Sunday, September 30, 2018

Multigrain pizza crust with charred, chili paneer topping

In the U.S. alone, we eat 350 slices every second. The University of Maryland says, if we should eat more of it, it needs to be in whole grain form and that baking, at longer times renders a multitude of antioxidant power our bodies require.

As I go through these pictures today, I clearly see that it was so not the case. I had to be here, ditching much of what I thought I knew. It's been a long way, people, too long. Don't you think?

Likewise, the one time I colored Indian flatbread green was momentous, where many of my pure food epiphanies and inner child objectives were met and satisfied.

I am never averse to the wholefoods/grains-and-husks lifestyle, if, in fact, it achieves the flavor goals needed to actually consume it and say, oh yes, this is good(!). When you're considering a reworking of what's 60% responsible for insanely good pie, you pause... pause again. You, then raid Pinterest with a vengeance and pray that something productive happens after trolling the web and a million Instagram stories on how to possibly begin with whole grain dough construction. 

A stretchy, crisp foundation creates pizza utopia and on most occasions will be the difference between meh and I need another slice๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Ž How do you achieve it with so many different inconstants? Will the crust morph into something unrecognizable and totally unpalatable? Does yeast perform contrapositively when the elements added are heftier than those few cups of refined white? How, oh how, do I go about this?

Of course, when the challenge is put across by the friend who's lost the equivalent of an ample size toddler's worth in weight, because their daily meal prospects looked much similar to this, you are further amped to make it totally doable.

The overwhelming prompt of finding a recipe for a multigrain pizza crust that entices the whole subcontinent of India and, moreover, should be appealing to most of us across the pond was tantamount to the exam you are about to take without prior study. This was, to boot, the most alluring part as well: to make a base as brilliant as the topping it carries with ingredients that should be part of essential daily nutrient intakes.

Hence, before we start, a few points to keep in mind:

1. Don't freak out if it doesn't come together, like all white dough usually does. It will. Eventually. 
2. You can use whole wheat flour alone. That would qualify it for whole grain. But it won't be as interesting.
2. Don't hesitate on experimenting. Swap other flours and grains. Before this experiment, I had no idea what sprouted millet was.
3. Use flours that you may actually eat. If you've bad experiences with anything in the past, by all means, do not try it here. You may end up hating pizza for the rest of your life. Which is not something anyone desires.

The Kitchenaid helped in kneading dough, but only the fourth time round. I honestly believe the fantastic crisp and airy light structure was because my arms worked so hard, the first three times, sans a machine or "needed" gadget. Let me emphasize, people, you don't require fancy machinery/tools/accessories for yeasted dough- no pizza paddle, stone, stand mixer or bread machine- in fact, it actually gets bread-y when done in the breadmaker.

The millet flour in the recipe will most likely be the most questionable variable against flavor. I think I've added just enough here for you to not say why? It does add heft, with the texture more on heavy than most might desire. You could very well omit it, though it actually lends enough dimension that you almost taste the promise of good in slices. 

You can pull dough as much as you need to create the stretchy thin crust or keep it deep dish-ish , whatever fuels your desire. The dark spots and bubbles that tops, and all of what's desired from stone fire pizzerias, are achieved through the broil option on your oven. 

Pre-saute adornments before you top and bake. It prevents the dough from sinking in the middle. Allow the mind to soar when considering topping options too. Artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and onions. Mushrooms and grilled corn. Salami and Anaheim peppers. Your mind can fuel a plethora of options and be the envy of many pizza joints.

I'm not saying I'll forever ditch white flour, but my current feels for this dough is pretty high up there and dinner prospects seem a whole lot brighter and, beyond doubt, healthier?

And who really doesn't want every night to be pizza night

What is finger millet? Don't worry, I never knew what a millet was until Google gave me the answer.Trust me, it doesn't involve fingers. It's a cereal crop found in many parts of the world, but, unfortunately not much in this part.You could buy online or search out specialty grocers. High in fiber, with substantial nutrient value, the gluten free flour is particularly magnificent in breads, flatbreads and thickened cereals. Yes, yum!

