Leslie Cerier's gem of a cookbook is a collection of easy, quick and simple gluten free recipes. But she has packed a whole lot more than gluten free cooking into 223 pages.
You might wonder, as I did, what she means by 'conscious cook'. As far as I know, I'm usually conscious when I cook. Conscious of what is the key.
Leslie says "this cookbook celebrates the earth's bounty and approaches green and gluten-free cooking like a creative sport"
She teaches us to cook with awareness of local and seasonal foods, and the environment.
"...you're about to engage in an adventure that will open the door to a whole new realm of cooking - one where your senses come alive with the flavors, colors, textures, and aromas of vibrant and healthful natural foods."
"If you've been thinking that a gluten-free diet means doing without, think again. There's a world of exciting ingredients to choose from. Embrace the possibilities!"
What that means is that Leslie's gluten free recipes are nutritious and healthy, and they use ingredients that you might not normally use - such as millet, buckwheat, miso, arrowroot powder, teff flour, and brown rice syrup
Leslie admits that she doesn't follow a gluten free diet herself, and that she focuses on the flavors and usefulness of the foods, rather than on the dietary restrictions.
That Leslie's recipes are easy, quick and simple is a big plus, because most of us cook in a hurry and don't want to spend time figuring out ingredients and directions.
What I most appreciate about these gluten free recipes is that they are extremely flexible. Leslie also includes variations and serving suggestions with most of her recipes.
I tested the Millet and Sweet Carrots recipe, and I merrily tweaked the recipe to my taste - sautéing the veggies and millet in a little oil, adding a veggie bouillon cube, substituting celery for onion. I served it with a bean sauce and greens. Delicious!
I could also have made the millet and carrot casserole into a polenta-like loaf, or fried millet croquettes, and served them with Mushroom Leek Sauce
The first chapter of the book is an introduction to the gluten free grains, and other ingredients. The second chapter covers basic grain cookery.
In the back of the book, there's a glossary of ingredients, a resource section which tells us where to get all these interesting foods, and a full index - not to be taken for granted these days!
All of the above makes Gluten Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook a refreshing change from many gluten free cookbooks, which try to translate the typical North American diet into gluten free.
Leslie's gluten free cookbook focuses on healthy, beautiful, earth friendly recipes which happen to be not only easy, but gluten free. She introduces us to a whole new way of thinking about food.
The best, and most important part about Gluten Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook is that Leslie Cerier is a great cook, with umpteen years of experience cooking vegetarian. Her gluten free recipes look and taste delicious.
Although this is a mostly vegan cookbook, a few of the recipes also include egg and dairy. Fortunately it's easy to use vegan substitutions, replacing ghee with oil, eggs with egg replacer, and cheese with non-dairy versions.
Leslie Cerier is an authority on gluten-free cooking and baking, with expertise in local, seasonal, organic cooking for healthy and vitality. She cooks and teaches all over the US. Watch Leslie demonstrate recipes on her website!