Monday, December 14, 2009

Zucchini & Pepper Pizza With Homemade Dough

A delicious pizza using homemade pizza dough, it can be quick too if you already have the dough prepared ahead. You could use either of the pizza doughs: the cold-rising dough or the quicker one. Pizzas using either of the doughs are equally delicious.

I like roasting the veggies a little before putting them on the pizza to not only give them a flavor boost but also make them more tender. You can add other veggies such as fresh mushrooms.

4 servings


1/2 recipe Pizza Dough II or 1/4 recipe Pizza Dough
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 small Zucchinis, sliced
1 Bell Pepper, any color - thinly sliced
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
Salt and Freshly ground Pepper
1 cup Tomato Sauce
a handful of your favorite Olives, sliced (optional)
4 oz. grated Mozzarella or Provolone Cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Fresh herbs: thinly sliced Arugula, Basil


Preheat oven to 450 F.

Prepare a large baking pan with a little oil or cooking oil spray.

Combine all the veggies with a little salt and pepper and 1 Tbsp of the oil and spread evenly on the baking pan.

Roast for 15 minutes stirring once or twice.

Thin or Thick crust - what type of crust is it to be? Use a 9 or 10" diameter pan for thick or a 12"x15" pan for thin crust.

Stretch or roll out the dough to fit the lightly oiled baking pan with rim.

Place the dough on the pan and brush lightly with the olive oil.

Spread the veggies, olives, and cheese on the dough evenly.

Bake the pizza for about 20 minutes at 450 F.

Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle the herbs on top.

Slide the pizza on to a cutting board and cut into pieces.

Serve hot. Buon Appetito!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms With Cream Cheese

Here is a wonderful starter which is surprisingly simple to prepare and simply delicious. I have made it for so long that making it requires no thought at all. Although deceptively simple to prepare, rich tasting, and delightfully delicious, they always elicit lots of oohs and aahs whenever these mushrooms make their appearance.


8 oz. Button Mushrooms
4 oz. Cream Cheese. at room temperature
2 Tbsp Milk or Cream
1 pinch Red Chili Powder (Cayenne) or to taste
1 small clove Garlic, mashed or 1 pinch Asafoetida
about 1 Tbsp unsalted Butter, at room temperature or olive oil


Bring the cream cheese to room temperature by keeping it out of the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Mix the cream cheese, chili powder, and garlic/asafoetida with a little cream to make a soft (but not runny) spread.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms by gently twisting and pulling them off. Wash quickly and dry the caps.

Using your hands lightly butter/oil the outsides of the mushrooms and fill the stem cavity with a little of the cream cheese. Smooth the filling neatly and wipe off any smears.

Place the mushrooms on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 1o minutes.

Broil the mushrooms until the tops are lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and serve hot. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Home Made Pizza Dough II (With Bread Flour)

I am sure that many a recipe owes its existence to the pure necessity of availability of ingredients as in the saying "Necessity is the mother of invention." I "invented" this pizza dough when I discovered that the only flour available was bread flour; I used it and was amazed with the results. With its high gluten content, the bread flour produces a wonderfully delicious crust.

This recipe produces dough ready for use quicker than the slow/cold-rising pizza dough. One still needs to plan ahead as it will require about 2 hours from mixing to baking. This dough will yield fabulous pizza as well as rolls too. Of course, if you wish, this recipe can be modified to make slow/cold-rising dough also; just follow the directions in my earlier post on Pizza Dough.

2 large thin-crust or 2 medium thick-crust pizzas. Each pizza contains (without any toppings) : 398 calories; 9.8 grams fat; 9.5 grams protein; 67 grams carbohydrates; 3.2 grams fiber.

Makes 16 rolls: Each roll contains: 95 Calories; 2.5 g fat; 2.4 g Protein; 16.7 g carbohydrates; 0.8 g fiber.


1 package (about 2 to 2 1/4 tsp) dry Yeast
1 Cup Warm (not hot) Water
2 1/4 cups Unbleached Bread Flour
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large resealable plastic bag (1 gallon size)


Combine flour, yeast, and salt in the container of a food processor. Add olive oil and pulse to mix.

Add the warm water (it should feel comfortably warm to your fingers, but not hot) in a stream through the opening provided with the motor running.

Pulse a few times until the dough just comes together in a ball.

Turn out onto a clean counter top or board lightly dusted with a bit of flour.

Knead for a couple of minutes; the dough should be soft, smooth, and elastic, but not sticky.

Shape the dough into a nice smooth log. Place in a lightly oiled resealable bag and seal tightly expelling all air.

Keep in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (I keep it in a large covered plastic container so it stays warm).

Remove the dough from bag, punch down and knead for a couple of minutes to expel all air. At this point you may refrigerate all or part of the dough for up to 6-8 hours; if so, allow the dough to come to room temperature when ready to proceed, about 45 minutes.

If you are using the dough right away, divide and form into two smooth balls.

Stretch or roll each ball into a 10 - 12 " circle for thick crust or into a 10 x 15" rectangle for thinner crust. Brush lightly with a little olive oil.

Cover and allow the dough to rest for 30 to 45 minutes or until puffy.

