Review of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

Carob Chip Cookies

It’s unusual for me to know about cookbooks before they are published.  It’s also rare for me to look forward to one coming out if I know about it.  That has all changed since entering the blogging world and really following a number of gluten-free bloggers.  Imagine my excitement after finding out that Amy Green, Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free, was working on a cookbook.  Okay, maybe to imagine that, you have to understand that Amy was one of the first gluten-free bloggers I started following along with Iris, Shirley, and Carrie.  What I loved about everything of Amy’s on her site that I attempted was the simplicity and with her informing us that she was making the recipes easy enough to fix in a short amount of time, I was completely sold.

I was honored to be included in testing a recipe for her last Fall.  She sent me her recipe for Carob Chip Cookies.  This was my first time making gluten-free cookies and using palm sugar.  Little did I know that I was supposed to soften it before using it.  The sugar did not come with instructions.  So, I wound up spending more time on trying to soften it after I started putting the batter together.  For those of you who have never used palm sugar, SOFTEN IT BEFORE USING IT!  It will save you the time and frustration I went through.

In the end, I was rewarded with little cookie goodness that did not taste gluten-free.  If you’ve never had carob before, don’t expect the carob chips to be melty like chocolate chips.  This was my first time having carob since the 80’s (my mother used it a lot for a time).  Chaz was surprised since he hadn’t had carob before and was expecting that same chocolate chip texture.  Sorry, Babe.  If you don’t like carob or don’t want to try it, you can use chocolate chips.  Amy uses carob because it doesn’t have the refined sugar like chocolate chips do.

Socca Pizza

I pre-ordered the cookbook on Amazon.com and had difficulty containing myself when I came home a week and a half ago and found it at my door.  If I didn’t use menu planning, I probably would have made something that night.  Instead I sat down with it and picked several recipes to try the following week.

I started off with Socca Pizza.  Since going gluten-free, I have only had pizza at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery.  I did make a gluten-free pizza crust once that I actually used like a flatbread and was mostly cheese.  What I love about this pizza crust recipe is it is 4 ingredients and once you have those ingredients gathered, it takes about 2 minutes to make.  Easy peasy.  I was going to make her Veggie, Onion, & Prosciutto Pizza to use the crust, but I wound up making a slightly different version of it using fresh tomatoes instead of canned.  The beauty of it is the toppings were ready by the time the crust was done and would have been done if I had followed Amy’s recipe, too.  The night I made it I had to close, so I didn’t get Chaz’s reaction to it until the next morning which was, “It doesn’t taste gluten-free.”  No, it does not!   In fact, the crust had me dreaming of different ways to use it.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

The Asian Lettuce Wraps were fun to make and extremely messy to eat.  If you make them, make sure you have a napkin nearby.  Or two….or three.  I couldn’t find the cremini mushrooms the recipe calls for so I used regular white mushrooms that were pre-sliced.  I wanted the Baby Bellas, but they were looking pretty sad.  I had a can of diced water chestnuts.  Between that and the pre-sliced mushrooms, my prep time was cut down.  Which was a good thing after 8 hours on my feet all day.

Sweet and Spicy Mustard Sauce

I made Amy’s Sweet and Spicy Mustard Sauce to go with the lettuce wraps, but with a slight alteration.  I couldn’t find our Dijon mustard and instead used our powdered Chinese hot mustard in 1/4 cup water.  Everything else was followed in the recipe.

I was so excited about the food by the time it was done, I forgot to take pictures.  I took these pictures the following day before eating lunch.

Swiss Chard and Mushrooms with Spaghetti

Last on the Tour de SSGF is the Swiss Chard and Mushrooms with Linguine, which was actually with spaghetti because I couldn’t get my hands on gluten-free linguine.  I have to say, bacon makes everything better.  It gave this dish another layer of savoriness.  Again, I used white mushrooms because I couldn’t find cremini mushrooms.  I did goof a bit and the spaghetti was sticky, but the dish was still good.

Cheesy Garlic Bread using the Socca Pizza Crust

To go with the spaghetti, I made something I dreamed up with the Socca Pizza Crust.  Garlic Cheesy Bread.  I actually had it in there a little too long, but it was still good.  I made the crust and added a handful of chopped garlic to the batter.  Once the crust was cooked, I topped it with mozzarella cheese.  I used fresh basil to garnish it when I pulled it out of the oven.

Amy really did do what she set out to do, delicious recipes that are easy and fast, especially when you do as she suggests at the beginning of the cookbook and have all your ingredients ready before you start.  This is something I’ve always done for that reason.  It makes putting it all together easier and faster when you have it all at your hands.  She also has some good basic recipes.  Not just in the book but on her site, too.  She’s really good at explaining the basics.  I’ve sent several friends to her site who don’t like to spend time in the kitchen because I know they’ll understand her instructions.

She also has lists of white sugar alternatives and gluten-free flours at the end.  For those of you who are still figuring things out in the kitchen, she also has suggestions for pantry staples and kitchen tools.

If you already follow Amy and have her book, awesome.  If you don’t know Amy, start following her and get this book.  I must admit that I have another gluten-free cookbook from a well-known gluten-free blogger that came out last Fall and I still haven’t made anything from it just because the recipes are complicated.  I’m too tired after work to do complicated!

This post is linked to In My Gluten-free Kitchen Sharing Sundays at Celiacs In The House.


21 comments

  1. Wow, that’s a fantastic review, Debi! Not just because you’ve clearly labeled Amy’s book a winner in the world of gluten-free cookbooks, but also because you worked hard (somebody’s gotta do it, right?) and made so many recipes. Thanks so much for this review! I know so many will appreciate it, Debi. That Socca Pizza sounds especially intriguing to me. Re: mushrooms, from what I’ve read most of the time the white button mushrooms are cremini mushrooms, but I guess in some cases if they are not creminis, they are closely related. (http://www.foodsubs.com/Mushroom.html) Interesting on the palm sugar. That must be coconut palm sugar, because the palm sugar I get is ready to use. Finally, thanks for mentioning me. ;-) I’m so happy I was in that group of blogs that you found. Can’t wait to meet you at the Expo!

    xo
    Shirley

    • Thanks for that mushroom information! Looks like I picked a good sub! It’s a Thai palm sugar so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s not “ready to use.” lol I had to order it because I couldn’t find it anywhere in town.

      I can’t wait to meet you, either! It’ll be a fun weekend! :D

  2. What a great review! I just received Amy’s book recently and can’t wait to dive in! Question for you – I did not know palm sugar had to be softened – mine is pretty granulated already. I am off to google more on this topic.

  3. Great review! I have to admit, I still haven’t bought Amy’s book…with all my food restriction these days, there are just so few recipes I can actually follow. But I know I’ll get it eventually, once I get my gut healed and can eat more foods (hopefully!)

  4. Debi, what a nice review of Amy Green’s cookbook. All the recipes you tried (and photos) sound wonderful. I don’t have her cookbook yet, but am definitely going to look at it now.

    • Jeanette, you will love it! Like I said in the post, if you aren’t already following her, check out her blog. She has some great stuff on there and I’ve never been disappointed!

  5. Debbie….so sorry I’m late to the party but WOW you are incredible. I have tears in my eyes. I am just in awe of your generous, loving nature. Thank you for standing with me on this journey.

    About the palm sugar – it’s also known as coconut palm sugar. I have never softened it. Here’s a link to the brands I’ve used:

    http://www.iherb.com/Navitas-Naturals-Organic-Palm-Sugar-16-oz-454-g/18167?at=0

    and

    I hope that helps.

    Much love,
    Amy

  6. Pingback: Five Things You Need to Know Now---Expos + | gfe--gluten free easily

  7. I can’t believe I missed this review. I, too, am a fan of that socca pizza! We have had it many, many times over the past year. You also reminded me that I need to give some of Amy’s sauces a try. Thanks for linking up to Sharing Sundays.

    • You’re welcome, Wendy! I need to make some pizza again. I haven’t had it since going df. Not sure how Chaz would feel about a cheeseless pizza since I don’t like the dairy-free cheeses. :D

      • Hey Debi–Still subscribed to comments on this one, so butting in to ask if you saw Diane’s post on her pizza made from the Majestic Garlic Spread? Let me tell you … that stuff is INCREDIBLE on a pizza. We inhaled it in CA. Truly, no dairy is needed. Both you and Chaz would be in total heaven. No kidding!

        Shirley

  8. Pingback: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday; 3/15/11 | Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free


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