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Friday, December 24, 2010
Best (Gluten-Free) Holiday Party Ever
Ladies Who Brunch in Miami, August 2010
I have a very close group of friends that I have known for about 5 years now. We all met in a crazy place we liked to call "work" and have remained friends despite none of us working together anymore. We call ourselves "Ladies Who Brunch" since we usually try to catch up over brunch every month or so despite only half of us anatomically being ladies (at least to my knowledge, ha!) Our brunches are epic; they last anywhere from 4 to 12 hours. Believe it! We always consider it a success when we start brunch on a Saturday and end on a Sunday. (This has only happened once and we wound up in 2 of 5 boroughs of NYC... don't ask!)

Every year, Ladies Who Brunch have a holiday party in lieu of our December brunch. This year, my friend H decided to host our holiday party at her apartment. She recently moved to an awesome apartment south of Union Square and had enough space for all six of us to enjoy a delicious meal. I started out as the only gluten-free member of the Ladies Who Brunch crew but another friend went gluten-free a couple of years ago. He was never officially diagnosed with Celiac but he has stuck to a gluten-free diet and feels better than he ever did.

H's mom has Celiac Disease so she is well-versed in gluten-free cooking and preparation in order to avoid cross-contamination. H did a test run of her gluten-free menu over her Thanksgiving break in Florida. Let me tell you, this girl went above and beyond my gluten-free expectations. She prepared a 100% gluten-free meal from appetizers to dessert and even included a signature cocktail.

Here was our menu:
cheese and gluten-free crackers
skirt steak pinwheels
gluten-free biscuits
Thai pumpkin soup
gf ricotta gnocchi
mixed greens with goat cheese
mustard mascarpone marsala chicken with a side of rice and haricot verts
Chocolate banana bread pudding with dark rum creme anglaise

Um, can you say decadent and delicious!? We had planned on a wine pairing with each course, but that didn't happen because we ate too much. We did drink some wine, just not as much as usual. We did have cocktails before dessert which were some kind of spiced apple martini, but even that was too rich to overindulge. 4 out of the 6 of us passed out in a food coma after the meal. This was a wonderful way for me to spend the holidays with my friends!

I have a lot of recipes to share from this meal, but I think the dessert one is the best. H used Udi's Gluten-Free White Bread for the recipe. You can use your favorite gluten-free bread if you don't use Rudi's.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding
1 loaf of Udi's Gluten-Free bread, cut into cubes (about 15 cups)
3 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup coffee-flavored liqueur
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoon gluten-free vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
2 tablespoons teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 ripe bananas
1 stick of butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Place the bread in the baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, and liqueur.
  4. In another bowl, combine the granulated and brown sugars with the cocoa powder and mix well. Add this to the milk mixture and whisk to combine.
  5. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and the cinnamon to the beaten eggs and the melted butter.
  6. Combine the egg mixture with the milk mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. 
  7. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes; let stand, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed most of the milk mixture. 
  8. Bake the pudding for 1 hour, or until set; a knife inserted into the center of the pudding should come out clean. 
  9. Serving the pudding warm, or refrigerate it and serve chilled with whipped cream or a dessert sauce.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, yes, we can say Gluten free ... and, once again, you prove gluten free can be fun. Thanks for showing us the many ways to say "Be happy, don't worry" and still eat safely. Merry Holidays!

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