Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


Leave a comment

Do You Know Carrot Greens?

hot carrot greens dip2Two kinds of foods exist in my world. The first is the one you plan for in your head, mull over for a couple of weeks, finally find the courage to make and end up beating yourself up with criticism. The reason for it is simple. I overrate what would be the out come, hence, not even the perfect result would suffice.

Then there is the latter kind: you want it. You have the ingredients in the pantry. You make it. And then you sink into the heaven that is this awesome dish. Today it was the Hot Carrot Greens Cheesy Dip. I am unimaginably in love with this dish and would love to finish what is left of it. But I cannot if I want to avoid the wrath of the hubster. Since we just returned  from our friends’ after a wonderful dinner of homemade pizza and eggless vanilla-Nutella cake (yum-o!), I am pretty sure I can hold my sticky fingers.

hot carrot greens dip3So why carrot greens? Why not? Greens are the most underrated part of most root vegetables (like beet greens). Most people associate it with rabbits but carrot greens are full of nutrition and they can be subbed for any dish that requires spinach. It has a slightly licorice flavor to it, I feel. I had an abundant quantity of carrot greens this week, my fridge had all the other ingredients I needed for the dip and it was a cold winter day that could use some improvement and the dip was it. All it needed was some toasted wholegrain bread. Heaven was achieved.
hot carrot greens dipThis is how I made the dip-

Hot Carrot Greens Cheesy Dip

Ingredients:
Two cups carrot greens, washed and chopped

One cup Greek yogurt

Quarter cup fat-free cream cheese

Half cup mayonnaise

Quarter cup Parmesan cheese

Quarter cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used the pizza blend which was a combination of moz and cheddar)

Three cloves garlic, finely chopped

Quarter cup shallots, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

A pinch pepper flakes

Method:
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Whisk all the ingredients together in an oven safe bowl. Bake until cheesy, bubbly and golden brown, approximately for 20-25 minutes. We had it with cut up toasted bread. Anything in the bread-cracker family goes with it, really. Oh so good!!


2 Comments

Sticky Cinnamon Bun

If I ever got to rule the world, I would make eating cinnamon buns mandatory. No, seriously. I strongly feel that cinnamon buns make this a happier place to live in. Make em sticky and I will be in eternal heaven. So when Amma came across a wonderful Ina recipe for easy sticky buns on tv, it was only natural for me to look it up and obsess over it until I gave in to temptation and made it. So what if I had my finals the next day, right? Sticky Cinnamon Buns deserve more of my attention than my Accountancy book… for half hour they did because making these lovelies was the easiest thing ever.
sticky bunLike all Ina Garten recipes, this is five stars-worthy but then, I had to go on and make my own alteration. First of all, I was not over the moon about using  pastry sheets for a quick snack so I decided to make it “unquick” by replacing it with the yeast dough from my cinnamon bun recipe. Result: seriously yum! No, seriously. We didn’t miss the puff pastry. I also replaced pecans with walnuts but this was only because walnuts were what I had in my pantry (apart from every other nut except for pecans). Finally, I made two versions of the sticky buns- one with brown sugar and another, sugar-free (for Amma). Although the latter was really not sticky, it was pretty delicious but there is room for improvement. I am looking forward to working on it.

The brown sugar made it wonderfully caramelized, chewy and uber gooey, which is really what makes sticky buns, well, sticky. So if you love cinnamon buns, you’ve gotta try this recipe. I cannot wait to make it again over the weekend. No, I am not joking!


Leave a comment

Pizzeria Pizza Rolls

I love party pizza rolls but hate Tortino’s. And every other brand of pizza rolls the grocery store carries. Isn’t that reason enough to make homemade rolls? It is. Especially when it comes out of the oven all gooey, bubbly and makes your house smell like a pizzeria. And to learn that involves lesser time and energy than making pizza does!

I admit it. It looks nothing like store-bought pizza rolls. But once you cut them into little pieces, they end up looking like rustic little tasty treats that you cannot resist.

Rustic Pizza Rolls

Ingredients:

Half homemade/store-bought package pizza dough

One cup homemade/store-bought plain marinara sauce

One tsp dried oregano flakes

A pinch pepper

Quarter cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Method:

After the initial rising process, divide the pizza dough into five portions. Makes ropes out of them. cover them and let them rest while you make the stuffing. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Mix together the sauce, cheese and seasoning. After 30 minutes of rest time, Flatten and elongate the pizza dough ropes into rectangles (I went freestyle as always and don’t remember the dimensions). Spread two Tbsps of marinara mixture, lining the longer side, on one side(okay, did I make sense there?). Close it and seal it with the other side. Grease a baking pan and transfer the ropes on to it. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden-brown on top and the stuffing slightly oozes out of the roll.

