Monday, August 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge August 2012- Pate A Choux - Puffy Swans

Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

Kat's detailed instructions helped me to envision the process of putting this dough together. With her numerous filling options we were given free reign over which to choose. For me, there was no choice- lighter-than-air, sweetened whipped cream would occupy the hollowed innards of my formed choux swans.

Pate a choux is nothing but the dough structure in which cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles and other  similar pastry delights are made. This challenge thrilled JZ more than it did myself. He loves creme-filled pastries of this sort- to a frightening degree, more than anyone actually should. Come today, his excitement level had clearly risen as he chanced upon a very hot oven, first thing in the morning. He knew the countdown to his much anticipated challenge had just begun.

Fast forward to the 30 minute battle that ensued during swan creation, me in profuse sweat and prayer just to be able to pipe out decent looking swan heads. Anything between the shape of S and the number 2 simply went way over my human head and my first batch of heads streamed out way too thin. Thanks to my very narrow number two tip. The match sticks went merely to wastebin reserve. On to head batch number two. This time, Head-Round two were a far fatter bunch, sturdier than Batch One, but nowhere near the delicate works of art that I saw on the Daring Bakers' page of my fellow DB'ers.

Anyway, the tubby swan heads would have to do, with their curling necks looking more like coiled rattlesnakes. These would most likely relinquish any chance for elegant swans, ruthlessly turning them into the ugly duckling rank. 
From start, my usual maddening run to the challenge finish line had me realize, this time round, that making the crisp, lighter- than -air pastry was really a cinch. And super addictive, once filled. They are far better than anything you could get in a store, possibly even from "authentically good" pastry shops. This is that piece of homemade you want to brag about,  feather- textured puff brimming with cream that dissolves on instant contact with your mouth.

Finally, the most noticeable feature of the prettiful filling was that, any and all ugliness seemed to disappear, bringing about an altogether fanciful and whimsical fleet of swans in its wake.

Thanks Kat for a crazy fun, super charming challenge! Beautiful birdie making is a good thing indeed! 
Baked parts, dismembered and ready to go!
Pate a choux~

  • ½ cup  butter
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs

  • Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease pans well.
  • Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F.
  • In a small saucepan, combine butter, water, and salt. Heat over until butter melts, then remove from stove.
  • Add flour all at once and beat, beat, beat the mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot.
  • Add one egg, and beat until well combined. Add remaining eggs individually, beating vigorously after each addition. Resulting mixture should be somewhat glossy, super smooth, and somewhat thick.
  • Using a small tip on a pastry bag (or nip top of Ziploc bag filled with pastry), pipe out about 36 swan heads. Making it out to look like the  number 2 and possibly a question mark (?), with a little beak (I nixed the beak- since I am so non-adept at any detailed creativity).
  • Remove the tip from the bag and pipe out 36 swan bodies. These will be about 1.5” long, and about 1” wide. One end should be a bit narrower than the other.
  • Bake the heads(app 8 minutes) and bodies(12 -15 minutes until golden and puffy. The heads will be done a few minutes before the bodies, so keep a close eye on the baking process.
  • Remove the pastries to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before filling.
  • Take a swan body and use a very sharp (preferably serrated) knife to cut off the top horizontally.
  • Cut the removed top down the center lengthwise to make two wings.
  • Dollop or pipe a bit of filling into the body, insert head, and then add wings.
Maybe next time I'll exercise a little more control on my piping skills for skinnier, more curvier necks .
Swans populating the board, in all shapes and sizes.

Chantilly Cream Filling~

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners'  sugar


  • Using a pre -chilled mixing bowl and whisk( I used the bowl and attachment of my stand mixer), beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and continue to whisk just until soft peaks form. No overbeating.
Notes ~
I added in 2 more tablespoons of confectioner's sugar to the cream filling.

Once filled, place in the refrigerator to chill for a while. Because of the heat my perfectly piped filling turned a bit goopy. They just really needed to chill. Once assembled they are best eaten the same day or soon after.

 "And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us."1 John 5:14

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cinnamon Buns

I was on a desperate quest to make the supreme cinnamon bun. Having tried a fair lot of fail- to- impress (me) recipes, I sadly shied away from creating the hot rolls in my own kitchen. Blandly dry and never sweet enough, my botched up batches had nothing in common with the goo-oozing behemoth pastries mass produced in those ever familiar mall nooks, always too big, way too rich and maddeningly cinnamon scented. Oh yes, you know what I'm talking about.

