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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
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
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.
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