French Bread for the Daring Bakers:

The Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers who are very passionate about baking. Every month they take on a challenge set by one member of the group, and the recipe has to be followed to the T except for few allowed modifications. Each member posts the recipe for the completed challenge on the same day, like today.

Why am I talking about the Daring Bakers, well it so happens I am one now! I joined them this month and this is my first challenge.

What makes this group very interesting is that with over 450+ DBers(that’s what we call ourselves) from all over the world, each person’s outcome from the very same recipe is worth waiting for.

The challenge for the month of February was “French Bread” provided by Breadchick Mary( The Sour Dough) and Sara (I Like to Cook). When I first read the recipe (which was 14 pages long including the introduction) I almost lost it! I thought I would never be able to get past the first few steps. Then I read the recipe over and over, and over again. With every reading I felt more confident and stronger within. It really wasn’t as bad as it looked.

I finally got down to baking bread for the first time in my life. I had all the necessary ingredients, equipment and my recipe in print out with the important points and steps highlighted. Sounds like too much hype for a challenge, well it sure wasn’t. I wanted to make sure I got this right the very first time itself. And I guess I did.

French Bread
(From Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume Two by Julia Child and Simone Beck)

1 package dry active yeast (7gr)
1/3 cup (75ml) warm water (not over 100F/38C)
3 ½ cups unbleached All purpose flour (leveled)
2 ¼ tsp Salt
1 ¼ Cups Water @ 70-74F/ 21-23C

Method: (All instructions are for by hand)

Stir in the yeast in the 1/3 cup warm water and let liquiefy completely while measuring flour into mixing bowl. When yeast has liquiefied, pour it into the flour along with the salt and the rest of the water.

Combine to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a kneading surface, scraping bowl clean. Dough will be soft and sticky. Let dough rest for 2-3 minutesUse one hand only for kneading and keep the other clean to hold a pastry scrapper, or to dip out extra flour.

Knead rapidly for 5 – 10 minutes. Let dough rest for 3 – 4 minutes. Knead by hand for a minute. The surface should now look smooth; the dough will be less sticky but will still remain soft. It is now ready for its first rise. Place dough in a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic and a folded towel. Let rise for 3-4 hours till dough has tripled in volume.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten the dough firmly into a circle. Return to bowl and let rise again until it is light and spongy.

Forming the loaves:

French loaves come in various shapes and sizes. We were allowed to make any shape, make one plain loaf and the remaining with toppings if desired. I made 2 Batards and 1 Boule.

Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Let pieces rest for 5 minutes, covered.

To make a Batard:

Shape into an oval gently and fold in half lengthwise. Pat into an oval again and repeat folding. Place your hand in the middle of the dough and roll gently to lengthen the dough. Repeat the rolling movement rapidly several times until the dough is 16 inches long, or whatever length will fit on your baking sheet.

Set aside and keep covered while you shape the other loaves.

To make a Boule:

Gently shape the dough into a uniform circle by folding down edges and moving dough clockwise. You should have a smooth rounded top and the underside will be uneven. Pinch to seal the edges.

Cover and let sit for the third rise when it should triple in volume.

Since we were allowed to top all but one loaf, I decided to use some dried herbs on the Boule. I used ¼ tsp Dried Basil, ¼ tsp Dried Oregano and ¼ tsp Dried Thyme.

Preheat oven to 450F atleast 30 minutes before the estimated baking time.

Slash top of each dough with a sharp razor. 3 slashes for the Batard and two or more on the Boule. This helps create designs on the loaves while they are baking. I should remember to use a sharper knife the next time. :)

As soon as the dough has been slashed, moisten the surface either by painting with a soft brush dipped in cold water, and slide the baking sheet onto rack in upper third of preheated oven. The bread should be done in about 25 minutes; the crust will be crisp, and the bread will make a hollow sound when thumped.

Cool the bread for atleast 2 hours on a rack or set it upright in a basket or large bowl so that air can circulate freely around each piece. Although bread is always exciting to eat fresh from the oven, it will have a much better taste when the inside is thoroughly cooled.

It took me 10 hours to finally dig into a slice of bread, the efforts were definitely well worth it. While the loaves were baking, the entire house was filled with the heavenly aroma of freshly baked bread….I had never thought I would ever smell bread in my house. The bread was very tasty, the crust was a little too crispy for my liking, but the interiors were perfect-- soft and light.

I’m extremely pleased that this challenge worked out for me. I’m certainly looking forward to the coming challenges!

