The Contests

Week 34

February 17, 2010 • 8 Comments

SmallKitchCara won this week's contest for Your Best Beef Stew with Secret Ingredient Beef Stew.

Sonali won this week's contest for Your Best Mashed Potatoes with Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese.

(SmallKitchCara and her blogging partner Phoebe)

SmallKitchCara

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
I spent the summer on a sailboat once, and after we'd caught a tuna by trailing a fishing line behind the boat, we decided we should eat it raw in sushi. Once we anchored, we spent a lot of the afternoon in our dingy going from boat to boat, trying to find someone to lend us sushi rice, nori and soy sauce. We found two of the three but had to use quick-cooking white rice instead of sushi rice. The rolls were messy and inauthentic, but they reminded me how good meals can taste when you're eating just what you want, even if you have to improvise a lot to get there.

What's your least favorite food?
I really detest rosewater. I think it ruins otherwise delicious Turkish and Persian food, and I was once at a Persian restaurant where they put it in everything from the couscous to the ice water.

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
I made Chicken Marbella from the old "Silver Palate Cookbook" and was impressed by the results. However I think the pork butt in the oven right now might eclipse even Marbella.

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
I was living with a host family in France, and while they were out I decided to make financiers. They didn't have a financier pan, but they did have what looked like a silicone pan with molds shaped like hearts. I filled it up with my batter and put it in the oven. Instead of smelling the buttery financiers, I smelled plastic. Melting. The pan was a mold for making chocolate, and it had melted all over the oven rack.

What is your idea of comfort food?
Angel hair with butter, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and parm.

Apron or no apron?
Definitely no apron. However, I do wear old stained clothing, like a purple sweatshirt from the '96 Atlanta Olympics.

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
Meg Ryan in the diner in "When Harry Met Sally."

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
I think it would be W.G. Sebald, my favorite author. But I'm not sure if he had much of an appetite--his writing style is pretty subdued, and his characters tend to eat in random little fish-n-chip shops in small towns in England.

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
A) Alone: I'm trying to learn to cook well with others but my inner dictator's having a hard time adjusting.

When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
B) I would clean as I cook, but I don't have very much counter space on which to put clean dishes. So I tend to do it all at the end.


(Sonali: Doctor by day, chef by night)

Sonali

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
When I was growing up, my parents always insisted that we all eat dinner together as a family every night. As my parents cooked, my sister and I would do our homework at the kitchen table and then we'd all sit down together and have our meal. These memories have stayed with me, and despite our busy lives, my husband and I always make time to sit down and enjoy a nice dinner together.
 
What's your least favorite food?
It's a toss up between white chocolate and beets.
 
What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
Inspired by week 31's theme, Your Best Home Alone Dinner, my Bucatini Carbonara with Cremini Mushrooms and a Warm Poached Egg is one of my favorite dishes now. It's delicious, decadent and easy to make--a great combination.   
 
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
I competed in the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger contest last year, which aired on the Food Network. Part of my recipe included deep frying onion rings in a saucepan on a gas barbecue and I was using a candy thermometer with a rubber handle to monitor the temperature of the oil. I closed the lid of the grill to get the oil to heat up faster and a minute later, I saw a huge fire coming from my grill. It turns out that the rubber handle from the thermometer had melted off and fallen into the barbecue! Fortunately, the Food Network cameras didn't catch the incident and my burgers didn't end up tasting like burnt rubber.

What is your idea of comfort food?
Mac & Cheese in every and any form, whether it's "gourmet" or boxed--eating a big bowl of it really fills me with a warm and comfy feeling.

Apron or no apron?
No apron, although I probably should wear one--my clothes usually end up messy!

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
The scene in "Spanglish" when Adam Sandler's character makes the most mouthwatering BLT sandwich with a fried egg and cheese. In the DVD extras, they show Chef Thomas Keller teaching Sandler how to make it. Also, since reading Cordelia's answer to this question several weeks ago, my husband and I watched "Dinner Rush" and loved all of the food-related scenes (which is pretty much the entire movie!).   

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
It may sound cheesy, but my husband Pete--he is my biggest supporter and my favorite person to cook for.
 
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
B: With others (although most nights I cook alone.

When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
A and C: I try and clean as I cook but at the end, my husband finishes up the dishes and tidies up!

Jump to Comments (8)

Comments (8)

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over 4 years ago Cara Eisenpress

Thanks to everyone for the congratulations! And yay! to Sonali--I can't wait to eat those mashed potatoes. Yum.

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over 4 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks everyone and congrats to SmallKitchCara!

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over 4 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

Congratulations to all. Wonderful new recipes to try!

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over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

Congratulations, winners!

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over 4 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

Congrats ladies! Great recipes and fun stories!

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over 4 years ago dymnyno

Congratulations (It looks like Sonali entered Sutter Home's Build a Better Burger Constest)

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over 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

CONGRATULATIONS ALL! Really great recipes and all on the TO TRY list. And Sonali THAT'S why you look familiar - the burger contest! I remember watching that and thinking yours should win ... it looked really tasty.

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over 4 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thank you- Build a Better Burger was a blast! I love barbacoa and will definitely be trying your winning recipe!