When done, take it out and let it be. When cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces. This pizza roll freezes well and lasts up to a month… that is if you can keep them away from freezer monsters that raid in need of a midnight snack 😉


5 Comments

Back After So Long: I Brought Dinner Rolls with Me

So much has changed since I last updated this blog. Coursework has been keeping me busy, hence, I haven’t had much time to cook any blog-worthy food. Or did I make many and decided not to click pictures of them? I honestly don’t remember.

So lately, I have gotten into making cheese. Though it is going to take me a lot of time and bucket-loads of patience to master the art of creating beautiful slabs of Mozzarella and Cheddar, I am not going to bow down and give up. But this post is not about cheese, sorry.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across Chef John’s recipe for Garlic-Parmesan Dinner rolls on allrecipes.com. I tried it for an evening snack (yes, we are crazy like that at home!) and I ended up with the softest set of delicious rolls ever! Since then, I have become a huge fan and have been trying variations to the roll. I made Chef John’s recipe two weeks ago and yesterday, I tried another version: my pesto rolls in whole-wheat flour.

Initially, I had my own suspicion because I have had so many misadventures while dealing with whole-wheat loaves but this time, it was a success. I ended up with soft golden rolls again. We ate them with marinara dipping sauce and oh boy! I cannot wait to make it again. This time, I am thinking rosemary and goat-cheese?

One small thing though: if you try this out, don’t alter the sponge. Make it with AP. Add wheat flour to it when you make the dough.


5 Comments

LH Goes Healthy… For A Day

Healthy eating, my gym trainer back in India used to point out everyday, is more vital than a strong work-out routine. I would give him a well-practiced nod and move on to my cardio exercise but today I concur. Honestly, I’ve never given unhealthy eating a chance in my life because I was never fond of fried snacks and such. But after the relocating, I found myself in charge of the kitchen and the menu and hence had to concoct a steady, wholesome food plan that would neither make anemia patients out of us nor send us off into a carb dizzy. Hence, apart from a rare fried-Appalum on the menu and a semi-occasional pizza night, we pretty much skipped the generally unavoidable binge eating schedules. This brings me to today.

Evening snacks are a part of our regime, when you have a hungry person coming home to you after a long day at work, you cannot help but make it a point to get something good ready for them to eat and today being Friday, I was in the mood to make something fun, light and delicious just to get the weekend going on the right track. So I had my guidelines laid out for me just because I love challenges:

I wanted to use up the fresh basil I grabbed from the store yesterday. Since Pasta is a complete no-no for an evening snack, I decided to make a sandwich. The last time fresh basil found its place in my pantry, I made Tomato-Moz-Basil sandwich hence, I eliminated it citing reputation. What is the most obvious but awesome dish you can make from basil? I made a pesto with cashew nuts.

Pesto, weirdly, is something I associate with Chennai. A regular patron of Anokhi’s Eco Cafe, the first thng that would welcome me at the store used to be the fresh green aroma of their pesto and feta sandwich. Though I did not know back then that it was basil’s perfume, I recognized it with joy after coming to US and started cooking with the herb.

Now, I know there are a gazillion methods and variants to making the basic pesto out of basil but I improvised mine from Giada’s method and here it is:

Ingredients:

A bunch basil

Quarter cup good extra-virgin olive oil

Three cloves of garlic

A hand full of cashew nuts

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Blend the basil, garlic, cashews, salt and pepper. Running the blender on its lowest speed, open the top of the container and slowly trickle in the olive oil until it is finely blended, else the oil will stand out.

After making the pesto, my obvious choices of ingredients for the sandwich were tomato and feta, both of which I had in my pantry. The tarty taste of tomato and the salty pungent taste of the cheese go artfully together with the pesto. The store-bought bread lounged beautifully on the counter top and I ended up not missing my bread.

Going back to my story, at Anokhi, their sandwiches were always served with a scanty side of fries. Since this only gave me the luxury to peck at them, today I wanted to go all out and serve a good portion of it. “Fried” is not a very healthy route so I decided to make healthy oven-baked potato chips. This recipe consumes less than 1/4th the amount of oil frying does and also lets me use the oven, so double yay!

