Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Toasted Falafel in Pita Pockets with Tzatziki

It is such an amazing feeling, to face the end of finals and look forward to my first holiday season (bar an academic paper up for submission) in two long years. After doing some mental math, I realized that I have been working without respite for the past two years. Some may argue that I took a break last summer also but then, I would beg to differ. Carrying a live person in the stomach for nine odd months and popping one fine day in summer is not my idea for a vacay (plying the mom card here). And that’s exactly what I did last summer.

Although this year is going to be as tricky as last year, I am taking solace in the fact that I would not be learning something as challenging as being a mother and breastfeeding an ever hungry baby. Yep, I am up-to-date with all of Miss Kohlrabi’s tricks. Nothing, I repeat, nothing will frazzle me. But I really do hope she gives me an easy time, mommy deserves a holiday. So I have all the time until mid-August until my next (crazy) semester commences and I have all the time in the world until the last week of June to plan a party (Kohl’s first), pack for the India trip and wonder how we are going to manage this then-one year old in a confined space for 24hrs.

I guess I will come to that later. So until then, I have quite some time and I have planned to do a whole list of stuff while the baby will be away, having a great time at the daycare for three days in a week. It is cleaning time! Everything starting from the refrigerator to the door knobs are scheduled to get deep-cleaned, thanks to a huge bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a big bag of baking soda and Costco-size dish liquid. Yes, I am channeling all my energy into the 1050 sq.ft. that is the house.
baked falafelI also have plans to cook wholesome, healthy meals, which would be balanced by those unhealthy ones at good intervals. So before I go and revel in all the awesomeness that is the end of this academic year, let me tell you what I made recently. I cannot call it a falafel since it doesn’t involve frying and mixing in egg into the batter. But it is loosely based on this Mediterranean chickpea ball. Okay, I know that this is the second chickpea recipe in a row. Since pulses, beans and lentils are the primary source of protein in a vegetarian diet, we use all of the above quite frequently.
baked falafel2This recipe is also a super-loose interpretation of Zoe’s Kitchen’s Greek Chicken Pita. Although I don’t eat meat, I know what goes into this sandwich and I just subbed the chicken part with my toasted falafel. I didn’t see anyone complaining!

Toasted Falafel in Pita Pockets

Ingredients:
For the falafel-
15oz can garbanzo beans (or one and a half cups dried beans cooked)

Four garlic pods finely chopped

One and a half tsp cumin powder

Quarter cup chopped cilantro leaves

Salt

Pepper

Half tsp Chili flakes

One Tbsp olive oil

For the sandwich-
Two heads yellow onion sliced

One Roma tomato cut into rings

Lettuce

Haalf a carton Feta cheese

One cup Greek yogurt

Half hothouse cucumber finely shredded

One tsp dried dill

One small garlic pod finely minced

Salt

Pepper

Six Pita pockets

Method:
Falafel-
Coarsely blend all the ingredients, except for the oil, together. Add enough water to make a dough-like consistency. Shape into balls (I was able to make 12). Heat a pan. Pour enough oil to grease it lightly. Flatten the falafel balls. Working in batches, toast them until golden brown on both sides (it took me four minutes for each side on a medium flame). Set aside.

For the sandwich-
Caramelize the onions with a pinch of salt on low flame. Blend the Greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, salt and pepper with a fork to make Tzatziki. Cut the Pita pockets into half and loosen the flaps. Fill it with a leaf of lettuce. Put in a couple of falafels. Gently press the sides of the pita to crush it. Add the tomatoes and top with some caramelized onions. Drizzle with the Tzatziki and a tsp of Feta cheese.

It might sound like a complicated sandwich to make but burgers require the same number of steps. And exactly like a meaty burger, this Pita sandwich is so worth the trouble!

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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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Feel Good Food: Bisi Bele Bath

BisibeleHolidays are here! Can you believe that it is already time for Christmas? I mean, it was only June yesterday but I woke up this morning to a very cold day and it suddenly hit me that we were nearly done with 2013. Last year this time, I was subtly pregnant and we were shopping for our trip to India. Although we are not due for a visit back home yet (or to deliver a baby), we are still shopping. Shopping for Christmas gifts that we would be taking with us while we visit family and friends back in East Coast.

I am pumped about travelling back to where it all- K and my life together, my culinary Eureka moments and ultimately this blog- began. But I am more excited about meeting the family, showing them Aarabhi for the first time and catching up with the awesome family, especially my wonderful sisters and brother-in-law (they range from the age of six to eighteen, so I find it weird to call ’em that).

Anyway, back to food. I cannot talk about Bisi Bele Bath without mentioning that our New Jersey aunt is a pro at making this wonderful dish. It is native to Karnataka, as she is and the spice mix she puts in her Bisi Bele is wonderful. Since I ran out of it last year, I used the store-bought Bisi Bele Bath powder by MTR and I have been in love with it since! But S Chithi did promise to give me the recipe for it this time when we go to Jersey.

