“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.
as adapted from the Cooking Photographer
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


  • 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.
“Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything.”
Anna Quindlen

SMOKED BUTTER PANEER CURRY‘Paneer-e-Dhungaar’ is what I like to call it!

This recipe is the result of trying to keep the dinner table smiling with eager kids. Here’s a nice change to the regular Indian style cottage cheese/paneer curry. It combines the best of paneer tikka (which has a smoked flavor) & butter paneer.
I made this up one day when the kids were losing interest at the dinner table, and I had paneer on hand which I wanted to add to the menu! The flavour turned out very nice indeed; and the kids enjoyed it a lot. I dare say this would taste just as well with chicken too, but have yet to try it.


Paneer/cottage cheese – 250gms (NOT CUT INTO PIECES)
Piece of coal – 1 small
Ghee – few drops
Tomotao Puree – 200ml
Onion – 1/ chopped fine
Capsicum – 1 / chopped fine
Green chili – 1-2/to taste (deseed to reduce pungency)
Turmeric powder (haldi) – ½ tsp
Coriander powder (dhania) – 1tsp
Paprika (degi mirch) – ½ tsp (enhances the colour;has mild flavour)
Salt to taste
Cream – 1-2 tbsps (20-30% fat)
Fresh coriander leaves (hara dhania patta) for garnishing

A piece of coal being heated on the flame. Keep the kids FAR away!


Place the paneer in a big bowl. 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 the hot coal in a small cup of foil in the bowl with the paneer, pour on the ghee on, 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.
  • Heat 2 tbsps of oil. Put in chopped onions + capsicum and sauté till onions are pink.
  • Add the turmeric + coriander + parprika. Saute for half a minute.
  • Add the tomato puree + salt, mix well, simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, take out the paneer and cut into pieces as desired.
  • Once the tomato curry leaves oil, add the paneer pieces into the curry, mix gently, add the cream + chopped coriander leaves, simmering for 10-15 minutes, until heated through. Do not put on high heat, otherwise the cream might separate.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves, and a swirl of cream if desired.

    Serve with hot chapattis, parathas, naans or rice.

  • The duty of a good Cuisinier is to transmit to the next generation everything he has learned and experienced.”
    Fernand Point, 1941
    Here’s a simple chicken curry …a version of the now famous ‘Indian Butter Chicken’. Increase or decrease the spices as you like . This can be made in stages, and also be made in advance, as it tastes better the next day. Remember to reheat this on low heat because of the cream in it.

    CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA…An Indian Chicken Curry Recipe (as mild as you like)

    Chicken – 1 small/cut into pieces ( or boneless if you prefer) 600-750gms
    For Marinade:
    Thick yogurt- 3
    Oil – 1 tbsp
    Lemon juice – of 1 lemon
    Garlic – 1 tsp
    Ginger -1 tsp
    Roasted Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
    Garam Masala – 1tsp
    Red Chilly Powder – 1/2 tsp (or paprika for colour)
    Salt to taste
    For Curry :
    Onions -2 medium
    Garlic- 6 pods
    Ginger – 1″ piece
    Tomato puree – 200ml (we get 200ml tetrapaks here)
    Green chillies – 1-2 / finely chopped
    Haldi – 1/4 tsp
    Dhania – 2 tsp (coriander powder)
    Zeera pdr – 1-2 tsp(roasted cumin powder)
    Salt to taste
    Juice of 1/2 lime ( 1 tsp)
    Butter – 2 tbs
    Cream – 2 tbs or more if heart allows/desires!!
    Capsicum – 1 small , julienned, very optional!
    Fresh Coriander leaves for garnishing


    • Wash and dry chicken pieces. Make tiny slits with a sharp knife to allow the marinade to seep in.
    • Mix the marinade ingredients, and put the chicken pieces into it. Mix in well, and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.
    • Grill till done and browned…approx 8-10 minutes on either side, turning once. Be sure to place tray underneath to catch the drippings!!
      Meanwhile…for the curry/gravy:
    • Grind onions, garlic and ginger. Put 2 tbs of oil in pan and fry this ground onion masala for 7-10 mins.
    • Now add tomato puree, green chillies, lime juice and dry spices. Fry for 3-5 mins.
    • Simmer and put in butter and cream and simmer, covered for approx 15 mins till oil rises to surface.
    • Now gently slide in chicken pieces and simmer for further 10-15 mins till chicken heated right through with gravy. Adj seasonings etc.
    • If the curry is too thick, add the drippings from the grill tray.
    • Garnish with coriander leaves and cream swirls if desired!

    Note: Can use cottage cheese cubes (paneer) instead of chicken for veggie version

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