Sunday, June 29, 2008

Onion Chutney: Less is More

Onions + Red Chillies + Tamarind = Zesty Onion Chutney.

TBC shared her mother's recipe for the simplest Onion Chutney. A few weeks ago, I made dosas and realized at the last possible minute that I had no coconut on hand for the accompanying chutney. That's when TBC's recipe came to the rescue!

My only tweak to the recipe was to add a bit of tamarind juice for some tang. This is how I made the onion chutney, inspired by TBC's recipe:

1. Heat some oil in a heavy skillet and add 3 coarsely chopped onions.
2. Saute for a few minutes until the edges start browning.
3. Add 2 dried red chillies and salt to taste.
4. Continue to saute until the onions are soft and browned.
5. Cool the mixture. Grind to a fine paste, adding 2-3 T tamarind juice along the way.

This post is my first entry to MBP: Less is More.

Piping hot dosas dipped into this sweet-tangy-hot chutney- it was an utterly delicious combination. The Budding Cook is a great resource for simple and tasty recipes like this one.

Onions are truly miraculous ingredients. They contain complex flavors hidden within all those layers, so when you cook with onions, you get a whole array of flavors for the price of one! More onion inspiration:

Some day I also hope to make IronStef's Onion Butter, a sweet and savory spread made from nothing but onions, salt, olive oil, butter (and slow heat). You have to read that post to see how Ironstef and Jack make onion butter from 12 lbs of onions!

And recently, I got to taste Pille's superb Onion and Orange salad- simply slices of oranges scattered with onions and peppercorns. I don't think I have even uttered the words "onions" and "orange" in the same sentence ever, but this dish truly works!

What's your favorite simple dish using onions?
I'll start by sharing mine: Mix thinly sliced red onion with white vinegar (yes, that cheapo kind more often used to clean clogged sinks), salt and red chilli powder (cayenne pepper). There you have it- a delicious relish for grilled foods. Like tandoori paneer. Mmmm...

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Quick Breakfast Fix

Raaga is hosting Weekend Breakfast Blogging this month with the theme Express Breakfasts. I wake up at all sorts of unearthly hours, and am usually famished by the time the normal breakfast hour rolls around. Usually, quick breakfasts in my home can mean oatmeal, eggs or buttered toast with a spicy chutney sprinkled on it. But in honor of Raaga's undying love for Upma, that's what I whipped up for her.

On the menu today is the popular Maharashtrian breakfast- tikhat sanja. It is a sibling of the upma, the lovely Southern Indian dish which resembles a risotto made with coarse semolina. A brief "Compare and Contrast" exercise between the way I make upma and tikhat sanja reveals that-
(a) Upma is a creamy mass while sanja is fluffier and "looser" (for lack of a better description!)
(b) Upma does not usually contain turmeric while sanja is brightly yellow with turmeric.
(c) Upma is made with traditional Southern Indian "tempering" that includes urad dal and chana dal; sanja uses a simpler tempering of mustard seeds and cumin seeds alone. Following my mother's footsteps, I spike my upma generously with minced ginger too.
(d) Both are wonderful with nuts tossed in at the "tempering" stage (cashews for the upma and peanuts for the sanja).
(e) Both make for hot hearty breakfasts using simple pantry staples.
(f) Both can be fortified with vegetables like potato, peas, carrots and itty bitty cauliflower florets. This makes both of these dishes perfect candidates for "breakfast for dinner" nights.

Today, my kitchen is as bare as Mother Hubbard's cupboard so here is a bare basics version of tikhat sanja. The one essential for Maharashtrian "hot breakfasts" like poha and tikhat sanja, in my opinion, is a generous garnish of fresh coconut and cilantro, along with a squeeze of lemon juice. Luckily, I had some fresh cilantro at hand thanks to a little pot growing on the windowsill, so the recipe pulled together nicely.

