Today's post is somewhat of a departure from my general reviews of Miami (and beyond) restaurants, but I think its something you will enjoy and the like may just become a regular feature on this blog. I recently got the chance to preview a few recipes from the recently-released cookbook "Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef" by Shauna James and Danny Ahern. You may know Shauna from the blog "Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef" or from their joint National Pork Board blog "Pork, Knife & Spoon". Following is an account of my adventures making three recipes from the new book. In preparing this (huge) meal, I followed the recipes as dutifully as possible, resisting the urge to throw a big handful of greens into the mix.
Fresh Gluten-Free Pasta and Pasta with Anchovies, Lemon and Olives
This picture is a cheat.
From the outset, I suspected the fresh gluten-free pasta might fail. Despite scouring Miami (ok, looking at Publix and Whole Foods), I couldn't find two ingredients; guar gum and quinoa flour. According to Bob's Red Mills' website, xanthum gum can be used in place of guar gum and quinoa flour can be made from ground-up quinoa. So, I thought maybe I was in business, since I had quinoa at home and had just picked up a bigillion dollar ($11) bag of xanthum gum. Wrong! My dough wouldn't combine to save its life, resulting in a tacky mass that, although resembling play doh like the recipe said, would not suffer being put through the pasta machine or being rolled out. So, I cheated. I cheated big time. Since I don't have wheat allergies and since every bit of rice-based pasta that hits this house gets gobbled up in seconds, I turned to my trusty bag of egg noodles. Sorry, Shauna, I feel like I let the recipe down. I gave it the college try, the beginnings of tears… my husband even came over to try and salvage it. All to no avail. I didn't even have the heart to take the sad little lump's picture.
The taste: I loved this pasta, cheat or no. I thought the brine of the olives and capers balanced well with the umami of the anchovies and the brightness of the lemon. My darling, dearest husband (DH) even ate a bit, though he detests olives so much I can't even sneak them into dishes, despite my best efforts.
Seared Shrimp with Garlic-Almond Sauce
This shrimp dish was great and the garlic-almond sauce is going to make it into the growing rotation of sauces-to-be-tossed-with-dinner. Right alongside Italian Salsa Verde from Bon Appetit, green pesto, red pesto and chimichurri.
Chocolate Peanut-Putter Brownies
Yum! Let me say, this recipe is great (and I made it right! Go me!). I am not a baker--far from it; I usually beg my DH to bake on the rare occasions (holidays) we have desserts--I have zero patience and I hate, detest, and abhor measuring. Well, I did it. I did it and I did it right. These brownies (possibly the first I've made since college), were light, fluffy and satisfyingly peanut-buttery. I don't even generally like brownies; these might just not last the night.
Gluten-free cooking isn't hard. Sure, recipes like pasta might take a little planning and some special ingredients (I'll have that bag of xanthum gum till kingdom come), but once you get the guidelines down, its really no harder than "regular" cooking. Come to find out, most of my (non-pasta) cooking is naturally gluten-free already.
As for the book, I can't wait until I get the rest of it. I've been following Shauna's blog for little over a year. Her love of family, food and life sparkles through the screen--so much so, that I feel I know her just a bit already; reading her new posts are always like talking to an old friend. I can't wait to curl up with the book and continue our conversation.
Further Reading: Shauna is also author of the book "Gluten-Free Girl: How I found the Food That Loves Me Back… And How You Can Too". Go Buy It! Go buy the books together: both will only run you $28 on Amazon; a small price to pay for an author with such a deep love of food and life. I guarantee they'll be a good read.