disease know they have it, in Finland it’s around 70%….McDonald’s even serves gfree buns there!

    Barbara……Those who do it as a fad will either realize it works for them or not, it’s not an ideal lifestyle to do willingly. To rather eat a salad than give up bread…when you HAVE to give up bread you would rather eat rocks than that crusty bread! 😉 LOL

    While I love the ideas in the book, the author makes a point that NO other tapioca flour but Shiloh Farms will produce the results she gets. Shiloh Farms products are made on shared equipment with wheat, how gluten free can that be? (Many Celiacs will react to products made on shared lines…we call ourselves walking gluten detectors! LOL)

  7. Flora

    I agree about the tapioca flour. I got the cookbook, but when I read up about Shiloh Farms thy state that it is processed on the same equipment as wheat. My husband has Celiac, so there is no way I would be willing to buy it. I used another brand, but my food had an off-taste to them. The photos are great and the recipes look tasty, but not really sure Celiacs will be very impressed.

  8. Arlene

    Hi, I just made the pie crust from this cookbook, now I’ve made MANY pie crusts and even a GF version, this one though I’m concerned about, the dough has the consistency of cookie dough, too soft and I added half the water she called for, am I the only one with this issue? I put it in the freezer to “harden” but I may need to add lots more flour to get it to roll decently.

  9. Courtney

    As I stated in the post it was hard to control. I don’t normally bake gluten free so the texture was unusual for me. I ended up using it like a cobbler as the dough was way too soft to handle.

  10. Christina

    I’m new to GF cooking since hubby got diagnosed. Just got Silvana’s cookbook for Christmas. Not to be nit picky, but for those saying Shiloh Farms’ Tapioca Flour isn’t GF, here is what their Web site says re: their tapioca flour:

    “Tapioca Flour comes from a dedicated Gluten Free source and is processed on our hand line, (the flour is scooped directly from the supplier’s bag and put into the Shiloh Farms Tapioca bag and then sealed).”

    Just thought I’d post this so other people aren’t put off by the comments above!

  11. Katie

    Gluten sensitivity is on the rise in America because wheat is so highly processed in everything that we eat that many people can not properly digest the protein anymore.

    Highly processed food is everywhere and it’s making people sick. It’s not just a fad. If I could eat bread with getting major, fall on the floor stomach cramps, trust me I would.

    It’s fine to be cynical of things that seem like fads, but do some research and you’ll find out why so many people are now sensitive to gluten.

  12. Courtney

    Im well aware of the rise of gluten intolenrance. I am also aware of many people in my world that adopt this diet and lifestyle for other reasons,( mainly dietary). Im happy that there is more awarness, options, products for this growing segment.

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