Home-made Pizza and Baby un-blues

It is that period of the life again. When everyone around you is asking “When is the (……) thing happening?” Insert in the bracket –  getting married/ having kid/ having second kid/ blah blah and bhlah. And with a lot of my friends, cousins, their friends going down the path of having a baby, I am not spared.

From easy nonchalant remarks of my mom to the serious discussion which my granny had with me a few days back, everyone assures me how it is the “right” time. And then if I brush off their remarks, they put their feet down, gaze straight into my eyes and pointedly ask me – “Do you guys want kids or not?”. I meekly say a yes and prepare myself for the onslaught of the next set of reasonings which clearly establish that our generation thinks too much. Atleast about this issue if nothing else.

It is true that before I went to Paris to study a month long culinary course, I had thought that may be this is it. May be once I come back from Paris we will be ‘ready’ to have a baby. But something else happened. I suddenly realized that I have to do so many more things, before resigning assigning most part of my day to changing nappies and monitoring growth spurts to answering questions about why is the apple red and why do we have to go to school. Sure, I adore little ones (am blatantly biased more towards baby girls than boys) and love to play with them and fuss over them etc. But as long as it is somebody else’s responsibility at the end of the day. As long as I can hand over the baby to someone else once it starts crying, I love babies.

We are still from that generation where our parents had the first kid in the first year of marriage. Without much ado. In fact when I asked my mom-in-law how they had spent their first wedding anniversary, I was surprised to hear that it coincided with the naming ceremony of her newborn baby. Simple. That was how mostly lives went on.

But apparently not now. The responsibilities of the baby business sound much larger than the joys. The pressure of making a healthy baby, then there is pressure of giving it quality time, combined with the pressure of growing it up into a noble, smart, good, well-behaved, witty, sensitive, mannered, loving kid – looms over me like a cloud. How will I be able to do that when on most days I don’t qualify for any of those adjectives myself?! How would we spend lazy days eating instant noodles and lazing around reading on the couch when we have to feed the baby 10 times a day. How can we get sloshed out over a healthy dose of bhaang drink, hog on some home-made pizza and sleep like an ass for three hours in the afternoon when the kid will have to do a zillion other things in those three hours?! Or how can I do a marathon of baking and cooking and researching with my big cook books on weekends if there are play-dates and birthday parties to be attended with the kids?!

The purists again try to explain me that this will be the case even if you have a baby 5 years later. In fact you would be older then and all the running around the kid will be more exhausting. But who knows? I might get fitter and wiser by then. I just might. Or not.

Sincerely,

Rutvika Charegaonkar

P.S : All of this does not stop me from calculating my ovulation dates. Oh, silly confused me!


So after the bhaang induced session, we did make the Pizza. Chicken for the husband and vegetables for me. I have experimented with several Pizza doughs in the last couple of months, but some smelled yeasty, some were flat, and some were just blah. But this one is a beautiful elastic dough which bakes into a layered crust and browns to a lovely crispness at the bottom.

Homemade Pizza

I adapted (say copied) the recipe from Raks Kitchen, she is very popular with all the South Indian aunties around and I have tried a lot of her breakfast items, which work very well. The Pizza sauce is the one I have been using for ages, but essentially if I am not wrong, it originated from wikihow.

Home-made Pizza with chicken and vegetables

What you will need :

For the dough :

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sugar

For the sauce and toppings:

  • 5-6 tomatoes, pureed and strained to remove skin
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 3 tbsp chopped basil
  • oregano, pepper, salt and sugar to taste
  • Shredded mozzarella or Pizza cheese
  • Small chunks of chicken marinated with a marinade of choice and cooked 80% in a pan
  • Onions, tomatoes, bell pepper and any other vegetable you fancy, cut into vertical strips

What to do :

  1. To make the pizza crust, mix flour, salt and yeast in a bowl.
  2. Take milk and water and sugar in a saucepan and heat it to lukewarm stage while dissolving the sugar.
  3. Add this milk and water mixture to the flour and stir it in with a spoon.
  4. Take it on the kitchen counter and knead into a smooth dough for 5 mins.
  5. Keep in a well-oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the dough rise to its double size for about 1 and 1/2 hours.
  6. To make the sauce, simmer the tomatoes till slightly cooked, add the garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, salt and sugar and cook till it all comes together.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 230°C for 10 minutes.
  8. Then once the dough has risen, knead it again for a minute and divide into 4 balls of equal size. Keep the other dough balls covered while working with one.
  9. Roll the dough ball into a flat disk, making the sides like a rim. Transfer to a baking pan.
  10. Spread a thick layer of sauce on the disk, leave out the rim and then cover with a generous layer of cheese. Place the chicken and vegetable on top and spread another layer of shredded cheese. (You can cut down on the cheese to make it more healthy, but of-course it comes with the downside of not being cheesy enough).
  11. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes. The pizza should move freely on the pan, be browned at the bottom and cheese should be melted on top.
  12. Serve sizzling hot with coke. Wait, diet coke. Yes.

pizza with veggies

Notes :

  • I am not a big fan of the elastic Mozzarella hence I use processed cheddar. You can use a combination of whichever cheeses you like.
  • This dough is really easy to work with and it takes less than 10 mins to mix it, knead and then some time to rise. If planned even 2 hours in advance, it is fantastic quick meal.
  • The Pizza sauce is very versatile and can be used for sandwiches, lasagna or even as a dip.

Pizza sauce

Vegetable Enchiladas

Vegetable Enchiladas

After coming back from work and yoga on a Wednesday evening, we wanted something zesty and yet again something quick, to fill up our starving stomachs.

Enchiladas seemed perfect, cheesy and melty, with our storage already stocked with some Corn Tortillas. (They are still not available in all stores in Mumbai, but most malls stock it in FoodBazaar, Hypercity etc. )

This time, the trick was to make it look colorful, with the variety of fresh veggies available in the market.

Ingredients :

  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 1 carrot sliced vertically
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 8-10 baby corns vertically sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup spring onions
  • 1 small tomato thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 2-3 corn tortillas
  • Oil for cooking, butter for baking
  • Salt as per taste
  • Pepper, basil, thyme, some sea salt and chilli flakes/powder for flavor

I use and swear by the Kirkland Signature USDA Organic No-Salt Seasoning (http://www.amazon.com/Kirkland-Signature-Organic-No-Salt-Seasoning/dp/B002W5SDEQ) which we always ask our friends and relatives in the US to get for us. But otherwise, even the seasoning packet which comes with Dominoes Pizza works well for flavoring.

In a skillet, heat some oil and saute the onions. After about 3-4 minutes add the shredded cabbage,  carrot slices and baby corn verticals. Put a lid on the skillet ad let this cook for about 5 minutes.

In another bowl mix the sweet corn and green peas and add some water and microwave it for 3 minutes or steam for about 5 minutes, and then drain the water and add it to the veggies in the skillet.

Add some salt, and the seasonings as per taste, mix it well and put the lid back on for about 2-3 more minutes.

The filling is ready.

IMG_4836

Take a medium sized glass baking dish and lightly line it with butter.

Place one tortilla on the dish and layer it with vegetable filling and sprinkle some cheese on top. Repeat with another layer of tortilla, veggies, tomato slices, and then a generous layer of cheese. Sprinkle some coriander and it is ready to bake.

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Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and bake the enchiladas. Normally it takes about 10 minutes once the oven is heated, but be careful to not let the cheese particles on the sides of the baking dish to burn. (It still tastes amazingly crisp, but looks a little odd)

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Done! Easy enchiladas are ready to be eaten.

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Bon-apetit!

Cheers,

R

Button pizzas

I got my brand new oven in the afternoon, and even though I did not have lot of things stocked, I had to make something!!

So I delved into the refrigerator to see what I had. All the ingredients were right there, including the mini pizza bases by a stroke of luck.

For the topping :

2 onions chopped

2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon dried powdered basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

oil for cooking, Butter for baking

Salt to taste

Red chilli flakes 1/2 teaspoon

IMG_4793

The making of it :

Heat some oil in a pan and saute the onions, tomatoes till 50% cooked. Sprinkle some dried basil and ground pepper and salt to taste and mix well.

Then take it off the stove and mix in the tomato ketchup and the chilli flakes (or even red chilli powder).

The topping is ready.

Then lightly grease the baking pan with some butter and place the pizza breads on it. Evenly distribute the topping on the pizza base with grated cheese on top.

Bake it for 20 mins at 200 degrees C.

Be extremely careful with the pan, its SUPER hot.

Note of caution : The normal microwave mittens are not enough and heat seeps in through the cloth to your fingers.

Delicious mini-pizzas are with easiest ingredients are ready to roll!

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Cheers!

R