Gluten-free guru’s newest cookbook goes beyond baking
Gluten-free chef Elizabeth Barbone addressed gluten-free baking in her first cookbook, “Easy Gluten-Free Baking.” This time around, her recipes are spread across the food spectrum with gluten-free solutions for common dishes….
Gluten-free chef Elizabeth Barbone addressed gluten-free baking in her first cookbook, “Easy Gluten-Free Baking.” This time around, her recipes are spread across the food spectrum with gluten-free solutions for common dishes. The cookbook is called “How to Cook Gluten-Free” and is available nationwide from Lake Isle Press. Barbone lives in Troy with her husband, Greg Meuer. Q: How has the availability of gluten-free products changed since you started preparing, baking and cooking gluten-free? A: The availability of gluten-free foods skyrocketed over the last few years; it’s amazing. When I started baking and cooking gluten-free, while attending culinary school in 1997, few, if any, gluten-free foods were available at traditional grocery stores. If you were on the gluten-free diet, you shopped at health food stores or via mail order. And even then, the choices were limited. Today most grocery stores carry everything from gluten-free flours to gluten-free frozen entrees. Q: When you wrote your first book, you didn’t need to eat gluten-free. Blood tests in 2008 showed you are better off without gluten, although the testing was inconclusive about celiac disease. Has the news changed your approach to gluten-free cooking and baking? A: Interestingly, my baking and cooking approach really didn’t change at all. By the time I went gluten-free, I’d been cooking and baking gluten-free for 10 years. My cooking approach is really simple: Let’s get in and out of the kitchen with success. We all lead such busy lives. The first book I wrote was called, “Easy Gluten-Free Baking” for that reason. While recipes that take hours to complete and use exotic ingredients are fun from time to time, they don’t fit into my daily life. And that hasn’t changed since going gluten-free. Q: What do you think of the Domino’s announcement they were going to produce a “gluten-free” pizza, only to later say it was not necessarily safe for people with celiac? A: My first reaction to the news that Domino’s began offering a gluten-free crust that’s unsafe for celiacs was, “How could they do this to us?” It’s absurd to me that Domino’s can call a product “gluten-free” when, in fact, it’s not gluten-free or safe in any way for those with celiac disease. This really underscores why we need a definition for the term “gluten-free.” Domino’s elected to take no precautions to prevent cross-contact between the new “gluten-free” pizza and gluten containing ingredients. Toppings and sauce for the gluten-free pizza come from the same container they use for regular pizza, the utensils used to handle and cut the pizza are all the same. For someone with celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease, it only takes a few crumbs of wheat to cause a reaction. Q: Do your food allergies restrict your ability to go out to eat? What places do you go to (locally) where you’ve found both safe and tasty food? How do you order? A: Yes. I always say that I’m not the person to ask for restaurant recommendations because I eat out so infrequently. Not only am I gluten-free, I also need to avoid nuts, sesame and soy. Luckily, I really do love cooking at home. As Domino’s sadly demonstrated, many restaurants now offer a “gluten-free” menu that isn’t really gluten-free. The best experiences I’ve had recently have been at chain restaurants. P.F. Chang’s, Pizza Uno, and Carrabba’s really train their staff how to handle gluten-free and allergy requests. They go out of their way to prevent cross-contact in the kitchen.