Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PIZZA LOVE

My dear husband can live on pizzas. That is one thing which he can eat nearly every day of the week without complaining. So when I saw this month's Daring Baker's pizza challenge,hosted by Rosa's yummy yums I was all excited. coz I knew that this is one dinner that my hubby is going to savour and enjoy.
With a few changes to the recipe, I went on to baking the dough and making yummmyyyyy pizzas.
It was a vegetarian pizza. I substituted two cups of all purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
though I did try out the tossing method (just to take a shot of it),I ended up rolling out the dough.
I made two twelve inches pizzas. I rolled out smaller crusts of the remaining dough, partially baked them and froze them for future use. I got three nine inches ones (approximate).
I used a twelve inch pizza tray to bake the pizza.

here goes the challenge


THE CHALLENGE: You have to use the tossing method (as explained below) for at least 2 Pizza Crusts. If you are not comfortable with it, then you can switch to the rolling method, but you HAVE to try the traditional method and exercise it, using at least two dough pieces. You should also capture the moment by either filming or photographing yourself while tossing the dough.

THE RULES: This month’s recipe leaves you with much freedom! You can either make the Pizza Dough gluten-free or the normal way. You may use the sauce (anything liquidy, saucy and spreadable like cream cheese, flavored oils, pesto, Nutella, Peanut Butter, pumpkin puree, etc...) and toppings of your choice, may they be savory or sweet, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or non-vegan/vegetarian. You must use BOTH (sauce & toppings).

RECIPE SOURCE: “The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.


BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

You need

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
I used 2 cups whole wheat flour and the rest all purpose.
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting.

You have to

DAY ONE
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3.On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

4. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

5. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

6. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

7. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

8. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

9. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

10. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

11. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.



my first try to tossing.


can you'll see the holes I managed to make!!!!!

my second try.


a little better.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

12. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

13. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

14. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

15. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

FOR THE PIZZA SAUCE I MADE


YOU NEED

Olive oil- 2 tbsp
Sweet red onions (chopped)- 1 cup
Tomatoes- 2
tomato puree- 1 cup
tomato sauce- 1 tbsp
Tabasco- a few drops
green bell peppers (finely chopped)- 1/2
spring onions- 1
red chilly flakes- 1 tsp
oregano- 1/2 tsp
Italian seasoning- 1 tsp
dried parsley (ajwain)- 1/2 tsp
salt and pepper to taste

You have to
  1. Heat oil in a pan. add all the dried herbs (oregano, italian seasoning, parsley and chilly flakes).
  2. add the chopped red onions. saute.
  3. add the chopped tomatoes along with the bell peppers. saute.
  4. add salt and let the vegetables cook.
  5. add the tomato puree along with the tomato sauce and the tobasco. add salt and pepper.
  6. cook till the mixture becomes pulpy. check for seasoning.
  7. the sauce will be thick and chunky.
for the topping
sliced green bell peppers
sliced sweet red onions
mozerella cheese

I got this sauce recipe from a friend of mine. It tastes really fresh and because we like our food spicy, we can adjust the red chilly flakes according to our taste.
the pizzas are surely going to be made more often.
enjoy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

HAPPY DIWALI

Diwali the festival of lights, festival of sweets and lots of brightness. A festival we all so eagerly wait for.
here is wishing each and every one a very very happy diwali and a joyous new year.


Send this free eCard



Hope all our wishes come true and goddess laxmi sets the global financial crises right..........
enjoy the festivities with lots of sweets.
love and happiness
karuna


Thursday, October 23, 2008

FOOD TRAVEL

I have always envied the hosts of travel shows that showcase good places to eat. they eat, see new places and get paid to do all this. I mean, talk about job satisfaction. on our recent trip to Toronto and new york, we did something similar, we ate saw new places but alas did not get paid to do so, instead our credit cards were getting swiped left,right and center. But it was worth every penny. (though I would love to have got a pay cheque....but never mind!!). We enjoyed every "bite" of our stay.
TORONTO
haven't seen a more diverse place than Toronto. It was like a mosaic of everything different. people, food, language. We stuck to trying out good Indian food. Since we have relatives in Toronto (Mississauga) we got to savour some good stuff. We tried the veggie hot dog, that is available in downtown almost on every corner.The Indian Chinese is actually really Indian Chinese. specially if anyone has tasted the Chinese in kolkatta, then you would know what I mean. And the Chinese here is that close in taste. We had the best Channa bhathura, in a long, long time. when in Canada you have to try the most famous 'Tim Horton' coffee. You can call it the starbucks of canada. I fell in love with the coffee (as I was warned before that it is very addictive......). Not strong, not bitter. just the kind I like. Only two days in Toronto we did not have much time to explore the food scene. but from what we had, we knew that the rest would be as good.

