Monday, February 27, 2006

ARF Tuesday: Chipotle Burrito

Every Tuesday, Sweetnicks challenges us to *up* our nutritional awareness with her wonderful ARF/5-a-day event. My entry this week is a spicy and filling burrito that manages to pack a nutritional punch, using two antioxidant-rich foods, kidney beans and black beans; a salsa containing raspberries (another ARF-rich food) and a bunch of fresh colorful veggies.
It all started when my best friend M returned from a trip to Texas bearing foodie gifts (the best kind of gifts in my book, and this girl knows it!). The goodies consisted of a big bag of assorted dried chiles and a bottle of Mrs. Renfro's Raspberry Chipotle Salsa. Hmm...raspberry and chipotle...girl, what were you thinking?? I decided to give the salsa a chance anyway.

Chipotle Burrito


A. Beans mixture: Soak 1/2 cup kidney beans + 1/2 cup black beans overnight. Cook the beans till tender. Mash the beans adding a clove of garlic (minced), some salt and one chipotle chile (toasted and ground to a powder; this stuff is hot, so adjust amount to your taste).

B. Vegetable mixture: Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a skillet. Saute 1 onion, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow pepper, 1 zucchini (all cut into cubes) till the veggies are tender. Season with some salt and pepper.

C. Store-bought items:
Flour tortillas, warmed
Sour cream
Salsa (I used Raspberry-Chipotle)
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Assemble the tortillas as shown in the picture. Serve with more salsa to dip in. This stuff is sooo good, and equally good for you! The smoky chipotle flavor permeates the beans and jazzes them up. The over-stuffed tortilla is very filling and I needed just one for my dinner. The sweet raspberry provides a delightful contrast to the spice. If this were not enough, this is a good fridge-cleaning recipe, and any left-over odds and ends of veggies can be used up to make the veggie mixture. And now I am addicted to that raspberry-chipotle stuff. Somebody help!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

IMBB 23: Viva La France!

This month's IMBB has a very exciting theme: Our host Cucina Testa Rossa challenges us to come up with some authentic regional French recipes for this one!

I started with visions of making a Nicoise feast with Pan Bagnat and Aioli with vegetables, but life intervened and brought me a busy week, so here I am returning to my favorite French vegetarian stand-by: Crepes. Simple thin pancakes that are a very basic recipe, but oh-so-versatile: they can be filled with savory fillings (think veggies and cheese) or sweet ones (nutella or fruit) and can be featured at all meals from brunch to a luxurious after-dinner dessert. It is certainly a recipe worth including in one's repertoire!

So here it is: Crepes filled with a savory mixture of spinach and mushrooms in bechamel sauce. Or rather Crepes Epinard et Champignon avec Sauce Bechamel (Merci beaucoup, Laura of Cucina Testa Rossa for that wonderful translation!)crepes
This particular filling that I chose today is for three reasons:
1. I am particularly obsessed with the combination of spinach and mushrooms; sauteed together in some butter and garlic, I think spinach smells better than Chanel #5. See examples here and here.
2. A couple of years ago, I was visiting friends in Chicago and they took them to a cute little creperie for brunch. This delicious creamy spinach-mushroom filling was the one I chose that day and it was just perfect for a lazy Saturday morning....this is the attempt to recreate the dish.
3. Last weekend I checked out a great little cookbook from the library: Julia's Kitchen Wisdom. What a gem of a book! It contains all sorts of master recipes for basic French cooking, including one for crepes and its many variations (one spinach-mushroom combo too) and for various classic french desserts. This post is dedicated to Julia!

Now for the recipe...
Savory Mushroom-Spinach Stuffed Crepes

Part un: Make the bechamel sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk, heated
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, heat the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat, the flour should stay golden. Whisk in hot milk, then cook the sauce for 2 minutes, stirring continuously while sauce thickens. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Part deux: Make the vegetable filling
3 cups finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup packed chopped baby spinach leaves
1 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
Bechamel sauce (recipe above)
1. Saute onions and garlic in the butter.
2. Add the spinach and mushrooms and cook till spinach wilts and mushrooms cook through.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cool the vegetables slightly, then stir in the cheese and bechamel sauce.

Part trois: Make the crepes
Recipe from Julia's Kitchen Wisdom
(makes 8-10 large crepes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup cold water
3 eggs
3 tbsp melted butter (more for greasing pan)
1/4 tsp salt
1. Blend all the ingredients together to make a smooth batter.
2. Let the batter rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
3. Heat a non-stick pan and grease it with some butter (I like to simply rub on a piece of cold butter so that it melts into a thin layer on the pan).
4. Make crepes using a small ladleful of batter for every crepe. Ladle on the batter, tilt the pan to spread it, then cook till golden-brown on one side, flip over and cook briefly on the other side.
5. Stuff each crepe with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable sauce. Serve hot.

The crepes were golden and beautiful, not to mention melt-in-the-mouth delicious! This recipe is so easy and calls for simple ingredients; I know I will be making it again and again. Thanks, Cucina Testa Rossa, for inspiring me to make this wonderful French brunch!
Tagged with: +

Saturday, February 18, 2006


This article is part of a special series called "The A-Z of Marathi food". India is the land of diversity. Each of the 28 states in India has a unique cuisine but the Indian food served in restaurants represents only a tiny fraction of our culinary heritage. I come from the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Capital: Bombay (Mumbai). Population: 96 million (only 11 countries in the world have a population higher than Maharashtra). Language: Marathi. Traditional Marathi food is earthy and humble, diverse and very tasty. It also remains relatively unknown to non-marathis. Its time to change that. I invite you to join me on an alphabetical culinary tour of my state. We will go through the letters A to Z and make a dish with each letter to show-case Marathi cuisine.

W is for Waran-Bhaat.

Moving on to "W", I knew there was but one thing I wanted to make. A meal that embodies simplicity and humility. After weeks and months of eating spicy curries and using recipes with complex spice mixtures, our palates need a break!

The food that babies and toddlers are fed all over the world has many common attributes: it is bland, mushy and nourishing. As we grow up, our tastes mature and it is exciting to try different flavors, spicy and exotic. But every so often, especially in times of crisis and stress, we find outselves craving that primeval mouth-feel of comfort food.

This comfort food has different versions all over the world. It might take the form of small pasta shapes dressed simply with butter and cheese...the simplest form of macaroni and cheese. Or peanut butter and jelly. Or chicken-noodle soup. In Marathi food, that simple comforting dish is Waran-Bhaat.

Waran is a the simplest form of dal. In my grandmom's version, toor dal (split yellow peas) is cooked to mushy goodness, then mashed up and dressed with some curry leaves and a sprinkling of salt and turmeric. This dal is served with some fresh steamed rice (bhaat). The duo of the dal and rice is eaten with the mandatory dollop of ghee (toop), a wedge of lemon (limbu) and some salt (meeth) on the side. Thus we have the glorious platter of Waran-Bhaat-Toop-Limbu-Meeth, the magic words that transport the Marathi soul to simpler times.

On one of those inevitable days when you feel harrassed and stressed out, a bit under the weather, and the thought of eating a full meal is too unappetizing, try this simple meal. It is designed to lift the spirits and make you feel like all is right with the world again.

Waran-bhaat is also the first course in the traditional meal served at Marathi weddings. You eat a small amount of waran-bhaat before moving to to the rich festive dishes. Maybe it is a symbolic recapitulation of our taste in food, or just a tribute to this simple and delicious food.

Note: I know that what I am spelling as "waran" should technically be spelled "varan", but you will let that one slide, won't you?

(serves 3-4 as a full meal; ready in 30-40 minutes)

1 cup rice
1 cup toor dal 
5-6 fresh curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste

To serve:
Wedges of fresh lemon
Kosher salt (or any coarse salt)
Ghee (clarified butter)
Fresh steamed rice 

Soak the dal for 20-30 minutes. Rinse several times, then cook (on stove-top or microwave or pressure cooker) till the dal is completely cooked. Use the back of a ladle to mash the dal into a coarse pulp. 

Add salt, turmeric and curry leaves and enough water to get the dal to the desired consistency. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat off. 

Meanwhile, cook the rice till tender. Ladle the dal onto a mound of rice, with a dollop of ghee on the dal. Serve lemon and salt on the side, to be mixed in as desired.


  • If you want to include vegetables in this meal, any simple stir-fry will do. Classic combinations include waran-bhaat with pan-fried potatoes or cabbage stir fry, and waran-bhaat with a milder version of matki usal.
  • If tomatoes are in season, serve some fresh sliced ripe tomatoes with waran-bhaat for a special treat.
  • The important thing is to eat this meal right after it is cooked, while it is steaming hot. In Marathi, the term for freshly steamed rice is pahilya vafecha which means "of the first steam" and this kind of rice is considered nothing short of a delicacy!

Hope you enjoyed this palate-cleansing food! We shall meet soon for another wild-card letter, the mysterious "X" of Marathi food.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

For The Love Of Cheese Sandwiches

I just found out that I write a "cheese sandwich" blog. A recent article written by Pete Wells of "Food and Wine" magazine sought to take a look at the world of food blogging. The result is, in my opinion, a strange and lopsided article that misses out on many many aspects of food blogging.
**Read the article here**
Many things about the article bothered me. The way he chose to pick on specific bloggers by quoting their words out of context is just so mean and small-minded. His forceful words "Nobody cares what you ate for lunch" suggests that somehow people who choose to blog about everyday, simple food are inferior to those who choose to write edgy, dramatic food blogs. What do you think?
Me, I love my "cheese sandwich" blog. Or shall I say my "dal-chawal" (beans and rice) blog. I shall continue to try and blog about more tasty, nutritious, affordable, accessible, sustainable, wholesome food.
Join me for a cheese sandwich!
Thick slices of fresh sourdough bread...spread with butter, then stacked with slices of fresh tomato and green peppers, blanketed with shredded aged cheddar and a sprinkling of pepper and grilled till melty...mmm....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

'Tis The Season...

Love and Laughter to you and yours!

The idea for the lollipop flowers is from (who else but) Martha Stewart. Thanks to my friend SR for not only pointing out the idea to me, but also buying me the lollipops :) Isn't she the sweetest?

Look who else wanted some of that sugar...
"Aah, that hit the spot..."

Friday, February 10, 2006


This article is part of a special series called "The A-Z of Marathi food". India is the land of diversity. Each of the 28 states in India has a unique cuisine but the Indian food served in restaurants represents only a tiny fraction of our culinary heritage. I come from the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Capital: Bombay (Mumbai). Population: 96 million (only 11 countries in the world have a population higher than Maharashtra). Language: Marathi. Traditional Marathi food is earthy and humble, diverse and very tasty. It also remains relatively unknown to non-marathis. Its time to change that. I invite you to join me on an alphabetical culinary tour of my state. We will go through the letters A to Z and make a dish with each letter to show-case Marathi cuisine.

V is for Vaangi Bhaat.

Inching our way towards the end of the alphabet, we arrive at "V"! It is a letter of several complex and spicy Marathi dishes. Most of the "V" foods need a bit of time and effort to make, but are so worth it in the end. The most sought-after V is Vada or deep-fried fritter...a general term that in fact encompasses a wide variety of tasty morsels. The darling of all Maharashtra is the potato fritter or batata vada, spicy mashed potatoes formed into little balls, dipped in a thick chickpea batter and deep fried to a golden brown. A great way to convert these into a quick meal is to sandwich them in a bread roll to make vada pav, a food sold on street corners everywhere in Maharashtra. See my recipe for these goodies here. I can't resist adding the picture of vada pav again in this post...By the way, the combination of batata vada and sheera is a classic, often served at tea-time get-togethers.
Vada Pav
Another slightly unusual vada is made by combining different flours into a dough, making a flattened doughnut-shaped disc with the dough and deep-frying it. This vada is traditionally eaten in a combination with chicken curry, called vada-kombda ("komdba" is rooster). The chicken curry is quite dispensable; the vada tastes just as wonderful with any spicy lentil curry.

In the produce section, "V" stands for vaangi or eggplants; in India ones we find small eggplants that would fit in one's palm, unlike the huge Italian ones that are more common in the US. They are well-beloved in Marathi foods and most popular preparations are bharli vaangi or stuffed eggplants, which we made already in the "B" of Marathi food, and vaangi bhaat or eggplant pilaf, which we shall make today. Vaangi bhaat is popular all over Southern India, a culinary vestige of the Maratha invasion of Southern India in centuries past. In talking about eggplants, I should not forget to mention vaangi bharit, a dish of roasted eggplant popular in many sub-cuisines of India, and better known by its North Indian name, baingan bharta.

Another important "V" veggie is vatana or green peas. In India, this is a winter vegetable and for just a few months during the year, plump little pods show up in the markets. I remember as a kid, my mom would often recruit me to help shell peas while in season, and store them away in baggies in the freezer for use throughout the year. Two favorite "vatana" preparations are vatana patties made in the same way as these patties were, replacing beans with peas; and vatana amti a wonderful peas curry with a coconut base.

Speaking of peas, we cannot forget the "V" beans, vaal, also known as dalimbay. We already made a rice dish with these in the "D" of Marathi food, but they also can be made into vaalachi usal as a semi-dry preparation.

We finish up the "V" foods with the sweetness of velchi/veldoda or cardamom, which is my absolute favorite spice. Cardamom is found in almost Indian dessert (often paired with saffron) and in Northern India, cardamom is used in savory foods to dramatic effect. Cardamom pods tucked away in one's pocket or purse make for a convenient and effective (not to mention sugar-free) breath freshener.

On to our "V" dish, vaangi bhaat. Now deciding on one "authentic" recipe for this dish was well-nigh impossible! This rice dish can be made with stuffed baby eggplants or just with cubed eggplant; the spice mixture can be one of many different combinations. So here is my disclaimer: after sifting through many recipes, and thinking back to all the vaangi bhaat I have eaten in my life, I present to you my very own version. No claims that this recipe is THE ONE. It tasted great though!

Vaangi Bhaat

(serves 3-4; prep and cooking time: approximately 1 hour)
1 cup long-grained rice such as Basmati
8 small eggplants
For tempering
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 bayleaf
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
For masala paste
1/2 cup onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh/frozen grated coconut
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
3-4 cloves
1 small piece of cinnamom stick
2 cardamom pods
salt to taste
2-3 dried red chillies
1 tbsp oil
4 tbsp minced cilantro
1. Wash the eggplants, trim away the stems, slit part-way into quarters.
2. To make the masala paste, heat the oil, saute all the masala ingredients and grind into a fine paste.
3. Stuff the masala paste into the eggplants and set aside.
4. Heat 1 tbsp oil, add the cumin and mustard seeds, then saute the bayleaf and onions. Add the salt and turmeric and then the rice. Add 2 1/4 cups of water and let it come to a boil.
5. Simmer the rice for 2 minutes, then add the eggplants, placing them in the pot gently. Simmer the mixture till the rice is tender. By then, the eggplants should also be tender to the fork.
6. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

1. It has been brought to my attention that sometimes, the eggplants do not cook by the time the rice is tender. I usually make this rice in the pressure cooker and have no problem with the eggplants getting cooked. If you are making it on the stove-top, you might want to partially cook the stuffed eggplants either in a pan or in the microwave before proceeding to cook them with the rice.
2. To make this dish with eggplant cubes, simply saute the masala paste and the cubes with the rice and proceed.
3. To make "masale bhaat", substitute mixed veggies (cauliflower, green pepper, green peas, carrot, potato, eggplant) for the eggplants.
4. Make sure the heat is low and that you watch it often so as not to overcook the eggplants (they fall apart).
5. Serve with a generous dollop of ghee, some papads and yogurt for a complete meal.

See you soon for the "W" of Marathi food! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Recipe Watch 2: Indian Entrees

We meet again in the "Recipe Watch" segment, where I try out recipes from other bloggers and find some great new entries for my recipe file. This time, to celebrate the blossoming of so many great new Indian food blogs, I chose the theme Indian Entrees, and made a dish from each of my favorite main-course staples.

1.Eggs: Everyone seems to have a favorite recipe for egg curry. Me, I want to learn how to make 'em all! It is amazing how you tweak the spice mixture a little bit and change the curry base around somewhat, and end up with a whole new delicious curry. This time I tried Mangalorean Egg Curry, a family favorite kindly shared by Tina of the new blog Tina's Cooking. This turned out to be a fabulous Sunday lunch for us, the curry is aromatic and subtle, very flavorful indeed. I served this with brown rice and a simple salad of cucumber and tomatoes.

2. Vegetables: Cauliflower seems to have a bad reputation in the blogosphere ("Oh, that smell etc!), but I have to say that it is one of my favorite veggies! Courtney and her friends from Naughty Curry posted a recipe called 'Magical Peppercorn' Cauliflower Korma that sounded so tempting...and am I glad I tried it! The combination of peppercorns and cashewnuts was delicious and unusual. This recipe is a keeper.
Green peppers are humble and ubiquitous, but they usually play a supporting role in most dishes. Kay of the beautifully named blog Towards a Better Tomorrow posted her friend's recipe for Marathi-style Green Peppers dish that showcases this vegetable. This is a wonderful method of stir-frying veggies that I will be talking about again when we come to the "Z of Marathi food"...and this green pepper dish was simple and tasty in combination with some roti.

3. Beans: They are the very backbone of my diet, and I stock my pantry with a variety of beans, looking for new recipes to cook them. Recently, Priya of Priya's Kitchen posted a recipe using black "chana" or chickpeas...I had to run out and get these and add them to my "dal" collection. The resulting Kadala Curry was delicious with brown rice and yogurt, and the leftovers made for a tasty lunch the next day!

4. Soy: Bilbo from Smorgasbord and I have been friends for half a decade (before either of us knew what a blog was!) and now I love visiting her kitchen virtually. I enjoyed making her recipe for Kheema Mutter or (faux) minced meat with peas. Ground soy nuggets look startingly like meat! This curry was very tasty with some fresh crusty bread. It also calls for all pantry ingredients (I always have frozen peas on hand), which gets bonus points during winter.

5. Yogurt: Yogurt is something that completes and complements almost every Indian meal. Shammi from Food-In The Main made this amazing savory Yogurt Curry that is creamy and comforting! It goes well with plain rice or pilaf.

My theme for the next Recipe Watch is Salads!...I plan to find some great salad recipes from my fellow bloggers and try them out for myself. If you spot a great salad recipe on any blog, do give me a holler!

P.S: I know the photo of the hollyhocks (I thought they were poppies but stand corrected!) is irrelevant, but I like posts with pictures so I put it in :) It was taken by V last summer at the Cloisters, the medieval collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

5-a-day: Paneer Pilaf

Sweetnicks has been helping us to be more aware about our nutrition with her ARF/5-a-day Tuesdays, and just for today, Stephanie is taking over hosting duties.

My contribution today: a pilaf packed with protein in the form of paneer (a simple Indian cheese) and tons of veggies, all spiced with typical Northern Indian flavors. I build each of my meals (which on weeknights invariably are one-pot meals!) around a protein...beans/egg/soy/paneer. This dish is "special" enough to serve to company but as an everyday meal, it makes weeknights seem special. The combination of paneer-tomato-onion-green pepper is a classic one, often used to make a rich curry, served with basmati rice. Here it all comes together in a single pot.

You know how you sometimes try a classic restaurant dish at home and it somehow lacks that "restaurant taste"? That happened to me all the time when it came to North Indian dishes, till my mom spilled her secret. She makes a simple spice mixture: cloves, cinnamon and cardamom all toasted and ground together. This is her "Magic Masala" which completely elevates the taste of many North Indian dishes like kormas and biryanis, instantly giving them that rich "restaurant taste" without the accompanying greasiness. Dried fenugreek is another herb which adds an instant authenticity to paneer dishes.

Don't be daunted by the long ingredient list for this dish...all the ingredients are common pantry staples. I don't endorse frozen vegetables if you have access to fresh ones, but in the middle of winter, frozen peas and beans are great to have on hand. The cashews and raisins make this a truly rich dish!

Paneer Pilaf

(Serves 4-5, Prep time: about 15 minutes, Cooking time: about 30 minutes)

2 cups paneer (Indian cheese) cubes
1 cup Basmati rice
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bayleaf
1 onion, sliced fine
Veggies and nuts
1 green bell pepper, sliced fine
1/2 cup green beans, cut (frozen ok)
1/2 cup green peas (frozen ok)
1/2 cup chopped carrot
3/4 cup tomato puree
1 tbsp cashew pieces (optional)
1 tbsp golden raisins (optional)
1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder/ 1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp clove powder/ 4-6 whole cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom powder/ 3-4 cinnamon pods, crushed
salt to taste
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, minced
1. Heat the oil and saute the cumin seeds, bayleaf and onion till the onion is lightly browned.
2. Add the cashews, raisins, pepper, beans, peas, carrots, and saute for a minute or two.
3. Add all the spices and salt and saute for a few seconds.
4. Add the paneer, rice and tomato puree and saute for a minute.
5. Add 2 and a half cups water, stir to mix, and cook covered till the rice is tender.
6. Serve hot, garnished with cilantro leaves.

1. If you own a pressure cooker, this pilaf can be made very efficiently by sauteeing everything in the body of the cooker itself. Add water, close the cooker and cook for a whistle or two for perfect pilaf every time.
2. Vegan version: Use extra-firm tofu cubes instead of paneer.
3. If you have no access to prepared paneer and would prefer to make it yourself, Indira shares a detailed method.
This pilaf is a meal in itself...and here's to getting our 5 veggies a day! Thanks for hosting, Stephanie!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

One Hot Stove turns ONE!

This weekend marks the first birthday of my li'l baby blog...aww, they grow so fast :) I can hardly believe that it has been a full year since I started writing about food. I'm not kidding when I say that food blogging has changed my life in ways I never imagined. The most important one for me personally is that it has lowered my happiness threshold. The simplest thing is now enough to make me absolutely joyful: a food-photo that comes out well, a souffle that rises, a thoughtful comment left on a post. When you start finding happiness in small everyday things, well, what more does one need?
I celebrated today by making some cupcakes. One fun thing about food blogging is that you are right in the midst of all the foodie trends. A few months ago, the self-frosting cupcake craze swept the food blogging world but I never did get around to making them. Today, I used Nic's amazing recipe to make Nutella cupcakes. The taste was exquisite! Thanks, Nic, for sharing this recipe. It yielded 36 mini-cupcakes, rich and delicious with a dreamy hazelnut-chocolate taste. I hate the usual frosting on cupcakes (way too sugary!) so this is perfect for me. See how I am learning from my fellow bloggers? The beautiful cross-stitched towel under the cupcakes is a loving blog birthday gift from my friend SR; her mom-in-law hand-crafted it (such amazing work!). It will be used often!

Also, as part of my celebration, I ordered three One Hot Stove calendars from each for my parents, V's parents and my aunt Yoma. Each month has a picture from the blog. Ordering these calendars made me a bit sheepish when I realized that it took me a whole year to get about 12 half-decent pictures!! Nevertheless, all my favorites, such as the dal poster, apple roses etc. are there and I am really amazed and excited by the quality of the prints. This is what they look like:
I have so many people that I want to thank for this whole past year, please bear with me: The first is V, who cheers me on in whatever I undertake (and I have a new obsession every six weeks approximately). V enjoys trying new flavors and loves every single thing I make. He is my biggest PR agent and unpaid sous chef. What more can a food blogger ask for in a significant other? I should not fail to mention our puppy dog, Dale, who often makes guest appearances on this blog, and who loves to sit on the kitchen floor and supervise me as I cook. He has refined taste and loves a bit of freshly-grated parmesan on his kibbles.

Then my friends, including M, my best friend and staunchest supporter; SR, who is also my colleague and often the only entity standing between me and insanity; LO, who has the enthusiasm of a stadium-full of yankee fans; LK, who often drops in to taste and review the latest dessert being made. My friends eat my humble food and act like they are dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant. They willingly sign up as guinea pigs for the latest experiment in my kitchen. They ask "Did you take a picture?" before they cut into a casserole or cake. There are some things money can't buy. My friends are my ferrari.

My parents are both incredibly creative people, and tireless in taking on new projects all the time. My earliest childhood memories are of them baking and icing amazing birthday cakes (a merry-go-round, a swimming pool, a summer hat...). My aunt Yoma in India and T in upstate NY are avid readers of the blog and always encourage my fledgeling writing efforts.

My fellow food bloggers: you inspire and amaze me with your amazing writing and delicious recipes, thank you for being my teachers and friends. This close-knit community of folks all over the world, cooking and eating together, can there be anything more wonderful? If ever there was a means to world peace, this is it. It is such a welcoming and gracious community...I would never have started my blog if not for the encouragement from a certain someone...Cathy, this means you!

Finally, and most importantly, all the readers who give me a reason for blogging. To those who take the time to write thoughtful comments and e-mails with tips, feedback and plain old encouragement...thank you! I cannot believe my good luck when I get mails saying that some recipe worked and became part of someone's celebration. One Hot Stove is grateful for all that love.