Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: Cooking for Isaiah

Summary: Cooking for Isaiah is a love story of Silvana Nardone's journey to develop great-tasting meals for her son, Isaiah, after he was diagnosed with food intolerances to gluten and dairy. The results of her efforts found in the pages of this book, are through 135 recipes that are not only easy to make but taste and look delicious, including S'mores Pancakes with Marshmallow Sauce, Double-Decker Toasted Cornbread and Spicy Greens Stack, Chicken and Waffles with Maple Bacon Gravy, Shrimp Pizza with Garlic Cream Sauce, and Chocolate Birthday Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting. You'll also find:
  • Silvana's tried-and-tested all-purpose flour and pancake mix recipes
  • An ingredient substitutions chart that shows you what to swap if, for example, you need to cook without gluten, but dairy is okay
  • Dishes that are perfect for entertaining with friends and family
  • Complete pantry set-up
  • Food shopping, recipe make-ahead and storage tips
Includes a foreword by Rachael Ray! -- Sprig

As a mother of a child with life-threatening food allergies, I was very interested in the new cookbook COOKING FOR ISAIAH: GLUTEN-FREE & DAIRY-FREE RECIPES FOR EASY, DELICIOUS MEALS by Silvana Nardone. Even though Booking Son doesn't have a gluten allergy (thank goodness for that!), I still was attracted to the idea of making "real" food without the typical ingredients. Plus, I figured that there would be a few dairy free recipes that I could use.

COOKING FOR ISAIAH is just a wonderful cookbook! I can only imagine how much this cookbook would mean to people with a gluten and/or dairy intolerance. The recipes all look delicious and there are loads of beautiful color photographs (and you know how much I love color photos in a cookbook.) What I found so refreshing about COOKING FOR ISAIAH is that the recipes were ones that I'd actually enjoy making and eating. There weren't too gourmet for my taste and they all seemed relatively simple.

COOKING FOR ISAIAH has so many wonderful recipes (well over 100.) The cookbook is divided into the following sections: the basics; breakfast; starters & salads; soups, rice & pasta; sandwiches & pizza; main dishes; vegetables & sides; and desserts. Pretty standard sections, but they do cover what most of us need in a cookbook! There is even a foreward by Rachael Ray. I found that the main dishes section was probably the one that most appealed to me, but the breakfast one was awesome too.

I have to admit that there weren't a ton of recipes that I could make for Booking Son. Many of the recipes used eggs and some used a lot of eggs. Booking Son is seriously allergic to eggs so that ruled out a lot of the recipes for him -- but not for me! I'm hoping that many of the recipes that weren't primarily egg- based (like some of the desserts) might be able to be modified using an egg replacer.

Since Booking Son eats chocolate chip pancakes on an almost-daily basis, we decided to try the S'mores Pancakes with Marshmallow Sauce. Needless to say, I didn't follow the recipe exactly because I used a store-bought pancake mix as well as an egg replacer, but we did get the general idea. I have to say that the combination of marshmallows and chocolate chips were a big hit in our house. But really, how can you go wrong with S'more Pancakes?

There are quite a few recipes that I want to try including the pumpkin muffins with crumble topping, the grilled peach BBQ chicken wings, and the black bean, corn and yellow rice enchiladas with guacamole and red chile sauce. I also found the pizza section to be interesting . Keep in mind that none of the pizza recipes included any cheese. I have a feeling that I might be turning to this cookbook for some creative pizza ideas as Booking Son gets older and wants to eat pizza like everyone else!

One thing that I really appreciated about this cookbook is that the author designed every recipe to be extremely flexible. For example, she uses a few "master" mixes such as Silvana's all-purpose flour and Silvana's Pancake Mix as the bases for quite a few recipes. If you aren't eating gluten-free, you can still make the recipes and just substitute those ingredients with the traditional flour and pancake mix. She also provides a substitution chart in the front of the book for some of the allergen free ingredients such as rice milk, vegetable shortening, corn or rice pasta, etc. As a result, I think COOKING FOR ISAIAH will appeal to many people -- both those with and without allergies!

Ms. Nardone is the Editor-in-Chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray. In addition, she has a fantastic blog called Dish Towel Diaries where she regularly blogs about gluten-free and diary-free recipes. It's obvious to anyone who looks at her blog or her cookbook how much she adores her family. And it's especially obvious how important it is to her that Isaiah (and the rest of the family) eat as normally as possible. Believe me when I tell you how difficult that is to do on a regular basis. I don't know if it's because I could relate to her challenges as a mother, but I really appreciated the introduction of the cookbook. She did a wonderful job of personalizing this book with so many photos of her family as well as their background story. I admit that she got me from the very beginning when she said this:

"I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist. I am not a trained chef. I am not a food scientist. I am just a mom who wants to feed her kids."

Thanks to FSB Associates for sending me a review copy of this cookbook.

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rhapsodyinbooks said...

There's definitely a need for more good cookbooks for foods that leave out allergy target things. When I have tried to buy already made products that are wheat free or egg free or gluten free or whatever, I haven't been very happy with the results!

Beth F said...

I must get this book for a friend of mine who was just diagnosed with gluten intolerance. She so misses things like pancakes.

bermudaonion said...

I like the idea of the flexible recipes since there are so many food allergies out there. You know I love color photos in cookbooks too.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I have the perfect person to give this to for Christmas. Thanks so much for highlighting it!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Julie this is so great. I have a friend who's daughter has food allergies including gluten. I am telling her about this book.