Since I have the unique opportunity of cooking purely on a gluten free level, I have had many experiences along the way.
I have had the occasion to experience culinary wonders I had never dreamed of when I could eat wheat flour. Being forced to remove flour from my diet has made me look in areas I would never have glanced at before, which has been very exciting!
Let me tell you, the coconut macaroons from Bouchon Bakery in Napa are absolutely the most heavenly baked thing I have ever eaten in my life. In my life. They were so perfectly shaped, lightly crunchy and delicately sweet. They were just heavenly. I don’t have enough words to describe how wonderful they were, because they simply took the words out of my mouth and melted them in baked goodness.
But that is Bouchon.
They are the best in the world, to put it lightly. What about down home cooking?
What about potlucks?
Potlucks are fun to experience because it is a free environment where people love to share their family recipes and let other people experience the cultural culinary flavors of their homes. It is a personal and relational experience that brings people together, especially in groups like Boy Scouts or Churches. People can also tend to get experimental with foods, which is normally kind of fun to do. Watermelons in the shape of a turtle? Always fun. Baked hot dog and pineapple kabob for the kids? Super fun!
But there will always be something with tiny little red flags poking out the back, and those dishes are typically the gluten free items.
The words, “it tastes normal, you’ll love it!” are false and empty promises, I’m sad to say. We have all tried the muffin that is supposed to be light and fluffy, but is actually a replica of a meteorite that someone pocketed from the Air & Space Museum. The gluten free bread that sucked all the moisture out of your mouth? We’ve all had that. Or worse, the cheesecake made out of only whipped cashews (I’m not sure how it’s still a cheesecake…) that killed your last hope that gluten free desserts were palatable at all.
My advice is that if you are going to share gluten free items with your friends, make them memorable…in a good way! If your friends’ reaction is, “are you sure this is gluten free??” or “I can’t believe this is actually gluten free, it tastes amazing!” then you are doing it right. Both to the recipe and to your friends.
However, serving a “cupcake” that is made of gelatin, coconut oil, coconut milk and stevia is just wrong. If you are suspending oil in a gelatin, I see that more as mayonnaise than as a cupcake; and it felt about the same when I held it in my hand, to boot.
Friends! Make gluten free baking a thing to be praised! Use real recipes! Do not experiment on your friends!
Here are some great gluten free recipes and cookbooks I love:
- Gluten Free Girl.com: Many very interesting and seasonal recipes! And I like both.
- America’s Test Kitchen: How Can It Be Gluten Free: always a winner with Christopher Kimball. He is the man who taught me how to make the most amazing chocolate cake. Winner for Life.
- Easy Gluten Free Baking: Always safe going the easy route.
- Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread: Bette Hagman will always be on my bookshelf.