All photos are reprinted with permission from Williams Sonoma and Kristine Kidd
Have you heard about the cookbook Weeknight Gluten Free? It’s the newest cookbook from Kristine Kidd. And it’s her first totally gluten-free cookbook. Kristine is the former food editor of Bon Appetit. She has also written a number of other successful cookbooks over the years. I met Kristine a few years back, first at a BlogHer Food conference and then at the International Food Bloggers’ Conference that same year. Kristine was a speaker at each of those events. I was fortunate to get to chat with her briefly both times and she was always friendly and gracious. When I heard from the representative for her new book, first, I was surprised to hear that she had published a gluten-free cookbook. Then I was surprised to hear that she “grew up with celiac disease.”
When Kristine had presented at those conferences and we had spoken (albeit very briefly), there had been no mention of her being gluten free. You’ll soon learn why that was the case, as I did, from the interview that Kristine graciously did with me. The information she shared of her own personal history is a good example of why we need more celiac awareness. (There’s actually a tremendous need for awareness on all gluten issues, but we’ll talk more on that later.) Today I thought it would be timely to share Kristine’s interview and a giveaway of her new cookbook, Weeknight Gluten Free, as National Celiac Awareness Month kicks off.
Thank You To HealthNOW Medical Center for Sharing This Banner!
My Interview with Kristine
Shirley: I was surprised to learn that you have been gluten free since childhood. When I heard you speak at blogging conferences, it was never mentioned that you were gluten free. Usually it’s well known when folks in the food world are gluten free, is this information that you have kept private? And, if so, I’m curious about why. Did you think that being labeled gluten free would be distracting? And how has being gluten free translated to functioning safely and well in the food world? We all experience challenges staying gluten free and being accepted/supported with our families and our work world. Did you experience the same when say working at Bon Appetit? How did you handle it all?
Kristine: “I was diagnosed with celiac disease as an infant. At that time, my mother was told that if she kept me completely gluten free for 3 years I would be cured. Of course, we now know that is not the case, but I was brought up with that understanding and ate gluten-containing food most of my life, including the years I was at Bon Appétit. I had digestive issues all those years but didn’t make the connection until my symptoms became torturous about 2½ years ago, during a stressful time. So you can see, I wasn’t hiding my celiac; I incorrectly thought it had been cured.
Because I love to cook and am curious about anything to do with food, learning to eat as well as I always had while following a gluten-free diet was a new adventure. I read books, attended conferences and webinars, and started experimenting in the kitchen.
Eating out was, and still is, the most challenging part of my situation. At first I was embarrassed to make special requests at restaurants and homes, particularly when eating with other food professionals. But I quickly learned that I had to get comfortable asking for gluten-free food because the consequences of ingesting gluten are too severe. I learned to pick restaurants carefully, focusing on those with a more sophisticated kitchen. Surprisingly, almost everyone responds with interest. Many restaurateurs are eager to show off how they have made accommodations, suggest gluten-free items, or want to learn more. Most of my friends have been making adjustments for other gluten-free friends or are happy to serve polenta, potatoes, or rice. Everyone seems to know about gluten-free crackers.”
Shirley: There are several gluten-free cookbooks on easy and quick meals that are now out. Do you have any idea how your cookbook might differ from those? Or can you simply tell me why you personally felt compelled to write this cookbook? What are some of your favorite recipes from this cookbook?
Kristine: “I focus on fresh, seasonal, healthy food that is naturally gluten free, rather than trying to make facsimiles of dishes that need wheat for their success. Throughout the book are sections about naturally gluten-free staples that add satisfaction to meals—egg crepes, quick creamy polenta, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, skillet cornbread…. I use legumes in interesting ways and love brown jasmine and basmati rice as additional replacements for bready things. I have devoted my career to creating dishes for Bon Appétit and cookbooks, so I have lots of experience fashioning and testing reliable, modern recipes for publication.”
