Pizza Margherita

Any pizzeria or a restaurant I go that serves pizza, I’d first try their Margherita. If they can get the margherita right, I can trust them with the rest. Besides, I just love pizza margherita 😀
I find the store bought pizza base repulsive! Might as well use a large slice of bread. So I decided to make my own base. It’s quite easy actually. Just flour, yeast, sugar, salt and warm water and yes, I forgot, patience as well because it involves letting the dough rest for 2 hours or more.
Margherita is the most simple and unassuming kind of pizza but so delicious! Just tomato sauce, basil and cheese. Could it be any more uncomplicated? Just make sure you have good cheese. You do get ‘pizza cheese’ in supermarket which is fine but try to get some good cheddar as well. Just a favorite, that’s all.
Ingredients:
Dough:
3 ½ cups flour
1 cup warm water (not hot please)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry active yeast
Topping:
4 ripe tomatoes
1 small onion
1 pod garlic
Salt to taste
Bunch of basil leaves
1 cup shredded cheese (combination of cheddar and mozzarella)
Method:
For the dough, in a cup mix the salt and sugar in the warm water and then add the yeast. Let this sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. In a large bowl sift in the flour and add the yeast mixture. Slowly bring it all together. When it becomes tough to mix any further, tip it on a clean floured surface and knead the dough till it is smooth. Cover with a damp cloth and let it prove (rise) for an hour. After an hour, knock back the dough to deflate it and let it sit again for another hour. Now make about 4-5 portions of the dough forming balls. Roll or pat it till desired thickness of the crust.
For the topping, sauté finely chopped onion and garlic in hot oil till it changes color. Add the tomatoes and let it cook for 15 minutes. Add salt to taste. Churn this into a sauce using your blender. It’s alright even if it isn’t smooth.
Top your base with the home made tomato sauce, randomly toss basil leaves (the more the better) on the sauce, and top it all with the shredded cheese (the more the better). Leave about ¼ inch from the sides of the base. Pop it into your pre-heated oven and bake it for 20 minutes at 200 C, or till the sides are brown. Out it comes and you have your very own pizza margherita from scratch! You can go crazy with toppings. The pizza base is your canvas!
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Chocolate chunk blueberry cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies. But the chocolate chips are so tiny, my brain doesn’t comprehend that it is in fact chocolate. So I decided whenever I get down to baking these I’d add chunks of chocolate and not itsy bitsy chocolate chips. And well, the blueberries you ask? I just have to use them somewhere!

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar (you can use either completely brown or white sugar)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cup chocolate chunks
1 cup dried blueberries (optional)
Method:
Mix the flour, salt and baking soda together. In another bowl whisk the butter/margarine with the sugars together till light and fluffy. Add the egg and the egg yolk and mix well. Add vanilla and mix. Slowly add the flour mix to it and fold gently. Don’t over mix. Stir in the chocolate and blueberries. Make balls from the dough as the size of golf balls maybe (I can’t measure these things) and place them on the baking tray lined with butter paper (to make things easier of course). Bake in your pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes in 180 C. Serve with a warm glass of milk or coffee. I usually don’t bother with either 😉

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Chocolate Pudding

This must be every chocoholic’s comfort food. Late night, long after dinner, when all you need is a good movie on the television and a quilt to snuggle in, chocolate pudding is what you need in your hands. It’s so easy to whip up and all you need is what you already must have in your kitchen pantry. You can also serve this with some strawberries. Goes perfectly.
Ingredients:
¾ cup sugar
3 tbsp corn flour
1/3 cup coco powder
A pinch of salt
2 ½ cups milk
½ cup cream
4 egg yolks
½ cup cooking chocolate (chopped)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter at room temperature
Method:
Using double boiler method (steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water) brings together coco powder, corn flour, sugar and salt. Whisk in ½ cup of the milk and cook till you have a thick paste. Add the yolks one at a time so it doesn’t scramble. Set aside. Now boil the remaining milk and cream. Let the temperature come down a little and then you can mix this into the egg and coco mixture slowly, whisking all the while to make it smooth. Now cook this entire mixture in a saucepan for about 5 minutes till the consistency is really thick. Remove from heat and strain in case you find lumps. Finally add the vanilla and the chocolate. Pour into serving bowls. It can be served warm as well as chilled. Any which way make sure you cover with cling film so it doesn’t form skin (you would want it, would you?).
I’d not eat this in front of anyone. Trust me it is NOT elegant when you’re licking the bowl in the end.
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Xian

