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29 November 2007

gluten-free holiday baking

dried fruits

(We're thrilled that this recipe is being featured at's roundup of holiday recipes for 2009. For more of our featured posts, visit today.)

It turns that being sick sometimes pays off.

Last week, the Chef spent his only day off sitting in doctors’ offices with me. We were waiting to have my blood drawn, for doctors to look at me with puzzled expressions, and to bounce from one appointment to another without any answers.

Poor Chef. He doesn’t much like sitting for hours, the way I have to do. He moves, all day long. In fact, I think most days he goes 10 straight hours without sitting down once. That day, all we did was sit. Thank goodness, he was patient with me having to be the patient.

After talking and leaning my head on his shoulder, I sat up for a bit and reached for another magazine. What has happened to doctors’ offices? Why do they no longer have sloping piles of trashy magazines for us to read? When I’m in pain, I want People magazine and dishy analyses of ditzy dresses on the red carpet. Everything in doctors’ offices feels solemn these days, instead.

Out of desperation, I picked up a copy of Family Fun, a sweet publication featuring arts and crafts projects to do with children. Certainly, if we had children (and we hope we do someday), this might be a delightful read. But when you’re sick, and you just want to be in bed, you want to read something gossipy and light as candy floss.

However, as soon as I turned to the recipe section, I sat up straighter. “Hey, this looks good,” I said, pointing to a photograph of Christmas fruit and nut balls. “And they don’t have any flour at all!”

Visions of gluten-free food danced in my head. I felt a little better, right there.

The Chef nodded his head. I was ready to retrieve the pen from my pocket and find some scrap of paper to scribble the recipe on. But the nurse called my name, and I entered the maelstrom of medical mysteries.

At least at the ultrasound waiting room they had gossipy magazines. (I love reading six-month-old gossip magazines. All the faces are interchangeable. And the couple reported loudly to be madly in love are hardly speaking to each other now.)

Luckily, my maladies turned out to be a pernicious infection, caused by gluten, and not an entailed mystery. Antibiotics (and pro-biotics with them) are a godly thing, if necessary. Almost all the vestiges of symptoms have left me. But the idea of this Christmas treat has not. And today, we whirled up the memory, now fuzzy, of what that recipe seemed to promise.

fruit and nut balls I

I’ve been thinking about holiday baking, lately. Certainly, keeping a food website makes me more aware of the impending season. I want to give you all something to play with, so you can make something you love in time for the holidays. And this year, I’m trying to make handmade presents, and send little tins across the country, long before the big days.

(We’ll see.)

Last year, I was in the final stages of writing this book. This year, I’m dancing my fingers on the keyboard nearly as much, but without a set deadline in mind. Surely I can take some time off to cream butter and sugar, pat dough into balls, and make powdered sugar snow down upon gluten-free treats.

If you are new to gluten-free baking, there are only a few guidelines you should keep in mind.

Play. If you don’t have the expectation that everything should taste the way it once did, you widen your horizons. Take chances. Make small batches. Dance around the kitchen when you create a cookie you like.

Don’t over-cream the butter and sugar
. I think this probably holds true for all cookies, but especially gluten-free ones. In the past, I whirled that Kitchen-Aid attachment until it was a white blur in a field of sugary dough. Some of my older recipes even call for that action. Don’t pay attention. Instead, mix the butter and sugar together until they are just combined.

Refrigerate every dough
. Before I stopped eating gluten, I went from idea of cookie to stirring to eating within half an hour. But it has been my experience that gluten-free cookie dough does much better if you let it rest and chill. (Think of it as an over-worked kid who needs a long nap.) Two hours in the fridge is the minimum, overnight is the ideal.

Find your favorite flour combinations
. I’ve been playing with all those little bags of flours for years, and I’m still learning. The combinations I once used now seem too white. I still haven’t learned to like bean flour. Lately, my favorite combination is equal parts sorghum, sweet rice, brown rice, and teff. That may change later. Try it, if you want. Or find the one that works for you.

Use recipes as a guide, not a bible
. Most of the recipes I put up on this site before, say May 2006 (when I had met the Chef) are a little sketchy. I was learning as I went, and putting recipes up in a blind haze. I want to go back and change them, but I’m going to let that perfectionist trick go. So, use those recipes (and any, really) as your guide. Make it up according to your tastes.

Should you wish to dive into gluten-free baking already, here are some of my favorite cookie recipes from this site:

Rosemary’s Christmas cookies

spicy ginger cookies(adapted from Chez Panisse)

sugar roll-out cookies

lemon olive oil cookies (the best version of this recipe is in the book)

scrumptious fig cookies (again, better recipe in the book)

peanut butter cookies

chocolate shortbread

chocolate-chip cookies with a kick

gingerbread men from a mix and buttercream frosting

thick ginger-molasses cookies

Of course, there are many, many more. If you have one you love – and you swear by it every December – let us all know in the comments.

• • •

And on a related note.....

If you live in the Seattle area, I have an offer for you.

I have met so many good, gluten-free folks around the country who are terrified. How do I shop? What do I eat? Where can I go to restaurants? And what the heck do I do with all those little bags of flours?

If you have been feeling overwhelmed -- because you are new to this or you have been doing it for awhile but have not begun baking yet -- I can help.

I am offering my services for the holidays.

Would you like to go food shopping with me? I can take you on a tour of the store of your choice, pointing out the places where gluten might hide that you wouldn't suspect, as well as delicious foods you might never have tried. Together, we'll get you over your fear of new foods. I'll come armed with handouts and recipes, and plenty of silly stories to make you laugh. You'll go home with groceries and a new confidence.

Do you need to clean out your kitchen and start fresh? Let me help. I can come to your home and help you rid the kitchen of all the possible places of cross-contamination. We can also create some gluten-free snacks for you and your family, to get you through the rough patches.

Are you overwhelmed by gluten-free baking? I can come into your kitchen and put my hands into the flours with you. We'll put on music, we'll talk about food, and by the end of the afternoon you'll have batches of gluten-free goodies to last you through the holidays.

If you are interested, simply email me at We'll talk about fees and logistics and how to make this a happy experience for you.

Happy baking everyone. Enjoy this season of dark and light mingled.

fruit and nut balls II

Holiday Fruit and Nut Balls, inspired by a recipe in Family Fun

These are wonderfully quick to make, naturally sweet, and unlike any other holiday treat. Well, actually, they are a bit like one. Fruitcake.

I've never been fond of fruitcake. It just seems too cloying and condensed, like concentrated maraschino cherries. Didn't Johnny Carson use to joke that there was only one fruitcake in the world, and it just keep getting re-gifted every year? Bleh.

