let’s cook together

let’s cook together: antipasti buffet

antipasti buffet_

Let’s face it. Life is more fun sometimes when you have more choices. Wait, I’m not talking about the ridiculous aisle of 85 different kinds of shampoos at the grocery store. (I’m convinced they’re all the same, put into pretty bottles.) Actually, I mean dinner is more fun when you have more choices on the table.

When we were hashing out the structure for our cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, my brother insisted there needed to be a buffet chapter in there. His son, my most favorite nephew Elliott, was pretty picky about food back then. If Andy made dinner and set a plate in front of Elliott, he wouldn’t eat much. But, to quote our own cookbook: “If you tell him it’s Italian antipasti night, and have roasted cauliflower with salsa verde, mushrooms stuffed with mozzarella, salami, proscuitto, olives marinated with lemon zest, and a lot of little ramekins with other foods, he’ll eat well. He likes taking a little bit of each and making his own plate.”

Now that Lu is nearly 5, we know exactly what he means. Dinner at the table is sometimes a bit of a chore. Put 5 to 10 little plates on the floor of the living room, call it a picnic, and she reaches for a bite of olive, then a bit of cauliflower, then a cube of cheese. Sometimes, when we don’t sit at the table, we all eat better.

So, if you want to cook with us this weekend, let’s make the antipasti buffet! It starts on page 267 of our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. We give you the recipe for stuffed mushrooms (sun-dried tomatoes! tiny mozzarella balls! pine nuts! more!) and the roasted cauliflower with salsa verde. Buy yourself some prosciutto, some smoked mozzarella, some marcona almonds and put them out. Pickled things are very good.

And we buy olives — these are cerignolas — from our grocery store’s olive bar. At home, we rinse off the brine, which often tastes too salty and sometimes too much like chemicals. Then, we heat up some extra-virgin olive oil, a little lemon zest, some red pepper flakes, and toss in the olives. Serve them warm.

An antipasti buffet is a pretty easy dinner to make and it feels like a feast.

Enjoy, everyone! Have a great weekend.

Let’s Cook Together: Lemongrass Beef Stir Fry

bashed lemongrass

It began with a bashed piece of lemongrass.

Our neighbor, Sara, who is becoming a good friend, had been over at our home a few days before. While her tow-headed boy Blake bounced on the trampoline with Lucy, Sara told us she and her husband John wanted to change their ways. As is true of many families with young kids, Sara relied on boxed meals and packaged foods. Last year, they had us over for a crab feast, with warm butter and homemade cocktail sauce. Sara’s a good cook. But with a one-year-old on her hip as she stirs a pot at the stove, and a small boy running around playing trucks at her feet, she doesn’t always have the time to cook meals that take long.

But as is true for so many families with small children, Sara and John want to eat better: more vegetables, slower meals, and more food from scratch. She told us she had bought a copy of our new cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, which made us feel sort of bad. We would have happily given her one. She’s a friend. But she wanted to support our work. And she loved what she saw: the weeknight meals, the chapter about setting up a pantry, the big flavors without too-complex preparations. She was excited.

That day, standing by the trampoline while I made goony faces at Deena, Sara said, “I want to make the lemongrass beef stir fry. But I don’t know how to bash the lemongrass. Can you show me how?”

So the kids stayed on the back deck, Lu playing princess with Blake, who looked confused by all the dancing. Deena sat strapped on her mama’s back. And Danny bashed up a lemongrass stalk for her.

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