BACK TO SCHOOL VEGGIE PIZZA IN A GARLIC PESTO CREAM SAUCE

“If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers.”
Edgar W. Howe
Oh how I love this quote…what a lot said in a nutshell on the lives of mothers!! The kids are excited to be back to school (& so am I). Two months of vacation are finally drawn to an end, & schools have reopened. What a relief. It’s been a long two months & I’m looking forward to some sort of routine in life again. No dragging them out of bed at 9am anymore, blah, blah, blah…! Phew! They’ve enjoyed their vacations, a lot actually, despite the heat, and have been looking forward to going back to school. So I made them a ‘back to school’ special lunch to celebrate. Made them pizzas with ‘AB in 5 Minutes’ dough, adapted to include a little whole wheat flour, followed by Chocolate Cherry Muffins. I make these muffins very often, & you can find that recipe here.We all voted for a change from the regular tomato based pizza sauce. The time was right to try a sauce I’ve bookmarked off Cooking Photographers blog a while ago. She offers a 3 cream based sauces, each of which sound like a must try. I decided to make the garlic sauce, because of my love for garlic, but halfway through worked some pesto into it too. I usually keep a bottle of homemade pesto in the fridge, which comes in very handy at times like these.It made a beautiful sauce which complimented the vegetarian pizza wonderfully well. I’m trying to get the kids to eat more veggies as a meal option, because I find them increasingly going for chicken or non vegetarian food. That does bother me at times.This was my attempt to get vegetables back onto the table, & I must say I got huge thumbs up for my attempt. Even the daughter who normally has 2 slices had 4. I shall not even tell you how many the son had…LOL! The main topping was of smoked cottage cheese. The idea of cottage cheese coming from a pizza we recently had at Pizza Hut here, which had a non-tomato pizza sauce. I smoked the cottage cheese prior to using it; it enhances the flavour in a special way.To give the pizza a spicy kick, I added some homemade pickled peppers. The peppers have been sitting getting ready in the fridge for a week, & were just done right! The pizzas were delicious, & AB in 5 rules my life. Can’t get over the fact that I have dough ready in the fridge at any given time …YAY!! I love leafing through the pages of this wonderful book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.
GARLIC PESTO CREAM PIZZA SAUCE
as adapted from the Cooking Photographer
Ingredients:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic; minced
400ml light cream (25% fat)
1/2teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
3 tsps pesto (I make my own, recipe for pesto here)
1/4th cup Parmesan & Romano Cheese, grated

Method:

  • In a saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Turn the heat to medium low and add the rest of the ingredients, but add the cheese last so it doesn’t hit the hot pan and seize up. Stir constantly until thickened.
  • Reserve in bowl till it comes to room temperature. This sauce it continues to thicken as it stands, so don’t thicken it too much on the flame.
  • Note: This makes enough sauce for 6-8 small pizzas
As adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
You can find the recipe for the Master dough here, or better still, buy the book.
(I made 2/3 portion of the dough with 3 1/8 cups of plain flour, 1 cup wholewheat flour, 2 cups of water, 1 sachet of yeast, 2 tbsps of olive oil, some red chili flakes & salt)
To assemble:
  • Preheat the oven to 300C.
  • 20 minutes prior to baking, line your baking sheet with parchment paper, and sprinkle with cornmeal. Flatten out a small ball of dough to make a base. (I tried both versions, a thick crust & a thin crust. Both came out superb.) Allow to rise at room temperature.
  • 5 minutes before baking, spread about 1/4 cup pizza sauce on the base, put toppings of your choice & bake for 15-20 minutes/ till done.

This goes to Susan @ Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting. This week’s edition of YeastSpotting will be hosted by Nick of imafoodblog

Note: Here is how I smoke cheese, or even burger patties, chicken tikka etc.

  • Place the cottage cheese in a big heatproof bowl ( I use steel). Keep a lid handy and a weight that you can place on top. A heavy book will do fine!
  • Heat a piece of coal on the fire till red hot. Place a small cup of foil in the same bowl , drop the hot coal into the foil, drizzle 3-4 drops of melted butter/clarified butter directly on the hot coal to intensify the smoke fumes, and quickly shut it with the lid so that minimum fumes escape. Place a weight over the lid, and leave unopened for at least 30 minutes. This will help get a deep, intense smoked flavour.
  • I smoke mozzarella the same way too. Only difference is that I clingwrap it well & place it in the fridge.

ADDING COLOUR TO SPRING…The festival of HOLI!

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
Holi - the festival of colours
Holi, an Indian festival, heralds the arrival of Spring – the season of hope and new beginnings and marks the rekindling of the spirit of life. Gulmohurs, corals, silk-cottons and mango trees start flowering, gardens and parks present a glorious spectacle of a riot of colours – crimson, red, pink, orange, golden yellow, lemon and a variety of glittering greens.
A pallette of colours from my garden…
As the brief spring warms the landscape, northern India cuts loose for a day of hi jinx and general hilarity. The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. The spring season, during which the weather changes, is believed to cause viral fever and cold. Thus, the playful throwing of the colored powders has a medicinal significance: the colors are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Āyurvedic doctors. A special drink called thandai is prepared, sometimes containing bhang (Cannabis sativa). It’s amazing that Spring is heralded & celebrated in so many different ways across the world!
Drenched in colour…& loving it!
This festival of joy, mirth and buoyancy is celebrated when both Man and Nature cast off their winter gloom.

Man, of course, includes our son. He was polishing his water guns days in advance, making plans with his pals & couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. Drove us insane as usual with his impatience!! He was up early & we saw him disappearing into realm of colour within no time! The daughter, on the other hand, let it pass. There was NO WAY she was going to get mucked up!! The boy was unrecognisable by the time he reappeared. It was eventually scrub-a-dub time for him & he is still quite pink!! This was also the only time in his life the colour pink wasn’t girlish at all!! He had an absolute blast, & came back famished begging for lunch!! PHEW!!
‘Before’ & ‘After’ Mug-Shots of the boy!!
Can you tell that it’s the same kid?

So the famished fellow gorged on Aloo-ka-parathas & a raita when he returned. Aloo-ka-parathas‘ are an Indian flatbread stuffed with a filling of boiled mashed potatoes, spiced up with chopped green chillies, fresh coriander, powdered pomegranate seeds etc. I’ll walk you through a quick tutorial… Roll a ball of dough, place a round portion of spiced up mashed potato on it, wrap the dough around it & roll out gently. Cook on a hot griddle/non-stick flat pan on both sides, & then flip over, smear with oil (or clarified butter); repeat on the other side! Serve hot with a dollop of butter, yogurt/raita & pickle (lime, mango,green chili…)! YUM!!

2 things I always remember…make sure the stuffing is cold, not warm, and the dough is firm & pliable. Practice makes perfect…then you can graduate to stuffed parathas with grated cauliflower, radish, cottage cheese, mince…the possibilities are endless!

The kids had theirs with a ‘chilled raita…whipped yogurt to which finely chopped tomatoes, spring onions & greens, green chilies & fresh mint was added; spiced with black rock salt.

We had ours with the same but added some finger licking good home-made ‘Lime & Green Chili Pickle’ to our menu! Burst of flavour…& colour!

The recipe for the pickle comes from Maya @ Konkan World. Thanks Maya…this recipe is a keeper & the flavours are simply amazing. This pickle can perk up the blandest of Indian dishes…I’ve known some brave-hearts who even make pickle sandwiches!! HOT!! Do check out the recipe HERE at Mayas’. I will post a detailed one later, with another pickled lime thingy soon! My personal blog patrol continues with this one…

Life is colourful…enjoy it!!

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