These treats have the pure taste of mingled dried fruits and nuts without that cloying sweetness. Even people who don't like fruitcake will probably like these.

(Have you noticed that I have refrained from saying "holiday balls"? I can't help it. When I type the name, I can only think of this sketch.)

The quality of these sweets relies entirely on the ingredients. The better the dried fruit, the better your tastes will be. And beware - some dried fruits and toasted nuts can be gluten-contaminated. Check with your manufacturer. We buy local. Some of you probably dry your own. Choose the best one for you.

Finally, please think of this as a template, not a rigid recipe. Any combination of your favorite dried fruits would work. Let your tastebuds be your guide.

1 cup dried stawberries
1 cup dried figs
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
juice of 1 1/2 oranges

Chop all the fruits into bite-sized pieces. Rough chop the almonds as well.

Put them all into your sturdy food processor and whirl them up. Turn off the food processor.

Juice the orange halves into the mixture. Whirl the food processor again. Turn it off.

Scrape the dough into a large bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.

Pull the dough out of the refrigerator. Making sure your hands are clean and cold (try running them under cold water before you begin), roll the dough into small balls. (Keep them small. This is rich.)

Refrigerate the holiday balls for two hours, to let them adhere.

Remove from the refrigerator. Dust with the powdered sugar.


Feeds 6 to 10 people, depending on their sweet tooth.

26 November 2007

feeeling the food beneath my fingers

the calm before the party begins

When we were in San Francisco a few weeks ago, the Chef and I walked into the small green room at KGO radio station. We had just come from the farmers’ market, where I had been dazzled by all the selections and fierce farmers who grow food. Everywhere we looked in San Francisco – food.

I walked in excited, because I was about to do a half-hour radio show with Gene Burns, on his food and wine show. I love doing radio. Talking? I can do. (And if you want to hear a copy of the show, click here. Oops. It turns out that I can't make it work. Sorry. I'll let you know if I can figure out a way.) To have the chance to discuss my favorite bites, the joyful path of healing from celiac, and my love with the Chef? Oh goodness, somebody stop me.

As we entered the green room (which are rarely green, by the way), I saw a lovely woman sitting on the short stuffed couch. After I shook her hand and introduced myself, she said, “You look familiar.”
Puzzled, I said, “Well, I’m here to talk about my book. Gluten-Free Girl?”
With a gasp, she said, “Oh yes! I’m gluten-free too! I know all about you.”

I will always be amazed by this -- the way we are connected by our bodies and how they behave.

After a few moments of chatting, I asked her, “Are you a guest on the show too?”

“No,” she said, “I’m here with this woman named Judith Jones….”

I didn’t even let her finish her sentence, poor woman. I blurted out, my face already flushing, “I know who Judith Jones is!”

If you don’t know, Judith Jones is perhaps the most respected editor in the world. Many years ago, she suggested rather firmly that this little manuscript be published in the United States. Now, we all know it: The Diary of Anne Frank. She is responsible for publishing Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, and James Beard. Mostly, though, I revere her because she was the woman with courage who gave the go-ahead to Mastering the Fine Art of French Cooking.

She was Julia Child’s editor.

When the woman (whose name I forget because I was too busy hyperventilating to remember a thing) left the room to take a phone call, I turned to the Chef.
“Breathe, sweetie,” he told me, as he took me by the shoulders. “Breathe.”
I rarely lose my composure over famous people. But this one? Oh, yes. I was a blathering idiot for a minute. Especially when I caught a glimpse of her through the glass window, chatting animatedly about her new book.

By the time she emerged from the studio, I had resumed my breath. The media escort took her aside and said, “I’d like you to meet another author. Her name is Shauna Ahern.”

(The Chef always beams when he hears this.)

She stood before me, petite, her beige suit jacket and skirt perfectly pressed. I took the time to notice she had a tiny smear of green eye shadow above each eye. She looked fantastic. I hope I look half as good at her age.

She shook my hand and looked at me. Without meaning to, I blurted out, “Oh thank you. Thank you for bringing Julia Child to the rest of us.”
She laughed, and said, “Oh yes. Julia had such a lovely presence, didn’t she?”
And I rushed forward, “But you don’t understand. I remember being five years old and watching her show. And then I went into the kitchen and made grilled cheese sandwiches as I talked to the wall.”
Judith Jones laughed. “Oh dear, that’s adorable.”

I could have peed my pants.

Before she left, the media escort said, “And her book is about the allergy I have. You know? I can’t eat wheat?”
Ms. Jones looked at me, and said, “Oh? What is your book about?”
I drew in my breath and said, “It’s a book about saying yes to your life and falling in love with food.”
She looked at me with her intense, bird-like gaze, her head cocked to one side. And then she said, “That’s an excellent pitch you just gave me. Very succinct.”

After she left, I walked into the studio feeling like I could do anything.

it takes time to make a pie crust

The thing is, though, for the past few months, I’ve been having a long-distance relationship with food.

Touring around the country enlivened me, and left me with stories I will be telling for years. Better yet, the faces of all the people I have met, the bites of gluten-free cupcakes in Chicago, the three-hour meals we ate in San Francisco, the chance to sit behind a red-and-white-checked table and greet everyone who came in the door at Bob’s Red Mill, and the moment of walking into Central Park and seeing my book on people’s laps at the Imagine sign? I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world.

We have eaten in more world-famous restaurants in the past three months than I ever expected to hit in my lifetime. We have eaten like gluten-free kings and queens. Tasting menus at Gramercy Tavern, a late-night dinner at Zuni Café, an extravaganza of desserts at Sens – these meals will always be in our minds. Every meal we ate in a restaurant lingered in the mouth for long moments afterwards, enough for us to moan and mention our favorite flavors.

Please don’t think me ungrateful when I say this – after awhile, we both grew tired of restaurants. Go to one every night and it starts to feel like performance. The Chef felt inspired – with some bites, his hands twitched until he could write down the ideas springing from his brain – and he is certainly grateful. (Our bank accounts are not.) I sat astonished, in every place, that I could eat so well, and safely. It was all worth it.

But the fact is – we missed our home. We missed our kitchen.

• • •
I love the sweet anise smell of fennel just cut into a bowl, and the way black lacinato kale crinkles like the furrowed brow of a confused child.

I didn’t realize this, entirely, until this past week. It took getting sick to make me slow down and pay attention again.

For the past ten days, I’ve been battling a nasty infection. It’s on the wane now. But being forced to lie down in bed (and watch re-runs of America’s Next Top Model) and heal has given me plenty of time to think. This week, I’ve led a much richer internal life than my outward life has been.

The past two months have been a whirlwind. And my brain has been doing the tilt-a-whirl as well. I found myself awake at 3:43 in the morning, checking my email while the Chef slept in the bedroom. This is the recipe for unhappiness for me. When I was home, the house fell apart. Walking from the bathroom to the kitchen required cat-like agility to negotiate the obstacle course of boxes of books, stacks of newspapers, and assorted clutter that could not be categorized. And I went months without cooking.

This hasn’t been good.

The fact is – and I am so happy that I know this now – unless I feel food under my fingers as I am shaping it, every day, I’m not happy. That’s a hell of a discovery from someone who used to be an intellectual. The Chef has always known this. He has never worked another job in his life besides making food. It’s part of the reason he’s one of the most grounded men I know.

Falling in love with food is never over. There is so much to discover.

I love the crunch of quinoa, the tiny grains sticking between my teeth after I have eaten. When I feel the solid squelch of an egg yolk in the palm of my hand, the cold egg white falling from my fingers into the sink below, I know that I am here. Oatmeal has more angular edges against the teeth than Cream of Rice. As I am slurping up rice noodles from a steaming bowl of pho, I can feel the slippery shimmers in my mouth. In those moments, nothing makes me happier.

I love watching finely grated cheese melting into a pile of gluten-free pasta, the red sauce lightened by the parmigian. When I order sushi from my favorite Japanese restaurant in Seattle, I sit at the bar and stare at the translucent pink of the salmon, and the dark-maroon tinges of the tuna. Hot chocolate made from real cocoa powder and whole milk heated on the stove has a thick, foamy head. As I peer into the oven and see the top of that gluten-free loaf of bread browning evenly, I feel successful.

I love the salty remnants on my fingers from kernels of popcorn. When I taste the sharp tang and sweetness of a kumquat, I am taken back to the first high school English class I taught. Avocadoes taste like heavy cream and Brussels sprouts. As I run my tongue along the edges of the Brie spilling out of the rind, I sigh with the memory of this decadence before me.

I love the smell of garlic slowly simmering in a saucepan. When I catch a whiff of the high harmonies of molasses and ginger in my favorite cookie, I know it is Christmas again. Fresh ginger has such a different scent than the dried powder that it might as well be called two different words. As I lean my head down to the cutting board and absorb the essence of an orange cut open, I feel clean and alive.

I love the sizzle and pop of onions in oil. When I hear the crunch of apples in someone else’s mouth, I know that it is fall. A covered pot with boiling water and jasmine rice makes a little squeaking noise along the lid. As I listen to the sound of a jar of apple butter pop open, I feel love for the dear friend who stood in front of the stove and spooned it into the jar for me.

How could opening a package or putting something in the microwave ever compare to the sensory richness of cooking our own food? How could the high drama of a meal at the best restaurant in the world ever be as satisfying?

“What I love most about cooking is being in the moment of it. The chopping, the stirring, the checking of the recipe, the smelling of the rising steam, the first exquisite taste — it's a deeply meditative act for me. It's about being present. When I'm cooking in my kitchen, I'm not thinking about anything else.”

I wrote this in September 2005. I have an entire chapter in my book about the beauty of truly tasting our lives. Why do I have to keep learning this? Why can’t it stick to me like hot lemon curd on the back of a spoon?

• • •

On Thanksgiving morning, I rose early to work with gluten-free pie dough. I had played with a new recipe: 2/3 of my new favorite mix (sorghum, brown rice, sweet rice, potato starch) and 1/3 teff. When I grated frozen butter onto the pile of gluten-free flours, I laughed at how much it looked like soft shreds of Monterey Jack cheese on top of nachos. I plunged my fingers into the cold mass and worked it into a dough. Just before I put it in the refrigerator to chill, I patted it like a soft baby’s bum.

Pie dough takes time to create, more time to chill, more time still to press into the pan patiently, more time to chill again, more moments to pre-bake, and more time to bake with pumpkin filling. You’re not done yet. That pie has to sit in the refrigerator before it becomes congealed enough to eat.

And in a moment, it’s gone.

But I will always remember the early-morning preparation of this year’s pie, in a terribly messy kitchen, as I looked at the dough through smeared glasses.

That pie tasted good.

Time and human hands make food taste good.

• • •
On Thanksgiving afternoon, the Chef and I stood in my brother’s kitchen, preparing food. My parents and brother were in the office, playing Wii. (It’s damned fun, by the way. But walking in later and seeing my brother and husband mock box each other as they faced the television screen, both of them sweating with the intensity, was one of the strangest sights I have ever seen.) Elliott stood on a chair next to me, helping to fold in the dough for gluten-free biscuits.

As he dipped and tasted, for nearly half an hour, he looked as absorbed in his small work as I had been in mine that morning. We didn’t talk that much, the three of us. Elliott had announced at the beginning of the afternoon: “I’m a good cooker now, Shauna.” And so we all stirred and watched the windows steam up with the work.
Out of nowhere, Elliott turned to me and said, “This is what Thanksgiving is all about.”

(If you don’t remember, he’s only four years old.)

The Chef and I looked at each other, trying to hold back tears. We didn’t want to freak him out. But we loved watching him fall in love with food in front of us.

“Yes,” we said together. “Yes, Elliott. It is.”

potato lollipops

Mustard sauce

Yesterday, we had a potato party. Having been gone, off and on, for months, we hadn’t seen some of our friends in far too long. We love potlucks — our friends love the feeling of food beneath their fingers too. And this time, we had a theme: every dish must somehow contain potatoes.

We had potato galettes, potato pancakes, and a chocolate mashed potato cake. (yum.) There was even potato vodka.

Our friend, Jess Thomson, won the intangible prize for most clever potato dish. And the simplest. She roasted tiny potatoes (sold at the University District farmers’ market as Spud Nuts), dipped them in mustard, and speared them with lollipop sticks. Potato lollipops.

Jess Thomson, you rock.

I’d make these potatoes any day. But if you feel like spending just a bit longer in the kitchen, you can try this mustard-cilantro sauce. The Chef served it last month with roasted chicken. Me? I’d eat it with nearly anything, including just spooning it into my mouth.

1 tablespoon garlic, fine chopped
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons mustard
2 bunches cilantro
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Emulsify the sauce. Place the chopped garlic, egg, egg yolk, and mustard into a food processor. Slowly, drizzle in the canola oil, until the liquid has become thick and emulsified.

