Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Artisanally Appealing


I had seen the picture of the luscious veggie packed lasagna on the cover of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli Bronski and Peter Bronski staring back at me on Amazon.com for some time. Whenever I searched gluten free cookbooks, there it was. But I had passed on it for awhile as I am a busy mommy and I assumed artisanal food would be time consuming, and require me to use organic heirloom tomatoes harvested from my own garden, or at the very least from the farmer's market.

But, when their publisher, The Experiment Publishing, very generously sent me their second book to review and GIVEAWAY (see below), Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes, I decided I should take a look at the first book as well. I was extremely pleasantly surprised to see that Kelli and Peter Bronski have got a grip. They understand the busy mommy thing, and although they value greatly the freshest organic ingredients, they know everyone does not have the wherewithal to stock their kitchen with sustainable, free trade ingredients from Whole Foods. Nor, can everyone make their own pasta at 5:30 for dinner at 6:00 with a two year old wrapped around ones leg. There were no requests for kefir lime leaves or date palm sugar. Just things I happened to have in my pantry (o.k. I happen to have coconut milk and a 4 types of paprika in my pantry, but still). And, best of all, I don't feel compelled to make my own chicken broth from free range chickens and vegetables grown within 10 miles from my house, the type that comes in the box is o.k. too.

Although the Bronskis don't seem to actually define the word "artisanal" (pertaining to or noting high-quality, distinctive products made in small quantities according to dictionary.com), their attitude seems to be take care in sourcing and preparing your food to the best of your ability and means. They even go as far to offer tips for shortcuts and pre-made ingredients (such as a bag of coleslaw instead of cabbage and carrots in one recipe I tried). This I appreciate greatly, as I feel they are offering the best of the two worlds I live in and try to bridge-- gourmet food and busy mommydom. I also greatly appreciated their professionalism, which comes through in the book. Peter Bronski is a travel writer with several books to his credit, and Kelli Bronski has a degree from the prestigious hotel and restaurant school at Cornell University. So, not only do the recipes work well, they are well written. I did notice one imperfection though, the Creme Brulee recipe was missing an oven temperature for baking! Yikes! But after making Creme Brulee for the first time ever with the Bronskis very simple instructions (and Joy of Cooking oven temp.--325F), I actually got why this seemingly simple custard it is such a big deal in the dessert world.

Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking encompasses contemporary flavors such as Thai and Caribbean food, as well as homey old favorites like German Potato Salad and Apple Pie with Streusel Topping. I think this is a very good all around cookbook, which offers sophisticated recipes for entertaining such as Dessert Crepes with a Trio of Sauces, as well as Chicken Noodle Soup, for a cozy family supper. As I mentioned above, the recipes are very clear and well written with introductions that draw you into the Bronski kitchen as if you were family.

I tried two dishes which were instant favorites with my family, Caribbean Rice and Costa Rican Slaw. Both had fresh, bright flavors and were easy to throw together in a short amount of time. Lillie's comment on the rice says it all, "Mmmmm. Good. Very Good."

Look for a review of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes in an upcoming blog. In the meantime try for an exciting, free giveaway. Just leave a comment about this post with your e-mail address in the comments section below, and you will be entered to win a copy of the Bronskis' newly released and fabulous book, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes (provided by the publisher who did not influence this review in any way). The winner will be randomly chosen from all eligible blog entries. The contest will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on September 15th, 2011.

Although this recipe calls for adding the mango to the dish while it is cooking, we liked it better served on top of the cooked rice as a garnish.

Caribbean Rice

Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking, p. 87

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup long-grain rice

1 cup Gluten Free chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent.

2. Add the rice, broth, and coconut milk. Stir in the thyme, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.

3. Add the beans and mango and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until heated through.

Yield: 4 servings

I took the quick shortcut the Bronskis suggest for this recipe, using bagged cole slaw mix instead of the cabbages and carrots called for in the ingredient list. I also took it upon myself to sub canned sliced beets, which I julienned, instead of the raw beet. The texture wasn't as crisp as a raw beet, but it was quick!

Costa Rican Slaw

Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking, p. 100

1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced and chopped

1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced and chopped

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated

1 raw beet, peeled and grated

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 to 2 teaspoons honey

Salt and pepper

1. Combine the green and red cabbage, the carrot, beet, and cilantro in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss and serve.

Yield: 10 servings


  1. Always trying to eat healthier and these books look like good places to check out healthy recipes.

    Helen Fields

  2. I love cupcakes! Wouldn't it be the best to get hooked on gluten-free to eliminate some of the guilt!

  3. what a beautiful cookbook! would love to win it! thanks for the great post!

  4. This cookbook would be great for school treats. No worry about the kids who are GF.
    sadiebeery at hotmail dot com

  5. Hi! I would love the chance to win the GF cookbook - have a friend who is very sensitive to gluten so this would help me help her!

  6. What a gorgeous cookbook. Would love to win it! I've never cooked gluten but would love to know how to be respectful of those who need to eat GF.

  7. Hi,
    I would like to order some of Jules flour but I need to know what is in it. I went on her site and there is no contact or ingredients list. I cant have any corn products. Can you help me out?


  8. Donna,

    Here is the link for the Jules' flour nutrition page


  9. I would love to share this w/my gluten free students' parents.

  10. I love all types of cupcakes; this book would be a great addition to my collection of cupcake cookbooks.

    Lisa J.

  11. This cookbook looks fantastic! I love Kelly's blog and her recipes, so this would be wonderful to have!!