First thing I will tell you is that I am not Julia Child, not Emeril Lagasse, and am certainly not Martha Stewart. Heck, I’m not even close to Alton Brown. (He likes chemistry. My chemistry is pretty much: “This thing plus this thing make BOOM!”)
However, I am somewhat lazy and prone to shortcuts. Which means I’ve acquired a lot of quirks in my cooking, and will do everything within my power to not have six different kinds of GF flours in my freezer and not have to remember a dozen different ratios that vary depending on what I’m making and how I’m making it. I grew up with all-purpose flour, and gulldangit, I’m gonna find an all purpose flour.
Which I did.
- A lot of my recipes use the baking mix found at Simply Savory Foods, a local GF bakery. The baking mix includes several different flours and xantham gum (the main sticky-force in GF flours, in lieu of gluten), so that’s why many of my recipes don’t include xantham specifically.
- Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Flour is another excellent all-purp flour, but it does need xantham in addition. Also, the resulting baked goods end up drier than with the Simply Savory mix, so this mix is better suited for some goods than others.
Both flours above are designed for 1:1 substitutions of regular flour in a recipe. For example, if your cookie recipe calls for 4 cups of normal flour, use 4 cups of GF flour. (Some GF flours don’t have this ratio, but like I said, I’m lazy. I like easy.)
Cooking gluten free seems to focus a lot on swapping one thing for another, much more so than just swapping in a GF flour whenever the recipe says ‘flour.’
- The GF flour mixes above are used when baking. Like for cakes, pie crusts, or recipes that yield a dough or batter.
- When a recipe uses flour as a thickening agent, like when coupled with milk or water for soups or sauces, use cornstarch instead. Cornstarch has twice the thickening power as regular flour, so it’ll get clumpy unless you mix it well. For this, I have a couple ‘vintage’ measuring cups with lids that were designed for making gravy. These cups are hard to find now, except on ebay and etsy, but if you find one for a good price, GET IT.
- I’ll often use corn meal to coat meat before cooking it. Especially useful for crock pot recipes. For a basic breading, take about 1 cup of cornmeal, add a little nutmeg or allspice, roll the meat around in it, and toss it in a skillet with some olive oil, and voila! (Also, cornbread muffins are very easy to make GF – just swap out the flour!)
- Mrs Dash spice blends. I use this pretty much whenever a recipe calls for a couple different kinds of spices, since it includes a huge assortment. Even though the label doesn’t say gluten-free, no gluten products are used in the production.
I’m only just getting started with this cooking thing, and am hesitant to spend money on a book that I might not take full advantage of, so most of my recipes come from only a few sources:
- Family recipes, which can require a lot of tweaking and fiddling and experimenting and cardboard cookies that even the dog spits out. But they are worth it for the heritage and nostalgia alone.
- Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book – This is the cookbook. Theclassic1950 edition. The one that I grew up on, that my mother grew up on, and that my grandmother always used (and eventually wore out). Note first, that none of the recipes in here are specifically gluten free, but can be easily converted.
- Taste of Home’s Everyday Slow Cooker and One Dish Recipes – An annual compilation from the Taste of Home magazine. My mother has yet to be disappointed with a recipe from this series. Again, few of the recipes in here are specifically gluten free, but again, they’re easily converted with a little know-how, and easily ‘jazzed up’ with a little creativity (though they really don’t need it).
- Friends, of course. I know several people with celiac’s or gluten issues, have known most of them since long before I myself was diagnosed, and someone else’s firsthand experience is far preferable to my own.