Make the sauce more lemony. Add the cilantro and lemon juice. Blend until incorporated. Add the salt and pepper, and taste. Stop when you feel it’s done.

Thin out the sauce. Pour in ¼ cup of water, little by little, until the sauce is thinned to your liking.

Serving suggestions. Drizzle this over roast chicken, pork chops, sautéed salmon, seared white fish, or steamed carrots. Beyond that, try it with any food that feels familiar to you.

(You should know that this sauce contains raw eggs. Consuming raw poultry products can lead to food-borne illnesses. Use fresh eggs from a source you trust.)

22 November 2007

gratitude and sweet rice pudding

sweet cinnamon rice pudding

“Kindness is my religion.”

— the Dalai Lama

Today is the day of gratitude, nationally. We could use more of these. But I’m grateful for this one.

This year, I am grateful for….

° the chance to meet hundreds and hundreds of you, in five different cities. You were once anonymous readers and are now indelible faces in my mind. Thank you for buying the book, for emailing me your kindness, for showing up in cupcake shops and swanky wine bars, bookstores and farmers’ markets. This time I will never forget.

° the dear friends who let us stay on their couches and helped us schlep our stuff up stairs and hailed us cabs. Cindy, Gabe, and Tea — you are amazing.

° Sharon, who flew into New York City from LA, just to celebrate the publication of the book. Sweetie, I’ve known you since I was fifteen, and you just keep getting better and better.

° the grand folks at Wiley, who published a beautiful book, and held my hand through the process, even when I occasionally grew petrified that no one would buy it.

° every radio show host, television announcer, and newspaper reporter who decided this story was worth noting. (And if a few more are reading, feel free to call.)

° the chicken and rooster from down the street, who stand beneath our bedroom window every morning about 10 and crow and shuffle until we open the back door and throw them feed.

° Elliott, who continues to delight me with every nephew daring do he performs. This year, he fell in love with the Rescue heroes, and learned to climb the wall outside (or pretend). He is irascible and hilarious, and he makes me happy every time I see him.

° the potato man, from Olsen Farms, whom I know has a name. But the Chef and I call him The Potato Man every time we see him at the farmers’ market, and we smile that he is in the world.

° the splash of purple flowers hanging over a wooden fence as I drove through the Arboretum in the middle of November.

° five fierce, amazing women at SuzukiChou Communimedia, who feed us with sarcastic comments about people who don't get it and enliven us with their unquestioning belief in the yes, every time. Oh, and they set up some damned fine events.

° every one of the dear ones who came to our wedding, surrounding us with love in our own backyard. And the infinite patience of most of them (oh, one hopes!) with the absence of thank you cards, still. We have been a little busy, but still.

° Pat and Hubert, for driving us around Umbria, with Emma trilling her soothing tones from the GPS. (“Recalculating.”) Without you, we would have been lost, stuck in that small apartment, and walking down that scary hill alone, every morning. We bless the day you decided to go to Brigolante.

° the little boy in Black Oak Books in Berkeley. We were loitering, waiting to meet our friend Shuna for dinner. Tea had just asked if they had a copy of my book. They didn’t. They couldn’t even order it. (Go into your local bookstore and ask them to order the book!) I felt a bit disheartened. From out of the back came this five-year-old, in a tie-dyed t-shirt, hopscotch skipping across the linoleum floor. And as he skipped, he chanted, loudly, “Mr. Potato Head, I love you! Mr. Potato Head, I love you!” My mood switched. We have been repeating it ever since.

° the taste of French feta, ripe avocado, and sliced fennel with lemon juice.

° the fact that I write whatever feels urgent onto this blank screen, and people all over the world are reading. For you.

° living every day with the knowledge that I have to live gluten-free. It’s food that has healed me. What a dazzling life.

° my family, who put up with me, and still teach me, every day.

° the Chef. Oh love, all I do is exude gratitude for you.

Thank you, everyone.

Thank you.

sweet cinnamon rice pudding II

Sweet cinnamon rice pudding
, adapted from a recipe in Gourmet, December 2007

It makes sense that we celebrate the holiday of gratitude in late November. We need the reminder. This is one of the darkest months of the year. The sun is setting close to 4:30 here in Seattle, the horizon a tiny slice of electric yellow against the darkness pounding down. Oh Seattle, I love you, but these winter days are short.

Times like these call for pudding.

I’ve actually been pretty sick the past week, fighting off a pernicious infection that swarmed my system and left me pinned to the bed. With all that time in planes, smiling at everyone I met, and sleeping in strange beds nearly every day of the week, my body just shouted at me, “Slow down!” The last post I put up, about Thanksgiving? I wrote it in bed, the laptop propped up on my knees. And between nearly every paragraph, I set aside the computer and fell into a soft nap.

The day I knew the antibiotics were doing their work? When I flipped through the issue of Gourmet that arrived in the mail that day, and I wanted to make every recipe. The itch in my fingers to fiddle in the kitchen started up again. I have missed it, being in the kitchen. Music on, the smells simmering in me, dishes going from idea to chew — this is what I love. As much as being on the road made me happy, for the chance to meet you, I missed our home.

So I marked up the magazine, ripped out recipes immediately, and started dreaming of how to adapt the baked goods to gluten-free goodness. And then I began at the beginning of the magazine again, and found this new technique for rice pudding.

Simple as black numbers on a white clock face, this recipe takes about three minutes of preparation. I bounced out to the kitchen and found I had every ingredient in our cupboards. Stirring and pouring, I had pudding ready to bake in just enough time to lie down on the bed again.

This pudding tastes like comfort to me.

One word for those of you who are cinnamon skittish. I love a lot of cinnamon. The first time I made this, I used ½ teaspoon of Saigon cinnamon for each dish. The next morning, the Chef dipped his spoon more slowly with every bite. When I turned to him and said, “Do you like it?” with the eagerness of an untrained puppy, he said, “Yes, I like it.” But I knew he didn’t love it. He can’t contain his rubber face when he loves food. Finally, he admitted, “That’s a lot of cinnamon.”

True. So I cut back.

But if you love the sweet heat of cinnamon wafting to your nose, feel free to add more to this, if you wish.

2 cups rice milk (this makes the recipe dairy-free!)
½ cup mochi sweet rice (or just less. You need 20 teaspoons of rice)
8 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon (if your cinnamon is not that strong, add a bit more)

Preheating the oven. Go ahead and turn on that oven to 350°.

Preparing the pudding. Gather four ramekins. Grease them generously, with either butter or your favorite non-dairy substitute. Pour ½ cup of the rice milk into each one. Spoon in 5 teaspoons of the rice, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and the cinnamon into each one. Stir.

