Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Life Happens

Yes, I am alive and shockingly so is this blog. Truth be told, my motivation to blog took a back seat, but I am back and I hope to improve my habits. Nevertheless, I should have posted a note regarding my absence. I do apologize if this has affected anyone. Here is my plan to keep the blog alive. Once a week, I will write a post and publish it over the weekend. Hopefully I can stay true to this. Also, I might alter the theme of this blog to focus more on food. I am not making any promises, so we will have to wait and see.

Phew, after that little speech of self-importance, I will move on to a vegetarian pot pie recipe. Have any of you watched the show Aarti Party on Food Network? She was the Food Network Star two seasons ago and she does have a blog. I love her show for three reasons, she has a beautiful accent, her food is creative, and she does an awesome job of preparing fusion Indian dishes. Now, my veggie pot pie is not adapted from Aarti's show, but it did inspire me to cook something different. So, on a Sunday night filled with NBA action, I made a vegetarian pot pie with curry filling. Here is the recipe and I hope you give it a shot :)

Ingredients
For the crust: (Adapted from here)
1/2 C of  whole wheat flour
1/2 C of all purpose flour
3 Tbs of cold butter
1/4 Tsp of salt
1/4 Tsp of baking powder
1 egg
2 Tbs of cold milk
1 Tsp of Italian seasoning*

For the Filing   
1 small onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbs of olive oil
1 Tsp of cumin seeds
1 Tsp of Garam masala
1Tsp of red chili powder
1/4 tsp of turmeric
1.5 C of mung sprouts
1 boiled red potato
1/2 C of frozen corn

1 tomato
1 bell pepper
1 C of veggie broth
1/2 C of dry red wine* 

Method
  • Prepare the crust in a food processor. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, Italian seasoning,  and the cold butter in the food processor and pulse till the mixture becomes crumbly. Beat 1 egg with the cold milk and add this to the flour mixture. The dough may not stick together and that is okay. Combine the dough into a smooth ball and cover it plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or stick it in the freezer for 30-45 minutes (yeah...I am not patient).
Dough
  • For the filling: Heat some olive oil and add cumin seeds to the oil
  • Once the seeds brown, add garam masala, turmeric, and chili powder. 
  • When the species start giving out an aroma, add garlic, onion and ginger
  • Saute the mixture for 2 minutes and add the wine
  • Once the wine starts to bubble, add 1 cup of broth
  • Now add the remaining veggies and cook for 5-10 minutes
  • Add salt and ground black pepper. If you would like to add more heat, Add 1 Tsp of red pepper flakes 

Filling

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees
  • Roll out the dough and cut four circles using a ramekin 
  • Distribute the filling into four ramekins and cover each ramekin with a pastry crust
  • Make sure to poke a few holes into the crust
  • Brush the crust with olive oil 
 
  •  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown
Enjoy!

*Notes:
I used Italian seasoning but 1 Tsp of Ajwain would taste great
I used red wine because that is what I had in hand. Beer works well, and so does cooking sherry


Verdict: I think the filing should have been more creamy. Next time I make this, I will add more broth and add 1 Tbs of cornstarch. You could also add cheese, cream, or some coconut milk.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tacos and A Short Dress

Cold weather has officially graced the mountains of Salt Lake City so I shall do a last post celebrating the end of short dresses, without tights. I have one particular dress that definitely gets overused in the summer months. It is comfortable, cute, and compliments a curvy figure. I wore this dress to the Jazz  Festival and I finally tried the tacos at the chow truck. Over to some pictures and then a super quick review.
Yes, that muscle is a bit "ridic"
Excited...Woot!
Add, now the tacos...

These tacos were simply amazing. The chow truck carries tacos, salads, sliders, calamari, and root chips. I had the veggie tacos which contained Panko fried tofu and cilantro chile pesto as the sauce. Their "Pan Asian" cuisine is by far the most creative thing I have ever eaten. These tacos tangy and the perfect amount of crunch to them. My only qualm is that food trucks are supposed to provide cheap, yet delicious street food. Chow truck tacos are definitely a party in your mouth, but they are $3.00 per taco. Personally, I have no issues paying 6 bucks for two gourmet tacos. However, the whole point of eating street food is that you dig for pocket change in order to buy mind-blowing flavor.


