14 January 2012

Weekend Cooking: Review: The Intolerant Gourmet by Barbara Kafka

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It seems to me that food intolerances and food allergies are on the rise. Either more people are having difficulties or we're better at recognizing food reactions. Barbara Kafka, award-winning cookbook author, is now both gluten and lactose intolerant. Her food intolerances, however, have not stopped her from enjoying food and spending quality time in the kitchen.

In her The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food without Gluten & Lactose, Kafka proves that there is plenty of good eating for everyone. As she points out in her introduction, the 300 recipes in this book do not rely on fake dairy or other processed foods. Kafka developed recipes for real dishes that you can serve on week nights or for celebrations.

Although some lactose-intolerant people don't have problems with butter or low-lactose cheeses, The Intolerant Gourmet uses absolutely no dairy in any form, including butter. Thus it's a useful resource not only for the lactose intolerant but also for people with a true milk allergy, for those who keep kosher, and for vegans (although there are many meat recipes in the book).

The cookbook is divided up in the usual way and the recipes are appetizing, use fairly normal ingredients, and are easy to put together. Kafka makes many ingredients (beans, for example) from scratch, which allows her to control what she's eating. If you don't have health issues with using products such as canned beans and store-bought mayonnaise, you could easily substitute.

What makes this book so special? First is the chapter titled "How We Do It," which covers basic cooking techniques, complete with adaptations for the intolerant gourmet. Here you'll find safe methods for dredging foods, deglazing pans, and thickening sauces. At the end of the book are two chapters on making safe-to-eat basics, including spice mixes, stocks, tempura batter (with rice flour), and beans. There is also practical, useful information on how to cook with tolerant grains, which is summed up in a handy, easy-to-read chart.

One store-bought product Kafka relies on is gluten-free pasta, which she says she has difficulty making from scratch. Home cooks will be grateful for the chart that compares pasta brands by cooking times, visual appeal, and taste. Kafka includes tips for helping you achieve success with these products.

So what kind of dishes will you find?
  • Tolerant waffles
  • Vegan black bean feijoada (stew)
  • Spinach meat loaf
  • Shrimp kebabs
  • Deep Winter Potage
  • Chestnut Doughnut Holes
Some of the dishes are definitely on the fancy side (quails) but there are many more dishes (flank steak, salads, soups) that you can easily make for a weekday dinner.

If you are new to food intolerances, stumped for creative ideas, or want to make sure you won't sicken a dinner guest, The Intolerant Gourmet is a book you'll want to have.

Vegetarian alert: Vegans and vegetarians should take the time look through the book before buying. About a third of the chapters focus on meat, fish, and poultry, and many of the soups use meat stocks and broths. Other recipes use eggs. On the other hand, the cookbook includes a number of flavorful recipes--from sides and sauces to main dishes and desserts--that will fit their diet.

Here is a dessert that Kafka says is always a great success.

Yum Yum Nut Sweets
makes 16 squares
  • ½ teaspoon safflower oil
  • 1 cup whole roasted unsalted almonds
  • 1 cup whole walnuts
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 300F. Grease a 7- or 8-inch square baking pan with the oil. Set aside. Place the nuts in a food processor and chop until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Put the contents into a small mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and egg whites. With a spatula, scrape the contents of the bowl into the oiled pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 1 hour for soft cookies or 1½ hours for crisp cookies. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool. Cut into 16 squares.

Chocolate variation: Melt 2½ ounces of 70% dark--not milk--chocolate in a double boiler. Add to the mixing bowl after the sugar and egg whites. Proceed as directed.

The Intolerant Gourmet at Powell's
The Intolerant Gourmet at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Workman Publishing / Artisan, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781579653941
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


25 comments:

Uniflame 1/14/12, 6:58 AM  

This dessert sounds good! I am on the lookout for good and easy desserts. I never really made my own desserts before, but it is something I want to try soon :)

Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook 1/14/12, 7:35 AM  

Sounds like a great book that helps keep people cooking and eating! The dessert has a great name, my first thought was yum!

Margot 1/14/12, 9:40 AM  

This looks like an excellent resource. I like that Ms.Kafka did it without relying on any processed foods. Even though I don't cook for any of these allergies, I'll check this book out.

The nut squares look interesting enough to try but I'll do the chocolate version.

caite 1/14/12, 10:06 AM  

It does seems like these food allergies and such are on the rise...which I have never heard a really good explanation for. But if you have issues, this sounds like a book you might look into.

Zibilee 1/14/12, 10:07 AM  

We just found out that my husband needs to be on a gluten free diet, and I am sort of at a loss as to what to cook, so this seems like something that I really need to grab. He's not lactose intolerant, but the gluten free fare is what I would mainly be focusing on. Great review today. Going right now to grab this one!

Trish 1/14/12, 10:33 AM  

I have some gluten-free coworkers so I'll suggest they check out this book. I've also wondered about the rise in these types of sensitivities as well. I'm sure you've heard me mention this, but Scott has Oral Allergy Syndrome (severe case) so all fresh fruits and veggies are out for him. He can have if processed (can) or cooked to mush. Definitely makes cooking at our house difficult. We've been doing a lot of soups and stews lately that allow me to dump in as many veggies as I want.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 1/14/12, 10:44 AM  

I'm all over the Chocolate Yum Yum Nut Sweets, they sound easy and addictive.

