Book Review: Small Plates & Sweet Treats, Aran Goyoaga

| 9 November , 2012 | Reply

Gluten sensitivity is incredibly common these days, but living gluten free still isn’t simple. Navigating the grocery store, avoiding gluten-filled goodies and cooking edible meals for the whole family can be tough. But a new cookbook, Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga provides an approachable, family-friendly guide to gluten-free cooking.

From the get go, the book is very pretty. Filled with rich, glossy photographs and vibrant colours, the food jumps right off the page, good enough to eat.

The book opens with a guide to becoming gluten free, as well as a recount of her journey when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. She explains that people can be gluten intolerant without experiencing any of the symptoms, until they manifest later in life in the form of cancer or other chronic illnesses and then offers a list of staple ingredients in a gluten-free kitchen to get you started.

The best part of this book is its simplicity – her approach to gluten-free living allows you to still enjoy the foods you love (even pasta), without challenging your health.

For the sugar conscious, this book isn’t completely sugar-free. Aran uses a variety of different sugar alternatives that are low GI, but still do contain fructose, that we make a concerted effort here to do.

The book is then divided into four sections, one for each season, which is then split into Small Plates (main meals) and Sweet Treats (easy desserts). Each section begins with a sweet anecdote about Aran and her childhood, weaving in her memories rich with food and family.

Autumn is filled with warm casseroles, seeded bread and hearty stews. Some of the highlights of the season that we have marked include the Sunday Beef Stew (page 49) and Cranberry and Quinoa Scones (page 60).

Winter’s recipes provides solace from the cold, with family stews (page 104), effortlessly indulgent toasted sandwiches (page 111) and a particularly decadent looking Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding (page 127).

The highlights of Spring’s effortless, breezy style are Ricotta and Quinoa Gnocchi (page 157), Salty Herb, Walnut and Corn Crackers (page 177), perfect for entertaining and Lemon, Buttermilk and Olive Oil Madeleines (page 189). This section also houses the most exciting part of the cookbook – macarons. As a former pastry chef Aran knows her way around French macarons, and offers easy, step-by-step guides for mastering the notoriously difficult treats.

Finally, Summer includes effortless salads, bigger meals for summer entertaining as well as refreshingly tropical desserts like Coconut and Yoghurt Panna Cotta (page 265) and Coconut Donuts (page 269).

The book made it seem so easy to go gluten-free and still enjoy your lifestyle. With the right ingredients and an understanding of how to use them, losing the gluten won’t have to mean saying goodbye to your favourite meals.

Available now: Hachette RRP$45


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