East Meets West: Pizza Part I, That’s Right Pizza! Doughs and Basic Pizzas

Good morning everyone,
Pizza.  Yummy, delicious, usually high-carb and high-cal and often loaded with cured meat.My male parental unit had a lot of jobs when I was growing up, racing to make ends meet, with three kids in the house and no money.  When I was in junior high and early in high school (which was the last time I lived with them), one of his jobs was delivering pizza and other tasks his friend, who owned the pizza joints, would come up with.  Occasionally, an order was wrong or (back in the day before debit machines, call display and computerized ordering system) the order would be a prank call and he would come home with the pizza.  It was the only time we had the treat and man, did we enjoy it.These days, I’m older and only very slightly wiser.  I don’t eat pizza very often and, frankly, it contains cheese.  If you’ve read older posts you’ll know a) I have an aversion to cheese and b) many cheeses contain rennin and/or even gelatin, which are both generally animal products.  It also sometimes contains meats, fish and/or poultry which also obviously are not vaishno.

The New Basics Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (cookbook number one in our project) contains several recipes for pizza doughs along with many, many tasty looking pizzas.  There’s not a lot you can do with basic pizza dough, and basic pizza recipes right?  Ha, wrong.  We’re going to kick the flavour up a notch, make it healthier (where we can), and make it vaishno friendly where it isn’t already.

Let’s start with the pizza doughs.  The New Basics Cookbook has three different dough recipes – Basic Pizza Dough, Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough and Tomato Pizza Dough.  The cookbook also contains a number of tips and tricks for the beginner who might be new to making their own dough or their own pizza.  We’re going to transform their basic doughs though, because that is the fun part of this project.  So we will have – Roasted Garlic Pizza Dough, Ancient Grains Pizza Dough and Fenugreek Pizza Dough.

We’ll continue with some pizza sauces.  The New Basics Cookbook has Basic Tomato Sauce for Pizza and Spicy Meat Sauce for Pizza.  We will have Garlic and Onion Sauce for Pizza and Spicy Mushroom “Meaty” Sauce for Pizza.

We’ll top it off with a few basic pizza recipes (more in a future post).  The New Basics Cookbook has Margherita Pizza, Hash Brown Pizza, Sunnyside Up Pizza and Portofino Pizza.  Our versions will have include, Spicy Tomato and Paneer Pizza, Aloo Jeera with Roasted Gobi, Wild Mushroom and Pepper Pizza, Spicy Italian Pizza.

The challenges in this week were many, but not insurmountable.  Pizza dough is vaishno friendly but it can be rather unexciting and like other breads, not the healthiest thing.  We aimed to amp up the flavours there.  Finding suitable replacements for the meat and egg, and also fusing some Indian flavour into the recipes using products available to us here was more challenging.  I hope you like the recipes!  As always, experiment, tell me about your experiments and let me know how it goes generally.

Roasted Garlic Pizza Dough

Ingredients
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 tsp)
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 – 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
6 cloves of roasted garlic (see notes in Tips section), smashed well
2 tbls light olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Method
Combine the water, yeast and 1 1/2 cups of the flour in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the oil, salt, garlic and remaining flour and cornmeal.  Work the ingredients together with your hands or a large wooden spoon, work the ingredients together until the dough holds its shape.  Add the last 1/2 cup of flour gradually, to avoid an overly stiff dough.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  If the dough becomes sticky while you are kneading it, sprinkle a bit more flour over it and continue kneading.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour depending on the temperature of the room).  When the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured surface, divide into parts (see below) and roll them into balls.  Cover them with a towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.  The dough is now ready to use and can be shaped into a pizza pan as you wish.

This recipe makes 1 – 18″ pizza, 2 – 12″ pizzas, 4 – 6″ pizzas, or 8 – 3″ pizzas (for appetizers).

