Shauna and Danny Ahern are two of my very favorite people that have become friends through this crazy internet/twittering world. I’ve been a fan of Shauna’s blog, Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, from the moment she began writing. She gave those of us with Celiac Disease the comfort of recognizing ourselves in her journey to diagnosis, and hope that we could still eat good food. I’d been gluten-free for 4 years when I found Shauna, and she single-handedly taught me to cast aside the frustration with all the things I couldn’t eat and to say YES to a life filled with good food…in fact, BETTER food than I had ever eaten before.
I’ve given countless copies of Shauna’s first book, Gluten Free Girl, as gifts to friends and family who were either newly diagnosed with Celiac, or simply trying to understand the landscape of my food life. Sometimes, you need the beauty of Shauna’s words to hammer home the reality of what getting “glutened” means, and its lasting effects on the body for celiacs. Also, Shauna’s book chronicles the beautiful love story of meeting “The Chef,” now husband, Danny. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on that tale.
So when Shauna put a call out for bloggers to sample a few recipes from the new cookbook (in bookstores September 28), I jumped at the chance to help out…or maybe it was just that photo of the chocolate peanut-butter brownie that did me in…but either way, I was thrilled to get a sneak preview of this delicious coming attraction!
We invited my cousins Jackie and Kristen and our friend Erika over to sample the goods. Kristen is new to the gluten-free life and still finding her way, so I knew that eating Shauna & Danny’s food would be a particular treat.
I made the chocolate peanut-butter brownies in the early afternoon, and the smell of them baking was both heavenly and torturous – I wanted those brownies – NOW! In the end, I couldn’t wait until our guests arrived to sample them, so I cut two wedges from the pan and Mark and I moaned with pleasure as we ate every last crumb on our plates. These brownies truly are the best gluten-free brownies I’ve made yet – partly, because they are chocolate and peanut butter which is my all-time favorite dessert combo, but mostly because these have the most perfect brownie texture.
The brownies yield perfectly to the fork, without being too heavy or too fudgy as so many gluten-free brownies can be. Most gluten-free brownie recipes are loaded with finely ground flours like tapioca, rice and potato that make for a too-dense brownie that isn’t to my taste (not to mention the processed carb crash after eating them). The inclusion of oat flour in these both lighten them up, and give them a superior texture…and then there’s the chocolate and peanut butter – wow. If these were the only recipe in the book, I’d still buy it.
For dinner we served Shauna & Danny’s grilled shrimp with garlic almond sauce. If you’re looking to impress your guests and minimize your time in the kitchen, look no further than this simple dish. Huge, grilled gulf shrimp are always a winner, if you ask me. Drizzle a decadent sauce of garlic, olive oil and marcona almonds overtop and you’ve got something really special on your table. Every single shrimp disappeared, and the spoon dipped into the bowl of sauce countless times to drizzle just a little more on the shrimp. Fingers wiped plates to catch the last of the sauce. Yeah, you need this cookbook – trust me.
Lucky us, we had some sauce leftover, so the next afternoon we tossed some linguine in the almond sauce and topped with olives, lemon zest and aged gouda for a perfect lunch on the balcony after we got home from the North Shore Half Century bike ride (yes, that would be a 50 mile ride – 59 for us, with biking to the start/finish). You didn’t think I could write a post without mentioning athletic feats, did you?!
All this is to say that I adore Shauna and Danny. They cook like we do in our home – with whole, local foods, and they share their table with as many friends as they can. This is what a life well-lived is about. Their new cookbook hits the shelves September 28. If you want it early – head on over to Amazon and order a copy today…my copy should be awaiting me when I get home this afternoon. I can’t wait! Buy the cookbook from Amazon >
What have you said YES to in your gluten-free life? What are you most looking forward to in Shauna and Danny’s cookbook? Share the love in the comments below…