Suite of Suites for Sweethearts continues with a review of Free For All Cooking by Jules E. Dowler Shepard, and includes one of Jules’ recipes from her new book. You may know Jules from her all-purpose gluten-free flour mix; her other books, The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten Free, and Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Living; from her site, Gluten-Free Jules; or from her numerous efforts to make gluten-free living better and safer for all. You may remember I mentioned Jules the other day in regard to her post on what certification truly means, and if in fact, Post Pebbles cereals can be considered gluten free. (You can read Jules’ post here.)
So let’s take a look at her new cookbook, shall we? Free For All Cooking starts out with heartfelt acknowledgments from Jules. She thanks “all those along the way who have shared their food needs and restrictions with me” and states that their experiences and her ultimate solutions for them inspired much of the content of her book. She also thanks family and friends, including Dr. Alessio Fasano, and his team at The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research. To me her gracious acknowledgments set the warm and inviting tone for her book, which incidentally is subtitled, “150 Easy Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy.”
Following the acknowledgments and the foreword by Dr. Fasano, comes the preface—a brief but eye opening section that further explains Jules’ motivation for writing Free For All Cooking. Did you know that the eight major allergens that must be shown on food labels per the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which became effective January 2006, account for 90% of all “allergic” reactions? Of course, those of us who are gluten free sure wish that manufacturers were required to show “gluten” on the label versus only wheat. An establishment of the requirements for a “gluten free” label could potentially resolve that problem, but years have passed since that was supposed to happen. However, I digress.
The next section of Free For All Cooking is Part I, Essentials of Gluten-Free Cooking. This 26-page section is a gold mine of information with specifics not only on gluten-free cooking, but also guidance on cooking free of other allergens. Jules offers substitutions for dairy, eggs, soy, and nuts. This section is also where Jules provide her all-purpose gluten-free flour mix recipe that can be used for the recipes that require flour. Note that this recipe is not identical to Jules’ flour mix that is available for purchase; that flour mix contains Expandex, modified tapioca starch (note that modified in this case does not mean genetically modified). She does state that her retail all-purpose flour mix may be used in all recipes requiring flour, but she did not simply state that as a required ingredient with no other options; which I think is admirable.
Next up is Part II, The Recipes, which are divided into categories. This section comprises 200 of the 236 pages in Free For All Cooking and as stated previously contains 150 recipes. Despite its super allergy-friendly status, I consider Jules’ cookbook to be a mainstream, multi-purpose cookbook. I guess it goes back to the book’s subtitle, “recipes the whole family can enjoy.” So there are classics like:
- Mashed Potatoes
- Crescent Rolls
- Crab Cakes
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Green Bean Casserole
- White Birthday Cake
- Best Brownies Ever
(Note that some of Jules’ recipes are made healthier than the original, traditional versions.)
There are many recipes from this book that are on my “to make” list. In fact, there are very few recipes that I don’t want to make. However, here are some that are tops on my list:
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Mango Avocado Salsa
- Chunky Shrimp Dip
- Sweet Potato Biscuits
- Tempura Veggies or Shrimp
And, finally, here’s the recipe I did make, Coffee Cake. Jules’ version actually includes brewed coffee (a coffee cake that includes coffee—clever!), brown sugar, and streusel topping. I opted to use palm sugar in place of brown sugar and skipped the streusel topping, going for just a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar (palm sugar) instead. I also used my all-purpose gluten-free flour mix and used almond flour instead of mesquite flour. The cake came out with a nice rich flavor, but was just a tad dry. I’m certain that was all because of my changes though. Next time (which may be this weekend for my support group’s tea event!), I’ll use a bit of honey with the palm sugar for some added moisture and stick to the streusel topping, perhaps using honey instead of brown sugar. I expect that the results will be more like Jules’ original version—in other words, scrumptious.
- 1 ripe banana
- ½ cup black coffee, prepared
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup butter or nondairy alternative, softened
- 2 large eggs or egg substitute of choice (like Ener-G Egg Replacer or Egg Substitute)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, gluten-free
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 2 cups Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
- ¼ cup mesquite flour (or Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder, gluten-free
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- (Double if you really like streusel. Not shown in photos.)
- 2 tablespoons butter or nondairy alternative, softened
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (static) or 325 degrees (convection). Oil or spray an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.
- Mash the banana in a medium-size bowl. Pour coffee over the banana and set aside. Beat the sugar and butter together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine well. Mix in the mashed banana and coffee then gradually stir in the remaining ingredients, mixing until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients with a fork. Crumble over the cake, then cut through the topping with a butter knife in a crisscross fashion lengthwise, then crossways, feathering the topping in the top of the batter.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the edges are lightly crisp and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Kristin (Slightly Irritating & Inconvenient)! Thanks to everyone else for entering and remember that your entries are still eligible for the final giveaway. More on that soon! To enter the giveaway (which ends Friday, February 27, at midnight Eastern), you may do any of the following:
~Simply leave a comment.
~Check out Jules’ blog and find a recipe you’d like to make. Leave a comment telling us which one.
~Follow Jules on Twitter. Leave a comment saying you did so.
~”Like” Jules on Facebook. Leave a comment saying you did so.
~Share this giveaway on Facebook. Leave a comment saying you did so.
As you might have anticipated from the other posts in the SSS event, I’ll be offering another copy of Free For All Cooking that I purchased as part of the final giveaway package for Suite of Sweets for Sweethearts. That package includes the Cook IT Allergy Free app and the Go Dairy Free book as well. ALL comments on the Suite of Sweets posts will be entered for the final giveaway package, so get as many entries as you can by following the guidelines above!
Last, check out other reviews of Free For All Cooking:
- Linda (The Gluten-Free Homemaker)
- Cinde (Gluten Free Taste of Home) (includes Jules’ recipe for Blueberry Banana Muffins)
- Cybele Pascal
Full disclosure: The copies of Free For All Cooking were provided free of charge; however, this is not a paid review. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.