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Gluten-Free Makeovers, by Beth Hillson

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Updated November 17, 2011

Gluten-Free Makeovers, by Beth Hillson
© Bell Hillson

Most people who follow a gluten-free diet can think of some gluten-containing item that they want to recreate gluten-free, but can't — a particular cracker could come to mind, for example, or a croissant. Beth Hillson's cookbook, Gluten-Free Makeovers, might help.

In addition to numerous recipes for more typical gluten-free goodies (zucchini nut muffins, for example), Hillson (the founder of baking mix manufacturer Gluten-Free Pantry) includes recipes for harder-to-recreate gluten-free items, such as brioche, popovers, croissants, puff pastry and yes, even Goldfish crackers.

While the results aren't always perfect (you really do need gluten in baked goods to provide the properties we all remember so well), they're pretty darn close — and it's plenty fun to experiment with these recipes, as well.

Gluten-Free Makeovers Help Convert Meals

Most people looking for a collection of gluten-free recipes want ways to recreate favorite foods or meals, and Hillson does a fine job of taking common foods and making them gluten-free.

For example, she offers a recipe for gluten-free condensed cream of mushroom soup — once you've got this soup, you're free once again to make those hundreds of old family recipes that call for condensed cream of mushroom soup. However, unlike how I remember canned cream of mushroom soup, this soup tastes great on its own, outside of the casserole dish.

Hillson also offers recipes for multiple breads, gravies, pasta dishes, granola, pizza and cakes, all gluten-free. But she really shines when she provides recipes for difficult-to-make gluten-free items, such as puff pastry and croissants. For example, her recipe for baked brie with fig spread en croûte is certainly good enough to serve to a party of non-gluten-free guests, and I wouldn't hesitate to serve her Parker House rolls recipe, either.

Gluten-Free Makeovers seems to anticipate what people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance miss the most, and provides ways to recreate those foods. I personally miss biscotti, and Hillson offers a great recipe for those in this collection. And of course, we have the gluten-free Goldfish crackers — recreated in her recipe for cheese bits (you'll need to come up with a fish-shaped cookie cutter, though).

Cookbook Also Offers Lists of Gluten-Free Commercial Products

It's always useful in a gluten-free cookbook to know what prepared products the chef and author uses for the recipes, and Hillson provides a detailed list of gluten-free ingredients and products she recommends.

She also provides replacement instructions for ingredients that some people may not be able to tolerate. For example, if you can't eat gluten-free oats, you can substitute either gluten-free quinoa flakes or coarsely chopped almonds. Recipes are marked as dairy-free, as appropriate, and the book also explains how to replace dairy, corn and eggs in many of the recipes.

I found it a bit difficult for some reason to navigate through the book and find individual recipes. As is common in cookbooks, each section contains a separate list of recipes, and I wound up needing to bookmark those lists in order to keep track of specific recipes. In addition, I wish the collection included more photographs with the recipes themselves. It contains a few photos, but they're printed in their own separate section.

However, those are minor quibbles. For the most part, I really liked the approach taken in Hillson's Gluten-Free Makeovers and look forward to using it to recreate many more old favorite foods.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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