Wednesday, 29 June 2011

"His" & "Hers" Pizza

One of the constant challenges in my life is to figure out meals which AK (my husband) and I can BOTH enjoy. Even though we both love food, we have very different tastes. Fortunately, we both love pizza. And even more so when it's home-made ALL the way :)

ANOTHER problem: AK likes his pizza as meaty as possible and I like mine more veggie than meaty. So I devised a "His" & "Hers" Pizza (not very different from the half-n-half that one can get at Dominos or Pizza Hut). I thought the outcome was a perfect solution!!

Here's what you need for the dough (this was enough for AK & I, with 2 slices left over):

2 cups flour
1/6 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried active yeast (available at the local grocers by the name of सूखी खमीर)
3/4 cup warm (not hot) water

(Sorry I don't have pics for this step as I made the dough before I began the blog. But will add on pics next time)

  • Place the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on it. Allow it to rest and soak while you do the rest. It will be cloudy and foamy by the team you need it.
  • In a bowl, sift the flour & salt. Drizzle the olive oil and mix well.
  • Pour in the water and knead till well combined. The dough should be sticky and stretchy. This is what it looks like (sorry about the horrible pic from my phone...)

(Note on the dough: this can be made in 2 ways - traditional kneading by hand on a counter (like atta) or using a hand held mixer with a dough hook attachment. I like convenience so I used my hand mixer.)

Place the dough in a clean glass/ceramic/steel bowl which has been greased slightly with olive oil. Cover and let it rise for 2-3 hours. For convenience sake, I make the dough 2-3 nights in advance and place it in the refrigerator. In my experience, it's best on day 3 (48 hours later).

For the pizza, pre-heat your oven to 500 F/ 250 C and get all your toppings ready - this is where you can get really creative. You can use anything from a boring combination of onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, capsicum to left-over tandoori chicken, keema to roasted vegetables. Theses are some of mine...

For HIS, I used onions, tomatoes, smoked chicken ham (AK's a Chicketarian), jalapenos (bottled) and olives (bottled). For HERS, I used some roasted eggplant & zuchini instead of the chicken ham.

Then I got out my (new) pizza stone and greased it generously with olive oil. Having smacked the dough down on the surface, I proceeded to stretch the dough to fit the stone.

It need not be a perfect circle, or perfect any shape. Just stretch it out until it's nice and thin. It's a little tricky and takes some practice. If any holes develop while you're stretching the dough, just pinch them closed! To be honest, mine is never a perfect shape either.

And about the pizza stone, that's nothing to worry about. It's just my new toy! Before this, I used to use my cookie trays and, sometimes, the bottom of my springform cake tin!! They all work beautifully.

Once the dough is in a shape that you like, drizzle some more olive oil and spread it out. Mine looked like this...

Now for the FUN part... Start topping...

For HIS, I used (store-bought) pizza topping...

For HERS, I used (home-made) pesto...

Our respective sides are clearly demarcated... Catch AK eating any "icky-green-stuff"

Grate some cheese on it - as little or as much as you like... I used a combination of mozarella and cheddar (both processed and commercial kinds - Amul I think).

I also used bacon...

Top with fresh ground black pepper and herb of your choice. I used Oregano since AK's not a fan of basil...


Pop it in the oven for about 35-40 mins (or longer depending on your oven) until the cheese is bubbly and crust is golden.

If after 45-50 mins, it STILL isn't done, reduce the heat of the oven to 150 C, turn on the top heating and leave for another 10 mins at the most.

Cut a slice and dig in already!!!

PS - I like mine slightly more brown than golden, so I left the top heat on for 10 mins rather than the 5 it actually needed...

PPS - I was dying to use my new pizza stone which doesn't actually fit in my tiny oven, forcing me to leave the oven door slightly ajar. This resulted in super long cooking time :(

Original dough recipe is from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Photos & Tasting: AK

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

"Aunty Rohini"

She was the author, lead character & editor of the cookbook that changed my life.

For my 9th birthday, I was gifted Rohini Singh's "Fun-Cooking for Children" which had me baking my first cake ever. I was supervised by my cousin Maneesha, who ensured that I didn't burn my hand or send eggs flying all over the kitchen!

With her fun recipes like Pretty Pink Jelly and Yummy Chocolate Treats (and third-person references to herself as Aunty Rohini), she made cooking a delight and literally, a cake-walk, for me. She encouraged, warned, worried, exclaimed and chastised all at the same time. It makes me sad that when I tried to locate the book cover on Amazon today, for my very first post on this blog, I could find no book cover/illustration, no picture of her and absolutely no reviews on the book.

I will definitely dig out some of her fun-ner recipes and post them verbatim, just so you know what I mean!

In the years since then, I've slowly but surely discovered my love for good food - sweet and savoury, Indian and Foreign. Cooking and entertaining is what makes my day, and my love for it was definitely the bait that ensnared my husband!!

Tonight, a home-made (from scratch) Pizza is on the menu and will be my first Recipe post...

I'm pretty excited!

Here's to new beginnings, a delicious adventure, "Aunty Rohini" and my beloved Pakhi Masi, who gifted me my FIRST cookbook ever!