Baking the pudding. Place the ramekins in a shallow baking dish or baking pan. Slide it into the oven and set the timer for an hour. When the timer rings, check the puddings. They should have caramel-cinnamon tops. Most of the milk will be absorbed. The ramekins in the back might be closer to done than the ones in front. Switch them. Bake some more, for maybe 15 minutes. (Pay attention to your own oven for timing on this.)

Finishing the pudding. Cool the puddings for at least one hour on your countertops before eating them. There will probably be a little skin on the top of each pudding (less so with rice milk than cow’s milk, however). Pull it off gently, relishing the sensory experience. Eat the pudding.

Better yet, pull the skins from the puddings and let them cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour more. (They are definitely better overnight.) Now eat the pudding.

Feeds four.

19 November 2007

a gluten-free Thanksgiving (#3)

beets are beautiful

Everywhere around us, people are talking about food.

On Saturday, the Chef and I stood at the Chefs in Residence stand at the University District farmers’ market, watching the slate-grey rain turning everyone’s hair sodden. A few people were jumping in puddles, happy to be buying local potatoes and knobbly celery roots. These were the diehards. Most everyone else looked bedgraggled, determined to hunt down that 22-pound turkey and lug it to the car on the way to the next shopping expedition.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It’s the only national holiday that centers entirely on food.

Frankly, though, everyone sounds a little stressed out about the meal right now. Maybe that’s because it’s the only time of year when most people try to feed fourteen people at once.

I’m lucky. I have the Chef. Thanksgiving is a busman’s holiday for him. He’ll be cooking everything, with a bit of my help. (I loved when my mom said the other day, “So, what is he cooking?”) Last year, it amazed me, how quickly he threw everything together. And then I remembered: he does this every night. And he loves it.

He has taught me, every day, that great food doesn’t have to be complicated. Singular tastes can be as simple as these beautiful beets.

This year, I am relaxed. In years past — before I stopped eating gluten, before I met him — the holidays felt huge. I prepared for days, in several different grocery stores, with lists full of crossed-out items and things still to be done. By the time I reached the meal, I could barely taste the food.

Last year, I felt a little nervous. It was my first Thanksgiving with my family, and my future husband. We could feel it, along the edges — that newness. I have a picture of the Chef and my brother, in the kitchen, and each of them looks like he is trying to hold his shoulders straight. They welcomed him, of course, but it ended up an unintentional test. He was pretty happy when someone finally uncorked the first bottle of wine.

This year, there will be no introductions and polite conversations. We will all just be together. And this year, the Chef and I have been to so many different cities, and eaten so many spectacular meals, that we are looking forward to Thanksgiving for another reason than the lavish feast.

We can slow down.

The idea of spending the entire day with my family, laughing in the kitchen together, sounds like slow-simmering happiness. My parents — surprisingly — bought a Nintendo Wii last week. I didn’t think a 63-year-old English professor was the target audience for that technology, but my dad has been extolling its virtues for days. Apparently, we will be virtual bowling on Thanksgiving.

And Elliott, dear little guy, is now four-and-a-half, and all boy. He has become obsessed with Spiderman. Yesterday, when I saw him briefly at lunch, he spent much of the time sticking out his first finger and pinky, making eerily accurate sound effects. When I asked him if he was weaving a web around the light pole, he stopped long enough to look at me and said, “Don’t be silly. I am pretending to weave a web with my fingers.”

So, instead of worrying that everything is gleaming perfect, and that turkey has a golden-brown skin, we are keeping it all simple. Good food, prepared slowly, with wine and good conversations, and a little boy running around our legs, pretending to be Spiderman.

In the interest of simplicity, I’ve made a little list of links for those of you who are interested. Last year, I wrote post after post about Thanksgiving and how to survive it, gluten-free. This year, I have gathered them in one place. I hope you find it useful.

How to have a gluten-free Thanksgiving

How to cook for someone gluten-free

Gluten-free gravy

Gluten-free herb stuffing (this year, the recipe was adapted by the Oregonian)

Cranberry chutney

Gluten-free pumpkin pie

Some lessons we learned after last Thanksgiving

And I hope you have a simply lovely Thanksgiving, filled with gratitude for all that has been given us. This food is a gift.

prosciuttos in Gubbio

Green beans with pancetta

“If this is your first Thanksgiving living gluten-free? Focus on vibrant, alive food, food that is naturally gluten-free. Make it a feast. Make it a celebration, a chance to wake up.”

That’s what I have been advising people lately, in cooking classes and book appearances. I really believe this. But the fact is, we won’t be having a wildly inventive Thanksgiving dinner, composed only of foods we love to eat that are naturally gluten-free. It might be interesting one year to eat wild rice with pomegranate seeds, toasted black sesame cakes, roasted quail with Meyer lemon sauce, salmon mousse, and persimmon pudding. But the fact is? We still like traditions too.

So we’ll be having roasted turkey (a local organic bird, brined the day before), the Chef’s mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes roasted with walnuts and honey, cranberry chutney, gravy, and pumpkin pie. Everyone will be eating gluten-free. (My brother might buy one of those cans of refrigerator rolls to sop up his gravy.) We’ll put out a mixed green salad with goat cheese.

But every year, we want to play a bit. This year, we’ll be making green beans with pancetta.

A decade ago, I would have never thought of including pork in the Thanksgiving feast. (I know some people eat ham, but that just seems weird around our parts.) But after our honeymoon in Italy, the Chef and I can’t get enough of porky goodness. (The photograph above is from a wall of prosciutto in Gubbio. Oh, how we wish we could have brought one home.) Slight saltiness, silky supple flesh, a dark flavor threaded through with sunlight — pork just keeps us happy.

And so, green beans with pancetta. Crisp and verdant, this dish sings with flavor, and still remains quite simple.

Besides, we have to have at least one vegetable in the meal full of starches.

1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
4 ounces sliced pancetta
1 tablespoon great olive oil
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Blanching the beans
. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Throw in the green beans and cook for two to three minutes. Drain the green beans and transfer them into a waiting bowl of ice water. When they have sufficiently cooled, drain them.

Sautéeing the ingredients. Slice the pancetta into julienne strips. Bring a sauté pan to heat. Add the olive oil. Cook the pancetta until crispy. Remove the pancetta from the pan. Add the onion and garlic. Sautée them both until they are soft. Add the thyme. Cook for two to three minutes, or until the herb begins to release its lovely smell.

