Dunedin Author offers Recipes for Gluten-free Goodies
Sometimes, you want what you just can’t have.
Carol Kicinski’s great temptation is baked goods. But wheat, rye and barley-based foods trigger her gluten intolerance, subsequent migraines and a constant state of exhaustion.
“To me a croissant is the boy in high school who is really cute and a little dangerous. … It took time to realize it’s toxic and I didn’t need it in my life,” she says of being diagnosed with celiac disease 18 years ago.
Celiac isn’t a food allergy. It’s a digestive disease in which villi, tiny tissues that line the inside of the small intestine, are attacked. Without villi, nutrients can’t be absorbed into the body, and symptoms such as anemia, fatigue, and even depression appear and the immune system is compromised, says the National Institutes of Health.
Initially, Kicinski thought she was cured by a six-week cleanse. She wasn’t. Then she tried alternatives to fill her bakery fix, driving 25 miles from her Dunedin home for a single loaf of gluten-free bread that cost $10 and “tasted like dirt.”
“I ate bagels for breakfast, pasta for dinner and a sandwich for lunch,” she says. “My diet was so gluten-heavy.”
Kicinski refused to accept that celiac disease meant tasty foods were off the table for life. For a while, baked goods and pasta were eliminated and she created her own recipes, such as substituting lasagna noodles with strips of zucchini. She got so into it, the amateur chef started sharing recipes on a blog she calls SimplyGluten-Free.com.
Eventually Kicinski’s kitchen experiments led to gluten-free desserts and the discovery of gluten-free flour blends that could transform the most sinful baked delicacies into heavenly treats. Those recipes are among those featured in her first cookbook, “Simply … Gluten-free Desserts” ($26.99, Thomas Dunne Books).
“Who wants to go their whole life not eating a cookie? Not me,” says Kicinski, who also writes for Martha Stewart’s “G-Free Friday” online feature.
She says the estimated 2 million Americans living with celiac disease should enjoy decadent treats as much as anyone else. They just need to steer clear of gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
The 150 recipes in Kicinski’s book include a lot of grain- and dairy-free desserts, from coconut milk ice cream to candied orange slices. But desserts such as the mint chip cupcakes, Snickerdoodles and pound cake will appeal most to those with celiac.
That’s because baking gluten-free isn’t as simple as substituting a gluten-free flour into a mainstream recipe, she says. And baking at home improves the odds of the food not being contaminated by wheat-based food products.
“You can eat roast chicken and call it gluten-free, but you can’t always do that with a red velvet cupcake.”
Dessert books like this destroy the stereotype that gluten-free food tastes like cardboard, Kicinski says. People living with celiac disease should instead embrace their intolerance and discover all the foods they can enjoy.
“Once you realize you have the power to improve your health, it changes everything,” she says.
Gluten Freedom: With a nut crust, Mascarpone Berry Pie is a seasonal hit
by Laura Byrne Russell
Published: July 05, 2011
I recently sat down with a copy of Carol Kicinski’s new book, “Simply … Gluten-Free Desserts”, (St. Martin’s Press; $26.99, 304 pages), and found myself dog-earing recipe after recipe of tempting treats.
What really drew me in was that 60 percent of the recipes are naturally gluten-free.
Kicinski covers some of the obvious (yet no less delicious) choices, such as puddings and ice creams, but she also offers many that are unique, including an ancho chile-spiked Mexican chocolate cake, chewy hazelnut-based Baci di Dama cookies and a clever Upside Down Lemon Meringue Pie that uses a disk of meringue as the “crust.”
Recipes included with this recipe: Mascarpone Berry Pie, Grain-free Nut Crust.
Everything in the book is gluten-free; some recipes are also tagged as grain-free, dairy-free or sugar-free, a boon to those with multiple food sensitivities.
After a difficult decision-making process, I narrowed my choice to the Mascarpone Berry Pie, a perfect showcase for ripe summer berries.
The foolproof nutty crust — I used pecans — was completely satisfying underneath a billowing cloud of mascarpone cheese and whipped cream. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries glistened on top, drizzled with a glaze of seedless jam and berry liqueur, though you can substitute orange juice for a more kid-friendly version.
Laura Byrne Russell is a food writer, recipe developer and author of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen. See her “Notes From a Gluten Free Kitchen” at
by Amanda Gold, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, June 5, 2011
For every gooey slice of chocolate cake, crisp butter cookie and sugary doughnut on the market these days, there seems to be a gluten free counterpart. Sure, it’s not quite the same thing – but sample these products side by side, and some are pretty darn close. With gluten sensitivities so common (see today’s cover story for statistics and more on gluten-free baking), it only makes sense that dessert lovers would be on a mission to re-create baked goods that pass muster.