Tote Full of Veggies Rating: Gastronomic

**To find a listing of my favorite restaurants go here**     

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blogger Appreciation: One Hot Stove

My interaction with the blogging community started when I decided to learn how to cook. As an undergraduate I survived on quesadillas, sandwiches, noodles, and of course my mother's frozen meals. When I decided to move across the country, I started missing Indian food. Unfortunately, Salt Lake City only does a decent job of Indian food. I also got bored of eating the same thing, so I needed to learn how to cook. Of course I love eating out, but graduate school income doesn't support that on a daily basis. Hence, on my quest of learning how to cook, Nupur from One Hot Stove played a vital role. Disclaimer: There are many others who inspire me, but this one is for Nupur. What primarily attracted me to her blog was learning how to cook Maharashritian food. I am acquainted with several people of that state, so I decided to learn more about their cuisine. Little did I know, Nupur's blog introduced me to broad collection of cuisines. So, I wanted to take the time and introduce the blogosphere to One Hot Stove. Nupur was kind enough to answer a few questions. Hope you enjoy reading through it, and do stop by her blog.   
Maharashtrian Thali
TFV:Cooking at home is important to many people for several reasons. What excites you about a home cooked meal? 
OHS: Being invited to a home cooked meal is exciting because it is a gesture of love and friendship and shows that someone is willing to spend time and effort for you. Cooking a home cooked meal is exciting because I can be creative while doing something practical - feeding myself and my family. "There are some things money can't buy" says the famous ad, and a home-cooked meal is one of those things.

TFV: What is the one decadent ingredient (cream, chocolate, cheese, etc) you thoroughly enjoy incorporating in your meals? 
OHS: Nuts- they are decadent both in terms of their price and their calorie counts! I love the rich taste and texture of nuts and they seem to be used in different ways in so many cuisines.

Amish Friendship Bread

TFV: Your A-Z series for Maharashtrian cuisine was what got me hooked on to your blog. What inspired you to document that series? Would you like to do another series with a different regional cuisine? 
OHS: It was simply a fun way to chronicle some of the favorite dishes that I grew up eating. These are homely, everyday recipes that are difficult to find in cookbooks and dishes that are not on restaurant menus so I wanted to give them some attention. Learning more about different Indian regional cuisines is my number one goal as far as cooking goes and I would love to do another series exploring other regional cuisines.

TFV: In your blog you talk about growing up with some classic Maharashtrian dishes. You also talk about your significant other who is South Indian. Have you ever tried a fusion recipe that incorporates the tastes of both regions?
OHS: It is not a fusion recipe per se, but I often serve idlis and dosas with the typical Maharashtrian dry peanut chutney that I grew up with, and my husband loves the combination.
Summer Squash Dosa Served With Dry Peanut Chutney
TFV: Do you have a particular chef who inspires your overall cooking style?
OHS: My overall cooking style is inspired by all the wonderful home cooks that I know- my mother, aunts, cousins, friends, fellow bloggers- who don't treat cooking as a boring chore but instead as an art and craft to be approached with joy and enthusiasm.

Switching Gears...
TFV: For someone who enjoys reading fiction, what food related book(s) would you suggest?
OHS: Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Perkins made me dream about baking layers of cake slathered in colorful icing. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel made me swoon with luscious descriptions of food. A Christmas Memory is an unforgettable short story by Truman Capote filled with food memories. Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories often have lush references to food. But I must say that for food-related reading, I lean more towards non-fiction books like memoirs.

TFV: I am a believer of exploring different cultures through the food and the cuisine they offer. What do you think? That being said, is there a country on your travel list that you would like to visit purely for the fascinating food?   
OHS: Yes, that country is India! Although I am Indian and grew up in India, I have barely explored the huge, diverse expanse of the Indian subcontinent. My dream vacation would be to travel through India eating my way through street food, restaurants (including the hole in the wall types that are hidden gems), and most importantly, to wrangle invitations to eat in people's homes so I can experience home cooking wherever I travel. Food is certainly my favorite way to learn about other cultures.

