Sunday, July 29, 2012

11. Homemade Ham Tomato Pizza

Homemade Ham- Tomato Pizza
Makes 2 thick crusted/ 3 thin crusted pizza
Serves 4-6

Yeast mixture:
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast

Tomato sauce:
2 medium sized tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dried basil/ oregano
1/2 teaspoon granulated, white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup (228 g) all purpose flour
1 cup (150 g) wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar

Onion, capsicum, cherry tomato, mushrooms sliced
Pineapple bits
Olives halved
Cooked ham/ chicken pieces
Mozzarella cheese

Activate yeast:
Warm a cup of water in a microwave. Add yeast and keep in a warm place to rise for 10- 15 minutes.

Make tomato sauce:
In a saucepan, take enough water and bring to a rolling boil. Make an X mark on the bottom side of each tomato to help skin peel off easily. Immerse the tomatoes in boiled water for 30 seconds. Immediately immerse into a bowl of ice cold water for few seconds. Notice the skin curling off from the X mark. Remove the skin, chop the tomatoes and puree in a blender. Keep a pan on low- medium flame, add pureed tomatoes and remaining ingredients to it to make a thick sauce of spreadable consistency.

Make dough:
In a bowl, take the ingredients required to make the dough. Knead into a ball with the yeast mixture.
Cover the dough with a cloth and keep in a warm place to rise for an hour.
After an hour, if the dough has doubled in size, knead once again and keep aside for 30 minute in a warm place.
Set oven temperature to 250o C.
Keep dough on a floured surface and divide into 2 or 3 portions, based on the preference of the crust thickness.
Roll out each portion into a 9 inch (23 cm) round. It is best to do one portion at a time and roll out the next one after the first one is in the oven.
Set the dough on a baking sheet/ pizza stone and poke all over with a fork to remove air.
Brush 1 inch around the sides of the pizza dough with oil. Spoon in the tomato sauce leaving the 1 inch side.
Arrange your favorite toppings over the tomato sauce and top up with grated mozzarella cheese.
Ready to go into the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the sides turn golden brown And puff up.

Friday, June 29, 2012

10. Cocoa Liqueur Chocolate Cake

The leaves were turning yellow and there was a chill of gloom in the air as the days were getting colder. The evening closed in for the arrival of another weekend and I missed the warmth of the beautiful sunny days. With nothing much to do I snuggled up in the couch, when suddenly the phone rang announcing that we are gonna have a birthday party for M in less than 4 hours. That brightened me up...but wait...what gift to get at the last moment...oh no!! Hmmm....I think I have an idea, since its a last minute one’s going to get a cake...the birthday cake! But it’s too late to do a fancy cake...and I have just got 2 hours in hand...what’s the recipe? frosting, no frosting? but the cakes won't cool down...oh...oh...time's ticking...get the pans, where's the flour, butter's too cold....panic...panic...panic....deeeep breath. Stop. My eyes run past this life saver recipe...In minutes, it’s measuring, sifting, mixing and ...voila! The cake's in the oven. I decide on no frosting, but am pleased about the idea of a warm syrup and crunchy nuts over the cake....and off to celebrate a heartwarming year ahead for our friend.

Cocoa Liqueur Chocolate Cake
Serves: 14

Cake recipe: Chocolate Layer Cake, Rose's Heavenly Cakes (page 104- 105)
The recipe was used to make a single cake and was not split to make layers.

Cocoa liqueur recipe: Cocoa Syrup, Rose's Heavenly Cakes (page 120)
Instead of the liqueur used in the original recipe, I used non alcoholic red wine.
The warm liqueur was poured gently on the cake as soon as it came out of the oven.

Chopped hazelnuts:
1/4 cup (25 g) hazelnuts
1. Set the oven temperature to 180o C.
2. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes, taking care to stir twice or thrice. When the skins on the nuts loosen, it indicates the right moment to take it out of the oven.
3. Remove the skin by rolling it in a towel or between the palms of your hands.
4. Chop the nuts finely and gently stick it to the sides of the cake.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

9. Tiramisu

This Italian dessert was in my "must try" list of foods when we visited Rome. After a day of endless sightseeing of the Vatican and its many splendors, we could take in no more of the magnanimity of the statues and the grandeur of marvels man could create from his imagination. The delicious dessert I relished in the little, unassuming cafe of the Vatican Museum opened up a whole new dimension to my concept of desserts. I have had many a tiramisu in later years, but none better than the one I first tasted- sublime yet simple. When I recreated the recipe, I skipped the addition of coffee (I don't appreciate caffeine in desserts) and raw eggs (even lesser appreciated) from the traditional recipe. Ideas poured in through various sources and finally my taste buds came to a consensus as to create the recipe below. I realized it’s a flexible dessert- when I swapped a box of yellow cake mix for the base layer instead of the lady fingers and doubled the mascarpone recipe for a larger dessert for 20-24 colleagues at work. The cake can be baked in a baking tray and used as a single layer or layered to two and assembled with alternating layers of mascarpone cheese. For coffee lovers, the soaking solution would definitely be freshly brewed coffee. Just go ahead and discover what's best for you.

Serves: 8

Soaking liquid: 
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
2 teaspoon red dessert wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon- non alcoholic red wine)

Base layer: 
Lady finger biscuits/ 1 pack of yellow cake mix

Mascarpone layer: 
1 1/2 cup (360 ml) cold, heavy cream
8 ounce (226 g) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (58 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tablespoon red dessert wine

Cocoa powder, sifted
Bitter sweet chocolate shavings

When using lady finger biscuits to layer: 
1. Take the sugar and water in a small saucepan and dissolve to make a sugar solution, over low- medium flame. Keep the solution aside and once cooled fully, add the red dessert wine.
2. In a chilled bowl, whip the cold heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.
3. In a medium bowl, blend the mascarpone and sifted confectioners' sugar until smooth. Add the red wine and combine.
4. Fold in the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture and beat for just 20 seconds.
5. Line a 9 x 4 x 2.5 inch (23 x 8 x 6 cm) loaf pan with plastic wrap with overhangs on all sides.
6. Dip the lady finger biscuits in the soaking solution and arrange as a layer in the pan. Take care not to soak the biscuits for too long.
7. Next add the mascarpone cheese layer over the biscuits and carefully smooth out the top.
8. Chill the tiramisu in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.
9. Once ready to serve, pull the tiramisu out of the pan with the help of the overhangs and keep on serving plate. Garnish with cocoa powder and chocolate shavings.

When using cake layer: 
1. Grease, line with parchment and flour a 11 x 7 x 2 inch (28 x 18 x 5 cm) cake pan. Preheat oven to 350o F (177o C).
2. Bake the cake as per instructions on box.
3. Cool the cake and place it on a rotating table. Cut into two equal horizontal halves using a wire cutter.
4. Soak the first layer with the solution and wait for 5 minutes.
5. Layer half the mascarpone cheese over the cake layer.
6. Spread a generous amount of chocolate shavings over the cheese layer.
7. Continue in the same way using the next layer. 
8. Chill the tiramisu in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.
9. Once ready to serve garnish with cocoa powder and chocolate shavings.