Finishing the dish. Add the green beans into the onions, garlic, and thyme. Toss in the pancetta. Stir and sauté for one minute. Add your favorite salt and pepper and taste.

Serve immediately.

Feeds 4 to 6 people.

16 November 2007

the sea, the sky, and the way the trees bend in the wind

the last of the tomatoes

This gluten-free, book-touring life has been incredible: surreal, exhausting, pouring out love, filled with hilarious stories, and certainly full of good meals. I
have been in four different cities in four weeks, with three or four events in each city. The Chef and I returned from the Bay Area on Tuesday afternoon, and then I
taught a cooking class almost immediately after we landed. Whew. I'm grateful for it all. I'm grateful for the chance to meet so many of you, to celebrate with a glass of wine in hand (or be handed a bottle of wine from Sonoma County, as Jennifer did a few days ago), to hear how much the book means to you, and mostly to hear your stories.

The last few weeks have felt like one big gluten-free party.

You know that feeling the morning after the best dinner party you've ever thrown? Dishes all over the counters, memories clinging to different parts of your brain, the back of your eyes a bit sore because you stayed up too late having fabulous conversations with friends?

Yes. Like that.

I could craft stories of gluten-free hijinks and intimate gatherings in San Francisco. But you know what? I've been trying for days. And I'm not sure I have it in me right now.

Instead, I want to share some photos and fleeting phrases with you. This is inspired by something the Chef said to me, late one night, in bed, at our friend Tea's house. We were debriefing on the day, talking about our favorite moments, as we usually do. He, Tea, Shuna, and I had eaten a great meal at Oliveto - the best bitter chicory salad I have ever eaten - and jabbered all evening about blogs, books, and great food. The Chef enjoyed it. But the blogging conversation (site meters, snarky commentors, blocking ip addresses, and the strange sense of intimacy that unfolds on these virtual pages) was not spoken in his language.

When bloggers get together, we speak cryptic moon man, mostly.

The Chef whispered to me, his face next to mine: "You know, sometimes I even get tired of talking about food. I mean, why can't we talk about the sea, and sky, and the way the trees bend in the wind?"

I looked at him in the darkness and said, "Hey, you want to marry me?"

He grinned. "I already did."

"Oh yeah," I said. "That's right."

walking toward the ocean

And so, I want to bring you sea

crow flying over Mt

and sky

Golden Gate Park

and the way the trees bend in the wind.

the pepto Bismol building

San Francisco sports a lot of pastel houses.

roast pork stand at the farmers' market

And a chaotic, filled-to-the-brim farmers' market that has a roast pork stand. (Plus, June Taylor stands behind her jams, laid out on a table. I love her.)

in Golden Gate park

Golden Gate Park has plenty of places for contemplation.

rolling down the hill at Golden Gate Park

And excellent little hills for rolling down, spontaneously. (Thanks for the suggestion, Tea!)

jicama-grapefruit salad

Singular-tasting, great gluten-free food is easy to find. (This is a jicama-grapefruit salad with avocadoes, at a little Mexican taqueria.)

pizza at Mariposa

Including gluten-free pizza, just out of the oven. (This is from Mariposa Bakery. They serve it in their cafe.)

rice noodle salad

And slippery, thick rice noodles in an intoxicating sauce, a dish so warm and pappy that it feels like comfort food, even if you have never eaten these spices. (This is from Burma Superstar. Go there. Ask for everything without soy sauce, in a clean wok. Then, sit back and sigh.)

the Chef enjoys his sandwich at the farmers'  market

Even if you can't eat gluten, it's hard not to delight in the sight of the Chef so enjoying that chorizo sandwich.

the best hot chocolate I have ever had

Besides, if you miss the gluten, you won't remember it later, when you eat dinner at Sens, and Shuna sends out such a barrage of glorious, gluten-free desserts (the best sweets you have ever eaten, in your entire life, like this hot chocolate with a homemade honey marshmallow)that you toddle back to the tram with your friends in a food coma, your belly so full you feel the sky could never hold it all.

You will remember this forever.

this breakfast was so much better than it looks

You think you'll never be hungry again after a meal like that. But then the Chef wakes up, makes breakfast, and comes out holding plates of this. Scrambled eggs with butter, crepinettes from the Fatted Calf (pork sausages with pine nuts and currants, covered in caul fat), and roast potatoes with fresh-roasted peppers.

You find room in your stomach.

on the road, northern California

Find a way to drive out of the city, past the Golden Gate bridge, to Marin.

on top of Mt

Stand on top of Mt. Tam with your dear ones.

Cowgirl Creamery cheese

Be sure to stop at Cowgirl Creamery on your way to the beach. (The Chef and I fed each other Mt. Tam as part of our wedding ceremony. We had no choice but to buy some while we were there.)

on the bay

Drive to where the land meets the water.

shucking oysters on the beach

And be sure to stop at Hog Island oysters, where you can buy a dozen on a brown plastic tray, and shuck them by the ocean. (It's lovely when the Chef volunteers.)


Have a picnic, right on the lapping water, the briny air mixing with the oysters on your tongue, the cold along your fingers making you huddle into each other. This is the best way to be gluten-free.

peeling the persimmon

And when you have a friend like Tea, she remembers everything. Including two ripe persimmons. I had never eaten persimmons before this day. Their fleshy sensuality sopping down my throat made me long for more.

fig and ginger chutney on cheese

Finish the most memorable meal of the Bay Area - even after eating safely and beautifully at Zuni Cafe, one of the meals of your dreams - with a last bite of fig and ginger chutney, on Humboldt Fog cheese, and a gluten-free cracker. Salute the sky with your fingers.

sunset over the ocean

Hold your husband as you look out over the water, just before the light fades away. Say thank you to your dear friend, for bringing you here. For being part of your life.

And hold all these moments within you, tucked away, knowing they have changed you, knowing you will never be able to capture them into words. Let go of even trying.

(thank you to the Chef for taking most of these photos. That boy can do anything.)

08 November 2007

California, here we come.

Do you remember that episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy and Ricky, Fred and Ethel, pack up the car and drive across the country? (My mom and I used to watch that show when I was just a little mite. I can still watch two minutes of any episode and tell you which one it is, with frightening accuracy.) Of course, the liberation came after suffering — they each tried to pack that jalopy with a hundred different suitcases and a pair of conga drums, in different configurations, with two inches of open windshield for a cross-country drive. (And to be honest, that’s a bit what our lives feel like right now.) Still, after all the comedic turns and impossibilities, they were on the road. With a terribly obvious backdrop of a New York bridge behind them, in a car that bopped from side to side as they pretended to drive, the four of them burst into song. California, here I come. Right back where I started from….