I have to admit, those are good, in a dangerously addictive (and strange) sort of way, though my specific view has always been in taking the homemade approach, once I get it right, the one that uses all known ingredients and will inevitably lead to far superior bun baking (cinnamon, that is).

Maybe, it's just that I'm not deemed to make the perfect cinnamon bun. Or is it that I had not yet tread upon the ideal recipe? Either way, I was willing to play a few more shots in my sweet bun pursuit, in hopes of ditching the countless, tasteless sticky buns for one extraordinary cinnamon bun.

Lo and behold a few weeks past, and me happened upon some forgotten pages of my Cook's Illustrated recipes. Just 2 posts ago I introduced you to my cookie recipe adapted from their same kitchens. Well, in true Test Kitchen style they did me in with this foolproof, perfected cinnamon bun technique. This bun could clearly be the one, and so proceeded I to shape, sprinkle and roll.

I ended up with soft pinwheel forms, and buttered gooey insides, made complete with generous drizzles of velvetsmooth topping. Kissed with right amount of spice, this was the Keeper. The before- you- came- into- my- life-I -missed- you- so- bad one. (Sorry Carly Rae)

As if that weren't enough, there is no yeast in the dough. No hassle of yeast proofing. No awaiting The Great Rise. Instead, the dough here gets leavened with the aid of baking powder and baking soda, providing the swiftest shortcut to achieving a light, fluffy roll.

To conclude the story, the sweet bundles, start to finish, end in less than a quarter of the time of traditional cinnamon buns. An appropriate and rewarding round off to my bun finding odyssey, don't you think?

I reduced the cinnamon to half the amount mentioned in the original recipe. In addition, I scraped in orange zest which cuts and offsets any sweet/cloying overload. The zest is totally an option though, I like it in, you may very well leave it out. Mixing in extra tablespoons of cream cheese and buttermilk than called for, gave way to a slightly sharper taste in the glaze, therefore rendering an utterly insane and completely awesome icing on the bun.

If you're ready to give these a go, know that this recipe yields 8 hearty rolls. Due to their unique ability to disappear faster than a pinch, I recommend keeping a batch on reserve. You know, for when the kids get home.

( Recipe adapted from Cook's illustrated)
Cinnamon-Sugar Filling~
  • ¾ c packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ c sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp grated orange rind(optional)
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Combine all the dry ingredients and blend well. Pour in melted butter and coat mixture until it looks and feels like wet sand.
Bun Dough~
  • 2 ½ c all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work area
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¼ c buttermilk
  • 5-6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Preheat oven to 425° F. Adjust oven rack to the upper middle position of your oven.
  • Prepare a 9 inch round nonstick baking pan by brushing with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
  • Sift the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
  • Whisk together buttermilk and 2 tbsp of the melted butter.
  • Pour wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  • Once no liquid is left and dough is about to come to form, turn out on a flour -dusted work top and knead with hand until just smooth, no longer than a minute.
  • Again with hands, press dough out, evenly into a 12×9 " rectangle.
  • Brush  fourth tablespoon of butter over dough.
  • Sprinkle filling over dough, and spread evenly, leaving ½ inch from each side. Press the filling into the dough.
  • With the aid of an offset spatula, and starting with one of the long sides, gently roll up the dough  as tightly as possible.
  • Cut the roll into 8 pieces and arrange slices cut side up in the prepared pan. Brush with remaining butter (you may not need all of it).
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges are browned.
  • Once done either allow to cool slightly in the pan itself or loosen edges and hold a large plate to the pan. Invert rolls to the plate and then to a wire rack.
  • In the meantime, prepare icing.

Need I mention how perfect breakfast would turn out with one of these on a plate.
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp buttermilk
  • ⅓ c confectioner's sugar
  • Using an electric or stand mixer, combine, beat together cream cheese and buttermilk until smooth.
  • Add in sugar, half cup at a time and mix until blended and glossy. Add additional milk for thinner consistency,
  • Drizzle or spread over cinnamon buns.
Serve warm.

"For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. "Galatians 3:26
I love this tumblelog, marked with hundreds of inspiring visuals, it's welcome refreshment on those weary days when my eyes and mind need revival. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Baked Beef Cutlets

I've explained what a cutlet means here. So, on reading, you will pretty much get that the flattened chicken dish habitually known by the same name is not today's cutlet. Instead, this one is of radically different nature, a most delightful short eat, and one that screams 'I AM the real deal!'.

