Saturday, 16 May 2009

Book Review - Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking

Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking by Phil Vickery.
ISBN 978 1 85626 828 8

This is a new book by Phil Vickery in association with Coeliac UK. Most people in the UK will probably know Phil Vickery as he is one of our many TV chefs, probably most well known on day time TV but he has done programs on British Puddings and is generally a well known and talented chef.

I rarely buy Gluten Free cooking books, the way I see it most of them are mainly re-doing recipes I probably have elsewhere as they are most general everyday recipe type books, quite understandably as most people want everyday cooking. However with the exception of baking I can normally do any adjustments myself so why buy another book that is mostly naturally gluten free recipes as I don't struggle with those sort of dishes?

With that said why did i buy this one? Mostly because it was by a good BRITISH chef and backed by Coeliac UK. Most of the books out there are American or very basic and some of the commonly used flours etc in America are not found here easily. Also Phil Vickery is known for his love of British food and I was interested to see a proper British gluten free cookbook.

So what did I think? Well this is not a book to buy if you want specifically to learn to cook with gluten free flours and replace all those banned foods. He does do some baked products including some British classics like Bakewell tart but they are not the focus of the book. If however you are looking for a book that celebrates all the wonderful food we CAN eat this would be a great one to get. The recipes in the book are a very eclectic mix inspired by many regions of the world and in that it feels very British and there are plenty traditionally British dishes in there as well. The book is very strong on fresh ingredients and uses lots of herbs, fruit and veg, there are many really tasty sounding dishes mostly naturally gluten free, it is a really uplifting book in many ways. He does use frozen and packaged things as well where they are easier and still safe so it is quite a practical book for normal people, which is not always true of chefy books.

This is a book I would have happily bought even if it wasn't Gluten Free as there are plenty of recipes that had me thinking "Oh must try that" and in some ways that is great as it makes being gluten free feel less 'odd'. From the way the introduction is written I get the impression that is what he was after and it's a good thing. It doens't make you feel that cooking gluten free is difficult or that you will need lots of new and difficult to find ingredients and for most people I think that will be very helpful. This is a book I'd happily suggest to someone new to eating gluten free which isn't true of all gluten free cook books.

From a personal view point I would have liked a little more in the way of adaptions of gluten based recipes, I suppose I did slightly hope he'd cracked yorkshire puds and when he says in the blurb for the one bread in the book that he could write a whole book on the subject of gluten free bread my reaction was "yes please!!" Though to be fair he does do scones, various cakes and pancakes etc so the the book is not without such things and indeed probably has as many as a normal cooking book that is covering everything from breakfast to puds..

The picture at the top is of one of his breakfast dishes I did my boys for tea a couple of nights ago, salt and pepper eggs on rice waffles. The waffle mix was very good and easy to make though fairly bland on their own.. Good as a base for other things though which is the point and I had one topped with garlic soft cheese and it was very good that way. I will certainly be trying some more recipes soon. His onions rings I'm definitely trying soon and some of the salads, juices etc will be on the list for later in the year when I have the main ingredients fresh on the allotment.

In summery, really attractive, and interesting book that just happens to be gluten free !

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