Fork Spoon Knife is the personal blog of Asha where she chronicles her journeys in food through stories, recipes and photographs. She can also be found doodling and sharing her experiences as below.

 
                        

The irony of grain free ..... and due credit

Polenta 'Bruschetta'
You have probably heard this rant before, even from me. About food being increasingly commoditized and 'corn' being the poster child of the industrialization of agriculture. Oddly though, corn, for all its versatility of use, processed or otherwise, and villifaction, is not the most traded food commodity. As a grain, wheat and soybean rank higher in volumes traded. Yet, perhaps it is same versatility, and omniscience of it in its various form in pretty much every processed food, that lends to the sorcery of it.

The irony here, as I have been finding out over the past week since I went on an elimination diet, is that corn has been the knight in shining armor in being a satisfying grain replacement.

When I recently found out that I am wheat allergic, I cut it out for the most part. But, I don't know exactly what I am allergic to. Is it the grain, the flour or only processed versions of it? I don't know. And, I suspect that it isn't the only food that troubles me.

One would automatically think to do a scientific test. Unfortunately, there is no single comprehensive allergy test that covers all the possible allergens. For example, I recently met someone who did the test because he was having reactions sometimes but did not know to what and the test came up negative. Only by a serendipitous allergic reaction, did he realize that he was allergic to sesame, a seed that is not normally tested for allergens. So, I figured the best thing to do, as with anything related to consumption of food, is to do it intuitively. The elimination diet was the way to go, for me.

Baking Polenta as flatbread

Instinctively, it has a scientific base of eliminating all possible and suspected allergens and bring the body back to feeling normal, the Control group. Then by introducing one item at a time individually, it is easy to identify the villian that causes issue and then work on eliminating it with confidence.

So, in my case, I have eliminated all grains, except oats, dairy, except culture yogurt. So, this means, not only am I gluten free but all dairy free for the most part. Let me start by saying that I feel awesome! At this point, after a week, I have no gluten cravings. I even pass by the flakiest croissants with not even a second glance. It is of course opportune that it is Summer and the bounty of vegetables keeps my thrilled about my meals and satisfied. I eat a lot of fish and most often, protein with huge helping of vegetables stays me really well.

However, there are times that I do miss something that a grain can offer. This is were corn comes in front, middle and back. I have always been a fan of polenta and I am now eating it in more ways than before. It is my staple porridge like meal. I am baking it into bread, and I am scoring the web for more inspirations.

Polenta Flatbread

Speaking on the subject of food inspirations, you know the thing is, as much as we, food bloggers, keep creating 'new' recipes, I feel, it is rarely entirely new. This is not something that as bloggers creating 'original' content, we acknowledge often. The reality is that sometime, somewhere in our countless hours of being plugged into the world of food, we come across a recipe that makes itself noticed and wedges itself into our sub-conscious. And, then at the opportune moment, it comes to the fore and gets 'originalised' with a little personalization or even a major overhaul. Nevertheless, the creative moment, I argue is not entirely unique to the current creator and that it is in someway always borrowed from either peer or history.

City of Coffee - San Francisco, In Pictures

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To me, the most memorable moments in the city were those spent in the myriad independent coffee shops, sipping slowly and deeply on perfectly crafted, intensely different cortados. The West Coast has been the coffee bed for eternity. Seattle holds no candle to the diversity of coffee that dots the landscape of San Francisco. Coming from New York, I have to say, that I found little new other than the weather, expansiveness except for the coffee. It is, after all, a city and behaves just as one with its cultural enclaves, food markets, restaurants, night clubs et all. But the coffee shops. Those were another realm!

Also, on my first day on the West Coast, I realized I forgot to pack my camera card. I could have bought a new one. But, I took that as an opportune signal to leave the bulk behind and walk light! So, all the photos I took, below, were on my iPhone and processed using VSCOCAM.


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Baked Salmon with Basil Chimichurri and Rioja

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This post is in collaboration with Rioja Wines. Thank you for supporting the sponsors of FSK.

Spanish wines, unless you are Spanish, is unlikely to be your first choice. The French and Italian have a longer and more popular courtship with this particular beverage. They are more popular, have a wider range and acceptance in the market. And, for those reasons, it is relatively easy to find gems amongst the Spanish compatriots at great value! Where the French wines are complex, earthy, rich and best appreciated with food; the Italian lighter, fruitier, mellower and easy to drink and laugh over, I find the Spanish wines offer a middle ground of being flavorful, punchy but without gravity. Some of them transition really well from cocktail hour to main course and through the between courses.

