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brownie

Triple Chocolate Buckwheat Brownie

Triple Chocolate Buckwheat Brownie

These days I am doing a bit of experimenting. Some have been happy surprises (like working with buckwheat flour or this service) and some recipes I tested that needed tweaks and yet others that did not work out well. The best test of a new item is indeed in an old favorite. That for me in baking is always a brownie - rich, chocolete-y, moist, fudge-y brownie!

The result was a deeper flavor that stood well with the chocolate, instead just letting the latter take center stage. The brownie, overall, felt a lot lighter to eat as well!

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Chestnut Fudge Brownie

Chestnut Fudge Brownie

Since my first encounter with the Tuscan specialty castagnaccio, I have fallen in love with chestnut flour. Finer than almonds, sweet and nutty in flavor, the flour of chestnuts is as elegant as a lady in an evening dress, gliding on a carpet of Fall's golden leaves! Now, is the season for roasted chestnuts. The aroma of these freshly roasted mingles as spiced air, before the onslaught of mulled cider and cinnamon. It harkens Fall/Autumn in a natural sense. 

Personally, I have been baking with chestnut flour for a while to very happy results! 

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Gluten Free Peanut and Almond Chocolate Brownie Pots .. and the Food Blog Forum Orlando

Gluten Free Brownie Pots

What a fabulous weekend this was! I was in Orlando for two days attending the Food Blog Forum and meeting so many people I had been speaking with for months.

Crazy world that we live in now, isn't it?! We talk for hours on non-personal mediums before actually making that face to face connection, which, has typically been the basis of any relationship. Yet, it works!! I had a blast finally meeting those who have inspired me, supported me and just so many new lovely bloggers.

And, Oh! yes, the short respite from the quizzical NY weather was ofcourse lovely. Ninety degrees ain't barmy, I agree but after tiring six months barely North of the thirties done make one more acceptable of the other extreme.

The Speakers

So, what happened at the forum? A lot of good learning and merry making.Julie and Dawn had lined up just the perfect speakers that as a food blogger we would be interested in hearing from. There were discussions around building the optimal site (for viewers and search engines), food composition and photography, making a buddy of that big media house rounding off with the plain simple truth.. the opportunities for making moolah in it all!!

And special thanks to Jaden for being so open about how she came to be where she is, putting real things in uncluttered perspoective and giving us an idea of just what we can aim for. She was indeed the true Spirit of Generosity that she believes in!

I think it's safe to say that we all left optimistic, enthused and ready to start converting our dreams to reality.. setting goals, making real plans of getting there and working consistently on getting there. So good luck to us all! :)

Helen styling session

As part of the event, Julie and Dawn had also arranged great mixers pre and post. Friday was bit of feeling your way through evening but by Saturday we were all good friends! LOL. I am so happy I got to meet so many passionate and fabulously talented bloggers, not to mention, amazing people I have been wanting to meet for eons!!

I finally met Helen!!! Her photography has been an inspiration for my journey of viewing through the lens. I have spent so many hours, I don't dare to count, ogling through her archives and the ethereal beauty of her photos, in a quest to learn and grow.

Bread & Spread styled by Helen

Sometime during Saturday evening, Helen, Jeff, Susie and I were discussing photography (DUH! right! 2 photographers and 1 wannabe!) and particularly the merits of shooting food against dark and white backgrounds. I personally love photos with dark backgrounds. I think it isn't for every subject but there are some, and I remember, specifically, bringing up the brownie, as on that works on a dark background.

So, yesterday, when I was itching to bake and since brownies are my somewhat comfort dessert, I fall back on, brownies it was. But, of course, I wanted to try something new right?! So, hesitantly, I looked around and mustered up the courage to go gluten free again.

Brownie pots

No, really, I was not banking on serendipity. Just more flavorful flavors that are similar in texture and density to regular flour. And, my secret was ... peanut flour!! I have to confess, I don't like peanuts in food.. just cannot do it. But in here with the chocolate and almonds, the flavor is mellow and smooth.

Peanut with chocolate is awesome! Two strong flavors that yet, balance and bounce of each other. The brownie has the hint of peanut but is also well rounded by the cocoa and dark chocolate. Texture wise, it is moist, with a fudge like bottom and more more cake like topping.

Brownie Pot scooped

I made these in little pots, just for fun. It's cool to have your own brownie pot, ain't it, especially, since I find it very very hard to share brownies! Anyway, you can always make these in the typical brownie mold that you use. Happy Week! :)




Gluten Free Peanut and Almond Chocolate Brownie Pots
(based on my original Brownie recipe)

Brownie Pots scooped
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Total Time: 35 min
Yield: 4 individual servings

5 T butter

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (be generous)
2 T cocoa powder
1 egg
2 T fine peanut flour
2 T buckwheat flour
3 T almond meal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
dried plums (optional) '

Over a double boiler melt together the butter, sugar, salt, cocoa and chocolate until the butter has melted and it's a thick mixture. Remove from heat and whisk in the egg quickly. Add the almond meal, both the flours, baking powder and mix completely.