Being a teatime or anytime staple in Kerala, these breadcrumb enveloped goodies can be filled with almost any ingredient of choice - ground lamb, chicken, seafood and so on. But beef by far plays star to the lot.

In other words, meat cutlets are the absolute All. 

They are a premier feature at many small time hotels and bake shops, usually one of the the best items they serve, some better than others.

Spanning back to a time so far from today, I recall being culprit to jetting out of a women's dorm highly enamored by the thought of a clandestine meeting. With whom you may ask? With them, I answer. By them I mean the couple dozen meat cutlets I'd buy each time on breaking out of  prison hostel gates. You see, we were always on the strictest curfew, and would only be "let out" at certain times; where most spent those precious moments eating to their heart's content. My not-so-secret fixation was set upon Bestotel's beef cutlet. Past beyond recovery, my plight would be to down those countless, delicious, but very fried meat packets. Severe sour stomach would claim the rest of my night and much the following day. This, in no way would harness my love, nor dissuade the planning for the next cutlet rendezvous.

So, with the notorious history to back, friends, please know I take my own cutlet- making pretty seriously.

Aromatically permeated stew meat happens when I throw in most of the ingredients in a pot to cook on in slow, but sure fashion. A few whirs in the processor chunkily combines the meat form, while a final saute and mix of potatoes pull it together to make an absolute best filling. The awesome future core then gets dutifully wrapped in a hearty substantial crumb. Unbelievable you may say, once the final product comes out of the oven, only to be pegged straight into the depths of your mouth.

You can thank me later.

This recipe makes for twenty, and with small hands, possibly twenty four awesome and very tender meat cutlets. Before you finish the one, your arm will instinctively reach down for another, and another and another...

So goes the life of the closeted cutlet fiend.
Though usually, cutlets are fried, I prefer baking these. Not only does it cut way back on fat, the oven variety have a lighter texture, leaving you free to try two, maybe three, possibly four additional for a satisfying fill.

  • 2 medium cooked potatoes (boiled, drained of moisture)
  • ½ inch ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves  garlic
  • 2-3 serrano peppers
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1 ½ lb stew meat or beef cut into chunks
  • 2 or more tsp salt
  • ½ c water
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves, chopped 
  • ½ medium onion,  finely chopped 
  • 2 tsp black pepper 
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • breadcrumbs processed from 4 slices of bread(of choice)
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray
  • Mash the cooked potatoes and keep aside.
  • In a heavy set pan/dutch oven, put in ginger, garlic, peppers, turmeric, meat and enough salt to season the meat. Pour in the water. Stir well.
  • On high heat, have ingredients come to a boil, reduce and simmer, covered until meat is tender and all the water is absorbed (The meat will render some liquid as well, so the amount of water should be enough, if needed, add more, until meat becomes fork-tender.)
  • Take meat mixture off heat. Set aside to slightly cool.
  • Stir mixture well to combine ingredients and use a food processor to process the meat blend. Do this step in parts, using a third of the mixture, so all ingredients are ground, yet, slightly chunky. You have gone too far if you have meat paste in the bowl.
  • In same pan, on medium heat, pour in oil and add onions and curry leaves.
  • Allow the onions to cook till translucent and light brown.
  • Add in the ground meat mixture, potatoes, pepper and garam masala. Stir all the ingredients to combine.
  • Take off heat. Allow to cool.
  • Roll mixture into golf ball size rounds, flatten into an oval, square or desired shape. 
  • Set shaped mixture onto baking sheet(s).
  • Have an assembly station ready with the shaped meat, along with wide mouth dishes to hold the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Coat 2 9X5 baking trays with cooking spray.
  • Start by carefully taking the shaped meat mixture and with one hand dip it into the egg to cover both sides and then dip into the breadcrumbs to thoroughly coat.Place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Repeat until finished with the meat mixture. 
  • Spray tops of cutlets with a final coat of nonstick cooking spray.
  • Bake in oven for 18 minutes when edges are crisp and tops are golden brown. Rotate baking trays halfway through. 
  • Take out and serve warm. 
~If short on time, use ground beef, you won't need to cook it as long, not as good but still a pleasant standby.
~All meat is not created equal. The stew I purchase takes all of twenty minutes to cook through and become tender. Yours might take longer, so check cook time accordingly.
~Alternatively, you could pressure cook the meat ingredients for 8-10 whistles, or until done.
~I never boil the potatoes, just place in microwave and use the steam option, they turn out just right.
~Make your own breadcrumbs by just zapping a few slices of day old bread (please not molded:)) in the food processor. Multigrain add good crunch and flavor, but feel free to use store-bought, Panko being a good choice.
~The prepared cutlets keep well (to bake at a later time) in an airtight container between layers of parchment or foil in the freezer.
Ketchup is the traditional accompaniment, though an onion salad works way better. Onions sliced in rounds are served on side with green chilis (serranos), a dousing of vinegar and a dash of salt.