Basil from garden
Baked Potato & Sweet Potato Fries

Yet, I must admit that despite my acknowledgement of the different note that Spanish wines bring to the table, I find fewer choices of reds that I am familiar with than compared to the other territories including the US. While, I continue to work on my portfolio of experience with the Spanish wines, one wine maker that does jump to catch attention is Rioja. For anyone who drinks any amount of red wine, the name is familiar. So, it was for me. I like their reds and the mild hint of spice I feel pairs well with some of the dishes I make. However, my favorites and hands on choice of drink for the warmer seasons is the Rosado line of wines.

Thumbalina Carrots
Roast Carrots and Beets

The Rosado is comparable to the Provencial Rose except that the skins are left to ferment for longer, causing the red to deepen and flavors to richen. What I really like about them how full bodied they are, in that as cool as the wine flows on the palate, it still carries a distinctive punch of flavor. Roses I find are typically bland especially, especially contrasted with the richness of the full bodied red cousins. Honestly, I find there is nothing more refreshing than a glass of chilled rosado, whether you are simply unwinding with a friend on a hot day or nibbling over a plate of tapas. Even better, it pairs really well with fresh seafood as well as slow cooked heartier dishes.

As Summer is in full swing, my palate tends to run light during the season. I see myself shunning red meat more and drifting more to sea food. As much as fish feels light on the system, it lacks no weight in nourishment making it a great choice for quick and wholesome meals. Also, since I was asked to create a paired meal with Rioja Wines, I decided to take up this as a challenge to pair their non-white wines with sea food and showcase their versatility.

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It is always ice cream time!

Roast Peach Coconut milk Ice cream

Hello, I am back. Yes, I know I had promised to keep this space updated for the two weeks that I have been absent. Honestly, I fully intended to. I even bought the airline wifi package for just that purpose. But, alas, I was lured by the wiles of the California coast and found myself whittling my time in sheer bliss. The laptop ended up being dead weight and here I am not even apologizing for the step-motherly treatment. The thing is, I am not really sorry, after all. This was my vacation for the year and I was having a jolly good time. Surely, you will not begrudge me for it?

Having said that, I have to confess that when I boarded the flight in NYC, I was still not ready to go away. The days before the departure are a blur to me. So many things to get done, a magazine to design, put together and publish, posts that were due for other platforms, recipes to be tested and shot. I didn't think I had time to stop. I was running and I fleeting even thought that the vacation had come at the wrong time. I mean really. I was fatigued, stretched, sore and in general not in a mood to go have fun. My mind was stressed and wired and filled with dire thoughts of incomplete projects and jumbled feelings.

Roast Peach Coconut milk Ice cream

In an effort to distract, I signed up for the on board wifi and feverishly plodded away on my to-do list. Because, not doing so, meant spending time with some unfathomable feelings that were stirring within me. I should have known better. My inner self is not the kind that can be coddled away with distraction. Eventually, as I took the CalTrain into Mountain View from the SF airport, I gave in. Once I set foot in the expansive West and breathable California air where I could walk without being jostled, I succumbed in spirit and soul to simply being present. My mind quieted and being back for just a couple of days now, I have to say, I needed that vacation. I needed to step away and not be so connected all the time. I need the breathing space to hear myself and enjoy.

All it took was a relaxed dinner with friends to put me into that space of consciousness. A walk to the peaceful and oh-so-quiet Shoreline Bay the next afternoon only helped. It was quiet there people! There was city behind me but here all I could hear were the sea birds and lapping water. Remember the photos from the last post? That was from there. Not miles away from civilization with nothing around but a mere stone's throw away from a golf course and a public park. The tone of the next few days was set for me. I literally felt stress draining away from inside. I chilled. I sat at the golf course restaurant, drank a beer and read a totally chick-flicky novel and loved it.

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After that came San Francisco, a marathon that I did not run after all, several coffees and more wines in Sonoma. But, that is all for another post. Today, I am back at my desk in a brief stopover at home before flying again. My stresses are also back but I am learning to keep them at bay and just be present. It isn't easy but I am trying to go easy on me. That is perhaps, the most ironic thing ever. I'll learn I think. Very slowly. I have time, it is all mine. So we'll see how it goes.