First of all thanks a lot Karthik for inviting us for lunch over to Xian. We discovered one of the best spare ribs in the city.
Xian is located near the Ulsoor Lake. You might just drive pass it as because it has no flashy sign with the restaurant’s name. We assume that the interiors are on the cusp of completion, however that fantastic ginormous yin-yang on the ceiling, didn’t go unnoticed. The abundance of natural light just made it pleasant.
We started off with an array of starters: Spare ribs, chilli prawn balls, bacon wrapped prawns and crispy spinach with vegetables. The spare ribs like…stole the show! We aren’t big fans of the fat part of pork, but talk about being cooked to perfection. The meat just separated from the bone with one effortless stroke of the fork. It was tender, juicy and succulent. The sauce of the ribs could be served as a dip to turn any boring finger food yum! Well we held a mini conference over the last piece of ribs at the table. Moving on to the main course, we went for the Malaysian flat noodles with mixed meat, pickled prawn in black bean sauce, shredded lamb, Thai red curry with steam rice and sliced pork in char siu sauce. Yet again the pig stole the show. We guess Xian knows how to cook their pork and come up with lip smacking sauce to go with it. The Thai curry was another favorite at the table. There was a perfect balance of coconut milk and the spices. It was impressive to see ingredients like galangal and kaffir lime leaves to bring out the best flavors.
The crispy spinach with vegetables and pickled prawn in black bean sauce weren’t memorable. Basically, the flour over powered the taste of the spinach and the corn starch was just too evident in the black bean sauce. But the most disappointing of the lot were the chilli prawn balls and bacon wrapped prawns. The coating of the corn starch was used excessively for both these dishes that it made them chewy and heavy. The chillies in the prawn balls were over powering and were hard to go down. The flavor of bacon was totally lost in the bacon wrapped prawns. We definitely recommend any of the pork dishes, especially the spare ribs and the Thai red curry. And as someone said, good company always enhances the taste of food 😉 thanks Karthik, Snigdha and Sreeja.

Thai red curry(chicken)

Pickled prawns in black bean sauce

Sliced pork in Char Siu sauce

Malaysian flat noodles with mixed meat

Shredded Lamb


Spare Ribs


Chilli prawn balls


Crispy spinach with vegetables


Bacon wrapped prawns

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Blueberry banana muffin

The fiance was back from the US after a 2 week work related trip. I am so very fortunate to have a man who ‘listens’ when I jabber what would be of absolute irrelevance to him. For instance when I whine about how we have no blueberries growing here and how I wish I had some to bake muffins or any dessert. It was tremendously sweet of him to remember all the whining and get me a pack of dried blueberries (would’ve been better if it were fresh, but hey what the hell!). So then followed blueberry banana muffins. Why the banana? I figured since the berries weren’t fresh, they wouldn’t kick in a lot of flavour. And I was right. They were nice but maybe I’d ask him to get fresh ones nicely packed the next time. But for now, I’m just glad I have atleast the dried ones 🙂
Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup curd
1 egg
1/3 cup oil / melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup fresh/fozen/dried blueberries
a pinch of salt
Method
Combine the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix in the wet ingredients. Add the dry to wet mix and fold. Do not over-mix else the muffins would turn hard. Now fold in the blueberries and walnuts. Scoop 2 tb sp batter into each muffin mould or fill it up 3/4th of the mould. Bake for 20 mins at 190 C in your pre-heated oven. Let them cool and enjoy with some coffee or serve them warm for breakfast. They’re not too sweet or heavy as I’d expected. Quite light and tasty. You get a bit of everything, banana, blueberry, walnut and cinnamon. Real good treat!