Tikhat Sanja


1 C roasted Upma rava (coarse semolina)
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 fresh chillies, minced
1 ¾ C boiling water
1 t sugar
salt to taste
1 t oil
1 t mustard seeds
1 t cumin seeds
1 pinch asafoetida
1 sprig curry leaves
½ t turmeric powder
2 t ghee/butter (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
2-3 T minced cilantro
2-3 T grated fresh/frozen coconut

1. Heat the oil and add the "tempering" ingredients. Stir in the onion and chillies and fry it for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the roasted rava, salt and sugar and stir around for a minute more.
3. Add the hot water (carefully!) and cook on a low-medium flame, stirring often, until the water is absorbed and the semolina fluffs up.
4. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and ghee/butter, if using. Garnish with coconut and cilantro and serve right away.

Tikhat sanja tastes fine just by itself, but you can also serve it with some namkeen/mixture or a scoop of yogurt or a dollop of pickles.

For those who like a little sweet something with their breakfast, here's a giant cupcake for you. It is fat-free, sugar-free and fiber-rich. Contains 100% fiber, in fact :D




Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kohlrabi Sukke

Many thanks to all those who left me comments and e-mails asking if we are doing OK here in St. Louis. This region has been in the news lately because of the devastating flooding of the mighty Mississippi river and its tributaries. North of us, the swollen river breached levees/flood-banks and sent huge swatches of land under water. Many people watched helplessly as their homes were set adrift and tens of thousands of acres of farmland (that normally feeds much of the US) is now under water. By the time the river has come down to us in St. Louis, the damage has been done, the levels are under control (more or less) and we don't expect any flooding here.

All this leads me to wonder about the fate of our food supply this year. Flooding of farmland is a huge tragedy for farmers, and something that will affect everyone who eats, essentially. Last week, I was at the Farmers' Market and bought such wonderful local produce; I don't know about the coming months...

One of my finds last week was kohlrabi (called navalkol in Marathi). If I remember correctly, this vegetable was made only infrequently in my parents' home (usually as a raw koshimbir/salad) and I had never cooked with it either. I decided to tackle it one evening in the past week and decided on this Kohlrabi sukke from Shilpa's blog. If you want to fall in love with kohlrabi, this simple dish is it! Cooked kohlrabi is simmered in a flavorful coconut paste in this wonderful Konkani recipe. It is a recipe that is so typical of Shilpa's blog- home-style cooking at its very best. The kohlrabi that I bought had a nice top of fresh leaves, so I added them to the curry.

Kohlrabi Sukke

(Adapted from Aayi's Recipes)

1 bunch kohlrabi
1 medium onion, diced
1 t turmeric powder
1 t oil
1-2 t jaggery (unrefined sugar)
salt to taste
For the paste:
1 heaped t urad dal
1 heaped t coriander seeds
1 t oil
½ C grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
2 dried red chillies (or to taste)
¼ C tamarind juice

1. Remove the leaves from the kohlrabi. Discard any discolored ones, wash the rest very well and shred them finely. Set aside.
2. Wash the kohlrabi and halve each one. Pressure cook them. They don't need prolonged pressure cooking. One whistle was enough in my pressure cooker.
3. Pluck off any tough stems from the cooked kohlrabi and cut them into small dice.
4. Meanwhile, fry the urad dal, coriander seeds and red chillies in the oil. Then blend these into a smooth paste with the coconut and tamarind.
5. In a saucepan, fry the onion until it is translucent. Add the shredded kohlrabi leaves and turmeric and stir-fry them until they are almost tender. Add the cooked kohlrabi cubes, coconut paste, jaggery, salt to taste and a little water if required and simmer the curry for 5-10 minutes.

This dish is a wonderful example of coastal cuisine- using a freshly made paste of mild and creamy coconut, tangy tamarind and a few carefully chosen spices to cook flavorful vegetable dishes. I am sending this post to Suganya for AFAM: Coconut and to Sig for JFI: Tamarind.

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MBP Update: We now have one more giveaway associated with this event!! Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice has kindly offered to send a bottle of spice extract to each of three randomly chosen participants. The spice extracts that are being given away happen to be ones that I have tried and loved- Ginger, Tea Masala and Cardamom. Shipping of these will be restricted to the US. I have updated this new giveaway in the MBP announcement post.

