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Read up on some of 2014’s most-loved cookbooks, tested and reviewed by the one and only Food52 community.
There has been much fervor in recent years over the gluten-free diet, and I have found that people fall into three camps: They embrace it as part of a new diet to cure an ill; they mock those who abandon the pleasures of wheat and flour; or they actually suffer from Celiac disease and are either frustrated or elated that gluten-free diets have taken over stores and menus. Erin Scott’s Yummy Supper is a cookbook that can be enjoyed by all of these people. I don’t subscribe to a gluten-free diet, but I am intrigued by it in an experimental sense. I have family members who do, and I want to find simple and delicious recipes that I can cook for them.
More: Read our take on Erin Scott's honest approach to gluten-free cooking.
What drew me to this book was that there appeared to be so many easy, fresh, and full-bodied recipes that just happen to be gluten-free. While some recipes do call for gluten substitues (Crab Pasta with Citrus and Mint, Egg in a Hole, French Toast Sandwiches), they still sounded amazing. That being said, instead of focusing on gluten substitutes, I think this book could have done just as well by promoting what it does best, which is to highlight the abundance of rich flavor and fresh, whole ingredients with simple cooking. In my opinion, highlighting that these recipes are gluten-free isn't even necessary.
The recipe for Fish Tacos with Pomegranate Salsa is an example of this philosophy: The dish was rich and sharply tangy but also just sweet enough -- and amazingly delicious. Have you ever had one of those moments where you bite into something, then pause to tell everyone you're with to stop talking for a minute so that you can savor every bite? That was one of those moments. And the addition of a fruit salsa to the fish taco has inspired me with ideas for new flavor combinations in my own cooking.
I also liked the fact that Scott suggests pairings of recipes within the book, which means that you never have to reference more than one book to create a fully satisfying dinner. We paired the Fish Tacos with the Rainbow Slaw for a fresh, light weeknight dinner and the Parmesan Polenta with Pork Ragu, which was rich without being too heavy. We even paired the Simple Almond Torte with Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote for a perfect combination of nutty and tart.
More: Speaking of dessert, here's how to make the best gluten-free cookies.
We made quite a few other recipes that were successful: The earthy but snappy Pistachio Kebabs on Rosemary Skewers (we prepared these as meatballs with rosemary toothpicks for a party) were eaten so fast, I barely got to try one. And the Cozy Winter Soup with Sausage was an easy weeknight dinner that was both healthy and filling.
The Buckwheat Zucchini Muffins was the only recipe we tried that was a disappointment, but I’ll freely admit that I didn't add all of the honey that was recommended because I got tired of squeezing it out of the plastic bear. Scott recommends eating them with cream cheese, which turned out to be a nice pairing, despite my initial dissatisfaction.
More: Want to try the muffins for yourself? Get the recipe here.
This book is a nice addition to my family's collection and offers plenty of inspiration for fresh and simple cooking -- that happens to be gluten-free. Scott reminds us of the simplicity but incredible power of fresh food. And for that reason, I think this cookbook deserves praise and a place on your shelf.
First photo by Mark Weinberg; second by James Ransom; last by Emiko Davies