In the ever-growing pile of gluten-free cookbooks, we found one recently that stands out. It's got good recipes, and it's a lot of fun. "Nosh on This: Gluten-Free Baking From a Jewish-American Kitchen" is one couple's take on getting all the treats without the wheat.
The authors, Lisa Stander-Horel and Tim Horel, have the advantage of coming from a tradition that has long shunned most wheat products once a year – during Passover. So their chocolate chip macaroons are terrific – crunchy absent of any odd substitutes for all-purpose flour. They're made with just six ingredients.
When Horel was diagnosed with celiac disease – rendering him unable to eat even a touch of gluten without becoming ill – Stander-Horel started trying to remake family favorites.
"Great-Grandma Goldie's Romanian Jewish legacy to her family was that food was love doled out in several noshes a day," she writes in the book.
Like many of the gluten-free books, this one has its own flour blend to use in the recipes. This one combines rice flours and tapioca starch. One good method frequently used is to chill the gluten-free doughs; that resting makes them behave better.
"Nosh on This" has all the Jewish American favorites: mandelbrot (a cousin of biscotti), honey cake, pound cake, chocolate babka and rugelach. There also are savory items: latkes, of course, and even several versions of challah. The bread calls for xanthan gum, a common ingredient in gluten-free foods to give them some of the stretch the gluten provides. There's a recipe for matzo that uses potato flour and potato and tapioca starch.
Given the time of year, we tried the sweet potato pumpkin butter pie with a gluten-free crust. The custard was delicious, and the crust was good. As my favorite tester, the gluten-free husband, said, "No one would mistake this for a regular crust, but it's good."
Several cookies are smart: They already don't need wheat. The Almond Puff Cookies call for almond flour and egg whites primarily. And the photos of Stander-Horel's mother in her red shoes and terrific vintage eyeglasses make the book great fun.
The couple, who write the blog Gluten Free Canteen, have been experimenting with gluten-free recipes for more than 10 years.