La Petite Assiette: Simple Gluten Free Baking by Patricia Harrington is a compilation of the author’s favorite gluten free baking achievements. When she faced a diagnosis that demanded eliminting gluten from her diet, she took the challenge of adapting family recipes into food she could eat. This resulting cookbook offers a sampler of recipes to readers with similar dietary restrictions.
The Book’s Structure
Thirty-eight recipes are accompanied by mouth-watering photographs in this thin paperback cookbook, and they fall into 4 categories:
- Le Petit Dejeuner
- Tea Time
- Pie Crusts
Patricia Harrington owns and operates a catering company named, which translates as “the small plate”. In this cookbook of the same name, some of the recipe titles for pie crusts are in French, but there are no translations offered. However, the recipes themselves do not appear to be French in origin or nature, and the ingredients are written in English.
In using a new cookbook, my preference is to have similar types of recipes near each other. In this cookbook, that’s not the case. For instance, in the breakfast section of this book, pancake recipes are interspersed with muffin recipes. I’d like to see the pancakes together followed by the waffles, and then have the muffins all in a row. As this book is organized, I was tediously forced to refer to the table of contents near the beginning of the book if I wanted to compare the ingredients in all the pancake recipes.
The Yum Factor
I tried many of Harrington’s recipes this summer as I cooked for a gluten free staff member at Latigo, our guest ranch in Colorado. I write notes in the margins after a taste testing, and many recipes were decorated with VG, my abbreviation for Very Good! The Streusel Filled Muffins on page 7, warm out of the oven, caused many a gluten lover in my kitchen to roll their eyes back into their heads in appreciation.
In preparing dessert for a guest with celiac disease, I tested the Sour Cream Apple Pie recipe on page 62. The end result was fantastic, any my guest was very pleased. However, after following the recipe closely, I was confronted with twice as much filling as my 9 inch pie plate would hold. The rest is in my freezer awaiting another opportunity to please someone with a delicious gluten free dessert.
La Petite Assiette: Simple Gluten Free Baking by Patricia Harrington is sprinkled with comments the author writes at the top of each page that contains a recipe. In the section of pie crusts, she writes, “I have found that freezing the ingredients before you start really makes a difference and I can’t tell you why, but it does.” I needed a more convincing argument to tack on an hour to the pie making process.
When I made the Sour Cream Apple Pie, not only did I not freeze the ingredients before beginning, but I also skipped the step of freezing the butter pieces as well as refrigerating the crust for at least an hour before pre-baking it and then filling it. I also skipped rolling out the dough on a floured counter. I just sprayed a pie plate, plopped the dough in the middle, and worked it into an even pie crust with a pinched edge using my hands.
Then I defied her recommendation to pre-bake the pie crust and just filled the unbaked pie with the apple filling and baked it for an hour. The edges of the crust were pretty brown by the time the filling was done, and I think they would have been an unsightly brown had I pre-baked it.
For some of the pie crust recipes, there is little or no introduction as to the appropriate application of the recipe. Would this one be better for a savory quiche? Does it hold up better than another for a rustic tart?
I also found a few editing errors beyond missing commas and capitalized words that were out of place. In the apple pie recipe I tried, there was call for 4 T of softened butter, but the directions failed to mention when it should be added. In the list of ingredients, butter was sandwiched between two other ingredients mentioned in the directions, so I added it with them, and the pie was delicious.
The Last Word
If you need recipes for tasty gluten free foods ranging from pancakes to pies La Petite Assiette: Simple Gluten Free Baking by Patricia Harrington has a place on your cookbook shelf. It does not offer tutorials in the characteristics of GF flours. Once you have the basics behind you in gluten free cooking, this would be a fine choice to expand your repertoire. — Lisa George, RFT Cookbook Editor, Latigo Ranch, Colorado