Top with your favorite toppings and bake at 450 F for about 20 minutes or the crust is golden and the toppings are done to your satisfaction.

Serve hot or warm. Buon Appetito!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Curry With Gravy

Who wouldn't love a recipe that creates its own gravy? The starches from the squashes, sweet & regular potatoes contribute to the creamy gravy. Here is a wonderful Saucy Curry using winter squashes or sweet potatoes which are far more nutritious as well as tasty than the typical curry with regular potatoes alone. Use the squashes or sweet potatoes singly or in combination; of course potato lovers can include a couple of potatoes if you must :-).

All types of winter squashes (pumpkin-like vegetables) such as Acorn, Butternut, Kabocha, etc will work well; both the orange-fleshed yams or the cream colored sweet potatoes can be used with equal success. Enjoy!


1 medium Onion
4 thin slices Fresh Ginger
1 or 2 hot Green Chili
1 small Winter Squash (Acorn, Butternut, Pumpkin, etc)
1 Medium Sweet Potato
1 medium Potato (Optional)
1 cup steamed green bean pieces or a handful of green peas
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
Lime/Lemon juice or Wedges to Serve


1 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 or 2 Dry Red Chilies
1 Tbsp Chana Dal
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 pinch Asafetida
1 sprig Fresh Curry Leaves, minced


Winter Squash and Sweet Potatoes: Wash well, peel, and cut into 1" chunks or wedges.

Potatoes: Wash and scrub them well. It is not necessary to peel them; cut into 1" chunks or wedges.

Onions: Cut off ends, peel, and chop finely.

Chilies: Leave stem end intact and slit the ends (to be removed from curry at the end of cooking) OR cut in half, remove seeds and membranes and mince.

Heat oil in a large pot and when hot, add the mustard seeds, red chilies, and the dals. When the mustard finishes popping and the dals turn pink, quickly add the asafetida and curry leaves along with the onions, green chili, ginger and a pinch of salt.

Cook stirring until the onions are translucent and slightly caramelized adding a sprinkle or two of water if too dry. Add turmeric, veggies, the rest of the salt and 1 or 2 cups of boiling water depending on the amount of gravy you might like. More boiling water can be added later if the curry does not have enough gravy.

Cover and simmer gently until the veggies are soft - about 20 to 25 minutes. If the gravy is not creamy enough, mash a couple of veggie pieces with the back of the spoon.

Stir in the green beans/peas and heat through.

Remove from heat, cover and set aside for 5 minutes.

Remove green chilies from the curry if left whole so that no one inadvertently bites into one thinking it is a green bean (yes, that happened much to my chagrin).

Stir in chopped cilantro before serving. Add the lime/lemon juice to the curry or serve wedges for individual diners to use if desired; the tangy citrus flavor brightens and compliments the sweetness of the squashes and sweet potatoes.

Serve hot or warm with rice, puris/rotis, or dosa.

Note: A handful or two of cooked chick peas (garbanzos) make a nice addition to this curry increasing its nutritional value as well as taste.

Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder (Roots & Fruits Chowder/Soup)

We call this soup Roots & Fruits Chowder because of the ingredients: all the root and the fruit veggies such as the yam/potato, carrot, squash, pepper, corn, etc. This delicious and warming chowder is perfect for a cool Autumn or Winter day and goes together rather quickly. All of the vegetables contribute to the wonderful flavor and color of this soup. Of course, as always, you can choose just a few or all of the veggies listed - just increase the amounts of the veggies you do choose if you eliminate some. I like using butter since we add cream to the chowder; but the oil is fine too especially if you are using soy or other non-dairy cream.


1 medium white/yellow/brown Onion
2 or 3 ribs Celery with leaves
1 sprig fresh Sage (about 4 or 5 leaves) + more for garnish
3 to 5 sprigs fresh Thyme + more for garnish
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Unsalted Butter
1 small Butternut Squash, pumpkin or other winter squash
1 medium Potato
1 medium Sweet Potato/Yam
1 Parsnip
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 large Carrot, coarsely grated
4 cups Vegetable Broth or Water
2 Tbsp all purpose flour mixed with 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup light cream (any type)
1 pinch freshly grated Nutmeg (Optional)


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Peel the onion and chop finely. Chop the celery. Place in a large rimmed lightly oiled baking pan with a little of the olive oil/butter, the herbs, salt and pepper and put in the oven while preparing the rest of the veggies.

Wash, dry and trim the vegetables. Peel the butternut squash, parsnip, and sweet potato. Remove stem, membrane and seeds of the butternut and pepper. Cut into 1/2" cubes.

Add the veggies to the onion mixture in the baking pan with the rest of the olive oil or butter and roast until veggies are tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Stir the veggies a couple of times so they cook evenly while roasting. Set aside.

Alternately, stir cook the veggies with the oil/butter until light gold.

Heat the broth/water in a large soup pot and stir in the flour + water slurry and cook until thickened.

Add the roasted veggies, corn kernels and the grated carrots and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in the cream and heat gently until warmed through. Stir in the nutmeg if using.

Serve hot with freshly ground pepper; garnish each serving with sage leaves and thyme if desired.

Serve with corn muffins and a crisp fresh salad for a delicious meal.