Pumpkin Cheesecake. Oatmeal Banana Pancakes with Caramelized Apple Syrup. Homestyle Chili with Gluten-free Beer. Socca Bread. Smoky Pea and Truffle Crostini.
It's hardly a surprise I found myself practically drooling over the newest release from the Lagasse Girls: Big Flavor, Bold Taste and No Gluten.
If the last name sounds familiar, it probably is: Jilly and Jessie are Chef Emeril Lagasse’s bubbly daughters, and they share their cooking prowess in this beautiful gluten-free bible of all kinds of dishes.
As chefs who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and a severe intolerance, respectively, they’ve made some drastic changes to their lifestyles and cooking techniques in the last several years, the stories, recipes and anecdotes captured in a quirky guide that reads half autobiographical memoir and half super practical homecooking reference.
The recipes draw on their Southern heritage (Emeril Lagasse is known for his Creole cuisine), and while many of the recipes are not vegan, there are some very inventive takes on traditional southern dishes and everyday staple meals, all made without a touch of wheat, barley, rye or spelt. I’d say the recipes skew a little more paleo than anything: many can be made dairy-free, but still incorporate eggs, meat or fish. In the instance of the pumpkin pie recipe below, just follow the few simple adaptations I did to make it exclusively plant-based.
What I dig most about a cookbook like this is that you get a real sense of the people cooking and writing – and eating – behind it. I find it comforting to read about other people’s journeys to gluten-freedom, hearing about moments of triumph and challenge and discovery when learning how to live without that ubiquitous little protein.
Throughout the book, you’ll find handy tips for grocery shopping, sourcing gluten-free ingredients and dining out; I’d counsel staying away from many of the more processed gluten-free suggestions, like Pillsbury dough (what the heck is in that stuff to make it so playdoh-y?). When it comes to the guidelines for building a gluten-free household, whether for yourself, a little one, or for friends dropping by, the Lagasse Girls have done a lovely job of making G-free cooking accessible. Plus, the recipes all just sound so delicious!
Here's a little sample of the goodness. The recipe in its original form isn't vegan (although it's definitely gluten-free!), so check out the little modifications to make it plant-based and lower in sugar. (See? That's how rad the recipes are - they're super versatile!)
from the Lagasse Girls: Big Flavor, Bold Taste and No Gluten
Reprinted with special permission from Da Capo Press
2 1/2 cups gluten-free crunchy cookie crumbles, preferably sugar or graham flavored (you’ll most likely have to use your food processor to crumble whole cookies) – *for this, I used 2 ½ cups leftover almond pulp from a batch of almond milk. I toasted it in the oven for about 15 minutes until browned
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted - *or use Earth Balance or coconut butter (not oil) to veganize
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature - *I used 1 ½ cups of soaked, pureed and pressed cashews
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
1/2 cup granulated sugar - *I used ½ cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
2 large eggs - *I used 2 tbsp of flax meal stirred into 6 tbsp hot water; gelled for 5 minutes
Whipped cream, for garnish (optional) - *omit for vegan
Chopped pecans, for garnish (optional)
- Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a deep-dish 9-inch pie pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
- Put the cookie crumbles and the melted butter into a food processor and pulse until the two ingredients are evenly blended. You can test this by pinching the mixture in your fingers. If the mixture stays together when you squeeze it, it is ready.
- Using a flat-bottomed cup, firmly press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. Use your fingers to press the crust along the edges of the pan as evenly as possible.
- Put the pressed crust into the refrigerator uncovered for 30 minutes to allow it to set.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Next, let’s prepare the filling. In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, pumpkin puree, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Using an electric mixer, mix on medium-high speed until well blended.
- Add the eggs and mix again until well blended.
- Pour the filling into your chilled crust.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the pie appears slightly jiggly but not uncooked.
- Cool completely, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours before serving.
- When you are ready to serve the pie, garnish with the whipped cream and chopped pecans, if desired, and slice.