Can you please elaborate slightly on your culinary backgrounds?
We love eating food! Both Rachael and I are not from a culinary background, Rachel’s background is in marketing and mine in finance. Truly, we are two of the least likely girls to write a cookbook let alone a series of bestsellers. We both, however, LOVE eating, and have families we adore and need to cook for so learning how to do that quickly, easily and on a budget was important to us.
What was the initial premise and inspiration for the “4 ingredients” cookbooks.
I have had the idea for years and in April 2006 I was at a BBQ at Rachel’s house having a chat over a glass of red wine when Rachel presented me with a signed copy of her new book Read My Lips. I was admiring what she had written when I then told her of my idea for a book, which was a cookbook full of yummy recipes all made with four or fewer ingredients. Rachel agreed it was something she’d probably buy.
And the rest as they say is history …
What inspired you to pursue a gluten free project?
In trying to sell our books we were engaged in a promotion schedule that included, over the last two years, over 600 book-signings. At almost every appearance we were dumbfounded by the number of people who would ask us for Gluten Free recipes! Initially I was curious about this “gluten thing” and so started doing some research.
This curiosity has developed into a manuscript that is absolutely fantastic because it is different from so many other cook books for those with a gluten intolerance. We focused on recipes that were easy, quick, and tasty for those who don’t even have a gluten intolerance (which I don’t nor does anyone in my family). I would still pay $20 for the Walnut and Lemon Cake recipe alone, topped with mascarpone icing it is truly one of the most delicious things I have eaten.
What do you think are the main challenges facing those cooking gluten free?
There are a few;
1. Learning how gluten is represented in today’s products on supermarket shelves. Knowing what all these numbers and codes mean is really difficult at first.
2. Remembering what products are gluten free.
3. Finding interesting recipes that are simple easy and don’t cost a fortune to make!
Do you think it is becoming easier to source gluten free products in Australia, have you noticed a change in recent years?
When you get your head around what does and doesn’t have gluten there are actually a lot of fabulous products available on supermarket shelves. And then it’s about using fresh products and adding simple ingredients to them to create new and interesting recipes.
Can one substitute gluten free products into traditional recipes?
Yes easily, but note that some cakes and slices for example will need an increase in the amount of gluten free self raising flour. But it’s easy to do. For example, I made a batch of crepes for breakfast this morning and used gluten free plain flour and they were delicious.
What are four of your favourite gluten free ingredients / products to cook with?
I love almond meal, coconut, gluten free self raising flour and Basco’s golden cake mix. If I have these in the cupboard, I can make “4 Ingredient” muffins, pancakes, cakes, slices, stuffing for a roast chicken and a whole lot more.
Do you have book projects in mind beyond the release of the new cookbook?
Yes we do, we are currently discussing that now.
But we always keep in mind the response we had to our original idea. We introduced a mere 2,000 books into a competative market that most people in the trade said would never be successful because: a) We weren’t famous, b) We weren’t chefs and c) the book was ugly – it had a green jacket and no pictures. We we were in competition with Jamie Oliver, Nigella and Gordon, yet somehow it worked.
Now that one cookbook has spawned: two more titles, a “4 Ingredients” gluten free cookbook due out in July, our own cookware range (due out in August) an application on iTunes that is currently among the Top 50 downloaded globally, merchandise (calendars and teatowels) a TV series in Australia, and a Top 50 listing in the UK.
So yes, we have more projects in mind!