TFV: While eating out, what are the various facets that make up a satisfying meal?
OHS: While eating out, I love eating something that I can't make in my kitchen because I lack the skills or the equipment. For instance, this tiny Indian restaurant in St. Louis (now closed, alas) used to serve the most incredible tandoori rotis and stuffed parathas, which need a practiced hand and a sizzling tandoor oven to make. I also like eating at restaurants which feature flavors that I have tried to capture in my home kitchen without quite nailing it- Vietnamese and Thai cuisines come to mind, as well as Indian-Chinese!

TFV: Do you enjoy watching any food related TV shows? 
OHS: I occasionally watch Iron Chef America to see creative dishes that can spin off from one ingredient. I only watch when the ingredient is something I actually use in my cooking, though. Some of the cooking shows on PBS are wonderful to watch, hosted by chefs who truly love and respect food, such as Julie Childs and Jacques Pepin and Rick Bayless. Top Chef is entertaining because I enjoy the challenges and find myself thinking of what I would make if I were on the show.

Dale: The protagonist behind One Hot Stove :)
TVF: Finally, your pup Dale is awesome and I love the way you write about him. Do you have a quick recipe for doggy treats? What are your favorite "doggy treat" stores?
OHS: Thank you- I agree that Dale is awesome and we're lucky to have him in our life. I've tried making doggy treats at home but Dale refuses to eat them- he is a tough critic! He loves milkbones which you can find in just about any store (that's his 8 PM snack every day), and we occasionally buy dog treats from Trader Joe's.

NOTE: All pictures are taken from Nupur's Blog at One Hot Stove. Each picture has a link to the original post.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back from a nap...

I know a nap is supposed to be short, but when I nap I sleep for 8 hours. The ridiculosity of school and the beautiful weather has kept me away for too long. But I am back, and quite uncertain of how long this will last.
Regardless, a break from everything is always good. Granted it throws you off topic and I really don’t know where to start. So, I figured I would talk about a nice dress I bought for the fall…possible better suited for the winter. I am in love with dresses that have a tulip bottom. My half-marathon training has led to a killer pair of legs, so a tulip cut really shows off those muscles. Ideally I would love to wear this dress with super high heels, but the flap is kind of scandalous. My legs will have to stay under covers for the sake of some class.

French Connection Rhodeo Flower Dress

I am thinking of pairing this with a red tank and black tights. What do you think?

PS: I am still running around the city in an attempt to train for the half marathon. I am lazy; hence, I haven’t shared my training schedule. The reality is, you have to pick what you can and can’t do. Hopefully, I will get around posting a schedule. Have a wonderful week ahead!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Simplicity: The Act of NOT Complicating Life

This is a difficult task to achieve for most of us. We have a burning urge to over-think, over-analyze, and ponder upon the simplest of thoughts. If you are shaking your head with disagreement, then jump over to the wonderful pasta recipe. If you are mortal, read along.

Have you ever pondered upon the thought of over-analyzing? Now, that's an accomplishment! You have definitely pushed the limits when you start over-thinking the actual act itself. Bravo, homo sapiens, you shall die happy. Mostly, I am accused of NOT thinking things through; however, being mortal, I have fallen prey to the evil of over-thinking. Regardless, simplicity in thought is a wonderful thing and I aspire to "un-complicate" my thoughts quite often. I tend to cook, workout, run, blog, and engross myself in work. When these activities fail, I turn to the best remedy for mindful living, yoga. I don't practice yoga regularly, so I shall not speak of it. However, I have learned the art and I do lean on it when my Limbic system takes complete control of all logical functions. If you have no idea what I am saying,"google" the human brain and its function. Nevertheless, I shall describe two activities that I do practice regularly, cooking and running. The result of the former activity led to a simple pasta dish. As for the later activity, I am training for a half marathon in Moab, UT. 
Pasta Recipe
Boil whole wheat linguine or spaghetti
Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water, leaving a little water in the pot
Chop yellow zucchini, green zucchini, and green beans
Add your veggies to the pot
Add 2 Tbs of Olive Oil, crushed red peppers, salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning
Turn the heat off and add beet greens and  grated Parmesan cheese
Farmer's Market Pasta

Moving on to my second distraction. I love running, and on a perfect day, I can actually perform the act without music. I watch people, enjoy the nature, enjoy the city, focus on breathing, think, and often times stop thinking. It's one of the few activities I perform mindfully. To celebrate my passion for running, I have decided to run The Other Half Marathon in Moab, UT. Southern Utah is a beautiful place and it has an abundance of geographic history. I am looking forward to this race and I will definitely share my tips and my training schedule. I know I have a few readers who love fitness, so feel free to weigh in. I always love receiving fitness advice.

