Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Remembering Brunch and Looking Back

breakfast textIt was the most successful brunch I’ve ever made. A non-descriptive Sunday, fall time and I decided to make brunch to pick things up around the house. I have to admit that the cream cheese-Vanilla danish was not the best. I tried to imitate the creamy danish we buy sometimes from Costco. But my end product was slightly dry and lacked the shiny top. I was slightly disappointed but decided to store it up as an opportunity to perfect in the future.  Vanilla-chocolate parfait, a bowl of yummy fresh strawberries (the last of the bounty for the season I snatched off the grocer’s shelf) and the star of the show, breakfast pizza with an egg on top and seasoned with green onions, corn and Sriracha.

This is certainly my happy place, a morning I would like to remember especially on a cold cold day like today was. With Aarabhi’s three-month old feet tapping the floor, Amma’s ever helpful hands rearranging the table for me and K patiently indulging my requests for closing and opening the patio door, I would call this one of my best shoots for the year!

So we are nearly there, the Christmas season and the end of the year. While brimming with excitement about the holiday season, I also feel a touch of melancholy brought on by the end of the year. But I am tuning all that away by making blog plans for next year. A lot is going to happen on here, beginning with a domain address change. Yes, my renewal is up and I am bidding ladlesandhighheels a final good-bye and migrating to the all new chefette spicy! I am also working on a new banner and other exciting stuff. The reveal will happen in 2014 so stay with me.

And finally, about the 100 likes on the facebook page. To keep up with the spirit of Christmas, I did a free cookie promo yesterday and invited a bunch of friends to like the page. We are 104 strong and counting! We have a winner she has picked a friend to send the cookies to. Overall, not a bad end of the year for Chefette Spicy!
christmas treeThe tree is decked up, the gifts are packed. I will certainly do a post before the year ends but if mid-December is here, it is never too early to wish y’all a Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays, people! Let there be peace on Earth.

 


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Chocolate Fudge with Salted Pistachios

Chocolate Fudge2When it comes to picking a chocolate recipe to make, it is a no brainer at this household. I always pick Ina’s Outrageous Brownies and I am never disappointed. So this time, I surprised myself by craving something chocolate that was not brownies. I wanted fudge. And I didn’t want to switch my oven on. I probably get zero points for creativity but hey, I was not competing in a contest!

Shopping around for recipes, I came across Nigella’s Chocolate Fudge with Pistachio recipe and decided to be daring. When I say daring, I use the word loosely because this is the first Lawson recipe have ever made and am I glad I tried it! These chocolate-y squares are pure heaven and the taste is only magnified by the sweetened condensed milk. Although I do wish I had added a dash of vanilla to the fudge, I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would have, thanks to the pistachios.
Chocolate FudgeOh, the pistachios! I have a truck-load of salted-roasted pistachios sitting in the refrigerator and this recipe was an amazing way use up some of them. Since my nuts were already salted, I did not add the pinch of salt Nigella’s recipe lists.

I also want to give a shout-out to my sister who has a new-found love in her life now called cooking! She made her first mug brownie last night and reveling in the joy only a midnight cup of dessert can bring you. J, here is another sweat-treat for you to try and just so you know, I am getting ready to accept your gratitude gracefully 🙂


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Birthday Means Cake

Yep, it is that time of the year when I make chocolate cake with shameless abandon- the hub’s birthday. If you have been keeping up with this blog since 2011, you would see the pattern here. I am a sucker for chocolate cake. I also feel that no other flavor of cake is worth making so I generally refrain from it. This time, I decided to make Kishore’s favorite cookie ever in cake form, the Oreo. When I say favorite, I am probably understating his love for Oreos because not only does he have the capacity to empty a whole carton of Oreos in one sitting but he also orders milkshakes and ice creams in the flavor. At the make your own froyo bar, he will replicate the Oreo with freaky precision and a madcap glee in his eyes.

So to make sure he really did have a wonderful birthday, I decided that this was it. The bottom is a devil’s food cake that was made from scratch at home and it has two kinds of frosting: the cream cheese OD’d on crumbled Oreo cookies that was used as the filler and the frosting, and the chocolate ganache slathered on the sides. We cut the cake last evening and I can tell you that he will be in serious Oreo heaven for a long time to come. The recipe is from Kraft’s website which I modified a little and it has five star reviews from around 700 people. Do I need to say more?!

Happy Birthday, honey, and for your sanity’s sake (and mine), may the world never run out of Oreos!
Oreo cake


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A Picture Post for an Old Recipe

Today will not be about word counts or getting my recipe right. It will not be a story about family, memories or life as I know it. Instead, this post will be about a recipe I’ve already made but with a prettier picture that I snapped with with a better camera. If you like the update, drop me a line. You will make me happy!

cookie sandwich revampAnd so I log off before my computer’s battery runs out…


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Flaky-Dense Chocolate Cooker Cake

Long long ago, one of my aunts made a chocolate cake. I was around seven at that time and ovens were practically unknown to mankind… in India. I got to taste this delicious cake, which was eggless, on one of my cousin’s ninth birthday and life was never the same again. I craved this dense, rich cake over the years but never really got to taste it again. Years went by and the memories of that fun party, primarily highlighted by the wonderful cake, kept coming back to me.

cooker cake2

So the last time I did remember it, I decided to find out the recipe. My aunt was not reachable but I did remember one vital part of the recipe: she made it in a pressure cooker. We use the cooker rather extensively in Indian cooking so sourcing one was not a problem. The problem lay in figuring out what to put under the batter to heat it up. I know my aunt used sand but where do I go for sand, so far away from the sea? A quick research online gave me two options: steaming it or heating it directly. I was afraid that the latter would probably damage my rubber ring (that thing we call gasket in India) so I opted for the former method.