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Apple pie

Anybody who knows me must know my love for apple pie. It’s the comfort food of desserts for me. After a few failed attempts I finally got my way around. Cold night, warm pie. Couldn’t get better. Well…with more pie it does get better 😉 Let me not ramble on as usual and get on with the recipe.
Ingredients:
Filling:
3 large apples chopped (green, worse comes worse red)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
3 tbsp sugar
juice of half a lemon if red apples is what you use
1/4 cup cashews/almonds/raisins (optional)
Crust:
125 gm margarine frozen and cut into small pieces
250 gm flour
2 tbsp chilled water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp powered sugar
1 tbsp milk powder
Method:
First things first: make the dough for the crust, because it has to sit in the fridge for about 20 min. On your kitchen counter, which I really hope is clean!, place the flour with the salt and milk powder. Tip in the frozen margarine, with the help of a fork mix the margarine into the flour. When the margarine has slowly disintegrated, use your fingers to bring the mixture together along with the chilled water. The water is just to bring it all together and make the dough. Don’t knead it! just bring it together. Now wrap this in plastic and chill in the fridge. Meanwhile, get on with the filling.
Now for the filling. If you have green apples (which are the best btw) peel, core and dice them. Mix the other ingredients together with the apples.
Get the crust out of the fridge. Use 3/4th of it and roll it out carefully not breaking it. Roll it enough to fit a 9 inch pie base. Trim the extra dough off the rim of the crust. Fill it with the apple mixture. Roll the rest of the dough out, thinner than the crust. Make stripes of the dough and arrange on top of the pie. Now brush with milk or beaten egg. This is to give the pie a nice golden brown color on top. Let it bake in your pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes or till it turns golden brown. Let it completely cool before you cut. But once you do, don’t waste any time. Attack!! 😉

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UTMT, Under The Mango Tree

Veg and Non Veg Xacuti…flavor from Goa we love 🙂

Spare ribs in brown chilli sauce with caramalized apples…that was some fiesta for my soul 🙂

Best chicken pasta ever! ….above are those Kingsize Sausages with Caramalized Onions; cant have enough of that…EVER!!

I love this coaster…and Thank you for the balsamic vinegar!

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Blueberry french toast stuffed with drunken strawberries

We’re still in the middle of the weekend, so technically we are still allowed another strawberry story. After last night’s dessert, we couldn’t get over the rum and berries combo. We just had to repeat it. But now this is breakfast. We still had some fruit left from last night. Neither of us wanted to step out of home to shop for anything, since it being a lazy sunday morning.
We did have the basic ingredients for French toast though. But we had to add our zing to it. We present, Blueberry french toast
stuffed with drunken strawberries.
Ingredients:
5 strawberries chopped
1 tb sp dark rum
2 tsp powdered sugar
2 eggs
6 slices of bread
1 tsp vanilla
1 tb sp powdered sugar for the egg mix
2 tb sp blueberry fruit filling
Method:
To the chopped strawberries add the rum and 2 tsp sugar, mix and keep aside. In another wide mixing bowl crack the eggs and whisk them with the sugar and blueberry filling. Add the vanilla. Take one slice of bread, place some of the strawberry mix on it, and place another slice over it. So basically you have sandwiched the stawberries with the bread. Now dip this sandwich
into the egg mix making sure you have some of the blueberries on the bread, and immediately place it on a hot pan greased with some butter or oil. Let it cook on both sides for about 2 min each on low-med flame.
Done! Breakfast is ready to be served.
Garnish with some whipped cream and strawberry slices if you like, or eat it just like me, straight up!
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