Cooking has always been a way of life for Aran Goyoaga. Part of a long line of pastry chefs and farmers, her childhood in Spain’s Basque Country revolved around the hustle and bustle of the kitchen and the sweet smell of milk with cinnamon and vanilla simmering on the stove in her grandparents’ pastry shop. After moving to Florida to start a family, she found solace in cooking, which kept her grounded and close to her family back home. Realizing that her love of cooking was more than a hobby, she enrolled in culinary school to become a pastry chef.
In 2008, Goyoaga started a blog to chronicle her original recipes and family stories. Cannelle et Vanille, which means cinnamon and vanilla in French and evokes the aromas of her childhood, quickly developed a loyal following. In 2009, Goyoaga and her children were diagnosed with gluten intolerance and it seemed their lives would change forever. But after Goyoaga began cooking, baking, and writing about her new gluten-free lifestyle on her blog, her readership skyrocketed.
In her much-anticipated new book, Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family's Journey to Gluten-Free Cooking, Goyoaga broke the misconception that gluten-free cooking and baking are not flavorful. Forcing her to become more creative in the kitchen rather than simply eliminating a problem ingredient, going gluten-free has brought a world of delicious new flavors into Goyoaga’s life. The book’s 120 naturally gluten-free recipes, all beautifully photographed by Goyoaga herself, were inspired by the tapas of her childhood in Spain and her background as a professional pastry chef.
With its mesmerizing and enticing photography, it will be hard for anyone to resist opening Small Plates and Sweet Treats daily for culinary inspiration. Goyoaga let the seasons guide her as she developed the recipes for the book, which is separated into four chapters – autumn, winter, spring and summer – and structured to highlight the bounty of fresh seasonal ingredients. The pages are also full of ideas, techniques and styling tips, as well as notes on recipe adaptations, inspiring home cooks to experiment in their own kitchens. Dishes in the book range from soups and salads to savory tarts and stews to Goyoaga’s signature desserts. Some of my favorites include Arugula and Avocado Soup with Crab, Coconut Milk and Saffron Seafood Stew, Eggplants Stuffed with Millet and Serrano Ham, Shrimp and Grapefruit Risotto and Asparagus, Roasted Pumpkin Ice Cream Sundae, Peach and Pistachio Tart, Coconut Doughnuts, Chocolate, Beet and Almond Butter Molten Cakes and Candied Sour Orange and Almond Cake.
Fans of Goyoaga’s blog, those with gluten allergies and cookbook lovers looking for creative seasonal recipes, food styling and photography will all fall in love with this colorful homage to the endless possibilities of gluten-free cooking and baking. Small Plates and Sweet Treats is full of gorgeous food, and meant to be shared with family and friends at any table. The gluten-free factor is merely an added plus.
In timing with the seasons, Aran Goyoaga has shared a recipe trio with TLK. Perfect for a warm winter lunch, these recipes work well into spring.