Tips:  To make roasted garlic, preheat your oven to 400F.  Take a head of garlic and slice off the top portion enough to expose the cloves.  Sprinkle a little salt over the top.  Place the garlic in a baking pan, sprinkle with a little olive oil and place in the oven for about 30 minutes until the cloves are soft and fragrant.

This will make a crispy dough because of the cornmeal.  For a softer dough, omit the cornmeal and replace it with 1 cup all purpose-flour.

Ancient Grains Pizza Dough

Ancient grains are a blend of grains that have been known to mankind seemingly forever.  These grains are healthier than processed white flour or even whole wheat.  Many flour producers now produce a variety of ancient grains flour for use in baking.  Look for 5 or more of the following ingredients:  spelt, quinoa, sorghum, millet, farro, amaranth, freekeh, kamut, chia and teff.  Choose one, if you are able, that is not blended.  If it is blended with white flour, use 2 1/2 – 3 cups of that flour in this recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 tsp)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 – 1 1/2 cups ancient grains flour
2 tbls olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Method

Combine the water, yeast, and all purpose flour in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the ancient grains flour, oil and salt.  With your hands or a large wooden spoon, work the ingredients together until the dough holds its shape.  You may need less than 3 cups flour so add the ancient grains flour gradually.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  If it becomes sticky, sprinkle a little bit of all-purpose flour over it and continue kneading.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour depending on the temperature of the room).  When the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured surface, divide into parts (see below) and roll them into balls.  Cover them with a towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.  The dough is now ready to use and can be shaped into a pizza pan as you wish.

This recipe makes 1 – 18″ pizza, 2 – 12″ pizzas, 4 – 6″ pizzas, or 8 – 3″ pizzas (for appetizers).

Fenugreek (Methi) Pizza Dough

This is the alternative to The New Basics Cookbook’s Tomato Pizza Dough.  More than adding a little colour to the dough, this dough is great for adding that south Asian flavour that we are aiming at with our fusion project.  If you are using fresh fenugreek, rinse and then dry well by dabbing gently with paper towels or leaving in a colander for 20 – 25 minutes.

Ingredients

1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 tsp)
2 1/2 – 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried fenugreek leaves (methi) or 3/4 cup fresh fenugreek leaves, chopped and dry
2 tbls olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Method

Combine the water, yeast, and all purpose flour in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the fenugreek, oil and salt.  With your hands or a large wooden spoon, work the ingredients together until the dough holds its shape.  You may need less than 3 cups flour so add the last half cup of flour gradually.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  If it becomes sticky, sprinkle a little bit of all-purpose flour over it and continue kneading.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour depending on the temperature of the room).  When the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured surface, divide into parts (see below) and roll them into balls.  Cover them with a towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.  The dough is now ready to use and can be shaped into a pizza pan as you wish.

This recipe makes 1 – 18″ pizza, 2 – 12″ pizzas, 4 – 6″ pizzas, or 8 – 3″ pizzas (for appetizers).

Garlic and Onion Sauce for Pizza

Nothing makes my kitchen happier than the smells of onion and garlic cooking on the stove top.  Garlic and onion have been on the healthy foods list forever and ever and thankfully, they are amazingly tasty.  This sauce is thick with both flavours.  Feel free to take the garlic down a notch if you’re not used to the flavour or up it a notch if you’re a garlic addict like me.  This recipe also originally called for canned “Italian-style” tomato purée.  Hello sodium and goodbye awesome fresh flavour.  Yeah, no thanks.  This will take longer to make but it will be so worth it.

Ingredients

1 kg fresh, plum or roma tomatoes
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 red (Spanish) onions, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
4 – 5 fresh basil leaves
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Method

Remove any stems and shop stickers from the tomatoes and stick those bad boys in the freezer (yes, the freezer), for at least 4 hours or overnight.  When you are ready to make your sauce, boil 3 litres of water in a large pot, no salt needed.  Once boiling, turn the heat to simmer and using a strainer or a large, slotted spoon, dip the frozen tomatoes in them for 10 – 15 seconds.  This process loosens the skins from the tomatoes so you don’t end up with a bunch of tomato skin in your sauce.  (Alternatively, you can allow the tomatoes to thaw on the counter for an hour or two).  Remove and discard the skins (or add them to compost or potting soil).  Put the whole, skinned tomatoes in a food processor in batches (or chop them by hand) and purée until reasonably smooth.

