Book offers introductory guide to gluten-free cooking

Questions or cooking ideas? Contact Connie Post at 937-225-2441 or connie.post@coxinc.com

Book: "Gluten-free 101: The Essential Beginner's Guide to Easy Gluten-free Cooking" by Carol Fenster, paperback $19.99. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

What you get: Readers new to a gluten-free diet will appreciate this book, including the "Gluten-free Survival Guide," which lists obvious sources of gluten (such as pastas, breads, cookies and tortillas) as well as some not-so-obvious sources of gluten (including beer, malt vinegar, salad dressing, deli meats, soy sauce, seasonings, candy, flavored tea and imitation seafood). Plus, 175 recipes cover breakfast and brunch, appetizers, soups and salads, main dishes, breads and desserts. We especially want to try Quiche Lorraine (Page 62), Chicken Soup and Dumplings (P. 86) and Basic Flourless Cake (P. 198).

In her own words: For those new to a gluten-free lifestyle, "Even though manufacturers are producing more gluten-free foods and restaurants are becoming more knowledgeable, you'll fare better if you develop some basic cooking skills. The better you get at cooking, the better your food will look and taste and you will have fewer chances of a gluten 'accident'." — Carol Fenster, author of 10 gluten-free cookbooks

What we made:

POPOVERS (P. 154)

4 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup milk of choice, at room temperature

1 tablespoon canola oil

2/3 cup potato starch

1/4 cup Gluten-free flour blend*

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Cooking spray

1. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. In a blender, thoroughly blend all of the ingredients until very smooth.

3. Place a standard 6-cup nonstick muffin pan or 6-cup nonstick popover pan or a rimmed baking sheet with 6 custard cups arranged on it in the oven for 3 minutes. With oven mitts, remove the hot pan from the oven, place on a wire rack and coat with cooking spray. Fill the indentations about three-quarters full of batter.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking until the sides of the popovers are rigid, about 15 minutes longer. Do not open the oven during this time. Remove the popovers from the oven, pierce the side of each popover with a toothpick to let the steam escape, and return to the oven to bake for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Yorkshire Pudding

Pour 1 teaspoon of hot beef drippings into each cup. Fill three-quarters full with the popover batter and bake as directed.

* This blend by the author consists of 1 1/2 cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour, 1 1/2 cups potato starch or cornstarch and 1 cup tapioca flour. It can be stored in the pantry or refrigerator. It also works to use a gluten-free flour blend such at Betty Crocker’s All-purpose Gluten Free Rice Flour Blend.

Our assessment: These popovers are easy to make and will go a long way satisfying bread cravings. The first time around, I forgot to add the tablespoon of oil to the batter and they turned out so nicely without the oil that I say you can skip it . Also, if you don't have potato starch, just substitute cornstarch.

We also made:

COCONUT MACAROONS (adapted from P. 178)

1 (14-ounce) package sweetened shredded coconut*

1 cup powdered sugar*

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 larger egg whites

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Dip

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon butter or buttery spread*

* For a lower sugar and calorie version, I used 1 package unsweetened coconut, 1 cup Stevia instead of sugar and 1 teaspoon coconut oil instead of butter.

1. Make the macaroons: Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13-inch baking sheet (not nonstick) with parchment paper.

2. In a food processor, process the coconut, powdered sugar, cornstarch, xanthan gum and salt together just until blended. Add the egg whites and vanilla and pulse just until mixed. The dough will be stiff and somewhat coarse.

3. With wet hands, form 16 balls, about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. don’t compact the dough too tightly; you want some of the coconut sticking out for the prettiest look. Place at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.

4. Bake until the cookies start to brown around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the wire rack and cool completely.

5. Make the chocolate dip: Place half of the chocolate chips and the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. heat in the microwave on medium power until the chocolate starts to melt. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth, then stir in the remaining chocolate chips until very smooth. If it doesn’t all melt together, return to the microwave and cook in 5-second increments until it does.

6. Holding a macaroon with the hands or tongs, dip the bottom or side of the macaroon halfway into the melted chocolate, twist slightly and then lift it out, letting any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Lay the macaroon on an oiled wire rack and repeat with the remaining macaroons. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes or until the chocolate sets up and then serve.

Our assessment: Even with our lower sugar and lower calorie substitutions listed above, these macaroons turned out great. We dipped some of the macaroons in the melted chocolate. We also tried just drizzling a little chocolate on top. Either way, they were delicious.