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COOKBOOK REVIEW: River Cottage Gluten Free by Naomi Devlin

| 10 June 2016 | 1 Reply

COOKBOOK REVIEW: River Cottage Gluten Free by Naomi Devlin

January 2016
Hardback, $45.00
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Cooking / Special Diets


River Cottage Gluten Free

Gluten has become one of the hippest dietary fads over the past ten years, to the point that it’s far from just those legitimately suffering from coeliac disease and gluten intolerances who require gluten free options, with every second hipster in town jumping on the bandwagon.

Whilst some legitimate sufferers (and a raft of intolerant chefs) bitch and moan about the wannabees, there are upsides to the phenomenon – primarily, the wealth of gluten free options appearing on supermarket shelves which didn’t even exist a decade ago, plus the huge increase in support material such as cookbooks.

Naomi Devlin – hailed in the UK as the ‘Nigella of GF’ – considers herself “blessed with a coeliac diagnosis,” which seems like insane spin, if you ask me, but bless her little cotton socks for having a positive outlook.

I’m always on the lookout for new GF options, though, seeing as my wife has a thyroid issue which is exacerbated by gluten, and there are many similar complaints for which a reduction (at least) in gluten serves our bodies better. Personally, I have found adopting a nearly gluten-free diet has put a spring in my step, increasing energy, and lessening the overfull feeling I used to get from many meals.

Devlin devotes some serious writing at the start of this fine book to the reasons for seeking GF alternatives, describing in detail the cult of wheat, and the myriad flour options which can substitute for it, as well as detailing non-diary options and other food types to be concerned about if gluten really is a problem.

The main issue, of course, with transitioning to a gluten-free diet is bread and baked goods. We’ve all tried GF bread and cakes which – without the natural elasticity of gluten based grains – are crumbly and dry.

Consequently, the most interesting and exciting chapters here (for us, at least) are those that demystify the gluten-free bread process. Sourdough with sunflower seeds; oat & chestnut sandwich bread; buckwheat & squash bread; baguettes and brioche – they’re all here and proof that a) Gluten free doesn’t mean you never get to eat good bread again; and b) Wheat isn’t the be all and end all grain it wishes it was.

Even more of the book is given over to sweet treats, with pastry recipes a plenty; eclairs; cheesecakes; apple pie; crumbles; and a myriad of cakes, muffins, brownies and scones on offer.

In short, it doesn’t matter if you’re coeliac, gluten intolerant, avoid wheat for dietary reasons, or are just a hipster: RIVER COTTAGE GLUTEN FREE is about the best reference book on the subject that we’ve come across.

Category: Book Reviews

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