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Customer Review

on October 19, 2013
First off, I'm a long time fan of Taste of Home since their very first issue. And in the last 2 years I've gone gluten free. Here is the good, the bad and the in between from this cookbook.

Good: YAY for the fig cookies. Fig NEWTONS again!!!! Yippeeeee!!!!! And that is the single best reason I'm not tossing this kindle e book back for a refund.

Next this book has the nutrient info, which is a joy since carb content of gluten free foods is often double or more than the food it replaces. It's also helpful to know diabetic exchanges and things like sodium and fat content not to mention calories. Good for Taste of Home, that is a really good feature. More gluten free cookbooks should offer this.

HOWEVER in several recipes with this nutrient info, they don't specify WHICH brand of all purpose gluten free flour they are using. Was it a garfava mixture or was it Bob's Red Mill. This affects the nutrient content big time, not to mention the quality of the product. The book does have a home made flour blend offered by one contributor, but the recipes using all purpose blend were from other people so we don't know what the test kitchen used.

BAD:
No Table of Contents. There isn't a linked TOC, or even a vestigial TOC. And certainly not in the sample where you hope to find them. There is an attempt at one--far into the book that divides the recipes into breads, main dishes, cookies and bars etc but that is useless to find a specific recipe, say the fig bars and if you use the MENU button on your kindle it won't take you to that page of divisions. You must click past a lot of useless information to find it. Bookmark it when you do.

A TERRIBLE sample; this offers you pages of editors names who worked on the project. Embarrassing for Taste of Home editors since the format is a bit of a mess. You don't get a table of contents, nor a list of recipes or even a sample recipe.

A lot of the recipes use an unspecified all purpose flour blend. Since we don't know the one used by the test kitchen (it might be the one they give in odds and ends or it may not) we aren't sure of how the recipe will turn out. My experience in gluten free baking has been that flour blends vary WILDLY and affect the end product far more than different brands of regular flour.

In Between.
Lots of contributors including Silvana Nardone who wrote Cooking for Isaiah. Meaning that the recipes will vary in quality a lot. Silvana's stuff is pretty good if very very sugary sweet, the recipes are taken from her book. Some other contributors use very different flours including a lot of bean flours. That can be expensive if you buy a bag of millet flour and don't like the recipe.

Now I will list the recipes in this book with some comments you might want to know ahead of time.

Most of the baking uses xanthan or guar to mimic gluten in the recipes.

BREADS:

Autumn Bread: Looks great, one to try, using sorghum, brown rice flours and lots of carrot, banana and walnuts and spice.

Banana Nut Muffins: Another nice looking recipe using millet, sorghum and tapioca flour with flax seeds.

Chocolate Chip Muffins: This one has soy flour, tapioca, buckwheat and cocoa. Apart from the soy which can be a problem for some celiacs with further food sensitivities (not uncommon).
Cornmeal Muffins: Cornmeal and amaranth flour.

Banana Bread: While this looks like a great recipe, it asks for gluten free all purpose flour but doesn't say which one it uses so the nutrition info is useless and depending on the blend you use in your kitchen, this recipe may not perform well at all.

Sandwich Bread: This could have been a great recipe but we DON'T know which all purpose flour this contributor uses. Looking at the recipe it is very close to a good Bette Hagman, and an equally good Carol Fenster recipe so try either of those author's blends if you are set on this recipe or better yet, get Carol Fenster or Bette Hagman.

MAIN DISHES:

Chocolate chipe Banana Belgian Waffles. Bless her heart, Silvana Nardone is part hummingbird, her stuff is sweet and good and best saved for once in a while treats. Super recipe, but carbolicious! This comes from her book. The recipe calls for any g free pancake mix but in her book, Silvana gives recipes for her all purpose flour and for her pancake mix. Things may vary a LOT depending on the brand you use.

Dredged Pork Chops. Finally using the Gluten Free Flour mixture from the odds and ends chapter. This is by the Test Kitchen at Taste of Home so we can trust the nutrient info.

Pancakes. Made with brown rice flour, potato starch and ground almonds this looks good and isn't as high carb as some I've seen but at 33 grams of carbs per 2 pancakes it's not low carb either.

Pizza crust: Tapioca starch and brown rice flour with xanthan, gelatin and yeast. I've seen better.

Grilled Flank Steak. This will annoy many a gluten free chef since the only gluten free claim comes from the tamari soy sauce which is gluten free, otherwise it would be naturally gluten free as many a meat dish is.

Grilled Peach BBQ Chicken Wings is another Silvana Nardone recipe and simply didn't ever have gluten ingredients anyway. Comes from her cookbook mentioned above and has 70 grams of carbs per serving. Part hummingbird I'm sure.

Spaghetti and Meatballs from Silvana's cookbook. and a quick pointer here. Silvana calls for rice cereal crumbs. You'd think Rice Krispies are a safe gluten free choice but they aren't. If you are very sensitive to gluten you need another brand such as Nature's Path that are certified gluten free. Pasta that works is another issue. Corn or Tinkyada brand brown rice work best in my experience.

COOKIES AND BARS:

Almond Cookies call for an 8 oz can of almond paste which may be hard to find. Looks good though.

Fig Cookies: The reason I'm keeping this book. Looks like a fig newton to me!!!! Uses sorghum and brown rice and tapioca flours.

Gluten Free Brownies: Calls for a whole can of garbanzo beans and a food processor. Unique. May be good, but if you have a problem with legumes, not one to make. There are LOADS of good gluten free brownie recipes all over the web so if this recipe isn't for you, don't despair. Brownies is one thing the gluten free universe has coming out the wazoo. High quality isn't hard to find.

Sugar Cookies but not the kind you cut out with grandbabies. These are puffy little cake like ones. If you want the roll out version check Jeanne Sauvage's gluten free holiday baking book or Elizabeth Barbone's Gluten Free Baking. Amazingly this was the one other recipe where the editors remembered to specify which flour was used. Turns out to be Bob's Red Mill garfava flour. Garfava (a garbanzo bean and fava bean flour mixture has a strong beany flavour so I'm not sure how these cookies will turn out).

Maple Almond Crispies look great and I plan to try them. Rice flour, almond flour and maple syrup.

Oatmeal chip bars. This sounds quite sweet calling for choco and butterscotch chips along with sugar, peanut butter and bananas. Looks tasty. Gluten free oats are specified, but not all celiacs can tolerate the gliadins in oats so your mileage may vary if you have to use other flaked cereals from the safe cereals.

Peanut Butter Kiss cookies: Butter flavoured shortening, rice and tapioca flour with potato starch. Shortening is used instead of butter when you want a cookie that doesn't spread and remains chewy.

Toffee bars: Rice, tapioca, and potato starch with garfava flour.

DESSERTS:

Banana Boats looks good, campfire classic with marshmallows and bananas roasted on a campfire.

Carrot Cake calls for soy flour. Looking this one over, I suggest a simpler one from Anne Byrne that doctors a gluten free cake mix with carrots etc. Annes book on Gluten Free Cake doctoring is a marvel.

Gluten Free Angel Food cake needs 10 egg whites, cornstarch, rice flour, tapioca flour and potato starch along with cream of tartar and looks like the third recipe reason for me to keep this sampler. But this recipe is free on the Taste of Home website.

Gluten free crumb pie crust. Brown rice flour and walnuts with apple juice concentrate and olive oil. Looks healthy too,

Kahlua dessert

Pecan Pumpkin cake brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour and usual pumpkin cake ingredients.

Spice cake. An applesauce spice cake using the usual ingredients but relies on rice and soy flour.

Sugarplums Dried fruit and honey confection

ODDS AND ENDS:

Breakfast Blintzes relies on gluten free all purpose flour that the editors refuse to identify.

Cherry Snack Mix is simply Popcorn and cereal with dried fruit and honey

Chocolate snack mix is a choco nut chex mix variant

Gluten Free Flour Mix (used in 2, count em 2 recipes in this entire book) and is a fairly standard rice flour, potato starch and tapioca mixture. The nutrient info is per Tbsp only so good luck figuring out cup measures in your recipe if you are trying to figure out your own nutrient info.

Gluten Free MASHED POTATOES!!! Seriously people, when did mashed potatoes EVER contain gluten??????

Apple Brown Sugar Coffee Cake is another Silvana recipe from her book so you are sure of sugary goodness in every bite. sigh, Silvana asks for gluten free all purpose, but just so you know, her book calls for a different recipe for the all purpose flour and btw pancake mix too so the waffle recipe above is based on her mixture even though she calls for any gluten free pancake mix.

And that is it. That is what is in the collection. Something I wanted to know BEFORE I bought it. Hope it helps
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