Knitting Crochet Update:
When I told my friend Sujayita that I have started knitting, she said to me, "If you can knit, I don't see why you shouldn't learn crochet as well" and promptly sent me a crochet book- Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker (tee hee). Who am I to resist? Last week, I sat down and laboriously taught myself a few basic stitches from the book, and fell in love with crochet easily enough.

Here are my first two projects- baby steps towards becoming a bag lady!

Bracelet Purse: this is a cute pattern from Knotty Generation.

It is a tiny purse with one short and one long handle; the long handle slips into the small one and then onto the wrist as a bracelet.

It is just big enough to hold my keys and cell phone and go along on my wrist when I am out walking Dale. But my little hot blue purse had a near-death experience at the dog park the other day when a puppy thought it was a toy and snatched it from my wrist. I am happy to report that the purse survived and the poor puppy was chastised :D


I loved the pattern so much that I made three to give as gifts, including this one in "faded denim".

I also made a very big mesh shopping bag! It is a pattern that is wonderful for beginners, generously shared by Jill Chatelain. She aptly calls it the "Rust Goes Green" bag. Who needs paper or plastic when you have these nice reusable cotton bags?

Have a great week ahead!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Announcing the Monthly Blog Patrol for July 08: Less is More!

Many months ago, Coffee started a popular food blog event called the Monthly Blog Patrol (MBP). The event revolves around browsing through our favorite blogs and choosing recipes to cook in our own kitchens. I am thrilled to be taking over the baton from Sia (you still have a few days to get your Street Food entries to her) and guest hosting MBP for the month of July right here on One Hot Stove.

The theme for July is Less is More! This means that you have to browse through your favorite blogs and your bookmarked recipes and choose those that have FIVE ingredients or FEWER to make for this event.

What is the idea behind this theme?
1. To explore minimalism in cooking.
2. To appreciate the pure taste of ingredients and flavors as themselves.
3. To understand the role of each ingredient in any recipe.
I will always love to both cook and eat elaborate creations, but sometimes it is magical to see how a handful of ingredients can come together into a great dish with the right recipe.

Less is More "rules":
1. The recipe (which should be from another blog) should have five or fewer ingredients.

2. In addition to your other ingredients, you are free to use the following three ingredients because they are so widely used in cooking. Salt, water (or stock) and fats (such as oil or butter or oil spray) will not be counted in the 5-or-less list, for the sake of this challenge.

3. If you want to count the basic "tempering" (tadka/phodni/popu) or seasoning used in Indian dishes (mustard seeds, cumin seeds, etc.) as one ingredient rather than list each component of the tempering separately, that is fine by me.

Once I decided on this theme, I began to see few-ingredient recipes everywhere! Look through your favorite blogs, and you will be sure to come upon some gems. If you get stumped, write to me and I'll be happy to help you out with some ideas.

The rules of the game:
1. Based on the theme of Less is More, you have to cook something from the posted recipe of a fellow blogger. This is the very premise of this event, to cook from the blogs, so the recipe has to be from another blog and not from some other cooking website or other source.
2. Post a pic of the final recipe on your blog linking it to the blogger (whose recipe you made), to this event announcement and to Coffee. Whether to make it a separate post or not is entirely your choice. You can just put a final pic or put step by step pics or if you have made any variations you might want to highlight that or post the whole recipe. It is entirely upto you. But one final pic and links to the blogger and this event is a must.
3. Email your
Your name,
Your permalink and
a permalink of the blogger from whom you made this dish
to my Email address (listed below my profile on the right sidebar). I will not need your pictures for this round-up.
Please use MBP July 2008 as your subject line.
4. The deadline is 25 July 2008. I like posting round-ups promptly so no late entries will be accepted.
5. Feel free to use the logo:

But wait- there's more! We have two giveaways for this event, just to make things even more fun.

1. I will pick two names randomly from the list of participants in MBP: Less is More and send you a couple of hand-knitted goodies. I can ship them anywhere in the world.

2. Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice is kindly giving away one spice extract (Ginger/Cardamom/Tea Masala) to each of three randomly chosen participants. Shipping of this prize will be restricted to the US.

