Today I have a review of one of my new favorite cookbooks on the market: my pal Silvana Nardone’s new cookbook, Silvanas Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since I got my hands on her first book, Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals which she wrote when her son was diagnosed as gluten-sensitive and was told to also eat dairy free to help his body heal from the damage gluten had been causing.
I’ve known Silvana since around the time she came out with her first book and then when she launched her online gluten-free magazine, Easy Eats (which is sadly defunct). I had the good fortune to get to know her and be able to write for the magazine.
With Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen, Silvana has brought us another excellent cookbook. I often get questions about what “general” gluten-free cookbooks (i.e., not just baking) I recommend–and this is now one of them. Importantly for me, as a former pastry chef and bakery owner, Silvana knows her baking stuff. And as a mom, she knows how high of a bar kids have for food–especially gluten-free and dairy-free food. With this book, she has perfected family-friendly recipes that are wonderful for meals throughout the day. Because Silvana’s son is dairy-free, she has to avoid or find substitutes for dairy (like many other gluten-free people) in addition to gluten. This is not easy–but Silvana has done her homework and has developed recipes that will pass the taste test for anyone. One of my favorite lines from the book is: “Reclaim the rights to your favorite foods now”—to which I say a resounding “Yes!!” We gluten-free (and dairy-free) folks not only want, we deserve our favorite foods.
I think I’ve told you that I tend to mark recipes I want to try or have tried/loved with Post-It notes along the edges of the cookbook. As per usual with my favorite cookbooks, my copy of this book is a forest of Post-It notes. In fact, I’m not really sure if they are all that helpful anymore—because I think I’ve marked just about every recipe!
Her book covers meals and snacks throughout the day. It starts off with a Pantry Essentials section that I find to be quite helpful. This section includes a list of flours, gluten-free “dough enhancers,” dairy free “enhancers,” and miscellaneous off-the-beaten-track gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients that make meal preparing that much easier. She also includes a list of her favorite store-bought gluten-free and dairy-free products like breads, non-dairy cheeses, milks, creamers, and yogurts, and non-dairy spreads and oils.
The rest of the book is divided by meal or meal components. It’s got:
“The Breakfast Club” (breakfast and brunch), including recipes for Classic Fluffy Pancakes, Waffles, Buttermilk Biscuits, and Blueberry Muffins, as well as Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes (kind of like a cinnamon bun in pancake form—yum!), Cinnamon Crunch French Toast Sticks (hello easy and yummy breakfast!) and savory options like Scrambled Egg Potato and Spinach Breakfast Tacos.
“Plenty of Dough” (breads) contains recipes for things like Pull Apart Rolls “Rye” Sunflower Seed Bread, English Muffins, Bagels, Bready Corn Tortillas and Salt Soft Pretzel Poppers.
“Let’s Get this Meal Started” (appetizers and salads) includes recipes for Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Béchamel (which I am planning to make for the Super bowl party I’ve been invited to—yay!), and Crispy Shrimp and Pork Pot stickers with Chili-Soy Dipping Sauce (I’m making this one on the weekend especially for my Chinese take-out loving husband), Corn Dog Nuggets, and Crispy Chicken Taquitos (something our family loves as a snack!).
In “You’ll Be Bowled Over” (soups, pasta, and rice) she gives us some classic and some welcome surprises—I was especially taken with the Chicken Cup of Noodles recipe. She also includes Nachos Mac and Cheese and One Pot Chicken-Parm Rice. Her “Meal Makeovers (Fake-Out Takeout; TV Dinners, and Restaurant Classics)” contains re-imaginings of classic takeout and quick meals like Mushroom Veggie Burgers, Moo-Shu Vegetables with Sesame Pancakes, Crispy Fish Sticks with Sweet-Relish Tartar Sauce.
“Sweet Success (Dessert Classics)” includes cookies like Slice and Bake Gingersnaps, and Black and White Cookies (I so remember those from when I lived in NYC!), to things like Brownie Bark (recipe below); Pumpkin Pie Cannoli and Cherry Pie Popovers. Finally, her “Back to Basics (Reinvented Baking Mixes and Dairy-Free Favorites)” chapter includes foundation recipes such as that for her gluten-free flour mix, her sandwich, bread, and pizza mix, homemade cashew milk, dairy-free condensed milk, and dairy-free sour cream.
While Silvana has recipes for her flour mixes in the book, she also has them for sale pre-packaged if you just want to buy them instead of making them yourself.
One recipe that caught my eye over and over again as I flipped through the book is the Brownie Bark recipe. It’s a reimagining of something called “brownie brittle” that is kind of a cross between a brownie and a crisp cookie. So, I made it–and it is fabulous! The recipe makes two fairly large (8 by 14 inch or larger) pieces of bark that are then broken up into smaller pieces. The key is to spread the batter as thinly as possible on the pans (and you really do need to use 2 large pans). It’s a good thing it makes a lot–because boy oh boy, is this stuff is addictive. The first pan of bark was gone by the end of the afternoon I made it. The second pan disappeared soon after—all three of us loved it! This recipe is definitely going into regular rotation here at our house.
As you can see, this book is a hit with me and with my family! I highly recommend it! As Silvana says, use it to “Spoil yourself and your family while making new food traditions.”
-from Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed
1/2 cup dairy-free, semisweet mini chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling (I used 2 tablespoons for sprinkling)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil (I used brown rice oil)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
2 large egg whites, at room temperature, beaten until frothy
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons “My Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour” (I used my own mix because I didn’t have the ingredients to make hers—but hers is awesome, too!)
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F with racks in the middle and upper third. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium microwavable bowl, melt together the chocolate chips, cocoa powder, oil and water on medium power until almost melted, about 30 seconds; whisk until smooth and let cool.
- Whisk the egg whites, sugar, flour, baking soda and salt into the melted chocolate until smooth and shiny. Spread the batter evenly on the baking sheets and sprinkle with some chocolate chips. [I used 1 tablespoon extra chocolate chips per pan]. Bake, switching the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until crisp around the edges, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on a rack. To serve, break apart into pieces. (The bark will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week) [Jeanne’s note: I don’t think they will last anywhere near to a week—in our house they barely made it through 2 days before we ate them all!]
Note: if you buy the books via the above links to Amazon, I receive a tiny percentage of each sale.