Monday, September 20, 2010

Dancing in the Kitchen with Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

Shauna James Ahern at the Flying Apron Cafe in Seattle, holding a copy of her brand new cookbook: Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes."

Lessons in Cooking with Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

Several months ago I met Jaime though my blog. Jaime lives close to me and her daughter had recently been diagnosed with celiac disease. Jaime desperately wanted help making foods her daughter could enjoy. Mostly... bread. Good gluten free bread.

You see, Madelyn loves mustard sandwiches. Yep. Just plain 'ol mustard slapped between two slices of bread. And the poor girl had missed her sandwich for nearly 6 weeks after being diagnosed. No bread. No sandwiches.

Soon after meeting Jaime, I taught a small gluten free baking class and showed her how to bake good gluten free bread.  That small class and one little girl's desire to have a mustard sandwich began an immediate and lasting friendship. I now talk to Jaime several times a week. We often connect on Facebook and through email. She makes me laugh, she's learning how to bake, and she's hungry for more knowledge about anything and everything gluten free. This made us fast friends.

When Shauna (Gluten-Free Girl) sent a request out on her blog a few weeks ago asking for people to try several of her recipes from the new cookbook, I gladly volunteered! After meeting Shauna in Seattle it was evident to me how much she wanted to share her passion for good food! I emailed Jaime soon afterwards and asked her if she wanted to help me make Shauna's recipes. I said, "Let's have a cooking party!" Thankfully, Jaime jumped at the chance! She couldn't wait to get a sneak preview of Shauna' new cookbook: "Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A love story with 100 tempting recipes."

Sometimes stories are best told through pictures (even when you're a lousy photographer... Ahem...) Saturday evening our families gathered together for a gluten free cooking party. Here is our story of Dancing in the Kitchen with Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.

The first thing we did was make Shauna's Crusty Bread from the cookbook. While I made the bread dough, Jaime made the chocolate peanut butter brownies for our dessert. I love Shauna's method of making crusty french bread. We allowed the dough to rise free form in a greased bowl while we started the homemade gluten free pasta.

We used fresh eggs from a local farm to make Shauna's gluten free pasta dough. We made the dough by hand because I wanted Jaime to know what the dough should feel like. Not too wet, not too dry. Just slightly tacky.

Meet Madelyn. The mustard-sandwich loving celiac daughter of Jaime. She was eager to help us roll out and cut the pasta dough.

The best part of the whole evening for me was having everybody pitch in to make pasta. Families often love each other through cooking. Shauna & Danny's cookbook is one such story of loving each other through food.  Making Shauna's pasta was a great way to bring everybody together to learn a new skill.  Thoughts of future "gluten free pasta making parties" warms my heart!

Sarah from Celiac in the City shared a tip with me for hand-rolling out the pasta. Use a straight-edge like this ruler to get straight lines and evenly wide strands of pasta. We cut the noodles using a pizza cutter.

It took us over an hour to roll out all of the pasta (we made a double batch!) By that point everybody was hungry so we decided to make Shauna & Danny's Garlic-Almond Sauce with seared scallops. This sauce was really delicious.  Bold flavors of garlic intertwined with the smoothness of extra virgin olive oil.  This recipe calls for marcona almonds which I had never used before. A lovely thing about Shauna and Danny is that they encourage you to try new ingredients and techniques in the kitchen.

Once our hunger was appeased with scallops and garlic almond sauce, we started prepping the ingredients for the main dish. Fresh pasta with Anchovies, Lemon, and Olives.

The first instruction was to cook the pasta. It was beautiful. Jaime and I had to make ourselves stop eating the freshly cooked pasta right out of the colander. Homemade gluten free pasta a bit heavier than boxed pasta (especially when you make it by hand) so expect to have a filling meal!

Madelyn helped Jaime zest the lemons. They also squeezed  & strained fresh lemon juice for the pasta sauce.

The girls decided they just wanted fresh pasta with butter. Can't really blame them there. The pasta was absolutely delicious by itself! As you can see, Madelyn was a fan!

Next we made Shauna and Danny's beautiful sauce with olives, anchovies, capers,  lemon juice, and white wine. The pasta's texture worked so well with the rich sauce.  Personally I found the dish to be a bit salty with a lot of bold but competing flavors. The best part was learning the techniques to make the pasta and use it in a main dish like this with a basic sauce. I've truly been inspired!

Who's hungry?

We served Shauna's fresh crusty gluten free bread with our pasta. The bread was incredible. Plain and simple it's just great bread, gluten free or not! Personally, I think the cookbook is worth the cost for the bread recipe alone. The bread was my favorite part of the whole meal.

Finally, for dessert... Shauna's Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies. Jaime made these to perfection. The entire crowd loved them. And to tell you the truth ...every one of those brownies was eaten! Every. Single. One.

And Madelyn was one happy gluten free girl!

Thank you so much Shauna & Danny for inspiring us to learn more, to use bold ingredients, and to get in our kitchens more often. We loved being a part of your story!

Many thanks to Jaime, Jeremy, Madelyn, and Kendall for joining us at our cooking party! I hope this is the start of a brand-new tradition for our families! We loved cooking and sharing these recipes with you!

For information on how to win a copy of Shauna & Danny's cookbook, please visit the Gingerlemongirl facebook page. Details will be posted soon!

For more information about Shauna & Danny's cookbook, please visit them at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.
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