This Summer I have had cravings for ice cream. It does help that I live very close to an Italian gelato shop for quick fix. Yet, there is something about hand churning ice cream that is so satisfying and deeply satiating. I made this coconut milk ice cream before I left for the vacation. This was another of my psyllium experiments that I have to say was more successful than I had expected it to be. The thing I have found with vegan ice cream recipes is that they tend to be icy as the fat content from the cream is missing. Often you'll find starches bring used to thicken and correct the texture of the thinner nut milks. Psyllium does a similar thickening trick and cutting through some of the icy-ness that may result when frozen.

Ice cream
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I also used coconut milk that has a higher fat content than nut milks. Also, it helps to use only the cream part of the coconut milk, that part that floats onto the top inside the can, and discard the watery bits. I am usually a bit skeptical about using coconut products as I grew up with the notion of its distinctly clingy flavor. Unless you like the strong taste of coconut, unrefined coconut products can very easily over power the subtler notes in a dish, especially, those with delicate fruits. Surprisingly, I found that the coconut cream was much more of a manageable and refined note in this ice cream. I had already cut into the coconut-ness by infusing it with thyme. Roasting the peaches made them a touch more bolder and able to stand up to the other flavors.

This is not a blended ice cream and it tastes as such. You get to taste every flavor with integrity. I used only 2 teaspoons of ground (by hand) psyllium husk in this recipe and the ice cream but creamier than without but still a little icy. I would recommend doubling the amount of husk and reflect that suggestion in the recipe.

For the recipe, please click here.

Incidentally, the current issue of NOURISHED magazine, carries a full feature on the history of ice cream along with some delicious seasonal frozen dessert recipes.

Roast Peach Coconut milk Ice cream

VSCO + Boozy Slushie

Vodka Berry Slushie

Hmmm.. I have been racking my brains for some clever way of telling a story that links those two items in the title. But I can't. So, let me just plunge into it. I have two things to share with you today. Actually, three things.

1. I just got a VSCO portfolio. This one is going to have more travel photos, and some iPhone stuff that I don't post on Instagram. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Shoreline Bay, Mountain View

2. I am in sunny California at the moment and in Mountain View for the first time. I am totally taken by the stunning beauty here that is so accessible. Quite the opposite of living in NYC. I am loving it. Look at that blue. How can I not?!

Vodka Berry Slushie

3. The most important stuff. The recipe. Nay, the cocktail that will set you up for the weekend. I am talking this Vodka Berry Basil Slushie. Somewhere between a margarita (no tequila) and a shaken cocktail. But, it's sweet as Summer and has a kick that you just need to get the party rolling. In this case, it went on for 8 hours. Ummm.. these things happen!

So, well, that's it from me today. Short and sweet. I am traveling for the next few weeks but I plan to keep this space running with inspirations while I am on the road or the air.

Shoreline Bay, Mountain View

Parting thought: WIFI on flight is awesome! Now, they need to work on making it free!


NOURISHED SUMMER 2014 ISSUE NOW ON SALE

NOURISHED Mag - Issue #2 - Summer 2014

I am thrilled to announce that the second edition of the NOURISHED magazine is now available for download.

This edition contains 52 pages of beautiful photographs with 21 recipes (13 gluten free) and 3 stories that capture the essence of Summer. The magazine has been designed to look beautiful on both screen and in print with large format captures of ingredients and full dishes!

Blurb -

To simply give in to the luxury of an un-fussed Summer life.

In this Summer issue, we dwell on The Shift in both palate and mind as we gravitate towards lighter and fresher meals. The dishes are intentionally convenient allowing more time to enjoy the season. This issue focuses on simplifying and lightening our plate and life.

In our feature articles, we explore the different tastes of Summer and delve into the dichotic worlds of corn and ice cream, two of the most evocatively Summer-y foods with story and recipe inspirations.


Take a peak and learn more about the issue here.

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I am also changing a couple of logistical things, to make the magazine accessible to more people. At the end of the day my interest and that of FOODLY is to make food inspirations affordable, so more people can believe that cooking and eating well is entirely approachable and budget friendly.

1. Pricing: The new issue is priced at $2 for the digital version! I will give a disclaimer, that I receive only half that amount after taxes and fees and request you to please spread the word and encourage your friends to buy their own copy.

2. Format: Going forward the issue will be primarily digital based as it is then easily portable into your kitchen, on your tablet, without the worry of spills. However, print copies will still be available through a third party printer, here. I have to be honest in saying that printing and shipping costs are prohibitively expensive and the pricing appears skewed due to that. However, I am offering a free online version with every print purchase to sweeten the purchase. Full disclosure, I make no additional margin on the print copies.

Thank you for your continued support! I look forward to your feedback on the magazine.

Enjoy Summer!
Far Rockaway