The complete recipe with detailed instructions can be found over at Mary’s blog here.

Spicy Oven Fries and Hash Browns:

You all know what this post is gonna be about, the title says it all! :) It’s all about the delicious, versatile and can’t do without veggie (atleast for me!) -- the POTATO!

It is the International Year of the Potato, so let's dig into all the spuds we can! Look at some of the varieties available, here.

I won’t waste more time in endless jabber and get to the recipes right away. Fries and hash browns are my favourite foods whenever we eat out. I’ve made fries many times but the hash browns, this was the first.

Hash Browns

This is a very simple and easy to make dish with only a few ingredients. It makes for a lovely breakfast .

You will need:

I large Russet/Idaho potato peeled and grated (about 1 cup)

1 tbsp Oil

1 tbsp Sour cream

Chopped scallions for Garnish

Salt and pepper

Heat a wide pan with ½ tbsp oil in it. Add the grated potato and using a flat wide spatula press it into a flat even pancake. You can go all the way to the ends of the pan or stop right near the edges. Cook on low heat till one side is completely cooked and crisped about 5 minutes. Flatten as it cooks so that the grated potato binds well. Drizzle remaining oil on the other side while one side is cooking. When the underside is done, you should be able to lift the entire cake with one lift of your wide spatula. Flip, and let cook for another 5 minutes. This ensures the potato is cooked through and at the same time a golden crispy crust is created.

Slide onto a serving plate when done, season with salt and pepper while its still hot. Top with sour cream and chopped scallions. Serve.

Spicy Oven Fries

You will need:
2 large Russet potatoes
Salt and pepper
2 tsps Chilli powder
3-4 tbsp Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel potatoes and cut into half-inch thick slices (lengthwise) cut again into 1/2-inch thick fries. Place the potatoes into a pot with cold water and 1 tsp of salt. Bring up to a gentle boil and simmer until a knife tip goes through easily. Cook about 3/4 of the way through.

Drain carefully and put in a bowl. Add olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss well and lay out in 1 layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake until well-browned and crisp. Remove from oven, and toss with chilli powder. Serve hot with Ketchup or Ranch dressing (hubby’s favourite)

Hashbrowns and Spicy Oven Fries are my entry to the following events (yeah, there’s more than one!)

"The Potato Feast" hosted by Dhivya at the Culinary Bazaar

"An Ode to the Potato" hosted by Sia at Monsoon Spice

"The Potato - A Blog Event" hosted by Alex at Eating Leeds (Sending in the Hash Browns)

And it has been raining awards in the blogosphere of late, and another one has come my way. Sandhya has passed on the Excellence Award to me, thanks dear!! :)

I would love to pass it on to:

Rajitha of Hunger Pangs
TBC of the The Budding Cook
Laavanya of Cookery Corner

Mixed Berry Soup and an Award:

When Sunita announced the spice for February, I had no idea what to send in as my entry because I have never used Star Anise in my cooking before. I thought I would have sit this event out.

Meanwhile I saw this Berry Soup made by Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network. Much that the name sounds undessert like, it is a colourful and tasty one. The soup is flavoured with Star Anise and Cinnamon. I knew I had my entry for the event.

The original recipe calls for fresh fruit, but you can substitute with frozen fruit as well.

Mixed Berry Soup: (Recipe adapted from FoodNetwork)

2 cups dry red wine
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
2 Cups fresh strawberries
1 Cup fresh raspberries

½ Cup fresh blueberries
1 pint vanilla ice-cream

Combine the wine, water, sugar, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a large pan. Add all the berries. Bring the liquids to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the fruit is very tender, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Discard the star anise and cinnamon sticks. Transfer the berry mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer and into a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, stirring occasionally, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day ahead.

Place a small scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center of a dessert glass or soup bowl. Drizzle or pour soup over the ice cream and serve immediately. If using fresh berries, reserve some for garnish.

This makes for a satisfying dessert on any occasion. The dark berry soup over the white vanilla ice cream is perfect.

It was a race against time taking these pics, the room was just too warm and the ice cream didn't hold too long. I used 3 scoops, and you can see one scoop has already half melted :D I decided to swirl the soup and the ice cream to make it look a little presentable.

I'm sending this in the nick of time to "Think Spice – Think Star Anise" hosted by dear Sunita of Sunita’s World.

Now to the award; two dear friends have passed on the "Nice Matters" award to me on the same day. This is my first award and I'm so pleased :) Meeso of My Humble Kitchen and Lavanya of Home Cook's Recipes, thanks to both of you!!!!