Place the tomato purée in a large pot with a heavy bottom.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer and take the cover off the pot.  Allow the tomatoes to reduce to almost half, stirring occasionally to prevent the tomatoes from sticking to the pot and burning.  Place the remaining ingredients in the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Makes a little more than 3 cups of pizza sauce.  It’s pizza sauce, not pasta sauce, so it should be reasonably thick.

Tips:  Where’s the salt, Himmat?  Ha!  You don’t need any at all for this super awesome, flavourful sauce.  Get yourself over it.  😉

Spicy Mushroom “Meaty” Sauce for Pizza

This recipe also originally called for canned “Italian-style” tomato puree.  Again, hello sodium and goodbye awesome fresh flavour.  Yeah, no thanks.  Also, a big old no thanks to the meat.  This will take longer to make but it will be so worth it and is full of fresh, beautiful fusion flavours.

Ingredients

1 kg fresh, plum or roma tomatoes
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 red (Spanish) onions, finely chopped
1 medium eggplant, skin removed and chopped
1/2 kg fresh crimini or portobello mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and chopped finely
3 fresh green chilies, finely chopped
1 tsp freshly ground cumin seed
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Method

Remove any stems and shop stickers from the tomatoes and stick those bad boys in the freezer (yes, the freezer), for at least 4 hours or overnight.  When you are ready to make your sauce, boil 3 litres of water in a large pot, no salt needed.  Once boiling, turn the heat to simmer and using a strainer or a large, slotted spoon, dip the frozen tomatoes in them for 10 – 15 seconds.  This process loosens the skins from the tomatoes so you don’t end up with a bunch of tomato skin in your sauce.  (Alternatively, you can allow the tomatoes to thaw on the counter for an hour or two).  Remove and discard the skins (or add them to compost or potting soil).  Put the whole, skinned tomatoes in a food processor in batches (or chop them by hand) and purée until reasonably smooth.

Place the tomato purée in a large pot with a heavy bottom.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer and take the cover off the pot.  Allow the tomatoes to reduce to almost half, stirring occasionally to prevent the tomatoes from sticking to the pot and burning.

Sauté the eggplant in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned.  Add the mushrooms and continue sautéing until the moisture is gone from the pan.  Add this to the tomato purée along with all of the remaining ingredients.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Makes a little more than 3 cups of pizza sauce.  It’s pizza sauce, not pasta sauce, so it should be reasonably thick.

Tips:  You can remove the seeds from the chilies to reduce the heat but keep the chili flavour.

Where’s the salt, Himmat?!?!?!?  Tee hee.  Seriously, give that salt idea up.  You don’t need it in this sauce, which is packed with flavour.

Spicy Tomato and Paneer Pizza

The original recipe is a traditional margherita pizza and calls for a chili pepper infused oil.  We don’t need the oil, preferring to add our kick directly with fresh green chilies.  This will make a 12″ pizza.  Double the ingredients for an 18″ pizza.

Ingredients

1/2 recipe Ancient Grains Pizza Dough (above)
1 1/2 cups Garlic and Onion Sauce for Pizza (above)
1 1/2 cups grated paneer (Click here for the recipe or use commercially purchased paneer)
8 – 10 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
6 large fresh basil leaves
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced about 1/4″ thick
2 green chilies, finely chopped

Method

An hour before cooking, preheat the oven to 500F.  When the oven is almost ready, lightly oil a pizza pan and sprinkle it with cornmeal.  On a well-floured work surface, press out dough to form a 12″ circle.  Transfer the dough to the prepared pizza pan, and spread sauce over it, leaving a 1/2″ edge.  Sprinkle the paneer over the sauce and then the chilies.  Arrange the olives, basil and tomatoes in whatever pattern you like.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Aloo Jeera and Roasted Gobi Pizza

This is the alternative to the Hash Brown Pizza Recipe.  Way more fusion.  Way more fun.  The original recipe calls for The New Basic Cookbook’s Onion Confit.  Our up-it-a-notch recipe for onion confit, follows.