Be intentional and put your best face forward, everyday, always~

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Daring Cooks Challenge- August 2012- Cornmeal

Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

Broadly speaking, Rachael summoned us to an ultimate cornmeal throwdown, With scores of options given, we were to bring to the table recipes that we've never had the experience of making and which starred our key ingredient.

My sights were set on cutting out an ingredient from an existing Indian dish and replace it with cornmeal. Quite ambitious maybe, since I had not the clue of a single Indian recipe which included this mighty grain. Cornbread, pizza dough, polenta and sausage, I've done over and over. But to take a classic item from the country that hails Rice and Wheat as dual kings of the crop and possibly replace either Precious with the yellow cereal might end up in great grain blasphemy. A concerning predicament? Yes. Will I do it anyway? Definitely.

At this point, I decided to put the venerable dish of upma to the task.

Upma is a great one- pot breakfast miracle. Made with roasted durum wheat semolina, similar to Cream of Wheat, it is deliciously gratifying and super cinch to prepare. Plain semolina gets dressed up with some basic, but boldly fragrant elements only to be transformed into a wondrous quick meal, rich and flavorful in every bite. A classic upma  can be made with just the handful of ingredients or jacked up substantially for a wholesome, ample spread.

Here, simple was key. With only the few components infusing my upma, the cornmeal shown through quite well and fabulously top-notch. A creamy complementing texture came together considerably faster than semolina upma ever did.

Visually no stunner, a forgivable fault, when given the major plus of coming together in shorter than 15 minutes.
Cornmeal upma is superb. A must mention, upma is not only a breakfast item, it made for a swift lunch today. Swift in the sense that both JZ and I we were able to cleanly ingest a whole 4 serving pot in less than 10 minutes. 

Cornmeal Upma~
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ½ c chopped red onion
  • ½ tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 serranos, cut into small rounds (Asian green chilis)
  • ½ c  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 c cornmeal
  • ½ tsp salt or more
  • 2 c water
  • 1 tsp ghee or butter
  • ¼ c chopped almonds (optional)
  • On medium flame, in a deep saute pan or dutch oven, heat the oil 
  • Add the mustard seeds.
  • Once mustard seeds temper and pop, add curry leaves, onion, ginger and serranos. Saute for 3 minutes or until ingredients are wilted and onions translucent.
  • Add in red pepper and saute for additional minute, don't allow pepper to wilt and brown.
  • In a measuring cup measure in water, add salt and combine well. Pour into the cooked ingredients.
  • With heat on medium-high, allow water to boil (use lid to cover).
  • Lowering to medium heat, swiftly stir in the cornmeal to the water. Stir just until the cornmeal is mixed through. By now it would have absorbed much of the liquid.
  • With one final stir, take off heat, spoon tablespoon of butter on top and sprinkle with almonds. Cover and allow for the cornmeal to cook and soften in the steam.
  • Serve or scoop into a plate.
Enjoy with Indian pickle or in the habitually yum way of mixing upma with mashed bananas, sugar and additional butter, sans utensils. Just fingers.
Thank you Rachael for this outstanding task. Brilliant it was, for it made me think outside the box. By substituting a familiar component in a much loved dish with the challenging alternate, I was able to bring in its wake a brand new flavor dimension and revived awesomeness.
 Mixing it all up, no silverware needed- hot lime pickle, bananas and upma, the absolute best way to have it!

"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies

With the start of school, I am stuck with a sense of malaise, mixed with sadness. Mind you, I'm not the one going to school. Having those junior people at home with me for summer's protracted stretch has now left me under a rigorous Attack of the Lonelies. Joined to the hip, maybe not TOH- TAH-LEE, I  suffice to say I will miss my kiddies. Yes, they are. Even the one that towers over me by two heads.

Mom Mind fast forwards to after school treat. It is the first day after all, cookies it shall be. They adore  the oatmeal raisin. Thus comes my confession, I'm not too fond of them. In fact there is no hankering here for a cookie whose ingredients qualify as boring breakfast item.

