My favorite book this month is Carol Fenster’s latest: Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking. Fenster is a pioneer in gluten-free cooking and baking. She’s been adapting recipes for the gluten-free diet for more than 25 years. This is the completely revised and updated version of her first book, which came out in 2003. So much has changed. The recipes have all been time-tested, the information about gluten, research, and labeling laws is brand-new. It’s truly a must-have book for those eating gluten-free. It would be the perfect first book to buy if you find out you need to avoid gluten, whether because of celiac disease or if you (like me and the author) have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Layout and design:
The book is very fresh and appealing, with a bold color scheme and beautiful photography. Some choices, such as the white text on bright colors, make aspects of the book difficult to read. I completely missed the Contents page at first, as it’s placed on the left side, instead of where it would normally be on the right. The book does use sans serif fonts throughout, but the nicely weighted black type is still pretty easy to read.
She begins with some key background chapters to help you get started: Gluten-free survival guide, Gluten: A real pain in the gut, Going against the grain: flours for gluten-free baking, the gluten-free kitchen. Recipe chapters include: Breakfast & brunch, Small bites, Soups & salads, Main dishes, Breads, Desserts. She even includes a page of menu suggestions, which is really nice.
Gorgeous full-page photographs by Jason Wyche, with food styling by Joline Rivera, make the food irresistible. The photos are spaced evenly throughout the book, giving it the feel that you’re seeing all the recipes illustrated.
This is a book for traditional eaters: cinnamon coffee cake, onion soup mix, meat loaf, corn bread, chocolate chip cookies. Recipes are tagged with Q for quick and V for vegetarian. Nutritional analysis is provided, which I appreciate.
What I liked about the book:
Bright cheery colors, great photographs, lots of resources and tips. Fenster’s deep expertise is showcased in this book. I got lots of inspiration for recipes. I also trust her, as she’s been doing this such a long time.
I wasn’t so keen on:
Recipes were not coded for special diets beyond vegetarian. She uses gums in every baking recipe, which many people are sensitive to. It’s a traditional book in every sense except gluten-free, so recipes include salt and white sugar.
Anyone new to gluten-free eating, celiacs, traditional eaters who need to cook something for a gluten-free friend or family member
Not recommended for:
Migraine sufferers, low-sodium eaters, sugar-free eaters, vegans
A note about my cookbook reviews: In the past, I tested at least three recipes from each book, took photos, and described my experience. Due to my dietary limitations (extremely-low-sodium for my Meniere’s Disease and trigger-free foods for migraine relief), it is no longer possible for me to test the recipes and do them justice.