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May is Celiac Disease Awareness month and I'm happy to introduce you to a new cookbook by my friend and former colleague, Gretchen Brown. It's called Fast & Simple Gluten-Free, (Fair Winds Press, October 2012, $21.99) and if you or anyone you know is living with celiac disease, you'll want a copy of this cookbook.


There are over 100 recipes in the book, and each can be made in 30 minutes or less. You'll find a lot of familiar recipes--maybe some that you thought you had to give up on a gluten-free diet such as pancakes, biscuits, cornbread, pizza, mac and cheese, brownies, and cupcakes.

One very helpful recipe in the book is Kumquat's Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend, page 15. (Kumquat is the name of Gretchen's blog.) A number of the baked goods call for this gluten-free flour blend, so you could make up a batch and store it in the refrigerator so you'll have it when you're ready to bake. Gretchen also provides a guide in the front of the book with tips about gluten-free eating and other gluten-free flours and ingredients.

This book comes from Gretchen's unique perspective as a person living with celiac disease who is also a registered dietitian, food blogger and recipe developer. I hired her to develop recipes a number of years ago and can vouch for her skills as a recipe developer. There is no doubt in my mind that every single one of these recipes will work perfectly and taste great. I was particularly interested in the dessert recipes because I recall that when we worked together years ago, Gretchen was quite fond of desserts! Here are a few of the desserts you can find in this book: Chocolate-Chunk Skillet Cookie, Gingersnap Cookies with White Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Crispy Squares, Homemade Blueberry Pop Tarts, and Triple Chocolate Truffle Brownies. We are not talking about deprivation here!

Of course, there are plenty of main-dish dinner recipes including Classic Crab Cakes, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Chicken Pot Pie, Pecan-Crusted Chicken Fingers, and Pizza Margherita. You'll also get a nice selection of breakfast recipes, appetizers, and side dishes as well.

Just to whet your appetite, here is the recipe for the Chocolate-Chunk Skillet Cookie. What's not to love? Even if you're not on a gluten-free diet, I think you will find this cookie irresistable!

Chocolate-Chunk Skillet Cookie

1/2 cup (1 stick, or 112 g) butter3/4 cup (170 g) packed brown sugar1/2 cup (100 g) sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 large egg or 1/4 cup (60 ml) egg substitute1 1/2 cups (210 grams) Kumquat’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend (page 15) or gluten-free all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt1 1/4 cups (219 g) semi-sweet chocolate chunksVanilla ice cream, for serving

Yield: 4 to 6 (3-ounce, or 84 g) servings

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4).

Melt the butter in an 8-inch (20 cm) ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat. Stir in the brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla until combined. Add the egg or egg substitute and stir to combine. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Bake for 25 minutes or to desired degree of doneness. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

I made the Peanut Butter & Chocolate Crispy Squares on page 136 and brought them to work earlier this week. They were totally gone before noon! If you're a fan of Rice Krispie Treats, you'll love this chocolate-and peanut butter version!

For more information and tips on eating gluten-free, see Gluten-Free Diet and Recipes. And, if you type "gluten free recipes" into the search bar on our site, you'll find that we have over 5,000 recipes in that category.