So, there's a small incentive for participating :)

I hope you enjoy this slightly off-beat theme for MBP. As for me, the whole month of July will feature only recipes with five or fewer ingredients here on One Hot Stove. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kizartma and Couscous

So often, a restaurant dish is my primary inspiration to head into the kitchen and try something new. This is especially true of cuisines that are new to me, some from countries that I would have trouble locating on a map. These experiments often result in happy discoveries of "keeper" recipes and new additions to the pantry. Today's recipe was inspired by an appetizer that I enjoyed at a local Turkish restaurant, Aya Sofia. Kizartma is a delicious dish of fried vegetables (how can you go wrong?) placed in a stack. Eggplant, potato, zucchini and peppers were included in the dish I ate at the restaurant, and I tried to replicate it at home. It certainly made for a delicious summer lunch.



1 large potato
1 zucchini
1 large eggplant
olive oil for shallow frying
salt and pepper to season
Cut all the vegetables into half-inch rounds. Fry in olive oil in a cast iron skillet until golden brown on each side and cooked all the way through, sprinkling salt and pepper to taste. Stack up the vegetables. The kizartma could be served with either a warm tomato sauce or a cold yogurt sauce. I made both- just to give them a try.

Tomato sauce: Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Simmer crushed tomatoes in this mixture for 10-12 minutes. Add salt to taste. Spike with some red pepper flakes if desired.

Yogurt sauce: Mix thick yogurt with slivers of fresh mint, a minced garlic clove and salt to taste.

I served the kizartma with a simple sweet-savory side dish of pearl couscous, also called Israeli couscous or toasted couscous. Now, I don't know if these two dishes really are made for each other, but each is delicious and could be matched with other Middle-Eastern or Mediterranean dishes to make a meal.

Cinnamon-scented Pearl Couscous


1 C pearl couscous
2 C vegetable stock
1 small onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 stick cinnamon
Handful of dried cranberries, chopped

1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Saute the onion, garlic and cinnamon stick until fragrant and translucent.
2. Add the couscous and toast it for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the stock, bring the couscous to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the stock is absorbed and the couscous is tender.
4. Stir in the cranberries, fish out and discard the cinnamon stick and serve.

These dishes go to Siri (girl, you are on an event-hosting roll!) who is AWED by Middle-Eastern cuisine this month.

Other Middle-East-inspired recipes on this blog:
Madhur Jaffrey's Lubia Polo (this dish is a must-try when green beans are in season this summer).
Roasted Garlic Hummus (a tasty way to snack while getting protein and fiber!)
Two older posts...I haven't made these dishes for ages but I really should-
Vegetable Moussaka

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Knitting Update-

My summer vest is ready! Look, Ma, I made an actual wearable garment :D
It is the Accidentally On-Purpose Drop-Stitch Vest from the book Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, in azure, a cheerful and summery shade of blue.

Another project- a quick and fun knit- Grr washcloth from Knitty. A lion with a big ol' loopy mane. Mine is cross-eyed and has a crooked smile. He won't bite!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cool Spinach Raita

Everywhere I go, the conversation seems to turn to food. It seems that Indian food is increasingly popular here in the US, and friends and acquaintances (and sometimes even perfect strangers in stores) will often ask me questions about Indian recipes and spices and restaurants. It is wonderful to see this interest in tasting the cuisine of my country, and many people now want to try Indian recipes in their own kitchens.

Most often, people I talk to are intimidated and confused by the long list of ingredients that they see in Indian cookbooks. Now, those of us who are familiar with cooking the foods of India know that it is only a matter of keeping a stocked pantry and getting to be friends with each spice and its unique features. But the flurry of CinnamomCuminCardamomClove is, understandably, quite frightening if you are new to the world of spices. That's why I wanted to talk about a book that I found in the library recently.

The cookbook is called "5 spices, 50 dishes" by Ruta Kahate. The premise of the book is that the author asks you to stock up on only five spices- coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ground cayenne (what I know better as red chilli powder) and ground turmeric. Using just these 5 spices, plus other pantry staples like onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and perhaps just a couple of "specialty" ones like coconut milk and cilantro, the author offers 50 recipes. They come in all categories, like vegetables, lentils, rice, bread, meat and seafood.

I have to say that I liked this book very much. By keeping things simple and clean, the author is able to showcase some of the home-style dishes that, to me, are the gems of Indian cuisine. I think this is a book worth looking at, for anyone who is new to Indian cuisine and wants to start off with something tangible and basic, yet packed with flavor. If I understand correctly, the author's family comes from Western India (Maharashtra and Goa) and there is a distinct slant towards simple dishes from this region. For those of us who already cook the cuisines of India (especially that of Maharashtra and Goa) and who already have well-stocked Indian pantries, I don't know if the book is going to teach us anything new, quite frankly. But the book is wonderful for the audience that it is intended for.

Examples of Kahate's recipes include railway potatoes, spicy corn with mustard seeds and several everyday dishes like these. Here is another easy and delicious recipe adapted from this book. It is a cool raita (yogurt-based salad) that is just perfect for summer. Bright green spinach is folded into mildly spiced yogurt. Now, I missed the Food Blogga's event, but with the yogurt and the greens, this dish packs a calcium punch for sure.

Spinach Raita2008_89

(Adapted from 5 spices, 50 recipes by Ruta Kahate)
4 cups packed spinach leaves (I used baby spinach; chop leaves coarsely if using mature leaves)
1 t cumin seeds
1 C low-fat yogurt
2 T minced onion
1 t minced fresh ginger (I used 2 drops ginger spice extract)
salt to taste
4-5 mint leaves, shredded (optional)
1. Wash the spinach leaves. With water still clinging to them, place the leaves in a glass bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes, until they wilt but still remain bright green. Place the leaves in a colander to drain and cool.
2. Toast the cumin seeds lightly and crush them in a mortar and pestle.
3. Place the minced onion in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Drain. I saw Rick Bayless doing this on his TV show and I love this trick; the cold water rinses off the sharp acrid "raw onion" smell while keeping the flavor of the onion intact.
4. In a bowl, mix together the yogurt, salt, ginger, mint, cumin seeds, rinsed onion and wilted cooled spinach (chop the spinach coarsely if necessary). Chill until it is time to serve.

I served the spinach raita with some mixed-vegetable pulao, but it makes for a delicious side-dish to any meal, and would be a tasty dip as well. I am sending this raita to Siri for her yogurt event.

Some of my other favorite yogurt recipes:
Shrikhand (a no-cook dessert)
Dahi Bhaat (yogurt-rice)
Cabbage pachadi (a zesty salad)

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Several weeks ago, TheCooker sent me the sweetest "reverse Arusuvai" package filled with some wonderful Kachcha (raw) masala, a package of rosematta poha (so flavorful!) and a cute toy for our resident pooch.

Dale loves playing with the toy and has become quite possessive about it. Sometimes he uses it as a small pillow and lies down with his head on it. Even when he is not actually playing with it, he tucks it safely under his paw. You never know when V or I will run off with the toy, and he's not taking any chances!

Hope this week is going well for everyone...see you in a few.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Goan Egg Curry

Today's dish: a filling and comforting Goan-inspired Egg Curry.

I am sending this picture to CLICK: Yellow for Bri.

Goa: a sliver of a state on the West coast of India, consisting of beach after beach after beach, and some beautiful temples and churches and the winding Mandovi river as well. It is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world, with so many water bodies. Last time my parents were there, they picked up this very touristy (and cute) drawstring bag with some typical Goan spice mixes. They said it was a gift "for the blog". Friends and family have nearly stopped giving me gifts- now they keep an eye out for food-related stuff and give gifts to One Hot Stove instead! Anyway, the drawstring bag was coaxed into the luggage of their friends and winged its way to me. I was thrilled to bits, needless to say :)

Inside are four neatly packaged spice mixes, all representing the typical curries of Goa. As it happens, they are all meat/fish curries, but my mother wrote a note saying that it would not be too difficult for me to come up with some meatless versions and "show them on the blog" (blog var dakhav). So that's exactly what I plan to do. Note that none of the recipes I will be making from these spice mixes are authentic in the least; they are simply my own adaptations. Each packet has a recipe on the back. The first one that I am using today is the Goan fish curry masala.

