For my cookbook challenge last month I was testing recipes from 4 Ingredients Gluten Free and the Meat Free Monday Cookbook. In this post I will be reviewing 4 Ingredients Gluten Free and letting you know how I got on cooking recipes from this book all month!
The premise of this book is a good one. It is a cookbook aimed at families and people who want to create delicious gluten free meals quickly and easily. The 4 Ingredients Cookbook range is quite a wide one so it’s good to see a Gluten Free version! The good thing about the introduction pages of this book is that they use information provided by the Australian Coeliac Society to back up their claims. This gives the book an air of authenticity which is good in a wary gluten free world!
The introduction starts by explaining exactly what gluten is and why it should be avoided in people with coeliac disease. It gives some good tips about who to contact for more in depth information whether you live in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand or the UK. There us also a useful table of foods to avoid in a gluten free diet and those safe to include. This would be a handy reference for anybody new to the diet.
A useful tool for people who live in different countries is the guide to weights and measures. I’m constantly looking up on the internet how much a cup of something should weigh but there’s no need with this quite comprehensive table! There is also a guide so that you can convert the oven temperature from fahrenheit to celsius or even gas mark. Another useful tool that makes this book good for worldwide cooks.
On to the recipes!
I think breakfast is possibly the hardest meal to try and make gluten free. There are a few good ideas in this chapter of both savoury and sweet breakfasts! I tried two recipes from the breakfast chapter. The first one I tried was Damper which turned out to be a sweet syrupy bread. I had a lot of trouble with this recipe (as can be seen in the link above) and can’t help but wonder if it’s too simple. From experience I know that gluten free baking usually uses a large mix of flours and starches and with just 4 ingredients I don’t think this can compete. Another point I wanted to make about this recipe is that I actually had to search online to see what “Damper” was. There is no introduction to this recipe and while I could guess what it was from the ingredients it would have been nice to have had a bit about the recipe.
The second breakfast dish I tried was the Toffee Bananas. These were excellent but I probably wouldn’t serve them for breakfast due to the amount of sugar! They made a lovely dessert.
The rest of the recipes in this chapter were not vegan friendly as they relied heavily on eggs and cheese. However, for a non vegan cookbook, I think finding two breakfast recipes is an achievement!
I didn’t actually test any of the recipes from this chapter which is a shame. I think if there had been a party/buffet to cook for I would have made the Butterbean & Mustard Topper and maybe the Roast Aubergine Dip.
I was quite impressed with this chapter as it had a huge range of different salad dressings. I tried the Orange & Mustard Dressing which I really enjoyed. The only thing missing from this chapter is actual salad! I think it would have been good to have some suggestions of salads which would go well with each dressing.
I didn’t try anything from this section either as nothing really caught my eye! That said, there was quite a lot of choice in this chapter for a vegan and I probably would have gotten round to trying some of it at some point. The Salsa looks particularly good.
This chapter was very heavy on the meat, fish and cheese so I didn’t try much in it. It would have been useful to have more veggie options here.
Morning & Afternoon Teas
Gluten free baking is a minefield but there are some interesting ideas in this chapter! I only tried the Pineapple Cake from this chapter and was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out as most gluten free baking recipes require a lot more effort. There was plenty in this chapter which I wanted to try including Orange Coconut Clusters and Fruit Cake.
Light Meals & Lunches – Soups
Soup is one of my favourite foods so I gave this chapter a good try! I tried the Pumpkin, Lentil & Ginger Soup which was surprisingly good for such a simple recipe! The Tomato & Basil Soup was also a definite eye opener as it was made with just tinned tomatoes and stock. This chapter was one of my favourites in the book as it showed that you need very few ingredients to make an excellent soup!
Another chapter that I didn’t try anything from! This chapter was based on light meals and included quiches, pizzas and other nice sounding lunches. It didn’t really have much choice for vegans though!
Sadly this chapter got largely overlooked due to the amazing salad recipes in the Meat Free Monday book. These salads just didn’t grab my attention! They looked quite boring with such few ingredients. Another problem I had with them is that they couldn’t really be modified. If you didn’t have one of the ingredients you would be left with a very bare salad.
This was a very basic chapter which would be good for beginners. I didn’t really find much in there that looked exciting! I did try the Healthy Rustic Chips which is pretty much the same as the recipe that I’m used to using anyway.
A chapter full of interesting ways to cook vegetables! From this chapter I tried the Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes which can be seen above. These were a lovely way to eat cherry tomatoes and something I’ll be using again.
Mains – Meat
There are a number of chapters on meat based mains but as I didn’t use any of them I’ll just let you know what they are (in case you’re interested!). There was beef, chicken, fish & seafood, lamb and pork.
Oddly the pasta chapter is nestled in between the meat ones. I didn’t try anything as the dishes were all meat, fish and cream based.
The photo shows the Broccoli & Lemon Risotto which was a slightly disappointing recipe as the instructions didn’t include enough water and the end dish was much too lemony.
The Rice Pilaf was a perfect recipe and a really nice side dish. I did note that it was not anywhere near substantial enough to eat as a main course though.
There was a good variety of dishes in this chapter and many were vegan which is good to see!
This chapter focuses on one of the hardest types of food to make once you go gluten free.. pudding. I don’t often make desserts as they’re usually too big for just me to eat! There were some good recipes in here though including a Cheesecake Base which could come in very handy.
I imagine children are very difficult to feed when they are gluten free! This chapter has all sorts of ideas for quick snacks, lunches and meals which would be very handy for the mum of a young coeliac. The lunchbox ideas are particularly good! There is also a chapter on feeding babies gluten free food.
I’m a water drinker really so this chapter didn’t really entice me. There’s a good mixture here though!
The Finishing Touches
After the recipes there are a few useful chapters including one focussing on the different herb and oil types and what they can be used for. There’s also a chapter full of household tips which again would be useful for a new mum.
My Overall Verdict
I think this book would be perfect for families going gluten free and particularly mums. I’m not really the target market! However there were some very simple recipes that could be used time and time again and some good ideas to help me with my gluten free cooking.
There are some things I would have liked to have seen in this book. As always, photos are what draw me to cook books. There were no pictures at all in this book and they really would have helped me to get excited about what I was making. There were also no introductions to the recipes apart from vague “this is really good” type messages. I love it when an author puts some of their own experiences and tips in with a recipe. Finally I would have loved to have been able to look in the index for an ingredient and easily find the recipes that include it. This was a major flaw in my opinion because it makes the book less user friendly and made me want to reach more for the other book in the challenge.
If you’re starting a gluten free family or making changes for your coeliac son or daughter I think this book would be perfect for you. As for me, it was slightly too basic and didn’t make trying recipes fun enough.
Past Updates From 4 Ingredients Gluten Free:
- Update 1 – Damper, Tomato Soup, Pumpkin Soup, Sweet Potato Fries, Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes, Toffee Bananas
- Update 2 – Orange & Mustard Dressing, Broccoli & Lemon Risotto, Rice Pilaf, Pineapple Cake