Special diets due to allergies are seen more and more these days and Jenna Short is no stranger to allergies. Trained as a graphic designer, Jenna discovered a dairy allergy after eating her way through Italy - which you’ll hear more about later. Although finding out you have an allergy can be difficult, Jenna turned her discovery into a business venture. After some experimentation with cooking, she opened up her boutique catering company called ShortbreadNYC, and recently came out with a new cookbook, Cooking Allergy-Free, where every recipe comes with notes for specific allergies and how to adjust most to fit any diet.
You founded ShortbreadNYC a boutique catering company - what does that mean and why did you start it?
Shortbreadnyc is a boutique events company that suits challenging palettes by focusing on gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, Kosher and everything in between. Shortbreadnyc rose from a place of my own necessity being allergic to dairy I felt that it was a growing problem that was not shy of the events world. We cater to small and unique events and customize everything down to the invitations, designs and cake. Because of our attention to detail we like to keep our events at a small scale in order to be able to give our customers the attention and care they deserve.
What is your history of allergies or how did you get into cooking allergy free?
While majoring in graphic design at the Art Institute of Boston, I spent a semester abroad eating my way through Italy—quite literally! Upon my return, I discovered that not only had I gained 60 pounds but also had become allergic to dairy in the process. Because of my new-found allergy and my vast love of food, I decided to add some of my creativity from graphics to cooking, all with the idea that I—and anyone with a dietary restriction—deserved delicious food regardless of an allergy. Thus began my journey as a foodie, chef, and baker.
We gets lots of requests for gluten free recipes for a family member or guest - what suggestions do you have for those people?
MY BOOK! Ha, but seriously my book is a great crowd pleaser. All of the recipes in the book are “normal” but each recipe teaches you how to adapt it to suit all of your family members’ needs, and will ultimately teach them how to apply the same techniques to their own beloved recipes they used to use.
I can see many of the flavors of Israel and the Mediterranean in your cookbook, what inspired your recipe selection?
I have been living in Israel for the past 3 years and am continuously inspired by the incredible food scene here. Not only is it an up in coming “foodie” destination, but they use only fresh and local ingredients that truly contribute to the quality of any meal. Most, if not all of the “Mediterranean” recipe in the book were taught to me by friends or friends mothers who hold the secrets to cuisine from that side of the world. One of the cool things about Israeli culture is that most people are from the surrounding countries which really lend to an eclectic culinary experience.
Any advice for busy moms looking to get dinner on the table every night?
Buy a crockpot! …All-Clad if you must know… It saves me every time. I throw together whatever I have in the fridge in the morning, sometimes premeditated- but sometimes not, and when dinner rolls along and another day swooshes by with seemingly having “done nothing” AGAIN...at least I can serve a hot and delicious meal to my family. Several of the recipes from my book are crock pot friendly, my two favorites are the Slow-Cooker Provençal Lemon and Olive Chicken and the Coffee-Glazed Braised Beef.
Thanks to Jenna for that great advice about the crockpot. I have to second that! Check out these recipes from her cookbook and then enter below to WIN your own copy: