Cover of Free for All Cooking

Title: Free for all Cooking
Author: Jules E. Dowler Shepard
247 pages; Softcover $18.95 US/$24.00 CAN
Publisher: Da Capo Press Lifelong Books, 2010
Reviewed by, Nathalie Binney, November, 2010

The review--- This cook book is informative and helpful about gluten-free and allergy free ingredients and it provides a good selection of recipes.

The recipes are gluten-free and the ingredients and substitutions section is quite informative and helpful, including a handy ingredient substitution guide. Icons are displayed at the bottom of every recipe designating recipes which are gluten-free and those which exclude various food allergen ingredients.I have noticed there is a lot more awareness of food allergies in grocery stores including gluten-free products. Some of the gluten-free packaging is well marked ( Gluten Free clearly marked on the front of the packages), such as products like flour and baking powder. However, I have found it takes time to review the ingredients in many products to make sure one doesn't mistake any allergy listings. In due time, I suspect it will become easier to locate products with this necessary information.

I prepared three recipes: New Year's Cabbage, Tomato Sauce and Best Brownies Ever.

New Year 's Cabbage (Appetizers & Side Dish section)
This recipe was very easy to prepare and not time intensive. Although the flavor is quite delicate, I found this vegetable dish quite refreshing and enjoyable. It'should be noted this recipe tastes better the day after it is made and served hot!

I tasted this dish from time to time as I was preparing it. The recipe said to add salt and pepper to taste, so I did and found it took more salt than I expected it would. It must be cabbage takes more salt to bring out the flavor than other vegetables.

If you don't like the raw onions in the dressing you can always saute the diced onion in extra virgin olive oil before combining with the other ingredients. Just like the onions, if you like the cabbage wilted more, consider adding a tablespoon more water during the wilting process. If water remains after, simply drain it before adding the remaining ingredients.

Tomato Sauce (Main Events)
I prepared the tomato sauce with fresh diced tomatoes in lieu of canned tomatoes and found the preparation was easy. The sauce does taste much better the next day. I think this tomato sauce has good potential.

This is a thick tomato sauce, so if you would like it thinner, I suggest adding a little less tomato paste rather than adding some water in order to not dilute the flavor. Under the circumstances, a thinner sauce would be more appropriate for the suggested usage with eggplant parmesan, chicken, pizza or pasta. You decide to your liking, thick as is or thinner as I like!

Best Brownies Ever (Desserts)
I let the brownies cool and cut them in small squares and stored them in the refrigerator. They were delicious the next day, to my surprise.

Please note that it 's important not to overcook any brownie recipe. In fact, I followed this recipe exactly and found the brownies were less chewy and fudgy than expectedbut that may be from the gluten free flour! These brownies can also be served with vanilla ice cream and perhaps some chocolate sauce.

New Year's Cabbage

Greens like cabbage, collards, kale, and chard are often consumed around the world on New Year's Day because their cooked green leaves look so much like folded money and who couldn't use some tasty economic good fortune?!

1 small head of cabbage, rinsed and chopped
3 tablespoons water
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated cane sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the cabbage and water with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until wilted.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients to form a thin sauce. Pour over the cooking cabbage and continue stirring until warm. Remove from the heat and serve immediately. May be reheated for serving later.

serves 6-8
Tomato Sauce

Serve this sauce with your favorite pasta, chicken, pizza (see dough, page 116) or Eggplant Parmesan (page 146), or simply use as a dipping sauce for Fish Sticks (page 148).

1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups diced fresh tomatoes (or two 14.5-ounce cans whole peeled and drained or diced tomatoes)
12 ounces (1 can) tomato paste
3 sprigs fresh leaf basil, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried leaf basil)
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano, crumbled
Minced garlic, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare the tomato sauce by sauteeing the diced onion with olive oil until tender, then dicing the tomatoes and adding them to the pot with the remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered on medium-low heat for at least 15 minutes, or until ready to serve in a dish. Cook longer if the sauce is too thin.

Serves 4
Best Brownies Ever

No matter how you like your brownies cake-like or fudgy these brownies with milk. Will please you. They have an amazing, slightly crispy top and chewy, deliciously coloring decadent and moist centers. I'm craving chocolate just thinking about them! What a fantastic treat to take to your next party or picnic, but you may want to double the recipe so there are some left for you!

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
(for nondairy, use two 100 percent cacao baking squares)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (dairy or nondairy, e.g., Sunspire or Enjoy Life)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter or nondairy alternative
1 cup granulated cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, gluten-free
2 large eggs or egg substitute of choice (like Ener-G Egg Replacer and/or Egg Substitute #1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, page 15)
1/4 cup black coffee, prepared
2/3 cup Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (pages 6, 8)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder, gluten-free
3/4 cup walnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts
(optional; omit if making nut-free)

Preheat the oven to 325 F (static).

Arrange a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil in an 8 x 8-inch baking pan, pressing to cover the bottom and up the sides. if using aluminum foil, use the "release" kind, or lightly spray with cooking oil. This step will make it easier to remove the brownies from the pan by pulling up on the paper or foil and leaving behind a clean pan.

I Prepare a double boiler or a medium-size pan filled with 1 inch of water, with a slightly smaller pan sitting on top of the pan with water. Boil the water in the bottom pan, then cut the flame hack to low-medium and add the chocolates and butter to the top pan over the simmering water. Stir and remove from heat when melted.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and vanilla, then stir in the eggs, one at a time. Finally, add in the coffee and continue to whisk until the mixture is completely smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and the sugar mixture until combined. Gently stir in the nuts, if using.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and hake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out with only a few wet crumbs (not totally clean, or they'll be overcooked!).

As a rule, brownies are much better on the un-done side, as opposed to the overdone side.

Cool brownies in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Lift the brownies from the pan by pulling up on the paper or foil. Completely cool brownies on a wire rack. Cut into squares with a clean knife and serve.

Makes Approximately 16-20 Brownies

From the book Free for All Cooking by Jules E. Dowler Shepard. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2010.