Fall 2013 (Vol. 1 / Online Issues

Who Needs Gluten Anyway?

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Who Needs Gluten Anyway?

By Rachel Wangler | Homecoming Issue

Do your taste buds tingle whenever you pass a cupcake store?  Imagine smelling cupcakes and knowing you can’t eat them.  Finding a place to satisfy your salt or sugar cravings can be near impossible when you’re navigating food intolerances. Follow Rachel Wangler as she goes in search of gluten-free treats that will satisfy even the most devout of gluten-lovers, with photos by Amanda Tien.

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A year and a half ago I learned that I could not longer eat gluten, and after nineteen years of eating whatever I wanted, it felt like my food world was ending. No more warm bread, no more pancakes, no more cakes or desserts. I began a mission to find gluten-free foods that weren’t cardboard flavored and dust-textured, aspects that gluten-less products seem to specialize in. Fortunately, New York is a haven for specialty foods and there is no shortage of gluten free options. In the name of my mission, I recently went on an adventure to the Lower East Side to eat at such places like Teany, TuLu’s, and BabyCakes.

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Teany is a teashop below sidewalk level, making it a small reprieve from the bustling city that rushes past the windows. The restaurant is narrow, but the pillows lining the booths create a comforting, homey atmosphere. The cafe specializes in vegetarian and vegan cuisine, offering gluten-free bread as a substitution. I visited Teany first–figuring I should probably have lunch before doubling up on dessert at my next two stops–and tried their Cubano (“chicken” cutlet with avocado, roasted red pepper, and mozzarella) on gluten-free bread. As a sandwich enthusiast, I thought the Cubano was crisp on the outside, yet soft on the inside, with “chicken” that could fool most carnivores, and mozzarella which held the sandwich together nicely; stringy and salty. As for the bread, the texture was perfect–soft on the inside, evenly toasted on the outside. It didn’t have the off after-taste some gluten free breads have, and it didn’t crumble and fall apart when bitten into. Yet, while the sandwich was good, it wasn’t what I would head downtown for, as there was nothing particularly remarkable about it. Nonetheless, if you’re dying for a gluten-free sandwich and find yourself in the Lower East Side, I would recommend Teany.

Teany is located on 90 Rivington St. For more information call (212) 475-9190 or visit teanynewyork.com. Monday-Thursday & Sunday 10am-11pm, Friday 10am-12am, Saturday, 10am-2am.

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As a self-confessed sweet tooth, I was eager to search for a satisfying dessert, so my next stop was Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery. TuLu’s eases the sugar cravings of the gluten intolerant whilst also providing sandwiches for salt-lovers. The shop is slightly smaller than Teany, yet energetic and inviting, with minimal décor of bright wall decals, and a high table lining the wall and encouraging customers to stay awhile to enjoy their baked delights. I ordered a Vegan Agave Brownie, with an intense chocolate flavor that didn’t overload on sweetness. The brownie was dense and moist, but it held together, and the chocolate chips inside were a pleasant surprise, adding some crunch to the exceptionally smooth brownie.  But I still had one more stop to go.

Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery is located on 338 East 11th St. For more information please call (212) 777-2227 or visit tu-lusbakery.com. Sunday-Thursday 10:30am-10pm, Friday & Saturday 10:30am-10:30pm

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Although Teany’s and Tu-Lu’s had their strengths, BabyCakes is the place I would return to time and time again, forcing my gluten-eating friends and family to join me. I would dare to say its even better than the “real stuff;” BabyCakes owns the realm of dessert. The bakery is adorned in soft pink with striped awnings above the window, a cushioned bench below the window, and small magazine clippings and sketches hanging around the store. It’s the kind of bakery you would find in an illustrated children’s’ book, though cramped and with little room to sit.

I can never pass up a seasonal treat, so was immediately drawn to the Chocolate Dipped Pumpkin Madeleine. In my former, gluten-eating life, I’d never had a madeleine but I imagine that if I had, it would be my glutenous dream. The BabyCakes’ equivalent was a fluffy-but-firm little cake with granules of sugar that accentuated the savory pumpkin flavor. The chocolate was smooth and delicious. I also tried the Mocha Cookie Crunch Donut, which was light, not oily, and the taste was clean. The mocha frosting was fantastic, with a pronounced yet not overwhelming flavor, and a silky texture in balanced contrast with the cookie crumble on top. I’m not the biggest frosting fan, but I would head down to BabyCakes for the mocha frosting alone, and be sorely tempted to buy everything in the cases.

BabyCakes is located on 248 Broome St. For more information please call 855-GO-BABYCAKES/(855) 462-2292 or visit babycakesnyc.com. Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.

Two-Ingredient Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

For those weekends I can’t make it out of Morningside Heights, and I need a quick sweet fix, a friend’s mom passed on this recipe: a two ingredient, gluten free peanut butter cookie with no added sugar. It’s a hit in the dorms, and I find I don’t feel quite as guilty when I eat too many of these cookies, or when I eat them for breakfast.  It’s no BabyCakes but it definitely satisfies.

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Ingredients

2 cups natural peanut butter (I like to use Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams)

2 large eggs

Method

  1. Mix together the eggs and the peanut butter in a large bowl. This can be done with a mixer on a medium-low setting or by clean hands if you are feeling adventurous.
  2. Place the bowl into the refrigerator or the freezer for 15-20 minutes to stiffen the mixture. This will make it easier to form the cookies.
  3. Preheat your oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Once the mixture has a thicker density, form the dough into balls of ½ inch diameter, or approximately the size of a gumball, and place them onto a cookie sheet, ½ inch apart from each other.
  5. Take a spoon and gently press on the balls to flatten. To create a crisscross pattern, use a fork to gently press on the cookies twice, from opposing directions.
  6. Place the cookies in the oven for 4 minutes. Turn pan around. Bake for 4 minutes, or until cookies have a matte finish. They should be slightly hard to the touch but will give easily. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool.

Once cool, they are ready to eat. The cookies can be sprinkled with sea salt to add a gourmet touch that really brings out the flavor. Another option is to sandwich a tablespoon of peanut butter or Nutella between two cookies for an extra special dorm treat. 

If, by a miracle, there are cookies left over, they can be stored for two days in an airtight container at room temperature. They begin to dry out fairly quickly so they are best eaten the day they are baked. 

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To learn more about the “Homecoming” online issue, click here.  To see the Hungry Wednesday articles, click here.  To see the other articles in the “Homecoming” online issue, click here. And don’t forget to fill out our Hungry Wednesday survey here.

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