Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Indo-French Fries, You Beauties

We Desis have a way of Indianizing every dish we can get our hands on. When we forget to weave that magic on a certain recipe, the rest of the world goes ahead and does it for us. I mean, Maggi Masala Noodles is a national snack of sorts back home and I have a friend who knows to make only one kind of pasta: the Marinara Masala Spaghetti, as I have dubbed it. While I do appreciate the eclectic flavor a multi-cuisine dish can radiate and get a kick out of reading about condiments and spices common to cuisines world over, I am a prude when it comes to my kitchen. Indo-Chinese is as far as I’ve ever gone since I am familiar with it. So when I made these fries this afternoon, I felt like I was standing at the pinnacle of my multi-cuisine creativity while in reality, all I did was add delicious Indian spices to basic French Fries.
french fries2

But in my defense, desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ve been hitting my books with a vengeance for, my exams are looming over me next week. When my academic adviser told me that combining Finance and Accounts in a term (note, not a semester but its evil condensed form), I knew I should have listened to her. Oh well, my bad. Studying this hard has left me with no motivation to cook, leave alone dress it up and click pretty pictures. So late last night, I remembered that two years of trying to perfect the non-fried French fries has yielded great results and I could play on that. Hence, my Indian fries were born today. One thing though: they are yummy. You might need to make double the batch. After half an hour of trying to get a few perfect shots, I realized that my fries had gone cold. That did not stop me from thanking god K was not home to steal from my plate and gobbling it all up while watching Cupcake Wars. What? A girl can take a break from balancing accounts, ya know!

Indo-French Fries

Ingredients:
Three medium-sized Idaho or Russet potatoes (Yukon, I find, is wasted here)

One tsp salt

One tsp each cumin and coriander powder

One pinch red pepper flakes

One tsp Chat Masala (for the more daring people, I suggest Garam Masala)

Two Tbsp canola oil

Method:
Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC) Peel and cut potatoes length-wise into thick wedges. Pat the wedges down with paper towel or a kitchen cloth to dab out all the moisture. Transfer it to a bowl and add the salt and oil. There are two methods you can choose from now. You can either add the spices to this or save it up to add on after the fries are done. If you use Garam Masala, which has a pretty strong flavor, I suggest you add it before baking. Chat Masala is always tastier when garnished in the end.

Make sure all the potato wedges are evenly coated with oil and spices. Lightly grease a baking sheet with PAM. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the sheet and bake for 30 minutes, tossing once, 20 minutes into baking. The fries will end up golden and crispy on the outside and soft and done on the inside. When done, transfer to a bowl and mix in the spices. You could finish it off with a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

Eat it with mint-cilantro chutney, spicy chat dip from the Pakoda post or as one of my friends on Facebook has suggested, onion Chutney.
french fries

 


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Spanish Spicy Potatoes

It has been a long hiatus and I’m not happy about it. This time, I blame my photographer’s block. Though I made a lot of yummy food in the past month, I did not photograph any of it. So for the past 30 (odd) days, its been like this: I make food, we gobble it up and I end up wishing I had clicked pictures.

To me, half the joy in cooking lies in presentation, especially when I have a blog going. I can go on and on, describing an amazing Kofta Curry I made a few days ago without managing to earn a single “ooh” out of people reading it. So I sadly have to ditch writing about things I haven’t photographed and start putting my camera to use in the future.

The last visual proof I have of in my recipe box is the Spanish Spicy Potatoes. I got the idea for it from random food blogs gawking sessions. I tasted a version of this dish at Zara’s (the Chennai-based Tapas bar) and I remember falling wildly in love with it. My version has a blend of my own spices and McCormick’s Fajita mix. Whatever it is, this semi-homemade is sure to rock your world… until you clean it all up.

Here we go:

Ingredients:

Three large potatoes (I used Idaho), cleaned and peeled and diced

Half a packet of McCormick’s Fajita Mix

(If you don’t have it, mix together the following: one tsp cumin powder, half tsp oregano, a few shakes of garlic powder, one tsp paprika, one tsp cayenne pepper powder)

One tsp coriander powder,

One tsp onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Three Tbsp vegetable oil

One Tbsp olive oil

Two tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cilantro for garnish

Method:

Heat a pan with two Tbsp oil. While that is heating up, rub the pieces of potatoes with olive oil, the spices, salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, hot, hot (yes, that hot!), add the potatoes. The key here is to cook the potatoes, make it crunchy and manage not to burn it, all at once. Turn the heat to medium and just let it be. Toss it regularly, but manage not to mush it.

When the potato is cooked, it is time to crunch it up. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the other Tbsp of oil and let it fry away to glory. Give it a shimmy shake regularly until it crisps all over. When done, switch the heat off and stir in the lemon juice. Garnish with cilantro, grab a few tooth picks and dig in!

 

 


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Brunch for Two

Valentine’s Day is fun. Especially when you are two non-believers put together by nature and feel that you don’t need a single, randomly picked day to tell each other how much you mean to one another. Plus, it falls on a weekday five years at a time and you cannot do anything huge like taking a trip or going dancing. That, you must know, did not stop me from feeding my man a huge meal on the Sunday before February 14.

He loves brunch, I love making brunch. Last year was our first Valentine’s day as a couple and I was just learning to make yummy food. I made him a good breakfast and he loved it. This year, I am better around the kitchen and it only made sense to try and surpass last year me. Additionally, I also love traditions so this could be our personal tradition for every February.

What you see up there on my banner: Orange-cream cheese stuffed crêpes, Mexican potato bake, Southern buttermilk biscuits, peach and granola parfe and every Valentine’s day meal’s must have, chocolate (and coffee)-covered strawberries. We ate at a coffee table in our dining room since we don’t own a dining set yet. It was fun and if it hadn’t been for the calendar on the wall, we could have made the world believe it was February 14.

Here is the recipe for the Mexican potato bake:

Ingredients:

Hash browns from two huge potatoes (grate the potatoes, squeeze the water out. Heat a pan with some butter, arrange the grated potatoes in a single layer. Let it brown on one side before you flip and cook the other side too. Add a little salt-pepper when the first side is cooking)

One small box sour cream

Half an onion chopped

Garlic powder a dash or one bulb garlic finely minced

Half a can mushroom soup (or half a packet powdered mushroom soup)

Green onions a bunch (white and the light-green part) chopped

Kernels of corn two Tbsp

Pepper and salt to taste

Adobo sauce (optional) one tsp

Melted butter one Tbsp

Cheddar cheese half a cup

Cornflakes a cup

Cilantro for garnish

Method:

Preheat oven at 350 degree F (176 degree c) Grease one muffin tin with olive oil. Lay out 9 compartments with a layer of hash browns. Mix the sour cream, onion, garlic powder, whites of the green onions, mushroom soup, kernels of corn, adobo sauce, melted butter, pepper and salt. Pour the mixture on top of the hash brown layer until it reaches three-quarters of the tin. Garnish with the greens of the green onion, cheese, cilantro and top it with cornflakes.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the cornflakes have lightly browned. Serve with salsa.


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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!