Pour the batter into a greased individual ramekins. Place dried plum in the center of each ramekin. Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes. Remove to cool on rack for as long as you can hold yourself.

{VOTING OPEN} A drive through New England and a picnic with Colors

Thank you so much for supporting me so far in PFB 2010. Voting is now open for until 6PM PST on Oct 28, 2010. Please use this link to vote. Thank you very much! :)

Picnic Table

As much as Fall portends the beginning of the cold and dreary, I think it is THE most gorgeous time of the year. It isn't too cold for one to step out, take a deep breath and smile and see people smiling back (come Winter and nobody smiles in NYC. They just hurry past!). And, the best part, of course is seeing Nature putting on a simply glorious show! The red and golds of leaves simply warm your heart.

However, it is only for a short period of time that one can enjoy this Nature's dance. And, it doesn't always happen. It's a timing thing. During my stay here in the North East, I have perhaps seen vibrant colors only once before this year.

2 Vibrant

This year, this weekend (I am writing this post from Boston), we were lucky again! We decided to drive through New England and with much help from N.E. blogger El, we charted out a route that took us through some the most gorgeous regions we have seen during this season!

Ofcourse any road trip like this isn't complete without food.I am not very big on road trips mostly because I fall asleep on the drive.. hehe.. actually I do that in any moving vehicle. It's the momentum I think. So, one way I stay awake is by munching. I always have a bag of something like crusty bread, fruits or other homemade snacks on hand in the glove compartment.

Curried Orzo Salad
Warm Masala Orzo Salad with Cumin Roasted Sausages and Tomatoes

And, then there is the actual food for the journey. I typically pack our own lunch; find it simpler and healthier. The practise started since we hike quite a bit and the feeling of eating a sandwich and fruit at the peak is just incomparable. As it happened, this trip coincided with the Project Food Blog challenge 6 and we took with us a more elaborate spread than usual.. noone is complaining!! ;-)

Bag-Collage

For the challenge we were told to "whip up a entree, side, drink, and dessert to enjoy after hitting the road, from picnics and school lunches to bento boxes, or any other meal on the go". When I saw the challenge, a. I went on a nostalgic trip and b. When I came back, I had way too many options for things to make and take.

Cauliflower Cake side
Cauliflower Cake

The story is this. Going to school in India, we would carry our lunches from home everyday. We all had steel lunch boxes that were carried along with a plastic water bottle in a plastic or wire lunch basket. Yes, they sell baskets especially for carrying lunches and there can be much status rivalry in that too!

My lunch boxes typically had rotis with vegetables or some rice dish. I was a picky rice eater, so rice wasn't so common in my lunches unless it was either pulav or biriyani which were the only rice items I LOVED! My favorite lunches were typically Monday's because it was usually the leftovers of our Sunday lunch. Sunday was usually the day we ate meat, so it was an extra special treat for me to revisit the next day!

Spiced-Apple-Pomegranate-Cider
Spiced Apple Pomegranate Cider

Mr. FSK's on the other hand, grew up with whole different lunch custom. His consisted of mostly sandwiches made with varied fillings like egg, sausage, meat cutlets etc. Meat was more common at his place than vegetables (the reverse for me) and so he never really had a real vegetarian lunch! I, on the other hand, had never sighted sausages before move out of the country! Yes, indeed, a marriage of opposites... :)

Living in the US, and especially NYC, we have been fortunate to have the opportunities to explore almost every cuisine out there. Being natural foodies with little qualms for new experiences, we have had so much fun trying out new dishes and flavors.

Focaccia-Collage
Ivy Gourd and Cumin Spelt Focaccia

Dessert-Brownie-&-Pears copy

In my picnic basket for the trip, I tried to mesh all these experiences, his past, my past and our present, into a cohesive meal. So, on our picnic table were, Warm Masala Orzo Salad with Cumin Roasted Sausages and Tomatoes, Spiced Cauliflower Cake, Ivy Gourd and Cumin Spelt Focaccia and for dessert Mini Brownie Cakes with Ripe Pears. And to keep us warm, we were drinking Spiced Apple Pomegranate Cider.

The orzo is new take on flavored rice that I love so much with the addition of sausages calling to FSK's childhood. They make sausage rice at his place :). The spiced cauliflower cake was an inspiration from Deb, that was just perfect with the pasta. The, focaccia? Ivy Gourd is one my favorite vegetables and I use it here like one uses caramelised onions. Spelt flour is used to make rotis.

Picnic Food Plated

Fruits are usually our dessert for hikes and trips, but for this trip, spurred by the challenge, I went for a little extra! :) Chocolate pairs so beautifully with pears that it was a no brainer combination.

We enjoyed our sumptuous spread in Holyoke State Forest somewhat half way in our meandering route from NYC to Boston. We drove through North West CT, through South West MA, over to North East MA touching Harvard and Concord and then Boston. CT is now at peak and Western MA is declining. East MA is now in color. So if you want to catch some colors this year, get out on the road quickly and don't forget to pack a good lunch for the road!! :)

Picnic Grill

Some tips on packing for the road -

1. For any kind of trip, I usually prepare everything I need the previous night, so I am not frazzled the day of. This especially helps, when you plan early starts like for hikes.

2. For hikes, keep in mind that what you carry should, not only easily fit in your backpack, but, also last through hours in the sun. For carrying ease, wrapped foods like sandwiches work better than rice and pasta. I avoid meats here since I am not always confident of how they handle heat. Always carry some fruit, non-squishy ones. They are the healthiest source of sugar for a boost of energy.

3. For road trips, a carb rich main such as rice, pasta or bread is good. I typically avoid raw items like raw tomatoes here since sitting for prolonged periods release juices that may detract from the dish. That's why I roasted the tomatoes in my orzo salad.

4. For healthy munchies, I like roasted nuts, ends of crusty bread or fruits.

5. We carried the drink in individual jam bottles. It not only looks cool but it's a great way to store any remaining drink and you know whose is which..

6. Invest in a set of reusable plastic/melamine crockery and cutlery. I used melamine plates, platic water glasses, plastic cutlery for this picnic. Another great way to carry items like bread is to wrap in parchment paper. Then at the picnic you can use the paper for plating as well!

Fall Colors




Warm Masala Orzo Salad with Cumin Roasted Sausages and Tomatoes

1/4 lb orzo, cooked al dente and drained
1 package of grape tomatoes
2 precooked sausages, diced
2 T red onion, diced
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
3 T olive oil
salt, pepper and oil to saute/roast as needed

Toss the tomatoes in oil, salt, half the cumin and garam masala and roast at 300F for 1-1/2 hours until they burst and shrink. Meanwhile, saute the sausage with the remaining cumin until browned.

Mix the orzo, onions, tomatoes, sausage and olive oil together gently. Taste and add more cumin and garam masala if needed. Before packing, warm the salad (not hot) in the microwave.



Spiced Apple Pomegranate Cider


2 cups apple cider
2 cups Pomegranate juice
3 sticks of cinnamon
4-5 cloves
2 tsp pomegranate arils (optional)

Bring everything except the arils to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let rest for half hour for flavors to develop. Pour into glasses, tops with some arils to serve.


Picnic Table 1

Because it makes me happy ....

Double Choc Pudding Brownie copy watermark

I am, in general, a rather happy child. Life chugs along, brings its ups and downs and most always, I can see the silver lining, even if faint.. But, there do come, once in a while, some downer days... Without a warning and sometimes expected, the dark cloud looms over and refuses to budge..

Then my Knight-in-Shining-Armour has to trek all the way from whichever part of the world he is in and come make me smile. He always does.. never-failingly.. :) He is dependable, that way.. actually every way :))

Anyway, I had a bout recently... the clouds came and nested.. laid chicks and built an army of not-feeling-good-ness. So, KiSM came poo-poo-ed the clouds and sent them running elsewhere.

Double Choc Pudding Brownie scooped watermark

The sun peeked again over a largely cloudy sky.. but hey! atleast there was a bit of shine and all. Pleasure in little things, one must take... Knight went back where he came from and I was by myself again. It was ok, I was feeling kinda sunny again...

Then I made this brownie. It makes me happy! without fail. I am not a chocolate person but I love my brownies.. especially when the sun is shy and rain abounds. This one melts, is gooey and full of butter.. all good things to tuck into when you feel not all chirpy and fun... I don't even wait for it cool completely. I sit with the whole bowl .. scoop .. eat .. feel better...

Double Choc Pudding Brownie scooped 2 copy watermark

I am smiling again... much to say there.. I want another scoop.. going to get one.. Hope you are having a good Wednesday...


Double Chocolate Pudding Brownie ©
(Original FSK recipe)

5 T butter
1/3 cup + 1 T sugar
1/6 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/6 cup milk chocolate chips
1 egg
1/3 cup flour
3 T almond meal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
2 T dry coconut for sprinkling

Over a double boiler melt together the butter, sugar, salt, cocoa and chocolate until the butter has melted and it's a thick mixture. Remove from heat and whisk in the egg quickly. Add the almond meal, flour, baking powder and mix completely.

Pour the batter into a greased 5 inch square dish. Sprinkle the coconut over the batter. Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes. The center will still be gooey and jiggle a bit but will not be runny. Remove to cool on rack for as long as you can hold yourself.


Double Choc Pudding Brownie - just a bite copy watermark
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