Gluten Free Girl and the Chef http://glutenfreegirl.com Playing With Our Food Thu, 28 May 2015 23:49:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 gluten-free girl baking classeshttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/gluten-free-girl-baking-classes/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/gluten-free-girl-baking-classes/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 19:11:15 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10749   Imagine this. We gather together in the kitchen, to share stories, laugh, and bake together. And then we share a seasonal meal, made with local ingredients, all of it delicious. And of course, it’s…

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pizza dough V

 

Imagine this.

We gather together in the kitchen, to share stories, laugh, and bake together. And then we share a seasonal meal, made with local ingredients, all of it delicious. And of course, it’s all gluten-free.

Welcome to the gluten-free girl baking classes!

This summer, we’re teaching a series of baking classes in a private home on Vashon Island. It’s gorgeous here during the summer, all leafy green and blue skies. Would you like to learn how to make a fluffy yellow cake with chocolate frosting in time for all the summer birthday parties? Would you like to bake cherry pie together in July? Want to learn how to make sourdough bread? We’re here.

Danny and I — a couple of goofballs who dig each other and what we do — are teaching the classes and cooking the feasts together. We can’t wait to meet you.

For more information about dates and prices, go here. 

We’re teaching a series of 4 baking classes this summer. You could take one class, a few, or all four. The first one begins next Saturday!

 

gluten-free breakfast baking

flaky biscuits

lemon currant scones

blueberry muffins

overnight buckwheat waffles

gluten-free cookies and cakes

fluffy yellow cake

lemon polenta olive oil cake

chocolate chip cookies

salted oatmeal cookies

gluten-free pies, tarts, and cobblers

seasonal fruit pie

seasonal custard pie

seasonal vegetable quiche with a buttery crust

seasonal fruit cobbler

gluten-free breads

sourdough bread

sandwich bread

New York bagels

pizza dough

We’d love to bake with you.

 

Please click on this link for more information and to sign up now.

 

thank you!

shauna and danny

 

p.s. Some folks have already asked: can we do these classes online? We’re working on that. Maybe by the fall?

 

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meet our sponsors: tri-lamb boardhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/meet-our-sponsors-tri-lamb-board/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/meet-our-sponsors-tri-lamb-board/#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 20:27:05 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10722 It may be cloudy and in the 60s outside. The calendar says we need to wait another four weeks to declare it. The kids are still in school. Never mind — you can’t go against…

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lamb burger

It may be cloudy and in the 60s outside. The calendar says we need to wait another four weeks to declare it. The kids are still in school. Never mind — you can’t go against the feeling. It’s summer when we’ve fired up our Weber gas grill for the first lamb burgers of the season.

When I tasted my first lamb burger, in New York City, late night at a diner, I was well into my 30s. My mother never liked lamb so I had never eaten it as a kid. I thought a lamb burger would be an imitation, a second force, not as good as a beef burger. I was shocked. It was far juicier than a beef burger. And the taste was deeply meaty with a tiny hint of sweetness. I stopped ordering beef burgers and switched over to lamb.

And then I met a chef from Colorado who loves lamb more than he can say. When we met, Danny served tiny lamb chops, cooked medium-rare, with silky smooth potato puree and a veal stock reduction sauce at his restaurant. I fell in love with him for a lot of reasons, but the surety with which he cooked those lamb chops got to me. They were always just right. (In fact, when my parents came to the restaurant for the first time, and Danny asked my dad for permission to marry me, he served my father those lamb chops. My dad would have said yes anyway but the lamb chops helped.)

I still love this grilled lamb with pomegranate and balsamic Danny created a couple of years ago.

So, when the Tri-Lamb Board asked to be a sponsor of this site, so we could share our love of lamb? Of course we said yes. Lamb is vastly under-rated in this culture, in our opinion. Did you know that a 3-ounce serving of lamb provides 5 times as much Omega-3 fats as beef? Or that 3 ounces of lamb contains 50% of the protein you need all day? (Nutrition facts courtesy of the Tri-Lamb Board.) Frankly, we just think lamb tastes good and makes a great burger.

For the first weekend of summer — a three-day weekend! picnics! gatherings! friends! — we made a Provencal lamb burger with red-wine caramelized onions, goat cheese, and basil. And we’ll be making them again.

This is a sponsored post but the opinions, language, and recipe are our own. 

 

Provencal lamb burger with red-wine-caramelized onions, goat cheese, and basil

2 pounds ground lamb
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/8 teaspoon chopped lavender
1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and cracked black pepper
olive oil

Make the burger. Put the ground lamb in a large bowl. Break up the meat a little. Gently, work the mustard, garlic powder, rosemary, lavender, and salt and pepper into the meat. Do not overmix the meat, which can toughen it up. Fold everything together until it is well combined.

Form the burger. Divide the meat into 6-ounce portions. (This will give you 5 6-ounce burgers and one 3-ounce burger, for a kid.) Form each 6 ounce portion into a burger patty. (The Tri-Lamb board sent us this Weber burger press and Danny was hooked. It worked well.) Lay the burger patties on a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes before grilling.

Grill the burgers. Fire up the grill. If you have not already done so, scrape the grill clean. Grease the grill with a touch of olive oil. Brush each side of the burger patties with olive oil, then lay them down on the hot grill. Cook the burgers on the first side until they have charred marks and starting to brown, about 4 minutes, then flip them over. For medium-rare burgers, cook for an additional 4 minutes. Remove them from the grill.

Top the burgers with goat cheese, caramelized red onions (see note below), and fresh basil. We liked using a broad basil leaf the way you might use lettuce, but you could also chop up the basil into confetti-like pieces for the top of the burger.

Makes 5 to 6 burgers.

 

Note: to make caramelized red onions, do the following. Cut the ends off 3 medium red onions and peel them. Slice them as thinly as you can. (A mandoline works great here.) Set a large pot over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then the onions. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they have reduced and caramelized, about 45 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Cook until the vinegars have reduced and turned syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. You can keep these in the refrigerator and use them all week long.

Makes 1 cup caramelized onions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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please eat piehttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/please-eat-pie-2/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/please-eat-pie-2/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 04:47:22 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10708 It is 1984. My best friend Sharon and I are sitting on the living room floor of our Southern California home, waiting. My brother Andy has just plunked down the lid on the Betamax machine,…

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Letterman signature

It is 1984. My best friend Sharon and I are sitting on the living room floor of our Southern California home, waiting. My brother Andy has just plunked down the lid on the Betamax machine, a clunky behemoth that seemed on the cutting edge of technology at the time. My mother wanted the VHS machine, since it was less expensive. My dad had insisted that the picture quality on the Beta was clearer, and since this was a device to record something off television and watch it later, it was worth the extra money. We didn’t really care. This innovation — we can watch a show when we feel like it instead of having to stay up late? — still amazed us. The machine cla-thunked to a start. The picture on the television appeared, then that familiar theme song. We sat back, ready to laugh.

Dave was on.

We always called him Dave in our house. It was never Letterman or Late Night with David Letterman. Certainly not David. Just Dave. Sharon and Andy and I, and my parents most of the time too, watched Dave every afternoon, after school, Tuesday through Friday. (His show only ran Monday through Thursday evenings..) We were the ones with the Beta machine, so Sharon came to our house, every afternoon, to watch Dave, then debrief afterwards. There was the velcro suit, the alka seltzer suit, Chris Elliott, Larry “Bud” Melman, Harvey Pekar, and dozens of other odd, memorable moments. Andy and Sharon and I loved it all.

Sharon and I had met a few years before. Her older sister was one of my new friends when I was a freshman, and I met 7th-grade Sharon briefly. When I returned from living in London a year later, in the fall of 1983, Sharon and I met again in the 400 quad of Claremont High school, in front of a bank of maroon lockers. Her sister said, “Remember Shauna? She met Paul McCartney in London.” I can still see Sharon’s eyes amazed behind thick glasses. Shy, she didn’t say much. But when we started talking about our favorite Beatle, the love of each other’s lives, she dropped the shyness. We became friends immediately.

We have been best friends for 32 years now.

Sharon and I shared our love of Paul — and the brief sight of his butt in tight pants in a tracking shot in A Hard Day’s Night — but we also shared an absurdist sense of humor. She was one of the few people I had met who already knew about Dave.

I was a brown-haired bespectacled bookworm in Los Angeles in the early 80s, the time when every actress was tawny gold-haired and lanky thin. All around me were kids in Nikes, which had just come onto the market with their gold swoop, and Dolphin shorts and feathered hair and year-long tans. I felt awkward, as desperate to fit in as any young teenager does, but also standing back and wondering why the hell I should care about this stuff. I read Jane Eyre and listened to music from the 60s and longed to live in a community of people who made their own food, women talking about their lives while they kneaded homemade bread dough. I felt like a long plain braid in a sea of big hair and blue eyeshadow.

At the same time, I was 40% sarcasm and quips, humor one of the paddles I used to row hard on the surface of a deep lake of pain. I read Donald Barthelme and Dorothy Parker and Woody Allen until the pages were frayed on those paperbacks. My brother Andy and I had both memorized Steve Martin’s records when they came out. Our parents let us stay up late to watch Saturday Night Live during those first years of Gilda Radner and John Belushi, which is amazing to me now. We were devoted followers of Monty Python, quoting long passages during long car rides. Ridiculous comedy was my beacon on the shore.

