Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Green Onion Kootu

It is official. Winter has arrived. Yes, we feel the bite of winter’s freezing hands down south here in Alabama too. But I am not as dismayed with the season as I was last year. Nausea all alone in the house was not fun but what is fun is having a home full of people and a kitchen that is always bustling with activity, be it something as simple as making a pot of tea or Amma rustling up wholesome South Indian food!
green onion kootuOne of the best things about my mother-in-law is her innate talent of creating something nutritious with fresh flavorful ingredients. Since Appa has a strict diet regimen, her choices when it comes to selecting vegetables is very rigorous. If you are one of those people who thinks that a diet that revolves around healthy cooking (low oil, lots of green leafy veggies kind) is snoozville, I am very sure that Amma’s cooking will change your mind.

This week’s bounty hunting at our local ethnic market brought to us some beautiful bunches of green onion. Now, this is not a vegetable we generally use in Indian cooking. Or so I thought until our trip to Indian last year. The day we landed in Madras, Amma cooked up some Sambar with green onions which found a huge fan in me. I would not be exaggerating if I said I had dreams about it until last Sunday. And then I found a new green onion dish to haunt my dreams: the Green Onion Kootu.

Although She laughed at me when I said I was going to write about it on the blog next, she agreed that it was a dish that connoisseurs of Indian food should taste! So after hurriedly clicking pictures of it, I decided that this Kootu deserves a big reveal as soon as possible. With the weather turning all frigid on us, I deemed this the perfect timing!

Green Onion Kootu

Ingredients:
One bunch green onions, whites and greens chopped

Two Tbsps Mung Dal, washed

One Tbsp Sambar powder. Rasam, Cumin-Coriander or even curry powder would work but it would give it a different taste

One tsp turmeric powder

One tsp salt

For Tempering:
One tsp mustard seeds

One tsp Urad Dal

One tsp asafoetida

Few curry leaves

Method:
Cook the green onions and Mung Dal with enough water, turmeric powder, Sambar powder and salt. When done, temper with mustard seeds, Urad Dal, asafoetida and curry leaves. If you are serving it as a side, make sure it is thick (thicken with AP/corn/rice flour). This dish could also be served as a soup. Squeeze half a lime and make some Papads (or cut a fresh loaf of bread) to dunk into the soup.

Since we made it for a casual lunch, we left out the cilantro for garnish. You could go ahead and dress it up.

Be safe, y’all! I heard it is going to be a messy week.

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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


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Sweet Corn-Cheddar Chowder: Mmmm!

Of all the one pot meals, this one takes the cake. The soup actually, because that sounds more rewarding. I love it that despite the summer being a long-gone dream and the hard drought the corn farms faced this year, we still get fresh sweetcorn down here. And I am just going to buy them until my grocery store stocks them for a reasonable price.

I got the recipe for the corn chowder from Simply Recipes. It is an amazing site and my search results have been turning up with recipes from this websites quite a lot lately. Apart from replacing a couple of vegetables with ones available in my pantry,  including a can of creamed corn which I added at step 3 and completely doing away with bacon, I changed nothing.

I finished it off with some sharp cheddar and homemade croutons (Cut up bread slices into cubes and toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 400 °F or 205°C. Bake the bread cubes for 15 minutes until golden brown and crunchy) Yummy!

Last week was an academic nightmare! Cramming for exams, writing them and doing maddening calculation, trying to predict my grade which is due next week. My one pot meals saved our week. But the chowder was the only one I found time to photograph.

Soups that didn’t make to the blog: Garbanzo and Roasted Poblano Chili, Roasted Cauliflower and Onion Soup, Spicy Tomato and Garlic Rasam. Next time!


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The Big Fat Soup Post

Sabbaticals are bad for you sometimes. You get lazy, procrastinate things like buying your grocery and stop showering. Well, the latter never happened to me but the first two, spot on! I fell ill after Christmas and it has been cough city since. So to beat the cold (winter pun intended), I’ve been experimenting with soups for a week. In the seven days that I have been at home, I’ve made four delicious soups and am trying to forget one very questionable one. Not too shabby for a sick person, I tell you.

I kick-started the soup week with some Spicy Red Lentil Soup, Indian style. Then came Chinese Sweet Corn Vegetable Soup, and then I rustled up some Mediterranean Chickpea soup, went on to Tomato (which I am not very proud of) and ended the sick spell with a very delicious Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower soup. We ate all of them with pita, bread, crackers or nachos and the result: very happy and warm couple of people.

The Mister was wonderful to me throughout the time I was sick. Made warm tea, gave me my medication and I made sure he never went without food, LH style. So I’ve made my case, you know now why I don’t have too many pictures of the food I made. I managed to click a few only yesterday since I was feeling much better.

Here is the recipe to the Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower soup. I haven’t typed out the others but if you do need them, e-mail me at ladlesandhighheels@gmail.com. I’ll be very glad to send them to you.

Ingredients:

Broccoli one head

Cauliflower half a head

Onion 1

Nutmeg half tsp

Thyme half tsp

Garlic four bulbs

All-purpose flour two Tbsp

Water one and a half cups

Milk half a cup

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil two Tbsp

Butter two Tbsp

Low-fat sour cream three Tbsp

Cilantro a few leaves

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degree F (250 degree C). Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Chop the garlic pods. Transfer the vegetables and garlic to a baking dish. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Toss once in the middle. While that is having a party in the oven, chop the onion. Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan and add the onion to it. When it has turned golden brown, add the flour and whisk-whisk it so that it doesn’t solidify.

Add on the water, milk and nutmeg and continue whisking. Let it thicken. Switch the stove to low-heat. Bring the veggies out of the oven and add them to the saucepan. Mix in the salt and the pepper. Bring the, what is now turning out to be a yummy, soup to medium-low. Now with a hand-blender, mix in the soup so that it turns semi-solid. Switch off the heat and add on one Tbsp of the sour cream.

Add another Tbsp of sour cream and garnish with a few leaves of cilantro when serving. I know it sounds random and complicated but it is not… and it is so worth it!

Ps: I am also using this post to show off my soup spoon. This belongs to a real vintage flatware set my father brought back from Iran in the ’70s. My mother gave me half of it before the wedding and the other half is safely waiting for my sister at home. Isn’t it beautiful?