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It is old news now that Juno is here. But in New York we are not exactly hunkering down. The transit lines, or the blood lines of the city have been severed or blocked but the adults and children have decided it to game it on foot or skis! I always find it amusing that the cross country skis come out when we have any decent dump! I don't know whether that is adorable or silly or just simply urbanites wishfulness for the country.. :)

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, things have been moving. I have been experimenting the last couple of weeks with using tripods in my photo shoots. I am usually the minimal equipment kinda gal. So, my god-given-hands have been my tripod for the 6 years that I have been in this world.

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An all weather dish - Havarati Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

An all weather dish - Havarati Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes are a perfect dish for your Holiday table as for the BBQ spread. It adds a lovely luscious note to the meal and makes a beautiful side whether you are serving ham or turkey or aubergine as the main. I first made this humble dish for a Summer barbecue a couple of months ago. Wait, don't go away. It is not about Summer. It's about the dish.. Really. So anyway, it was a small part of a large table but somehow over the course of the few hours, it seemed to slowly swell in size to occupy rather the main stage of the table. The reason for this dish's popularity was the unexpected spicy-sweet flavors in it. I had used aged Havarati...

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Fresh Sardines and Corn {Millet} Bread

Corn and Millet Bread (Gluten Free)
Roast Sardines salad

Every time a weekend nears, I feel my pulse quickening. I get the jitters. Especially, in Summer. I want to pack the 48 hours with as much stuff as the hours allow. I find myself thinking of how to maximize the days by cramming all the outdoor stuff and all the new things I want to experience around the city. I want to welcome Monday completely exhausted. That will be my ideal!!

Although, in reality, I rarely do much of it! LOL. Really, this happens every time. Best laid plans. Between wanting to and doing, something slips and I usually am lazing on the couch, thinking I should do more but not really moving. Last weekend was not much different. Friday last, I was armed with a sweet list of exploration, discovery and appetite.

Picnic in Prospect Park
Picnic in Prospect Park
Picnic in Prospect Park
Picnic in Prospect Park
Picnic in Prospect Park

As I come out of the long weekend, I feel like I owe you a rich account of all the amazing things that I did. Well, it was nice, long, indeed and a nicely


one! Nothing spectacular. Just a lot of quality time and catching up. A picnic loaded with amazing meats and cheeses from a lovely

nearby store

, some balls in the range, caught up on a few interesting documentaries and a lot of sleeping. I went outside every day. So, I am not complaining... Ok, I am, just to myself. Now, I want to make the most of this last month of warm weather. I have a long list. Yes, I must. Yes, I should. Yes, yes yes.


Do you guys feel this way at all?

Roast Sardines salad + GF Bread + Broccoli Rabe

In other news, it has been nearly a month now since my self-imposed largely grain abstinence. And, the verdict is that I LOVE it!! I feel great, have loads of energy and I have eaten so much more variety without deliberation. It of course is lucky that I started this in the middle of Summer and all the produce bounty available but this way of eating definitely feels sustainable long term.

I have also found brilliant inspirations around the web that aren't fancy and very much applicable in my every day. My latest crush is

Alanna's beautiful blog

that is filled with amazing gluten free goodies. Recently, I came across her

corn bread recipe

that made my mouth water as soon as I landed on the page. I knew I wanted to make it but the recipe called for some items that I had chosen to stay away from, like rice flour. So, on went the food-blogger hat and I opted for 80% corn, balanced with a touch of a favorite, red millet flour. I also avoided the cheese and ended with a simple flavored bread that was very good as a side but would not be a star.

Roast Sardines salad + GF Bread + Broccoli Rabe

For the same meal, I also made a sardine salad with fresh sardines. The pleasure I got in gutting and cleaning the fish, I surprised myself. Cooking with sardines is an interesting balance of return on effort. Which is to say, if you start with the whole fish, after cleaning and cooking (baking) it, you end up with about a third of the original volume! You would wonder, why bother and why not use canned. These days you even find canned fish that has no additives or funny sounding ingredients in it. But, I have to say, the fresh sardines make a world of difference. For one, they don't taste as "fishy" as sardines tend to. Also, the brine tang of the fresh fish is a lovely addition to the salad, requiring lesser salt added to it.

Finally, to round off the meal, greens had to be there. There is a bounty to choose from now and I went with another favorite, broccoli rabe. I love the mild bitterness that this green has. Most people shy away from it for just that reason. You can blanch it in salt water to remove the bitterness. All it needs then is a simple sauté with loads of garlic and olive oil.

Corn {and Millet} Bread

Corn and Millet Bread (Gluten Free)

1 cup of yellow corn meal

1/2 cup of red millet flour

1 ear of sweet corn

1-1/4 tsp of baking soda

2 small eggs

1 cup yogurt

1/4 cup peanut oil/olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 jalapeño, sliced

handful of sliced yellow onion

handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half vertically

sea salt and fresh cracked pepper for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375F.

Grate the ear of corn to remove the kernels. Set aside.

Whisk together the corn meal, millet flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. In a bowl mix all the liquid ingredients to an emulsion. Pour the wet into the dry and fold to incorporate. Whip by hand a couple of times.

Fold in the fresh corn. Pour into an oiled 8 inch skillet. Sprinkle the onions, cherry tomatoes and jalapeño on top.

Crack pepper and a touch of sea salt on top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and springy. Cool before slicing into it.