Kristine: “I wrote the book because I was having a good time experimenting in the kitchen, and my gluten-eating family and friends didn’t notice anything was missing from the food I created. I wanted to share my successes with others, just as I have with my other cookbooks and magazine stories. That is what I love to do, share food and recipes.
Favorite recipes depend on the season and my mood, but here are a few I find myself making over and over:
Shrimp in Tomato-Olive-Caper Sauce on Creamy Microwave Polenta
Soft Socca with Summer Squash, Basil, and Gruyére
Turkey Cutlets with Green Olives and Lemon over Quinoa
Grilled Salmon with Charmoula Chickpeas
Steak and Rajas Tacos
Shirley: You have a number of other cookbooks that are not gluten free, including a cookie cookbook. How does a gluten-free person handle writing and testing recipes for a “gluten-full” cookbook? I know that many of my readers will be interested in your response as some have found out they had celiac disease or were gluten intolerant while working as pastry chefs, writing a cookbook, and even hosting a mainstream “gluten-full” coking show. These individuals become sort of at odds on how to go forward. Some have found they can no longer work in a flour-filled environment and have had to change jobs but are still floundering on their new path. So I am really interested in how you navigated this area.
Kristine: “I wrote my other cookbooks before I was on a gluten-free diet, so the only issue was my mysterious digestive problems. I now hesitate to take on projects that require gluten. So far, I have been able to write stores and develop recipes that happen to not include gluten, without that being part of the assignment. That is because I focus on fresh, seasonal, healthy food and I choose recipes that are naturally gluten free. My editors never notice that anything is missing. I would turn down a bread, cookie, cake, or pie assignment, but first I would suggest naturally gluten-free alternatives.”
Shirley: Last, is there one “takeaway” from this new cookbook for the gluten-free reader?
Kristine: “Focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients rather than substitutes for dishes that require wheat. That way you eat well, and will miss wheat less, if at all. Check out local farmers markets for inspiration and the tastiest ingredients around. For starches, there are lots of gluten-free choices: many varieties of rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, polenta, quinoa, buckwheat. The same approach works for dessert too—fresh or dried fruit, meringue cookies, and ice cream and sorbets are great choices.”
Well, if you know anything about my gfe approach, you know that I am all about eating real food that’s naturally gluten free. So Kristine and I are in complete agreement on that! As a follow-up to Kristine’s answers, I asked one more:
Shirley: Do you know if you were classified as a banana baby? Banana babies were diagnosed with celiac and then fed bananas mostly, with no gluten of course, and then told they were “cured” and that they could eat gluten again. I think you are too young to have been classified as one, but the “no gluten for 3 years” was part of that treatment. (Note: The link was added after I asked Kristine this question.)
Kristine: “I was not an official banana baby, that was in the 1930’s, and before gluten was linked to celiac. However, bananas were still a big part of my prescribed diet/cure in the late 40’s. I also drank soy milk, ate vegetables, probably other proteins, but absolutely no gluten. I was fed so many bananas during my first 3 years, I wouldn’t touch them again until my late teens, and then only when baked into banana bread. A friend who has celiac and is of a similar age was also given lots of bananas as part of her ‘cure.’ ”
With over 100 recipes in Weeknight Gluten Free, it’s not easy to choose which ones to make. And I just received my copy, so unfortunately I haven’t yet had a chance to make any of them. But a few of the recipes that are on my “to make” list from this book are:
Mushroom Spaghetti Carbonara (this one has Mr. GFE’s name all over it!)
Easy Mu Shu Pork
Grilled Chicken Breasts with Salsa Verde and White Beans
Grilled Salmon and Red Onions with Nectarine Salsa (this one is all mine!)
Crispy Trout with Green Onions and Mushrooms and
Herbed Egg Crepes (beautiful, super thin “wrappers”)
But as I said there are actually many recipes in this cookbook that I’d like to sample. And there are others that will inspire me like the Turkey Cutlets dish that Kristine mentioned. The Turkey Cutlets are “breaded” with salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin and topped with a syrupy sauce made from red onion, red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, and pan juices. Now that’s one heavenly syrup!
