Monday, May 4, 2009

Veggie Garden - Thin Crust Pizza with Roasted Pepper Sauce

The last time I made pizza from scratch was when I was about 16 and I embarked on Project Pizza. Remember those days before pizza chains? - the neighbourhood Udipi pizza with tomato sauce on the base and overcooked veggies hidden by mounds of grated Amul cheese was the only option. So when I saw a recipe for making pizza in Femina, I decided that I was going to make it.
Dear Dad joined in my enthusiasm and offered to knead the dough. The rest was quite easy and I was pleased as punch when we sat down for dinner with that home baked pizza.

16 long years later we have amazing options for pizza - the generic chains with their thick, floury crusts and the nice Italian thin crust pizzas made in some restaurants in wood fired ovens. Somehow, I am not as much of a pizza fan as I used to be and we barely eat pizza about once in 6 months now. My 4 year old has now caught on to the concept of pizza and loves the photos she sees in the flyers which come with the newspaper. We tried ordering a pizza for her because she kept asking for it but when faced with the real thing, she didn't like it.

One Sunday morning while we were lazing around with the newspapers (what's a Sunday without multiple newspapers and all the "sections"!) I was faced with the "what to make for lunch" question. Is it just me or does everyone hate this question? It's not only dependent on what's available at home, but also what we have eaten in the past week plus our own preference for what we feel like eating at that time.

Anyway, at 11 am, I decided to make pizza. From scratch.
Which not only meant that I had to test whether the yeast I had at home was good enough but also factor in the one hour needed for the dough to prove. And then the half hour for the pizza to bake. A quick mental calculation told me I could still have lunch ready by 1 30pm. Famous last thoughts.Especially when Murphy is at work.

The yeast bubbled up merrily, hubby was sent out to buy all the "fixin's" and I set about kneading the dough and setting it aside to prove. By that time hubby was back with the ingredients for the sauce and the toppings. MIL is visiting so I decided to make things simpler by keeping it all vegetarian. (hubby's suggestion of "washing yesterday's chicken tikka gravy pieces and putting it on one pizza" was met by a glare from me - seriously where do they get these ideas?).

Since I loved it in the muhamarra sauce, I roasted one red pepper, peeled it and chopped it up to add to the tomato sauce and it really lifted the sauce to a whole new level. For the toppings, I used babycorn, mushrooms, yellow and green peppers, cherry tomatoes, onions and garlic - I know, a little OTT but it was good to go overboard after the stinginess we face in store bought pizzas - sometimes it looks like they have actually counted the olives before placing them @ 2 olives per slice!

The pizza base didn't rise very well for some reason and though I left it a bit longer in the vain hope that time would do what the yeast wasn't doing, I couldn't wait too long and after one and a half hours I spread the sauce and the fillings, grated the cheese, popped it into the oven and hoped for the best. Murphy promptly stepped in of course, and my oven which has never been set above 220C, promptly shut down with 5 more minutes left. I had to rush to my upstairs neighbour (Thanks A!) , finish baking the pizza AND pop the next one in, in her oven. By the time I was able to have one pizza ready for MIL and my daughter (who refused to eat anything else in the meantime) it was 2 45pm, and another half hour before Hubby and me could eat!

Everyone agreed though that it was well worth the wait and even K ate two pieces, toppings and all. The crust was good but not soft enough inside - I followed Jai & Bee's suggestions of spending less time on kneading and using low gluten flour by adding cornstarch so it may well be the need for fresher yeast the next time. The sauce was excellent and it was such a pleasure having unlimited toppings on it with good quality cheese. We are definitely not going back to store bought if I can help it - but next time I'll try to see that my family doesn't almost starve in the process ;)

Thin Crust Pizza

For the crust I went with this recipe from Jugalbandi - I used the mix of refined flour, whole wheat flour and cornstarch and kneaded it by hand for a few minutes to get a smooth, ball of dough.

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

Red Pepper - 1
4 tomatoes - chopped
4 tbsp tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic
1 chopped onion
1 tbsp mixed Italian herb seasoning
1 tsp red chilli powder
olive oil - 1 tbsp
salt to taste

1. Smear the red pepper with a drop of oil and roast over a low flame, turning with tongs till the skin blackens all over. Remove from the fire,wrap in aluminum foil and keep aside for 10 minutes till it cools. Peel the skin, cut the pepper into two halves, discard the seeds inside and the white pith. Chop the pepper into small pieces. 2. Finely chop the onions and tomatoes as well as the garlic cloves. 3. Heat the oil, add the garlic cloves, saute 1 minute then add the chopped onions and saute till soft and translucent. 4. Put in the chopped tomatoes and the chopped peppers, red chilli powder and salt and saute for 5 minutes till it turns mushy. Add 1/4 cup of water, bring to a boil and then reduce flame and cook covered for 5 minutes till the sauce reduces and becomes thick.
5. Add the italian herb seasoning and remove from flame. Cool and spread over the pizza base (enough for two 12 inch bases).

Veggie Garden Topping

I used about half a cup each of babycorn, mushrooms, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, 2 onions and a few cloves of garlic. 2 green chillies chopped for Hubby's side of the pizza - I would use jalepenos the next time.

Instead of the usual mozarella, I used a cup of good quality grated Cheddar Cheese.


Asha said...

Just woke up and saw this, I am hungry now!!Love thin crust, looks so good Miri!:)

Happy cook said...

This is a realy yummy and delicious pizza with all those veg. Totally agree far more better to make at home than buying.

Arch said...

Lovely pizza and interesting read...And my footlong, it wasnt dry, the oil and onions in it made it real nice and soft..
Must try your pizza now and i finally got to access JB's blog :)

Cham said...

Ha ha washing tikka masala chicken pieces, that is indeed a great idea Miri :) Would be a desi style! Love the load of veggie u topped!

indosungod said...

Totally agree Miri, kids seems to love the thought of pizza than the pizza itself. No take out pizza comes close to the taste of home made. Just curious why did you refuse to add the chicken tikka(minus the rinsing) on the pizza, I bet it would have tasted good too.

Vaishali said...

The sauce sounds amazing, and I would give anything for a slice of that delicious pizza now, Miri.

Gita's Kitchen said...

Delicious pizza, love the toppings with baby corn...nice picture :)

bee said...

if you are in a real hurry, there are some pizzas you can make with baking powder instantly. try googling that. try adding some mashed potato to the pizza dough (use our naan recipe). it makes awesome softer dough.

Bong Mom said...

Nothing wrong with the hubby's idea at all :) Me would have done that too :D, love my chicken desi style much more

First pizza was the mini ones at Mongini's and then when we got pizza bases at the grocery store I used to put mounds of ketchup and onion etc. on it and bake it in Mom's electric oven

That is all my pizza knowledge, no pizza from scratch for me.

This one looks lovely and you are a confident lady to start making Pizza for lunch at 11, I would just dial a number ;-)

-- sandeepa

Kitchen Flavours said...

That is ulyimately an yummylicious pizza.....

Cynthia said...

I'm making my first attempt at homemade pizza from scratch and your post inspires. Thanks my friend.

I love that yours is chock full of veggies and I like the idea of you using a roasted pepper sauce.