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Cookbook review: 'Gluten-Free Made Easy' guides home cooks with celiac disease

Published: Saturday, July 4 2015 9:47 p.m. MDT

"Gluten-Free Made Easy" is by Christi Silbaugh and Michele Viseck. (Cedar Fort)

Editor's note: This is one of several cookbooks and other informational books that cater to specific medical issues have crossed our desks recently. While books like these can help supplement a diet or treatment, they should be coupled with the advice of medical professionals.

"GLUTEN-FREE MADE EASY," by Christi Silbaugh and Michele Vilseck, Front Table Books, $19.99, 268 pages

“Gluten-Free Made Easy,” by Christi Silbaugh and Michele Vilseck, aims to be an all-inclusive cookbook and gluten-free guide for those living with celiac disease.

The strength of “Gluten-Free Made Easy” is in the information portion at the beginning of the book, which includes answers to frequently asked questions, lists of resources, and recommendations for store-bought gluten-free products. Recipes for gluten-free flour blends and cake mixes are included but include expensive and specialized ingredients like guar gum, sorghum flour and chickpea flour.

Red Velvet Pancakes from Red Velvet Pancakes from "Gluten-Free Made Easy" by Christi Silbaugh and Michele Viseck. (Cedar Fort)

Many of the recipes feel like advertisements for gluten-free brands; 12 recipes call for flour or mixes by Better Batter, the CEO of which wrote the cookbook’s foreward. Other brands are also specifically called for when generic gluten-free substitutes would suffice.

Not all recipes are modifications of dishes that normally contain gluten. Spring rolls, garlic tilapia and mole chicken all make appearances, with the recipes simplified to accommodate the most novice of home cooks. The explanations are short and simple — many recipes require only one step — but aren’t ambiguous or unclear. More confident chefs will likely modify seasonings and ingredients to boost taste.

“Gluten-Free Made Easy” is a solid informational resource as well as a basic overall cookbook for those with celiac disease.

Red Velvet Pancakes

Makes: 4 servings

The picture says it all! Decadent pancakes topped with a cream cheese glaze and chocolate syrup. What more could you ask for in a breakfast?

Pancakes:

1 cup Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix or Pancake Mix (see below)

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 large egg

¾ cup buttermilk

¼ cup sour cream

1 tablespoon red food coloring

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cream cheese glaze:

½ package (4 ouces) cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup powdered sugar

Whisk pancake mix and cocoa powder in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl or stand mixer, beat egg with buttermilk, sour cream, food coloring, and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture and melted butter. Whisk until smooth.

Make glaze by whisking together cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a separate bowl.

Heat a large nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat, and then drop in batter with a ¼ cup to form pancakes. Flip when the bottom of the pancake is set and bubbles are forming on top. Cook until firm and fluffy all the way through.

Serve with glaze and chocolate syrup.

— "Gluten-Free Made Easy" by Christi Silbaugh and Michele Viseck

Pancake Mix

Makes: 8 (6-inch) pancakes

Pancake mix also works well as a breading, soup thickener, and sometimes a flour substitute.

6 cups brown rice flour 2 cups cornstarch

4 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup baking powder

4 teaspoons xanthan gum

¾ cup sugar

To make pancakes, whisk together 1 cup pancake mix, 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, and 1 cup water. Cook on a greased skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Flip when bubbles form. Enjoy hot.

— "Gluten-Free Made Easy" by Christi Silbaugh and Michele Viseck

Jennifer Ball is a freelance journalist out of Los Angeles. Email: jenniball91@gmail.com

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