What I wouldn’t give to spend a day in Jules Shepard’s kitchen. I can only imagine the energy, the creativity, and of course, the delicious food.
When you really take a look at them, you will notice that cookbooks are an insightful reflection of the author. They give you glimpses of their cooking style, their organization, what inspires them, their favorite types of food, and even their health philosophy. And truthfully, after one pass through Free For All Cooking, I knew Jules Shepard was a woman who I wanted to know.
Just one look at my book and my blog will tell you that my personal style is all about adapting recipes for anyone to enjoy. Creating options and learning to be flexible in the kitchen … well, Jules takes this concept to a whole new level.
Free For All Cooking is like an amazing mix and match cookbook. You know those childhood books where you could choose to go to page x or page y for the next portion of the story, and whichever way you chose would take you to a different, but equally entertaining conclusion? Think of this method, but in recipe form, and you will understand Jules’s style.
For beginners, you can follow the story straight through, making the recipes to a “T,” as there is always a core recipe. If there is a sub you must make for a particular food allergy, Jules has you covered. You can easily follow one of her recommendations; the entire book is gluten-free, but she includes a myriad of dairy-free and egg-free options throughout. Then, for those who like a little adventure and are more comfortable with experimentation, Jules gives you so, so many options with the “choose this or that” approach. Sub this flour for that one, try this egg substitute instead, toss in these add-ins or those ones, or both!
I’m fairly new to gluten-free cooking and baking, and still bake with gluten sometimes too, but Jules’s method helped me to open my mind and not be so afraid to experiment with the different flours and even juggle egg replacers. She reminded me that recipes can be forgiving, and that changing things up may even create a new favorite.
But enough rambling … I’m sure you’re dying to know more about the actual recipes in this cookbook! There are of course many, many baked good recipes, including Buttermilk Biscuits, Pizza Dough, Whole Grain Sandwich Bread, Scones, Danish Pastries, English Muffins, Pop-Tarts, Crusty French Baguette, Challah (pictured below), and the list goes on.
In addition to the Pizza Dough, I’ve marked the Flour Tortillas, Potato Gnocchi, and Coconut Rice to make as soon as possible (we are in the midst of packing things up for a move, so I need to wait before stocking up on more flours and canned goods). But of course, in classic Alisa fashion, I busted out Free For All Cooking to make the Nut Butter Cookies right away …
Yes, I know what you are all thinking, “another nut butter cookie recipe Alisa?” But really, can you ever have too many cookie recipes? I mean, they each have their own nuances, and these were definitely unique cookies. They came out perfectly sweet, but not sugary (Jules gives the option of using a granulated sweetener or liquid – I opted for the liquid), thick, and soft. They simply begged for a tall glass of vanilla almond milk for dunking or a hot cup of tea. Quite different from the chewy PB chocolate chip cookies that I posted for you weeks ago.
For fun, I’m going to share my versions of Jules’s Nut Butter Cookies with you here, but if you want to start having some fun with flours in the kitchen, go get Free For All Cooking!
Jules, let’s do lunch.
Nut Butter Chocolate Chippers
Recipe adapted from Free For All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes The Whole Family Can Enjoy by Jules E. Dowler Shepard.
Do not attempt to eat these cookies without a nice cool or hot beverage nearby. They are very thick and rich! If you find the dough a bit too thick, feel free to add a little bit of milk alternative or water, a teaspoon at a time, to get the right consistency. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Wheat-Free, optionally Vegan, and optionally Nut-Free.
- 1 Cup Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, SunButter, or Soy “Nut” Butter
- 1/2 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar (I used honey)
- 1-1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 Cup Mashed Banana (can sub applesauce)
- 1/4 Cup Potato Starch
- 1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch
- 1/2 Cup Brown Rice Flour
- 1/3 Cup Oats, ground in a spice / coffee grinder to make oat flour
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips
Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the starches, brown rice flour, oat flour, and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix the nut butter (or seed or soy butter), honey or agave, banana, and vanilla, until well combined. Add the flour mixture from your other bowl and blend well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Shape dough into balls the size of ping pong balls. Place them on your prepared baking sheet, and either simply flatten and shape them you’re your hands, or use the old peanut butter cookie trick – dip a fork in sugar and use it to press down the dough for that criss-cross top.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they lose their sheen. Let them cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely … or simply eat them.
Makes 16 to 18 cookies