Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Jalapeño Poppers Pizza with Sweet Corn and Garlic Chips

jalapeño poppers pizzaSometimes, you want to make a dish for dinner and then you realize that you have planned something else that you have been waiting to make. For me, it happened on the day I found surprisingly firm jalapeño peppers at the market a week ago. Thinking I would make jalapeño poppers that evening, I bought exactly six (I had to exercise sound restraint since I am known to over-indulge while shopping for vegetables) but got home to realize that there was a ball of pizza dough thawing on my counter.

If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I have freakish rules about twice freezing anything. I simply don’t do it and I hate trashing perfectly good edibles just because I have strange opinions on things that come out of my freezer. So I decided to combine my two dinner plans and make one super-awesome, easy-peasy Jalapeño Poppers Pizza! Thankfully, I had all the ingredients I needed in the fridge and it involved around ten minutes of prep time, a very welcome coincidence since I had my last final exam the next day.
jalapeño poppers pizza2
Although it tasted a lot like the Naan Pizza you get in the freezer section of the Indian store (if you haven’t tasted it, you really have to asap! It is the bomb) sans the obvious Desi taste to it. I added some freshly cooked corn that was just off the cob for a mild sweetness and some garlic chips because, well, who doesn’t like garlic on their pizza, right? The end product was a love child between spice and flavor- two attributes of cooking we all love! And guess what. I never missed bacon, an essential in jalapeño poppers.
jalapeño poppers pizza3
This is how I made it-

Jalapeño Poppers Pizza with Sweet Corn and Garlic Chips

Ingredients:
Half a box of pizza dough

Three jalapeño peppers (two if yours are as huge as mine were) sliced breath-wise

Half cup sweet corn cooked

One small yellow onion finely sliced

6oz cream cheese

One green onion chopped

Four pods of garlic, sliced (a la Gus Fring style, if you are into Breaking Bad)

Half cup shredded cheddar cheese (or Mexican blend)

Four Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method:
Heat a pan with one Tbsp olive oil. Saute the sliced onions on medium-low heat until brown and caramelized.  When done, transfer to a plate and heat the rest of the olive oil on high heat. While it is getting hot, preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). When the oil is hot, add the garlic. It will sizzle and go from brown to burnt in a jiffy so take extra caution and keep sauteing until it gets golden brown and crisp. When done, transfer the garlic chips to a cup. Reserve the oil. This is liquid gold. Roll the pizza dough into an 8 inch pizza base. If it gets sticky (something that is bound to happen to thawed pizza dough), sprinkle some flour and trudge on. Transfer it to a floured pizza stone and bake for seven minutes.

The trick here is to make sure the pizza bakes without getting all soggy so this step is kinda important. While the crust is baking, mix the chopped green onion with the cream cheese. When the crust is pre-baked, take it out of the oven and slather on the cream cheese mix. It will melt and slide but don’t worry, that’s the beauty of pizza making. Top it with caramelized onion, corn, cheese and garlic chips (in that order). Finish with the sliced jalapeño on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for fifteen minutes more. When the cheese has melted and the jalapeño slices look slightly wilted, it is done. Spoon a little garlic-infused oil on top and sink into Popper-Pizza heaven.

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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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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!!


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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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Do You Remember Cup Corn?

Summer sweet corn is here and no one can be happier than I am! I have such great plans for these wonderful kernels of sweetness for this summer and cannot wait to get my hands on them every week. So when I bought them last evening, I already had the perfect starter snack for my sweet corn: cup corn!

cilantro corn

Cup Corn is a very common street food in India and comes in so many versatile flavors, none of which I remember really! So my recipe pick for the day was a pretty much a free-hit since I went with my instincts and literally dropped all the seasoning I thought would jive well together. This is probably why I ended up with a huge bowl of succulent, sweet  corn that was devoured within half an hour of making it! Since I am at the risk of sounding like a glutton, I would like to mention that I had a couple of enthusiastic consumers (one probably more eager than the other. No prizes for guessing who is who, of course) helping me.

Since most of you already know how to steam/cook/roast corn on the cob, here is the recipe for the Cayenne-Garlic Butter Infused with Garlic and Cilantro:

Ingredients:
Half a stick of butter

One Tbsp Olive Oil

Two pods of garlic finely grated

A pinch cayenne pepper powder

Quarter cup cilantro

A dash of lime

One tsp salt

Method:
Melt butter and oil with garlic and cayenne pepper powder on low heat. If you like your garlic well cooked, let it go for five minutes. I love the taste of fresh garlic so I cook it for two minutes. Add the cilatro (save a Tbsp for later), salt and squeeze in the lime. Pour the butter in a shallow pan if you are leaving the corn on the cob. Turn them a few times to coat. I removed the kernels from the corn so I pored the butter over the bowl of corn and mixed it well. Garnish with the rest of the cilantro. Done!

This makes enough butter for four ears of corn.

Serving Size: One ear of corn

Total carbs: 17g

With dressing: 20g


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Fennel Virgin and a Pot of Soup

It took me three years to muster up enough courage to buy a bulb of fennel. Normally, I steer clear of a particular set of vegetables and this licorice-flavored little veggie has always topped the list. So this week on my trip to the grocery store, I stopped at the greens isle for a minute longer and picked up a bulb of fennel. I was planning to roast it along with carrots, asparagus and make a salad but stopped myself in time. I wanted to do something more adventurous so I decided on a pot of soup (see, that is me trying my hands at subtle sarcasm).

Tomato-fennel soup

The verdict: I loved it! I am generally not a fan of celery, the other veggie known for its licorice flavor but this was more peppery and my taste palate-friendly. Will I buy it again? For sure but this time I should find better ways to use fennel.

This is how I made my pot o’ soup…

Roasted Tomato-Fennel Soup

Ingredients:
Five Roma tomatoes, halved, seeded and cored

One medium-size head of fennel, cleaned, cored and diced into chunks

Half a huge white onion, diced into chunks

Five pods of garlic

Two Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

One Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

One tsp fresh lemon zest

Four Tbsp low-fat cream cheese

Scant half a cup reduced fat milk

Two cups water or low-sodium vegetable stock (I used the former)

A pinch of chili flakes

Half a tsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional, recommended for heat-seekers)

One tsp brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Three Tbsp good olive oil

(Phew!)

Method:
Pre-heat the oven at 400°F. Prepare two sheet trays. Arrange the tomatoes and fennel in one. Pour olive oil on the vegetables, one Tbsp of rosemary, little salt and pepper. Arrange the onions and garlic in the other sheet pan and replicate the seasoning. Roast the onions in the oven for twenty minutes and the tomatoes and fennel for ten minutes more. Once done and cooled down, transfer to the blender, add the thyme and lemon zest and blend it well.

Pour the soup in a pan and heat it. Add the rest of the flavorings, milk and water and let it come to a boil. Reduce heat and add the cream cheese and whisk it until thick and creamy. Check for seasoning. Serve with a dollop of cream cheese, a splash of olive oil and grilled cheese sandwiches. Ooh, yumm!!

Serving Size: half a cup

Total carbs: 16.9g

With sandwich: 40g

Tomato-fennel soup 2