Pineapple Tomato Pizza

Weekends are usually savored for the downtime from the mad week day rush. The menu on weekends is different from week nights but is usually simple. For years Friday night was pizza night. It would be movie night if we wanted to watch a good movie. Other weekends it would be game night where we played strategy and board games like Settlers of Catan. For the last few years Friday night has become the night to catch up on sleep for my high school going daughter. She has a quick dinner and sleeps for 12 hours straight. This pizza is a throwback to quieter Friday nights that were all about family time.

My daughter loves pineapple on pizza. I know this is not an authentic pizza topping but after years of eating it I have to say I like it too. There is something about the pineapple and the tomato that just go together. This pizza has a sourdough crust but would taste great with regular pizza crust too.

You will need
Pizza dough made as per this recipe
Pizza sauce 
Parmesan cheese as needed
Pineapple chunks as needed
dried oregano

Prepare the pizza dough and keep it refrigerated at least 24 hours for the flavor to develop. Preheat oven to 500 F. If you have a pizza stone heat it with the oven. If you use a baking sheet like me put it in the oven when the temperature reaches 400 F. Ensure you place the sheet / stone in the top rack. When the oven is preheated and the baking sheet / stone is heated through take the dough out of the refrigerator and shape it. Follow instructions in my original sourdough pizza recipe. Make sure you shape the crust as thin as you can for a thin crust pizza.

When done shaping the dough remove the heated baking sheet. If working with a stone assemble the pizza on a floured pizza peel. Place the pizza carefully on the sheet / peel. The dough is sticky and will stick together if it folds on itself. Spread a ladle of pizza sauce. Sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese over the sauce.

Arrange the pineapple chinks over the top. My daughter loves the flavor of pineapple on the pizza so I add a lot. You can add as many or as few pineapple chunks as you like.

Place the pizza sheet in the oven. If using a stone slide the pizza from the peel to the stone. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Switch the oven to broil and broil for 1-2 minutes until you see some charred spots.


Udon Noodles with Roasted Vegetables

I had bought a packet of Udon noodles a few weeks back and knew it was still sitting in the pantry. I also had some left over zucchini and yellow bell pepper. My husband was travelling over the weekend so I thought I would make noodles for our weekend lunch. I had saved a really nice noodle recipe posted by Pavani but I could not find it in my bookmarks. I searched and found the recipe I was looking in her blog Cook's Hideout. We loved the noodles.

Pavani used Hakka noodles and I used Udon. Except for that I followed her recipe as best as I can follow a recipe. I am bad at following recipes and never make the same dish twice as I tweak something or the other. My daughter asked if I could add eggs to the noodles so I cracked a couple eggs on the side in the pan and mixed in the scrambled eggs. The base recipe is true to the source and it was very tasty.

I love roasted vegetables. Zucchini, bell peppers and onions release their flavors but retain their shape when roasted. Freshly roasted vegetables added to the sauteed onion, ginger and garlic with a hint of soy and hot sauce. What is not to like? Make sure you do not overcook the noodles. Dunk in cold water to stop the cooking and prevent them from sticking to one another.

You will need (3 servings)
6 oz. Udon noodles
1 zucchini
1 yellow bell pepper
1 carrot
3/4 onion
2 tbsp. oil, divided
1 tsp. ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. siracha hot sauce (adjust to taste)
salt and black pepper
2 eggs (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Chop the onion in 1 inch pieces. Reserve a third of the onion. Remove the seeds from the yellow pepper and chop into 1 inch pieces. Cut the ends off the zucchini and chop into 1 inch pieces. Peel the carrot and remove the ends. Chop into 1 inch pieces. Sprinkle a tablespoon of oil over the chopped vegetables. Add salt and pepper. Mix it all in and spread the vegetables on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked but not mushy.

Meanwhile bring water to a boil and cook the noodles as per instructions on the packet. Drain when done and dunk in cold water. Drain and keep aside.

When the vegetables are done take them out of the oven and keep aside. Heat the remaining oil in a pan and add the reserved onion. Saute the onion on high heat. until it starts to brown.

Add the ginger garlic paste, soy and siracha sauce.

Add the roasted vegetables, salt and pepper to taste.

If you are using eggs, move the vegetables to one side in the pan and crack the eggs in the space created. Let them turn translucent before mixing them up with the vegetables. Finally mix in the noodles. Toss to spread the flavor and turn off heat.


This is my entry for week three, day two of BM #52 for the theme Weekend Special Dinner. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#52.

Mushroom Burgers

Portobello Mushroom are large and have a lot of meat. When grilled they turn juicy and flavorful so they make ideal candidates for burger pattis. We first made the mushroom burgers on the grill years ago when we lived in Arizona. I make these on lazy summer weekends when were are hanging out in the backyard by the pool. This is one of those meals that can be cooked on your grill and eaten outdoors.

