America’s Test Kitchen has a show on TV and also does live demonstrations onboard Holland America’s ships. Since they do make an appearance onboard, it seemed fitting to review their cookbook for my blog when I was given one. Usually I just look recipes up online and after looking over several pick the one that looks like it would best suit my needs and alter it from there. Or combine the best aspects of several different recipes. I very rarely follow recipes as written. Since this is a review of a cookbook the intention was to follow their recipes exactly, but that didn’t quite work out.
I’ve done a lot of gluten free baking over the years as my sisters are both gluten and dairy free. Recently I have found that I can only tolerate gluten and dairy in small amounts now, with milk and cream being the worst offenders. Not surprising that it would catch up to me eventually since gluten and dairy problems run in the family. More and more gluten free products have become available in stores over the years as well as ships having gluten free foods more easily available.
THE HOW CAN IT BE GLUTEN FREE COOKBOOK VOLUME 2 FROM AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN
Not just a cookbook, this volume starts out with an introduction to America’s Test Kitchen and then general information about gluten and its replacements. That is followed by their flour blends which includes information about why they chose those particular flours as well as the recipes for their blends. They have one for all-purpose flour and one for whole-grain flour. They also have short reviews on a number of various brands of store-bought gluten free flour mixes. (Personally I’ve found some of the new one-to-one mixes perform far better than previous store-bought all purpose flour mixes I’ve tried in the past. I dislike anything with bean flour, which used to show up in a lot of the all-purpose blends so I avoided them for years and chose to mix my own flours. Bean flour is not in the new blends I’ve tried recently. One-to-one blends mean you can substitute that flour for wheat flour in ordinary recipes, which you can’t necessarily do with other gluten free flours.)
America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook also includes a section on gluten free baking techniques with helpful hints, a section on how to make recipes dairy-free, information on binders and grains, and reviews on gluten free products like bread and pasta. Beyond the information section the book has lots of recipes for baked goods and some for salads and main dishes as well.
Whole Grain Gluten Free Waffles
I decided to try their whole grain flour mix because it does not call for powdered milk like the all-purpose one does and I wanted to try it exactly their way without substitutions or omissions. Since milk is the thing that upsets my stomach the most I’d have to leave out or replace the powdered milk in the standard blend. I found I had to make a substitution in the whole grain blend after all though. The Flax USA brand of ground golden flaxseeds they recommend is not available in any local stores near me and when I tried to order it online every source I checked said it was out of stock. Not knowing if any other brand would be as finely ground as their recommended one should I bother to order it online, I just got what the local store had which was the Bob’s Red Mill they said was too coarse.
The dough held up quite well in the waffle iron. All of the waffles held together and none of them stuck to the waffle iron. The dough was quite thick though and I did have to add more milk as they suggested for too thick of dough. (Their recommended non-dairy milks are almond or soy for this recipe.) As I was mixing the dough initially I thought it looked pretty thick and was tempted to leave out at least 1/3 cup of the flour mix, maybe even 2/3, but wanted to make the recipe as they had at least the first time – other than the sugar. Their recipe calls for 1/4 cup of sugar and I just couldn’t see putting sugar into waffles. No other waffle recipe I’ve ever made called for it and once you add syrup it would just be putting sugar on sugar, way too much sugar at breakfast for me. The waffles browned well and tasted just fine without it. I let the dough sit the half hour like they said, but it still looked grainy, probably due to the fact that I had a more coarsely ground flax. Once cooked the waffles neither looked nor tasted grainy. They were actually quite good. I’ve used a variety of recipes for gluten free pancakes, but doubt that any of them would hold up in a waffle iron as this dough does. I will use a bit less flour next time though. Leftover waffles can be frozen and used as toaster waffles, they hold up that well – at least mine did. They were thick Belgian waffles that barely fit into the toaster.
I’m not sure why they call this orange flavored instead of just orange chicken since it’s made with real oranges and calling food flavored usually denotes artificial flavoring, which there is none of. I couldn’t follow this recipe exactly because it calls for fresh garlic and ginger. Too much fresh garlic upsets my stomach and any fresh or even too much powdered ginger makes me throw up. Weird I know since people use ginger to prevent nausea, but it is what it is. Instead I used a teaspoon each of garlic powder and powdered ginger from the spice rack. I also cut the amount of sugar in half because that looked like way too much for a main dish. I don’t normally use sugar in anything but desserts, and even there I usually cut the amount from what the recipe calls for. The chiles were optional and I opted to leave them out. That’s the sort of thing I pick out of food, not put into it. Spicy is not my thing. There were no juicing oranges available in the stores near me and regular oranges didn’t make the full amount of juice the recipe called for so I was also a bit short on the orange juice the first time I made this recipe. Not being one to put unnecessary plastic into the environment I used Tupperware (well actually Rubbermaid) instead of plastic bags for marinating and shaking coatings onto the chicken, which works just fine and can be washed and re-used rather than thrown out after one use. I wash and re-use plastic bags too, but not if they had meat in them. The Rubbermaid containers can go in the dishwasher for sanitizing, plastic bags not so much.
The orange chicken was good, but a bit spicy for my liking so the next time I made it I left out the cayenne pepper and used just a bit of smoked paprika instead. I also cut the garlic powder to half a teaspoon and cut the sugar down to 1/8 cup because even with half the amount the recipe called for it was pretty sweet. I bought some orange juice so when the oranges didn’t make enough I had some to add. I also pan fried the chicken rather than deep frying because that just uses way too much oil. The chicken was just as good if not better pan fried rather than deep fried and no big pot of used oil to get rid of afterword. I liked the more orangey less spicy, not as sweet batch the second time around better. Which of course is personal preference. Some people love spicy food and like lots of sugar in everything. Overall I liked this recipe, though it was kind of a lot of work and time consuming so not something to make when there’s not a lot of time to make it.