Happy Runnin' Y'all!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Art Of Drapery: Part 2.1

In the Art of Drapery Part Deux I talked about Rachel Roy's wonderful designs that incorporate pleats and draped styles. Well, as promised, I shall showcase my very first Rachel Roy dress. I wore this dress while hosting a friend's bridal shower. This was a gift given to me from the parental unit :)
With 'Lil Ripp (to your left), My Dress: Rachel Roy Acropolis Dress
 Madame Roy's dresses are wonderful, but I am also a huge fan of BCBG dresses. Their designs incorporate the right amount of pleating that helps accentuate my out of control curves. I wore this black dress while presenting my project at the NIH.

Dress: BCBG, Cardigan: H&M
Food for thought: "My dressing style at a presentation is reflective of how well I know or don't know the topic in hand. One of these days, I might as well show up in a ball gown and talk about a completely foreign topic."  ~ Stolen from a post-doctorate fellow at my department.

xoxo...

Check out my guest entry about summertime boots here :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Resturant Review: Lebanase Taverna

Yet again the life of a graduate student was taken over by traveling to fun conferences! Man, it's hard to get sarcasm across in textual context. In any case, this year's stop was in the fabulous town of Bethesda, MD. What do you exactly do in Bethesda...well there is the NIH that provided us much need entertainment, but in reality, when you have a conference in Bethesda, you simply go to Washington DC. My favorite spot in the DC area is Adams Morgan. Wonderful food and eclectic stores make up the streets in this area of town. However, due to time constraints, we decided to have lunch at Woodley Park. Accompanied by luggage and tiredness, we chose the closest restaurant from the metro stop. When you walk out of the metro station, there are rows of restaurants to pick from. Each place has a printed menu posted outside the restaurant which allowed us to quickly select a Lebanese restaurant for lunch.

Menu: Several Vegetarian Options

Patio Seating
 I started my meal by venturing out with a Lebanese drink called Arak. To me, this was like drinking liquid fennel. It's very strong and I was done after four sips. It's always worth trying something new, but Arak is not something I would like to try again. Moving on to our lunch.We had two vegetarians at the table. I decided to go with the vegetarian platter, and my friend ordered the fatteh with eggplant. We also received complimentary pita with our meal...including whole wheat pita! 
Arak = Liquid Fennel

Clockwise (starting at center): Vegetarian Platter, Fatteh with Eggplant,  Kafta Sandwich, Shawarma Sandwhich, Traditional Platter

Vegetarian Platter: Parsley Salad, Baba Ganouge, Humus, Stew (bean, eggplant), Dolmathes, Falafel, Spinach Pie
In general, we all liked the experience and the food. Our server was extremely patient while we waited for our entire party to arrive. He wasn't very intrusive but checked on us regularly, just to make sure we had enough pita. He suggested Arak, as a traditional drink of choice. The server did warn me about the strong flavor, but I decided to give it a shot. If you like liquorish at extensive amounts, you will like this drink. If not, steer away! As for my lunch, I simply loved it! The bean stews were full of flavor. The eggplant stew was good, but I am not sure if I could handle a full serving. The hummus and baba ghanoush paired wonderfully with the pita. The right most column contained my favorites dishes, and I was not disappointed. Most things aren't perfect, so what went wrong with this meal? The parsley salad. The flavors were too overwhelming and I would have been perfectly happy with a tabbouleh salad. I prefer parsley as a garnish, not as a replacement for greens in a salad. Regardless, the overall experience was wonderful and I would definitely go back there.

Tote Full of Veggies Rating: O-M-Gee
URL: http://www.lebanesetaverna.com/
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/lebanesetaverna
 
**To find a listing of my favorite restaurants go here**