If you're even remotely familiar with anything slightly Indian or near Asian, you've most likely met paneer, India's national cheese. Mild in flavor, it's the chameleon ingredient that adapts delightfully well to almost anything you add it to. Mistakenly known as cotttage cheese, it is the unaged cheese formed when milk is cut with acid, forcing wheys and curds to separate. Paneer is delicious, at least for most palates, especially that of the health fiend buddy who tirelessly consumes it in a variety of ways, was the source of me creating this recipe in the first place and has a Weight Loss Testimony to take many others out of business.

Italian, Indian? What can it be? Fusioning food concepts can lead to very grand things.

  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 ½ cups warm water1 (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup sprouted millet flour 
  • 2 tbsp bulgur, cracked wheat (presoaked in boiling water for 15 minutes, then drained and completely dry of excess moisture)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp onion seeds 
  • Stir together agaive nectar and water in a bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top. Let stand for 10 minutes until foamy
  • Stir the olive oil into the mixture. 
  • In a larger bowl, whisk together the salt, whole wheat flout, millet flour; add the yeast-oil mixture into this and thoroughly mix together either on a stand mixer, using the hook or hands and a rubber spatula.
  • When the dough starts to come together (add water by the teaspoon when needed), add the bulgur, chia seeds and onion seeds. Knead together until dough forms a smooth, tight ball. Keep covered in a well-oiled bowl with a clean dish towel for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
  • After it has doubled, turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into two evenly shaped discs, which make two medium-thin crust pizzas (9" round). Let rest, covered with towel, for an additional 30-45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Roll out dough with a rolling pin into desired thickness. Use hands to gently pull without tearing and place on a greased pizza pan.
  • Prick the dough's surface with a fork, place in oven for a prebake of about 7-10 minutes.
  • Take out of oven. Add desired toppings (recipe for charred paneer below) Bake pizza with for an additional 15- 20 minutes, depending on toppings, until crust is crisped brown.
Notes: I used white whole wheat flour. Regular whole wheat flour an be used, but tastes will alter and you may need to sweeten the dough with some extra agave nectar , honey or orange juice.

Charred paneer topping:
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • tandoori masala powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp cayenne 
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • serrano chilli, seeds out, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • Preheat oven to 425°F
  • On a lined baking sheet, add 2 tbsp oil. Mix together ingredients from onion powder to pepper. Add paneer cubes and coat well.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes and light golden. Paneer will continue to brown and char when they bake with the pizza
  • In the meantime, in a medium pan, heat 1 tbsp oil, add garlic and cayenne and saute till cooked.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt. Add chili flakes. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour enough tomato topping over prebaked crust. Add paneer. 
  • Top with onion slices, serrano, bell pepper slices.
  • Pour/sprinkle a light stream of cream
  • Bake for 15-12 minutes, as mentioned in the crust directions above,  until base is browned crisp and toppings are golden browned, paneer charred on edges
Let your pizza aspirations run wild. Use toppings you crave/swap out crust ingredients- anything that rocks your orbit.


2012: Paella

I know the silence is echoing loud. I apologize. I am grateful for your audience. And of course, the friend who fired this post, thank you much. Your trust propelled and encouraged me, fuelling my passion and purpose. God bless.

"With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall." Psalm 18:29

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ela appam

Heirloom recipes. They are established. Time honoured. And, as you'll come to see, stupendous enough to pass onto generations beyond XYZ. Maybe even to lift the credibility curve on how dependable I am in delivering, despite long, echoing intervals.
Thank you. I am grateful you're reading.

The gorgeous treats flooding your screen come from old-school Kerala. I use old school, here in a tradition-is-cool sort of way, where once upon a time these were food items made by real Moms-Pops -grand and not, in their own kitchens, perhaps, quite charmingly, on wood burning stoves. In the wake of quick-fix, packaged treats and more palates taking to modern-ish Western tastes, these have become almost obselete. Almost. But if it weren't for the few hundred bloggers who've decided to usher in the light, and revive numerous classics, such as these, we see a resurgence of retro eats. And that's a tremendously good thing.