I ended up with a wonderfully moist, dense and flaky cake that I am in love with. Though it lacked the rather earthy flavor of the cake using the sand method, it was good! And who knew something as easy as steaming could yield such a rich dish?!

This is how I made it:

Chocolate Cooker Cake

Ingredients:
One and a half cup all-purpose flour

Four Tbsp dark cocoa powder

Three quarter cup sugar

One tsp vanilla essence

One cup yogurt (or replace with buttermilk. You could also use soy/almond milk for a vegan version)

Half tsp baking soda

One and a half tsp baking powder

Half cup vegetable oil

Method:
Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Add the dry to the wet, while whisking it. I used the KitchenAid but a whisk or a hand mixer works equally well. Fill the bottom of the cooker with water (incidentally, salt, raw rice and beans work too) and place a steaming plate in the bottom. Grease and flour a container well. Transfer the batter and make sure it is sealed well. Use a perfectly-fitting lid or aluminum foil. This is key: *Make sure it is tightly sealed* While steaming, water has chances of entering the cake container, making the cake soggy and, well, gross.

Close the lid but do not use the weight. Steam the cake on medium-low for 45 minutes, until completely done. You can check the doneness by inserting a knife or a fork.

This cake is not overly sweet, primarily because of the dark chocolate. If you want a sweeter cake, add one cup sugar. I “iced” it with Nutella so the sweetness was perfect. If you want something fancier, I would suggest a chocolate ganache icing. But then, I, as everyone knows, am partial towards ganache so I feel that works the best. I am sure a simple buttercream frosting works really well too.

If you don’t have a cooker, you can steam it in a large container with a tight lid too. Finally, 45 minutes is a ballpark. It could take you longer or lesser time. It really depends on the size of your cake container.

cooker cake


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Why I would never be a baker

choccake

The case in point is the reason why I would never be a baker or a pastry chef. Reasons: I have shaky hands, no patience and I would never acquire the talent a baker needs. Why? Lets go back to the second reason. I have no patience. My patience spans until I take the cake out of the oven and it comes to an abrupt standstill. I love slathering on the icing and making sure I get to those nooks and crannies but that’s it.

Anyway, as I had mentioned earlier, this is my third chocolate cake on this blog. And the second with ganache frosting. But this time, I made it to give away. In my opinion (and I formed this after tasting a mere sliver when my hostess served it this afternoon) it was a tad too sweet. But K disagrees.

Ah, this brings us to the million dollar question: was it for a Superbowl party? Nope. Sadly not. Well, I could pretend it was a domestic tailgate for a bunch of us Desis at one of our friends’ place where we ate, played and caught up with each other. But strike 6pm, we made our way back home, settled with a bowl of guac and oven-baked corn chips and watched the Baltimore Ravens take the trophy home. Go, Ravens! We love you.

To top all this craziness, I did not get a decent picture of the cake (unless you would consider an Instagram click). Poor baby. Let’s hope for a better week (methinks that’s not going to be possible for me. There! I have spread my optimism for the week). Have a wonderful one!


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Éclair au Chocolat

I admit it. I did not believe in myself when I set out to make this. French pastries freak me out when I am making them. But did I fail? I will tell you, actually, show you in a bit.

I have dreamed of eating eclairs since I was young and spent so many hours reading Enid Blyton’s books. For the uninitiated, this British author was the queen of children’s fiction. She reigned over children’s literature from the 20’s to the 60’s but I know children loved reading her books even her peak years. My sister and I were introduced to Blyton by my mother and I have childhood memories dotted with holidays solely dedicated to reading Famous Five, The Five-Find Outers and Mallory Towers and lusting after all the delicious food they eat in the books. Believe me, there were lots of ’em!

Apart from dreaming of bacon and eggs (and not knowing that bacon was meat) and Joanna’s (the cook in Famous Five) famous ginger cookies, I used to wonder what chocolate eclairs tasted like. They sounded delicious whenever the Find Outers ate them at their local swanky cafe near the railway station, especially in Mystery of the Missing Man. In my later years, I remember Googling all the food featured on Enid Blyton’s books just to know what they looked like.

Though I am not all that new to baking, I have always thought Eclairs was a dish I would shy away from making due to the complicated process it involves. But today, I had all the ingredients I needed to make this pastry and a very empty schedule for the day. Moreover, Julia Child gave me the confidence I really need to “buck up” as Blyton’s characters would say. This recipe is an adaptation from the foodnetwork website and Child’s book, The way to Cook. You can follow the link for the former and as for the latter, I promise to type out and publish soon.

I was pretty scared of making the pastry primarily because I ended up with flat dough, although I followed the recipe to the T. Thankfully, I decided to let my oven judge it. Within five minutes of baking it, the pastry puffed up and roughly twenty minutes later, I had two beautifully light, meringue-ish pastry in my hands. Needless to say, the Mister fell in love with it and wished I had made more than two (we are on a diet as always). Ah well, there is always the lazy weekend!