Mom Mind again compels me to bake them the oatmeal raisin. Perhaps I can find one that exists where the contents would appeal to me, as well. Is that even possible?

My answer came in an America's Test Kitchen cookbook, the fine chefs over there, as per the famous working kitchen's style, took me though a detailed drill on the making of a foolproof Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie. There it was on page 466,  that I found the new breed of oatmeal cookie, one that would make my head spin and my tastebuds do the happy dance. Sans cloying cinnamon, complete with real old fashioned oats, this one had a doozy of unconventional, tastefully scandalous ingredients.

Now shall we discuss the multiple achievement those ingredients accomplished? Through the maintaining of a crisp exterior, the Ultimate One housed a chewy interior which in itself was moist and chunkily textured. Most importantly, this Olympian of a cookie led to my resolute conversion.

I'll let you in on the other noteworthy task Ultimate effortlessly hurdled. It straddled the divide by not only being a resounding child pleaser, but also an elegant adult treat. Can it get any better than this? Yes. With  the colossal stick and a half of butter, it transcends beyond the great.

Make no mistake, these are Exact Opposite of the mishmash known as monster cookie, where a jumble of ingredients amount to nothing taste wise. Quite the contrary, this one is balanced perfectly with tart cherries, studded with crunchy nuts and subtly sweetened with bursts of dark chocolate. "Ohh, Sweet Luscious, where were you all my life"... yes, I did say.

The recipe makes for 16 subtantial chunksters. The same amount that should've been awaiting my very eager kids returning home from their first day, if it weren't for the sad fact that a few may have slipped through the portals of my mouth. Judge me not, people. Go bake and see for yourself.

(Recipe adapted from "The Complete America's Test Kitchen Cookbook")
  • 1¼ c all purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1¼ c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 c dried sour cherries
  • ¾ c semisweet chocolate chunks or chips (preferably Ghirardelli)
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ c packed brown sugar, golden brown
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment.
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl mix together oats, nuts, cherries and chocolate chips.
  • On medium speed, beat butter and sugar in a stand mixer until creamy and smooth.
  • Add the egg and vanilla and take speed down to medium- low to beat for not more than a minute.
  • Decrease mixer speed to low, slowly add in the flour and beat until just blended, 30 seconds.
  • Incorporate oat mixture and mix on low until just combined.
  • Stir the dough one last time using hand to integrate all ingredients.
  • Take ¼ cup measure from the dough and roll roughly into a ball shape. Repeat for approximately 16 balls.
  • Reel the balls onto baking sheets.
  • Press down each sphere until flattened to thickness of 1 inch.
  • Set sheets in upper middle and lower middle racks of oven.
  • Bake for **20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway between, edges will be golden brown but the center will be soft and slightly mushy.
  • Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, this ensures a final cooking on the pans themselves.
  • Transfer cookies onto wire racks to cool completely.
**Update 12/19/2014~ I recently had to bake these for less than 15 minutes, app 14 and they turned out perfect, crisp, exterior and soft chewy middle. It worked as written in 20 minutes the number of times previous to this, but now I have a new oven and live in higher altitude, so I assume these must contribute for for the shorter bake time. I apologize, but do your time adjustments accordingly :-)

I used ¼ tsp salt instead of the recipe's recommendation for ½ tsp, substituted chopped walnuts for the pecans (almonds would also work great). I also added in ¼ c of white chocolate chips in half the recipe along with reducing the semisweet which I didn't mention above (a good addition, as well).
 Priceless, because you are ~

"You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are". ~Max Lucado

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pizza Pizza!

My favorite food after my obsession with AFSI (all foods S. Indian, Indian, etc.) is pizza. And I can  honestly say the best I've had, on several occasions is at the extremely laid back, high quality Piece Pizzeria, in the Wicker Park area of Chicago. It is as good as pizza gets. I lived closer to that pizza joint once upon a time. Saddeningly, these days I must fly over a 1400 mile stretch to sink a bite into a piece of Piece. Distance can never diminish that strong love I possess, I confess Piece Pizza will always be my sunshine of pies.
Keeping that in mind, pizza as America and the world know it stems into quite a different path, unalike it's very traditional and original Neapolitan counterpart. These days, we have oozy cheesed up buttered-crusted options that overfloweth with unbearable goodness. Further decorated with more than a gazillion toppings. Agreed, pizza is everywhere, familiar ingredients making it undoubtedly fine, yes, but a little too run-of-the-mill so.