“Nice Matters Award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world.”

I'm honored that my friends consider me worthy of this award:) Thanks again Meeso and Lavanya!!

Now my turn to pass it on to a few important people;

First, to dear Rajitha of Hunger Pangs, the first person in the blogging world that I actually became close to. I still don't know her that well, but her blog is on my must see list everyday. She is on a break from blogging now, hope to see her back soon! :)

Second, to dear Sunita of Sunita's World, love her pictures, recipes and everything she rambles about. She is one person whom I respect for her honesty and simplicity.

Third, to dear TBC of The Budding Cook, we connect on some level dunno which one though :-D

Eggless Chocolate Cake

I’ve done it! I’ve finally baked an Eggless Cake. It is an achievement for me because in my terms a cake without eggs cannot taste good nor can it be moist and fluffy. Well this one proved me wrong.

From the time I’ve been baking and posting recipes here for cakes, I’ve had so many people ask me, including friends and relatives, for a tried recipe for an Eggless cake. Since I had never baked an eggless cake, I had no recipes to offer them. Using eggs was never an issue at mom’s place nor here, and though mom and dad both don’t eat eggs in its original form, they don’t mind cakes with egg in it. Mom has been giving baking classes for ages and she never had to think about baking an eggless cake. So even my mom is in the enquirers list for an eggless cake recipe…hehe

I have been looking online and have come across so many recipes for eggless cakes. The trouble is which one to try. One says only flour, butter and milk while the other says “eggless,butterless,milkless”!! After much browsing and reading scores of recipes, I decided to try this one. It was on a forum on some site. Whoever that person is, thanks to them as this cake turned out great!

The recipe was good by itself, it needed little more liquid than mentioned. I changed that and it was perfect.

You will need:

1 2/3 cups All purpose Flour

1 cup Sugar

¾ cup Cocoa powder

1 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp Salt

1 1/3 cup Buttermilk

½ cup melted Butter

1 ½ tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 baking pan.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add salt and sugar. Combine and then add the melted butter, vanilla and buttermilk. Beat till smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then cut into pieces and serve.

The texture of the cake was dense,yet moist. It did taste different from a regular chocolate cake with eggs in it, but this was good for an eggless one.

This cake tastes great when it is slightly warm. So dig in before it cools completely!

Now my quest begins for a non-chocolate eggless cake .......

Mac n cheese -- with a twist

There's nothing more comforting than a good bowl of plain mac n'cheese.Pasta is a favourite no matter how its made and I wanted to make Mac and cheese from scratch at home instead of using a box. I jazzed it up a bit by adding a few of my fav ingredients.

You will need:

2 Cups Macaroni Elbows
1 small Onion, cut into thin strips
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
½ Red bell pepper cut into thin strips
1½ cups Milk
3 tbsp Olive oil
3 tbsp Chopped Fresh Basil
1 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese (shredded)
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp All purpose Flour
2 handfuls bread crumbs

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt generously, add a tsp of Oil and then add the pasta. Stir and cook for 8 minutes till pasta is cooked through. Drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in an oven proof pan. Add the onions, garlic and bell pepper. Saute for a few minutes till onions and peppers are soft. Heat the milk in another pan, do not boil.Add the flour and stir continuously till smooth. Cook on low heat for 2 minutes. Flour is used here to give the pasta a binding agent. Slowly stir in the hot milk and stir continuously to make a smooth thick paste. Cook on low till the sauce thickens.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Turn off heat. Stir in the chopped basil, salt, pepper and the shredded cheese. Stir in the cooked pasta and toss to coat evenly.

Transfer to a baking dish and spread to form an even layer. Top with the bread crumbs and a handful of shredded cheese.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and the bread crumbs have browned. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

I enjoyed this to the last bite.

Taste & Create VI – Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s time for that event again where we get a chance to explore a partner’s blog and make a dish from their blog. Taste & Create is an event created by Nicole of For the Love of Food. It’s a good excuse to actually make something from another’s blog, than just adding the recipe to a “to-try” list.

My partner or should I say partners this time were the mother and daughter duo, Psychgrad and Gizmar of Equal Opportunity Kitchen. They have a wide array of dishes on their blog. As always, my quest was for something which involved baking and I finally zeroed in on the Banana Chocolate chip Muffins.