I made the burger buns without eggs and with 100% whole wheat because I did not have a recipe for that combination on my blog. I have my foolproof sourdough burger buns and the regular burger buns. Any of the recipes would work perfectly with these mushroom patti.

You will need (for 4 burgers)
4 burger buns, eggless recipe here, other recipes available here and here
4 portobello mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. oil
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
slices tomatoes, as needed
lettuce, as needed
onion cut into rings, as needed
ketchup and mustard as needed

You can make the burger buns or use store bought buns.

The mushrooms cook very quickly so keep the other ingredients ready. Remove the stem from the mushroom. If you run the mushroom under water it will become rubbery. Using a moist towel wipe the mushroom clean. Place the mushroom top side down. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the underside of the mushroom. Sprinkle the oil. Fire up the grill or the broiler in your oven.

If using the grill place the mushrooms directly over the grill. If using the broiler place the mushroom on a baking sheet. It take about 2-5 minutes to cook the mushroom. Flip it over and give it another 2 minutes. Done.

Assemble the burger using all your favorite fixings.


This is my entry for week three, day one of BM #52 for the theme Weekend Special Dinner. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#52.

100% Whole Wheat Eggless Burger Buns

Burgers are a favorite in my house as soon as they temperature begins to rise. They are quick to put together and can be cooked outside. Summers are too nice to spend the time indoors. This year just as the temperatures began to go up in early March Mother Nature decided to hit us with three winter storms in a week. The snow, ice, schools were closed and everything was a mess. We were waiting for the temperature to go up again. As soon as it did I celebrated with burgers. While the burger patti is a post for another day I am posting the burger buns today.

I found baking in warmer weather a pleasure. The dough is easier to work with and it rises a lot quicker too. It is amazing how everything living responds immediately to warmer temperatures.

I have two burger buns recipes on this space. The first is a sourdough burger bun and the second is a regular burger bun. These buns are made with 100% whole wheat flour and are eggless. I used flaxseed instead. The recipe is very similar to the regular bun except for the use of a different flour.

For the buns (for 8 buns)
500 gm whole wheat flour
3 tsp. yeast
50 gm sugar
2 scant tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground flax seed + 3 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. butter, melted for brushing
sesame seeds for topping (optional)

Grind the flax seed to a fine powder. In a bowl add the ground flax seed to the water and let it rest for a few minutes. Meanwhile sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Mix in the other dry ingredients. Now add the flax seed mixture and melted butter. Add the water and form into a soft dough. Knead until the  dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and keep aside until it is doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. I halved the recipe and got 4 portions. Gently fold over dough from all sides to the center. Pinch closed. Roll on a floured work surface with pinched side down. Cupping the dough with your finger pull towards you to create some tension in the surface. Place the shaped bun on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Repeat for the other portions. Using a plate or bowl gently flatten each bun.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 F.

Brush the tops with half the butter reserved for brushing. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top if you like. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven and brush again with remaining butter.

Use as needed to make burgers.

Watermelon Cooler

After a long winter we had almost two weeks of rain. Then the rain stopped and we are left with hot muggy weather. To think this is just spring and summer is way out there is not a pleasing thought. Just the thought of something cool is refreshing. This watermelon cooler with a hint of lime does the trick.

I had bought a huge watermelon and cut it up. It was cooling the refrigerator. Then my husband bought grapes, raspberries and blueberries. With all that fruit I knew I had to make something. So I made this cooler with the watermelon. I used my Vitamix blender and it blended the juice into a very smooth mixture. The lime was infused in the watermelon giving the drink a refreshing hint of freshness in every sip.

You will need
4 cups watermelon cut into cubes
1 lime
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup ice

Put all the ingredients in a blender jar and blend until smooth. Taste the mixture. Adjust the tart and sweet taste using lime juice and sugar. Pour into glasses.


This is my entry for week three, day three of BM #52 for the theme Seasonal Fruit/Vegetables Spotlight. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#52.

Zucchini Spinach Paratha

Trying different parathas is almost my hobby. I have a lot of paratha or stuffed roti recipes in this space. The other day I had zucchini in the refrigerator and nothing else that I usually cook with it. I also had a little spinach leftover. So I decided to mix it all together and make parathas. I added a bunch of different spices and flavors to the mix. The end result was a soft and delicious paratha. Perfect as packed lunch.

Packed lunch is a beast. You need something that will satisfy everyone, taste great even if eaten cold, will not smell too strong and will not be too messy. And you need something five days a week. When my daughter was in middle school there were 300 children in the school and four lunch breaks. While there would be a line for use of the microwave, it was possible to occasionally expect her to heat up the food. Now she goes to a very large high school and it is just impossible to heat up lunch. So every weekend I have to come up with suitable options that will work for all of us. Parathas especially those that are soft and taste great hours after they were made make me very happy.

