4 Ingredients Gluten-Free Cookbook
My initial reaction when I received the 4 Ingredients Gluten-Free cookbook was wow, this is exactly what I need. My second reaction was wait, how can you make a meal using only 4 ingredients? Most of the food I make requires several ingredients. I've definitely made meals with 10 or more ingredients, if you count spices separately.
I kept an open mind as I thumbed through the book, there are no pictures (a pet peeve of mine) so you have to use your imagination to picture the end result. I will also say that a lot of the recipes in the book are no brainers, like beef tacos which calls for taco shells, shredded beef, cheese and pasta sauce (it's a kids version) and some of the recipes get around the 4 ingredient limitation by advising you to "plus up" your meal with an added sauce or accoutrement which is a separate recipe in the book.
Another way that the ladies (Kim McCosker & Rachel Bermingham) get around the 4 ingredients limitation is by going the semi-homemade approach and using convience products like store bought pasta sauce instead of making your own, which I can totally appreciate, but I we like to cook and experiment in our house so it doesn't bother us to make sauce from scratch when needed (or I should it doesn't bother Mr. misterbelly to make the sauce from scratch *ahem*).
I picked a few different recipes from the book to try, but made a couple of slight tweaks based on personal experience. I have to say that I initially thought that none of these recipes would end up with anything worth eating on the plate, but I was wrong. I tried the Eggplant Parmigiana, Gnocchi and Chocolate-Rum Cherries (!!!!) and all turned out quite good. Again, I made some tiny modifications to the recipes, but hey cooking is all about riffing, right?
Let's start off with the Eggplant Parmigiana. I was like hold the phone, where's the breading, the deep frying, the cheese??! I was convinced in no way that this was going to taste good, and it called for jarred sauce, which I normally never have on hand since Mr. misterbelly is like an Italian grandma in disguise and makes all of our pasta sauce from scratch. (What a catch, right?!)
Anyway, I was lucky enough to receive some of the fantabulous and gluten-free Mom's All Natural Spaghetti Sauce recently and decided now was as good a time as any to give it a whirl. The sauce was had already intrigued me because I could see huge cloves of garlic and large pieces of basil swimming around in the jar. Most sauces try to cover up their ingredients by chopping them into tiny bits, but not Mom's. I can respect that.
Making the Eggplant Parmigiana took no time at all. After cutting the eggplant into discs, we salted them to get the excess water out and then I pan fried them lovingly in LOTS of butter and olive oil (this was an addition to the recipe). Butter has a low smoking point, so adding olive oil to it helps to raise that smoking point and also adds great flavor. You have to use a lot of butter (and olive oil) when frying the eggplant since it gets soaked up rather quickly, but seriously, is more butter AND olive oil really a problem?
After frying the discs to a lovely golden brown, you are pretty much done with the active cooking portion of this dish. All that's left to do is arrange your discs in a pan, slather on some sauce. parm cheese, bake in the oven for a few minutes and voila! I decided to add in shredded cheese, Daiya Vegan Mozzarella Cheese in my case, because I wanted it to be a little more substantial.
I thought a non-breaded Eggplant Parmigiana could in no way taste remotely pleasing, but I was wrong. Not only was this a great meal for Meatless Monday, but it actually tasted really good! It wasn't heavy like the breaded eggplant parms we are all used to and the Mom's Spaghetti Sauce, surprisingly enough, was better than any other jarred spagehetti sauce I've had. The whole garlic cloves, while adding to the rustic appeal, didn't impart much flavor. I felt they could have been cut into smaller pieces, or at the very least roasted to release more garlicky goodness. I did like that it had a fresh taste to the sauce, with lots of chunks from the tomatoes, basil and yes, even the garlic. It's also quite kid-friendly, as long as you take out the basil and garlic before serving it to the little ones.
The next recipe I tried was the Gnocchi, and this was more at the urging of Mr. misterbelly. I normally avoid "homemade" pasta-type recipes at all costs because the gluten-free versions are usually pretty sub-par, but figured hey why not, let's give it a go and see what happens.
This particular recipe only called for 3 ingredients, which boggled my mind. I used my favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour (Better Batter) to make the gnocchi, crossed my fingers and dove in. I started off by making a few and tossed them in boiling water to see how they tasted. My conlusion was they were okay, with a floury/doughy kind of taste, but I figured a sage brown butter sauce would help the situation so I made the rest of the gnocchi.
For dinner that night, I was making pan fried chicken in a garlic butter sauce, which was in a cast iron pan in a blazing hot oven. When I took the chicken out of the pan I figured it would be good to toss the gnocchi in there since it already had some sauce in there and holy crap I'm glad I did because it turned a ho hum gnocchi into an outstanding dish. We pan fried the gnocchi until they were golden brown on both sides, along with some sage. Perfection!
It was a brown fiesta between the gnocchi and the chicken, but don't let your eyes deceive you, everything was delicious. I have decided pan frying gnocchi until it's crispy is the only way to eat it from now on. Forget this boiled business, that's for the little kids.
The last recipe I tried from the book was the easiest by far, Chocolate-Rum Cherries. It called for glace cherries, similar to maraschino cherries, which I hate, so I opted to use frozen cherries. After you soak the cherries for 24 hours in rum, you coat them in chocolate, roll them in nuts and you're done. It doesn't get any easier than that to make a boozy treat that is the perfect antidote to PMS.
Ok, so who wants to try their hand at making some of these recipes? If so, enter my giveaway because I'm giving away a 4 Ingredients Gluten-Free cookbook to one lucky misterbelly reader!
You have two opportunities to enter:
- For one entry, you can post a comment below saying anything you'd like.
- For two entries, post a comment below, plus 'like' my misterbelly Facebook page (http://facebook.com/misterbelly) and post a comment on the wall letting me know that you're entering to win the 4 Ingredients Gluten-Free cookbook.
*Update Congrats to Caitlin L. for winning the giveaway!