I followed the recipe to the letter, and halved it to make 6-7 muffins.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins:

You will need: (Makes 12 Muffins)

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups of mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, whisk together bananas, butter, milk and eggs. Pour flour mixture and stir just until blended. Fill batter ¾th way into paper-lined muffin pans.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and tops are firm to the touch.

I baked these muffins on Sunday night and sent them with my hubby to Columbus, Ohio. He has been traveling from work for a few weeks now. I sure wouldn’t have eaten all 6 muffins (7 actually, I ate one!), so off the muffins went with him. He told me his colleagues enjoyed them.

I must say Banana and chocolate come together very well. The muffins were moist and I had to resist eating more than one! Thanks to the ladies at the Equal Opportunity Kitchen for the muffins and to Nicole for another series of Taste & Create.

I also would like to share something with you all. I had sent in two pictures to The Deccan Herald online edition and both of my food pictures have been published.

The Valentine's day hearts I made out of cake can be seen here: (picture in right panel)

The Sankranthi home-made acchu is here: (picture in the bottom of the page)

Fruit Crepes

Last October my hubby and I visited my cousin in Santa Clara, California. We had a great time visiting the long list of must see places in and around San Francisco. One such place was of course Navy Pier which was a treat, the people, the shops, the food….was all too good! There was one shop there called ‘Crepes’ which sold Crepes with all kinds of delicious fruit and non-fruit filling inside. I so wanted to try one but we came upon this shop only after a heavy Mexican lunch. I was just too stuffed to think about eating anything just then. But this didn’t stop me from watching how these crepes were made.

The guy who was making them was so swift and worked very quickly with these crepes. I watched in awe and took these pics.

Later during our trip I mentioned this to my cousin and she said she hadn’t tried these too. So the next day when we went out, we were on the look out for a good place which served crepes. To our bad luck all the places we came upon were closed because it was Labour Day. Definitely not the day to be looking for any place to eat!!! Before I knew, our trip had ended and I came back to Atlanta without eating these crepes.

I recently decided to try making these crepes at home and thankfully they turned out well.

For the crepes:
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
A pinch salt
2 tbsp butter

For the filling:
4 bananas
3 tbsp butter
2 lemons, juiced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup tangerine juice
½ cup Raspberries fresh/frozen

½ cup Strawberries fresh/frozen
1 small jar hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)

Confectioners' sugar, for serving

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. In a separate bowl mix the flour and salt. In a small pan over low heat melt the butter and cook it until it is light brown.

Add the egg and milk mix to the flour and salt and mix well so that there are no large clumps. Add the browned butter and mix to incorporate, being careful not to overmix batter. The batter should just coat the back of a spoon. If seems too thick, thin it out with a little more milk or water. Let the batter rest for 1 hour prior to making crepes.

Prepare filling:
Peel bananas, cut into big bits.In a large pan melt the butter and cook until lightly browned, add the lemon juice and sugar, stirring so that the sugar dissolves. Add the bananas and tangerine juice and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes so the flavors incorporate and the bananas are hot but not mushy. Add the raspberries and strawberries. Stir gently to combine. Set this mixture aside and let cool slightly.

After the crepe batter has rested for 1 hour, heat 1 (10-inch) nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 ounces of the crepe batter to the pan, remove pan from heat and tilt slightly to spread the batter over the entire pan.

Cook for about 1 minute until the bottom side is lightly browned. With your fingertips and a spatula, carefully flip crepe and cook the second side for about 15 seconds. Remove crepes and continue with remaining batter.

Lay the crepes out on a flat surface. Spread each crepe with about 1 tablespoon of hazelnut spread.

In one fourth of the crepe, spoon about 2 tablespoons of the banana mixture and fold the crepe over in half and in half again so that it has a triangular shape. Repeat this with all of the crepes.

Serve the crepes on a plate with the sauce spooned over the top and sprinkled with the confectioners' sugar.

These crepes are very light and make a great dessert for any occasion. They are easy to make and are surely good eats with all that fruit!

Lemon Tea Cakes with Lemon Satin Icing

Love is in the air with Valentines Day just around the corner.

With so many V-Day events going on in the blogosphere, I thought these cute Lemon Tea Cakes would be ideal for the occasion. The recipe is from the “Better Homes & Gardens -- the new baking book". The cake is a Genoise which a very fine crumbed cake and works great for such desserts.

Lemon Tea Cakes with Lemon Satin Icing

You will need:
For the Genoise:

1 cup Sugar
6 slightly beaten eggs
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 Cup all purpose flour
½ cup Butter, melted and cooled
1 tbsp finely shredded Lemon peel
1 tbsp Lemon juice

Grease a 13x 9 inch baking pan. Line bottom of pan with waxed or parchment paper, grease paper and set aside.