Well, yes.

We are on a plane to Oakland as I write this. Life being what it is, there just hasn’t been any time to tell you about our plans. The last two nights, I taught a class at PCC called Say Yes to Gluten-Free. They were joyful and funny, another chance for community. (And on Tuesday, I’ll be teaching another one, at the West Seattle location.) We were on Seattle television the other day, a local show called Northwest Afternoon. A blast, to be sure, and it flashed past us in a blur. (This is why I was up at 6:45 in the morning two days after I returned from Chicago, making cookies.) Everything feels a little like a blur, at the moment. We’re both ready for a longer breath, a chance to be at home.

But not yet. Because our clearest emotion at the moment is excitement. “We’re going to San Francisco!” we said all morning, as we packed — clothes flying, coffee downed.

We’re almost there.

I’ve only been in the Bay Area a handful of times in my life. My main memory of San Francisco is the time I was ten, stuffed into the back of a neon-green VW rabbit, along with my brother and a cousin, as we wound our way down Lombard Street. (I’m hoping to avoid that on this trip.) I remember eating apricot chicken in a Moroccan restaurant during a weekend visit with Gabe, while a woman belly danced before us. There was a crazy cab ride from the airport to an anonymous hotel the summer I turned 16. My family and I spent three days in that hotel, for an orientation from the Fulbright agency, before we traipsed off to London for an exchange year. Mostly, I remember looking out at the white crosses in an enormous cemetery, while I clutched the door handle as we careened around corners, thinking, “Please don’t let me wind up there!”

I’m thinking we’re going to have more vivid memories of San Francisco after this weekend. Most of them will probably be born from good food.

Should you wish to join us in some food and laughter in the next few days, here is where the Chef and I are going to be.

Thursday, November 8

Crave Bakery makes amazing gluten-free desserts. Cameo and her team will be making treats for everyone. Have a glass of wine. It's a party.

This is a reservation-only party, at 7:30 pm, so please call right now for a reservation.


Friday, November 9

Book Passage in the Ferry Building — 2 to 3:30 pm

The Chef and I will be hanging out in the cafe, ready to talk and laugh, and sign some books. (Formal signings/readings were booked months before Book Passage started this process, but they have been gracious enough to let us use the space.)

Come on by for a meet and greet. Or a cup of coffee.

Saturday, November 10

Have you had a Mariposa gluten-free biscotti?

If not? Oh my goodness, you are in for a treat.

We'll be at Mariposa, from 1 to 4 pm, dipping biscotti in coffee and signing books. Come on by.

mariposa baking
5427 telegraph ave, unit d3
oakland, ca 94609
tel: 510.595.0955

Monday, November 12

When I told our friend Tea that we were having a party at Cav, she was impressed. "That place is swanky!" she said.

Cav Wine Bar is throwing a fabulous, sophisticated wine party in honor of the book. Did you ever imagine a gluten-free life like this?

The shindig starts at 7 pm.

Come on out and party. It will be our last night in San Francisco. We'd love to see you.

Executive Chef, Michael Lamina, is preparing some gluten-free food to be enjoyed by all.

$25 fee, including wine and gluten free snacks

1666 Market Street (between Franklin and Gough)

And of course, if you have suggestions of places we should eat, dairies we should visit, and little spots that we simply must visit? Write away!

California, here we come.

05 November 2007

coming home

vibrant radishes

All the way home, as the plane strode across the continent, my mind kept ringing with one song: “I want to see him. I can’t wait to see him!”

Days in cities filled with people who drove to see me — delightful and filled with stories. But nights alone in strange beds without him — dreary and fitful sleeping. I swear, once I knew how to sleep alone. In fact, I did it for decades. At night, I’d flail out my arms and stretch out my toes and take the entire bed to myself. But now, I naturally lie on one side, the sheets besides me remaining unruffled.

It feels so strange to walk through the world without him by my side.

How does this happen? One day, you meet a man, a stranger who feels familiar. Even though there is something in his eyes that feels like home, still — you don’t know him. You’ve lived a life of orange slices and fennel bulbs, roast beef and Dodger dogs, season after season, summer coming once again, and he was never there. And he comes in. Everything feels new. You taste everything for the first time with his tongue. Sleeping in the bed with him feels utterly strange, even though it’s wildly exciting. Every bite, every breath, every blessed day with him feels new and alive.

Somehow, over time, he blends into you, though. You rise from sleeping to see his eyes smiling at yours. You drink coffee in the morning, and you learn how he likes his. You stop making fun of how much sugar he drinks in it and simply swirl it in and smile as you stir. You memorize the order in which he reads the section of the newspaper and start the day by handing him the comics first.

He’s a dork. He wiggles his butt at you as he leaves the room, and you laugh. He does funny voices in inappropriate places, and you laugh so hard you can feel it come out of your nose. He grows teary when the chicken and rooster from down the street are in the back yard in the morning, waiting to be fed. “They love us,” he says, and you agree, and then you tease him that the fact that he throws them half a pound of bird feed every morning may have something to do with their loyalty. He doesn’t mind you teasing him. He loves it.

He’s nothing like you ever imagined that the man of your dreams might be. He’s everything you ever wanted.

And somehow, in all the planning for a wedding, and honeymoon to Italy, and trips to different cities to celebrate the book, you have a shared existence. And in all the late-night dinners cobbled together from leftovers from the restaurant in a white takeout box, and the angry burns on his hands that fade into pale scars, and the drives to work and the kisses at every stoplight, you create a life. And with every breath and deep chuckle and out-loud puzzlings, you become something else together. Something more than you and him, or even the two of you. You become each other’s hands, and each other’s breaths.

You become a warm bed meant for two.

And so lying in a hotel room with the other half of the bed cold and untouched? I didn’t sleep at all, for days.

On the plane, coming home, I imagined the scene when I would see him again. I’d leave the airport in a shuttle, pay fast at the parking garage, and drive home singing. When I pulled into the driveway, I’d honk hard, and leap out of the car. He’d come bounding down the steps to meet me, and sweep me into his arms. I’d kiss his lips and laugh through my tears, and he’d hold me close, saying how much he missed me. We’d walk into our home and close the door.

There’s a funny thing about the human mind. We’re always imagining the lives we will have. And the living is never as we imagined.

Why do we walk around with these fully formed expectations when they never come true?

Someone wise once said to me, “Expectations are premature disappointments.” That sentence still rings in my head, every day.