Here is how I made the potato chips:

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized potatoes (I used Idaho since we love the bite the skin gives) washed and dried

Less than a quarter cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)

Generous amount of salt to sprinkle on top

A teaspoon dry Italian (or any other) seasoning

Method:

Using the slicer blade on a box grater, slice the potatoes into thin rings. Pat them dry thrice just to make sure you have extracted all the water from the vegetable. Turn the oven on to 375 F (190 C). 

Mix the oil and seasoning in a big bowl. Toss the potato slices to coat evenly. Line a


baking sheet with parchment paper (or i
n my case, aluminum foil) and spread the potato slices on a single layer. This may take up two baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, bring it out, toss and bake again for 10 minutes. Make sure you peep in regularly to avoid the thinner slices from burning.

You can turn the oven to broil in the end for two minutes to get that golden-brown finish. Let the chips cool down. Sadly, my potatoes had a tad too much water content in them, thanks to American farming hence they turned out to be on the chewier side but if you find nice, firm taters, take advantage and make the chips!

The mister loved the unexpectedly wholesome snack and I enjoyed cooking up a party. Hence, I deem this a Win-Win situation!


8 Comments

Week 3- Go Bananas!

Buying fruits and not eating them used to be a routine at home until I stopped buying the ones that easily mush away. Banana, or plantain as it is called back in India, is the one that is often tossed into the trash and I am always reluctant to consider adding it on my grocery list.

Last week while shopping, we saw stacks of beautifully arranged bunches of banana in the store and fell instantly in love. Ranging from light pastel green to hues of bright yellow, we couldn’t help but wonder whether it was time to end our abstinence. Five minutes later, we fund ourselves at the counter, along with a huge bag of plantains that would have made King Louie (“Man cub, have a banana”) swell with pride. This time, I was well prepared.

I knew that a couple of fruits later, the bunch would sit forgotten on the counter and one day, we would end up smelling its sickly-sweetness before noticing it rotting on the counter. So I gave it a week since we bought a pale green bunch. When I made sure there were no more takers, I brought my recipe box out and decided to make Banana Bread and put the poor fruit out of misery. Hence, the slight alteration in schedule for Week 3 of the Bread Challenge.

Though I did not use yeast this time, this recipe is still considered a bread, an irony since it is a sugary product worthy of a boulangerie’s rack. The recipe I followed, I am proud to declare, is a product of trial and error, therefore, I am entitled to share it.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour (I used 3/4 cup baking flour and 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour but go ahead and use 1 1/2 cups of baking flour if you want)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 medium-sized egg

a little less than 1/4 cup melted butter and equal amount sour cream (you can use yogurt if you don’t have sour cream at home)

two (in my case) over-ripe bananas mashed

Optional: 1/4 cup chopped walnut

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degree F (or 190 degree C). Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the butter, sour cream/yogurt, egg and finally the mashed bananas and walnut. Stir the mixture together. Grease a loaf pan (or a cake pan), pour in the mixture. Bake for 17 minutes or until a knife inserted into the bread comes out clean.

You can also make this in a muffin/brownie pan.

The result would be a yummy coffee-break snack that is full of fiber and nutrition because bananas, the starch apart, are a very good source of Vitamins C and B6 and fiber. They also very low on saturated fats and cholesterol. Since India is the biggest producer of bananas, we can safely claim it is Desi.

if you look hard, you can see the fibrous parts of the plantain on the bread. They look like threads of saffron spice

I couldn't help cutting a wedge for me!


Leave a comment

A Bread a Week

I’ve fallen in love with yeast. No, I don’t have some weird yeast-eating disorder but I just love experimenting with it, cooking and baking. Believe me, the happiness you feel looking at a well fermented piece of dough is irreplaceable!

So here is my Nth project idea for self: A Bread a Week. For a month.

Once a week because Number 1.  I don’t want to overdo it and Number 2. Well, I don’t want to go bankrupt.

To kick start the next month, I made rosemary and garlic infused Focaccia, an Italian flat-bread eaten as a starter with olive oil or a dip and as a main course accompaniment, often with pasta. Focaccia is a very eclectic bread, often stuffed with vegetables, meat or herbs and topped with cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano and different kinds of Mozzarella.

As always, I don’t have a picture of my experiment since it was gobbled up hungrily with some sweet onion dip an hour ago. Talk about hunger pangs!

I’ve already made plans for the next few weeks. Its going to be the very French Baguette next. Then we will revisit Italia with Ciabatta, my most favorite of all breads, only overtaken by our very own Indian Naan which has been scheduled for my fourth and final week.

Burn a few, I may but at the end of each week, I am hoping to spread my kitchen with the beautiful fragrance of freshly baked bread. Mmmmm…