I’m back from New York City – did you miss me? Mark and I had an amazing weekend in Manhattan – seeing the sights and spending some good time kicking back with our friends Beth and Jon, who we hadn’t seen in far too long. And I can definitely see how the energy of NYC pulls you in and won’t let go. There’s so much to do, your big decision is where to start. For us, it was simple with a 2-block walk from our friends’ home to Central Park. WOW. If I had done nothing else in our three days in NYC but wander Central Park, I would have been perfectly content. We spent nearly a full day wandering the park – exploring different paths, listening to a drum circle, watching a roller skating party, and taking photos of the birds. We LOVED it, and I definitely want to spend more time there next time. (FYI, more photos from our trip are up on Flickr for your enjoyment – thanks to Mark for all the amazing pics!)
As a Foodie, NYC is heaven – even for a Gluten-Free Foodie. There is so much more awareness of celiac disease, it was a pleasure to wander the city and know I’d be able to eat safely in any neighborhood. In guiding our path, I am most thankful for Twitter (and specifically for Elizabeth Gordon – @AllergyFreeLife) and our iPod touch which gave us not only directions to where we wanted to go, but suggestions of gluten-free friendly establishments.
The food highlights of the weekend were all recommendations from Elizabeth Gordon. She lives in the same neighborhood as the friends we were visiting and recommended her favorite neighborhood cafe, Hampton Chutney, where we ate light, crisp Indian dosas filled with intriguing things like curry chicken and balsamic onions served with a variety of chutneys. I was hooked. In fact, we went back twice and would have gone a third time if we’d had time or room in our constantly stuffed tummies. Making dosas will definitely be my next culinary challenge.
Another recommendation led us to Pala, a pizzeria on the Lower East Side that specializes in gluten-free food. We were blown away by the friendly service and accommodation for celiacs. They have a separate oven and prep surface for the pizzas, separate cooking pot for gluten-free pastas, and dedicated fryer for their calamari. I crowed in delight knowing that I’d be able to have fried calamari again. It was excellent – perfectly cooked and ever so lightly breaded with rice flour. YUM. Pala’s gluten-free pizza has a thin, crisp crust with beautifully charred little bubbles and just the right amount of chewiness. I shouldn’t have, but I ate my entire pizza topped with leeks, sausage and sundried tomatoes. I’ll be dreaming of that pizza for awhile, I think. Even more than the pizza, Pala is just one of those rare spots where you immediately feel welcomed – our server took excellent care of us and gave us some great tips for an afternoon spent walking off our gluttony through Chinatown and over the Brooklyn Bridge. I can’t wait to go back.
And finally, in homage to Elizabeth giving us the true highlights of our stay in her marvelous city, I give you her recipe for vegan, gluten-free brownies. Make these – even if you’re not gluten-free. You won’t be sorry. In truth, these brownies lie somewhere on the continuum between fudge and brownies – dense and rich with deep chocolate flavor, one small square of these brownies will satisfy your sweet tooth. You won’t even miss the dairy, eggs or gluten, I promise.
Special thanks to our wonderful hosts for the weekend, Beth and Jon, for sharing their world with us. We feel blessed by your friendship and hospitality!
Double Fudge Brownies
Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nut, Egg and Legume-free
From Elizabeth Gordon, Allergy Free Life
Makes 16 brownies
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso crystals
3/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup date paste (see note below)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup boiling water
1/3 cup gluten, dairy, soy, nut and egg-free chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees conventional and lightly grease the bottom of an 8×8″ glass baking pan with canola oil. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, sorghum, xanthan gum, espresso crystals, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the applesauce, the date paste, the cider vinegar, the vanilla extract and the boiling water until the batter is thick and smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center will NOT come out clean, so don’t over bake. The brownies will feel firm to the touch when they are done.
- Remove the finished brownies from the oven and immediately top with the gluten, dairy, soy, nut and egg-free chocolate chips. Spread them with a knife until they are smooth. Let the brownies cool completely before cutting. I put mine in the refrigerator when they were cool just to harden the chocolate layer. For easy cutting, dip a very sharp knife in hot water before slicing. The covered leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Note: To make date paste, coarsely chop 1/3 cup dates (about 8 dates) and put in a mini-prep food processor with 2T very hot water and pulse until it forms a loose paste.
100 calories per brownie, 20 cal from fat, 2g fat, 20mg sodium, 110mg potassium, 3g fiber, 15g sugar, 1.8g protein