So when my parents told us there was a bizarre show on the mornings of the summer of 1980, the summer I turned 14, we tuned in. The David Letterman show was unlike anything I had ever seen, especially when the other channels were playing game shows and soap operas that droned on into forever. Dave was snappy and fast. He also didn’t seem to give a damn about convention or glad-handing guests. My brother and I were hooked. We sat in front of the television every morning, waiting for small-town news or stupid pet tricks. I still remember a moment when Dave had on a dog whose trick was that he ate cheesecake. As the dog tore through the torn-up treat slobbered on a tiny tin plate, Dave looked up and delivered deadpan, “Mmmmm. I could go for some cheesecake right about now.” I think I can pinpoint that as the moment I fell in love with him, really. (It’s also entirely possible that I have remembered that moment wrong for all these years. Love is like that too.)

Everyone who was interesting to us showed up on that morning show: Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Andy Kaufman (he confused the hell out of me but I remember being mesmerized by him). Dave made the people who wrote the show, like Merrill Markoe (one of my writing heroes), into bit players too. Biff Henderson the stage manager starting doing segments. Dave seemed to like his staff more than the stars. I liked that too.

Of course, that show only lasted a few months. Weirdos like that didn’t last long in the land of smooth-voiced announcers giving away washers and dryers.

Of course, I was elated when Dave got his own show, late night, at 12:30 am. That was the zany hour. He could do whatever he wanted, like put a camera on a monkey or go to a 5-story abandoned building and throw crap off of it, just to see what happened. I liked even more that his show debuted when we owned a Beta machine — I’ve always loved the late evenings but I couldn’t make it up to 1:30 on a school night — and Sharon had come into my life. That’s how we came to be sitting on our living room floor in 1984, watching Dave.

Letterman pie dough

It is the summer of 1986. My family and I had moved to Washington state after I graduated high school in 1985. I started college at a small school with an honors program steeped in the classics that I liked. (Talking about the history of physics and ancient Greek plays was my idea of a good time.) My dad, who had taught at the same community college in Southern California his entire career, had taken the leap to ask for a sabbatical and take a one-year position at the same school I now attended. My mother had always wanted to live near her family. Here was our chance.

All year, as we thrived on the green trees and clear skies in Washington state, my parents worried about what to do. Choose safety and what is known, the retirement fund, the steady paycheck, the years stretching out before us in a place we didn’t love but called home? Or take the leap to stay in our newfound home without a steady job yet? One day in May, my parents flew down to California, looked at houses in our old hometown all day, put in a bid on one, then flew back up to Seattle at the end of the day. One day in June, we filled up moving trucks and our cars and drove away from those leafy green places we had just started exploring. We were on the freeway outside Tacoma when my mother started crying. “We made the wrong decision,” she said. “We shouldn’t be leaving.” My brother and I felt the same. My poor father was shocked to find us all despondent when we stopped at the first rest stop. It took us three days to drive to California. By then, my parents had made their decision: we’d unload just enough furniture and decorations so we could make the house ready to sell. And then we’d move back up to Washington and take our chances.

(It worked out, by the way, that giant leap, an absurd move guided by passion and some gut determination that it was time to leave LA for good. That summer, after they decided to move back even if they didn’t have a job, my dad was offered a full-time position at the university where he had been teaching on a one-year position. He retired from a long career there two years ago. My brother and I both met the loves of our lives in Washington state. In fact, we both live on Vashon Island, five minutes away from each other. Our children are dear friends. There’s no other place I can ever imagine living. That leap my parents took, absurd and exhausting as it seemed to us that summer, set something in me, a clear notion that following my bliss was more important than logic. That knowledge — it can work; it will be different than you imagine, but it will work — has guided my life and career ever since. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for that crazy summer.)

That temporary living situation in our old hometown is how Sharon and Andy and I were able to watch Dave together every afternoon again, on a VHS machine this time. As I have been watching clips on YouTube these last few days, I’ve remembered every single ridiculous sketch, all the musical guests, the filmed segments in a car with Dave’s crazy hair even more tousled. I remember mostly that a little film with Martin Short made the three of us laugh so hard that Sharon folded up inside the metal lawn chair she was sitting on and sank down to the floor, her feet flailing as she was trapped there, stuck and laughing so hard we were crying.

Dave did that to us every time.

One day that hot hot summer, Andy and Sharon and I sat down to write letters to Dave. At the time, he had a segment where he read viewer letters, typed on blue notecards, and then answered them in absurdist fashion. There was always a hint of cyncism and what-the-hell to it all. Camera on a monkey, people. We wanted him to read ours. So we wrote letter after letter on yell0w-lined legal paper, each one dumber than the last. “Dear Dave, it’s 110° here today and we’re wilting. What are we supposed to do?” My favorite, and the only one that made us laugh so hard we fell backward on the floor is the only one I remember fondly. “Dear Dave, please eat pie.”

I’m still disappointed he never read it.

My mom somehow got tickets to the Tonight Show, back when Johnny Carson was still the host, because she knew that Dave would be on. (She worked at the newspaper in Claremont, where tickets were handed out sometimes. She also got tickets for us the last year we lived there, when Paul McCartney was on the show. Sharon and I nearly fainted.) We all drove together, Sharon and I giggling in the back seat, to see Dave. The show was funny but we were far away. There was a sort-of-lame skit with Judge Wapner. It all felt a little like a dream.

Afterwards, my mom urged us to wait outside of the gate nearest the studio. (She’s always had this part of her, a little naughty side that insisted on experiences, a part of her I really like.) We waited, then realized Dave was coming out another gate somewhere. We ran across the parking lot in Burbank, my mother chasing my brother who ran far ahead, a security guard chasing us for awhile because he thought my brother had stolen her purse. We got it sorted, then we turned the corner. And there he was. Dave.

He was tall. Skinny. Tan. I still remember the Hawaiian shirt he was wearing had pineapples all over it, which made me laugh. He was chewing gum and cracking jokes and signing autographs on pieces of paper and books that people were handing over the fence. Sharon held up her book and said, “Can you put something nice on it? To make it personal?”
Dave looked at her and laughed, that same sardonic laugh we had heard a thousand times, when a guest was doing something sort of dumb and something sort of wonderful at the same time. “What did you want?”
Sharon, insistent, more confident than normal (because, after all, it was just Dave), said, “Draw a heart and put a smiley face in it.”
That’s why I have the Late Night with David Letterman book, signed, “to Shauna and Mom,” with a heart and smiley face in it. A Late Night hat too. I’ve kept them both, all these years. I’m never letting those go.

Letterman strawberries

Years passed. Sharon went to Vassar. I finished up at my college in Washington State. We called each other every week, to talk. All through the week, I kept notes of things I wanted to tell her. Most of the time, it was jottings like, “Oh my god! PeeWee on Dave!” We stayed friends, still watching Dave.

My brother and I had two VHS machines by now, so we could watch a show, rewind to anything we really liked, and then keep it. We’d tape a bit from one VHS machine to the other, so the final tape was a compendium of all the most joyful, cynical, and incredible 3-minute segments from Dave that year. As my brother wrote to me yesterday, “I think about our videotape collections. They were like our own YouTube. Just a great encyclopedia of comedy.” I’d give anything to have them now. We threw everything away when people started giving away their VHS machines for free.

In 1996, I went to New York City for the first time. I couldn’t sleep the entire red-eye flight, too excited for all the experiences I was about to welcome. I landed at LaGuardia, then took the M125 bus to Columbia University, on Broadway and 116th. The moment my foot stepped on New York City sidewalk, I knew I needed to live in that city. (I moved there the following year.) After I checked into my dorm for the month-long seminar in poetry, I looked around and realized none of the other participants were there yet. So I went back to Broadway and started walking. I walked and walked, stopping to eat sometimes or look in shops a few times. New York City came at me in huge doses, and I loved every blaring noisy smelly human moment. I meandered. There was no fast pace for me. I wanted to see it all. But I was headed in one direction, to one place. The Ed Sulivan Theater. Dave’s studio. When I reached it, and looked in the front doors, I knew I was really home.

When I lived in New York, I didn’t have a tv. There was too much to do to sit in the living room of my life anymore. But the second year I lived in that apartment on the Upper West Side, Sharon moved in as one of my roommates. She owned a tv and some nights we’d still sit together, on her big bed this time, pints of Ben and Jerry in our hands, and watch Dave.

One morning, I got a call from my friend Caroline. We were studying arts and humanities at NYU together. A lovely, gentle soul, Caroline knew how much I loved Dave, even if she didn’t have quite the same fervor. Her friend had written away for tickets months before. That day, she was sick and couldn’t go. If I could get down to the studio by 2, we could watch the show. Be in the audience for Dave’s show! Of course, I went. But I was miserable too because there wasn’t a ticket for Sharon. I thought about demurring, but then I realized Sharon would go without me. I had to go. I remember the feeling of lining up outside with Caroline — was it cold? I think it was the winter — then snaking through the hallways of the theater, assistants in the blue and gold letterman jackets guiding us there, and then sitting about 20 rows back. It was colder in the studio than it was outside. The band rocked. I mean, of course. It’s Paul Shaffer. But they blew the roof off the place, just warming up. Dave came out, even skinnier than when I had met him. White shirt, tie, suit, nicer shoes than the Addidas wrestling shoes he wore through the 80s. I remember pinching myself and trying to remember all of it for Sharon. And the rest is gone. Oh, I do remember that Dave sat behind his desk in commercial breaks, no interaction with the audience. Mostly, he was hidden by cameras. But that’s it. Who was on? What songs did the band play? I have no idea. I had almost forgotten I went once, until yesterday. I think I found it hard to enjoy it fully without Sharon.

And then I moved back to Seattle and started teaching again. The hours were too late for me. Thursday nights I saw him, when I could stay up just a bit later than usual, knowing Friday was coming. September 11th happened and Dave was one of the few voices that made sense, strangely. He was growing older. Softer. Sometimes, his kindness slipped out between jokes. I met Danny and I stopped watching much television at night. The whirlwind of our lives began. Lucy arrived, then Desmond, and I never made it up to 11:35 pm again.

I caught bits of Dave’s show on the internet, which had started to become a force in our lives. The VHS tapes we had were being recreated with new material, one 3-minute clip at a time, sent through emails, then YouTube, then Twitter and Facebook.

My guess is that Letterman is probably diffident about all of this.

Thing is, Dave has this deep Midwestern side to him: fundamentally decent, keeps personal things close to him, not mawkish. And then the zany, who-gives-a-shit side that appealed to my brother and me. The man is just smart. Let’s not forget that. When the world is more absurd every year, it’s helpful to have someone smart and just as weary of the pomposity and preposterousness as you are have the chance to point it out on national television.

I’ve always had my earnest side: the plain braid, the love of classic Greek tragedy and all things geeky, the teacher, the pyschologically minded observations, the one who goes for the ending that gently ties it all together. That has, over time, become the voice of this site. It’s an important part of me. But it’s not all. If you want to know the real me, take the voice of this site and add Dave Letterman.

Maybe there should be more cameras on monkeys around here.

Letterman strawberries II

As you might know, last night was Dave’s last show. I’ve been writing this piece for days, thinking I’d have it up in time for his last show to air. But something kept dragging on me, not letting me finish it. Probably, it’s this.

As Sharon wrote, “I’ve had Letterman in my life for so long, it’s going to be so strange not having him on.”

The last few days, Andy and Sharon and I have been texting. We’re all still friends. We’re all busy now. I see Andy every week. Sharon’s in Portland, teaching. She has such a different schedule than mine, and I have two small children, that the phone is near impossible. But we’re all still right there. And when we are in the same room, the three of us, we start laughing so hard no one can understand us, usually in under three minutes.

Andy and I see each other all the time and still talk about our favorite comdy and shows that intrigue us. (RuPaul’s Drag Race is our current fervent shared obsession. In its way, it’s just as irreverent and brilliant as Dave. Danny and Andy’s wife love it too.) Yesterday, we texted back and forth all day, sharing clips from Dave in the 80s. (Can anyone find the Clowns in a Heat Chamber skit? I can’t.)

Here’s what my brother wrote: “The thing with Dave is that he taught me how to react. Monty Python couldn’t teach me that. Dave was just funny in the world.”
I wrote to him: “Exactly. He also taught me to not take shit too seriously. And that it’s actually fine to be an outsider.”
Andy: “And how to be a little uncomfortable with everything. A valuable skill.”

True.

As Sharon wrote to me, “Seriously, this week is like watching our teenage years.”

I’ve been watching Dave since the summer of 1980, devotedly, with great gratitude, and mostly laughing. I’ve been watching Dave for 35 years. 35 years! I haven’t even known Sharon for 35 years. The only other people who have been in my life that long are my parents and brother. (And Paul McCartney, whom I still love.) I’ve only known Danny for 9 years and he’s at the center of my life now, the force of love that makes me who I am. What will it be like when I’ve known him for 35 years? I can’t even imagine.

And knowing that I have been watching Dave for 35 years, writing this piece, and watching clips for days in the guise of this writing, one thing has been clear: I’m getting old. I still remember Beta machines. I can say: “Back in my days, we didn’t have microwaves or computers in our home or cell phones.” Lucy looks at me like I’m crazy when I tell her this, the same way I was confused by my parents’ statements like that. I am, without a doubt, at nearly 49, one of the oldest folks writing a food blog.

And I love it.

I mean it. I love it. Every time I have seen Dave lately, he seemed older and softer than ever. He seemed to be enjoying it all more. The twitchy tensions and awkwardness left him last decade. Now that I’ve been writing this site for 10 years, I feel the same. Rather than trying to keep up with the younguns with the latest technology of the moment, worrying that I’m no longer relevant, I’m just going to be like Dave. I’m going to keep doing what I love and showing up, offering up small-town news, making stupid jokes with the staff, and laughing. This is my home.

* * *

Dave is 68 years old now. His son is 11. He has a lot of good living that isn’t tied to television. (Even tv is gone. There’s so little that makes us all tune in at the same time anymore.) Of course the man has the right to go.

But damn it. No more Dave on tv, online, in clips that Sharon and I text each other. As Sharon wrote to me: “Even when I’m not watching, I like knowing he’s there.”

I guess it’s finally time for me to stop writing this piece. He’s done now.

Thanks, Dave.

p.s. Please eat pie.

Letterman strawberries III

gluten-free strawberry pie, adapted from Home Cookin’ with Dave’s Mom

One of my most favorite recurring segments from Dave’s show was when his mom would be beamed in from her kitchen in Indiana. Dorothy had a wonderful Midwestern sensibility, a kindness and patience that Dave liked to test. When he got up to some of his shenanigans, she would quietly say, “Now David.” That would be enough to stop him. She was an anchor on the show. And she was always cooking something: meat loaf, fried bologna sandwiches, Coca-Cola cake, or Swedish meatballs. This was Midwestern cooking at its best.

Her favorite, and clearly Dave’s too, were her pies. (I believe that sour cherry was his favorite.) Since pies are my favorite food in the world to make, I knew I had to try one of Dorothy’s pies for this post. Strawberries aren’t quite ripe here — there’s too much white in them still to make them truly sweet — but bathe them in this glaze and they’re fine. Dorothy’s pie crust here is a shortening crust, with egg yolk and milk. It’s not as flaky a crust as you would make with cold butter and some shortening, but it’s an easy crust to make. It’s also very easy to roll out. This pie is better on the second day anyway. When the glaze has fully set, and the soft sweet strawberries have seeped a little into the crust, it all softens into something wonderful.

Dorothy’s pie crust, adapted from the recipe here

280 grams (2 cups) gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
125 grams (3/4 cup) shortening
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make the pie dough. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the shortening in small pieces. Work the fat and flour together with your fingers, until the flour looks like small peas in sandy flour. Add the egg yolk, milk, and lemon juice. Bring together the dough with a rubber spatula or your fingers until it forms a loose ball.

Put the ball of dough onto a lightly grease piece of parchment paper. Lay another piece of lightly greased parchment paper on top. Roll out the dough to a smooth round, slightly larger than a 9-inch pie pan. Take off the top piece of parchment, lay the pie pan on top of the dough, and flip the dough into the pie pan. If any of the dough tears off, just pat it into the pan. No worries — there’s gluten.

Blind bake the crust. Heat the oven to 425°. Lay a lightly buttered piece of tin foil onto the pie dough, taking care to make sure every surface of the pie is covered. Pour in some dried beans, enough to cover every part of the tin foil and up to the edges of the dough. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully, take the pie crust out of the oven, remove the tin foil and beans, then bake until the edges of the pie crust are starting to brown, another 5 minutes. Remove the pie crust from the oven and let it cool completely.

Dorothy’s strawberry filling, adapted from here 

3/4 cup + 5 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
4 cups fresh strawberries, tops removed and cut into quarters

Make the glaze. Set a small pot on medium heat. Pour in the orange juice and sugar. Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat on low. Stir together the arrowroot powder and remaining orange juice until a thick paste forms. (This is a slurry.) Turn the heat up to medium high. Spoon in half the slurry and stir the orange juice. It should thicken to form a slow-moving syrup. If it’s not thick enough, add the rest of the slurry. Turn off the heat and add the strawberries. Stir well to coat every strawberry. Pour the strawberries into the prepared pie shell.

For best results, let the pie sit for at least 4 hours before serving. Ideally, you wait until the next day. I know. Good luck with that.

Makes 1 9-inch pie.

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Meet Our Sponsors: Alaska Gold Brandhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/meet-our-sponsors-alaska-gold-brand/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/meet-our-sponsors-alaska-gold-brand/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 04:21:47 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10682 Announcing Alaska Gold Brand seafood as our latest sponsor. We’re crazy about salmon in this house. Danny smokes a side of salmon nearly every week, which we eat as an appetizer for dinner with the…

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Alaska gold salmon

Announcing Alaska Gold Brand seafood as our latest sponsor.

We’re crazy about salmon in this house. Danny smokes a side of salmon nearly every week, which we eat as an appetizer for dinner with the kids. We pack smoked salmon in Lucy’s lunches and feed it to Desmond nearly every day. We also smoke black cod for Sunday morning bagels. (New York-style gluten-free bagels? Yes. The recipes is in our next cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl: American Classics Reinvented.) Now that it’s May, we’re eating as much halibut as we can afford.

No food makes me feel so healthy and contented as wild Alaskan seafood.

Still, we rarely offer seafood recipes on this site. We know that we’re lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest, with such easy access to great seafood. (We have a fish stand on the side of the road on Vashon, a family full of fishermen selling directly to those of us who live here.) We hesitate to put up recipes you can’t make easily.

That’s why we’re so happy to announce Alaska Gold Brand (by Seafood Producers Cooperative) as our latest sponsor.

Seafood Producers Cooperative is a band of fishing families who provide fantastic seafood direct to restaurants around the world. As they write: “70 years ago, a group of Alaskan halibut fishermen realized that the best way to ensure that their products were delivered with quality from ocean to market was to process their own fish instead of depending on the services of agents and distributors. They formed what would become North America’s oldest and most successful fishermen’s cooperative.

Today over 575 fishermen belong to Seafood Producers Cooperative and roam the waters of the North Pacific catching fish by hook and line methods. What started in 1944 as a cooperative to provide halibut liver oil to vitamin companies has now become a full-fledged organization that provides sushi producers in Japan,  smokers in New York City, upscale restaurants across the United States, and reputable grocery purveyors in Europe with the highest quality fish available. And the fishermen are still the boss.”

Just recently, the folks at Seafood Producers Cooperative decided to start an online business, selling directly to consumers. This is Alaska Gold Brand.

Danny and I have tasted some fine seafood in our lives together. This is some of the best.

You can buy king salmon and coho salmon, in 5-pound and 10-pound packages, the fish already cleaned and portioned, then packed in vacuum-sealed packages. (I’m lucky that Danny loves to debone fish. Not everyone does.) Thaw the fish, open the package, and start cooking. Or, you could buy an entire salmon, if you like to clean the fish yourselves, like Danny. Alaska Gold sells sashimi-grade albacore and albacore in cans. (This is tuna you can trust. And delicious.) They sell beautiful halibut and black cod. And they have a loyalty program, where you get incredible fish every month.

We can not tell you this with enough emphasis: this is some of the best fish you will ever eat.

We’re big fans of Alaska Gold Brand, and we’re so happy they are sponsors so we can share them with you.

 

Kendall Whitney, the marketing manager for Alaska Gold, gave us some thoughtful answers to our questions.

 

Where do your fishermen catch their fish?

The majority of our salmon (king, coho and keta) are harvested in the waters of Southeast Alaska, along with our halibut, sablefish (black cod), ling cod and rockfish. We have a number of members who catch albacore tuna off the coasts of Washington and Oregon. Members catch our California Gold king salmon off the coast of Northern California.

What would you like people to know about seafood? 

A big misconception among consumers is that it is difficult to prepare seafood. One of our biggest challenges is to convince consumers of just how easy it is to cook fish. Too many Americans are intimidated by cooking seafood. We believe this is a major reason why seafood consumption is so low on a per capita basis in this country.”

Over the past two decades, per capita consumption of seafood products in the United States has ranged from a low of 14.6 pounds per person in 1997 to a record high of 16.6 pounds in 2004, Whitney notes. Since 2004, U.S. annual consumption of fish and shellfish has gradually decreased, to 14.5 pounds per person in 2013. For comparison, U.S. annual per capita consumption of other major food commodities is: red meats, about 110 pounds; poultry, nearly 75 pounds; dairy products, over 600 pounds; vegetables, over 400 pounds; fruits, over 250 pounds; flour and cereal products, almost 200 pounds.

While seafood, like salmon, is a great source of Omega-3s — which have been shown to be both heart– and brain-healthy — our consumption of fish is relatively low. Most of what we get is imported, and a lot of that is caught illegally and/or mislabeled, of poor quality and not from sustainable fisheries. This is a shame, because Alaska is one of the premier fisheries in the world and is a pioneer in sustainability. We believe that the low seafood consumption here is due to misunderstanding of seafood and how to prepare it.

Why is the idea of a fisherman’s cooperative so important to your fishermen? 

In a nutshell, a fisherman will get the fairest price when he or she delivers to the co-op — which is the fishermen’s own organization. It is very rare that fishermen can concentrate both on fishing and on selling their product, and do both jobs well. Working with a co-op that processes, packages and sells the fish allows members to share the costs and maximize the dollars that end up in the fisherman’s pocket. A co-op also maximizes returns on fishermen’s catches vs. what they’d make on their own. By joining forces in a co-op, fishermen lower their processing costs and ensure access to a much larger market than they would on their own. Here, members of the Halvorsen family fish for albacore tuna.

Fishermen who sell on their own face three problems: Who will process and package the fish?
How will they produce the volume needed to assure customers of a reliable supply?
How can they get enough money to solve the first two problems?

This is where a fishermen’s co-op comes in. A co-op allows fishermen to do what they do best: catch fish. A co-op can invest in processing and packaging facilities. A co-op can achieve enough scale so that customers don’t “run dry.” A co-op provides a safety net by allowing members to pool together and negotiate for better prices for common needs, such as vessel insurance and fishing gear. Co-ops have a unique way of doing business that offers fishermen the best of both worlds, giving them the opportunity to work independently while also providing a space to pull their resources together to achieve bigger goals.

At the end of the day, the reason we have members who enthusiastically join the co-op is that their fish reaches a larger market than it would if they were working on their own. They get the fairest price for their hard work.

How do your fishermen work to maintain sustainability of the fish?

Our members fish using hook-and-line methods, which minimize the “by-catch” (the catching of non-target fish species or sizes). Hook-and-line methods are the opposite of mass extraction methods — there is a tremendous amount of respect for the fish when the fisherman handles one fish at a time. As a result, we produce a quality product using more sustainable methods.

Our fishermen/members are examples of what Dan Barber writes about in Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food: “Wild fish did not come into this world just to be our food,” Barber writes. “They came into this world to pursue their own individual destinies. If we hunt them and eat them, we must hunt them with care and eat them with the fullness of our appreciation.” Our members’ use of traditional hook-and-line methods respects the quality and uniqueness of each fish. Our motto is: One Hook, One Fish at a Time. This means that we catch, process and put the fish on ice within minutes of being caught. Once you see our fishermen in action and taste the results of a line-caught salmon from SPC, we think you’ll be hooked.

Alaska is a world leader in sustainable fisheries. Maintaining sustainable fisheries is even written into the state constitution. The Alaska fisheries within which our members fish are carefully managed by biologists so that our members’ grandchildren can fish the same way that we do. That, to us, is the definition of sustainability.

At the heart of everything we do is the overriding concern for “maintaining a top-quality product, from ocean to market.” Quality is the keystone of our mission.

As you can see, Alaska Gold is an incredible, thoughtful company. We’re honored to be working with them.

 

 

Alaska Gold is generously offering 5 pounds of their excellent Coho salmon to 3 readers of this site. Please leave a comment about why you would be interested in winning salmon from this company to enter. We will choose winners at random on Friday, May 22nd. Winners will be notified by email. 

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Meet Our Sponsors: Coors Peakhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/meet-our-sponsors-coors-peak/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/meet-our-sponsors-coors-peak/#comments Sun, 17 May 2015 05:35:50 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10680 I have to admit this first: I didn’t expect to like Coors Peak. When I thought I could eat gluten, I was a bit of a beer snob. A pint of Guinness, pulled over the…

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Coors Peak

I have to admit this first: I didn’t expect to like Coors Peak.

When I thought I could eat gluten, I was a bit of a beer snob. A pint of Guinness, pulled over the course of 20 minutes at a pub in Dublin, thick and creamy, as filling as a loaf of bread — that was my idea of a beer. Then again, I could never understand why anyone liked beer, since it left me red-faced, stomach hurting, and a little woozy. And then I was diagnosed with celiac and I understood.

I’ve tried quite a few gluten-free beers, and I’ve liked some of them for different reasons. Some I didn’t like at all. But for some reason, I sort of thought I wouldn’t like this one.

However, when I saw that Joshua Henderson from Skillet in Seattle, one of my favorite chefs in our city, was doing a dinner based on flavor pairings with Coors Peak, I started paying attention. Maybe it was better than I thought?

(Henderson has a few recipes on the Coors Peak website now. This skillet-braised pork belly on a cornmeal waffle? Oh shush. And, it would be easy to make the waffle gluten-free with our gluten-free flour.)

When Coors sent us some of the beer, to see if they could be one of the sponsors of this site, I invited a good friend to try it with me. Our friend Clint is a certified beer snob. He enjoys beers in a way few people I know do:  in moderation and with great devotion. He has definite opinions. And he can eat all the gluten he wants. I figured if Clint liked this beer, we had something here.

Clint and I both took sips of cold Coors Peak, paused, took another sip, and then looked at each other. “You know, it’s not bad,” he said. I was surprised by it too. He took another sip. And then another. And then we both admitted it: “I really like this beer.”

