Cookbook review: The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love

Lasagna is back. If you are a gluten-free eater, not the “no carb” kind but the “gluten intolerant” kind, the ability to eat lasagna is a gift, an Italian-American treasure lost when the doctor who examined your blood and the lining of your gut looked into your eyes and said; “not for you.” In chef Amy Fothergill’s 2013 cookbook, The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-FreeRecipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love, lasagna returns to its rightful place as a family-style casserole fit to feed everyone.

Gluten-free lasagna

Gluten-free lasagna

Fothergill, trained at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, came to the allergen aware world as so many do, when a family member learned they had difficulties digesting certain proteins. What began as a quest to build healthful meals, many with allergen-safe replacements, for her family turned into enough recipes for a cookbook. Most of the recipes feature American classics such as drop biscuits in the Breads, Pizza and More chapter, or clam chowder in the Soups & Salads chapter.

Though there is a recipe for cheese lasagna (page 94) in the Main Dishes chapter, Fothergill makes it with gluten-free noodles and offers variations for meat, spinach and white styles. Dairy-free lasagna (page 97) is gluten-free and vegan, the ricotta replaced with tofu. I doubled down, using gluten-free noodles but adding tofu, dairy-free “mozzarella” and sheep’s milk ricotta. When prepared with the not too tart weeknight tomato sauce (page 90), the result was a wonderful, not too saucy lasagna and a very happy family.

Fothergill adds turmeric to the seasoning mix in the dairy free macaroni and “cheese” (page 87). Meant to make cheddar cheese substitute look like cheddar cheese, it works to trick the eye. As anyone who has eaten dairy-free cheese knows, soy cheese is no substitute for the real thing, but this version of mac gets as close as possible to this American dinner time staple.

Chili (page 106), too, is a classic preparation. Flavored with cumin and chili powder and thick with ground turkey and beans, the chili has a nice, creamy consistency and easy-going character. Chili pie (page 107) features a gluten-free cornbread. With the cornbread, and with other recipes in the book, I found myself wishing that Fothergill offered her favorite variation for which egg substitute worked best for this particular recipe.

Indeed, on page 23 of the Common Substitutions section, there are six substitutions offered for eggs. Yet the novice cook and the experienced gluten-free chef are left guessing as to whether one of the two leavening substitutes or perhaps one of the four binding and moisture substitutes would work best in the cornbread or even the chili pie.

Numbering the variations, then placing this number and a note that this egg substitute worked best next to the egg in each of the book’s recipes would reduce the cookbook user’s trial and error and eliminate frustration.

Raspberry Linzer cookies (page 231 in the Desserts and Treats chapter) rely on a rolled sugar cookie dough recipe (page 230). Fothergill’s dough is quite tacky – coat your non-stick rolling pin in rice flour and fix any tears as you go – but results in a cookie that is even-textured with a bit of chew and a soft center. Lovely. Here again, I would very much have appreciated guidance on how best to replace the egg with one of the egg substitutes rather than intuit which works best based on my cookie-making experience.

Gluten-free raspberry linzer torte

Gluten-free raspberry linzer torte

My copy of The Warm Kitchen is now so marked up with egg variations, I know how to proceed with the recipes I have prepared as I have prepared them more than a few times. My kids regularly ask for the cornbread and the sugar cookie recipes. My husband regularly asks for the gluten-free lasagna recipe. Worn, splattered pages are the sign of a well-used cookbook, don’t you think?