This week I am showcasing summer fruits and vegetables. Zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables. It can be used in all kinds of dishes. It can be the star of the dish or play a quiet side role. I usually stock up on small organic zucchini during the summer.

You will need
2 small zucchini (I use organic so I can use the skin)
5-6 sprigs of spinach
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. coriander cumin powder
1 tsp. amchur powder (mango peel powder)
salt to taste

Shred the zucchini, dice the spinach. Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Using a little water form a soft dough. Keep aside for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile heat a cast iron griddle. Divide into lemon sized portions. Take a portion of dough and using a little flour to keep it from sticking roll out a large paratha.

Place it on a hot griddle. When one side is cooked flip it over.

Cook the second side until it is cooked.

Take it off the heat. Repeat with the other portions of dough.


Tomato Panzanella

Tomato Panzanella is one of the most flavorful salad you will have. I made it using a day old loaf of ciabatta. I baked the ciabatta for this salad the night before I needed it so I would have a day old loaf. Ciabatta is very high hydration bread and it is one of the lightest loaves I have ever baked. It was perfect for this salad. If you do not wish to bake the ciabatta, though I would highly recommend you do, you can use a store bought loaf.

The day I made this salad my daughter was out for the evening at a friend's house for a project. I made the salad, clicked the pictures and handed the plate in the picture to my husband. He has taken a liking to salads lately but he likes gourmet ingredients. He took one bite and was hooked. Unfortunately for my daughter I had mixed the whole batch for the pictures so by the time she got home the salad was not very crisp. If you plan to eat some of the salad later mix it up in batches.

This week I am showcasing seasonal fruit and vegetables. I had to plan a post with my favorite summer fruit, heirloom tomatoes. The flavor of these fresh tomatoes in combination with the ciabatta is the base for this salad. I used fresh artichoke for the first time but did not cook it right. Fortunately the artichoke did not alter the taste of the salad, but it was inedible and had to be removed. I clicked pictures before I realized the artichoke was not cooked right so it shows up in the pictures. I will figure out what I did wrong and use them again, but for now I would skip the artichoke.

You will need
1 day old loaf ciabatta, recipe here
1 English cucumber
5-7 basil leaves
4 heirloom tomatoes
1/4 red onion
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F. Break up the bread into 1 inch pieces and place in an oven safe dish (I used cast iron). Toast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the bread is browned, heated through and toasty.

Meanwhile cut the tomatoes into two and collect all the juice and seeds in a mixing bowl. To the seeds add the remaining ingredients except the basil and cucumber. Let the dressing sit aside. Cut the cucumber into thin strips, Dice the tomatoes into long strips and tear the basil. When the bread is done combine everything in a mixing bowl. Let it sit for a couple minutes, not more, and serve.


Garam Masala or Basic Spice Mix

A trip to any grocery store will show you how popular ready made spice mixes are. It takes the guess work out and it is convenient. There was a time when the basic spice mixes were family secrets passed down through the generations. Unlike pickles that were made to last a year spices mixes were not made in large quantities. The idea was to use them before they lost their freshness. If you choose one thing to continue making at home choose spice mixes. The fresh ground spices will add a fantastic flavor and aroma to your food.

This is my mother's recipe for garam masala. Actually it was my grandmothers recipe and she passed it down to my mother. Spicy curries were almost never cooked in the house when I was growing up. But this masala or spice mix was a staple. I took the picture at night and it did not come out very well. The color of the masala is brownish but the pictures shows it as yellow. I will click new pictures and update this post.

You will need
500 gm coriander seeds (dhane)
100 gm cumin seeds (jeera)
50 gm shaha jeera
10-15 dried red chilli peppers
4-5 bay leaves (tamal patra)
5-7 gm of cinnamon stick (dalchini)
5-7 gm star anise (dagadphool)
3-4 cloves (lavanga)
8-10 black pepper (miri)

1 tbsp. oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Heat a flat bottom pan with the oil. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, shaha jeera, red chili peppers and bay leaves. Roast until the spices fill your kitchen with their aroma and begin to change color. Turn off heat and transfer the spices to a plate. In the same pan roast the remaining spices until they start to change color. Turn off heat. Allow the spices to cool and grind to a fine powder. Allow them to cool completely, add salt and store in an airtight container.


Red Enchilada Sauce

Mexican cuisine is very loved in my house. Though the green sauce or verde sauce is preferred in my house I sometimes make this red enchilada sauce. It is very easy and has a surprise ingredient - cacao, that gives it a very distinct taste and color.

It is very easy to make and stores well for a couple days in the refrigerator. My daughter gives it two thumbs up.

