American Classics Reinvented: recipe testing

cookbook- chicken-fried steak

For the past few weeks, Danny and I have been in the kitchen, listening to the oil in the cast-iron skillet splatter on the stove, taking notes, and writing revisions on our recipe forms. We’re deep in the process of testing recipes for our next cookbook, American Classics Reinvented.

So many of you have written to tell us how much you love our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. Thank you. Thank you for making the four-onion soup, the sushi rice with edamame and miso-maple ginger dressing, the zucchini noodles with spinach pesto, the chickpea vegetable stew with brown basmati rice, the pork tenderloin stuffed with chorizo, the biscuits with sausage gravy, shrimp and bok choy stir fry, the chicken and dumplings, and the teff chocolate chip cookies. I love receiving emails that say, “I’ve been scared of making pie crust my entire life. But my husband so loves pie, and he can’t eat gluten, so I decided to face my fear and try it. I made your apple pie recipe in your latest cookbook and gave it to my husband. He cried. He said it was the best apple pie he has ever eaten. Thank you, Shauna and Danny.”

And that is why we do this work. Truly.

Fact is, we started working on our next cookbook, American Classics Reinvented, months before our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day was released. We should have been telling you about our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, every day, for months, reminding you that it’s out there. We’ve been so busy making the very best gluten-free chicken-fried steak we can for you that we’re just not able to promote our last book the way it deserves. But we’re happy to say that the book has almost been selling itself. Did you know that it’s in every Target in America? This feels like gluten-free is slowly being more accepted in mainstream culture.

(However, we’d love if you could spread the word for us about our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. The holidays are coming up, of course. If you have been enjoying the book, could you make it your project to tell your people about it? After all, if you support our work by buying our books, we can create more cookbooks for you. Thank you.)

This was a fun day, when we bought a bit of four different kinds of steaks, trying to determine which one makes the best chicken-fried steak. There was no question. It’s the cheapest one —— cube steak —— all the way.

This is what we do for you.

cookbook- sandwich bread

And we’re baking bread, day after day, trying to figure out how to get the most loft on sandwich bread, with the fewest ingredients and the least amount of work.

We’re feeling pretty happy with this one.

cookbook- crab melt

American Classics Reinvented is quite a different kind of cookbook for us. Our first two cookbooks, and my food memoir, were based entirely on the kind of food we like to make and eat. Whether it was everyday food, celebratory food, or the best food we could make so you would feel entirely that there is no deprivation in being gluten-free, the recipes we offered were our food. American Classics Reinvented, on the other hand, is your food.

This is a crowd-sourced cookbook. We’ve been asking folks for months —— on Facebook, on Twitter, and in person on our trip in New England —— what foods they miss, what foods feel like comfort, and what foods they would like us to reinvent for them. And then we spent weeks putting them all on paper, playing with potential chapters, and figuring out a balance between savory and sweet. And for weeks now, we’ve been making food for you.

This is a fresh crab melt on sourdough bread with cheddar cheese.

cookbook- smoked salmon eggs benedict

And this is a smoked salmon eggs benedict with an olive oil hollandaise sauce.

cookbook- hash brown waffles

These are hash brown waffles. Now these were fun to imagine and create.

cookbook- doughnuts

Let’s face it. Very few of us have kale as our comfort food. This isn’t exactly going to be a health food cookbook.

I’ll say it now and I’ll say it all through the book. This is a book full of splurge food. This is not an everyday food book.

That being said, we’re going to show you the best way to make these foods, not the fastest. Doughnuts probably shouldn’t be easily accessible, from thought of them to eating in 10 minutes.

But there will be an entire doughnut chapter in the book. Oh, how we Americans love our sweet fried dough.

These are coconut flour doughnuts with a salted goat’s milk caramel glaze.

cookbook- sweet potato pie

And pie. Oh goodness, there is an entire chapter of pie. Chess pie, shoofly pie, cherry pie, blackberry meringue pie, and sweet potato pie, among others.

I do so love making pie.

cookbook- pot pie

Not every pie is sweet. This is a seafood pot pie we made last week.

cookbook- crab sushi salad

And sometimes, occasionally, there are dishes with no flour or crust or fried dough at all.

This is a crab sushi roll salad, with cauliflower rice.

That was a fine lunch the other day.

cookbook- fried green tomatoes

These are fried green tomatoes. Oh, fried green tomatoes.

And fried foods. Americans sure love their fried foods.

Tomorrow is Fry Day around here. We’ve invited a bunch of friends over for lunch, and we’re making beer-battered fish and chips, fried catfish, hush puppies, a Wisconsin fish fry, Navajo fry bread, and fried cheese curds.

Thank goodness there are friends coming over.

This cookbook, we finally know how to do this. We’ve been taking two or three bites, at the most, of each baked good we make. And then we give them away. Each Sunday night, we have been sending out a list of what we are making to a big group of friends here on Vashon, asking who would like each dish. Our friends are over the moon. And we nibble on dishes, making sure they work, and spend the rest of the day eating lots and lots of vegetables.

Our next project is going to include far more vegetables.

cookbook- baguette

Still, I am fascinated with the breads. I’ve fallen in love with bread baking again, or for the first time. These are the best breads I’ve ever created.

And it turns out that all the breads, and baked goods, and floured foods in the book will be grain-free, not merely gluten-free. There are a lot of reasons for that. I have a post on that coming soon. But at first, it was merely to make these recipes more accessible to those of you reading, and those who might be new to the book. So many of you have told us that being gluten-free was not enough for your health. Going grain-free made you better. Well, we want to feed as many gluten-free folks as possible.

And then, we found, to our astonishment, that the grain-free flour mixes we have been creating are the best flour mixes we’ve made so far. Grain-free bread is kick-ass. I’m not kidding. I wake up every morning excited to make bread.

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We’ve been posting photos on Instagram and Twitter, and so many of you have been asking us, begging us, for the recipes now. Well, we can’t give them to you now, of course. I wish we could! Except, I’m glad we can’t. We’re posting photos so you can participate with us, watch the recipes develop in real time. But believe me, these recipes will be far, far better by the time the book comes out in the fall of 2015.

(I know. It’s a really long time away.)

This was the first draft of the rolls we’re making for lobster rolls. They were good. But they will be better, later.

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My favorite recipe in the book, by far, is the sourdough bread.

This is grain-free sourdough bread. It’s also dairy-free and egg-free. It’s the simplest bread I’ve ever made. It has the most complex taste of any bread I’ve ever made.

And this bread has made several people cry. When I first tasted it, excited beyond words at the thump of that crust and the soft crumb, tears came to my eyes. I had not tasted sourdough bread in over 8 years. At least three people we have fed this bread to have reacted in the same way.

Sourdough bread. Oh goodness.

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And these are sourdough bagels.

We have plenty of work to do, Danny and I. We send Lu off to school in the mornings, then move to the kitchen together, talking about the day and the recipes we want to create. And every day, we think of these dishes in your kitchen some day.

There’s a lot of living to do between now and the fall of 2015, and a lot more work to do. But I can’t wait for this book to be in your hands.

37 comments on “American Classics Reinvented: recipe testing

  1. DamselflyDiary

    That’s a long time to wait. Maybe you can throw us a bone (aka recipe) every once in a while. We’ll still buy the book. Promise! In the meantime, happy cooking!

    P. S. You have some lucky friends and neighbors!

  2. ben reiner

    Why do you comment on Americans loving fried dough and fried foods? Lots of cultures fry because it’s a fast cooking method.

    1. shauna

      It is a fast cooking method. And when it’s done right, and eaten in small doses, it’s not harmful. But when we had requests from people for dishes they wanted us to convert, I would say a full 1/3 were fried foods!

