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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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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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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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!

 


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Off the Pizza Pan

My quest for making good quality pizza started the minute I watched Bobby Flay toss that pie on his barbecue grill one sleepy winter day. It was an old episode of Boy Meets Grill and Bobby was grilling away with the finesse only a well-seasoned chef is acquainted with. This time, instead of watching the pizza (topped with everything meat, signature Flay) sizzle, I realized that I must try baking a pie. Its been ten months since I watched the episode and I am proud to say that I am five Pizza Pies old.

Anyway, Monday was a cold day, huge surprise! My pizza base dough (courtesy Giada De Laurentiis) had been basking in the refrigerator for two days. Hence, it was only natural for me to bring it out and bake that pie. I had some home-made Paneer (cottage cheese) in the pantry which I marinated, in homage to the Paneer Tikka pizza we used to order back home from Pizzaurant, Chennai: the best Pizza place in the city.

So I started by marinating the Paneer in curd, a pinch of salt, a tablespoon Garam Masala, a teaspoon Chili Powder (cayenne pepper will work) and a teaspoon turmeric powder for two hours. Next, I chopped one small onion, half a bell pepper, half a Jalapeño and grated two large bulbs of garlic.

I then rolled out the base on a well-oiled and flour dusted pizza pan. After this, I added some mozzarella cheese to the pan, arranged the marinated Paneer, onion, bell pepper and garlic. I topped this with some more cheese (it may seem like I used a lot of cheese but in reality, it took less than half a cup to make this pizza delicious) and finished by sprinkling some salt, red pepper flakes, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. The pie went into a 450 F (230 C) pre-heated oven for 15 minutes and came out bubbly, crispy and completely beautiful.