Fresh Sardine Yogurt Salad

{for 2}

Roast Sardines salad + GF Bread + Broccoli Rabe

2 fillets of sardine

1/2 small onion

1 tomato, diced

1 ear of fresh corn

1/3 cup of yogurt

2 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce

lots of diced basil

2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper as needed + olive oil

Season the fillets with salt, pepper and divide the rosemary between them. Bake at 350 F for 6-7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, assemble the rest of the salad by chafing the ear of corn to remove the kernels and tossing in with the other ingredients, except yogurt.

Crumble in the sardines and fold in the yogurt and gently mix them to dress the salad.

Serve drizzled with olive oil.

As tasty as this salad is, it does not last for long. I would recommend cleaning the bowl in one sitting.

Baked Salmon with Basil Chimichurri and Rioja

Rioja Wines

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.


Lunch was to be

Salmon baked with basil chimichurri and served with baked potato and sweet potato thyme fries and roasted beets and carrots

. The meal had the notes of fresh herbs against the earthiness of the roasted vegetables. The beauty of this recipe is that while it is really 3 dishes, they are all baked and can be done together. That means, less hands on work and more time to yourself or with friends and it makes a fantastic meal for company. To pair, I chose a Rosado and a red from Temperanillo grapes that have a balanced note with lightly spiced finish.

Rioja Wines

Basil Chimichurri Sauce

3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1 small red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic

1/3 cup olive oil

2 T white wine vinegar

1 T honey

1/2 tsp chilli paste

salt and pepper as needed

Process all the ingredients to a smooth paste and reserve.

Salmon Baked with Basil Chimichurri

4 filets of wild salmon

8 T basil chimichurri sauce (from above)

salt and pepper as needed

Preheat oven to 375F.

Spread a thick coating of the sauce over the flesh side of the fish and bake for 25-30 minutes until opaque and flaking.

Serve immediately.

Baked Thyme Potato Fries

3 russet potatoes or sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch thick strips

few sprigs of thyme

2-3 T olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Toss salt and pepper over the potato slices and spread in one layer on an oven proof rack. Sprinkle thyme sprigs over. Place rack in a pan and drizzle the olive oil generously over.

Bake at 375 for 25 mins. Remove when crisp and lightly golden brown.

Roast Thumbalina Carrots and Golden Beets

8 Golden beets, sliced vertically in half

8 thumbalina carrots, cleaned and tops trimmed

salt, pepper and olive oil as needed

Toss everything together and bake for 20-25 minutes.

That Potato Salad

Potato Salad

At the core of it the potato is a humble vegetable. Salt of the earth kind. One that has no frills on. It is what it looks like. No layers or fancy schmacy building of flavor as you chew on it. Just honest, wholesome food.

Yet, it has been at the center of many a revolution. From economic turmoil after the potato famine to the emergent Californian trend setting of fingerlings and purple potatoes. Spuds have had their hey days in several shapes and forms. From Russia to Ireland, it has been a staple of the poor man's diet and from East to the West coast of US it has been the darling of farmers' markets.

I doubt any other vegetable has been fodder and food and happily accepted as both by man and beast.


I remember growing up on a lot of it. It was fried, spiced, curried and all manner of things were done with it. Then I left India and I ate it a few more ways - baked, frenched, roasted, steamed, with and without skin. Over the years, I have found my favorite varieties. I always gravitate to the red jacket ones. Except when they are new potatoes. I like the non-powdery cores. I like them waxy. I am not a french fry but if you give shoe string fries with rosemary or truffle, I won't say no. My favorite way to eat them is when they are small and roasted whole with rosemary and lots of pepper.

Recently, I picked up a bag of new potatoes and decided to do something different. I wanted something not hot. So no roasted spuds. Well, salad it was to be. This is simple salad that everybody knows of and has their own childhood or adult version of. Except mine has an unique dressing. That is all that is different and I think it is bold enough to warrant a whole post about it. It really makes this salad.

One recipe three dishes!

Raw Cheesecake dressing

The basic protein is cottage cheese and it makes an incredible creamy base. You can bake any leftover dressing too. In fact, I used some of this creation as a dressing and baked the rest and crumbled it into my salad. It is really good. Take my word for it! Or, don't. Try it out and tell me you don't like it! :)

I tossed in some spinach, raw onion and rosemary along with the potatoes and it was scrumptiously satisfying!

Also, it is a raw dressing made with raw yolk and whites. So, I highly recommend consuming all of it as soon as it is made. If you don't eat raw eggs, then I have another reason for you to make this dressing anyway. It makes a great savory cheese cake when baked. If you want to make it a whole meal, you can use it as a tart filling and pour into a crust!

Cottage Cheese Salad Dressing

3/4 cup drained cottage cheese

1 small egg

2 tsp olive mustard or Dijon mustard

1 T oil

salt, pepper as needed

To make the dressing, whip all the ingredients into a creamy sauce like consistency.

Bake any unused dressing into a cake below within 24 hours.


Savory Cottage Cheese Cake

To bake as tart, simply use the recipe below to make the filling and bake in a par-baked tart shell

3/4 cup drained cottage cheese

1 small egg

2 tsp olive mustard or Dijon mustard

1 T oil

salt, pepper as needed

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whip everything together and pour into a prepared baking tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden on top and set in center. Crumble into salad or eat as a tart.


Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK