… These Pages are Already Getting Tattered!
Don’t miss our book review of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy by Nicole Hunn!
Author of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, and blog writer of the same name, Nicole’s second gluten-free cookbook is as amazing as the original. The pages of my copy are already getting tattered from repeated use. Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy offers helpful tips, homemade vs. purchased products cost comparisons, and recipes that assure delicious results.
One example of Quick & Easy’s tips I find very helpful, and think other cooks will too, appears at the top of each recipe where she states whether the recipe “can be halved or doubled easily”. I’ve not seen many cookbooks that share this individual recipe knowledge. Sometimes recipes simply are not conducive to these adjustments. I like not having to find this out by trial and error (and expense). No more “just not right” results from experimenting on my own.
Living this required “specialty” lifestyle can be expensive if you’re buying prepared gluten-free products and mixes (not to mention that the flavors and nutritional quality can often be sub-par compared to creating meals at home). Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy offers homemade food that is just that – quick and easy to prepare, with uncompromising flavor, enabling us to forego paying premium prices for “specialty” products. I like knowing that my efforts in the kitchen have paid off … financially, nutritionally, and deliciously.
Nicole also shares her take on the best kitchen tools to make cooking easier, and some tips on kitchen and pantry item basics that save time and energy, and typically save money.
Perhaps what kept me reading through this cookbook effortlessly, and I’ve perused many a cookbook, is that she doesn’t take herself or the gltuen-free subject too seriously. Wait … before someone misinterprets what I mean … I know, and I’m sure she knows, that gluten-free is a serious matter. But that doesn’t mean it has to be approached as a kitchen or dining sentence that shackles us to boredom, lack of real food, or such a scientific approach that we could rightfully become overwhelmed. The author openly shares her mistakes so we can bypass them. She keeps things real when it comes to knowing that, yes, making our own chicken stock would be less expensive, but realistically most of us don’t have, or won’t take, the time. She shares real, everyday food recipes and bits of experience and pointers with most. She brings us recipes of baked breads, pizza crusts, tortillas, sweets and treats – again real food that is commonplace in most of our homes. While I like being adventurous and learning how to cook or create more elaborate dishes, keeping things approachable during the day-in-day-out routine works for me.
To see how quick and easy, and tasty, these recipes really are, I chose a few (you may have noticed the page tabs in the photo) and put them to the test. And I’m so glad I did! While Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy is not a dairy-free cookbook, some of her recipes include dairy-free options, and many do not required dairy at all. For the rest, if you’re dairy-free like me, you’ll need to make adjustments. My three choices were items I use, or used to use, in my kitchen on a regular basis … flour tortillas, pizza crust, and yellow cake mix.
During the past three gluten-free years, I’ve never come across a gluten-free flour tortilla I’ve felt worthy of my time or my money. Perhaps that sounds snobbish, but there just don’t seem to be gluten-free tortillas that are also dairy-free, taste “real”, and don’t break the bank. I’m delighted to say that there will now be flour tortillas on my next taco night plate. This recipe, found on page 80, is delicious! I followed her ingredients (using Bette’s Gourmet Four Flour Blend because it doesn’t contain xanthan), substituted guar gum, and made a half batch. Estimated time for this recipe is 20 minutes – I easily hit that goal. The dough was very workable and, though I don’t have a tortilla press, I was able to roll the tortillas out easily inside a lightly floured, plastic bag, as suggested. Toasted to a light golden brown on my cast iron griddle, these tortillas were tender, with that slight chew tortillas should have, and flavorful. Right off the griddle they were almost like a flat bread, then became quite pliable as they cooled (which I had a hard time letting them do – they were so yummy!) Easily “foldable” for a taco shell or a wrap. Let’s just say, I wish I’d made a whole batch!
I was so excited with this success, that I immediately moved on to the Yeasted Refrigerator Pizza Dough recipe, found on page 63. We LOVE homemade pizza!! I’ve tried a few gluten-free pizza dough recipes in the past, and I didn’t keep the recipes for another try. They were not quality. I honestly don’t even remember where they came from (oops). So we’ve turned to using pre-made pizza crusts – Gluten-free Bistro and Udi’s – two very good choices I might add. But I’ve always wanted a recipe for a homemade crust (and I haven’t created one myself yet). I’m happy to say that I don’t need to look any farther. The crusts baked up crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, with just enough rise to make them similar to hand-tossed crust, not too thick and not too thin. I slathered them with sauce and toppings, not heeding the warning that they can become limp if filled too full. This was not the case, however. The crust held its own and added a delicious “real pizza” flavor. Two 12-inch pizzas disappeared in a heartbeat – a very happy heartbeat (no, not all by me).
Cake was my next trial. Nicole has a section in the back of the cookbook for “mixes” that can be made ahead with the dry ingredients, then stored for easy access at any time. I love that idea. What a time saver and an easy way for anyone to finish mixing up the recipe when needed. I chose the Dairy-Free Make Your Own Yellow Cake Mix, page 195. The author will probably cringe when I say I made another substitution and used Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – soy free instead of the vegetable shortening. I know it’s best to follow the recipes exactly when you’re testing them to give an accurate assessment, but I wanted to know if these recipes would really work in my kitchen with my style and ingredients. And, I don’t do shortening. This gluten-free yellow cake mix came out different than I expected. But this was not a bad thing. With my ingredients (honestly only minor changes), the cake was a lovely, tender – although more dense than that of a standard boxed cake mix – cake that rose beautifully and resulted in a cake likened to the consistency of a coffee cake or a carrot cake, though definitely not as heavy as a Bundt or pound cake. The flavors were wholesome and hearty, making it a deliciously moist cake with more character than a typical yellow cake. I love the fact that it had more body, tooth, and flavor. I’ll be making this again very soon, too. I didn’t have a chance to get photos of the tortillas or pizza, but here’s a cake photo to show you how well this yellow cake mix recipe can help you make your next gluten-free, dairy-free layered cake. It has become a hit here at Daily Forage.
Gluten-free baking and cooking can be intimidating, especially for those new to the gluten-free lifestyle. Nicole Hunn’s Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy makes gluten-free baking and cooking easy and reliably approachable by taking the guesswork – and the expense – out of the equation. I will definitely be recommending this book to my gluten-free friends – YOU – and will continue to tatter and splatter the pages of this newly found kitchen resource!
Be sure to check out more of Nicole’s fabulous creations at glutenfreeonashoestring.com.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™