You will need
4-5 ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. basil
1 tbsp. oregano
1 Serrano pepper, diced fine
1 tsp. red chili pepper powder
1 tbsp. cacao shavings
salt and black pepper to taste

Dice the tomatoes and keep aside. Mix the spices except the cacao with the water. Bring to a boil.

Add the tomatoes and the chocolate. Cook until the tomatoes are softened. Add salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Run the mixture through a blender until smooth. Use in your recipe as needed.


Semolina Porridge

My mother used to make the best porridge. She did not make it often but I loved it every time she made it. Back then I did not know if it was easy or difficult to make the porridge. All I knew was that I loved the sweet creamy goodness.

Today I made this porridge for breakfast for my daughter. Like my mother I do not make it often. I prefer oatmeal. But just like me my daughter enjoys a warm cup of porridge. I like a moderately thick porridge. Adjust the ratio of semolina to milk based on whether you like the porridge runny or thick.

You will need (2 servings)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup semolina
2 tbsp. sugar (adjust to taste)

Warm the milk and keep aside. Roast the semolina in a pan over medium heat. When there is a very slight change in color add the sugar and the warm milk. Bring it to a boil and turn off the heat.


Sending this to the Kid's Delight event hosted this month by Mireille who blogs at Chef Mireille's East West Realm.

This is my entry for week one, day three of BM #52 for the theme Creamy Foods. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#52.

Sabudanyachi Lapsi / Sago Kheer

Food is such a basic need and we eat so many different types of foods through out our life. There is food we grew up eating, food we cook in our own homes as adults, food we have tasted in a restaurant, food that entices us with a look at a picture, food we taste on our travels, and so on. And then there is that small collection of recipes that does more than nourish our body, it wraps us in this cocoon of comfort and takes us back to a safe happy place. Today I will present one such recipe.

This is the recipe my mother used to make when I recovered from an illness and had no taste for food. Sabudana lapsi would bring a smile to my face and I would do my best to finish the bowl. The recipe is nothing special but it is comfort food. I rarely make it but today I was thinking of all the recipes I used to love as a child and wondered how many of those I have made for my daughter. And I remembered this. So I made a small bowl full.

You will need
1/4 cup sabudana/sago
1 cup milk
1-2 tbsp. sugar (adjust to taste)

Wash and soak the sabudana in very little water for a couple of hours. Take 2-3 tablespoon of water in a pan and add the soaked sabudana to it. Heat the water and when it is almost gone add the the milk and sugar. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the heat. You can eat it either hot or cold.


Sending this to the Kid's Delight event hosted this month by Mireille who blogs at Chef Mireille's East West Realm.

This is my entry for week one, day two of BM #52 for the theme Creamy Foods. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#52.

Pineapple Mousse

With summer right around the corner all the cold comfort foods are making their way back into the menu. It was when I was planning ahead for the week that I realized I did not have a recipe for mousse in this space. The light and airy foamy dessert is perfect for a hot summer day.

I had some crushed pineapple in the refrigerator so I decided to puree it and made pineapple mousse. I used agar agar to thicken it and heavy whipping cream as the base. Since the pineapple was not sweetened I used a little sugar. The end result for so light and creamy! I liked the mildly sweet taste. My daughter on the other hand said she would have preferred chocolate mousse.

You will need
3 cups crushed pineapple in juice or cubed pineapple
3/4 cup cream (I used heavy whipping cream)
2 tbsp. sugar (adjust to taste)
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. agar agar

Puree the pineapple chunks and keep aside. Heat the water and add agar agar. Stir to dissolve and turn off heat. In a separate bowl whip the cream and sugar until fluffy. It should visible double in size. Add the fruit puree and agar agar. Blend together. Do not allow the aerated cream to deflate. Transfer to single serving bowls and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.


Sending this to the Kid's Delight event hosted this month by Mireille who blogs at Chef Mireille's East West Realm.

This is my entry for week one, day one of BM #52 for the theme Creamy Foods. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#52.

Fire up the oven - An assortment of baked dishes

I love to bake. I love baking bread, dinner casseroles, desserts and traditional recipes. Though I like to bake cakes and cookies my real passion is trying out Old World recipes using my natural levain also sometimes called a sourdough starter. During the month of April a group of blogger friends got together for a baking event we called Fire up the Oven. As part of this event I showcased baked recipes using a different theme each week.

The first week I had recipes that were fun to bake. The second week was sourdough breads. The third week was baked hor d'oeuvres. The last week I posted one dish from each course ending the week and the month with a dessert. Here is a recap of everything I baked.

Everything is better and more fun with friends and this was no exception. It was nice to chat and plan with friends. Showing off your special pictures and admiring the pictures shared by friends ahead of time made the whole journey enjoyable.

Edible bread basket

Edible Spring Bread Basket / Braided Bread Basket

After I had made an edible bread basket I had this vision of a shallower basket that could be used as a centerpiece decorated with flowers. ...