Bringing me back on track to my adoration of savoury pie and my immutable, rather fierce love of  Indian ingredients led me one day to the realization that bringing two of the most potent food species together could result in a super phenomenal eat of high intense ranking.

Entirely a can do, right? Something I should do, I know. Though the nagging head talk diligently reminded me of my irksome Fear of Pizza Dough. Don't get me wrong, numerous times went by where according to recipe instruction I'd come up with fantismo dough making results. On the other hand, an equal number of occasions led to epic dough making fail, doomed from the onset with a no rise, super sticky demeanor that no one could put straight. Pathetic it was, the days relying heavily on my hope in the Hut (Pizza, that is) and of course readymade pizza crusts.

But let me tell you, my sweeties, miracles do happen. Mine came, in the form of a larger-than-half-my-kitchen counter breadmaking machine. So yes, with my brilliant breadmaker churning out dough, I was liberated to dream up topping after topping, thus bringing me to my India meets Italy mighty wonder. Oh, how good it is to see these two in union, not in a long time has this  merging looked so fabulous and chic.

Shredded chicken tandoori carried with a flavor packed white sauce styles the top of this stretched, baked- crust dough.

Dear people, this is seriously good, it is beyond swoon.

So, stop order that ridiculously cheesy( yes, pun) takeout, and give Tandoori Chicken pie a try.

Surely, you will consider yourself fortunate if ever a slice makes it for leftover following morning.

What shall it be then, shukriya or arrivederci - I accept and you are most welcome, si!

Ingredients :
  • pizza dough ( enough for two medium pizzas)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or canola
  • shredded tandoori chicken from 4 breasts
  • 1 ½ c chili white sauce
  • ½ c feta cheese 
  • chopped cilantro (optional)
Directions :
  • Preheat oven oven to 400° F.
  • Working with one piece of dough at a time (keep second covered), shape with hands or roll with pin dough into either a rectangular shape or round ( 7- 9 ",to fit  2 baking trays) of 1/2- 1/4 inch thickness. 
  • Brush olive oil over both sheets of prepared dough. Divide and pour sauce over both stretched doughs. Top both with shredded chicken and sprinkle  the feta over that.
  • Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until dough is done.
  • Take out and top with cilantro leaves.

 Tandoori chicken topping:
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili powder or cayenne (adjust this for heat)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • *1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • Mix the ingredients from the coriander powder to to oil together and combine to paste- like form
  • Evenly coat the chicken breasts with the mixture.
  • Place chicken onto a lined baking tray.
  • Bake for 25 minutes .
  • When cool, pull apart pieces and shred with fingers
  Chili white sauce:
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ c warm milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ 10 oz. can lime and chili blend diced canned tomatoes
  • In a small heavy saucepan over medium- low heat, melt the butter.
  • Blend flour into the melted butter using a wooden spoon. Cook and stir over low heat for 4 - 5 minutes.
  • At this point, use a whisk and slowly stream in milk, whisking at intervals.
  • Continue to stir and cook until mixture is smooth, thick and free of lumps.
  • Stir in salt.
  • Take off heat.
  • Let cool. Pour in canned tomatoes and combine with the sauce.
For the pizza dough I used the recipe that came with my breadmaker's manual, which gives me steady results each time, not to mention the ease of it - throw in the ingredients- it mixes, it kneads, dough rises. For those of you wanting to make dough with a processor which can also be done by hand, I've adapted an awesome one from  Bobby Flay. Believe me I've tried and the Iron Chef duly delivers a very good dough.

Junior bunch don't like leaves on pizza, so I omit the cilantro, altogether.
Pizza Dough:
( adapted from Bobby Flay's Bar Americain cookbook)
  • 1 c water, you may not need the whole amount
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast
  • 2 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil or canola 
  • 2 c bread flour or all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Measure ½ c of the water into a cup. Sprinkle in yeast and let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture foams, 5-7 minutes.
  • In a food processor, pulse  flour and salt until mixed well.
  • Add in yeast mixture and pulse 4- times to combine.
  • Stream in olive oil and slowly add in water. Pulse with each addition, all the water may not be used for dough to pull together.
  • Process until dough is smooth and pliable.
  • Take out and turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. 
  • Form into a smooth ball, keep covered in a well oiled bowl, until doubled in size, about 2- 4 hours.
We like our crusts thick, but if you prefer a thinner dough, roll out thin.
Never doubt ~ God will finish His work in your life in its entirety. Trust His faithfulness.

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6