Thursday, April 9, 2020

Home-made Pizza

At our home we do Friday pizza nights. The pizza is usually "home-made" but with store-bought dough. I have always used Trader Joe's dough which is convenient and makes good pizzas. However as is right at this time, we are trying to not hit the stores for every small thing and trying to make alternatives at home as much as possible. 

So I decided to try my hands at making pizza dough. Surprisingly it was extremely easy and so tasty, making me go "duh" why haven't we made it before. Home-made dough while being very easy to put together was so much more flavorful than store bought one. It elevated our pizza 10x notches! I don't think I'll be going back to the store bought one anytime soon, atleast not on days when I have time to let the dough rise.

I loosely followed this Food Network recipe but changed the proportions to suite the amount we need and also tweaked to the ratios that had worked for me with the flour I am using in the past. If you are new to dough baking, I recommend to follow the FN recipe as is.
Add 2C AP flour, 2tsp sugar, 1tsp salt, 1 packet instant yeast, 1Tbsp oil and 1C warm water (110F temp) to mixer and mix and knead until the dough forms and is soft. Put the dough covered in an oiled bowl and let rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size. After 2 hours, punch the dough, make into 2 balls and let sit for 10 minutes while you prepare sauce and the toppings.

Tomato sauce:
Warm olive oil in a pan, add 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 large tomato chopped, dash of balsamic vinegar and dried basil, salt & pepper and let cook for 5-10 minutes. 

Slice onions, mushrooms, red pepper, olives, pineapple - whatever you would like to top your pizza with.

Roll the dough into a crust using flour and oil as needed. Top with tomato sauce, cheese and toppings.

Bake for 20 minutes in a 450 pre-heated oven. Rotate half way so all sides cook evenly. Enjoy hot!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Wild Rice Veggie Bowl & Kindle Love

I love eating veggie bowls for my work lunch. However I don't make them at home as often, so with this stay-at-home period I am hoping to add a bowl into the lunch rotation once a week!

Bowls are super simple and super adaptable to what you have at hand - making them particularly attractive options these days. A good bowl essentially has a few components, each prepared separately and put together at the end customized to eater's taste:
  • Cooked grain: this serves as the base. It can be plain cooked rice, wild rice, couscous or quinoa.
  • Protein: baked tofu is my favorite but can also use roast chicken or boiled egg.
  • Veggies: roasted broccoli, sliced onions, avocados, cucumbers, carrots, chopped cabbage, micro-greens all good :)
  • Garnish: sliced nuts or sesame seeds
A good bowl comes together quickly and is a healthy powerhouse. This version with wild rice is my particular favorite. The only other thing I would add to this is sliced avocado but we were out of avocado and so skipped it. This is how I put it together.
  • Wild rice: in instant pot cook 1C dried wild rice per package instructions. I added 2C water, a little olive oil, pinch of dried rosemary, 3 peeled cloves of garlic, salt & pepper. Cook for 28 minutes high pressure and then natural release.
  • Baked tofu: marinated tofu in peanut butter + soy-sauce + dash of water + sugar for 15 minutes. Then baked at 400F for ~15minutes. Broiled 1 minute at the end.
  • Roasted broccoli: roasted broccoli at 400F for 15 minutes with salt, pepper and olive oil. Remove from oven when broccoli looks to slightly charred. Drizzle with lemon juice.
  • Veggies: slice onions, cucumbers.
  • Garnish: Top with sliced almonds.

A few weeks ago when I realized that we were going to be in this work from home phase for atleast a few weeks, along with pantry buying, a spur of the moment purchase I made was a kindle! We borrow books quite often from library - my daughter is an avid reader and goes through atleast 20 books in 2-3 weeks and is always asking for something new to read. So not having access to our local library and being stuck at home was going to be hard.

However all public libraries now a days have an amazing collection of e-books on their e-library sites usually served through apps like Overdrive or Libby. The only concern is that reading on phone for an extended period of time can be stressful to eyes. And in addition I don't like to leave a phone or laptop with kids unattended. So Kindle made perfect sense. Our library app was compatible to the kindle and so we borrow e-library books and send them to Kindle.

I love the e-ink display - it's so easy on eyes and feels paper-like and very light. The lack of distraction when reading is a huge plus. My only quip is the UI interface is a bit sluggish and with gray-scale only it's not the best experience to browse new books and choose what to read, so I do the choosing the next book part on a phone, but once a book is chosen and pushed to Kindle, it's the best e-reading experience.

Anyhow, we are loving it a lot. Our e-library has more than plenty choices for kids and I am finding a lot of high value content there too particularly as our local librarians are curating content to appeal to the demographic and the suddenly increased reading appetite of their patrons!

I hope you too are finding creative and relaxing ways to take your mind off of the news and spend the time well and stay sane!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Home-made Sandwich Bread Loaf

This social distancing is inspiring a new wave of home-bakers don't you think?! Along with the usual suspects such as hand sanitizers, wipes and toilet papers, it was interesting to see that even the humble bottle of yeast was out of stock almost everywhere! I guess during these uncertain times simple skills like bread baking can be deeply comforting. Or perhaps baking serves as a creative and therapeutic outlet to battle the anxious news surrounding us... whatever may be the reason, I am happy to say that I have joined the bread baking bandwagon as well :)

So on a Sunday morning we set off making our first loaf of bread. I wasn't ready to attempt a sourdough starter, and besides we eat simple sandwich bread loaf a lot often than a crusty round loaf.

I followed this recipe to the T and to excellent results! The bread came out just as we expected and the whole process start to finish was very easy. A perfect recipe for beginners who don't have a bread machine or want to make it the old fashioned way.
The bread was light, fluffy and very tasty! Best of all it filled our kitchen with wafting aromas while it was baking. A few tips I found very useful though not listed in the original recipe:
  1. It is very important to proof the yeast properly if using active dry yeast. I tend to be impatient in this step. The yeast started bubbling after full 5 minutes and it's really worth the wait of upto 10 minutes until it's done it's thing before proceeding to the next step.
  2. Also important is the temperature of the warm water. I find it really needs to be around 110 degrees. If you have a thermometer, worth checking for preciseness. If not, remember that your body temperature is generally 98, so 110 will feel warm to your wrist but not very hot.
  3. Equally important is the kneading step. It's time to workout those hand muscles! Every now and then I watch the Youtube primer of how to knead to get the techniques right. Kneading is a big step which defines how well the bread will be structurally.
  4. Other than that let the bread rise twice and bake to it's perfectness!
We enjoyed warm bread with butter and jam - it truly was so good! Once you start baking your own bread, it is hard to go back to store bought and not compare :)

Meanwhile the natural cycle of the seasons and trees and plants goes on. It's a beautiful weather outside with early spring flowers blossoming everywhere.

Whenever possible I take meetings sitting outside on our patio or in the garden and just marvel at the beauty of the nature! Here are some early poppies and daisies from the garden. Enjoy!

Copyright and Disclaimer

This page and all of its contents is copyright of Prajakta Gudadhe. All rights reserved.

This is a web catalog of the recipes that I have tried and tasted in my kitchen. While these recipes and instructions have worked well for me, please use all the information and the recipes from Ginger and Garlic at your own risk.