Unfortunately, the packets don't list the spices included in the spice mix. This fish curry spice mix was a brilliant shade of red and the aroma was mostly of fiery dried red chillies. A look at similar recipes on a few different blogs shows that the predominant dry spices used are chillies, coriander seeds, turmeric and peppercorns, so those of you who want to try this at home could blend these spices and give it a try.

I converted the fish curry recipe into one for egg curry, because egg curry is certainly one of my weaknesses. My mom reminded me that fried slices of tubers (such as yam) are very reminiscent of the texture of fish (but none of the other aspects of fishiness that make me not want to eat the real thing), and that might make for an interesting curry too. I'll try that sometime when I have yam on hand. Here's the recipe, adapted from the back of the spice packet.

Goan-inspired Egg Curry

4 hard-boiled eggs
2 t oil
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
1 fresh green chilli, slit lengthwise
1 t ginger-garlic paste
1 C coconut milk (fresh or canned)
1 heaped T tamarind pulp
1 T Goan fish curry masala (or to taste)
Salt to taste
1. Using some hot water, extract the tamarind juice and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Fry the onions and green chilli until the onions are translucent and browning slightly.
3. Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir for a minute.
4. Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, masala and salt. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
5. Peel the eggs and slice into quarters. Add the eggs gently into the curry and simmer for a few more minutes.

I served the curry with some freshly steamed rice and a bright salad (red bell pepper, cucumber, lettuce, lemon juice, freshly ground pepper, salt). This was a weekday dinner that came together in no time at all. The egg curries I usually make contain tomato, and this tomato-less one was wonderful, with the tamarind adding its unique sweet-tangy flavor. The spice mix is tasty without tasting too complicated and "busy", if you know what I mean, and I really enjoyed the simple flavors. I will be using each of the other three spice mixes in the coming weeks, so watch out for weird adaptations of xacuti, vindaloo and cafreal!

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Knitting Update...
I am convinced that knitting is an infectious disease! A few people have been sending me comments and e-mails asking me what resources were helpful as I started to knit. I am taking something of a just-in-time approach to learning to knit, picking up each stitch and method as I need it in various projects. Here are the resources that helped me immensely:
1. Learning a few basic stitches from a friend was the only reason why I even started knitting in the first place. If you don't have a friend who knits, consider taking beginner classes at a local craft or yarn store.
2. Ravelry is the most incredible resource ever.
3. Books: The Vogue Knitting book is my textbook. A friend tells me that she learned to knit all by herself from the Stitch 'n Bitch book. Your local library will have plenty of knitting books so check them out (no pun intended).
4. Knitting videos. A web search will yield many other sites for knitting videos, including several on YouTube.

There are other resources like knitting blogs (of course!) and knitting e-newsletters that I am only now starting to look into.

Want to see my latest projects? Here, I am trying my hand at simple lace designs:
Traveling Vine Cloth

Twin Leaf Cloth

After a dozen cloths, I am finally working on my first full-size garment, a summer vest. I'll show it to you when I am finished with it, hopefully in the next week or so!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Testing, Tasting, Feasting

While things are sluggish here on the blog, my real life is a bit of a whirlwind (by my standards anyway) as I meet up with friends, attend social engagements, do some summer cleaning and try not to trip up on the miles of yarn I have managed to tangle myself into.

Last night, I got to feast at a wonderful potluck in honor of a visiting food blogger. Alanna is hosting Pille of Nami-Nami, here all the way from Estonia, and invited a few of the local bloggers over for a get-together. It was so nice to see Pille in person (I have been reading her blog for years) and learn a little bit about Estonian food (she gave me a little cookbook of Estonian recipes, and I can't wait to try some of them). Having attended a few food blogger gatherings, I can tell you for a fact that they provide the sort of feast that money can't buy. Bloggers whip up their most impressive and flavorful dishes and everyone wins, except maybe my waistline. and I happily stuffed myself with pizza, barbecued beans, home-made bread with strawberry butter, 7-layer salad, a tres leche cupcake and cherry cobbler, to name just a few treats. I was in piggy heaven!

