Book review: Gluten-Free Tips and Tricks for Vegans: All the Fab Food You Thought You Couldn't Eat
Recently I was excited to receive a copy from the publisher of Gluten-Free Tips and Tricks for Vegans by Jo Stepaniak. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, although I received the book free of charge I'm not being paid to write this review.
Gluten-Free Tips and Tricks for Vegans is a bit of a misleading title. Yes, there are tips and tricks, but the majority of the book is recipes.
Someone new to gluten free cooking would find the tips useful to give them a basic understanding of where to start, and to be honest, do you really need doorstop-sized books full of superfluous content when it can be broken down reasonably succinctly? So this book offers a useful start—for vegans or non-vegans.
As part of my review I tested four recipes—though I suspect I'll be trying a few more in the future—and followed the instructions to the letter. The only deviation was that I was unable to get pure chick pea flour, so I had to resort to using the garbanzo(chick pea)/fava bean flour mix that Bob's Red Mill makes. Finding chick pea flour never used to be a problem, so it seemed somewhat typical that just when I needed some I'd run out, and there was none to be had on the shelves of the town I live in, or the nearest city. The garbanzo(chick pea)/fava bean flour mix has the same physical characteristics as chick pea flour, but there is a slightly different taste.
The recipes chosen were some of the things that people going gluten free (or wheat free) miss—sweet treats, but quiche is also a rare treat when you are following a vegan diet. I avoided the salad bar and soup kettle recipes because nothing really unique leapt out at me—though I'm sure there are some good recipes in those sections, so I will no doubt circle back to those in the future.
Once the test recipes were prepared I also drafted in some eager tasters in the form of my neighbour and her 10-year old son.
Recipe 1: Heavenly Date Squares
Good - really good. We all loved these—including Tipsy the neighbours cat who stole some crust crumbs. The base and topping were crunchy, and the centre filling of dates was soft and gooey. There was a large amount of sugar in the crust, so these were more of a treat than an everyday snack for me. They also froze really well, and could be eaten almost straight from the freezer—which meant I could keep them out of sight, out of mind, yet still have reasonable access to a quick treat.
Recipe 2: Super Fudgy Brownies
To me the canola oil was extremely overpowering so I didn't like them, but my neighbour and her son loved them and couldn't taste the oil. The texture is good though—it's crusty on the outside and sticky on the inside. The oiliness made me wonder if something was incorrect with the recipe as the oil quantity could, to my mind, have been reduced to make it less greasy feeling on my hands and mouth, but it wasn't an issue for my other testers.
Recipe 3: Divine Macaroons
Oh yeah! These hit the spot if you're a coconut lover; moist and very flavourful. Three thumbs up for these. I couldn't believe just how easy these
were to make. The longest time taken was actually rolling them into fairly equally sized balls. I think they would also be splendid with the suggested melted
chocolate drizzled over the top.
Divine Macaroons recipe
Recipe 4: Creamy Quiche
Fantastic pastry crust, and the filling was nice while still warm from the oven; we didn't particularly like it cold but it reheated well in the microwave, and was very good the next day for leftovers. I left out the nutmeg and substituted basil—a suggested alternative—in the filling mix.
One of the criticisms I would make, however, is that the book has no recipe photos. The front cover is bright and attention-getting, but the interior lacks the visual cues that make me buy a recipe book—photos of the recipes themselves.
So is this book worth buying? I would say yes, even if only to get the excellent gluten free all-purpose flour mix, and the pastry and dessert recipes. On top of those you would still have the bonus of extra recipes for breads, seasoning mixes, and even three types of gravy.
For more info:
Gluten-Free Tips and Tricks for Vegans: All the Fab Food You Thought You Couldn't Eat
Jo Stepaniak, MSEd. Book Publishing Company, Summertown TN, 2016. 160 pages. ISBN 1570673314. USD $12.95. CDN $16.95