Molly 1/14/12, 11:16 AM  

I will definitely have to check this book out! My youngest's daughter dream is to start a bakery in Kansas City that caters to the "intolerant" crowd. This could be a useful resource for her.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick 1/14/12, 11:19 AM  

Although there may be a number of meat and egg recipes, this might be something that could get me back onto the vegan track. I'm familiar with what would be a good replacement for those items, and I especially love that there isn't any dairy involved. Might have to check this one out. Besides, I normally just pull everything off the internet, but I have been thinking lately that I need a few cookbooks in my kitchen just to have.

Heather 1/14/12, 11:31 AM  

This is now on my wish list. I don't like those books that claim to be lactose free but then use allsorts of hard to obtain substitutes for dairy. I don't need to pay good money for a recipe that says to substitute soy milk for dairy milk, that's a no-brainer. Thanks for sharing this.

Joanna 1/14/12, 11:45 AM  

I'm afraid my Cheese Pie recipe does NOT follow the dairy-free theme of your post, but it is an excellent cheesecake alternative and truly delicious!

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/14/12, 12:40 PM  

Beth F you make a good point. I don't remember growing up many people who had food intolerance. Were they just suffering quietly or is there something in our environment that has increased food tolerance issues? Now I know many people who are lactose intolerant or have Celiac's disease.

readramble 1/14/12, 12:44 PM  

Cooking without dairy sounds so difficult. We eat very little dairy, mostly cheese in Italian dishes and milk on cereal. Still, it would be hard to give up. The sweetened nuts sound like a refreshing and light dessert.

Vasilly 1/14/12, 1:16 PM  

After years of not having an intolerance to anything, I've recently found myself to be lactose-intolerant. This book sounds like it's perfect for me. Thanks for highlighting this book.

Joy Weese Moll 1/14/12, 2:11 PM  

Sounds like a wonderful resource.

heidenkind 1/14/12, 2:38 PM  

I cannot imagine a world without butter. *weeps*

I think people are more aware of food allergies, but also I think people tend to ignore food allergies a lot in favor of their favorite foods, too. Both my dad and my grandmother can't eat seeds (?) which seems like a totally random food allergy to me. But they'll still eat things like strawberries and popcorn even though they know it'll do a number on them.

bermudaonion 1/14/12, 3:47 PM  

It does seem that allergies and intolerances are on the rise - I have a feeling it has to with our food supply chain. I bet a lot of people will benefit from this book.

Raima 1/14/12, 4:41 PM  

Thanks for the tip about what sounds like a great book. I'm alerting my friends to your post, so many of whom seem to have become gluten intolerant lately. And soy intolerant, too, which must be a huge pain, since soy oil is in just about everything.

I have personally just come off a long, agonizing period of dairy intolerance, which seems to have cleared up lately. Not sure why, although the more yoga I did, the less symptoms I had. This is not a scientific study, but I can eat ice cream again after 5+ years of being unable to!

Peppermint Ph.D. 1/14/12, 9:15 PM  

My first thought is that we're just becoming more aware of more health/eating related disorders...but at the same time I wonder if our over-reliance on processed food has actually caused some new disorders?

Daryl Edelstein 1/15/12, 9:22 AM  

I'll ba back to link up tomorrow .. meanwhile I wanted to say hi and I hope you are staying warm

Lisa@ButteryBooks 1/15/12, 9:53 AM  

I think processed foods have contributed to many of the ills in society today. Trying to rid our diet of them is one of my goals for this year.

Andi 1/15/12, 10:00 AM  

I'm REALLY glad you posted this! I have a co-worker who is gluten-intolerant, and I see her eating a container of steamed veggies WAY too often. She's also a busy mom, so I'm not sure how much time she would have to cook the recipes in this book, but I also know she loves food, so hopefully it would provide inspiration from time to time. Perfect gift!

Karen White 1/15/12, 12:29 PM  

I'm in agreement with all the commenters (is that a word?!) who are thinking that excessive amounts of processed foods are behind our intolerances. So strange that we as animals could be intolerant of things meant to sustain us.
Anyway, realized that one of my latest recipes is gluten and lactose free - though I suppose the bacon is processed...where to draw the line!

Caitlin Martin 1/15/12, 12:58 PM  

I think it's a combination of things.

Celic is a genetic disorder - it you don't have the gene, you won't have the order. For the rise in this it's exclusively due to improved and increased testing. Sometimes problems with gluten are due to a wheat allergy, sometimes it's really just a gluten sensitivity, and sometimes it's people jumping on the latest food fad/freakout band wagon.

I was struck by how cool it was that this was written by Barbara Kafka since she wrote Microwave Gourmet and revolutionized the use of the microwave in the kitchen.

Beth S. 1/17/12, 5:49 PM  

I thought I commented on this post earlier but I guess I didn't.

I'm definitely going to check this cookbook out. I might be a foodie, but I have quite a sensitive stomach and wonder if I have a gluten sensitivity. I know I have one to dairy, but it's not so bad that I have to avoid it altogether. I love dairy too much to never eat it. But I should definitely try to cut down on it. This book might help me to do that.

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