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quick bread

Sunday Toast - Buttermilk Chickpea Loaf

Sunday Toast - Buttermilk Chickpea Loaf

This loaf is a variation of a flavor version I had made earlier. As it is made with 100% bean flour, I lightened it with buttermilk to add airiness and make it not so dense. Yet, because of the very weight of the protein pack chickpea, it behaves much more dependably than other bean flours and stays whole when sliced thin. It is really good toasted with a little salted butter and piled with scrambled eggs. Plus it takes all of 30 minutes from start to finish!

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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

lazy

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.

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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.

The Fragrance in The Warm Air

Chive and Mint Soda Bread

My apologies for being a tad quiet around here. I have been working behind the scenes on a couple of projects. I have started compiling and researching for the next issue of

NOURISHED

celebrating Summer. And, the other is a photography workshop that I am putting together for July! I am really excited about sharing my journey in getting intimate with the camera with you and hope to inspire you to finding your own unique voice and style. Anyway, I will have more details to share with you soon!

I have also been traveling a bit in an attempt to understand the real story of the food system in America. Short of doing a Masters in the subject, I find that the only reliable way of getting to the bottom to all the complexities that is the food industry is by following the trail myself. I have chosen to start with the beef industry and I sense that this journey may touch more than a large chunk of the food industry at large! I promise to write an unbiased, in-depth report of my findings. No expose. No sensationalism. Just plain investigative reporting with an analytic and realistic approach. I am so kicked about this research to be honest!

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And, while I have had my head down in the mud with all these digging around, the weather has turned outside and become so invitingly warm! Ok, there are days when it is horribly hot but on other days, I am rather glad that I can walk around without a ton of covering weighing me down. With this warm weather has come a bounty in the markets! I am so thrilled to see my farmers' market that is year round, brimming with colorful produce and increasing in the square footage it covers as more farmers come in during the season. As a consequence, I have been enjoying simple meals as you can see from my Instagram feed. Things that are quick and easy to make and filled with flavor. Things that give me sustenance and strength, yet satisfy my entirely.

Using the magazine as an excuse, I have been playing with my food and having so much fun! I can't wait to share the next issue with you guys. Also, I wanted to say thanks. The Spring issue surprised me with its popularity and resonated with so many! Distribution has been fantastic and a couple of recipes have been running favorite. The glutenfree Quinoa Burger and Buns from

the magazine

were featured on

Redbook Magazine

recently!!!

Fresh Herbs
Chive and Mint Soda Bread

I have added a couple of features on FOODLY, including a featured ingredient of the month. This month, I am weighing in on some great ways to store and use fresh Summer herbs. Read my post on that here. As a parallel to that post, I wanted to share a special recipe here with you that showcases some of the herbs I have been enjoying these few days. I have for you a fragrant and savory Chive and Mint Soda Bread. This recipe is special because I closely guard this recipe for the soda bread but I think it is time I let you in on some secrets! :)

Herb Bread with Eggs

I finely chiffonade the mint and chive and gently mix into the dough. The green flecks running through the baked bread is gorgeous to behold. They hold their color, it is amazing! And, it makes a wonderful pairing with scrambled eggs. Of course, I recommend springing a generous amount of herbs in the eggs as well, as you must!


Chive and Mint Soda Bread

{adapted from a family recipe}

Chive and Mint Soda Bread Sliced

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg

2 T olive oil

1 cup butter milk

5-6 T finely chopped herbs (I used chive and mint. Be generous with the herbs, they are awesome!)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp honey

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour all the wet ingredients in. Add the herbs as well.

Whisk in the dry into wet using your hands. Mix until it just comes together. Do not over work the dough, else it will come out dense.

Also, it is better to be on the slightly wet side to allow it room to breathe.

Transfer the dough to a well floured baking sheet and pat it flat to about an inch thickness

Score the top as a cross to let the steam escape.

Sprinkle flour on top and bake for about 30 minutes until golden on top.

To test, tap on the bottom of the bread and it should sound hollow. If the top looks sufficiently browned but you feel it is not fully cooked yet, turn the bread and bake upside down for 5-7 minutes.