A common excuse for everyone and their mother turning their backs on a snack so loved, is lack of help and hands, something I'll soon reveal, should never, ever be a contingent, per se. Though, It's the same nontruth I fed into, and became sufficient reason to deprive myself of what far-away Travancore never wanted left behind in the first place. Obviously, I could not hold off forever. And, since I've attempted things far more complex, I knew, beyond doubt that it would be easier than cake. 

Which is why, before we start, it's imperative to provide you a coordinating Malayalam word bank.


Ela (eh- laa) means leaf. 
If I had a banana tree in my backyard,  I would have the perfect illustration because it's that ela or leaf that these are cooked in. But I don't. Ask Google.

Appam (aa- pumm) is usually a breakfast item, for the most part, but not here. It is typically made of rice flour and at least one or two forms/derivations of coconut. 
Examples can be found here and here.

Palaharam (pah-la-haa-rum) snacks, shorteats, ideally, but not limited to, being consumed at midday(could mean anywhere from 4 to midnight) tea time.
I have a plethora in archives. Feel free to thumb through.

Ela appam. Could be served as an afternoon high tea accompaniment, yet with sufficient motivation, and deft motor skills, an additional dozen could see you through a break of dawn revelation. 

In essence, ela appam is a sort of crepe- pancake- flattened dumpling, hand pressed into the medium it is to be steamed in. Since my Southwest backyard grows nothing more than cactii, the banana tree I hope for may never happen, so also, the leaf, which these would ideally steam in. In lieu of the leaf, we have the beauty of parchment paper, a veritable and very disposable nonstick, which dough adheres to, yet springs easily from. 

As you can see, it is not a direct clone. Nor is it a traditional recipe, in view of the elements used for manufacture and build. However, it does reasonable justice to the serious culinary assignment it has been given. And is as good as made-over old-fashion gets. I promise.

With enough practice,  you can seal one with a hand while spreading the second with the other.

Chia seeds aren't original to the recipe, but they bring in an entirely new dimension to the texture-mouthfeel game. Moreover, frozen, shredded coconut is timesaver gold. Together with readily-grated jaggery, they are just about the best things in Asian markets. 
The task to seek and find is entirely yours now and can be a truly educative, wholesome experience. 
And I am grateful for leading the way๐Ÿ™

I cut American standard parchment from the roll, approximately 5'' in length, then split those pieces into 3 equal strips, widthwise, enough to wrap around and tuck under each appam.

Spreading the dough takes not much aptitude. That being said, it's susceptible to tear, but quite forgiving. Patch up, or reroll and try again.

  • 2 cups rice flour( roasted, if available)
  • salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup grated brown jaggery
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin 
Some good hands in my kitchen

Other items needed:
Parchment paper, cut into 12 long-ish rectangles
oil (for hands)

  • Mix together the flour and a pinch of salt. Add in enough water(you don't need to use a full cup) and combine with a large wooden spoon until mixture becomes a smooth dough. Turn out and knead with lightly greased hands fora minute or two, until you have a clean, round ball. Cover and keep aside. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine coconut, jaggery, chia seeds, cardamom, and cumin. 
  • Make 1 ½ inch balls of the rice flour dough. 
  • Spread each dough ball into somewhat of a circle or rectangle, on individual parchment squares. 
  • Place 1- 1 ½ tbsp of filling inside the flattened dough, leaving about inch off edges
  • Fold in half, pressing edges of dough to seal the filling in, like a pocket.
  • Put steamer, with enough water over medium-high heat and place packets on top tier.
  • Steam for 5 minutes on high.
  • Reduce to medium and steam for another 10-13 minutes.
  • Let rest in steamer for 5 minutes. Take appam out.
  • Peel back parchment.
  • Enjoy:-)
Jaggery is a sort of non-distilled, unrefined sugar/sweetener from the sugarcane. It is brown in color and I have used it in prior recipes.
Whole cardamom can be powdered and sufficient amount added.

2012- En papillote

"I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing." John 15:5