I received an advance copy of my cookbook (flourless. recipes for naturally gluten-free desserts) last week and wow, what a thrill that was. Still is. (Actually, any word/s I could use to describe that feeling would be an understatement.) From signing the contract to publication date totals about two years so this has been a long time in the making. It is so gorgeous — the photos are dreamy and well-styled and I didn’t even cringe when re-reading my own words, written last spring at my desk in San Francisco (!). The book will be released on August 12, and I’ll shamelessly plug the amazon link if you’d like to preorder it. It is here.
I’ve heard that the process of writing a book is akin to having a baby — perhaps what that means is that the writing of it is similar to being pregnant, its publication like giving birth. Maybe this would be true for memoir, or a biography, or that holy grail of writing a novel. And maybe it’s true for a cookbook, too? I was in the unique position last year of becoming pregnant just around the time that I dived in full time to the writing of flourless. and hooooo boy, let me say now and unequivocably that the creation of this cookbook for me was absolutely nothing like having a baby. Not even close.
First off I think when equating writing a book (OK and in this case I mean a cookbook, since that’s what I did) to being pregnant/having the baby there’s an unstated opinion that writing a book is terribly difficult and painful. And, I don’t know, I wouldn’t say that is was necessarily easy to write flourless. but it was not painful. I truly loved the process, from deciding on the recipes to testing to editing and fine-tuning them nearly to the point of distraction. I think because I’d hoped for this opportunity for so long that once I was able to embark upon it I just truly enjoyed it (not that I didn’t enjoy some aspects of pregnancy, but it’s a completely different level of experience). It was hard work, yes, and I haven’t yet gone through its theorectical ‘birth’ into the world on publication date but comparing these two things is like comparing pears and grapefruit. For me they were not even in the same stratosphere.
Anyway — here we are. Sierra has been in the world for nine months today and flourless. will be available in bookstores in 7 weeks. I couldn’t be prouder of both: for Sierra’s curiosity about just everything and her newly discovered ability to crawl; for flourless.‘s Mexican hot chocolate cake, salted rosemary shortbread cookies, coffee ice cream with honey-glazed figs, bittersweet chocolate chunks with dried fruit and nuts, and 70 other recipes.
I firmly believe that each naturally gluten-free recipe in this cookbook is one you will enjoy, and I tried to strike a nice balance between slightly complicated — my version of an (flourless) opera cake that’s showcased on the cover being on the high end of the more time-consuming scale — and quick and easy, such as a lovely milk chocolate pudding. I’ve incorporated fruit in various permutations — roasted, as dried additions to candy, and incorporated into cakes — and have offered dairy substitutions for those who can’t eat it. Ingredients, too, are not overly fussy and should be available at your local grocery store. I want this book to be one you’ll turn to time and again whether you’re gluten-free, baking for someone who is, or, which is my greatest hope, that you simply like these desserts so much it matters not that they are naturally gluten-free.
To celebrate the semi-imminent release of my bookbook, I made granola. I mean, I often make granola, but I was especially craving it last week and decided to treat myself. It’s not every day your first book lands in your hands! Because of that auspicious occasion I splurged a bit and threw in a trio of my favorite dried fruits that I tend to use judiciously. I won’t belabor the point yet again, but, errrr, food quality here can be somewhat lacking and so I avail myself of the DPO when necessary. Thus I hoard a nice little stash of dried blueberries and cranberries and cherries in the pantry, three very lovely things I cannot get here and which I covet. Granola absolutely is gluten-free and naturally flourless if you use gluten-free oats, and is vegan if you don’t use honey as your sweetener (though I do).
My recipe, of course, is inspired by Megan Gordon, and I must say it is the best granola I’ve yet had outside of her Marge varieties or my sister-in-law Emily’s version. Come to think of it this recipe is also inspired by Emily — as was the original idea for flourless. — who often puts dried cherries and chia seeds in her batches. Genius! The proportions Megan writes up in her book, Whole Grain Mornings, also are genius; it’s worth the price of the book alone just for her “Make Your Own Signature Granola” recipe.
I like to load mine up with as many good things as I can stand — various nuts, lots of seeds, multiple dried fruits. Through my experiments I’ve learned that some nuts don’t toast up as well as others, and sunflower seeds, though nice, sometimes get a bit too crisp for my liking. There’s oil here, yes, as well as sweetener, but it’s not cloying and I think there’s rather less called for than in other recipes. I encourage you to seek out Megan’s book so you can make your own granola to suit your own tastes (she gives proportions rather than hard and fast measurements so you can adapt at whim); here, I’ve written out my latest iteration and the one which I feel is my best yet.
After I wrested my book out of Sierra’s eager little hands I poured myself a big bowl of granola, added a smidge of yogurt, and dug in. It’s been a long and short two years – some days I couldn’t believe I’d ever hold my book in my hands and yet suddenly here it is. I am old-fashioned enough that seeing my name in print is still an amazing thing, and that holding the physical manifestation of so much thought and effort is special and yes, quite thrilling. I hope so much that if flourless. finds its way into your own kitchen you will enjoy it, too.
I can’t give substituions here because this is my tried-and-true and I love it as it’s written. Still, if you are out of maple syrup, you may use 1/2 cup honey (and if you’re out of honey, you may use 1/2 cup maple syrup).
Makes about 8 cups of granola.
3 cups (gluten-free) (organic) rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup pistachio nut meats (optional)
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or ginger
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup each: dried tart cherries, dried cranberries, dried blueberries
Heat oven to 325 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia and flax seeds, salt, ground cardamom, and cinnamon. Stir well to combine. Pour in the olive oil, honey, and maple syrup, and stir well to coat the dry ingredients.
Spread the granola out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown. Stir granola every 15 minutes to make sure it bakes evenly.
Remove from oven and let cool. Granola will firm as it cools (note: err on the side of ‘underdone’; I’ve learned this the hard way). Then stir in the dried fruit.
Granola keeps in an air-tight container in the cupboard for 3-4 weeks or in the freezer (fruit stored separately) for a few months.