Food writer Anne Byrn has sold more than three million recipe books, but in recent years, more and more people at her book signings told her they couldn’t eat her most popular dishes.
“I think it’s profound that so many people in the country are gluten intolerant now,” Byrn told the Dayton Daily News before a talk promoting her new “Unbelievably Gluten-Free!” cookbook on April 10 at Books & Co. in Beavercreek.
Gluten is the sticky protein in wheat and some other grains that binds foods such as bread, cake, pasta, gravy and pie crusts together. Officials estimate that about 15 percent of Americans are gluten sensitive. They may experience digestion problems, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, neurological issues and even tooth decay.
So the Tennessee-based author invested six months in developing foods for families trying to adapt to a gluten-free diet. Since she herself has no problem eating wheat flour, Byrn could test each dish against its traditional version until both texture and flavor were “great — like the real thing.”
The result was a book of 128 easy, quick recipe ideas for family favorites including pizza, fried chicken, pasta, dumplings, lasagna, enchiladas, cupcakes, cobblers, pies and more.
“The most challenging part was trying to mimic wheat flour,” Byrn said. “When we finally got the pie crust right, we were celebrating, dancing up and down in the kitchen.”
Here’s one of Byrn’s favorite recipes for gluten-free dining:
THE BEST SKILLET LASAGNA
Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 45 to 50 minutes
Rest: 15 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey
4 cups (32 ounces) gluten-free marinara (pasta) sauce
2 tablespoons red wine (optional)
1 15-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
9 brown rice lasagna noodles
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Place the olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet that is 12 inches in diameter, at least three inches deep, and has a lid that fits securely. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and carrot, and cook, stirring, until the onion softens and begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Crumble the turkey into the skillet and cook, stirring, until the turkey is cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the marinara sauce and red wine, if using. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors come together, 5 minutes.
2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
3. Leave about a third of the sauce in the skillet, transfer the remaining two thirds to a bowl, and set it aside. Place the ricotta, egg and Parmesan cheese in a medium-size bowl and stir to combine. Break three of the lasagna noodles into three-inch pieces and distribute them over the sauce in the skillet. Spoon a third of the ricotta mixture on top of the lasagna noodles and spread it out thinly to nearly cover them. Sprinkle one cup of the mozzarella cheese evenly over the ricotta mixture. Repeat the layers of sauce, noodles and cheese two times, ending with the mozzarella.
4. Place the lid on the skillet and carefully place the skillet in the oven. Bake the lasagna until the noodles have cooked through, the sauce bubbles, and the cheese has melted, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and let the lasagna rest, covered, for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Note: Use this recipe as a basic plan and add sliced mushrooms to the sauce or a layer of lightly steamed fresh spinach in the middle. Or change up the cheeses, adding a little feta to the mozzarella — so many possibilities.
GLUTEN-FREE SAUCEPAN BROWNIES
Makes: 16 small or 8 large brownies
Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 25 to 30 minutes
Naturally gluten-free, these brownies are so fudgy, chewy and chocolaty that you’ll never miss the flour. That’s because the cocoa and cornstarch in the recipe give just the right amount of structure to the brownies. The flavor comes from the butter, cocoa, vanilla, and chocolate chips. And the ease comes from making them in one pan on top of the stove, then pouring into a square pan and baking.
Vegetable oil spray, for misting the baking pan
1/4 cup cornstarch, plus cornstarch for dusting the baking pan
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (see note)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust it with cornstarch. Set the baking pan aside.
2. Place the butter in a medium-size saucepan over low heat and stir until melted. Add the cocoa powder and stir until thickened and smooth, about 15 to 20 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Break the eggs into the pan and stir to combine well. Add the 1/4 cup of cornstarch and the salt and stir until the batter is smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and place the pan in the oven. Bake the brownies until the edges are firm, the top is shiny, and the center is just set, 25 to 30 minutes. If you like your brownies gooey, bake them for 25 minutes and if you like them more chewy, bake them for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the baking pan from the oven and let the brownies cool for 1 hour before slicing them into 1-inch squares, if desired. (Some people eat them straight from the pan!) Store the brownies, covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Note: For the best flavor, use the best cocoa powder you have. I bake with Hershey’s day-to-day, but when I want more flavor I use Ghirardelli cocoa.
Note: Instead of vanilla, use half almond extract and half vanilla extract. Or use a teaspoon of espresso powder instead of the vanilla.
To make brownie sundaes, bake the brownies ahead of time, let them cool, then cut them into large squares and cover the pan to keep the brownies fresh. To serve, place a brownie in the bottom of a shallow microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high power for 8 to 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the microwave and top the brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of your favorite chocolate sauce.
Dairy-free: Use margarine instead of butter and 1/2 cup of carob chips in place of the semisweet chocolate chips.
CRANBERRY AND ORANGE SCONES
Makes: 15 to 16 scones
Prep: 20 minutes
Bake: 12 to 15 minutes per batch
The flavor combo of cranberry and orange is perfect for the holidays. These scones go well with turkey and ham so serve them at a festive brunch, tea, or along with dinner. They also make a nice gift for a gluten-intolerant friend. Place the scones in a cellophane bag and tie it with a bright red bow.
For the scones
Vegetable oil spray (optional)
2 cups gluten-free baking mix, such as Bisquick
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons sugar, for sprinkling on top of the scones
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 packed tablespoon orange zest (from 1 orange)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
For the orange glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice
1. Make the scones: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or mist it with vegetable oil spray.
2. Place the baking mix and the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Distribute the butter on top of the baking mixture. Using 2 small sharp knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the mix until the mixture looks like small peas. Add the eggs, buttermilk, cranberries, orange zest, and walnuts, if using. Stir with a large spoon until the dough just comes together, about 25 strokes.
3. Place large spoonfuls of dough, about 1/4 cup, on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. You will have room for about 8 scones, or half of the dough. Do not flatten or spread the dough out. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar on top of the spoonfuls of dough, distributing it evenly among them. Place the baking sheet in the oven.
4. Bake the scones until they are golden brown on the bottom and firm to the touch, 12 to 15 minutes. They will not brown on top. Transfer the baked scones to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
5. While the scones cool, make the glaze. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and whisk in
2 tablespoons of orange juice, adding up to 1 more tablespoon of juice if the glaze is too thick. Drizzle the glaze on top of the cooled scones and serve.
Note: If you want to cut back on sugar and time, omit the glaze and serve the scones warm with a little butter.
Dairy-free: Use margarine instead of butter and coconut milk instead of the buttermilk for dairy-free scones.
Plan ahead: The scones will keep covered in plastic wrap for up to two days at room temperature.
MORE RECIPES ONLINE
See gluten-free recipes for saucepan brownies and cranberry and orange scones. Go to