Remove from oven, cover with cloth and cool to room temperature. Seriously, wait till it nearly cooled down. It takes beautifully crumbly then.

Store wrapped in cloth and in a closed space without drafts. Stored properly, it will last atleast 4 days.

A Different Kind of Bun

Quinoa Burger with Chickpea Buns

There is a certain luxury in living life across borders and a certain jauntiness that comes with that in the purposeful blending of cuisines. Having lived in India, Japan and now the US and including my travels in Europe, I have mentally collected, hoarded really, several cooking ideologies and traditions.

At times, this wide range of experience makes me want to play and experiment without necessity and just for the pleasure and thrill of it. This is in broad terms called fusion cuisine. I am all for it because it is whimsical and filled with flow. But, it really serves no real purpose or fills no void. It is simply an expression of art.

At other times, I am struck by the simplicity with which a solution to a dietary constraint can be so easily borrowed from another cuisine and near seamlessly applied. This isn't a hack, it is progressive collaboration.

Quinoa Burger with pickled onions and Aioli

On a recent visit to South India, I reconnected with the vast variety of the regional cuisine and reacquainted myself with dishes I had lost touch with. One day, as I was eating the oh-so-delicate

neer dosa

and was struck by an epiphany; Indian cuisine has several naturally gluten free, vegetarian and vegan ideas! All it needed was a bit of adaptation for a different application or palate.

Of that stroke was born a few ideas that are approachable, accessibly, non-curry like in taste and entirely functional in the Western eating agenda.

Today, I share one such inspiration with you. A gluten free Quinoa Burger sandwiched between

gluten free Chickpea buns

and stacked with quick pickled onions, homemade garlic aioli and fresh mustard greens. The burger itself is inspired by the aloo tikki with coconut flour forming the binding agent.

Quinoa Burger with Chickpea Buns

The buns, now, are my pride. I played with the ratios to create that rise and sponginess one expects in a burger bun while keeping it entirely gluten free by using chickpea flour. The secret here is resting the batter when mixed. Although the flour does not have gluten, this resting period allows some form of bonds to be formed that mimics the functionality of gluten, making the bread similar in texture and crumb to its gluten equivalent. The optimal resting period is 15-30 minutes. Less than that, the dough bleeds without coming together, any longer and it goes flat and the water separates.

I own, I do not know the chemistry behind this happens, but I tested it numerous times and it works. No other flour, lentil or grain (other than gluten ones), possesses such structural integrity as that of the chickpea. It is no wonder, then, that it is used so extensively in several cuisines that consume a variety of flours in ways other than bread and cake, Italian, Meditteranean, Indian, amongst possibly others, I don't know about.

If you know of other cuisines that use the versatile chickpea in interesting ways, I would love to hear about it!

Find my recipe for the burger buns on FOODLY and the burger itself is featured in the latest issue of NOURISHED magazine!

On an Easter Monday I wrote

Carrot Bread

Come to me and I will whisper secrets in your ears.

Walk with me and I will let you see where I live.

Listen to me and I will let you hear how I laugh.

Open to me and I will show you a surprise.

Tell me your worries and I will soothe you to be calm.

Hush, my love!

Take me not at face, for I run deeper than you perceive.

- Asha

These are the words that would come to me on a rainy day, huddled around a candle that shows off the sparkle in the eyes and the glint of suspended laughter while the sky breaks outside.

These are words that come to me after a weekend spent in the nation's capital - Washington DC.

Rain drops on the window

At first glimpse, you probably thought this was a love note. It could be. It is also to me what the capital of 'power stands for, shifting sands, changing faces, emerging trends, whispered promises, vibrant laughter at unexpected quarters.

So, yes that is what I did over the Easter weekend. Took a bus down. Sans camera. Walked around the capital. Sans camera. Visited a Smithsonian museum. Sans camera. Dined and libated very well. Sans camera. Throughly enjoyed. Sans camera. Oh! I made memories. Sans camera.

As I was packing on Saturday morning for a bus leaving an hour, I spent 15 minutes wrestling with myself on the subject of bringing my camera with me. The advantages were obvious - great shots of a new city and new experiences, another catalog to add to the book on how I lived and yes, I will feel normal, like me. I am always capturing the moment, so to speak. It only made sense I should continue to do so! Yet, yet, there was a part of me that simply did not want to. A part that harkened back to the good old days of walking into something new without worrying about how to record it for posterity, the part that brings back rich memories imprinted in my mind at whim, the part that languishes as my camera has become my bff, the part that had had simply enough. So, in the end, I made a conscious choice of leaving the big camera behind and if need be, use my phone camera.

Simply the best decision ever!

Jefferson Library
Capitol Hill
Union Station DC

Not only, did I not have to carry a whole other bag that was camera friendly, but I found that I was simply more in the moment. Instead of spending my time viewing through the lens and composing shots every step I took and in the process, half-ignoring all other stimuli and the company, I was watching, listening, absorbing.. Ahem, being normal! Instead of shooting every glass, plate and whatever else was put in front me, I turned to my neighbor at the bar and had a chat. I had a blast!

I loved the freedom of not picture perfecting my break.. :)

So, my impressions of the city. It is one in transition. The food scene seems to be just breaking. As is the coffee scene. Staying close to the Hill was good for tourism and museum hunting but not so great for life. That I found in DuPont circle and the area. I may be forgiven for drawing comparisons to Boston and New York but that part of DC reminded me of both cities in parts. It also helped that we had some really tasty bites and the best coffee in DC here!

Oh! and the awesomest thing about DC is that it is much cheaper than NYC. If you hunt around and prepare, you can find nuggets of gold, in whatever your choice of poison, at prices far lower than NYC or Boston standards. People are amazingly friendly, open and chatty, but not everywhere. Bobby Van's in Downtown is a miss, Old Ebbitt Grill by the Treasury (of all places) is a vibrant bar with awesome food, amazing bartender (Joe) and a completely unpretentious atmosphere. José Andrés rocks! His concept bar, bar mini, is amazing. Do not miss! And ask for Carly. She is fun, quirky, CIA grad and amazing mixologist. Also, settle for a few hours there. Totally worth it! Oh, and get the foieffle. If that is the last bite of your life, you will die happy!

I took a sparing few photos, of my trip to DC on the phone, that I have shared here.

Carrot Bread
Carrot bread with brandied fruits

And, now, because we started this post with the romantic image of a rainy day, let us finish with that.

Nothing beats baking on a day when you are forced to stay indoors. of course, you can get through that backlog of work, writing, editing, proofing, thinking, reading, etc. But baking is more fun, more fulfilling, more sparkling and laughter enabling. Trust me! I have a lot of experience in this.

Also, I love the light on rain days. They make amazing shoots. Case in point.

I was meant to share this pre-Easter but well, things got away and this is going to be your weekend brunch or weekday dessert. Make it any day. You will be happy and nothing wrong with a treasure hunt on a normal day. Break it up. Make Carrot Bread. With brandied fruits. Don't skip the brandy. It is perfect for the rainy day.

This carrot bread is like any other quick bread. If you have a recipe for a zucchini or banana bread that you love, simply use that. That is what I did. If you don't I have one here just for you. As it is a little denser than cake, I would not recommend simply baking in a round tin and calling it cake. It won't work.

Cracked Eggs

Part 2 of this recipe, involves more baking and will be telecast in another episode. Until then, as the days warm up, lets just make sweet breads and call it a day, shall we?!

Happy week! xx

Whole Wheat Carrot Bread

{makes 1 five inch loaf}

Carrot Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 medium carrots, grated

1 tsp grated nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

5 T butter

1/4 cup whole milk or almond milk

1/2 cup raw sugar, ground + 2 tsp to sprinkle on top

3 T brandied fruits (I used raisins and cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt together the butter and sugar and set aside to cool.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

Whisk in an egg to the cooled butter mixture and add the milk. Pour mixture to the dry ingredients to create a batter.

Fold in the carrots and brandied fruits. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top.

Pour batter into a lined loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until browned and springy to touch.

Cool on rack for 15 minutes before slicing.

Serve with honey, more brandied fruits and chopped fresh fruit or creme fraiche.

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