Irish Soda Bread

In the US, Irish soda bread is studded with raisins and contains eggs and butter and almost resembles a tea cake. Purists call this a corruption of the traditional bread which was introduced in the early 1800s. Even those without an oven could bake this bread, all you needed was a cast-iron pot. In honor of St Patrick’s Day, here is a recipe for an authentic soda bread. This is by far the simplest bread i have ever baked, there is no kneading involved and no fancy ingredients. Soda bread, as the name suggests contains baking soda which makes its a dense bread with a slightly dry texture. Buttermilk adds a nice tang to the bread and it tastes great when its fresh and warm. If you plan to make this ahead, make sure to toast the bread slices and slather it with butter before serving.  I have used whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe, but you can use all-purpose flour. Whether you are Irish or not, St. Patrick’s Day is a time for Celtic celebrations, so try your luck with this Irish soda bread.

soda bread

Ingredients

2.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1.25 cups buttermilk

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

3. Add a cup of buttermilk to the dry ingredients and use a large spoon or your hands to mix until the dough comes together.

4. Add more buttermilk, if the mixture is very crumbly. The dough should be moist but not very sticky.

5. Shape into a round loaf (i made 2 mini loaves) and place on the baking sheet. Lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife.

6. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

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Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

I can’t seem to get enough of the orange chocolate combination this season. With “almost spring-like” weather embracing Seattle occasionally this month, i wanted to bake something fragrant and sassy last Sunday for brunch. And i am almost certain that these are my new favorite muffins. Fresh orange juice adds to the flavor of these scrumptious muffins and they taste even better the following day. You’ll have to whip up a batch to experience the flavor and elegance of these muffins. Eat this muffin while its warm or reheat for few minutes in the oven to experience its taste in full glory. This recipe from better homes and gardens is definitely a huge winner and all i can say is no one can resist this pleasant pairing of orange and bittersweet combination of white and dark chocolate chips.

ORANGE muffins

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white chocolate chips (you can use dark or milk chocolate chips too)

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Ingredients for streusel topping

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

1/4 cup pecans or walnuts

2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line twelve muffin cups with liners and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder and white chocolate chips, set aside.

3. In a medium bowl combine eggs, sugar, milk, orange zest, orange juice, and oil.

4. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.

5. To prepare the streusel topping, mix together flour and sugar in a bowl. Cut cold butter into pats, then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

6. Spoon 1/4 cup of muffin batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle generously with stresuel topping.

7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

8. Cool muffins on a wire rack for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Vegan Gluten-Free Quinoa Almond Flour Carrot Cake Cookies

Quite a long title for a Friday post huh? I guess i got very excited to capture all the goodness of this cookie in the title. If your definition of a cookie is flour, sugar and butter, then this protein powerhouse is definitely not for you. This is a healthy cookie which is ideal for on the go breakfast and can double up as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.quinoa cookie1

Quinoa and almond flour make these cookies moist, chewy and the add-ins make it taste like carrot cake. I used organic red quinoa in this recipe, you can use white as well. Make sure to dry roast the quinoa before grinding to bring out its full flavor. This protein rich cookie stores well in the refrigerator for up to a week, that is if it lasts till then . Make a batch this weekend for a guilt-free indulgence while watching your favorite moments on the red carpet this Sunday.

quinoa cookie

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1.5 cup almond meal

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons oil ( any type will work, i used walnut oil)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Method

1. Dry roast quinoa until it begins to pop. Cool and grind to a fine powder. I ground mine to a coarse powder because I like crunch from quinoa in the cookie.

2. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together quinoa flour, almond meal, cinnamon, ginger, salt and baking powder.

4.  Transfer the flour mixture to the bowl of a food processor.

5.  Drizzle in maple syrup along with vanilla slowly and process until a crumbly dough forms.

6.  Transfer it back to the bowl and mix in the carrots and raisins.

7. Using one tablespoon measurement, scoop cookie dough on to the baking sheet. Flatten the scooped dough slightly between your palms.

8. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and golden.

9. Cool cookies in sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer them on to a wire rack and cool completely.

Vegan Gluten-Free Savory Aebleskiver

Kuzhipaniyaram is the south Indian version of Danish Aebleskiver. Most often, left over idli or dosa batter along with onions and green chilies is used in the preparation of this dish. The addition of Bengal gram gives you a slightly crispy texture. You can just add ground Bengal gram and fenugreek seeds and don’t have to wait for the batter to ferment if you already have left over dosa or idli batter. You need a special aebleskiver pan to make this dish. Traditionally, the Danish aebleskiver is made with flour and eggs similar to pancakes. But this Indian version uses rice and lentils, making it a vegan, gluten-free treat. For a sweet version, you can add brown sugar and bits of dried fruits or apples sprinkled with cinnamon sugar to the batter. I have never tried making one with a filling, if you do so, please let me know how it turned out. You can pair this Indian savory delight with tomato-cilantro chutney or coconut chutney, both vegan and gluten-free.

kuzhi paniyaram

Ingredients

1 cup rice (uncooked)

1/2 cup split Bengal gram/ channa dal

1/4 cup+1 teaspoon black gram/ urad dal

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1 tablespoon fresh or frozen coconut, grated

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

2 Thai green chilies, minced

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

salt

Method

1. Soak rice for at least 4 hours and the lentils and fenugreek seeds for at least 2 hours.

2. Grind the lentils and fenugreek seeds in a blender until smooth and place it a large bowl.

3. Grind the soaked rice and add it to the lentil mixture. Add a teaspoon of salt and mix well.

4. Allow the batter to ferment in a warm, dark corner in your kitchen for 10-12 hours or place in an oven with light on for 10 hours.

5. Once the batter is fermented, mix well. This can be used right away to make paniyarams/aebleskiver or it can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.

6. To prepare the paniyarams, take oil in a pan and when its hot, add mustard seeds. Let it splutter.

7. Add 1 teaspoon of black gram/urad dal and cook till it turns reddish brown.

8. Add onions, ginger, green chilies, coconut and peppercorns to the pan and cook for couple of minutes.

9. Transfer this to the prepared batter and mix well. Season with more salt, if needed.

10. Heat the aebleskiver/paniyaram pan and add couple of drops of oil to each well.

11. Spoon batter into each well, about 3/4 of the way.

12. Allow it to cook until the edges begin to brown and start to pull away from the sides of each well.

13. Flip over with a fork or wooden turner and let it cook through, about 2 minutes.

14. Serve warm with chutney of your choice.

Omurice

Omurice is a Japanese dish consisting of a thin omelet filled with fried rice and topped with ketchup. Its a classic Japanese take on a western dish and is popular both at Japanese homes and western diners in Japan. While the idea of ketchup in rice didn’t seem very appealing to me, it actually tasted pretty good when eaten as a whole package.

omurice

It just takes 20 minutes to prepare this, so a good option for busy weeknight dinners or for those days when you want to clean up your vegetable tray in the refrigerator. One day old rice works best for this recipe. If you have fresh rice that you want to use, then refrigerate the rice for at least an hour before using.

omurice

Ingredients

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 onion, chopped

1/4 green bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/2 lb tomato, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup fresh or frozen green peas

2 cups day old white or brown rice

4 eggs

2 teaspoons milk

Oil

salt

pepper

Method

1. Heat oil in a pan. When oil is hot, add onions and garlic, saute till they turn soft.

2. Add mushrooms and green peppers, cook for a minute.

3. Add tomatoes, ketchup and bay leaf. Cook till tomatoes turn soft and mushy.

4. Remove the bay leaf and add rice, green peas. Mix well until the rice is thoroughly heated.

5. Season with salt and pepper. Remove rice from pan and set aside.

6. Beat 2 eggs with a teaspoon of milk, salt and pepper.

7. Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. When oil is hot, add the eggs and swirl the pan so the egg mixture spreads out into a thin layer.

8. Allow egg to almost cook through and slide the omelette on to a plate.

9. Fill the center with rice and fold the omelette, making sure all the edges are tucked in.

10. Drizzle top with ketchup and serve hot.

11. Repeat steps 6-10 with other 2 eggs.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Larabars

I am not a huge fan of energy bars available in the market. Most of them contain a list of ingredients which runs into several paragraphs and most often they contain some form of sugar syrup and that is questionable. But if i have to make an exception and stock some in my car or purse for a quick snack, then my choice would definitely be LARABARS. They are made with unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices and each bar contains no more than nine ingredients. What i like about them more is that it is incredibly easy to make them at home.

lara bars

These pumpkin pie bars have a rich festive taste and a small square makes a great mid-morning snack. If you are looking for a last minute home made Halloween treat, this is perfect for you. While you may not be the most popular person if you distribute these tomorrow to the ghouls and goblins in your neighborhood, especially if you are competing with the snickers and starburst neighbors, i am sure you will feel good that you have shared a healthy treat. These delicious bars store well in the refrigerator for several days. I like to roll them into balls and bars, individually wrap them in plastic wrap so they remain fresh longer. Happy Halloween!

IMG_0255

Ingredients

3/4 cup dates, pitted

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup raw cashews

2 tablespoons almond butter

1 tablespoon pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or use a mix of powdered cloves, nutmeg and ginger)

Method

1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor.

2. Pulse until they come together, scraping the sides often. Make sure it doesn’t become a fine paste.

3. Transfer the mixture on to a cutting board and use your hands to shape it into a rectangle.

4. Cut the rectangle into bars or roll them into balls.

5. Coat them with unsweetened shredded coconut or drizzle some chocolate for a variation.

Vegan Orange Date Pumpkin Muffins

Autumn is in its cool and colorful glory. Navel oranges and pumpkins are dominating the produce aisles of most local stores. This orange date pumpkin muffin packs all the autumn flavors in one little, healthy sweet treat. These are delicious and taste even better when served warm. It is loaded with wonderful ingredients and is chewy on the outside and fluffy and moist on the inside. This recipe was adapted from The EatingWell Diabetes Cookbook and these fragrant breakfast muffins make a great nutrient-rich autumn treat.

IMG_9935

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large orange, peeled and cut into sections

zest from 1 large orange

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons oil

3/4 cup pitted dates, chopped

3 tablespoons pecans, chopped

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line muffin pan with liners and coat with cooking spray.

2. Whisk apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

3. Whisk flours, 1 teaspoon baking soda, baking powder, orange zest, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

4. Puree orange in a food processor.

5. Add apple cider- baking soda mixture, pumpkin puree, sugar, maple syrup and oil to the pureed orange. Process until mixed.

6. Add wet ingredients along with chopped dates to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

7. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle top with pecans.

8. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched lightly.

9. Let it cool in the pan for 5minutes.

10. Loosen the edges and turn the muffins onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.