Here’s why I really like this beer: it has very much its own taste. This is not a sorghum-based beer trying to imitate a full-bodied beer made with barley malt. Instead, Coors Peak is made with brown rice, pea protein, and malted brown rice. Frankly, I didn’t even know it was possible to malt brown rice. The final beer is crisp and bright, ever-so-slightly-sweet, and deeply refreshing.

Clint finished his entire beer, happily. So did I.

Danny and I both think this might be the perfect gluten-free beer for making beer battered fish and chips. In fact, we might be making that this week.

Next week is Memorial Day weekend. That’s the start of summer, folks. You know those long hot summer afternoons, when you’re surrounded by family and everything is slow, and you just want a cold beer on the back deck? For me, this is that beer.

Right now, Coors Peak is only available in the Seattle and Portland areas. But I imagine it will spread out to the rest of the country eventually. And given the reach of the company, that means a good, relatively inexpensive gluten-free beer could be available near you soon.

That’s why we’re happy to have Coors Peak as our latest sponsor.

(Check out their Facebook page for updates and more recipes from Joshua Henderson and other chefs.)

 

 

 

 

 

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the old work, betterhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/gluten-free-zucchini-gratin/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/gluten-free-zucchini-gratin/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 04:26:35 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10653 Someday, I swear, I’m going to go all Leaves of Grass on this site. The first time I said this to Danny, a few months ago, he looked at me with confusion in his eyes. He’s used to…

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canal house chicken

Someday, I swear, I’m going to go all Leaves of Grass on this site.

The first time I said this to Danny, a few months ago, he looked at me with confusion in his eyes. He’s used to my strange pronouncements by now. However, he doesn’t know Walt Whitman’s poems the way I do. The summer I turned 30, I exulted on the streets of New York City, my head exploding with poems. I lived in New York for the summer, thanks to a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study the poems of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman at Columbia. My life has never been the same.

I’ve always leaned toward Whitman, given his exuberance and joy for life, his delight in sensual pleasures and celebration of his rough edges, his resounding yes and his unflinching details. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” I think of that line nearly every day. Someday, I’ll teach it to my kids to let them know that nothing in life is that simple. I adore Emily Dickinson but I never had her restraint. Me? I’m a Whitman girl.

So I know that Walt Whitman published six editions (or maybe nine, if you include the smaller revisions) of the same book. Leaves of Grass is the only book of poems he ever wrote. The first edition of Leaves of Grass, published in 1855, contained 12 poems. The last, published in 1892, contained 400 poems. And in those intervening years, Whitman returned to his earlier poems and changed them, tightened lines, and added nuance. His early work became something even more alive for all that he had lived, which changed the cadence of those poems he once wrote, then found not good enough for his later self.

I understand this impulse.

When I began writing this site 10 years ago this month, cooking was thrilling and new, an activity that became almost holy because it could lead me to health. Every single dish I made was created in someone else’s mind, coming to me through a recipe. I loved the recipe. I revered the recipe. I followed recipes to the letter.

The first few months of this site, I wrote down other people’s recipes here. Then, I started adapting them a bit. Then, tentatively, I began playing, a bit. I remember how excited — and a little scared — I felt to make up a dish based on flavors that seemed like friends. It tasted good! I think I’ll do it again! I kept writing and writing. Writing recipes was an entirely new endeavor to me. It felt like a fling, an interruptor to all the essays pulsing out of me.

I can’t look at the recipes from the first year or two of this site, especially the ones I thought were more literary for writing them in narrative form. (Apparently, I thought it was somehow daring to write ONE in a recipe list instead of using numbers.) It took me awhile to realize I had fallen in love with the contained joy of writing a recipe well.

For the past week, I’ve been reading my new favorite cookbook devotedly, like a book of poems that needs reading, then reading again. Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook, written by the darling and brilliant Kristen Miglore, is bound to stay in our kitchen. It’s filled with the most interesting and best-tested recipes by some of the finest food minds in this culture.  Kristen has been writing a column at Food52 (one of our favorite food sites in the world) about genius recipes. As she writes, “Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink the way we cook. They might involve an unexpectedly simple technique, debunk a kitchen myth, or apply a familiar ingredient in a new way. They’re handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacies.” Reading these recipes, and then making some of them this week — that’s what you see in these photographs, our renditions of a few of the recipes in the book — has made me think about recipes even more deeply.

At first, most people who write recipes online stumble into it. I did. Most of the time, it seems, people are publishing recipes that they made once, in their homes, for dinner. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s not a tested recipe. It’s about the writer, not the reader. Look at me! I created something! 

A great recipe is clearly written, with no excess language or obfuscating. But for me, it also contains tiny touches of warmth that indicate physical clues for when to switch to the next step. (See that the edges of the liquid are starting to simmer, little bubbles rising to the surface? Start stirring now.) And a well-written recipe follows in a long tradition of clarity and organization. It wasn’t until Justin Schwartz, our incredible book editor, chastised my first draft of our first cookbook by sending it back to me with one instruction that I finally understood: the list of ingredients in a recipe needs to be in the order you use those ingredients in the cooking instructions. Once you know that, you never go back to haphazard again. (I still see so many recipes online that feel as though people threw words at the screen and watched them slide into something akin to order.)

Recipes require me to be a bit more Dickinson than Whitman. I’m learning her restraint, a little at a time.

As with any art form, write recipes long enough and you realize you want to strip away everything unnecessary, anything to do with ego. You want to make something again and again, looking more closely every time at what is essential. You want the recipe to be a distillation of an alive complicated process into clear words on the page. A recipe, in its best sense, should be a finger pointing toward the kitchen, instead of an indication of how good the author is.

I’ve been writing recipes for 10 years now, and I feel as though I’m just starting to hit my stride. Have you read that incredible Ira Glass quote about the gap between good taste and honed skill? “It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.…It gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” It’s true. It’s so true.

Now, after ten years of doing this, I feel like I’m finally starting to write recipes.

But what do you do when you feel you’re on the cusp of work you love and then you look back at what came before? Do you leave it all, laughing, and think of it as archives? Or do you go all Walt Whitman on it and start erasing your tracks, making all the old work better, bringing it up to your standards?

Life in America is different than it was for Walt Whitman. Then, he could publish another edition of poems and hope that most of the old ones had been thrown away or torn up. But we live on the internet now, where readers find recipes from 2007 by googling the name of the baked good they want to make, and thinking you wrote it yesterday. My way is clear.

Over the next few months, slowly and with great purpose, I’m going to go all Leaves of Grass on this place.

genius recipes

seared cauliflower

zucchini gratin_

gluten-free zucchini gratin, adapted from Julia Child’s recipe in Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook

This dish is from Julia Child, the ultimate genius recipe developer. She worked tirelessly to make recipes as close to perfection as she could. That work was driven by a desire to truly understand food. (She didn’t start down her professional food path until she was in her 40s, a fact I think of often.) Her curious mind and joyful yet meticulous attitude toward her work have provided millions with great meals.

The genius part of this zucchini gratin is grating and salting the zucchini to pull out the vegetal liquid. That liquid, with a touch of milk, makes an oh-so-light béchamel. This plus the addition of a bit of cooked rice means a gratin that holds together without being weighted down by a ton of cream and cheese. This truly tastes like zucchini, like spring, like just the thing you want to eat right now.

2 pounds (900 grams) zucchini
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup (90 grams) white rice (we used Calrose rice)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (160 grams) finely chopped yellow onion
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 to 2 ½ cups warm liquid (combination of zucchini water and milk)
2/3 cups (65 grams) grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Salt and drain the zucchini. Cut off the ends of the zucchinis. Give them a gentle scrub to take off any dirt (if they’re from the garden) or wax (if they’re from the store). Grate the zucchini on a box grater, or in the food processor with the grating disc. Put the grated zucchini into a colander set over a large bowl. Toss the grated zucchini with the kosher salt, taking the time to mix in the salt well. Let the zucchini drain into the bowl for at least 5 minutes.

Grab a handful of the grated zucchini and put it in a kitchen towel. Put the towel over the bowl of zucchini water, close the towel around the ball of zucchini and squeeze out the water. Squeeze again and again until you have drained the zucchini of as much water as possible. You’ll never get the zucchini entirely dry but it shouldn’t be dripping with water anymore. Continue with the remaining zucchini.

Cook the rice. Set a small pot of water over high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Add the rice to the boiling water. Let the rice boil vigorously for 5 minutes, then drain it from the water and set aside.

Prepare to bake. Heat the oven to 425°. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a baking dish about 1 ½ inches deep that will hold 6 to 8 cups of food. Set aside.

Cook the vegetables. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in 4 tablespoons of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Turn up the heat to high and stir vigorously while the onions brown just a bit more. Stir in the grated zucchini and chopped garlic. Cook, turning the zucchini frequently, until the zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and sprinkle the flour over the top of the vegetables. Stir for 2 minutes, making sure everything is evenly coated with the flour, then turn off the heat.

Make the gratin. While the zucchini is cooking, set another small pot on medium heat. Pour the zucchini water into a large measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 2 cups of liquid. Heat the liquid to a slow simmer without letting it boil. Slowly, pour the heated zucchini liquid into the skillet of vegetables. Turn the heat to medium-high again and stir gently. When the vegetables and liquid clearly begin to simmer, turn off the heat again. Stir in the cooked rice and most of the Parmesan. (Save about 3 tablespoons for the top.) Taste the zucchin and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the vegetables and liquid into the buttered pan. Toss the remaining cheese on top and drizzle it all with the remaining olive oil.

Bake the gratin. Bake the gratin until the top is bubbly brown and the reduced liquids are simmering on the edges, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Feeds 6 to 10.

 

Feel like playing? The cheese is pretty important here as a binder, so I’m not sure how to make this dairy-free. However, if you are lactose intolerant, you could use lactose-free milk here, or a neutral-tasting dairy-free milk in the place of the traditional cow’s milk. I’m guessing this would be great with another summer squash as well. And, try a stronger-tasting cheese such as Pecorino or feta here for a different taste.

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slowly, so softlyhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/gluten-free-naan/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/05/gluten-free-naan/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 14:29:13 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10597 Once, before there was Desmond or Lucy or Danny, before there was a gluten-free flour business or a James Beard award or the New York Times, before there was a food memoir and two published…

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Once, before there was Desmond or Lucy or Danny, before there was a gluten-free flour business or a James Beard award or the New York Times, before there was a food memoir and two published cookbooks and a third one coming out soon, before there was Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Periscope (have you tried this thing? Oh, this could be fun.) — before any of the gifts and dins that came after — there was this site. Ten years ago this spring, I sat down to type, to hear the click of my fingers on the keyboard and watch the little black letters emerge onto white screen. I had been so sick, so bloody awful sick for months, and pretty darned sick for years before that. Now, for the first time, I felt alive in my body. I danced and did yoga and strode through the Ballard farmers’ market in a grinning daze of happiness.

But mostly I sat down to write.

Writing made sense to me. Staring at a blank white paper, then pressing a pen down in a rush of thoughts and tangled adjectives? It’s how I lived. Years before my diagnosis, I wrote a personal journal, buds of red or purple words strewn across thick white paper in a black bound book. (There are boxes of those pebbled black sketchbooks, sealed shut, in our garage right now.) By the time I was diagnosed with celiac and started this site, I had moved past that solipsistic daily practice of writing out my thoughts and feelings for myself. (Oh, so many feelings!) By 2005, I wanted to tell stories.

So I did.

I started writing online about the way my body felt — bursting into bloom after years of lying dormant. I wrote about kayaking Lake Union and discovering the taste of sauteed amaranth leaves and eating at Café Flora in Madison Valley after months of thinking I’d never eat in a restaurant again. Joyful and bold, shorthand sometimes and verbose in others, that writing surged out of me. I didn’t think anyone was going to read those pieces. Even though I wrote the first few month of entries here as though I was writing letters to friends — and really, I still do — I was shocked the first time someone left a comment. Who is this person?

Soon those comments came in cloudbursts then a steady stream. I had been parched before. Writing is a solitary act. Suddenly, there was community.

I found Molly, who became a friend immediately. I couldn’t believe the beauty of Heidi’s world. David Lebovitz charmed me and pushed me back to baking. I wrote to my friend Sharon about Clotilde immediately: you have to visit this site. It’s a woman who lives in Paris! And she loves food as much as we do! Adam and Chubby Hubby and Shuna — these interesting people in vastly different worlds arrived in my life through the computer. Even though I could no longer eat gluten, I still loved Everybody Likes Sandwiches. Elise enticed me to cook. All these lovely people were weirdos like me: we loved sharing stories and writing down recipes and we took pictures of our food. (This was before the nightly parade of dinner shots on Instagram began.) Finally, after years of feeling like an oddball, I had found my people.

That’s how I met Tara O’Brady, through her wonderful site, Seven Spoons.

blueberry snacking cake

If my writing sometimes feels like torrents of thoughts, sentences slinging down in sheets, then Tara’s feels like gleaming drops on petals after the storm. Slowly, so softly, she draws you in. There’s no intention to edify or prove. She has swung open the door of her home and asked you in. There might be warm blueberry snacking cake on the counter and a thick ceramic mug of tea waiting for you too. As Molly wrote when she blurbed Tara’s cookbook, “Tara O’Brady could write a book about re-grouting bathroom tile, and I would still want to read it.” Look at this sweet piece Tara wrote about discovering her love of cookie recipes after finally unpacking the last of the boxes from their move two years before. (We just finished unpacking our last ones a couple of days ago. Ahem.) Here she expresses, with such ease, the melancholy mixed feelings I have about the new year. And this photo essay about her visit to Seattle — we were deep in the dregs of running a Kickstarter campaign and I couldn’t get off island to see her — where she lays out all my favorite places with her gentle phrases. “The guava ginger beer at Rachel’s reminded me of India, my grandfather’s house, and sitting on the dark green hood of his car eating guavas from the tree in the yard.” Don’t you want to be there now?

north Indian baked eggs

And her photographs. They’re clear and elegant without being the kind of standard overblown ready-for-Pinterest photos I see on so many blogs now. She knows how to compose a shot, how to plate food on simple grey dishes on a baking sheet splattered with stains from real use on a concrete surface — and everything feels just so. Every piece she posts feels like only she could have created it.

Whenever I need to learn more about how to photograph food to capture light, and not plunk down the dish and be done with it — and let’s face it, that’s every day — I look at Tara’s shots sometimes and wonder how she did it. And then I pick up the camera again.

seven spoons

So I’m mighty pleased to share with you that Tara’s first book, Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day, has finally been published. True to form, it’s a lovely book. We’ve been cooking from it for weeks now, diving in for more food. This is the food of an accomplished home cook who has a well-stocked pantry and a voracious curiosity for spices and oils, flavors that might change a basic dish into something memorable. Even after all the cooking we have been doing from our now-food-stained copy, we still have our eyes on the glazed eggplant with shallots and greens, the celeriac soup with green horseradish oil, and the turmeric fried okra.

Danny and I only spend one day a week working together these days. On Mondays, Desmond is in daycare. (Tuesday through Friday, Danny and I are juggling. You go to the studio and work, and I’ll watch him for a bit until he goes down for a nap. Meet you back here at 2.) I bake in the morning. Danny cooks for hours. And then we photograph every dish we liked so we can share them with you eventually. On Mondays, the first days of writing this site feel like more than a decade ago.

On Mondays, two trusted friends who are helping us with our business come for the meetings and stay for lunch. The week we cooked from Tara’s book, we offered them slow-simmered red lentil dal strewn with warm shallots and shreds of cilantro, north Indian baked eggs (a kind of shaksuka flavored with Kashmiri chiles, turmeric, and garam masala), and gluten-free naan, made with our gluten-free flour, based on Tara’s recipe.

That warm naan tore apart softly, slowly, like Tara’s prose. Our friend Trish took a bite and her face beamed relief. She thought she would never eat naan again, since she’s gluten-free. Luckily, it’s easy to make now.

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Plus, this. Tara’s bee-stung fried chicken, made with our gluten-free flour. She drizzles it with a hot honey butter, mixed with Korean hot pepper paste. We made it with Siracha instead.

Danny lowered the platter of fried chicken to the table and we all just stared. And then hands flew to pick up pieces, squeeze lime over them, and dredge it all in that spicy honey-butter sauce. Teeth crunched through the coating, a shower of crumbs falling below, and then a little moan. What is this? Seriously? I didn’t know I’d ever have fried chicken this good without the gluten. After every bite, I kept dragging my piece through that diminishing pool of orange-red sticky sauce on my plate. Eventually, I just grabbed a spoonful from the bowl of it Danny had laid down on the table too — that Danny. he always knows — and smeared more on my plate. This chicken is like the dream you have of fried chicken in the middle of winter. This fried chicken is why people go to fast food places and buy a bucket with grease smears on the inside, because they’re hoping they could have this crunch, this salty play with tender juicy meat, this experience of throwing away decorum and giving into hunger. This is not a dainty dish. Give up any notions of being neat and tidy while eating this chicken. Damn, this is good chicken.

You think you know a writer after reading her for ten years. She’s soft and graceful slow shots and composed. And then you eat this chicken and realize you underestimated her. Keep going.

gluten-free naan

gluten-free naan, adapted from Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day

Tara says in her book that the requirements of a good naan are “…char, chew, and pillowy doughiness.” While this bread might not have the exact same texture as naan made with wheat flour, it certainly has char, chew, and pillowy doughiness. Everyone who has eaten it has been happy. 

The secret to making this? Well, we think one is our gluten-free flour. The other is psyllium husk, which allows a slow-rising dough to go from wet and tacky to kneadable and soft as traditional bread dough. The yogurt adds tang and softness. Finally, letting it rise slowly, with a tiny pinch of yeast, not rushing but letting the dough make itself ready? That slowness leads to softness. 

Tara suggests a cooking technique: brushing a bit of water on the top of the shaped dough, then cooking it in the skillet with the lid on, to create steam. We love the steam oven effect, but we found these naan cooked even better with a bit of oil instead of water. However, you want a pastry brush barely damp with oil (we used olive oil but ghee would be even better), then dab the brush quickly over parts of the dough, not over the entire surface. That helps create those charred spots you see. 

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water (about 110°)
385 grams (about 2 3/4 cups) gluten-free all-purpose flour
7 grams (about 1 tablespoon) whole psyllium husks

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup whole milk yogurt

ghee or oil for cooking the naan

Proof the yeast. Gently whisk together the yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the warm water in a small bowl. Let them mingle together for 10 minutes. If the mixture isn’t frothy and increasing in size, start again with new yeast.

Make the dough. Whisk together the flour, psyllium, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the ingredients. Pour in the yeasty water and yogurt. Start stirring the dough with a rubber spatula, in small circles from the center, slowly incorporating more of the dry ingredients into the dough. When everything is combined, the dough should be tacky and a bit wet, like a slightly wet cookie dough. It should not have the consistency of traditional wheat bread dough. If the dough is too dry, splash in a bit more of the water until the dough feels right. (If you want, you can do this in a stand mixer too.)

Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set it in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise and hydrate. A gluten-free dough will never rise as high as a wheat dough might. But this time allows the dough to fully hydrate and let the psyllium do its work. The dough is ready when you can move it around in your hands and knead it like a traditional dough, about 4 hours.

Prepare to cook. Move the dough around in the bowl and put it onto a clean work surface. Knead the dough to work out the air bubbles and make the dough smoother under your hands. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball by rolling it around under your hand. (And it will feel just like traditional dough!) Cover all 8 pieces with that damp towel and let them rest for 5 minutes.

Set a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Let the skillet grow hot while you shape the dough balls. Use your hands (or a rolling pin) to flatten the dough into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Very lightly, dab the melted ghee or oil over some parts of the dough. Lay the dough into the hot pan. Dab the ghee or oil over the top and put a lid on the skillet. Cook until the naan has bubbles in the dough and the bottom is browning and lifts easily off the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the naan and put the lid back on. Cook until the underside is browned with a few charred places, 1 to 2 minutes.

Move the naan over to a plate. Drape a kitchen towel or napkin over it to keep the naan warm. Continue with the rest of the naan.

Eat right away.

Feeds 8.

Feel like playing? We haven’t tried this yet, but I bet a dairy-free yogurt (unflavored) might work just fine here. For real decadence, brush the naan just off the skillet with a little melted ghee. We topped ours with a tomato-ginger chutney Danny likes to make. Any topping you like works just fine here.

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gluten-free cauliflower cakehttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/04/gluten-free-cauliflower-cake/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/04/gluten-free-cauliflower-cake/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 19:12:19 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10514 At breakfast the other day, Lucy put down her fork to make a declaration. “Here are the foods I don’t like, right now,” she said, starting to count on her fingers. Danny and I looked…

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cauliflower cake I

At breakfast the other day, Lucy put down her fork to make a declaration. “Here are the foods I don’t like, right now,” she said, starting to count on her fingers. Danny and I looked at each other across the table and smiled at each other’s eyes.

“Okay,” I said, putting down my fork. “I’d love to hear.”

“I don’t like mustard.” We knew that. She’s a mayonnaise girl. Mustard is too tangy for her taste. It puckers at the lips and makes you sit up straight. Mayonnaise is smooth, sliding in without much need for attention. We haven’t given her mustard in awhile. Next?

She leaned in toward us, picking up speed now. “I don’t like cabbage.”

For months, we were all eating our tacos on fresh cabbage leaves instead of tortillas. As much as I love a warm corn tortilla, there’s something enticing about a crisp cold cabbage leaf curled around a tangle of hot slow-braised pork with melted cheese and guacamole. (In fact, I’m hungry for one right now.) We started eating our tacos this way last year, when a friend of ours from Mexico told us her family always eats cabbage tacos. The first time we tried them, Lucy looked at me and shouted, “I love cabbage! This is my favorite food.” But her interest in those tacos has been dwindling.

She is six.

“Okay, Lu. No cabbage.” Desmond banged on the white plane of his highchair with a spoon, picking up on her eagerness and wanting to share too.

“Also,” Lu continued. “I don’t like broccoli or chard or cauliflower or kale.” She sat back in her chair with a big exhale, clearly done orating for a bit.

Danny and I looked at each other and shrugged. “You got it, kiddo,” he said. “We’ll keep those off your plate for now.”

cauliflower cake II

I have to admit this: I really don’t get why some parents insist on kids eating certain vegetables.

Don’t get me wrong. We eat a lot of vegetables around here. Every meal has arugula salads or homemade tomato sauce or spiralized zucchini or roasted potatoes with crackling skins. Asparagus looks beautiful to me this time of the year. After a couple of years of playing with my diet, eliminating certain foods and leaning a bit toward dogmatic systems then veering away, I’ve relaxed into a lovely place. I eat when I’m hungry. I appreciate everything on my plate. I eat mostly what’s in season. I eat together with people I like, laughing. And I eat a lot of vegetables.

I flip through the pages of Yotam Ottelenghi’s Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghiwith a hunger that’s more than an empty stomach. I dream of all those roasts and braises and flavor combinations that make me tilt my head when I look at the page. “Huh. I never thought of making eggplant with black garlic and dill,” and then I’m up from the chair and off to the kitchen to rummage in the refrigerator.

We’re big geeky fans of vegetables here.

However, I certainly wasn’t a vegetable fan when I was a kid.

cauliflower cake IV

I didn’t like tomatoes until the year we lived in England when I was 16. This cracks me up now. I wanted nothing to do with the ripe-at-the-bursting-red tomatoes in our Southern California home. In England that winter, the pale, out-of-season tomatoes mushed against the fork. But I looked down at my white plate in a little tea shop in Sussex, and the muted red slices looked far more enticing than the cucumber sandwiches and dainty scones. My brain switched onto tomatoes without any coaxing.

When I look at what I hope are the long lives of my kids, I’m assuming at some point I won’t have to help them clean their rooms. And they’re going to eat mushrooms without being asked. So why ask now? Danny and I don’t want the feeling of control associated with food at our table. I certainly wouldn’t want Danny telling me I have to eat up all my broccoli.

So we offer. We don’t make separate meals for the kids. We share red lentil daal or meatloaf or quinoa salad with pea shoots and roasted asparagus at our table. Whatever Lucy and Desmond want to eat is their choice. We still expect Lucy to try new things. (She briefly watched Daniel Tiger, a lovely little show based on Mister Rogers Neighborhood, for a few months before she outgrew it. Still, every day, we sing a little ditty from it: “You’ve got to try new things ’cause they might taste good!”) And then we stop talking about the food and eat together.

cauliflower cake V

Lu used to raise her fist in the air when I put a plate of sautéed chard down in front of her, then yell, “Chard!” That was before she was 3, when she ate everything. (Desmond is there now.) When she became herself more fully, and her tastebuds developed, she started becoming specific in every way. Vegetables, too.

I read somewhere recently that small children may have a natural dislike of cruciferous vegetables because they are so full of fiber. All that broccoli, kale, chard, and cabbage can be hard on a digestive system that’s still developing. As Lucy described it, “I don’t like all those green vegetables that need a lot of chewing.”

Us old farts? We need our fiber. Kids? Not as much. Maybe most kids don’t like broccoli because their bodies don’t like broccoli. And their parents keep insisting, “Eat your broccoli! “

Sometimes Lu drives us crazy with how little she’s eating because she needs to get up to dance. Sometimes she eats two full plates of food. Sometimes she eats seven bites and she is done, then hungry 90 minutes later. We ask her to sit with us until we’re done, then we all clean up afterwards. (Desmond is watching, absorbing all of this.)

Our kids eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. We’re laughing at the table.

More vegetables can come later.

cauliflower cake III

gluten-free cauliflower cake, adapted from Yotam Ottelenghi’s Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi

It may seem a little funny to offer a cauliflower cake recipe after talking about how Lucy doesn’t like cauliflower. But that’s the thing — we keep offering. We made this savory cake, full of surprises, unlike anything we had eaten before, at our studio for our Monday meeting with the team of people we work with now. (The lunches are the best benefit we can offer at the moment.) The adults loved it. We had a few slices leftover, so we took them home and put them on the dinner table, along with the rest of what we planned. Maybe it’s because I referenced cauliflower cheese, which is mentioned sometimes in Angelina Ballerina? Or maybe it’s because the cauliflower here tasted like potatoes after being blanched and baked? Whatever it was, Lucy ate two slices of this. 

Yotam Ottelenghi understands vegetables. He treats them with great respect. At the same time, he’s always playing. This cauliflower cake perplexes at first: who makes cake with cauliflower? It’s a little like a frittata with all the eggs but it has the soft fine crumb of a cake. The oil and Parmesan lend the cake an unctuousness that means it’s not dry, not one bit. And that topping of concentric slices of red onion, which shift into a muted dark purple upon baking, remind you that you’re not eating dessert. As one of our friends said, “I’ve certainly never eaten anything like this before. I’ll certainly be making it at home.” 

1 medium red onion, peeled
1 medium-sized cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into florets (about 4 cups)
kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
7 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
140 grams (1 cup) gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
cracked black pepper

Prepare to bake. Heat the oven to 400°. Line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (We put two on top of each other, crosswise, to make sure every surface was covered.) Brush the parchment with melted butter or oil, if you prefer. Cut 4 slices (about 1/4-inch thick) from the red onion. Each slice will have several rings inside. Separate them and set aside.

