Tag Archives: cookbook review

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

I received a copy of "Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef" by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern a little over a month ago.  I've been just dying to cook something from it but life has just had me too busy!  Finally, I had a chance to make what I most wanted to make….the pasta.  But more about that in a minute.

Most of you will probably know Shauna from the blog, Gluten Free Girl.  I have been reading her blog for years!  It was because of Shauna and a couple other bloggers that I started blogging.  These were also the people who kept me from feeling sorry for myself when I first went gluten free.   

Shauna and her husband Daniel, the chef, have spent a lot of time putting this book together.  It's a little bit different format from the typical cookbook.  Throughout the book, there are many stories of how Shauna and Daniel met.  And, most recipes have a small story or some kind of introduction to them.  Daniel gives a lot of cooking advice and instruction throughout the book as well.  This is very helpful even if you've been cooking a while.  There is always something new to learn when you cook!  

The only drawback in the book, for me personally, was the recipes are not divided into catagories like salads, meat, dessert etc.  It's random.  So if you want to look at a whole catagory of desserts, you need to go to the index and then you will jump around the book to see all the desserts.  The book is sectioned according to their stories.  It's really not a problem, more of a personal preference.  

There are lot's of interesting recipes.  Some sound challenging and some are simple which is a good mix.  I am looking forward to trying the Asian tart, crackers, chicken braised in red wine and several others.  But the one I wanted to try the most was the pasta.  

I have never made pasta.  Ever.  I always wanted to, but never got around to it.  After going gluten free, I just thought it would be too hard.  But it was so easy!  I should have done it sooner!  

Shauna's recipe mixes up very quickly.  I do not have a pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid.  The instructions said to make 8 small balls out of the dough and roll it out by hand.  It went pretty quick and my only problem was I probably could have rolled it out thinner.  Fresh pasta cooks really quick and has such a good texture and flavor to it.  This would be really good in chicken noodle soup!  And I"ll definetly be making it again.  I might even have to spring for a pasta maker!  

After rolling out…..

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After cooking….

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Free For All Cooking

Today I'm reviewing a new cookbook I just received.  It's called "Free For All Cooking", by Jules E. Dowler Shepard.  I was really excited about getting this cookbook because I've been to Jules website on numerous occasions, and had always wanted to try her cookbook recipes.  You may be familiar with her website http://www.julesglutenfree.com/.  She is a cookbook writer and has a flour blend that many of you might already be using.  

This cookbook contains 150 gluten-free and allergy friendly recipes.  You do not have to have her flour in order to make her recipes.  She provides a recipe so you can make your own blend or you can use any other commercial blend.  I did not have her blend so my own.  

There are so many recipes in this book I want to try!  My short list is…Dark Chocolate Beer Cake, Popcorn Bread, French Baguette, Pumpkin Corn Muffins, and Lemon Poppyseed Muffins.  I love the fact that she has some unusual things in the book.  I mean really, beer cake?  It sounds wonderful to me!  I would have made that right away, but I'm out of gluten free beer.  It's number one on my list.  

This cookbook contains recipes for breakfast food, appetizers and sides, breads and rolls, soups, main events, and desserts.  She's got all the basics covered here.  The book is laid out nicely and all recipes laid out in an orderly, easy to read fashion.  Each recipe also has a short introduction to the recipe explaining what you are about to make.  

The first thing I wanted to make were the flour tortillas.  I had leftover flank steak and that just sounded so good.  Of course I eat corn tortillas all the time, but it's been almost 4 years since I've had a soft flour tortilla.  The recipe was simple and really didn't take that long to make.  You use the food processor to mix the dough, then roll 8 balls and let them sit for a bit.  Then flatten them.  I used a heavy skillet.  Next, you cook them in a hot skillet on each side for just a couple minutes.  Delicious!  They were tender and had a great flavor. I will be making them again!  

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The black specks in the picture is from the rice flour browning in the skillet.  As you roll the tortillas out, you need to have some flour down to keep them from sticking.  I used rice flour.  It tends to brown in the skillet but did not cause a bad flavor.  

As I make other recipes from the book I will post the pictures here and let you know what I think about it.  In the mean time, you might want to check this book and her website out!  

Update:  Since this post was written, I have also made the Chocolate beer cake and it was fabulous!  It will be my "go to" chocolate cake recipe from now on.  I made a chocolate glaze for the top instead of icing which worked out really well.  

Also, on super bowl Sunday I was looking for a flat bread of sorts to serve with a pizza dip I was making.  I happened to remember this cookbook had a focaccia recipe and decided to try it.  It was fabulous as well and I will use this recipe over and over!  It worked perfectly for the pizza dip and tasted really good.  

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