Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

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Chickpeas and Roasted Garlic Spaghetti

chickpea spaghettiOverwhelming would be an understatement for the month that is passing by. I have a few days more to go and then I could probably start working towards normalcy. Yep, final exams week is upon me and I am still clueless about how I am going to go about one of the toughest exams I am scheduled to write.

But amidst all this chaos, I have managed to cook some good (read decent) food and photograph them. Since I have a very narrow window between cooking and getting to the daycare to pick up Miss Kohlrabi, I have to keep things simple and make the most of the props lying about the house. How long can a person look at my patio floor, really? So for this “shoot”, a couple of paper bags, thanks to our earth-friendly grocery store, came to my rescue. The effect was satisfactory, the food even more so. I love chickpeas to death and thankfully, it is used to a delightful degree in Indian cooking.

When I discovered hummus, even more happiness fell on my plate (quite literally). And although, I have moved on to experimenting with different kinds of hummus (with white beans, azuki beans and such), the original always rocks my palate. Now, this spaghetti might be old news to seasoned pasta lovers but to someone who has been stuck on lemon-basil pasta with goat cheese for the past year, this is quite a desirable turn of events.

Now, as I mentioned before, many versions exist on the internet. But I read quite a few of those and decided to go with my gut (I am all about the puns today, aren’t I?). And I am glad I did. Verdict: I would make this again. If I want an overload of carbs that is, for this dish combines two carbs-rich foods available in market: pasta and chickpeas. And no, buying wholewheat pasta will not do the trick because as a person who loves finding diet hacks, I checked the nutrition info. Apart from providing more fiber (a fact I am still skeptical about), wheat and normal pasta provide you with the same, or negligibly less, amount of carbohydrates. So unless you stick to serious portion control and add more vegetable stock and less chickpeas (I solemnly advise you not to go this route since it alters taste), you would be going off charts on a low-carb diet. If you follow one that is.

If not, go crazy! After all you deserve a reward for being you and this is a good way to go about it.
chickpea spaghetti2
Chickpeas and Roasted Garlic Pasta

One pound spaghetti, linguine, trenette or any kind of long pasta

One head roasted garlic (this is super easy, I have been following the method from SimplyRecipes)

One yellow onion sliced

One 15oz can pre-cooked chickpeas (I cooked my own: one and a half cups dried beans and three whistles on the cooker)

One tsp roasted cumin

Quarter cup almond (optional but recommended)

Half cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil and dried work. The former adds extra depth)

One bunch fresh basil washed and chopped

Juice from one lemon

Half cup goat cheese or cream cheese

Feta or Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top (optional)

One tsp chili flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Quarter cup good olive oil

Method:

Cook the pasta according to the package. Set one cup of pasta water aside and drain the rest. Let it cool down and stop cooking. Coarsely grind the cumin seeds. Add the chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, basil and almonds to the blender. Blend it into a coarse mixture, a hummus consistency is what we are looking for. Add the reserved pasta water to help the blender do the job.

When done, add the lemon juice, half the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large pan. On low-heat, saute the sliced onion with quarter tsp of salt. When nice, brown and succulent, mix in the chickpeas. Add the goat cheese (or cream cheese) to the pan. Let it melt. Pour the remaining pasta water and make it into a thick sauce. Blend in half the basil and then the cooked pasta. Mix it all in, add more water if you find it too thick. Finish with the remaining basil and cheese.

Go on a diet. You are going to thank me for this tip.

After making this, I sent a pic to my sister and informed her that I want to make this for her in India when we go this July. I seriously cannot wait!!!! (the unusual amount of exclamation points should convey my level of excitement)

 

 

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Quick Three Cheese Pasta Bake with Homemade Marinara

Time seems to be flying these days! It seems like just yesterday that I updated the blog but here I am, ten days later, wondering where all that time went. Although I am supposed to be reveling in the joy of spring break, I am stuck at home, working on yet another paper. This means that little A is back at daycare, something I was looking forward to avoid for a weak at least. I completely miss spending all my daytime with her and was very pumped about the prospect. But it was not to be.

