Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Cranberry- Walnut Orzo with Bulgur Wheat

Cranberry-walnut orzo2Inspired by a random Rachel Ray recipe and an overwhelming amount of Craisins lying around the house, I made this quick, one-pot meal last evening. It was intended for my dinner and lunch (I cook only in the evenings) since I made regular food for my husband and Aarabhi. I ended up eating it for dinner, late-night snack, breakfast and lunch. It made so much and I did not regret it even a bit since I fell in love with this dish.

I discovered bulgur very recently. I bought a bag knowing very well that the carbs value in bulgur was going to be the same as brown rice (and I was surprised to find that I was wrong) but I needed a change from the same old staple but later found out that bulgur has waaaaaay more fiber than white or even brown rice. This was good enough for me. So I swapped, added, tweaked and finally ended up with a fruity-nutty-full of flavor meal that I am sure to make again.
Cranberry-walnut orzoLike I always say, this recipe is very adaptable, you can swap Craisins for raisins, walnuts for roasted almond slivers or salted pistachios. You can replace the green onions with chives, basil, thyme or any other fresh herb. And you can entirely do away with bulgur or use any other grain in its place (I am thinking couscous or quinoa). Yes, that eclectic!

Cranberry Walnut Orzo with Bulgur Wheat

Ingredients:
Half cup whole-wheat orzo pasta

One and a half cup bulgur wheat

Two and two thirds cup vegetable stock (I had none at home so I gave in and used one bullion cube and water.)

A hand full craisins

Quarter cup walnuts broken into bits

Four scallions, whites and greens separated

Two garlic pods chopped

Salt and pepper

Two Tbsp butter

Method:
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the chopped garlic and the white parts of the green onions. Saute on med-low heat until the garlic is cooked. Add the orzo and toast until golden-brown. Add the bulgur and the stock. Mix in the Craisins and bring it to boil over high heat. Add salt and pepper and let it cook. Since I used bullion cubes, I avoided the salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and let it cook. When the water is absorbed and the bulgur becomes tender, off the heat and gently fluff the orzo/bulgur mixture.

Finish with the greens of the green onion and walnut pieces.

You could serve this as a warm salad or as the main dish.

Serving Size: One cup

Total Carbs: 45g

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My Experiments with Brussels

brussel salad3There comes a day in every food blogger’s life when they make the most perfect batch of roasted vegetables. Food angels will sing, you will shower in a million buckets of conceit and act like you just won the James Beard. Never happened to you? Is it just me? Well, alright then, let me go on. I made the most beautiful batch of Brussels yesterday and immediately let my smugness get ahead of me.

Initially, I had planned a curry with the veggie. When I realized that they were the most perfect shade of caramelized golden-brown with flavors popping every-which-way, I found the intended recipe too normal, very tame for this beauty. So I decided to let the Brussels revel in its newly acquired swag- I decided that a warm salad was the best route to take. What do I say, I was pressed for time and needed to set a few minutes aside for photographing this beauty.  Personally, I was tempted to eat it as it was, off the baking sheet but I kinda had to share it with the hub.
brussel saladI made the salad as I went- I roasted the Brussels Sprouts at 400ºF (205º C) for 30 minutes after coating them with two Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. You could substitute salt with garlic salt if you want but honestly, I never missed the garlic (and I am the kind of person who thinks everything is wonderful with a little chopped garlic in it). I added Craisins and some walnuts. Since I wanted a creamy vinaigrette that would not steal the Brussels Sprouts’ thunder, I made a mild yogurt sauce with a little Chipotle in Adobo and a generous (quarter) cup of milk. I was impressed. Yes, it takes very little for me to feel happy with myself.
brussel salad2The only downside was that I missed Amma while I was greedily eating the salad off the plate after clicking a few hasty photos when I remembered: Amma was so taken by these mini-cabbages although she was not new to them. But then they are pretty expensive in India and not a perennial vegetable like they are in USA so we seldom bought them. She once made a wonderful pepper fry with Brussels when she lived with us last year. We also spoke extensively about making Brussels Fried Rice one day but we never really got down to it. Next time, Amma. We always have the next time.

Nutrition Info:

Serving Size: One Cup

Total Carbs: 15g


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Simply Okra

So I went back after the last post and thought to myself: why? Why would I write such an incomplete, mediocre post? What is so special about it? My less than good post was soon run down to the ground and I even toyed with the idea of deleting it but then, you need to begin somewhere. Now that 101 is behind me, I am going to forget it and move on.

Okra or Lady’s finger (as we call it in India), is a wonderful, wonderful vegetable. When we were young eons ago, my sister and I would eagerly wait for okra day every week. Amma would make curry, Sambar (lentil gravy) or sometimes Raita out of it and oh, how tasty it will all be!  In fact, my sister loved it so much as a child that she would have eaten lady’s finger everyday if she had been given the choice… but she wasn’t. Moving South now, I notice every grocery store stocking up okra in their frozen and non frozen vegetable isles, something new to me. In DC, we had to go to an Asian store to buy okra.

So hoping you do find the veggie in your grocery store, I write this entry for an easy peasy Okra curry. My mother’s okra curry will always be the right amount of crispy/tender. No matter how bad a day she would have in the kitchen, no matter how many diabetic people lived in the house, her curry will always turn out perfect and healthy. So after a couple of failed attempts (only a couple since I am not that hopeless in kitchen), I learned to make the perfect curry. The one tip that I did make myself follow (a sensible one we all learn in the kitchen) is to not treat oil as my best friend. I denounced over using the pepper powder too.

Ingredients:

Onion one head chopped (optional)

Okra one lb ends cut off and chopped into (not too) thin pieces. It takes a long time but it is so worth it.

Salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper to taste

Oil two tbsp

Mustard one teaspoon

Urad Dal one teaspoon

Asafoetida a sprinkle

Method:

Pour a tbsp oil in a saute pan. When it heats up, add the mustard, Dal and asafoetida. When the mustard crackles and they Dal turns golden-brown, turn it to medium and add the tumeric, then the cayenne pepper and then the salt (in that order). If you are using the onion, add it to the pan and fry for two minutes. It doesn’t need to completely cook since it will continue cooking after we add the okra. Now add the okra, mix it all together. Turn the heat on to high briefly, for five minutes. Now turn it back to medium low. They key to crisp/tender okra is patience. Don’t saute it regularly because the okra pieces tend to break and you will end up with gooey, not so awesome curry.

Practice the art of zen and you will end up with awesome food. Saute it once in three minutes so that the okra doesn’t burn. It will be done in 10 minutes. You can eat it with lightly buttered rice, with an accompaniment of slightly salted yogurt or treat it as a side for Roti. Either way, this will taste unimaginably yummy. It wasn’t difficult, was it, now?