If you want to preview/trial some of Kristine’s “Basic Recipes,” click on Weeknight Gluten Free here at Amazon, then “Click to LOOK INSIDE” and finally “First Pages.” Then you can page through the preview to find Brown, Jasmine, or Basmati Rice; Quick Mashed Potatoes; Quick Mashed Sweet Potatoes; Arugula-Lemon Pesto; Mint Pesto; Salsa Verde; Quick Guacamole; Asian Slaw; and Sweetened Whipped Cream. All these recipes are included in her cookbook as “quick accompaniments that can round out gluten-free meals.” Keep paging through the preview pages and you’ll also see the index that lists over 100 recipes as well as other topics covered in her book, such as tips on stocking your pantry, her favorite time savers, and her guidance on working with seafood.
I found Kristine’s Fish Tacos with Broccoli Slaw and Lime Cream Sauce recipe from her book online. (Now I have a serious craving for those!) I also found her Sautéed Scallops with Orange-Avocado-Basil Salsa on Basil Quinoa on her site. Clearly, all her recipes are beautiful, flavor-filled dishes. As her website says she is “inspiring people to cook fresh simple food.”
Note that there is a dessert section in this cookbook, but it includes six desserts only. The classic Coconut Macaroons, Ginger Cherry Oatmeal Cookies and Coconut-Rum Caramelized Bananas were the most appealing to me and are bound to get made in the gfe kitchen eventually. I also found a recipe for Chocolate Bark with Walnuts, Ginger, and Cherries on Kristine’s website. She has many other recipes there and you can get a feel for her cooking style from those as well.
You should know that this cookbook largely focuses on recipes for seafood, poultry, and other meat. I don’t think it would be an ideal choice for purchase by vegetarians or vegans. Although there is a section called Almost Meatless, which includes 20 recipes, several call for eggs and/or cheese and, at least one calls for a bit of pancetta. As Kristine explains, she’s not a vegetarian, but does enjoy eating plant-based meals often. That makes the recipes in this section a great choice for feeding your vegetarian and/or vegan friends. One of the most appealing recipes in this section is the Macaroni and Cheese with Chard and Sage Bread Crumbs. It’s a beautiful mac and cheese dish and, in fact, is the recipe shown on the cover of Weeknight Gluten Free. There’s always room for one more great gluten-free mac and cheese dish, right?
UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Winners (and their winning comments) are shown below. Thanks to all of you who entered. Best of luck on your gluten-free path! If you are new to gluten free, be sure to check out my “Getting Started” section here (there are very helpful printable tip sheets), plus Top 10 Reasons to Live Gluten Free Easily (GFE).
“I’d like to win this cookbook because I’ve recently made the decision to go gluten free, the recipes look fantastic, and it could help make my gluten loving boyfriend more comfortable with the dietary change!”
~ Cindy Padgett
“This is the way I love to cook, also. The cookbook would be a welcome addition to my kitchen. Thanks for sponsoring the give-away!”
Last, this book was published by Williams Sonoma, so it’s large, colorful, and beautiful (as most things from Williams Sonoma are). Kristine and Williams Sonoma are giving away one copy of this book to one lucky gfe reader and I’m throwing in one more, so instead two gfe readers will receive a copy of this book!
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment saying why you’d like to win this book. For additional entries, share on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Google+ and/or follow Kristine on Facebook and Twitter. Leave a comment for each additional entry. This giveaway ends Wednesday, May 8, at midnight EST. (Winners will be selected by the Pick a Giveaway Winner tool.)
Full disclosure: Two copies of this book were provided free of charge (one for my support group/my review) and one for a giveaway winner. However, the opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own. This post contains one or more affiliate links and I will receive a small “finder’s fee” if you purchase via the link. (Note that the finder’s fee is paid by the seller.) It helps support this blog when you purchase via affiliate links—thank you!