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Cookbook Reviews – Older Reviews

Published in 2010 and earlier

For more recent reviews, click here [1].

Baking at Its Best
Cybele - Allergen Baker's Handbook [2]
Allergic Living gives two thumbs way up for Cybele Pascal’s The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook. Pascal had all the right ingredients take on her second cookbook: an accomplished home chef, she earned her stripes in restaurant kitchens, and she lives with multiple allergies in her family. Add two more to the mix: she’s a writer by profession and has boundless passion for baking.

With a team of 20 testers to assist, Pascal mixed, baked, tweaked and rebaked. Everything had to live up to her standards. The result is a truly superb recipe collection and must-have for those with – or without – diet restrictions. Celestial Arts, $29.95. See Allergic Living‘s interview with Cybele Pascal [3].


Enjoy Life’s Cookies For Everyone!
Enjoy Life's Cookies for Everyone [4]
Leslie Hammond and Betsy Laakso; Fair Winds Press; $21.95

Warning: Do not peruse while hungry; you may try to eat the scrumptious pages. This book is a great idea: the manufacturer known for its snacks, bars and breakfasts without top allergens (including gluten) teamed up with Leslie Hammond, a culinary expert with an allergy-friendly focus, and a collection of 150 awesome safe cookie recipes was born.

Young children will be over the moon for: Gimme S’more Bites, the Fantastic Fairy Cookies and Caramel-icious Apple Cookies. And for your own safety, don’t stand between allergic women and the Especially Expresso Brownies and Ludicrously Lemon Bars.


Go Dairy Free
Go Dairy Free [5]
Alisa Marie Fleming; Fleming Ink; $19.95

Author Alisa Marie Fleming calls this a “guide and cookbook,” and what particularly impresses is the depth of the former. This is no quick gloss-over: it’s a comprehensive, must-have resource for those avoiding dairy. The author, who’s well-known for her website Godairyfree.org [6], walks the reader through the dairy allergy basics and offers extensive lists of both hidden dairy sources and ingredients that will inspire.

There are thorough sections on dairy substitutes (homemade margarine, anyone?) and creative recipes, from soups to salads to curries and Make Your Own Pizza (without cheese.) Baking without dairy is usually a challenge, but Fleming rises to the task with the likes of Coconut Fudge Brownies, Orange Chocolate Chunk Cup- cakes, and Pumpkin “Cheesecake”.


Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook

Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook [7]Robert M. Landolphi; Andrews McMeel Publishing; $20.99

The author is a graduate of the Johnson & Wales University Culinary School and an instructor of culinary arts. After his wife was diagnosed with celiac disease, Robert Landolphi added gluten-free chef to his passions and his credentials.

In this book, he serves up inventive gluten-free techniques, including his method for “dusting and encrusting” – herb and flour mix “breading”. The mains are mostly simple and always elegant. His wife must have a sweet tooth, since 82 pages are devoted to an impressive selection of pies, cookies, cakes and cobblers. For anyone who’s struggled with a gluten-free pie crust, his tutorial on that alone is worth the cover price.


BabyCakes [8]After Erin McKenna was diagnosed with wheat and dairy intolerances, the self-described snacker suddenly found her choices of baked goods rudely restricted. Complicating shopping trips, she’d also cut sugar from her diet. But rather than settle for the few cardboard-ish vegan treats available, McKenna began to whip up her own desserts. Then she had a brainwave: why not create a bakery where she and others like her would want to eat?

“I set out to change the way people saw this kind of baking and to make it a new experience,” McKenna explains in an interview. After toiling feverishly for a year to develop delicious, workable recipes, McKenna opened BabyCakesNYC [9] in August 2005 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. From cookies to cupcakes, cinnamon buns, brownies, muffins and more, the vegan goodies this bakery serves are free of dairy, egg, refined sugar and most are made with no gluten or soy.

It’s a small venue, but no small phenomenon: the quality of the desserts at McKenna’s shop has won over even hard-bitten skeptics. In 2006, New York magazine awarded BabyCakes the title of “best cupcake” in the whole Big Apple. “Even though ours was made without all these things, they said it was still the best,” McKenna says. Business has boomed, bolstered by media attention, including three appearances on The Martha Stewart Show.

