This has been a heady few weeks.
Our trip to Washington D.C. followed my trip to Google, which was followed by my time with Penny de los Santos. We’ve been home for a week, working hard, and we leave today for Austin, Texas.
(It’s 100 degrees in Austin. Here it has not risen above 65 degrees since last November. I hope we don’t faint.)
Five years ago, in early 2006, I attended the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference in Seattle. (One of the great things about keeping a website running is that I have blog posts for my memories now.) Back then, I was excited by writing here, longing to do more, but still a high school teacher. As I wrote then, “Even though I’m not really a culinary professional, I just couldn’t resist the chance to attend a conference like this.”
Now, to my great amazement and honor, I am a culinary professional. I’m a professional food writer with two books published, another two in the works, and a life I could never have imagined five years ago. And this weekend, at the IACP conference in Austin, I will be speaking twice.
I’ll be speaking about taking a blog to book, as well as a talk I am giving about Why Gluten-Free Matters. If you’d like to watch online, the IACP has a virtual conference pass here. Truly, I am honored.
Life continually surprises me.
(If anyone in Austin wants to leave us suggestions of places to eat, or has ideas about a flash-mob meet-up, let me know in the comments section.)
As if that wasn’t enough? Today, in the dining section of The New York Times, Melissa Clark has a story called Gluten-Free: Flavor Free No More. It’s an expansive piece, embracing of those of us who have to eat gluten-free and the way we have thrown ourselves into baking with wild abandon. Danny and I are proud to be featured in the piece, along with our whole-grain flour mix, whole-grain muffins, and pizza crust. Are you kidding me? It’s The New York Times!
More than that, however, we’re thrilled to read sentences like this in such a respected newspaper: “What had been a niche market has become mainstream.” And this line: “…maybe an easier route if you’re baking for mixed company is to just go gluten-free. With these recipes everyone will be happily fed from the very same platter.”
It’s so gratifying to have a nationally published piece dive into the fascinating world of gluten-free flours and not dismiss the work we all do. Gluten-free baking is baking. It’s interesting, quirky, revolutionary baking. Anyone who bakes gluten-free is brave and intrepid.
And let’s make this perfectly clear: no one who has to live gluten-free is a second-class citizen.
I could go on, but I won’t. We have packing to do and some sleep to find before Lu wakes up shouting, “Airplane! We go on airplane!” We planned to write more posts the past week, about how to eat gluten-free in restaurants and sweet rice flour and how to cook gluten-free if you have company. However, there will be time when we return. Your responses to these “new-to-gluten-free” pieces have been so resounding that we’ll make them a regular feature from now on.
For now, I’m going to pack and be amazed and make a batch of muffins for the plane.
And now I’ll shut up and let you make this pasta.
LINGUINE WITH SHRIMP AND SLOW-ROASTED TOMATOES , from Domenica Marchetti’s book, The Glorious Pasta of Italy
Last week, in Washington D.C., Danny and I had the pleasure of meeting Domenica Marchetti. She became a friend immediately. Smart, kind, and funny, Domenica truly cares about great food and the people who make it.
At the urging of the wonderful Jennifer Perillo, Domenica shyly asked us if we would be willing to take a copy of her pasta book home with us to see if we might want to participate in a blog pasta party. “Of course!” I said, as soon as I saw the cover. “But it’s full of gluten,” she said, disappointed.
Oh, Domenica. (And everyone else who feels that going gluten-free means giving up pasta.) There are so many good gluten-free pastas on the market. And of course, in our cookbook, we teach you how to make your own from scratch. Pasta is not gone. This means you can make nearly every single recipe in Domenica’s incredible book — the recipes are full of flavor and don’t require much work — with ease in your home.
I made this pasta for Danny’s brother Pat, who was staying with us this weekend, and Lu. (Poor Danny had to work.) Lu slurped up hers. Pat was pretty astonished. He loved the intensity of flavors from the slow-roasted tomatoes and red pepper flakes, the simmering of garlic, the meaty shrimp, and the way the sauce thickened with the addition of pasta water. I was so happy he was happy. And he never mentioned that the pasta was gluten-free. It simply didn’t matter.
This is Domenica’s recipe, in her words, except for the sentences in italics, which are our addition. Make this and we’re pretty sure you’re going to want to buy Domenica’s book.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin
1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes, slow roasted (see note below)
generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1 pound dried gluten-free linguine (we like the Bionaturae brand)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup dry white white wine
kosher salt or sea salt
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. The water should taste like the ocean.
Place the olive oil and garlic in a large frying pan over low heat. Cook the garlic slowly for 8 to 10 minutes, or until softened but now browned. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and stir to combine them with the garlic slices. Cover the pan and let the tomatoes heat slowly for a few minutes.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until al dente. (Danny and I have found that packages of gluten-free pasta often instruct you to cook them much longer than is necessary. The Bionaturae package is the only one that seems right to us — 7 minutes. All the others have you cook the pasta until it is pulpy.)
When the pasta is done, drain it from the pot, saving about 1 cup of the water in which it was cooked. Immediately run cold water over the pasta, which stops the cooking process. Pour a glug of olive oil over the pasta and toss it. Set it aside and finish the sauce.
Raise the heat under the frying pan to medium-high and add the shrimp. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until the shellfish have turned opaque. Raise the heat to high and pour in the wine. Let it bubble for a minute or so, or just until the shellfish are completely cooked. Scoop a ladleful of cooking water from the pasta pot and stir it into the frying pan. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Turn off the heat.
Transfer the pasta to the frying pan and gently toss the pasta and sauce to combine thoroughly, adding a splash or two more of the cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Transfer the dressed pasta to warmed shallow individual bowls and serve immediately.
To slow-roast the tomatoes: slice cherry tomatoes in half, spread across a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, pour a glug of olive oil over the top, then sprinkle salt and fresh thyme on top. Toss. Cook in a 275° oven until the cherries are slightly shrunken and have released their juices, about 2 hours.