Blanch the cauliflower. Set a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Put the cauliflower florets into the pan, along with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cover the cauliflower with water. Blanch the cauliflower until they are soft enough to cut with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain the cauliflower and set it aside.

Cook the aromatics. Chop the remaining red onion. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour in the olive oil, then add the onion. Cook and stir until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the rosemary and cook for 1 minute more. Turn off the heat. Allow the onion to cool.

Make the batter. Put the cooked onions in a large bowl. Add the eggs and chopped basil and whisk them together. Add the gluten-free flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk everything together. Add the blanched cauliflower. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Nestle the red onion slices onto the top of the batter.

Bake the cake. Put the cauliflower cake into the oven and bake until it is golden brown along the edges and the top is firm, 45 to 60 minutes. (You can also use the knife-inserted-into-the-center-of-the-cake trick.) Let the cake cook on the counter for 20 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan and let cool for another 10 minutes before slicing the cake.

Serve warm. Or, save the cake for the next day, when it’s even better, at room temperature.

Feeds 6.

Feel like playing?  We’d love to play with the tastes of this cake by using Pecorino or even a sharp feta instead of the Parmesan. I’d like dill or marjoram instead of the basil. And if you want, you could try par-boiled potato pieces instead of the cauliflower here.

 

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where we eat: Juiceboxhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/04/juicebox-seattle-gluten-free-cafe/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/04/juicebox-seattle-gluten-free-cafe/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 00:15:47 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10548 Last week, I was reminiscing with Danny about a tiny vegetarian restaurant in Seattle, one of my favorites in the 1990s. The Gravity Bar was triangled into the Broadway Market, in Capitol Hill, which at…

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Last week, I was reminiscing with Danny about a tiny vegetarian restaurant in Seattle, one of my favorites in the 1990s. The Gravity Bar was triangled into the Broadway Market, in Capitol Hill, which at the time was a bit grungy and run-down. (These days, it’s all gleaming new condos and shiny restaurants.) The atmosphere wasn’t particularly calming but the food certainly made my body feel at rest. Brown rice bowls with steamed vegetables and lemon-tahini dressing — that was my comfort food for over a decade. Throw in a fresh juice, especially a carrot-ginger juice, and I was done for the day. Everything felt at peace after that meal.

The next morning, Danny made me a quinoa bowl with roasted vegetables, avocado, and lemon-tahini dressing. There was a blueberry-kale juice too. I love that guy.

Later in the day, I was in Seattle for medical appointments. (I can say it from this distance, after much worrying for a couple of weeks: I don’t have cancer. Thank goodness.) After an unpleasant procedure, I needed something good to eat. I have all my favorites but something told me to keep driving to 12th Avenue. I found a spot in front of a little place called Juicebox. The parking gods were trying to tell me something.

Juicebox is my new Gravity Bar. I felt at ease as soon as I walked into the tiny cafe and saw this wall.

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As soon as I walked in, I remembered that Juicebox is the brainchild of Kari Brunson, whom I first met the same year I started this site. (2005! Ten years ago!) Kari was a professional ballerina with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for years before she decided to quit to go to culinary school. I almost didn’t recognize her when we met. She looked extraordinarily well rested, her face far more open and calm, her skin glowing. Kari, this cold-pressed juice and cafe have served you well.

It served me well too. There were so many choices for this weary woman who wanted her comfort food. How about the quuinoa greens salad with quinoa, cilantro, avocado, cucumber, lime juice, and cumin pepitas? I could have chosen the coconut milk parfait with raw local honey and seasonal fruit. Or how about the St. Jude tuna sandwich with yukon potatoes, olive tapenade, soft-boiled egg, preserved lemon, salsa verde, and local lettuce, on gluten-free focaccia.

Wait, gluten-free focaccia? Juicebox is not a gluten-free cafe. However, it’s more than gluten-free-friendly. Everyone there takes great care to avoid cross-contamination with the small amount of items on the menu that contain gluten. There were gluten-free baked goods on the front counter from NuFlours, a sweet new gluten-free bakery in Seattle. (We’ll share something about that place soon.) And most of the menu was naturally gluten-free.

In the end, I chose that day’s salad: a roasted chicken salad with spring greens, pickled rhubarb, watermelon radishes, and fresh ricotta they had made that morning. And a vinaigrette made with the leftover whey from the ricotta. That an a fennel-apple-cucumber-mint juice left me sighing at the long wooden table, alone with my thoughts and good food. I was only 1/2 a mile from the old Gravity Bar and I felt at home.

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If you’re gluten-free, or just have the taste for great food that leaves you feeling healthy, try Juicebox. It’s one of the places where we love to eat now.

Juicebox
1517 12th Ave Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98122
206–607-7866

 

This is part of a new series called Where We Eat, a narrative guide to the restaurants and cafes that have served me safely and well. (We’ll also be sharing Where We Shop soon.) Remember that our experience may not be yours. You still have to ask about gluten-free food in a restaurant and make sure it’s safe for celiacs, everywhere you go. We make no claims that these places we love to eat will work for everyone. 

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right here.http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/04/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/04/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:15:24 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10522 It was early. My knees felt creaky. The coffee was still burbling through the filter. And I was in the kitchen, gathering ingredients to make gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. The night before, Danny and I…

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It was early. My knees felt creaky. The coffee was still burbling through the filter. And I was in the kitchen, gathering ingredients to make gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.

The night before, Danny and I cooked a dinner for 4 wonderful people who donated to our Kickstarter. He danced in front of the stove, that little shuffle heel to toe he does when he’s boppipng around happy. We made soft pretzels with our guests — Grace requested them in particular — and watched them bob in the boiling water filled with baking soda, then put them in the oven to bake. There was a spring-green soup, then pretzels warm out of the oven, with mustard for dipping. Sauteed halibut with spring vegetable risotto on a mint-pea puree. Chicken roasted with goat cheese and asparagus with potato puree. And a roasted rhubarb and strawberry shortcake. Our guests left happy. We loved them and the experience of feeding them.

But I woke up the next morning feeling a litle worn. We forgot to put the mats down on the kitchen floor after sweeping, so Danny and I spent the entire evening walking on the concrete without that padding. Man, my knees are making it clear to me — I am getting older. I wanted nothing more than to sleep in on Sunday morning, drink coffee slowly, and read the paper in the sunlight.

Time to bake. We had an appearance in Seattle to make.

I melted coconut oil on the stove. I pulled sugar and baking powder out of the pantry. I left the eggs on the counter to come to room temperature. Coffee ready — time for a sip. And then Lucy woke up.

I gave her a hug, tousled her crazy bed-head hair, and asked her if she wanted anything to eat. “What are you doing?” she wanted to know. We bake together. We have for years. But we don’t usually bake that early in the morning. I told her about the cookies we needed to make for the appearance that day. She wanted to help.

She dragged a chair over to the counter and started stirring the sugar into the melted coconut oil. Danny came down the stairs with Desmond in his arms. D started wriggling, smiling so hard his nose crinkled and his eyes closed. Lu reached up to hug him, then returned to stirring.

Cups of coffee for the adults. Slices of apples for the kids. We put on some Caspar Babypants and started dancing around a little. We opened the windows. Lucy cracked the eggs, slowly slowly stirring to make sure every inch of yellowy striation disappeared into the dough.

Desmond wanted to stand on the chair and be with his sister. She is, without a doubt, his favorite person in the world. As she tipped the bowl full of flour into the big red bowl, she told her little brother, “Desmond, when you are 6, you will know how to bake like this because Mama will teach you, like she taught me. And Mama is the best baking teacher.”

I reached down to hug her, tears in my eyes.

Who cares about creaky knees? And early mornings? And the time I could have spent with the New York Times? I was right where I wanted to be.

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gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

This is the recipe for chocolate chip cookies printed on the box of our gluten-free all-purpose flour. We could have put a dozen other recipes on there. But there’s something quintessential about chocolate chip cookies. They’re easy to bake with kids. And they never fail to please, especially in the late afternoon, when school is over for the day and there is playing outside to do. This recipe is based on the classic Toll House recipe, which is still most people’s favorite chocolate chip cookie. The edges are crisp and set, the centers are slightly soft and oozy with melting chocolate. These disappear quickly. 

If you want to make these dairy-free, all you have to do is use coconut oil instead of the butter and be sure to use a dairy-free chocolate chip. They’re just as good as the butter kind. If you want to make a quick version, then make the batter and spread it in a greased 9 x 11 baking pan. Bake it at 375° for 30 to 40 minutes. Chocolate chip cookie cake! 

Of course, we think these work best with our flour. That’s why we created it. We wanted to create a great baking flour that would work for your family. We’ve made it easy for you. This could be your flour

420 grams (3 cups) gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
230 grams (2 US sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
335 grams (2 cups) bittersweet chocolate chips
50 grams (1/2 cup) chopped walnuts (optional)
flaky sea salt (optional)

Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

Make the batter. Cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, a bit at a time. Add the nuts (if using) and chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.

Prepare to bake. Heat oven to 375°.

Bake the cookies. Drop golf-ball-sized balls of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, making 3 rows of 2 cookies on the sheet. Bake until the edges are crisp and the center still soft, 8 to 12 minutes. Pinch a bit of flaky sea salt over the top of each cookie, if you want. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Serve as soon as you can.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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