When the plane descended through dense grey skies — as slithery as soup spilling off a spoon — I smiled. Lowering clouds and spitting rain — ah Seattle, I’m home. The wheels skidded across the concrete and I turned on the phone. I dialed his number on speed dial (#9, if you must know) and waited to hear his familiar voice, as soft and warm as tomato sauce. But after one touch, his voice mail clicked on. Disappointed, I waited until we reached the gate to try again. Voice mail again.

With increasing frequency, I tried. And tried. He always clicks over when it’s me. So do I. What was going on? Where was my telephone reunion?

By the time I reached baggage claim, I worried that something horrible had happened to someone in his family, and he was talking on the phone to everyone he knew. As I walked out of the airport, the rain suddenly seemed cold on my skin. Without his voice, my body remembered all the trips I had taken when I had arrived home alone, no one waiting for me at the other end. I remembered the way I had dropped my bags and looked around, suddenly bereft of anything to do. I usually headed for the fridge first.

In a split second, I was single again.

When I was single, I convinced myself that I didn’t need anyone else. I worked hard to be independent, fill my life with friends, and tell myself it didn’t matter if I never found love. But now that I have, I realize that my life then was like a complex red wine sauce, built of veal stock and a swirl of creamy butter, but no salt. With one little pinch of sea salt, crunched in and stirred, the taste dances on the tongue.

So where the hell was he?

By the time I was nearly home, I could only imagine he was dead. An hour and a half after I had landed, and I still hadn’t heard from him? Oh god, he must have had a heart attack. (Never mind that the man is entirely healthy, not sick once since I met him.) Suddenly, I imagined running into the house and giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The phone rang (or more to the point, Stevie Wonder started singing) and my heart tumbled in my chest. Finally! But when I looked down, I didn’t recognize the number. Damn. I’m not answering that. I don’t want to deal with anyone else right now. Besides, I was so close, only a few blocks from home.

When the little jingle of the voice mail tinkled, I picked it up to listen. And suddenly, the sun shone again. His voice.

Get this. The dear man does not drive. (I had the car, anyway.) Even though he had worked late the night before, he had woken early, walked a mile from our home, and taken a bus all the way to the airport. Just to surprise me. (He said he woke up in our bed early, alone, and couldn’t go back to sleep anyway. He was too excited to see me.) Once he reached the airport, he stood near the gate where he thought I would emerge and practiced standing nonchalantly with the newspaper. And waited. And waited.

By the time he realized he had the wrong gate, and that I must have left already, he realized the battery on his phone had died. He couldn’t reach me.

So, the number I didn’t recognize was actually him. There was his voice — as familiar as the feel of his legs against mine in the bed — calling from a pay phone. He stood by it for five minutes, hoping I would call back.

Of course, I did. And I cried into the phone, so happy to hear him. And then I turned around the car.

When I reached the airport again, the traffic snarled in front of me, all the red taillights sinister in the slick pavement. I just wanted to shake the steering wheel and shout, “Get out of my way! I want to see my husband!”

An hour later, I ran from the parked car and ran toward him. He wasn’t there.

As I stared into the emptiness of the pavement where he said he would be, the phone rang. This time I answered the unknown number. “Are you downstairs?” Yes, sweetie. “I’ll come to you.”

When I saw him emerge from the sliding doors, the Sunday paper spilling from underneath his arm, I felt in that moment he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen.

And so, our imagined reunion — holding each other and crying into each other’s arms —happened on the sidewalk in front of the Alaska airlines arrival doors, surrounded by exhaust and people frantically smoking cigarettes after a six-hour flight and rain splattering down into our hair. Mostly, we were laughing, at his kind gesture gone awry, and my ridiculous imaginings.

Then we drove home.

You never could have told me that the most complete, romantic feeling in the world would be lying in bed eating chips and salsa, watching Larry the Cable Guy on Comedy Central.

Life is rarely like recipes, words printed on stiff paper, an imagined story. It’s onions, roughly chopped, sizzling in the last drops of the oil in the house, keeping warm on the only burner on the stove that works. Real life tastes so good.

We slept well last night, in the same bed again, at last.

sea scallops with black rice flour

Sea scallops dusted in black rice flour

True love is the Chef coming into the restaurant on his day off, when we had not really seen each other all week. He walks into the kitchen to do his work, again, for a party in your honor. He gathers the ingredients and starts cooking. And when you call out that you’re hungry, and could you please have some food, he emerges from the kitchen with this.

Yes, I married him.

6 large sea scallops (as fresh as you can find them)
3 tablespoons forbidden black rice, ground into flour in the spice grinder
1 tablespoon good-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Heat a pan until a drop of water sizzles on the surface.

Dredge the scallops in the black rice flour. Shake off the excess.

Add the oil and butter to the pan. When the butter is foaming, but not yet brown, add the fish to the pan and shake the scallops around a bit, so they stick.

Cook the scallops for a minute and a half, or until the rice flour forms a crust on the fish. Flip the scallops over, then cook for a minute or two, or until the internal temperature is 90° to 120° (depending on how you like your scallops).

Serves two.

02 November 2007

hey seattle!

Chicago, Chicago, I love you.

So many stories — steakhouses that understand food allergies; a cupcake shop with chocolate/passion fruit gluten-free cupcakes; good people and gluten-free/vegan cookies in Evanston; a cooking class full of laughter at Whole Foods; and an Italian restaurant with a gluten-free menu. I am dazzled and happy, thrilled to meet Amy and Amy, Laura and Joe, Carol and Margot, Cari and Tina and Sheri and Anna. People who love food? They're just damned good people.

But before I collapse for the night in this lovely hotel in Chicago (missing the Chef something fierce, to be honest), I have to tell you some more book tour news. Being able to meet gluten-free people, pastry chefs, fellow writers, and fantastic folks in every city? It has only left me hungering for more.

So, spontaneously, we're throwing a party at the Chef's restaurant.

Monday night, November 5th (two nights from now!)

6 to 9 pm

gluten-free appetizers (the Chef will be making them)
a glass of wine

a great party.

All for $15!

We want to honor the owner of the Chef's restaurant — a fine man, a lovely upstanding man — who has been so understanding of the Chef's occasional absences, both for our honeymoon and these book tour appearances.

So let's fill the place to the brim and laugh out loud.

(If you want to buy a copy of the book, we will have them in the restaurant for purchase. If you already own a copy, bring it in, and I'll be happy to sign it.)

Come out to celebrate. We'd love to see you there.

(And next week, San Francisco. Check the calendar for more details. In a couple of days, I'll fill you in even more.)