So, after two days of exclusive mommy-baby time, she went back to her auntie for the major part of the day. Not that she complained. I suspect that she was secretly pleased to run away from boring ol’ me to a place where she can play, laugh and have fun with her friend-ish kind of people. Although I am home alone and all that, I hardly find time to cook. The only thing that pushes me to get on with it is the fact that surviving on water and other liquids is not a diet we are interested in doing at the moment. Hence, I plan my menu a few days in advance and stick to one pot meals as much as my conscience would allow me. Since K is not the complaining kind, I take advantage of him a lot more than I want to admit.
Ricotta Pasta2Yesterday was pasta day. I had a can of diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic sitting in my pantry. I bought some ricotta a couple of days ago and a nice ball of fresh mozzarella on dairy run yesterday. I decided to whip up some of my favorite double-duty marinara sauce to make a cheesy (albeit healthy) pasta bake that kind of edged extravagance while managing to be healthy. It was on the higher side of carbs, but with moderation, I knew that I could have my dinner and eat it too (cliche alert!).
Ricotta PastaQuick Three Cheese Pasta Bake

Ingredients:
One can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic

Three pods of garlic, minced

3/4 box of medium-size pasta like Penne or Rigatoni, cooked al dante, drained and a cup of pasta water set aside

One cup part-skim Ricotta cheese

Half a ball of fresh Mozzarella (or one cup of the shredded kind)

Two Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Half an eggplant diced

Quarter cup frozen peas

One large egg (optional)

Salt

Pepper

Crushed red pepper

Quarter cup Olive oil

Method:
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Heat a saucepan with half the olive oil on medium heat. Saute the minced garlic until it releases flavor. Pour the can of diced tomatoes and let it cook for ten minutes. When done, add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Transfer to a large salad bowl.

Pour half of the remaining oil in the same pan. Saute the diced eggplant on medium-high heat until it browns and starts to cook. meanwhile, add the ricotta and egg (if using) to the marinara sauce. Mix the peas in with the eggplant before you switch off and add this to the ricotta mixture. Blend in some of the reserved pasta water if you find the sauce to be thick. Fold in the Parmesan cheese.

Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce. Grease a baking dish with the remaining oil. Transfer the pasta mixture and top with the Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. I broiled it for a few minutes to brown the cheese but this is only an optional step.


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So Cheesy!

I know, I know, that is a ridiculously cheesy (and by that I mean predictable) title, especially for a post about Mozzarella Sticks. But it is 10pm on a very tiring Sunday night and I have only ten minutes to write this post and go back to my Accounts book… out of which I spent five defending the title. So here we go!

I didn’t know that it was possible- to make a guilt free, lighter version of mozzarella sticks. Until I made up my mind to give it a try. So I read up a couple of methods online, like the ones on Skinnytaste and Food Network and decided to go with my own recipe. I just adapted the temperature and time for baking from the websites, took a deep breath and did it. You should also note that this the first time I am making Moz Sticks of any kind so the success was especially awesome.  I don’t want to talk any more but let this picture do the job:

Featuring for the first time on the blog: the hubster pulling an ooey-gooey cheese stick apart !

Featuring for the first time on the blog: the hubster pulling an ooey-gooey cheese stick apart !

Wonderful, isn’t it? Here is the recipe-

Healthy-Gooey Moz Sticks

Ingredients
Eight sticks of low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella sticks (I recommend Sargento)

One egg, whisked

Quarter cup all-purpose flour

Three Slices of whole-wheat bread

Two tsp dried Italian seasoning

One tsp garlic powder

One Tbsp butter

Cookng spray

Marinara sauce for dipping

Method

Freeze the cheese overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Gently blend the bread in a food processor. Heat the butter in a pan and add the bread crumbs when the butter melts. Toast it on medium-low until it is golden-brown. When done, mix the seasoning and garlic powder with it. Assemble the flour, whisked egg and bread crumbs in different dishes. Bring the cheese out. Dip the cheese sticks in the flour and shake of any excess. Dunk them in the egg wash completely and finally, roll them in the seasoned breadcrumbs. Arrange on a foil-lined, greased baking tray and freeze for fifteen minutes (this step can also be done the night before and baked the next day).

spary the tops of the Mozzarella Sticks with cooking spray and bake for five minutes. Turn once and bake again for five minutes. I placed my baking tray on the lowest rack and the sticks came out wonderfully. dunk in marinara and eat while it is hot.
mozarella sticksThat took me half hour to write. Who was I kidding when I said ten minutes?!

Serving Size: One stick

Total Carbs: 7g


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Superstar Pasta/Pizza Sauce

It has been a quest of sorts, finding the perfect homemade sauce that could do double duty as a pasta and a pizza sauce. And I finally cracked the code yesterday. Well, actually the recipe book that came with my Haeger Pizza Stone, a gift from our Virginia uncle and aunt, did it. I just made a few adjustments, adapted it to our taste and ended up with super-delicious marinara sauce last night. Needless to say I am in bliss! Tomato bliss, actually.

Now, I used canned whole tomatoes. If you’d rather go ahead and use up the last of your summer tomatoes, go ahead. Although, I should warn you. I kinda have a feeling that the juices in the can was what hit the ball out of the park. I cannot wait for pasta day now!
pizza sauceSo here is the recipe-

Superstar Double-duty sauce

Ingredients:
One can (15oz) whole or crushed tomatoes with juice (you could use the same amount of fresh tomatoes too)

Five cloves of garlic, finely minced

Slightly less than a quarter cup olive oil

One tsp dried basil

One tsp dried thyme

One and a half tsp dried oregano

A scant tsp chili flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Chop the whole tomatoes into bite-size pieces. Heat the oil in a pan on medium low. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the rest of the ingredients and turn the heat to medium. While it is cooking, mash the tomatoes lightly with the back of your ladle. Let it simmer and do its wonderful magic for fifteen minutes. Store in a mason jar or such in the refrigerator. But eating it fresh off the stove is the best.

Last week was Vinayaka Chaturti, the day we celebrate the birth of  our elephant-faced god, the son of Lord Shiva. He depicts the beginning of everything auspicious according to the Hindu mythology. We made Kozhukattai/Modhak, Indian stuffed dumplings. We made both the sweet and the savory version. The sweet is made with coconut shavings and jaggery and the savory ones are stuffed with spiced, ground Urad Dal. We went a little contemporary and decided to fry ’em instead of steam ’em. Kishore was not a fan of this version but Amma and I loved it! Since I was freakishly busy last week, here are a couple of pics I clicked on that day but could find time to edit only yesterday.

Sweet and savory Kozhukkattai

Sweet and savory Kozhukkattai

Chickpeas stir fry with coriander seeds and tempered with Indian condiments. It is a distant cousin of hummus. More on this in October.

Chickpeas stir fry with coriander seeds and tempered with Indian condiments. It is a distant cousin of hummus. More on this in October.

Our elephant-faced god, Vinayaka...

Our elephant-faced god, Vinayaka…

 


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Ratatouille and Garlic-Lemon Spaghetti

To kick-start the long weekend, I recreated one of my most favorite recipes from the blog, Ratatouille. This time, I served it with wonderful lemon-garlic spaghetti and French bread-sticks.  Dinner was done at 6pm. Do I need a bigger validation?!
ratatouille2
The spaghetti recipe has been adapted from Giada’s Lemon Spaghetti and edited some. Here is the recipe:

Lemon-Garlic Spaghetti

Ingredients:
Half lb spaghetti or any long pasta

One third cup olive oil

Quarter cup lemon juice

A hand-full Italian blend cheese

Two pods garlic, finely grated

A pinch chili flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Quarter cup basil, finely torn

Recipe:
Cook the spaghetti according to the package. Save half a cup of the pasta water and drain the rest. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, cheese, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Return the spaghetti to the pan, add the sauce. If the pasta is too thick, add the pasta water gradually until it reaches the desired consistency. Mix in the basil and serve warm with ratatouille and bread-sticks.
ratatouille
It probably took me longer to click pics than eat. I would call it a job pretty well done, won’t you? Happy Labor day, stay safe!