During the past few years, options in the pastry departments of grocery stores have multiplied significantly. And now, the gluten-free baking trend is taking the book world by storm. We’ve received no less than five on the subject in
recent months. From cupcakes to cookies, the sphere of sweet endings is covered.
Here’s a little bit about what’s out there:
Simply … Gluten-Free Desserts, by Carol Kicinski (Thomas Dunne Books, 290 pages, $26.99). There are plenty of desserts that don’t contain gluten products, and those form the backbone of this book. Dishes like Mochaccino Mousse, Mexican Chocolate Cake With Cinnamon Whipped Cream, and Rhubarb Fool are among them; it also means that many of the desserts are grain free. Others contain a sweet rice flour blend or almond flour in place of regular flour – the blueberry muffins (see recipe) are a prime example.
Woman’s Cookbook Features 150 Gluten-Free Desserts
by Kelly Steele | Dunedin Patch
Published: May 23, 2011
Carol Kicinski speaks about and signs her new cookbook “Simply … Gluten-Free Desserts” at the Barnes and Noble bookstore at 213 N. Dale Mabry at 6pm on Monday, May 23.
After many tests, she was diagnosed as being gluten intolerant.
This left Kicinski, a regular mom with an ordinary baking background, navigating an uncharted gluten-free territory. The term “gluten-free” has only recently become a more mainstream term, and even now it’s still misunderstood. She had to eliminate all ingredients with gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barely and rye. No breads, no pastas, no cakes, cookies or brownies — all made with flour.
Now, Carol is a successful food blogger, recipe developer, cooking instructor, television chef and food writer, dedicating her time to creating delicious gluten-free recipes in her tiny Dunedin kitchen.
“I’m not a trained pastry chef but each of these desserts was cooked in my tiny little kitchen at home,” Kicinski said. “So that just goes to show you that anyone can do it.”
Her recently published cookbook was featured on QVC’s first hour-long gluten-episode in March, selling almost 2,000 copies. She has also provided recipes for Cooking Light and Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine.
Kicinski’s latest cookbook, “Simply…Gluten-Free Desserts,” features 150 recipes for cupcakes, cookies, pies, sweet breads, cakes, puddings and ice creams. It has something to please anyone’s sweet tooth, with recipes like Salted Peanut Caramel Brownies (Kiscinki’s favorite), Coconut Cupcakes, Blueberry Muffins and Marscapone Berry Cheese Pie.
The cookbook includes affordable recipes for gluten-free desserts, a “how-to” guide for baking gluten-free and even Kicinski’s gluten-free flour blend that works in place of regular flour for any recipe in the book.
Kicinski believes that looking at the world of food in terms of what you can eat instead of what you can’t, will open your eyes to the endless possibilities of a gluten-free lifestyle.
“With about 15 percent of Americans seeking gluten-free products and recipes, it really is becoming a mainstream issue,” Kiscinski said.
Meet the Author
- What: Dunedin resident Carol Kicinski presents her new cookbook “Simple…Gluten-Free Desserts”
- When: Today (May 23) at 6 p.m.
- Where: Barnes and Noble bookstore on 213 N Dale Mabry in Tampa
- More: Kicinski recipes and her latest cooking adventures can be found on her blog at www.simplegluten-free.com. Her cookbook can also be purchased online at QVC. Click here to purchase or see more.
Recipes from Simply . . . Gluten-Free Desserts
by Lauren Salkeld
Published August 23, 2011
Like many authors of gluten-free cookbooks and blogs, Carol Kicinski came to her specialty after being diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Rather than being limited by what some might see as a restricted diet, the Florida-based blogger (Simplygluten-free.com) prefers to focus on what she can eat. Kicinski also refuses to settle: To make sure her desserts aren’t just “good for gluten-free” but “good, period,” she tests every recipe on people who don’t follow a gluten-free diet.
Kicinski’s recently published book, Simply . . . Gluten-Free Desserts, is all about accessibility. Her recipes tend toward the classic–think peanut butter cookies, s’mores, and molten lava cakes–and require only basic baking knowledge. And if you’re unsure about anything, a technique or ingredient, the front of the book includes practical guidelines on both.
Some gluten-free bakers are pro gluten-free flour mixes while other are strictly opposed. Kicinski is in the later camp and finds most commercial blends too gritty for baking. Rather than sacrificing on texture, Kicinski created her own flour blend. It combines white rice flour, sweet (glutinous) rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum and is the basis of many of the recipes in her book, including the Red Velvet Whoopie Pies included here. The peanut butter cookies are flourless making them naturally gluten-free and big on peanut flavor.
Recipes to try:
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream Sandwiches