Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes
What happens when a successful chef falls in love with a gluten-free girl? One result is damned fine food. Another is this story of love and laughter, working hard and listening, and sharing meals at midnight. Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef shares the Aherns’ unexpected courtship, from their first date to married life together, through stories about food. The book also follows a day in the life of the working chef, from selecting the best fish to deciding specials to creating gluten-free desserts. This narrative cookbook features gorgeous photographs, guidance on cooking techniques, and 100 chef-tested recipes intended for the home cook.
If you follow food blogs or a gluten-free diet, there’s no doubt that you’ve already heard about this book/cookbook. But since we don’t follow a GF diet, we first wanted the perspective of someone who does. So we asked Amy Green, the author of the recently published Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free, for her thoughts on the cookbook and one of the recipes. But then we started flipping through the pages too. Here’s some advice: if you like good food or good writing (or both), read this one. Our thoughts, and the featured recipe, follow Amy’s comments below.
Cooks&Books&Recipes Guest Cook Amy:
More than just a cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef is a celebration of life, love, and food. Though the details are different, the same story runs through my life as it does with my friends who love those around them by creating delicious food. I guess that’s why I was curled up in my office chair with my favorite blanket and a hot cup of coffee, feeling nourished and rejuvenated as I read Shauna and Danny’s story. Intellectually, I could tell you that I was reading words on a page, but my heart felt as if I was having a conversation with a good friend.
Yes, there are gluten-free recipes included. But to stop there would be wrong. Very wrong. There’s something for everyone in this book.
For the romantic, there’s a love story rich with the intimate details of how food and cooking create a strong bond between two people, family, and friends. For those enamored with the life of a chef, Shauna gives intimate details of Danny’s daily routine including how he chooses food, the rigors of his life in a professional kitchen, and his fascination with the operation of restaurants. And for the cook, there are recipes. Don’t worry. Shauna and Danny walk you through, step by step, how to make Chicken Stew with Pistou Manchego and Braised Veal Cheeks with Stuffed Squash Blossoms. It’s like being in the kitchen with a good teacher, one who helps you see all the components clearly so that you know exactly when to add hot stock to your risotto and how to finish and perfect your sauce.
If you’re not up for something quite as involved, try their Fig Chutney or their Frisee Salad with Oranges, Almonds, and Garlic Dressing. You won’t be disappointed.
Shauna’s sense of adventure and passion for life rings loud and clear on each page of the book, as does Danny’s fearlessness and sheer determination in the kitchen. Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef paints the picture of two people, fueled by love, who have found their calling in life. Together.
Braised White Beans
One of the themes running through Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef is taking simple ingredients and making incredible food. It doesn’t get much simpler than dried beans. With only seven humble ingredients, Shauna and Danny show you how to create a dish that can be described as luscious. I loved the aroma that filled my house while the beans were slowly cooking on my stovetop. Full of rich flavor and almost creamy, these beans are worthy of a special occasion yet straightforward enough for any night of the week.
I think that’s the point of this cookbook — to inspire all of us to slow down and appreciate the joy that can be found in shopping for, prepping, cooking, and yes, eating dishes such as Baked Eggs with Taleggio or Smoked Duck Breast Ravioli or Potato Puree or Gluten-Free Focaccia Bread or Blue Cheese Cheesecake with Fig Crust.
That is, we are encouraged to fall in love again not only with eating but also with sharing that experience with others. Because Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef is a two-fold love story. And the love story of Shauna and Danny is what captivated me from page one. This is the first cookbook I’ve read as a book. I skipped right over the recipes, enthralled by “that first bite,” “watching him cook,” “Sunday afternoon,” “cooking for the chef,” and “sweet and savory, mixed together.” Yes, I later went back and discovered the recipes, which folded a layer of substance into the narrative. But for me, it was my craving for the smooth spice of Shauna’s writing that kept me turning the pages to the end.