Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gem Cookies...

These are the easiest cookies I've ever made, they bake in no time at all and they look cute, kids are sure to love them. All you need is

100 gms Maida
A tablespoon of baking Powder
2 teaspoons Vanilla Essence
50 gms margarine (or butter, margarine is the cooking butter and it is unsalted)
30 to 40 gms sugar
Milk as required
Gems or M&M's

So mix the butter and sugar together first (I used the crystallized sugar, did not bother to powder it). Then drop in the vanilla essence and beat it up. Add the maida and the baking powder and knead into a soft dough by adding the required quantity of milk. Once you get a soft dough, roll it into coin sized cylinders as shown below.

Refrigerate this cylindrical dough for half an hour. After 30 minutes, chop off cylindrical bits and place them in a greased and floured pan, and just push down some gems on them.

Here they are in a greased and floured pan, looking all colourful. Now lightly dip your fingers in milk and just brush them over the surface of the cookies. Place the tray in a oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Here they are, see how they have expanded after baking, allow them to cool down for a few minutes and then start munching away.  These are really good and simple, Nameeta told me that I should have placed the gems in a face like pattern, that would have been really cool. So do try that out... make a lot of weird faces and let me know how it turned out. Have fun...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Junk Frame...

So when the construction work was going on at home, I collected some broken pieces of tiles, marbles, stones and other junk. Made this frame using those odd bits and pieces and then used metallic paint on it. By the way those are my siblings, this was taken during the holiday season, its one of my favourite pictures (check the link to get a clearer view). I like the way the light falls softly on us, and I love the dress I am wearing (I call it my TCM dress) along with my favourite pair of jeans and of course I love those three funny people near me, they are all the entertainment I need... God in His infinite wisdom knew that I wouldn't grow up to be socially active so he created three crazy siblings who have no choice but to hang out with me and a whole horde of authors who create the characters I interact with on a daily basis. I sometimes wonder though how it would be to be at the other end of the spectrum... like going out to the cool places and hanging out with the hep and happening crowd and dancing away the night and coming home just before dawn totally exhausted but living it up. Would be equally cool I guess...

Monday, September 06, 2010

Pizza !!!!

The Italians who came up with the idea of layering a flat bed of leavened flour with a sauce and some simple vegetables sure created something great for mankind. Don't be daunted by the thought of making a pizza from scratch, this is a simple enough recipe and the looks of wonder on the faces of the people who bite in that first slice is what makes the whole process worthwhile. So let's get started...

Ingredients for the pizza base :
Dry Yeast :  about 6 teaspoons heaped
Warm Water : a cup
Maida : 2 1/2 cups
Baking Powder : about 2 teaspoons heaped
Vegetable Oil : 2 teaspoons (preferably Olive Oil)
Salt : 1/2 a teaspoon.

Take the lukewarm water in a bowl and drop in the 6 heaped teaspoons of dry yeast. Remember, the water has to be slightly warm, if it is piping hot it will kill the yeast and the dough will not ferment. After dropping in  the yeast cover the bowl and let is sit for 10 to 15 minutes. After the 10 minutes are up, the yeast will have dissolved and formed a murky foamy liquid. Drop in the maida, baking powder, salt and oil. Now stick a long   spoon into the mixture and keep mixing it around till everything lumps together to form a sticky white mass. Scrape the sticky dough off the spoon and start mixing the dough with your hand in a circular motion, it will be blatantly sticky and gooey. Now smear your palms with vegetable oil and start kneading the dough lightly into a ball as shown below.

Once your palms are greased, it will be very easy to manipulate the sticky dough into a ball. Lightly grease the base and the sides of the vessel where the dough is going to rest.

Cover the dough with a clean damp cloth and set it aside for an hour, or half an hour if you are in a hurry. (Now would be a good time to work on the tomato based sauce described a few steps below while you wait for the dough to rise.)

After an hour or so the dough would have risen quite a bit, can you make out the more pronounced bulge in the above picture?

Remove the cloth and you'll see that the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down and then turn it on to  a lightly greased pizza tray. 

Moving on to the sauce: Marinara Sauce is the tomato based sauce used in pizzas and pastas. This is readily available at supermarkets in other countries, I haven't found any in the city I live in... so I just make my own. 

Ingredients for the Marinara Sauce 
Olive Oil : 2 Tablespoons (can use ordinary vegetable oil too)
Tomatoes : 5 to 6 ripe red tomatoes
Garlic : 7 to 8 cloves chopped
Oregano, chillie flakes, salt and pepper to taste

First, wash and grind all the tomatoes into a paste. Then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or vegetable oil) in a pan and drop in the chopped garlic, fry till garlic turns light brown. Then pour in the tomato juice and cover the vessel, let it cook for 15 minutes or so. 

After it has boiled a bit add the chillie flakes (optional, I only added it cause I had it at home), pepper, salt and the oregano.

Stir and let it cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce will have thickened a bit by then and it will give off a nice deliciously tantalizing aroma.

Getting back to the pizza base...

Transfer the dough to a slightly greased pizza tray (I don't own one yet, hence I'm using a baking pan) and spread it out evenly with your fingers.

Place the tray in the oven for 10 minutes to stiffen up the dough. Here I have just removed it from the oven after baking for 10 minutes, you can see that the dough has risen a bit and it is more firm. This step is done to prevent the dough from becoming soggy when the marinara sauce is spread over it.

Now spread the marinara sauce evenly over the base.

Here I have used a capsicum and onion vegetable topping.

I had some ham in the freezer so I chopped that up and spread it over the vegetables. I even used a little grated cheddar cheese in between.

Salami topping... I went all out on this pizza.

Sprinkle chillie flakes and oregano... sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over this and then stick it in the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes. 

Here's the final product.. and trust me on this its abso-freakin-lutely delicious. And one other thing, I only used Cheddar Cheese here, cause I found out that it tastes the best. I tried using mozzarella (the actual cheese used on Pizza) but it tasted like cardboard, hence I stick to Cheddar cheese now. You get these in stores in chunks, grate them and then sprinkle them over the pizza before baking. A cheese slice was lying in my fridge, those thin plastic wrapped ones.... I cut it into strips and added that to the pizza too, and that explains those white lines of cheese in between all that yellow baked cheddar goodness. 

Here are a few other pizzas made over the past few months using different toppings but following the exact same method described here...

This is a simple vegetarian pizza, used only a capsicum and onion topping and it was just as fabulous.

Here's another one with capsicum, onions, ham and bacon topping...

So go ahead, give it a shot... and enjoy some fresh home baked pizza.