Place Sugar and eggs in a 3-4 quart heat proof mixing bowl. Place bowl over 1-2 inches of hot water (bowl should not touch water). Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes or until egg mixture is lukewarm. Remove bowl from heat and stir in vanilla and lemon juice.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat egg mixture with a electric mixer on high speed for 10 minutes. Sift about 1/3rd of the flour over the egg mixture. Gently fold in flour. Repeat sifting and folding in 1/3rd of the flour at a time. Stir in shredded lemon peel into the butter and then gently fold this into the batter. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then on the cooling rack. Remove paper and cool thoroughly.

For the Satin Icing: (makes 3 cups)

2 ¼ cups Granulated Sugar
1 ¼ cups Water
¼ tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tbsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Clear Vanilla
3 ½ Cups Powdered Sugar

In a large pan, combine granulated sugar and water, with cream of tartar. Bring mixture to boiling over medium high heat, stirring constantly for 5-9 minutes or unitl sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and let mixture boil at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surface (should take around 8-10 minutes) Remove saucepan from heat and let cool without stirring for about 30-40 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Also stir in the powdered sugar to form a smooth lump free mixture. Beat with a whisk or electric mixer to remove any lumps. This is the Satin Icing.

When the cake has completely cooled, trim the edges with a serrated knife. Cut into desired shaped using cookie or fondant cutters. I made all hearts with a few flowers. Place the cake pieces on the wire rack with parchment paper underneath the rack.

Colour the icing with your choice of colour. Divide the icing if you want to use the white to pipe on the cakes once they are frosted.

Insert a fork into the side of 1 cake piece. Hold the cake over the saucepan , pour enough icing to cover the cake piece completely. Place frosted cake back on the wire rack making sure it doesn’t touch the other cake pieces. Repeat with remaining pieces. Let caked dry 15 minutes and repeat a second and third layer of icing. When icing the second time, place cake on the fork instead of inserting into the cake. Pipe or drizzle on top of cakes.

The icing didn't come out as well as I expected. No matter how many ever times I tried to cover the surface evenly with the icing, after dripping, the sides were still uneven. After the 3rd layer I just decided to stop and not focus on the sides!

These little treats are my entry to these events:

"A heart for Your Valentine" hosted by Zorra
"Theme of the Week: Valentine's Day" hosted by Pooja of My Creative Ideas
"JFI: Lemons/Limes" hosted by Coffee of The Spice Cafe

Happy Valentine's Day!!


In my last post about Mini Pizzas I had mentioned that I used half the pizza dough to make two fully loaded calzones.

The recipe for the Calzones is from the book “The best ever Vegetarian Cookbook" by Linda Fraser.I used the delicious and surprisingly tasty Eggplant filling as a topping for one of the pizzas too.

Here's the recipe for the pizza dough and the calzones.

You will need:

For the dough:

1 packet (7g/ ¼ oz) active dry yeast
2 ½ to 3 cups All purpose flour
1 ½ tbsp Olive oil
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 Cup Warm water (110 F)

For the filling:

4 Baby eggplants cubed
3 Shallots chopped
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Crushed red pepper
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp Oil
10 Sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1 Garlic clove chopped

Shredded Mozarella
1-2 tbsp Shredded Parmesan

The method to make the Pizza dough can be found here.

Prepare filling -- Heat oil in a pan. Add shallots and fry till soft. Add the chopped sun dried tomatoes, garlic, thyme, crushed pepper, salt and black pepper. Saute for a a few seconds. Now add the cubed eggplant and sauté till soft. Turn off heat and let cool a little.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and form into 2 balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into 2 8-inch circles

Place eggplant shallot tomato filling in the center of one side of each circle, top with a generous amount of shredded mozzarella then fold dough over filling to meet edges of filled side. Crimp edges with a fork or your fingers, then cut a small slit on the top of the calzone to allow steam to escape while cooking. Bake for 8-10 minutes till light brown. Remove from the oven and brush calzones with a layer of olive oil. Sprinkle shredded parmesan on top and serve immediately.

Since these Calzones were so big, they lasted me a good two days! :-D They just got better and better!!

Mini Pizzas

I've made Pizza dough once before and it turned out great. I decided to make it again, but this time used half of it to make Calzones and other half to make Mini Pizzas. Given here is the recipe for the pizza dough and mini pizzas.

