Cook the Book: 'Gluten-Free Girl Every Day'

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When it comes to gluten-free cooking, I'm a total neophyte. Sure, I know my way around a pot of quinoa, but if you hand me a couple bags of xanthan gum and sweet rice flour, I'd be more likely to spill them on the floor than whip up a loaf of bread. Still, I've been eager to learn more about the art of gluten-less alchemy. Shauna James Ahern's new title, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day is a great place to start.

It's been almost three years since the publication of her first cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, and much has changed in Ahern's kitchen. Her new book takes a more casual approach, with many recipes designed for busy weeknight cooks who just want to feed themselves and their families well. There are tips and tricks for the gluten-intolerant throughout, but this is not a book written solely for the allergic. Most of the recipes are naturally gluten-free; for example, there is a whole chapter on stir-fries, the epitome of quick, gluten-less cooking.

For those who want to try their hand at making their own gluten-free breads, pastas, and desserts, Ahern doesn't disappoint. All of her baked goods are made with either of her two personal flour blends (one all-purpose and one whole grain). Since she uses weight measurements, it is easy to tweak these blends to suit your taste or particular allergy. Working with gluten-free doughs takes some practice, sure; but after only a few days of playing, I feel completely capable of whipping up a loaf of bread or two.

Speaking of playing, one of the best features of Ahern's book is her annotations entitled, "Feel Like Playing?" next to each recipe. In these notes, she gives suggestions for not just simple substitutions, but also different cooking methods or strategies for making the recipe fit into your own schedule or pantry set-up. This style of recipe-writing allows for real-life flexibility, making Ahern's book a real boon to the everyday home cook.

This week we'll be playing with many different techniques for cooking gluten-free. We'll make a couple of naturally gluten-free dishes, like quinoa-stuffed peppers and a chile-lime shrimp stir-fry. Then we'll try our hand at zucchini "noodles" with gruyere and spinach pesto, grill gluten-free pizza, and finish out the week with an Ethiopian stew complete with homemade teff-based injera bread.

Win 'Gluten-Free Girl Every Day'

Thanks to the kind folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, we have five (5) copies of Gluten-Free Girl Every Day to give away this week. All you need to do to win is tell us about your favorite gluten-less meal in the comments section below.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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