MONTREAL




After visiting this place my husband told me that I should consider this as my trip to France. Montreal is everything french. Initially I thought, montreal would be a small town with just a few places to see. but to my surprise it is huge. French is the main language here. A piece of advice; learn a little french when visiting this city, trust me it will help. I loved the food scene here. there are small dessert and coffee shops everywhere. Old montreal is a must see. And again a foodies paradise. my husband was particularly happy coz he found a lot of vegetarian options. unlike here, where he ends up eating a salad at an office lunch or cheesy cheese pizza. I found the food fresh, portion sizes were decent. And eating here is a ritual not a task. people love to enjoy every meal. and the best part of all this..........everyone was on the thinner side. at least the locals. I guess its the fresh ingredients, lots of wine and lots of walking. I simply loved it.
when in montreal don't forget to try out the crepes. You will find a lot of small local bakeries serving up excellent crepes. The deserts at coffee shops are a must. don't worry there is so much walking that such guilty pleasures are more than welcome. To get the french feel don't forget to visit old montreal and stop by a restaurant to enjoy some good food and wine.
Appr├ęcier,meaning enjoy........

NEW YORK CITY

I kept the best for the last. I had read, heard and watched a lot about this place. But its a whole different experience to actually be there in the middle of it all. The entire city is like a conversation. One o'clock at night the subways are packed like office hour traffic. It put back a whole new sense of life into me. The night we reached, our friends took us to a KATHI ROLL PLACE.oh my goodness, that place brought back memories of kolkatta. A very small place, nothing fancy. just good kathi rolls. (i forget my camera here....).



We had lunch at the first pizzeria in new york.new york pizza is a must. it was called Lombard pizza. Just across the street from that, we stumbled upon a place called "rice to riches". just flavoured rice pudding. I mean how innovative. The entire place is unique. the decor is cool and hip. I loved the concept of putting up catchy punch lines all over. This is a must try.





We had planned to have flafals at dinner, but all the pita places were shut as it was some festival that day. Our friends took us to a thai place called "yum yum thai'. I was so excited that to see all the other unique restaurants there. cuban, fusion thai, sri lankan. I just wanted to pitch a tent and go on a food expedition. Our last day in New york city was very obviously spent on trying out yet a few other places. Thanks to our friends in San diego, to tell us about MAX BRENNER. Its a chocolate lovers paradise. Its like getting into willy wonkas chocolate factory. The colour scheme of the place is chocolaty too. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and off course desserts. We were just on time for breakfast (they serve it till noon).




The menu itself is so overwhelming that at first you will actually get confused as to what to have...(hummm here again I envy those travel show guys......they get to taste a little of everything!!!!!!!). everything here is really good.(i assume). my husband loved the veggie burger he ordered. he said its the best he's had. their hot chocolates are a speciality. specially coz they serve it these cute mugs, which they call "hugmugs". There are pipes running all over the place filled with chocolate!!!!!!.



all that is melted chocolate!!!!!!!!
We tasted some good chatpata khana in new jersy. our last dinner was at a south indian place called tiffinwallaha.
I simply was in awe. So many good places to eat and so much variety. Be it the little kiosks or the restaurants. Our friends rightly said, that NEW YORK CITY, totally stands out from the rest of America. Two days were way to less in this city. one needs at least a week to ten days, to actually explore it. I simply loved it and it has made be hungry for more. !!!!!!
enjoy
happy eating

Sunday, October 19, 2008

BHATH NA BHAJIA- RICE PAKODAS

I was going through a few of my last posts and noticed that I had not posted any recipe for quite sometime. Off late its been a little weird. I don't know if its the festivities or the hangover of my trip or simply because I have broken my eye glasses!!!!!! (could that be an excuse?)......I haven't been sitting in front of the computer a lot and I guess that's why the slag in blogging. moreover I haven't really cooked in the last week, as all my groceries were nearly over. I finally filled up my fridge today with lots of fruits and veggies. Next week will be much better. And I am getting back on track.
I was going through all the pending drafts that I have to compelet and post. I came across one recipe that was suppose to be posted long time back. Well the "long time back" is happening right now.

These are called "bhath na bhajia" or rice pakodas. pretty popular with Gujarati's, these make an excellent snack on a rainy day with a cup of tea. And its a nice way to put left over rice to good use. so here is the recipe

You will need
  • cooked rice-1 cup
  • besan or gram flour- 1/2 cup
  • curd (thick)- 2 tbsp
  • red chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
  • salt- to taste
  • cilantro (chopped)- 1 tbsp
  • haldi- a pinch
  • oil- to fry
You have to

  1. in a mixing bowl. mix the rice along with the curd. let it sit for half an hour.
  2. to this add the besan and mix very well. if the batter is thin, add little more besan.
  3. add the spices, along with the cilantro.
  4. heat oil in a pan.
  5. drop teaspoon full batter into the hot oil and fry till golden brown.
  6. serve hot with green chutney and tomato sauce.
its that simple.
this recipe goes out to the Rice Mela hosted by sri of cooking 4 all seasons
Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NIAGARA FALLS- OUR FIRST DESTINATION


So finally I have finished unpacking and uploading all the pictures on to my computers. We have close to two gigs of pictures for our ten day trip!!!! I specially went crazy seeing the bright fall colours. there were simply awesome.

Our first destination was NIAGARA FALLS. We flew to buffalo and from there took a shuttle ride into the Canadian side of the falls. Our shuttle driver was really informative, telling us the little stuff about the falls and how the weather had been lately. It had rained the previous day, but the day we reached it was clear with the sun shining bright but it was cold.

We reached Niagara at around eleven in the morning but our check in was at three, so we decided to survey the area. We had booked our hotel (The Day's Inn),pretty close to where all the action took place- CLIFTON HILL.


Personally I found the entire area pretty expensive. Maybe coz its a tourist spot. We roamed about a few shops, picked up a few souvenirs and went on see the FALLS. And were they magnificent or what!!!!!. White foam like water gushing down at an unbelievable speed, forming this permanent mist of cold water. wow it was something I have never seen before. we took the ferry ride called "MAID OF THE MIST". This is a must do, when visiting NIAGARA. A boat ride that leaves every fifteen minutes, it takes you up close and front of the falls. They give you blue plastic overalls cause you are bound to get wet. We got ready for the misty mission and set a sail to see the falls from near. I don't know how to explain what it felt like, when the mist actually touched our faces and it was all water. ecstasy. a perfect rainbow right above the water, bright sun shining above it was all so surreal.


The other famous thing that most tourist do is take another ride called "journey behind the falls'. Here they would take you right behind the fall, and you could see it fall. we avoided that. We roamed about the little shops along the ferry landing and off we went to our hotel room. The next thing I remember was been waken up by my husband. We got ready and head out again. This time to catch the water falls at night. But first we wanted to sit down and have some good dinner. We ended up eating Indian food. Amidst all the tourist stuff, there was one Indian restaurant called GURU. Though a little overly prized, the food was delicious. It was so good that I forgot to take pictures (I had intended to). The dal is a speciality. I have actually not had that kind of dal anywhere here in the US. I also ordered for some chicken tandoori that was totally worth every penny.

After dinner we headed to see the falls and fireworks, that happens all through out the fall. With both the Canadian and the US side of the fall lit up, and the fireworks. It was absolutely beautiful.

All the streets seem to come alive at night. everything is open passed two at night. lots of fun stuff for kids to do, a few clubs (for those who would want to party hard) and a famous Niagara casino are a few attractions. Summer and fall are the most crowded times of the year. winter everything is cold and dull.



we roamed about the streets collecting a few more small nick knacks and headed to our hotel room. Though we had plans to go to the casino but we were too tired and called it a day.
next morning our cousin came to pick us up for our second destination TORONTO.



Our trip had started with lots more to come.
These our the things one must do at NIAGARA FALLS

  • take the maid of the mist boat ride

  • Visit the Hershey's store
  • pick up a souvenir that has maple leaf on it
  • visit the journey behind the falls
  • check out the hand blown glass shop in the market place next to the falls.

enjoy.

Next up, our other destinations.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I AM BACK

Ten days just flew by so fast. We had been planning for this trip over four months in advance and its already over too. boohoo!!!!!!. It was soooooo much fun. Right from NIAGARA FALLS (Canada), to HARTFORD (Connecticut), it was just awesome.
Lots of sight seeing, lots of walking, lots of subways, lots of fall colours and off course, lots and lots of good food.
these are the places we visited

NIAGARA FALLS
TORONTO
MONTREAL
NEW JERSEY
CONNECTICUT

The weather was perfect. Just for Niagara falls and Montreal that were cold (bearable I would say), the other places were sunny, with just the perfect chill in the air and the smell of fall all over.
In my coming post I will share my experience specially the culinary ones, with all my blogger friends. Hope you'll enjoy reading and seeing all the pictures. (we went crazy clicking pictures!!!)
lots more to come.
cheers

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'LL BE BACK

Yuhoooo, I am so excited. Me and my husband are leaving for a ten day vacation to the east coast tonite. This has been past overdue. each time we planned there were other things that needed to be done. So finally here we are all strapped and packed.

We do have a lot of places to cover in these ten days but I am most excited about the tastes I am going to savour in Toronto (Canada) and new york. I have heard so much about the places, that its almost as if I have already been there, done that.

off course, I will not be blogging for a good ten day period, but I will be working on all my future posts. clicking lots of pictures and trying out different restaurants. Once I am back there will be so much to share with all of you'll. so till then I am shelving away all my pots and pans cleaning my counter tops and getting out of my kitchen.

Here is wishing every one HAPPY DURGA PUJA, A VERY HAPPY DUSHERRA, AND HAPPY NAVRATRIS. Take care, eat well and happy cooking.
more, once I am back.