Book Review: Books for Cooks 2010
Need help making that Black Friday shopping list? Here's a selection of great cookbook ideas with something to delight any foodie you know.
Reviewed by Cindy Widner, Fri., Nov. 26, 2010
Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Foodby Alain Braux
Alain Braux International Publishing, 296 pp., $19.95 (paper)
When celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and/or dairy intolerance come into your life, your first response can be to think only in terms of limits – of what you can't eat or think you can't. A corollary thought is that you'll need to resort to expensive, processed, sometimes unappealing alternatives to replace your gluten- and dairy-filled breads, sauces, grains, and sweets. Chef Alain Braux's new book reminds us – and shows us – how we can instead transform our lives through food choices and enjoy cooking, eating, and sharing food more than ever.
Braux is a native Frenchman and internationally experienced pastry chef, but Austinites are likely to know him as the nutritional therapist/executive chef that created the nutritionally responsible delights at the Peoples Rx deli. This book combines his areas of expertise, about which he is equally passionate. The first sections detail how gluten and dairy products can wreak havoc on some people's health and offer a thorough guide to getting both out of your life, along with lists of food products (often by brand name) that are gluten- and dairy-free.
The second part consists of clear, concise recipes that run the gamut of French cooking. Some, like the rosemary lamb chops or roasted chicken stuffed with rice and figs, take a back-to-basics approach, with quick, elemental recipes and small but crucial twists; the latter resulted in the tenderest, most flavorful roasted chicken I've ever made, and possibly ever tasted. Others, like the corn bread with herbes de provence or a zucchini soup that doesn't skimp on the slowly simmered onions, add a French twist to old favorites. But the chef also trusts us with his finer pastry and dessert recipes: tarts, soufflés, beignets, flan. His flourless chocolate cake, while requiring finesse, can reach its dense, dark, epic ideal state even in the hands of a moderately experienced baker. These are no 15-minute meals, but they're faster than they look, and – more importantly – they infuse a healing change with zest and fun. You won't even miss the bad stuff.