  3. Wendy

    Sourgough!!!!! I moved from the Bay Area about 20 years ago and have not had the best sourdough since then, due to the fact that we are now GF. And I am not a good baker. Sourdough. *sigh* Ok. I will wait.….. with much anticipation and pleasure watching you work your magic for those of us non magical people.

  4. Sue

    It all sounds VERY exciting! I do hope you will throw your loyal followers a bone now and then as we wait for this new cookbook!

  5. Monique Houle

    I’m not a big fan of fried food or, should I say, my liver is not a big fan of fried food, but grain-free and sourdough bread ?! Wow !! Can’t wait. Your hard work is very much appreciated. Thank you, both of you.

  6. Rachel

    I love your stuff and your work us the first that I recommend to newly GF folks. My daughter and I are Gf and you guys have allowed her to have sooooo many of her favorite foods and share them with people she loves.

    But now.…I am speechless. It looks so amazing. I can’t wait!

  7. Felicia

    Can’t wait for the sourdough~ these photos have me wiping my chin, can’t wait for the next cookbook, and yes, do through out something wonderful, maybe once a quarter? We will buy the book!! :) ’cause we’re loyal!

  8. Paulette

    OK, this may well inspire me to buy my first cookbook in a long long time. :D I used to buy cookbooks (and have quite a collection) and then found I’d actually make maybe one or two recipes as I tend to invent my own most of the time. I now have a lot of GF recipes that I have gradually developed and some that I have followed from your web-site. Sourdough Bread though.…. so tempting. I miss it even more than rye bread. Looking forward to this book and any snipits you release along the way

  9. Abby

    I was close to tears hearing that you made sourdough that was grain free, dairy free and egg free. Thank you, THANK YOU for doing what you do. Come on, 2015!

  10. paisleyapron

    I can’t wait either. A real sourdough? Like using a starter and raised on the counter for 18 hours?

    I made sourdough for years and years for my family and would love to be able to eat it again.

  11. jill

    Everything looks so delicious! I’m on 3 different diets for health reasons that all clash so your recipes always make my heart smile. Thank you!

  12. Nicole

    I am so excited for this book! This post makes me want to hop in my car and drive up to Seattle today to hang out in your test kitchen and play!

  13. Michelle

    Wow! Super excited. I too am from the Bay Area and just love sourdough. Way to go! Quick question — Will you make an attempt to cover most regions of the states? Or will you be driven by categories (bread, pies, etc)? I am excited to see a modern development on American food (American craftsmenship that I can consume!). Yea!

  14. Beth Ann

    I haven’t cared for your previous cookbooks because they were to uppity-up for us. We are down home country folk who hunt and grow our own food. Favorite foods are things like mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, southern fried chicken and pies with homemade vanilla ice cream. Thanks so much for doing this next cookbook! I will seriously consider buying it. :)

  15. Sander

    I have been using your latest book Gluten Free Every Day since Mother’s day and we love it. After a lot of playing around, I have modified the bread recipe as follows: I add 2 Tbs ground flax (if I have it), 1 Tbs Xanthan Gum + 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin (instead of psyllum), 1 Tbs granulated sugar (or honey or maple syrup). It seems to work better for me this way. Thanks for all the work you do :)

  16. Jasmine Ann

    I love the sound of this cookbook and that there is such a mix of foods that are comfort foods, many that I’ve never heard of before or am super excited to try. For me, the pie section jumped out at me, as I know you guys (generalisation of all of America) do love your pie and I love you guys for that as it opens up a world of food that I, as an Aussie, have never eaten or baked. I’m excited for this book and for you guys to be working on it with such love. Bring on 2015!

  17. Emily

    I have been cooking from your latest cookbook for the last two months and absolutely love it! I have fallen in love with the Berbere spices and Ethiopian food! It has awakened my senses and reminded me that there is still a lot of food out there to explore.
    I appreciate your diligence with the blog and cookbooks. I have recommended your work to everyone I know, no matter if they are gluten free or not.
    I look forward to your new cookbook. We don’t eat a lot of fried or sweet foods around here, but like the occasional splurge. I am especially looking forward to the breads and pies. I have made your sandwich bread loaf many times, even after my first attempt was a disaster, and am ready to move onto bagels and sourdough. Good luck in your testing! I look forward to the book’s release.

  18. Else

    Experimenting in the kitchen and converting recipes to GF is so satisfying! When I was growing up my mom used to make the most amazing ginger molasses cookies every year at Christmas. Last year, after many mediocre attempts, I finally perfected the GF version of her recipe and the whole family agreed that they were better than the original!

  19. Cait

    Thank you so much for all you do for us! I’m new to gluten-free cooking (baking) but a new colleague who just moved here 3 months ago is celiac and Japan isn’t the most gluten-free friendly country!
    I’m having so much fun re-learning how to bake and about new flours and ingredients and techniques.
    I’m learning so much from you blog, I can’t wait to get my credit card back in working order (curse login password fails) so I can buy up all your books! Not just for my friend but for myself too. :)

  20. susan

    How many days… I cannot wait for this book. And…if you need me to test anything, I am your girl — send your recipes my way!! xx

  21. Jen H

    I am SO excited about your grain-free sourdough bread! I’ve developed my own little gluten-free sourdough starter, and make some bread which is okay (just okay and it needs work). But this sounds just wonderful. We really have to wait two years? The other recipes also look sooo good.

  22. Rae

    I don’t know when I’ve been this excited. You’re doing grain free. Thank you! glute-free helped me. But grain-free, dairy-free, and virtually sugar free (with lots of veg and very little processed food) are what have given me my life back and some amount of control over disease.

    Your writing and food sensibilities are my favorite, but much of the time I just read for the deliciousness of the reading when the foods don’t meet my needs. Your announcement for this cookbook brings tears before I’ve even tried the food.

    If only there was a way to get some of the recipes before two years. I would preorder and pay for the book, the ebook, and an extra charge for every early recipe. If only.

  23. Jo

    This all sound very good, but I think I may have to research making my own sourdough bread to tide me over until the book comes out. Not everyone can afford to do a lot of experimentation, but a little bit every now and then is a great and empowering thing for everyone. Thanks.

  24. Esther

    Thank you, Shauna. I can’t wait until the book is released (always pre-order mine on Amazon so they arrive as quickly as possible). We cook from your latest book often, even just taking inspiration from the recipes and trying our own riffs. Keeping a kosher home, we don’t eat pork or shellfish, nor do we mix dairy and meat. I have YET to find a recipe that hasn’t adapted well to our needs.

    Grazie mille for all you do for our community!!!!

  25. Donna Vieira

    Hey you guys! I’m sending so many thanks for all you do “everyday”! I have all three of your cookbooks, and love them all. I’m so Excited for the next one. I just had my 3 year GF anniversary, and without you all I’d still be hungry. Yours was the first blog I visited and you’re still my “go-to”… Blessings and warmest hugs to the three of you!

  26. Rachel Hawkridge

    OMG, you are just cruel. Read the thing on sourdough to Bappi before I had read far enough to know it wasn’t coming out FOR 2 WHOLE YEARS!

    Cruel, mean woman. Seattle is a desert for grain free breads. Especially GRAIN FREE SOURDOUGH breads.

      1. Rachel Hawkridge

        My apologies … that was meant with more humor than it looks. ;o)

        we do totally love you, Danny and Li’l Lu … recipes, books, photos, all you do!

        do you need local (seattle) tester, or will you serve sourdough in the restaurant?

        Sending Reiki for awesome testing period, best for your holidays …

        rushing off to make pullaparts!

        ?

  27. Monica

    What beautiful pictures of GF breads and sourdough as well! I cannot wait for your new book — it will be well worth the wait.
    Thank-you for all of your hard work in creating these GF recipes, freshly baked bread is the one thing that I truly miss!