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I met Naomi on her Advanced Gluten Free Cookery course at River Cottage. I am a long serving HFW and River Cottage fan and to be cooking on site had me somewhat nerding out. However what ended up being the real highlight for me was meeting and learning from Naomi. After just one day under her expert guidance, I had perfected my choux buns, attempted GF puff pastry (I know!?), and picked up all manner of tips and tricks for improving my gluten free home baking. And then she mentioned she was working on a book… Well I knew this was going to be a good one, and my instinct was correct. It’s a cracker.
Naomi’s is a coeliac, but is also a trained Homeopath and what she brings to the gluten free table is a passion for nutrition and making each ingredient’s nutrients more available. For me just reading the starting chapters has taught me so much about the history of wheat, the evolution of food sensitivities and indepth information about ingredients, that I am already cooking differently, and hopefully eating better, effortlessly, as a result.
But the true test for a GF cookbook, as each of my reviews will testify, is whether the recipes are any good. I am a competent cook, but not a recipe developer. I’m more of a cookbook follower, or ‘tweaker’ at most, so I need reliable, inspiring recipes on my already groaning bookshelves. And so far these instructions have been specific, informative and produced consistent results every time. As I expected they would.
Protein boosted, banana bread, easy pea soup, sorghum based crepes, simple chocolate chip biscuits (an area I’ve frequently had issues with), flavoursome sweet gf pastry have all been easy to make, free from disaster but not taste or texture. I love the inclusion of vegetables at any opportunity – as a mother to 2 young boys I am forever totting up the fruit and veg count – but also understand the technical benefits they bring to baking something like Buckwheat and squash bread.
But don’t assume it’s all super healthy. There are gluten free digestives and bourbons, baguettes (which I tried on the cookery course and are fantastic) and a vibrant lemon and honey tart. Every time I open this book, I want to make something else… I am already feeding up my brown rice starter for gluten free sourdough bread making and have the quinoa tabouleh as a regular packed lunch for the family – the recipe is brilliant for someone who has often been troubled by quinoa.
In addition to all these plus points, it has the typical, mouthwatering River Cottage food styling and local, seasonal eating ethos, a fantastic supplier list many of which were new to me, and some really novel dairy free including a dairy free butter recipe, this book is a truly welcome addition to the gluten free book world.
Simple recipes, nutrient rich ingredients which don’t compromise the end result, plenty of informative ways to make gf life better. Congratulations Naomi…! What a wonderful book.