You will need:

For the dough:
1 packet (7g/ ¼ oz) active dry yeast
2 ½ to 3 cups All purpose flour
1 ½ tbsp Olive oil
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 Cup Warm water (110 F)

For the filling:
4 Baby eggplants cubed
3 Shallots chopped
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Crushed red pepper
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp Oil
10 Sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1 Garlic clove chopped

The method to make the Pizza dough can be found here.

Prepare filling -- Heat oil in a pan. Add shallots and fry till soft. Add the chopped sun dried tomatoes, garlic, thyme, crushed pepper, salt and black pepper. Saute for a a few seconds. Now add the cubed eggplant and sauté till soft. Turn off heat and let cool a little.

Preheat oven to 450F.

I used half of the pizza dough to make 3 mini Pizzas and the other half to make 2 big calzones. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and freeze one half if not using immediately.

Mini Pizzas

Tomato and Basil Pizza

Cheese Pizza

Eggplant Pizza

To assemble Pizzas you will need:

Marinara sauce
1 Tomato chopped
Egpplant filling (recipe above)
Chopped fresh Basil leaves
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar shredded
1 Cup Mexican blend (or any cheese of your choice)

Divide the other half of dough into 3 equal portions. Shape into round balls, place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into four 4-inch circles.

Poke the pizza circles with a fork in several places and lightly drizzle olive oil on top. This enhances the flavours you build on top. Now top each circle with marinara sauce. Spread evenly. Dot one with chopped tomatoes and basil leaves. Cover with shredded Mozarella. Dot another circle with the eggplant filling and cover with Mexican blend cheese. Top the last one with only cheddar cheese.

Pizzas are meant to please the palette with favourite flavours so feel free to add toppings of your choice. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes till cheese is bubbly. Remove and serve immediately.

I will share the recipe for the Calzones in my next post. Till then enjoy these Mini Pizzas!!

Punjabi Malai Daal and Mom on a TV show

A few months ago my mom was on a cooking show on a new Kannada tv channel "Suvarna TV". It was an exciting time for all of us to watch her on tv and do what she does best - cook. The shoot was in Bangalore and she had to bring all the ingredients and the vessels to make her dishes. She chose to make a curry "Punjabi Malai Palak" and also a sweet dish " Avalakki Payasa" (Poha Kheer) Both can be made in a jiffy with no mess. My dad and mom drove from Mysore to Bangalore the previous day of the shoot, went to granny's place. The next morning, mom, dad and granny left to the studios. But there were many people lined up for that day, that by the time mom got her chance it was almost late evening. But they were very patient the whole time and I guess it payed off!

My brother recorded the whole programme on his cellphone when it was telecast on tv and sent it to me, because we don't get that channel here. It felt nice, because for the very first time, someone in the family was actually on a cooking show. Mom has been a great cook all her life, she has been conducting cooking classes at home for almost 27 years now and she continues to do so. I feel so proud to have a wonderful mom like her!! :)

Here is the video. It is in Kannada. Mom is the one in black saree...her name is Anitha.

Following is the recipe for the daal.

Punjabi Malai Daal:

You will need:

1 cup Green gram (Whole Moong) soaked overnight

2 cups Spinach chopped

5 Green chillies

½ Cup Tomatoes chopped

¼ tsp Turmeric

1 tbsp Ghee

1 tsp Cumin seeds

1 tbsp Chopped ginger

1 onion chopped

½ cup Plain yoghurt

1 tsp Jaggery powdered

Besan if required

1 tsp Red chilli powder

Salt to taste

In a pressure cooker, add soaked, drained green gram. Add 2- 2 ½ cups water. Add chopped spinach, tomatoes, slit green chillies, chopped ginger and turmeric. Close lid and cook on high till steam begins to rise. Place weight, reduce heat to low and cook for 6- 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ghee in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and sauté for a minute. Add the chopped onions and sauté till soft and translucent. Add red chilli powder and sauté for a minute more.

Add the cooked gram to this and bring to a simmering boil. Add salt and jaggery. If the dal is too thin, then make a paste of besan flour with little water and add to the dal while stirring. This thickens the dal. Bring to a boil and then add the lightly beaten plain yoghurt. Simmer for a minute and then turn off heat. Serve hot with rice or rotis/pooris.

I tried the Poha Kheer too, but when I made it I forgot to take pics. So when I have the pics, will certainly post the recipe and the video here.

Punjabi Malai Daal is my entry to the event "My Legume Love Affair" hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook.

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