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Wannabe Creamy Risotto-Rice

This is such a pleasure, the opportunity to blog twice in a week. Since school starts soon, I take it with open arms and without questions. I mean, I cannot put it past me to go through a non-creative spell pretty abruptly. You know how you come up with all your brilliant ideas right when you are about to go into deep sleep at night? This one happened to me yesterday as I was dozing off. Well, the recipe might not be a brilliant idea or an original but I fell in love with it and decided that I had to try it as soon as I could. So the rice thingamajig was “born”.

This is a quick, easy recipe. So easy that the most difficult part to me was coming up with a name. I couldn’t call it a risotto unless I wanted to earn the wrath of Italians, Italian cooks and Italian food lovers. I didn’t want to call it fried rice because it was too mushy to be a success. I could not bring myself to call it Cauliflower Kalandha Sadham (mixed rice in Tamil) because I was afraid I would anger my late grandma, father and aunt so much that they would refuse to come to my aid when I invoke their spirits in the kitchen (ha ha). Hence, I decided to stop trying to be creative and called the big pot of creamy rice what it was- Creamy Cauliflower-Broccoli Rice… I still feel it could have made a beautiful risotto. Oh well, whatever!
creamy fried riceCreamy Cauliflower-Broccoli Rice

Ingredients:
Onc cup brown rice (Sushi quality works the best)

Quarter head of cauliflower, chopped into rough florets

One head of broccoli, chopped into rough florets

Ten large cremini mushrooms (chop all but three)

One medium-size onion, chopped

Six pods of garlic, chopped

Two cups vegetable stock

One cup milk

A few strands of thyme

Half cup low-fat cheese (Italian blend)

Three Tbsp olive oil

Two Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Cook the rice. Boil the cauliflower, broccoli and three whole pieces of mushrooms in salted water. When done (which takes roughly ten minutes), process it in the food processor along with milk, thyme, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a pan. Melt the butter in it and add the onion and garlic to it. Cook it on medium heat. Once done, Add the creamy gravy and then the rice. Stir to mix completely. Add on the vegetable stock to give it a loose, risotto-like consistency. Finally, stir in the cheese and switch off the heat.

Like risotto and Sambar rice, this tastes best when eaten immediately. The hub added some store-bought croutons since he felt it missed that crunch factor. I am thinking of adding walnuts next time.

Ps: This dish might lack in the looks department but dig deeper. It has a wonderful flavor that will not disappoint.
creamy fried rice2


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This is it!

It would be an understatement if I say that the last month has been a roller-coaster ride! My little bundle of cuteness arrived exactly thirty days ago and settling down into motherhood has been the hardest and the most delightful (well for the most part) thing I’ve ever done. Apart from days when I have contemplated going back to the hospital, faking a mystery illness, we have all settled down into the groove of things. I am trying not to think of life after the next three weeks. School is scheduled to begin then and I would be away for at least three hours everyday. I don’t foresee any separation anxiety. Just a full, overwhelming plate.

Mommy dearest has been a star in the kitchen and a wonderful support system in the past month. Although we have been having wholesome, albeit very tame, food to accommodate Aarabhi’s sensitive new-born tummy, I have hardly had any time to click pics of it, let alone upload them.

So when I made Pizza on Friday night, I made sure I clicked a couple of pics on the phone. I don’t foresee touching the SLR for food photography for the next few months at least. And as it turns out, I don’t mind it much. I do have a bigger project to tackle 🙂

pizzaThat’s my rustic veggie pizza with fresh mozzarella and basil. I opted for the usual veggie toppings but added pineapple to make it a tad exotic and because, well, Amma and I love it. After making the equivalent of a large and a personal pan pizza, I had dough leftover. Hence, I made a couple of cheesy garlic “cups” for snack this afternoon. It was so easy that it requires no formal recipe. You would understand why as soon as you see the pic below. I adder dried oregano flakes, garlic butter and red pepper flakes for seasoning apart from the (not so) fresh moz again. Mom and Kishore ate it with marinara sauce and deemed it a success.

moz cupsAgain, I apologize for the pics. I do feel a tad guilty for lifting it from my Instagram post. Ah well, I will get over it!