My contribution to the potluck: a platter of these summer rolls. They are perfect potluck fare, being light, portable, refreshing, and suitably vegetable-stuffed to assuage any guilt over the other richer offerings. They also seem to fit more dietary needs than most other dishes, being vegan, relatively low-carb (I think) and gluten-free.

This time around, I changed the way I cooked the tofu for these rolls. Instead of pan-frying them, I was inspired by the sesame baked tofu recipe on Pro Bono Baker and decided to marinate and bake the tofu instead.

Here's how I baked mine:
1. Take one block of extra-firm tofu. Drain away the water and pat the tofu dry as much as possible. Slice the tofu horizontally into 4 equal slices.
2. In a baking dish (I used a Pyrex 9x13 inch), mix together ¼ C tamari (or soy sauce), 1 T brown sugar, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and 2 t ginger garlic paste.
3. Dip the tofu slices in the marinade, turning a couple of times to coat them thoroughly. Cover the baking dish and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 375F and bake the tofu in the same dish (uncovered) for 30 minutes, then flip over and bake again for 30 minutes more.
5. Slice the tofu into matchsticks for these rolls, or use them in any other dish. The baked tofu makes for an irresistible snack just by itself...absolutely flavorful.

To jazz things up just a little bit, I took along a trio of dipping sauces for the summer rolls. With one small saucepan and a few condiments stocked in the pantry, these flavorful and versatile sauce came together in no time.

1. Orange Marmalade dipping sauce from Simply Recipes. Simply whisk together equal parts orange marmalade (I used one with thick strips of delightfully bitter orange peel), rice wine vinegar, season with ginger and minced garlic and some salt to taste and simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes. My addition: a hefty pinch of red chilli flakes. Because everything tastes better with a hefty pinch of red chilli flakes! This sauce has a nice balance of sweet, tangy and pleasantly bitter tastes. I suspect it would taste even better with some fried stuff, like breaded fried tofu :D

2. Cooked Chilli Garlic sauce from Viet World Kitchen. This one could not be simpler. I simply placed 7 red jalapeno peppers (stems and seeds removed), 5-6 cloves of garlic, a bit of sugar and salt in the food processor and minced everything up. Then I drizzled in regular white vinegar into the food processor and let the stuff blend into a paste. Then the paste is simmered for a few minutes to take the edge off the garlic. This sauce is simple, tasty and makes the kitchen smell so appetizing.

3. Cashew Butter dipping sauce from Closet Cooking. Here, garlic is sauteed in a bit of oil. Then, I added some cashew butter (nothing but cashews ground into a fine paste), hoisin sauce, sambal oelek (chilli sauce) and salt, along with some water to thin down the sauce, and simmered it for a couple of minutes. So creamy and delicious!

Now, I am willing to bet that these summer rolls are sold as street food in Vietnam. With all this inspiration from fellow bloggers, this post goes to Coffee's Monthly Blog Patrol, hosted this month by Sia with the wonderful theme, Street Food.

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I am so thrilled and honored and a little giddy that Zlamushka of Burnt Mouth has announced the second round of her event Tried and Tested (T&T) and the blog for this month is this little one right here- One Hot Stove !!

I have known Z since she participated in the A-Z of Indian vegetables, cooking up okra for the very first time. Since then, I have been an avid reader of her blog, admiring such posts as the spice collection she made for her sister, homemade tofu and her overall knowledge of Chinese cuisine. Her Spoonful of Christmas round-up is a wonderful resource for anyone in search of gift ideas from the kitchen.

The premise of the T&T event is that each month, participating bloggers try recipes from one particular blog. I am excited and nervous and hoping that the recipes I have typed out will actually work in your kitchen! Please know that many of the recipes posted here have been adapted from cookbooks, websites, other blogs and from the food that I ate growing up, so those are the sources that I give credit to. All errors in the recipes that you may catch are, of course, all mine! Please read Zlamushka's announcement for complete details. I do request anyone participating to please refrain from copying recipes word for word; simply write them in your own words if you want to have the complete recipe on your post. Of course, it might be easier to simply link to the recipe, as Zlamushka suggests.

By the way, Z has invited all non-bloggers to send in entries too, so please go ahead and try and taste to your heart's content! I'll be back on the weekend. Have a good week, everyone.