And now, McKenna spills her secrets in BabyCakes, the cookbook. This is a beautiful compilation of recipes that employs tasty, healthful ingredients such as: agave nectar to sweeten, gluten-free flours, cold-pressed coconut oil instead of butter, and applesauce to replace egg. While the book is already a success, McKenna has one regret: that its subtitle says the recipes are gluten-free. Most are, but some of the early ones include spelt, which is not allowed for those with celiac disease.

I’d treat that as an oversight, and press on since this book contains page after page of scrumptious and truly gluten-free temptations. When Martha herself declares the cupcakes to be “absolutely delicious” – you might just have to test a batch of your own.

Note: There are also no nuts or peanuts in this book. But if you go to the bakery, be sure to ask about nut “may contain” items, since the shop notes certain suppliers are not “100 per cent nut-free”.
BabyCakes, $28 Can ($24 US), Clarkson Potter Publishers.

Next page: More reviews

Peut Contenir des Traces de Bonheur (May Contain Traces of Happiness)

peut Contenir des traces de bonheur [10]For those whose children have dairy, egg, peanut or nut allergies, the beautiful cakes, cookies and chocolate of Quebec’s Guardian Angel Foods [11] have proved a godsend. The company’s slogan is “Peut Contenir des Traces de Bonheur” – may contain traces of happiness – and that’s now the title of a cookbook/memoir by Guardian Angel’s Julie La Rochelle and Jean-Sébastien Lord. The book, written in French, has the couple delving into a rich allergy-friendly repertoire, not just of great desserts, but also of flavour-infused dishes from appetizers to mains. There are imaginative salads, savoury soups, influences in the entrées from Asia to the South of France (Spicy Chicken Thai Noodles, Mediterranean Tilapia). What’s striking is that the recipes are sophisticated enough for guests, yet, like all the best cooking, are made of simple, fresh ingredients and uncomplicated in design.

This is more than a cookbook, however. It tells the family’s journey from the discovery of their elder son’s food allergies, and offers much advice that they accumulated on their road to food bliss. “We tried to be as original as possible, inspiring ourselves with recipes from around the world,” says Lord. The book also contains advice on hosting the allergic. In fact, it “even helps members of our own family to invite us to dinner,” he says.

Peut Contenir des Traces de Bonheur, $34.95, Les Éditions de l’Homme. Available at Guardianangelfoods.com [11]


What Else is to Eat?
What Else is to Eat [12]
The Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook
Linda Marienhoff Coss; $16.95; Plumtree Press

As the parent of a 17-year-old son with multiple food allergies, Linda Marienhoff Coss knows all about cooking within the limits of allergy. Her previous cookbook, What’s to Eat? [13] has sold more than 15,000 copies, and this follow up offers more of the accessible recipes that made its predecessor so popular.

Coss focuses on using ingredients that are readily available in grocery stores, rather than sending readers on a search for hard-to-find items from specialty stores or websites. More than half of the book is dedicated to non-dessert items, with recipes ranging from chicken Marsala to dilled pan-roasted carrots. Sections covering meats, side dishes and sweets offer family-friendly choices for those who must avoid dairy, egg and tree nuts.

Allergen Free Baking: Baked Treats for All Occasions

Allergen Free Baking [14]Jill Robbins; $18.95; Family Matters Publishing

Fans of HomeFree (formerly Gak’s Snacks) organic cookies and coffee cake will be happy to hear that the company’s president and resident baker Jill Robbins has published a cookbook dedicated to delicious baked goods (though none of the recipes for the retail treats are included).

All recipes are free of dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and wheat, and some are gluten-free as well. Items are cross-referenced by occasion, making it easy to find appropriate desserts for birthdays, holidays and bake sales. Tempting sweets recipes include: cranberry oatmeal cookies, dairy-free ice cream sandwiches, peach muffins and doughnuts.

Both the book and organic dry ingredients are available through the company’s website,www.homefreetreats.com [15]

Most of these reviews were originally published in Allergic Living [16] magazine.

© Copyright AGW Publishing Inc.
To order an issue or to subscribe, click here [17].