This month I adopted Kim and Megan of Welcoming Kitchen, whose recipes are vegan and free of the eight common allergens (dairy, eggs, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, fish, and shellfish). I first properly “met” Kim when she joined in during my gluten-free vegetarian Thanksgiving event. She made a killer mushroom tartlet with a socca crust. I was impressed by her contribution and even more impressed when I found out she had several books out, including her most recent Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes. I thought it would be fun to review her book, and was thrilled when Kim sent me a copy, and when later her publisher sent an additional copy for a Book of Yum Giveaway! Leave a comment on this post mentioning your favorite Welcoming Kitchen recipe – I’ll do a random pick later this week to select a winner! (Make sure you use a working email in the form to comment, so I can contact you if you win.) For Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger I like to start with a recipe that anyone can access on the gluten-free blogger’s blog. I chose Kim and Megan’s recipe for a gluten-free top-eight-allergens free apple scone.
One thing that is a little weird for me is that many of their recipes either call for oat flour (usually with a substitution listed) or for all-purpose gluten-free flour. Since there are so many and they vary in quality and style so much, it seems to me the recipe could be really different if you used, say Bette Hagman’s white flour gourmet blend, or a high protein sorghum or bean blend. I wish Kim had told us what her preference is so that I could have tried it and tasted it like she would have made it herself. In this case I used Bette Hagman’s white flour gourmet blend with a half cup of sorghum flour subbed in for higher nutritional value. The turbinado sugar was just enough to make the dish special without making it sickeningly sweet, and I loved the diced apple. The seasonings were nice, and the coconut milk added subtle richness to the recipe.
Toddler Yum loved helping make the recipe, and I loved that my little raw-dough-fiend could steal bites of the vegan dough without worry over raw egg or other undesirable ingredients. I did find the dough a little difficult (wet) to transfer to another plate, but it worked out in the end. It was fun to make these with my little helper, and she even enjoyed eating them baked, which is the real test. She’ll eat almost any baked good in its raw dough form, but baked is quite another matter.
I also wanted to make their birthday cupcake recipe, but didn’t have applesauce, so that will have to wait for another time. I was intrigued by the usage of both applesauce and sweet potato puree in a “sweet” vegan dessert.
Now, on to the Welcoming Kitchen cookbook. Kim begins her story explaining that when she had a new baby boy eight years ago, he developed severe eczema and breathing issues and they discovered that he was allergic to cow’s milk, egg, and tree nuts. To breast feed her son, she cut out those foods from her diet and learned how to cook for herself and him. This is an issue close to my own heart, as Toddler Yum’s case of allergic colitis also meant that I had to change my diet to breastfeed her, cutting out the top eight allergens and more (rice, potato, and corn). I could identify with Kim’s determination to breastfeed, even if it meant changing her own diet. As she says, after this experience, as she learned more about those facing dietary restrictions, she began developing recipes that would work for many people, and turned her kitchen into a “welcoming” kitchen.
Kim’s recipes are free of eight of the top allergens- “peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, shellfish” and sesame for good measure. All recipes are gluten-free as written as well, although I would mention to those with Celiac or gluten intolerance that many of the non-savory recipes call for oats in one form or another. While gluten-free oats have become increasingly available in recent years, from my understanding many doctors recommend that those with Celiac incorporate oats in their diet cautiously and keep an eye on antibodies. Some people with Celiac have difficulty digesting oats and may cross-react to the oat protein as it is similar to the gluten protein. For this reason, and because I’m a little chicken at heart, I haven’t chosen to try to incorporate oats into my diet, so the recipes solely relying on oats without clear options for substitutes are not something I can use personally. However, this cookbook would be a godsend for any breastfeeding mom trying to cut out the top eight allergens for her baby. As well, for those who “simply” have a problem with wheat, oats seem to be a gateway grain that helps many people adjust to a wheat-free diet. If you are comfortable incorporating gluten-free oats into your gluten-free diet, you will love Kim’s creative use of this grain!
For my first experiment, I made Kim’s Artichoke Fritters on page 26, a simple but satisfying dish with lightly pan-fried artichoke hearts. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to deep-fry or pan-fry the artichokes, but Kim told me that 1/8 inch oil would be plenty, which had been my guess as well. I used frozen artichoke hearts because I was out of canned. I thought this was a delightful dish and would make it again, especially served with a vegan mayonnaise or some other nice dip. The DH commented that he prefers fresh artichokes, but he is a hard sell for some vegetable dishes anyway. The recipe didn’t call for any salt but we needed to add it when using frozen artichokes, and I think I would even with salted canned artichokes to suit our household’s taste buds.
You may or may not know that I am a biscuit fiend. I’ve tried out many of my gluten-free friend’s biscuit recipes, from Elana’s in her The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook to Ali in The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: Whole Foods Recipes for Personal and Planetary Health, Second Edition. For the record, biscuits are one of my favorite ways to bake with almond flour, and I enjoyed the simple healthful flavor of Ali’s biscuits too. Happily, Kim did not disappoint with her reliable biscuit recipe. I made it not once but twice this month, using different dairy-free milks depending on the contents of my pantry. It turned out well both times. I ate them in a vegetarian and easy “eggs benedict” with mayonnaise, as sandwich “bread” and this morning, with a tofu veggie vegan scramble and a vegan avocado sauce. I used my own formulation of 3/4 cup sorghum, 1/2 cup tapioca, and 1/4 cup potato starch for the gluten-free flour blend, by the way, and it worked! I had to wait for the xanthan to do its magic and thicken the dough. The first time I made them, I ended up adding a little extra flour. Regardless, another gluten-free biscuit recipe option is definitely a bonus.
There are plenty more easy, and allergen-friendly recipes in this book I’d like to try, from lentil sloppy joes to roasted fennel spread, from gluten-free beer bread and “cheesy” broccoli baked potatoes. Oats or no, I am going to have a lot of fun with this book and I’m so glad Kim shared it with me! Don’t forget to comment below to win your own copy.
[1/21/2012 WE HAVE A WINNER! Gloria B's comment was selected through a random number generator lottery. Gloria, I'll send you an email and once I have your address will mail you your book. :) ]