Kannadigas around the world are freakishly proud of this dish and rightly so because it is a one pot wonder and nothing can parallel the taste of hot hot Bisi Bele. Especially on a cold day like today. The name itself is an abbreviation. Called Bisi Bele Huli Anna, hot and sour lentil rice, the name is pretty self-explanatory. It is made of rice, Dal and tamarind and generously packed with other veggies and a hot spice mix. Sounds delicious doesn’t it?! So here is how I made it.
Bisibele2Bisi Bele Bath

Ingredients:
One cup white rice

Half cup Tuar Dal

One cup Shallots

One cup frozen peas

A lemon size ball of tamarind (or two Tbsp tamarind paste dissolved in two cups of water)

Salt

Three Tbsp MTR Bisi Bele Bath powder

Quarter cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Two Tbsp Ghee/Brown Butter

One Tbsp Cooking oil

One tsp mustard seeds

Few curry leaves (optional but recommended)

One tsp Asafoetida

Few pieces of cashew nut

Method:
Before we begin, let’s talk rice.

Whatever you do, try to avoid using Basmati rice for this dish. South Indian rice dishes seldom call for Basmati since it is predominantly used in the northern parts of India only. Moreover, and most importantly, using fragrant rice varieties like Basmati or Jasmine would alter the taste of Bisi Bele and that is really not what you want to do, trust me.

If you are using rice bought from the Indian grocer, cook it together with the Dal in six cups of water until it turns mushy and runny. If you are using white rice bought from a store like Costco, cook them together in four and a half cups of water. This is because you generally need less water to cook American rice than you need to make Indian rice, whether it is Sona Masoori or Ponni.

Pour two cups of water to the tamarind and extract thick juice. Heat the one Tbsp of oil in a huge pot. Fry the shallots for a few seconds. Add the tamarind water and peas to this. Let it cook for ten minutes on medium-low. Now add the peas, salt, Bisi Bele Bath powder, coconut and asafoetida. Cook this together for ten more minutes. The tamarind water and peas have to cook and the spices have to mix and blend with the gravy.

Once done, mix in the cooked rice and Dal mix in batches. The result has to be loose, runny and smell like your kitchen has suddenly transformed into Indian food heaven. Heat the Ghee separately. Fry the mustard seeds along with cashew pieces and curry leaves. Add this to the Bisi Bele Huli Anna and mix it up one last time.

Since Appa decided to throw his strict diet out of the window for the day, I (guiltily) made spicy Potato Curry to go with it. Chips and onion Raita made our lunch brighter.

Much yummy noises were made at the dining table. That made me a happy girl!


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Soup up!

Yes, I am back and I missed quite a few holidays/festivals/celebrations while trying to get my groove back too. Ah well, water under the bridge. Lets move on. The good news is I am back to cooking and eating. This second trimester, I tell you, is such a breeze. An awesome time to enjoy pregnancy and all the good things it brings with it. I finally did my trip to India and what fun it was. Well, fun and so much work and travel inside my city, Madras.

So while reveling in all things home, I forgot to click as many pics as I wanted to in the beginning. That’s okay, there is always the next time. So the ones that I actually did click need to be color corrected but I am having a tough term school-wise that color correction would be a thing in my fantasy… or reserved for one of those free weekends I am dreaming about

K and I landed in a very cold Atlanta and traveled to an equally bad Alabama. Well, bad to us is around 43 deg F so I will take it. We jetlagged for about a couple of weeks, with me falling sick twice. Sick did not curb my energy and into the kitchen I went to make good food. I made this roasted broccoli and cauliflower soup with rosemary which the man deemed the best thing I’ve rustled up in the kitchen in the past three month. Poor thing!

broc soup

The recipe is shamefully easy to be mentioned here so let me just give you the list of ingredients: broc, cauliflower, potato, garlic, white wine vinegar, milk, salt, pepper, rosemary, nutmeg and very little cheddar cheese.  This soup is my version of Panera Bread’s broccoli soup. And I served it with homemade croutons. Oh yum!

broc soup2

 


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Red Velvet Holiday

Here is a quick post before the holidays officially set in. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided on baking a Red Velvet cake with cream cheese frosting to take with us tomorrow when we visit family in New Jersey for Christmas. I’m not going to reveal the actual two-layer cake now. There is time for that later. But before I leave, I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas in LH style.

So when I was aligning the cake before frosting, I had to cut a thin layer off the top of the lower part of the cake (wow, that was a confusing sentence!) Instead of throwing it away like a fancy chef would, I made a couple of mini Napoleons with it that the Mister and I can munch on this evening.

So a Napoleon is basically made of layers of puff pastry and pastry cream but this is my spin-off the classic French dessert. I alternated between a layer of the cake and a layer of the cream cheese. Yum, what a dream it was!

On this note, I say good-bye until we meet after the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, bloggers. If not for you, I would have very few reasons to celebrate.