I’ve been cooking from a wonderful cookbook which I purchased last year, not because I needed it in terms of my health or my family’s, but because 1) I’m interested in baking and in home cooking, 2) My dear friend Trisha and her husband Don have celiac and have been eating gluten free for many years, 3) It is written by my wonderful, brilliant friends Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern, and I love their work and am inspired by it in countless ways. I figured I would like the book and enjoy it, but I didn’t realize I would absolutely love it and find myself returning to its pages to cook One More Thing, even after I had photos and knowledge aplenty for writing this post.
I met Shauna and Danny and their amazing and beautiful daughter at a big noisy fun distracting food conference, the annual gathering of IACP in Austin TX a couple of years back. It was a crowded reception at the Driskill Hotel, and I was zooming from point a to point b with a whole slew of buddies, when I noticed a couple who had their small daughter with them. I loved that, and decided I needed to get to know people who “brung the family” cause they would be my kind of people, and I was so right. Later in the week we connected again in the hallways, and I got to sit down with them over Big Bountiful Texas Barbecue at a farm on a hot April evening, at which time I found they are pals with the amazing Daniel Kohler and that did it.
We have been friends ever since, and I loved having time to visit more during a later conference, IFBC in New Orleans, where Shauna presented a session about her pathway to health, which began once she received the diagnosis that celiac disease is a part of her life, and started figure out how to eat and cook and life a happy, delicious life starting from where she was. Her blog, “Gluten-Free Girl” (current post on making biscuits by the way) and her books and cookbooks have allowed her to share what she’s learned and kept us crossing paths at food events, since she lives in Seattle and I am in North Carolina.
These are the biscuits I made first thing, since I am Southern and immediately worried that people who have celiac cannot eat biscuits where are about 94.7 percent wheat flour. Turns out that thanks to Shauna’s recipe for All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix, biscuits are not only possible, they are wonderful! Here’s my first batch, made in my cast-iron skillet.
I made up a big batch of this GF flour mix, as Shauna suggested, when I first made the biscuits, and stored it in a big airtight container on the counter. That made it easy to up-and-bake on a whim, when I later decided to make both the waffles and the sandwich bread which are included in this excellent and useful cookbook. Here’s the link to the GF AP Flour Mix recipe, as well as Shauna’s apple pie recipe and more.
More pix of my biscuits: I’m bragging, I know, but they were great and I was very proud of myself. The picture above is an Instagram and the lighting makes my biscuits look like cornbread, but that’s not the case. Just biscuits, with a photographically induced golden glow.
Mighty fine with jelly, jam, preserves, sorghum, honey, and I’ll bet Devonshire cream would be tasty as well, should you have that on hand at home. Next it was time for something savory, and this Asian dish caught my eye as well. The book is about fine, do-able, delicious, everyday home cooking, not just about re-inventing dishes which call for wheat flour. This makes it a super all-around cookbook, more than a manual for addressing the challenges of GF eating, though that it does, beautifully.
Here are some of the dishes I’ve made so far. First up after biscuits was this hearty stir-fry of beef with fresh lemongrass, a favorite ingredient.
For this dish, Zucchini “Noodles” with Spinach Pesto, I’m including a link to the recipe, which was featured on @Serious Eats as part of a review of the book. I am not fond of feta cheese, so I used parmesean cheese instead, with wonderful results. The pesto recipe makes more than you will need for this recipe, so it was great to have gorgeous and delicious pesto around for a few more meals after making this dish.
And finally, waffles using Shauna’s gluten-free all-purpose flour which made lovely nutty waffles which we enjoyed with butter and maple syrup.
Having cooked my way around within this book, I can say that it is a treasure, for the recipes, cooking notes, and also the spectacularly beautiful and inviting photos by Penny De Los Santos whose fine work I first encountered in Saveur.
As a fan of this cookbook, I am in very good company, because The James Beard Foundation chose it for their 2014 James Beard Book Award, in the category “Focused on Health”. I’m still cooking from it, and if you want to do so, here’s where to find a copy: