Friday, December 31, 2010

A farewell to 2010, with mini quiches

It has been a good year for One Hot Stove. Here are a few highlights:

1. The summer of 2010 had me moving into a new kitchen and sharing a few pics of my new playground. Two new appliances found their way into my kitchen- an ice cream maker which kept us happy all summer (and my peeps decided that the peanut butter chocolate was their favorite flavor of all the ones I tried), and a rice cooker that I use on a daily basis, making me wonder why I lived without it for so long.

2. I discovered two brownie recipes that I absolutely love, fudgy cocoa brownies and cheesecake brownies, and I hereby declare that my brownie needs have been met (each of these recipes has been made multiple times this year) and I won't be chasing after new brownie recipes in 2011. Maybe.

3. In keeping with my goal of making basic staples at home whenever possible, I continued to make yogurt at home this year and got much better with practice. And I haven't posted it on the blog, but this year I started making ghee at home, inspired by the Back to Basics event. Taking a cue from PJ, I have been adding a curry leaf to my home-made ghee and the resulting ghee is the most wonderful thing.

4. We enjoyed local food tremendously this year, buying produce from local farmers through Summer and Fall and enjoying them in dishes such as this roasted tomato chutney with dosa.

5. I am thrilled that I finally started composting my kitchen scraps on a regular basis. I also resolved to minimize food waste, and I hope to further streamline my cooking life in 2011.

6. I had been missing the Monthly Blog Patrol event and so launched a similar event, Blog Bites in February- it has been fun (the next round will be in February- I'm taking Jan off from the event to spend some time updating the recipe index and other blog housekeeping). My favorite was this round where we used up items lurking in the pantry and fridge.

7. Thanks to the Of Chalks and Chopsticks event, I wrote two stories and have a new-found respect for fiction writers! It is fun to try something new even if you do risk making a fool of yourself in quite a public way.

8. On a whim, I live-blogged a few hours of my Thanksgiving cooking marathon and enjoyed the experience of a cozy day cooking at home while the first snow of the season silently cloaked the world outside.

9. I've said it before and I'll say it again- my favorite recipes come from other food bloggers, not from cookbooks or TV shows or any other sites. Here are just three of the recipes that I discovered this year that are part of my life now: Kanchan's soy kheema, Richa's Punjabi dal and Arundati's tomato saalan. I love you, all the wonderful bloggers out there, thank you for sharing and being my teachers.

10. Finally, I practiced the art of making pie crust at home and made this chocolate pecan pie twice this holiday season. It was probably our favorite dessert in a year of many great desserts.

Pie crust (although that time it was a store bought one) was the basis for our favorite appetizer of the year, samosa crostata, which took the familiar flavors of samosa and converted it into an easy no-fry crowd-pleaser of a recipe.

With my new-found confidence in pie crust, I made mini quiches for a lunch potluck with my knitting group last weekend. I often make crust-less quiches, but on this occasion, I wanted the works- the flaky buttery crust and the delicate savory filling.

We love caramelized onions in my home, and the recipe that inspired these quiches is here. This appetizer certainly is time-intensive and a labor of love, but the taste is terrific- the mini quiches disappeared in no time.

Caramelized Onion Mini Quiches

Step 1. I started by making the full recipe of pie crust (but only ended up using 3/4 of it, so cutting down on the amount of pie crust would be OK).

Step 2. While the pie crust was chilling in the fridge, I caramelized onions. Thinly slice 3 large red onions and saute them in 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil with a sprinkling of salt. Caramelize 30-40 minutes on medium-low heat. In the last minute of cooking, add 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.

Step 3. Pre-bake the crusts. You need muffin pans for this recipe- I used 18 muffin cups in all (one large 12 cup pan and one 6-cup pan). Heat the oven to 350 F. Roll out pie crust, then use a cookie cutter (or a katori with an edge like I did) to cut out rounds. I then rolled each round some more into a thinner circle and eased each circle into a muffin cup. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes until very slightly brown.

Step 4. While the crusts are baking, finish making the filling. Stir the following into the caramelized onions and mix well:
  • 1/2 cup light cream/ heavy cream/ half and half
  • 3 eggs (I used 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar (or other hard cheese)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • Large handful minced cilantro/ parsley/ chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Step 5. Spoon the filling into the par-baked crusts. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 F until the filling is puffy and golden brown.

Happy New Year- 2011, here we come!

I hope 2011 brings each of you a bustling kitchen filled with the aromas of home cooking, the comfort that only a warm and full stomach can bring and friends and family who share the joy of good food.

What was your favorite food moment of 2010? Do share- I'd love to know.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blog Bites: The Holiday Buffets

Welcome to the Blog Bites: Holiday buffet edition. We have two spreads for you- one for brunch and the other for dinner, for a whole day of festive eats. Each of these wonderful dishes has been inspired by a post on another blog in a gesture of sharing and friendship across the globe.

A brunch buffet

Janet is the queen of decadent breakfast treats and you can get your day to a fabulous start with her protein-rich quinoa porridge with sauteed pears, baked pumpkin cranberry oatmeal breakfast pudding which showcases the best flavors of the season, or fluffy oatmeal pancakes served with juicy berries. If you prefer fruit embedded inside your pancake so you can taste some in every bite, try some strawberry pancakes brought over by Megha. Or perhaps you want some toast spread with fresh butternut squash butter made by the Radioactive Vegan.

If a savory breakfast is more your thing, PJ has made a couple of dosa options- Chettinad dosai which is spiked with a dozen fragrant spices and soybean dosa, a delicious way to use up legumes from the pantry. Dip the crisp dosas into some spicy lentil spice powder.

To round off the brunch, enjoy a cup of your favorite hot beverage- coffee, chai or cocoa- with a thick slice of Tahemeem's mocha banana cake or a handful of Usha's savory onion crackers.

Now that you have eaten your fill, you have a few hours to go off and read a book, do some shopping, go for a walk in the snow or catch your favorite movie on TV. By 6 PM, we're getting hungry again and the table is set for the festive evening holiday buffet.

Dinner buffet

Herb-cheese rolls form a Christmas tree; I made these for the holidays inspired by this post from Sweetnicks.

Many of us (I won't name names) could happily live on snacks alone and I dare you to resist the appetizer options we have here. Grab a mug of mulled cider and and munch on Veena's stuffed crescent rollshot pakodis from Masala Magic, deep fried eggplant balls (!) from the Radioactive Vegan, irresistible paneer tikka shared by Kanchan or Preeti's Kutchi dabeli.

If you really want to warm up from the inside out, you need a bowl of PJ's bonda soup,  with lentil dumplings soaking in spicy rasam.

On the other table is the main course, starting with plenty of fresh baked breads: Supriya's stuffed braided bread could be a meal in itself. Denny shows her love for garlic (I understand; I love garlic too!) with garlic rolls and garlic naan. Use the warm breads to sop up any or all of these curries and stews: Turkish cranberry beans from Taste SpacePJ's soybean kurma, Su's palak paneer or Krithi's paneer tawa masala.

If you like rice, you have a choice of Tahemeem's capsicum masala rice and Denny's sprouts bell pepper pulao, with a side of any of these wonderful vegetables: eggplant in tomato sauce by Miri, PJ's stir-fried yardlong beans, Tahemeem's bottle gourd pachadi and PJ's gobi kasuri.

Radhika showcases seasonal produce with her roasted butternut squash. For a special winter treat, dig into Aqua's casserole of baked vegetables in white sauce.

From Asan Khana, we have a wonderful combination: Kerala egg curry with aloo palak paratha. For the pasta lovers among us, Su has a platter of kale mushroom spaghetti.

You'll be wishing that you saved plenty of room for dessert. If bite size desserts are your thing, choose from besan ladoos by Indosungod or another version of besan ladoos from SS, and Sonia's rava ladoos. PJ brought along a few simple sweets- banana nut cake, custard powder snack cake and maida burfi. SS also made Hello Dolly bars, a cute name for a tasty treat.

Monika made a beautiful marbled brownie cheesecake and Tanvi made red velvet cupcake with a rich frosting. Bong Mom made chocolate cupcakes that she says are better than anything, and I believe it. Bala brought two lovely mango desserts- mango ricotta cookies and white chocolate mango pie adorned with delicate snowflakes.

Sarah tried her hand (and succeeded!) at a classic Indian dessert, rasmalai. Soma made a show-stopper of a dessert with these gorgeous spiced poached pears with chocolate sauce. Finally, try a slice of my warm chocolate espresso pecan pie.

Pavani made a whole buffet of her own, with everything from granola as holiday gifts, mini-quiches and dip, a generations-old recipe of stuffed bitter melon and decadent desserts of tiramisu and fruit cake.

Thanks to all who carried beautiful platters of food to this potluck buffet- and here's hoping that in the new year we continue to see inspiring posts on our favorite food blogs, new recipes to bookmark, new techniques to learn and new ideas to share. Cheers, and thanks and hugs to my fellow food bloggers!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Butternut Squash Lentil Soup

We hosted a small dinner last night and the menu was an easy and satisfying one.

  • Soup- With sweet seasonal butternut squash and hearty lentils, with a touch of curry
  • Salad- Fresh greens with a choice of balsamic and ranch dressing
  • Bread- Cheesy bread straight out of the oven
  • Dessert- Warm brownies with coffee ice cream

The soup was something I made up on the fly, and even with the simple everyday ingredients, the taste was special enough to warrant a post here. This soup would be equally at home if it was served as a dal, with fresh rice and crunchy papads.

Kitchen King masala, that versatile spice mix, is what gives this soup an unexpected taste that has guests asking, "So what did you put in here"? If you don't have this masala, use your own favorite one.

Before starting with this recipe, you will need to cook butternut squash- either oven roasted (takes longer but is more flavorful) or cooked in the microwave.

Butternut Squash Lentil Soup

1. Rinse 1 cup brown lentils (whole masoor) and soak for a few hours if time permits.

2. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Saute 1 medium chopped onion and 2-3 cloves minced garlic until translucent.

3. Add 3-4 cups cubed cooked butternut squash, soaked lentils, 2 tsp. paprika, 2 tsp. Kitchen King masala and 4 cups water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until the lentils are tender.

4. Taste for salt and seasoning. Add salt if required (you will if you used water in the previous step).

5. Garnish with fresh lemon juice and lots of minced herbs- either parsley or cilantro.

This cup of soup goes to Susan's My Legume Love Affair hosted this month by Priya at Mharo Rajasthan's Recipes.

To dunk into the soup, I wanted to make a pan of fresh bread and spotted the no knead garlic cheese flatbread in my bookmarks, from the Baker's Banter blog. I made the dough in my food processor and it came together in just a few minutes. Then I let it rise in the fridge for a few hours while I was at work, then transferred to an oiled pan and let it rise again for a bit while the oven preheated. The fresh bread was wonderful. Today I sliced up the leftovers and made crunchy breadsticks that you see in the picture.

The bread is going to Blog Bites: The Holiday Buffet.

It has been a while since I shared a knitting/crochet project on the blog. This is a little Christmas tree ornament I made for a swap partner, celebrating her first holiday as a knitter (she has been knitting for only a few months).

Finally, we got a plate of cookies artistically made by a little elementary-school-age friend. Isn't this reindeer cookie the cutest thing ever? I can't bear to eat him.

She also wrote me a very sweet card thanking me for the goodies and saying she "epeshely liked the hevanly rugula" awww- the baking was so worth it.

See you on Sunday evening with the Blog Bites Holiday Buffet. Sunday early morning is the deadline so if you have any last minute entries, please rush them to me. Enjoy this holiday weekend, everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Season's Eatings

I spent a snowy Sunday baking up treats for the holidays. It is utter luxury to take a day off from weekend chores and social events and instead to chop chocolate, whip eggs, sprinkle spices, roll dough and fill the kitchen with the aroma of home baking. All while basking in the soft glow of a warm home while snow piles up outside the windows. 

This is the resulting gift box of festive eats, and the photo is my submission to No Croutons Required: The Festive Photos Edition. On the right is rugelach, a filled pastry, in the middle are little cups of sweet-spicy roasted nuts, and on the left are Dorie Greenspan's famous world peace cookies

I've written a post about the world peace cookies before, here. My baking skills have improved a tad in the 3 years since I wrote that post, because I was a little better this time around at chopping chocolate, getting the dough together and baking nicer looking cookies. This is one delicious cookie, with a touch of salt highlighting the chocolate flavor.  They are eggless, short-bread like and simply melt in the mouth. 

If you want to make cookie dough in advance and keep it on hand for last-minute baking, this recipe is perfect. I kept one roll of dough in the freezer and it came in very handy this week when I wanted to take cookies to a friend whose baby was in the hospital- we love you, baby Henry!

The second cookie was rugelach, a traditional Jewish cookie that I have wanted to make for a long time. The question is- which recipe to use? Dorie Greenspan has a recipe for rugelach with a chocolate filling but I wanted a more traditional nuts and cinnamon filling instead. The King Arthur blog wrote a very tempting post on rugelach last month and I decided to try that recipe instead. But baking day dawned and I had no sour cream on hand, so in the end I went with Ina Garten's recipe

The recipe is well-written and was a joy to make. The cream cheese dough rolls out beautifully. I used orange marmalade instead of the apricot preserves, and there is simply no need to puree this in the food processor as the recipe suggests. Instead you can nuke it for a few seconds if needed to make the jam easier to spread. I skipped the sugar-cinnamon topping after the egg wash but otherwise followed the recipe closely. 

Here are the rugelach- not bad for a first attempt. They taste fantastic- a rich flaky dough encasing a sweet nutty filling, and they are small enough that one or two make a satisfying accompaniment to a cup of tea.

You have to be careful to tuck in the ends securely when you roll the pastries; I had a couple of them open up while baking and it resulted in these little pizza slice-like cookies. 

I sent some of the rugelach over for V to share with his colleagues. One of them is a Jewish lady from Russia (which means rugelach are part of her tradition) and she wrote me a sweet e-mail telling me she loved them and could she have the recipe. An Indian woman living in St. Louis making rugelach for an Eastern European friend- I got a kick out of that.

Finally, the glazed roasted nuts- I participate in swaps on Ravelry where knitters send gifts to each other, and in one of these wonderful packages, a knitter named Linda sent me a bag of these nuts along with a recipe card. They are addictive little snacks and we enjoyed them, so I made a mental note to try the recipes around the holidays. The recipe calls for pecans but I used equal parts pecans and walnuts.

Spicy-Sweet Pecans & Walnuts
(adapted from a recipe by Linda on Ravelry)
1. Preheat oven to 300 F.

2. Line a large (11 x 17 inch) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. In a small bowl, mix together

  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more or less to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1/3 cup sugar
4. In a bowl, whip 2 large egg whites until foamy. I did this by hand with a whisk.

5. Gently stir in the spices and 5 cups total of raw pecan and walnut halves. Be careful that the egg whites stay as foamy as possible while mixing. 

6. Spread the nuts in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

7. Turn the oven down to 250 F. Rotate the sheet and continue baking for 15 more minutes. 

8. Let the nuts cool completely. Store in an airtight container. 

Here is the box of festive cheer, ready to be delivered.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. Wishing everyone Happy Holidays during this last fortnight of 2010.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Leaning Tower of Stickiness

V's birthday cake is something of a tradition in our home because this guy loves his sweets. As opposed to me. You could pour potato chips into a bowl and stick a candle in it and I'd be quite giddy with happiness.

Anyway, I spent the last month poring over blogs to look for this year's birthday cake for V. One baking book was mentioned a lot- Sky High irresistible triple-layer cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne (a niece and uncle team). I requested the book from the library and suddenly had so many options for the birthday boy to choose from.

Flipping through the book, I was eyeing a chocolate-hazelnut beauty and a dulce de leche cake but instantly knew THE one: triple-decker Boston cream pie. In our years in NYC, V has enjoyed many (and I really don't want to make an estimate here) Boston cream doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts. He loved that rich vanilla pastry cream encased in crisp fried dough. This doughnut is a take on a classic American dessert called Boston Cream Pie.

Boston Cream Pie contains no cream whatsoever and is not a pie. It does have a connection to Boston, having been invented by a pastry chef there. It is an airy vanilla cake filled with a rich vanilla filling and topped with a bittersweet chocolate glaze- full of simple and classic flavors.

I won't post the triple decker Boston Cream Pie recipe here because the recipe from the book has been posted in its entirety on two blogs, one for a 60th birthday celebration, and another for a 14th birthday party. It looks like people of all ages enjoy this flavor! Get the recipe from this blog if you'd like to try it.

The authors explain that cakes come in different varieties (I definitely learned something new here): butter cakes are the most familiar kind with butter and sugar creamed together and baking powder or baking soda to help them rise. Then there are the foam cakes like sponge cakes and angel food cakes where whipped egg whites give the rising action. Finally, chiffon cakes are a combination, containing both eggs and baking powder, plus some fat, usually oil instead of butter.

Their Boston cream pie is a chiffon cake, it uses 8 eggs- separated- where the whites are beaten to frothy ribbons with sugar before folding in yolks and oil and flour and baking powder. The batter is unbelievably light and airy and bakes into spongy golden cakes.

Meanwhile, I made the rich vanilla custard with egg yolks and some cornstarch and milk. Their directions were so detailed and precise that making the custard was a gratifying experience. In making this cake, it really helps to have two people working together because there's lots of whisking and stirring involved.

My only problem was that I used 8 inch cake pans instead of 9 inch ones as the book called for, resulting in taller cakes. Add to that the thick custard and sticky glaze and the result was an unsteady tower that did not look anything close to picture perfect. Next time, I will bake this in a sheet pan. Never mind sky high!

Here's the finished cake in its utterly sloppy but delectable glory-

The important thing is, the cake tasted fantastic. Even with 14 eggs (!!!) there was not a hint of eggy smell, just the glorious taste of vanilla and chocolate and a light and tender crumb soaking in the custard. Here's to another wonderful year for my wonderful guy!

Thanks for everyone who left thoughtful and inspiring comments on my last post; I've added some of your tips at the end of that post for all to read.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

12 Tips to Minimize Food Waste

I've been reading the blog Wasted Food for several months. When the blog author, Jonathan Bloom, wrote a book about food waste in the US, I checked it out of the library and have been reading it over the past week.

We all know about the fact that there is a lot of food being wasted and we all agree that it is a bad thing. But the book has some stunning facts and statistics that got me thinking. In chapter one, the author talks about food waste at every stage from the time the food is produced until it end up in the kitchen- the farm, factories, transport, supermarkets. Chapter two is about why food waste matters- the economic impact, the environmental impact and the ethics. The third chapter describes the irony of food waste when there is so much hunger in the US and around the world; chapter four discusses how food waste mirrors a society that is driven by consumerism and mindless consumption. Chapter five talks about how our insistence on polished perfection in fruits and vegetables leads to so much waste of perfectly nutritious, edible food. Chapter six focuses on restaurant waste.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the chapters about food waste at home and abut ways to tackle the problem. This book is a must-read for everyone who loves food and hates to see it wasted in such colossal amounts. If you are in the US, your local library probably has a copy.

If we expect any changes in policy on a national and global level, the mindset and action must start at home. Cutting out food waste completely (or as close to 100% as possible) remains a goal for me; I am not there yet.

These are my 12 mantras for cutting down food waste- that I keep chanting to myself. Reading this book made me want to share them with you. 

1. Keep the fridge clean and clutter free. Out of sight really is out of mind (and mouth). By knowing where everything is, food is not hidden or forgotten. I have zones in the fridge for prepared food (ready to eat, such as leftovers), dairy and eggs, fruits and vegetables, and for ingredient that need to be used up (half used cans of coconut milk or tomato, or a  partial block of cheese, say). Seeing these grouped together triggers the reminder to eat them up.

2. Plan meals. As my tea brews in the morning, I spend 30 seconds glancing at the food I have on hand in the fridge and pantry (and that needs to be used up quickly) and fashioning a menu for the day's dinner. I cannot expect to be too creative during the evening rush when we are already tired and hungry. As a bonus, the morning menu planning makes our evenings run very smoothly because deciding on the menu is half the battle. Instead of saying, "What do you feel like eating?" repeatedly to each other, V and I simply team up and cook dinner in 30 minutes while chatting about our day, with leftovers for lunch the next day.

3. Keep some fridge (and pantry and freezer)- cleaning recipes handy. Soup and stew is a good vehicle for all sorts of ingredients you may want to use up. I also like making mixed-vegetable subzis; they taste unique every time even with the same spices. And just about any leftover bits and bobs can be stuffed into a tortilla with cheese and cooked on a griddle with tasty results. In fact, my made-up meals are the ones that we seem to enjoy the most.

4. Be careful while trying "risky" recipes. This is a tough one for someone like me who gets tremendous joy from trying new things. But it is incredibly wasteful to try a new recipe and throw out the whole thing either because you messed up while making it or because it tasted awful. I try to choose recipes where I can predict that we will like them (and that I can make them properly) but it still happens about once a year. Last month, I tried making a burfi recipe for Diwali and it burned and was awful and had to be trashed :(  

5. Consolidate ingredients. The more ingredients you stuff into your kitchen, the higher the likelihood that they will expire or spoil before they are used up, or you will move from that home and trash the lot. After using recipes that called for diced tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce, I now buy only one tomato product- whole canned tomatoes and substitute it for all the other versions. Similarly, buttermilk powder keeps forever in the fridge instead of fresh buttermilk for baked goods and pancakes. If you like cooking from different cuisines, the varieties of oils and rices and spices seem to add up but I try to keep them in check so everything can be used up in a reasonable amount of time.  

6. You can always take seconds. Much is said about the "clean plate club" but I would never ever advocate leaving food on a plate in order to watch what one eats. Why not take smaller servings, eat every last bite and serve yourself some more if you are still hungry? 

7. Don't overeat. This is another waste of food at the most fundamental level, isn't it? 

8. Pause while shopping. The potential for food waste begins the second we buy the food. It is easy to lose control when you are in a food store with its enticing displays, when the word "sale" appears, when food is sold in gigantic bulk quantities that convince you that it is a bargain. But it makes sense to pause right there at the store and really ask- do I need this? Will I use it?  

9. ShareWhen we have friends over for dinner, I hand them empty food containers at the end of the meal and invite them to make themselves a lunch box for the next day. Far from being offended about being offered leftovers, everyone seems to be delighted at taking home extra food and that way it all gets eaten. When we visit friends, they similarly are happy to share leftover food with us. V's colleagues always seem to like it when I send over extra food and baked goods for them.

10. Less than perfect food is still 100% OK to use. You can stir-fry wilted greens and they still taste fine. You can cut the rotting spot off a tomato and still cook the rest. Dried out rice can be revived with a splash of water and a few minutes in a microwave oven or steamer. One has to use common sense and have a working understanding of food safety, but even ingredients that are not shiny and polished like what TV chefs use will result in good eats. 

11. Compost as much as possible. If you cook on a regular basis, a large portion of the trash you generate will be in the form of peels and scrapings of fruits and vegetables- and it is tragic if they end up in a landfill instead of returning to the soil as fertilizer by way of composting. I've had mixed success with this one.

I tried the Bokashi method (anaerobic fermentation) and it was a miserable failure (I can't bring myself to talk about it, it was that wretched, let's just say a lot of maggots were involved)
, most likely because the container I used was not airtight.

However, we have a wonderful community garden nearby and my neighbor happens to be the composting czar there. He has set up large vermicomposting bins there for the community to use (see a pic below). So I collect my kitchen scraps- vegetable peels, stalks, egg shells, tea leaves- in a box in the fridge and go over and dump them in the compost bin every 3-4 days. It has reduced our trash production very significantly. I will never go back to throwing kitchen waste in the garbage destined for the landfill.

12. Be a good role model. I was raised in a home where wasting food was just not the done thing. This had to do with principles and morals, not with any lack of food. All my life, I will rinse out cans of tomato to add to the curry and scrape out the last smidgen of jam with a piece of bread- because it is ingrained into me that this is the right thing to do. Whether we realize it or not, others (especially kids) are watching us and copying our behavior, good or bad.

Do you agree with this list? What would you add to it? What is your own attitude towards food waste?

Edit: Thanks to everyone who wrote thoughtful comments on this post. Here are some of the tips you all shared-

  1. PleaseDoNotFeedTheAnimals: Make a weekly meal planner the day before you go food shopping. 
  2. Amruta: Shop 2-3 times a week.
  3. Namita: If you've cooked too much food, freeze the excess.
  4. Niranjana: Quit the warehouse shopping habit. 
  5. Harini-Jaya: Recycle leftovers into new dishes, like making vegetable cutlets with them. 
  6. Johanna: Get to know the flavors you love so you can focus on them in the kitchen.
  7. Desiknitter: Add stems and stalks (eg. from spinach and cauliflower) to dal instead of discarding them.
  8. Sue: Feed veggie scraps to your free range chickens and meat scraps to your dogs!
  9. Mina: Be grateful for leftovers- it means you have food for a day that has not even dawned yet.
  10. Miri: Plan meals so you can use up the most perishable vegetables (eg. greens) very quickly after buying them.
  11. Anusha: Those little packets of ketchup and sugar in restaurants- use them at home or return them as soon as you are seated so they are not wasted.
  12. Raaga: To keep vegetables from rotting in the crisper, chop them and freeze them while they are still fresh.
  13. Amruta: Check out Shelf Life Advice to maximize usage while minimizing waste.
  14. Angela: Have a "Smörgåsbord" night and enjoy a dinner of leftovers where everyone gets a little bit of everything until the fridge is empty.
  15. Lakshmi: "When we are aware of what we eat, how we cook, and how the food nourishes our body and our soul, we truly respect food and treat it well."
  16. Caffettiera: Prepare a big pantry-cleaning buffet and invite all your friends!
  17. Diane: The 5 minute rule to control impulse buying- When something new and exciting catches your eye while shopping for food, put it down and come back to it after finishing your shopping.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 Diary

This post will be updated as the day progresses, in a kind of "live blogging" style- a diary of a day of cooking and baking. 

Thursday, Nov 25- Thanksgiving 2010 is about to dawn. At 5:30 this evening, there will be about 6 hungry guests arriving here. All I have done so far is grocery shopping and menu planning. Everything else will happen (one hopes) in the next 11 hours.

It is 6 AM and I am showered and dressed for a day of cooking. The first order of business- to jolt myself fully awake with a cup of strong chai and eat a bowl of peanut butter oatmeal. No sense in cooking on an empty stomach.

6:30 AM: Off to clean the kitchen thoroughly and mop the kitchen floor, to start off on a clean slate.

7:08 AM: The kitchen floor is drying quietly so I can take a break and tell you the menu. It is a bit of a hodge-podge, Indian dishes jostling with modified American favorites, just like in our lives.

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut & Curry
Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Pizza
Ranch Dressing with Crudites & Potato Chips for dipping

Dal Makhani
Paneer Korma
Pull-Apart Rolls
Sweet Potato Fries

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Vanilla Ice Cream

7:26 AM: I'm starting with the pie crust, using this recipe but halving it because I will make an open pie. Right now, 1 stick of butter has been cubed and is chilling in the fridge. 
If you are celebrating Thanksgiving tonight, please do share your menu or your plans for the special dinner.

8:05 AM: The pie crust came together in a couple of minutes and is now chilling in the fridge. I'll make the pie around noon.
Meanwhile, I peeled and cut the sweet potato fries and filled up a 9.5 cup capacity container to be stored in the fridge. I estimate this will be a single layer on the 11 X 17 inch baking sheet. All I have to do tonight is toss these fries with olive oil and seasoning (which I made a couple of days ago) and bake.
I am anxious about the sweet potatoes oxidizing and getting brown spots as they sit in the fridge though- is this something I should worry about?

Meanwhile, I am trying to be as "green" as possible by storing pie dough in a bag that tortillas came in (instead of plastic wrap) and composting the sweet potato peels. I will also reuse the food processor for pizza dough before washing it. And use a dish towel to cover pizza dough instead of plastic wrap.

Dale and V are out for their long morning walk. We have drizzly, cold and grey weather here today.

9:17 AM: I took the time to drink a cup of coffee and have a snack (umm- defrosted mock chicken nuggets with sriracha sauce; please don't judge me), then tidy the kitchen for the next bout of cooking.

The pizza dough is made (I substituted 1/2 cup rava/semolina for some of the all-purpose flour because it adds a wonderful crunch and tenderness to the crust) and is rising on the shelf above a heating vent (the only way it will rise properly on this frigid day). 3 onions are caramelizing in a pan on the stove. I hacked open a butternut squash and it is cooking in the microwave oven.

As a rule of thumb, I have no more than 3 tasks going on simultaneously in the kitchen. More than that simply asking for trouble. One task has to be in the background (like dough rising), one that does not need constant attention (like squash in the microwave which will beep when done) and the third that needs attention every few minutes. Note that if you are blogging while doing 3 kitchen tasks (such as me, right now), all bets are off.

V is cleaning the home while watching Kung Fu Panda on TV.

Meanwhile, Dale came back from his walk and strolled through the kitchen with muddy, wet paws. The floor had been clean for a record 85 minutes.

10:34 AM: The pizza topping is ready and in the fridge. I chopped the olives really really fine so Neighbor Girl won't notice. She hates olives although yesterday she loyally told me, "I'll eat anything you make". Yes, flattery certainly will get you everywhere with me.

The squash is cooked and cooling. I'll make the soup right before eating.

I took a short break to paint my toenails and then set out glasses, plates and bowls on the table- all completely mismatched of course because I don't have a full set of anything for 8 people, but we still like it better than using disposable stuff.

Meanwhile, here are the latest shenanigans from Dale, or Scooby Don't as we have been calling him. This past weekend we were dog-sitting for a friend, and their dog is a 20 pounder (as opposed to Dale's 80). Predictably, Dale climbed on Carter's tiny bed and tried it on for size, squashing it.
Remarkably, 3 days later, he had practiced squeezing him body into such a compact bundle that he was able to fit into the little bed, oozing out of the top like an overfilled muffin. And that's the latest on the pooch.
I'm pressure cooking dals and the cooked is calling out to to run.

12:48 PM: Yikes- we are in the PM now!! But I am right on schedule, I think.

V and I worked in an assembly line and quickly cut up a tray of vegetable sticks- beets, carrots, cucumber, daikon radish. This is the only raw food/salad in the meal but there's a lot of it to go around.

Next up, the pie. I'm using this recipe. I managed to roll the dough out without too much hassle; here it is laid out in the pie plate.
Next step: blind-baking the pie. I have a jar of "pie weight" beans, a handful of rajma which has been set aside for this sole purpose and which can be reused over and over. 

Neighbor Girl just texted me to say that she will be here in an hour to "help" me. Which means everything will now take me twice as long to do. On the other hand, it will twice as much fun. Not a bad trade-off. 

2:00 PM: Out of nowhere, we have the first snow of the season here in St. Louis! It is coming down, fast and furious. V clicked this pic of the backyard- quite the winter wonderland (and to think two days ago we were wearing T-shirts outside).
Meanwhile, the chocolate pecan pie is baking in the oven. My modifications of the recipe: I reduced eggs to 3, cut down on both sugar and syrup amounts, added some vanilla, used brandy instead of coffee liqueur.

I'm taking a short break for a cup of chai and some knitting. I am knitting a DNA scarf for V's colleague who saw him wearing it at a party and fell in love with it. Few more rows and this scarf will be done.

5:22 PM: Whew- The three of us- V, Neighbor girl and I rallied and made soup, two curries, rolled rolls, made pizza and then I cleaned up the mess. The pie looks fantastic but let's see what it tastes like (pics to follow).

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it- I am thankful to you for reading my words and grateful for being part of this wonderful community where I learn something new every day.

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie
(adapted from this recipe from Use Real Butter)

1. Roll out a pie crust and blind-bake it. Let it cool. 

2. To make the filling, melt 3 to 4 oz. dark chocolate with 2 tbsp. butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Nuke in 15 second spurts them gently stir to distribute the heat. Overheating will scorch the chocolate. 

3. In another bowl, whisk 
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. espresso powder (dissolved in 1 tbsp. hot water)
  • 2 tbsp. brandy
  • 1 heaped cup toasted pecans, chopped
4. Add melted chocolate to above mixture and stir. Pour into the baked pie shell. Decorate with some pecan halves.

5. Place filled pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 50 minutes or so. 

6. I had scraps of pie dough left over from trimming the edges, so I gathered them, rolled them out again and cut little leaves. I placed the leaves on the baking sheet next to the pie and baked them. Then I used the pastry crust leaves to decorate the pie.

The pie was outstanding- the deep rich mousse-like filling and the crunchy pie crust all went together so well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

This dark lovely pie was adapted from a recipe on another blog, and it goes to Blog Bites: The Holiday Buffet.

We had a wonderful Friday-after-Thanksgiving, feasting on leftovers. I barely ate any of this food on Thursday because cooking seems to satiate me, but I enjoyed them yesterday. We skipped the malls and instead went to see the latest Harry Potter movie.

See you on Sunday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Samosa Crostata

For a few weeks, a box of frozen pie crusts from Trader Joe's has been hanging out in my freezer, waiting for an occasion to justify the indulgence of flaky pie crusts. When we all (including Mr. Dale) were invited to a Diwali celebration this weekend, the time seemed just right.

I wanted to mimic the taste of classic deep-fried samosas- with the fried pastry crust and the spicy vegetable filling- with a much simpler preparation. This was achieved by borrowing from the concept of a crostata- a free form rustic tart where the filling is piled onto a circle of pie crust and the edges folded in to form an edge.

Samosa Crostata
(my own creation)

1. Keep a circle of pie crust handy, either store bought or home made. There are wonderful recipes out there for pie crusts made with butter or a vegan substitute, and either with the usual all-purpose flour or with whole wheat and other flours included. 

2. To make the filling, saute 1 medium minced onion until lightly browned.

3. Add 1 heaped tsp. ginger garlic paste.

4. Season with saltturmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala and coriander-cumin powder (all to taste). Be liberal with the spices. The filling has to be tasty and spicy because it will be eaten with the bland crust. 

5. Add 2 medium potatoes (either boiled and mashed or cut in tiny cubes), 3 cups tiny cauliflower florets (I used locally grown purple cauliflower), 1 cup peas

6. Stir fry the mixture until the vegetables are cooked through. 

7. Add a handful of minced cilantro and lemon juice to taste. Let the filling cool down. Mash it slightly if needed to make it hold together.

8. Grate a handful of cheese (optional). 

9. Preheat the oven to 425F. To assemble the crostata, place two circles of rolled pie crusts on a greased parchment placed on a baking sheet. Spoon filling onto the crusts (this amount of filling is enough for 2 crusts) but leave an inch or so around the edges.  Fold in the edges, pinching the folds together. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until golden brown. 

Here is the baked pie. You can see at the 10 o'clock position, the edge opened up. So the folds do need to be pinched together well. Also, this crostata could have used a few more minutes of baking time- it really does need to be golden brown.

Cut the crostata into 8 wedges and serve. This experiment was a definite success. If you are a fan of samosas, vegetable puffs and the like, you are sure to love this. 

*  *  *
I have a riddle for you- What does a decadent chocolate cupcake have to do with a sparkling glass of water? 

To know the answer, stop by the Cupcake Project and take a look. A small donation could contribute to sweetness in your life and clean drinking water for a family in Haiti. Reports like this New York Times article explain why the need for clean water is so urgent. 

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A Festive Sugar High

Of Tiramisu

Last weekend, the parade of witches and zombies prowling the streets symbolized the start of the holiday season in the US.

I had big plans for a orange-and-black Halloween dinner. In the end, it worked out with some adjustments. There was a black bean soup, vegetable-cheese enchiladas in a orange-ish gravy (totally delicious, by the way) and spinach salad with almonds that have orange skin and dried blueberries (those look almost black if you squint at them).

For weeks before, I had been eyeing the tiramisu recipe (this happens to be V's favorite dessert) posted on Served With Love. What a lovely simplified recipe, but it does call for a bunch of specialty ingredients. We were at a local Italian store the day before Halloween and I stocked up on marsala wine, mascarpone cheese, ladyfingers (light finger-shaped cookies; nothing to do with bhindi) and espresso powder.

So tiramisu made it to the black and orange theme dinner because espresso is nearly black and ladyfingers are nearly orange. Why I humor myself this way I don't know. Clearly my spouse and friends eat whatever I put in front of them regardless of colors and themes.

In making tiramisu, I learnt a few new things:

  1. Marsala is a fortified wine (it has alcohol added to it) which means it keeps well in the pantry, just like brandy or sherry. A bottle of marsala can be bought and used over several months, which is great because this is not a drinking wine, and recipes that call for marsala wine usually need a cup or less. 
  2. Mascarpone is like a cream cheese but quite tasteless on its own. But it forms a wonderful base for the dessert, picking up the flavors of booze and coffee very well.
  3. Egg whites freeze beautifully. After defrosting them, they can be whipped just like fresh egg whites. 
The tiramisu recipe is a keeper for sure. The only challenging bit is when you cook the yolks together with some wine and sugar into a light custard. You need some judgement to tell when it is cooked, and it needs a good bit of patient stirring. Other than that, you mix and layer. Everyone who tasted this dessert was in raptures- it is not too sweet and utterly decadent.

Coconut Macaroons

Now what was to be done with the 4 egg whites left over from the tiramisu recipe? Luckily, the coconut macaroons I intended to make for a party yesterday called for 2 egg whites. As I cracked open 4 eggs for the tiramisu, I kept a bowl and a storage container near me. Two whites went into each of these. The egg whites in the bowl were whipped up to make a quick omelet for lunch and the container with the other two egg whites went into the freezer. I pulled them out of the freezer two hours before starting to make macaroons and they thawed and came up nearly to room temperature, and were easily whisked into foamy soft peaks.

The coconut macaroons come from a recipe by Monica Bhide, posted by Susan, the Food Blogga. I bookmarked them three years ago, I think, and finally found that they could be part of the Blog Bites end of year holiday buffet and of our Diwali celebrations.

Diwali, the festival of lights, is being celebrated this weekend and although I am not religious (understatement of the year, much?), I can certainly get behind the spirit of good triumphing over evil and the light of wisdom overcoming the dimness of ignorance. And what's not to love about the tradition of making, sharing and eating sweets and treats?

If you have saffron and cardamom on hand, the rest of the ingredients- eggs, sweetened condensed milk and sweetened coconut flakes- can be found in any ol' American supermarket. This is a big plus in my world, where trips to the Indian store for specialty ingredients are few and far between.

As you start setting out the ingredients, you already feel the ghosts of nariyal burfis past. The unmistakable blending of coconut and sugar and cardamom is sure to trigger memories of celebrations. The process of making these could not be simpler. Crush cardamom and saffron into a powder. Mix this spice with coconut flakes, condensed milk and a tinge of salt, then fold in whipped egg whites to hold everything together. Scoop little tablespoon-sized mounds on a cookie sheet and bake to perfection. Please refer to the recipe for complete and detailed directions.

Even though two of the ingredients have the word "sweetened" emblazoned right there in their names, we found that the macaroons were not tooth-achingly sweet. The taste of the coconut and the scent of the spices came through convincingly. Several people at the party told me how much they enjoyed the macaroons, even though coconut can be, you know, polarizing.

The only thing I would do differently next time would be to either lower the baking temperature for my oven or bake the macaroons on the top rack because I found that the macaroons browned very quickly at the bottom (a couple of them crossed the line between browned and burnt) before the tops had a chance to get toasty.

For anyone who does not wish to use eggs or does not have access to an oven, Suma of Veggie Platter has a recipe for coconut laddus using condensed milk and sweetened coconut flakes but skipping the eggs and the baking; check it out here.

Happy Diwali to all who celebrate it; I wish you all much sweetness and joy this weekend and for the year to come.

* * *
P.S. An announcement for interested readers in the St. Louis area- Cookbook author Raghavan Iyer (whose recipes are well-loved on several blogs) will be at Washington University next week. There are demos and book signings and buffets galore. Check out the events by clicking on the picture below:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blog Bites 9: The Holiday Buffet

Towards the end of last year, in a moment of temporary insanity, I declared that I would try 40 new recipes in 40 days and post about each one until the new year. It was a crazy and exhilarating experience. This year, I have better control over my impulsive behavior. Still, I am keen on making the best of what's left of 2010 and cooking and baking to my heart's content.

The rest of the year is packed with holidays so I expect most food bloggers will be churning out festive meals. And our last Blog Bites potluck was so much fun that I decided a good way to celebrate would be to host another potluck buffet.

I took a screenshot of the recipes bookmarked on my computer yesterday and this is what it looks like: there are about 55 recipes in here, and I'm dying to try each one. More are being added to this list on a daily basis, I might add.

Perhaps you too have recipes bookmarked from other blogs that are sitting around waiting to be made. This is your chance to try any recipe from another blog and bring it to the holiday buffet. You have almost 2 months to send in entries (yes, this is a double edition) and depending on how many entries arrive, I might do a string of round-ups or one massive holiday buffet.

The Rules
  1. From now until December 25, try ANY recipe from another blog. 
  2. The recipe has to come from another blog; that is the whole premise of Blog Bites, so please turn to other blogs for inspiration.
  3. Write a post telling us about the recipe you tried, with the following (a) A link to the recipe on the inspiring blog (b) A link to this post (the event announcement).
  4. Please write a post specifically for this event.
  5. Please do NOT copy a recipe word for word from another blog- that would be both illegal and unethical. Let's all give credit where credit is due.
  6. Please make sure your entry meets all the rules above. Then, send me the link (URL) of your entry at the following e-mail address: OneHotStove AT gmail DOT com
  7. You can send in as many entries as you like.

I will kick things off with my very first entry to BB9: butternut curry soup inspired by this recipe from Not Eating Out in New York. This blog has a nice feature- it rates recipes by cost, health factor and environmental impact. If you live in or around NYC, you might be interested in the local food event listing in the left side-bar.

Coming to the recipe: For the last three weeks, ever since winter squash made an appearance at the local market, I have been buying one medium butternut squash every week. Each is large enough that I can cut it and cook it, and use it in two different dishes that week. So far, one butternut squash was made into soup and quesadillas, another went into chili and dal and so on- it is simply a wonderful versatile vegetable with a sweet buttery taste.

A whole butternut squash can look formidable- you look at it and wonder, how on earth am I going to cut this thing without an axe and without losing a digit or two? These two tutorials were very helpful, and now I've combined some of the tips to come up with a method that works for me, as follows:
  1. Cut off slivers at the top and bottom. 
  2. Stand the squash upright and carefully cut it down the middle into two halves. 
  3. Scoop out seeds and innards and discard (you can save the seeds and toast them).
  4. To cook, either use the microwave or oven. I use the former because it takes only minutes.
  5. Place the halves in a dish that will fit in your microwave. Pour in some water, to create steam. 
  6. Microwave for 8-12 minutes, a few minutes at a time until the squash is fairly tender. 
  7. Cool and store in the fridge until use. To use, peel (much easier now that it is cooked) and cut into cubes. 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

1. Heat 2 tsp. oil and saute a large minced onion with salt and pepper.

2. Add the following and saute for 2 minutes:
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Sri Lankan curry powder (or your favorite masala)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder (optional, but the heat contrasts well with sweet squash)
3. Add cubed butternut squash (4 cups or so, half of a medium squash) and saute for 2 minutes.

4. Add 1 cup thick coconut milk and 2 to 3 cups water or vegetable stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. 

5. Blend the soup using an immersion blender. Garnish if fresh herbs if desired and serve. 

For something so simple, this soup has incredible flavor- you must give it a try. I served it with egg pulao. 

I'm looking forward to eating down my bookmarks by the end of the year, and here's hoping you will join me for this special edition of Blog Bites.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Warm up with One Dish Meals

October's Blog Bites challenge was to look through your favorite blogs and try a recipe for a one dish meal. Here it is, a big dose of tasty comfort in six different categories. Please click through and read the entries and their sources of inspiration- you might find some terrific new blogs to follow.

The goodness of grains and beans can be the base for so many hearty one pot meals.

Anu makes Hawaiian-style chickpeas with harvest grain blend, a sweet-spicy combination so tasty that she swears they "could not get enough". And go and see for yourself if this is not the easiest recipe ever: marinate everything overnight, then fry in a wok and you have dinner.

Janet wants to feed us booger salad, with barbecued worms and muddy caterpillar hotdogs, but luckily ends up giving us a gorgeous bowl of bulgur and grape salad with nuts and cranberries instead. They say you eat with your eyes first, and this picture just filled me up.

Sharan declares that "we need to chaat" (yes, we absolutely do) and proceeds to assemble leftover sundal (dressed up lentils) with herbs, chutneys, onions, tomatoes and crunchy sev into an irresistible bowl of chaat.

Mimi's Mommy combines rice and sprouts and lots of fried onions to make mujadarah, and praises this Middle-Eastern dish saying, "I don’t know if I should praise the aroma of the ingredients more than the outcome or if I should praise how quick the dish is to make or how tasty and filling it is."

Rice is very nice, indeed, the grain that immediately comes to my mind when I think of comfort food. Plain rice can be dressed up with a infinite variety of spices and vegetables. Priya makes two mixed rice recipes, pepper rice and radish rice.

Boil water and cook up some pasta- add some vegetables and dress with a sauce or some cheese, and you have a one dish meal that can hold all the major food groups and then some.

Megha beats the heat and humidity of Mumbai by making a batch of summer vegetable pasta with pesto, with a tangy and rich almond sauce, vegetables and short pasta. 

Satya loves tiny shell pasta because it cooks up in no time and is perfect for kids. She uses plenty of vegetables to make a colorful platter of mini shell pasta with tomato basil sauce.

Suparna says that her family is not really a pasta-eating one, but she tries stuffed pasta for the first time in agnolotti with roasted red pepper sauce and is very happy with the results. 

A pot of stew bubbling away on the stove is a picture of domestic bliss and home-cooked love. 

Amruta packs in "proteins from the beans; carbs, vitamins and fibers from veggies and whole grain bread/pasta" and shares a recipe for one pot vegetable stew.

There is the dramatic moment when a heavy casserole is lifted out of the oven, when savory vapors envelope the kitchen and you just can't wait to dig in. Casseroles are a great way to use up ingredients and minimize waste by being forgiving in terms of what can go into them.

As Shobana says, she started with an inspiring recipe, and then "halved, changed, added, deleted, all at once" to make a rice and mixed vegetable bake studded with colorful cubes of vegetables and topped with a tempting layer of melted cheese.

Tanvi combines the comfort of an American classic with the complex flavors of Thai cuisine with a tiny bit of cheating as she calls it, using store-bought pie crust to make a beautiful red curry chicken pot pie.

Corina bakes Greek lemon chicken, with potatoes baked in the casserole to soak up the complex flavors of oregano, lemon and garlic. She says it is absolutely delicious, and a keeper.

The Cooker finds a recipe for a samosa casserole, confesses that it had her at "samosa" and makes her own version of Bengali-ishtyle potato-cauliflower samosa casserole which was gobbled up in a single sitting.

Bala used literally one pan, a marvel of technology that goes from microwave to stove to oven to table, to make brussels sprouts au gratin with unusual (to me) vegetables like parsnips and chestnuts and lots of creamy cheese. 

Johanna finds that inclement weather makes grocery shopping difficult, but she manages to use what she has at home, "forgotten vegetarian sausage I found at the back of the fridge, some leftover sundried tomato pasta sauce that had not been a hit, wilted spring onions, a heel of parmesan cheese that was drying out", to make a wonderful spinach rice gratin.

Sometimes life calls for mix and match to make something unique to fit your needs. 

SS reveals her complicated inner monologue about foods that are and aren't appropriate for lunch boxes (e.g. too-green stuff and too-brown stuff is a no-no) and discovers a new dabba candidate in parotta salad, with a torn-up paratha, fresh crunchy veggies, protein patty and a sauce to bring it all together.

Supriya goes blog-hopping and borrows components from different blogs- Mexican rice from one place and fajita vegetables from another, then layers them in a crisp shell to make an impressive taco salad in tortilla bowl.

Just because it is a one dish meal does not mean it cannot also be an elaborate masterpiece.

Satya puts layers of love and care, even making tortillas from scratch, and comes up with a multilayered quesadilla- beans, vegetables and cheese nestled in layers of fresh tortillas.

Miri's description ("not too cloyingly thick, not too sweet, not bland at all - a perfect blend of flavours which pleases the palate") brings alive a wonderful Burmese dish, and then she put a lot of TLC into making a spread of noodles, creamy curry and an array of delightful toppings to make her version of Burmese Khow Suey.

Jayasri battles a migraine and makes it to the one-dish party with a beautiful platter of Hyderabadi vegetable biryani, a labor of love involving a dozen warm spices, plenty of vegetables and several tasty ingredients including cashews, raisins, fried onions and herbs.

Finally, JK says that much as she appreciates the routine of roti-subzi-dal-chawal, sometimes she needs a break and turns to one dish meals instead. She posts three one-dish meals, including handvo, a savory vegetable cake, methi theplas and pan pizza.

A huge thank you to all the participants for playing along. As you might have noticed, time slipped past me and I did not get around to participating in my own event- oh well, there's always a next time. 

Please check back on Thursday for the next theme (clue: there won't be much of a theme per se) and for a bonus soup recipe in that same post.