Rebecca's Gluten Free Blog

Gluten Free in the Upper Midwest

The Gluten Free Gourmet cookbook series January 9, 2010

Bette Hagman wrote a series of cookbooks called the “The Gluten Free Gourmet” before she passed away about a year ago. hers were some of the earliest GF cookbooks out there. you can tell that these were her tried and true recipes that she used to make home-cooked gluten free goodness for years and years, and that’s what makes them so special.

I’m sort of a cookbook addict~ I have probably 15-20 GF ones alone, that I’ve acquired in just a few years. at first, there were relatively few out there, so I’d buy most of them, but the rate of publishing GF cookbooks seems to be growing exponentially this last year, so now I’m a lot more choosy. I’m glad that my base of books is mostly comprised of earlier ones though, because I feel like those are the ones people mastered for their own use over the years, and not just thrown together when the market called for more recipes.

one flaw in the gluten free cookbook world that I see, is that there’s no uniform agreement on a basic GF flour blend. I understand that it’s good to have some variety, since some foods are more delicate, and some more hardy, and even that using a variety of different flours will provide different proteins and nutrients. however, I still wish that for a basic flour blend, we could all agree more.

Bette Hagman’s books could provide a complete set of cookbooks for the gluten free/ celiac consumer (and family). I feel that if I’m going to be dedicated enough to a cookbook’s flour blends, that it had better be worth it. and with her using the same handful of flour blends in all of her books, it makes it worth it to me to go ahead and use them. so I have several containers of flour mixes, and I keep a couple of her mixtures on hand.

here’s a quick recap of the main flour blends she uses~ the featherlight mix (which is actually available by one brand to purchase in stores, and is great to use for any cakes or delicate dessert recipes, by the way), the 4 bean flour mix (for extra heartiness and protein), and the basic GF flour mix (which is probably the most-used blend I’ve seen, and the closest thing I think there is to a “standard”~ I’ve found it online before if you do a search). and from those blends, there are some mixtures you can make to keep on hand, if you use them frequently~ for me, that’s the biscuit mix (which is used to make the most amazing pot pies I’ve ever had~ gluten free or not!)

I like to rotate out the flours completely, by using every bit of a flour or mixture before starting a new batch, since GF flours can go bad after 6-12 months, depending on the type. (her books begin with a review of different GF flours and baking products, to help you learn this info).

if you only wish to purchase one or two books, you may just want to substitute her flour blends with store-bought ones to make it more accessible. likewise, when I make recipes from my other GF cookbooks, instead of mixing up a new blend for just one book, I substitute theirs with one of my Bette Hagman flour blends instead. so the substitutions can go both ways.

when it comes to the recipes themselves, she’ll sometimes note substitutes for other allergens, or a brief description or personal notes, which is always fun and/or helpful.

here are some of her cookbooks: The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods~ this was my very first GF cookbook ever, and still my favorite. this is the cookbook with the most delicious pot pies. in fact, there are several pot pie recipes in it, but Bette’s Best are the ones I always make. it’s a great crowd-pleaser if you want a big family dinner, or even when guests over. other than the biscuit mix (of which it uses very little), the other ingredients are pretty basic and normal, and therefore inexpensive. she also has other good things like gluten free casseroles, crab cakes, chicken fried steak, biscuits & gravy, scalloped potatoes, and even gluten free graham crackers! all of her recipes that I’ve tried have been great.

there are a few basic cookbooks, with some sample items in each: the antithesis of the Comfort Foods would be The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy (gluten free bagels, lighter versions of various desserts, artichoke spread, spinach dip, chowders, matzoh balls, crepes, stroganoff). there is the standard The Gluten Free Gourmet book (gluten free hamburger buns, pecan sticky rolls, breadsticks, banana bread, basic crepes, donuts, pasta, pizzas, etc) and a More From the Gluten-Free Gourmet (gluten free lebkuchen, black forest cake, yellow velvet cake, scones, granola mix, egg rolls, tempura batter, and a lot of foreign dishes). these books each cover the usual gamut of topics. I’ve listed only a few examples of items people may have particular interest in, but all 3 books have probably 250-300 recipes and cover much more than I could ever write about.

the final two of the books are pretty straight-froward: The Gluten-Free Gourmet Makes Dessert and The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread. the bread book has recipes to make with and without a bread machine, yeast and yeast-free breads, quick breads, muffins, etc. the dessert ones has the usual desserts, with extras that are fun like gluten free coffee cakes, biscotti, bars, cheesecakes, meringues, tiramisu, tortes, cobblers, puddings, donuts….. both books are quite extensive (over 200 recipes each) and have a lot of variety.

as I said, hers are my favorite cookbooks, and I think you could have a complete set of GF cookbooks using only The Gluten Free Gourmet series~ or at least it’s a great place to start, if you wish to add more later. I very highly recommend them~ especially the Comfort Foods book!!

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