do you have a best friend? i do. her name’s nicole spiridakis and she’s a kick-ass food blogger, chef/baker, who, as of today, just happens to be a published author.
in lieu of being responsible and writing about the end of our cleanse–which, yes, we finished, and yes, i’m still alive in case you were wondering (which, were you even?)–i’m going to take a moment promote her new gluten-free dessert cookbook, flourless, which is both shockingly beautiful (it really is) and entirely sensible in that it doesn’t depend on weird flours and gums but naturally gluten free ingredients that mingle and merge to create delightfully delicious and very, i may add, delectable desserts. (what i did right there is called alliteration. and you thought i wasn’t a professional writer! *rolls eyes*)
before i share the conversation i recently had with nicole about flourless, i’d like to tell you how we met.
nicole and i met in some kind of introductory journalism class at the university of maryland, college, park. it was the late 90s. i was a jersey girl with a pixie cut, a bad attitude, and a lot pens. she was a northern california girl with long, flowing hair and a backpack featuring a variety of feminist pins. she was quiet. i was not. i basically sat next to her and talked to her until she became my friend.
although we very rarely see each other, she is my daily supporter and my personal cheerleader and i love her like crazy and am just so friggin proud of her and her accomplishment.
so. *ahem* <<wipes eyes and clears throat>> without further ado, may i present a conversation with the newly published author (!) nicole spiridakis about her fabulous new book, flourless.
jessica: hi nicole! what’s up!? i texted you like five minutes ago but i thought i’d ask again for the sake of my readers.
nicole: I totally texted you back but hi again! I am currently baking some cookies. Shocking, I know.
j: so you’re my bff for life (4LIFE) so i wanted to promote your new book, flourless: recipes for naturally gluten-free desserts, a little bit. it’s also pretty awesome so i think people should know about it.
nicole: Aww, you’re my bff, too! Thanks so much for the shout-out.
j: ok so it’s a gluten-free dessert cookbook (mmmm dessert…). but it’s all naturally gluten-free, right? no weird thickeners, no gluten-free flour, etc. tell us all about it!
n: Exactly! All the recipes rely upon naturally gluten-free ingredients – like oats (note: these are naturally gluten-free but commercial oats are often processed in facilities that also process wheat flours so make sure to buy certified g-f oats if you’re allergic), nuts, fruits, eggs, etc.
j: how did you come up with the idea for flourless?
n: My sister-in-law Emily keeps to a gluten-free diet and I started baking her gluten-free cookies and such, using pretty simple ingredients (and no guar or xanthum gums because I am cheap and those are expensive). We got to talking about gluten-free baking and realized that making stuff that doesn’t try to compensate for regular flour items – i.e. is stand-alone delicious – or use weird substitutes often taste much better and is less intimidating to make. Thus the concept of ‘naturally flourless’.
j: some people are kind of freaked out by gluten-free things, especially desserts, but these recipes seem really appealing. like, you don’t even need to mention that they’re gluten-free to people. they’re just…well, naturally gluten-free. do you get what i’m trying to say? i feel like i’m not saying it right.
n: Yes! That was my aim. I don’t want people to think oh, another gluten-free recipe, ho hum, I guess I will eat it because it’s there but I doubt it will be great. The goal was: here are some amazing desserts that taste SO good and oh yeah, they happen to be gluten-free!
j: what are some of your favorite recipes in the book?
n: I’m very partial to the Mexican hot chocolate cake; that was one of my early successes and I’m still really happy with how it turned out. I love the almond butter-chocolate chip cookies, and the vanilla cupcakes with lemon buttercream. Oh and the roasted stone fruit with mascarpone and mint. And the cinnamon molasses cookies, salted caramel pots de crème, pistachio-coffee toffee … I could go on.
j: as you know, i do not pride myself on my cooking nor my baking skills. is this the type of book even someone somewhat dysfunctional like me could follow?
n: Absolutely. (Although I think you’re a better cook than you let on.) My goal was to write recipes that would be accessible to the home cook of varying levels of experience – from seasoned gluten-free bakers to those who only bake gluten-free once in awhile (or not at all). I truly hope I have accomplished this.
j: is there anything else you’d like to say? i mean, this is your big chance to reach my 200 readers. no i’m kidding. it’s 300. NO ACTUALLY: 10,000. TEN THOUSAND READERS. 5 MILLION READERS.
n: I wholly loved working on this cookbook and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. I can’t say how/why/when I really got into cooking and baking but it’s something I’ve been doing for years and now it’s just a regular part of my life – it’s true that I rarely let a week go by without baking at least something (often more than one thing). I feel so lucky that I can share some of my efforts with a wider audience, and I so hope people enjoy and benefit from this cookbook.
j: are you going to make me any of these desserts when i come visit you in morocco? is there anything really chocolately in there? omg i loooove chocolate. remember that flourless chocolate cake you made for my 23rd birthday party back in the day? omg it was soooo good. you’ve been such an amazing baker for so long. i should have guessed you’d do a book like this one day.
n: You’re so lovely. Thank you. I will of course bake you lots of delights when you visit me in North Africa. And make mint tea. Who am I kidding: coffee.
j: i’m really proud of you, btw. i love how you’re an author now. i think you’re the best. i’m going to text you in five minutes to say hi.
n: … sorry, what? I was writing you a text. Right! We’ve come a looong way from those days at UMD but I still think you’re the best thing I gained from that journalism program! Oh, other than some sweet Diamondback bylines😉
(jessica’s note: omg the diamondback, umcp’s very own student newspaper, where i thought i was the bomb-diggity for making $10/article, which, hello, you could totally get some pretty decent shampoo and/or conditioner at cvs for $10 back then.)
if you’re in the san francisco area, you can meet nicole and have her sign your very own copy of flourless this sunday! details are here.
nicole, i love you and congratulations!!!!!! when i gain five to eight pounds from eating all these desserts, i’m going to text you a bunch of angry emoticons followed by a bunch of hearts ;) XXO