Ingredients

1 small cauliflower, chopped into small florets
1 tbsp lemon juice
14 cloves garlic (about 1 head)
2 small new potatoes
1 tsp lightly ground cumin seeds
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp freshly ground black papper
1/2 recipe Roasted Garlic Pizza Dough (above)
1 cup Ginger & Onion Confit (below)
2/3 cup crumbled paneer (Click here for the recipe or use commercially purchased paneer)
Extra virgin olive oil

Method

Preheat oven to 400F.  Lightly oil a large roasting pan or baking sheet.  Place the cauliflower florets in a bowl and toss with 2 cloves of the garlic, minced.  Sprinkle with lemon juice and drizzle a little olive oil and toss again so that the florets are lightly coated.  Spread the florets in a single layer on the roasting pan.  Sprinkle with a little pepper.  Place the cauliflower in the oven, uncovered for about 10 minutes.  They will finish roasting on our pizza.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Cook the potatoes in water to cover for 10 minutes over a medium high heat.  Drain and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 500F.  While the oven is heating slice the potatoes thinkly, and place them with the garlic in a small roasting pan.  Toss with the 2 tbls olive oil, the cumin seeds and black pepper.  Bake in the oven, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden brown, about 30 – 35 minutes.  Set aside.

Lightly oil a pizza pan and sprinkle with cornmeal.  On a well-floured surface, press the dough out to form a 12″ circle.  Transfer it to the prepared pan, and spread the Ginger & Onion Confit over it, leaving a 1/2″ edge.  Lay the reserved potato mixture on top of the confit, then the roasted cauliflower.  Sprinkle with the crumbled paneer, drizzle very lightly with olive oil and bake until the crust is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Ginger and Onion Confit

Ingredients
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbls unsalted butter or ghee
3 onions slivered
2 thumbs ginger, finely minced
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbls red wine or sherry vinegar

Method
Heat the oil and butter or ghee in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  Add the onions, ginger and pepper and cook until completely wilted, stirring slowly occasionally, 35 to 40 minutes.  Add the vinegar, stir and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.  This sauce will freeze well.

Wild Mushroom and Roasted Pepper Pizza

This is the alternative to Sunnyside Up Pizza, a brunch type of pizza.  We thought and thought and thought – what sort of no-meat, no-egg pizza would be tasty at brunch?  Then the college students in us spoke up – ANY freakin’ pizza is going to taste tasty at brunch.  Hello!  We hope we did this one better than cold cheese pizza… and is perfectly appropriate for a brunch.

Ingredients

1 red bell pepper, halved, cored and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, halved, cored and seeded
1/2 kg fresh wild mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
1/2 recipe Ancient Grains Pizza Dough (above)
1/2 cup fresh Roma or plum tomatoes, sliced in 1/4″ slices
1 1/2 cups crumbled paneer  (Click here for the recipe or use commercially purchased paneer)
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 400F.  Place the halved peppers skin side up on a baking pan lined with foil.  Roast the peppers for about 25 – 30 minutes until the skins have blackened.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly,  Remove the skins from the peppers and slice peppers in thin strips.

Preheat the oven to 500F.  Lightly oil a pizza pan and sprinkle with cornmeal.  On a well-floured surface, press the dough out to form a 12″ circle.  Transfer the dough to the prepared pizza pan, and arrange half the tomato slices over the surface.  Sprinkle the paneer over the dough evenly.  Arrange the remaining tomato, the peppers and the mushrooms over the cheese and sprinkle with black pepper.  Bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown, 15 – 18 minutes.

Spicy Italian Pizza

This is the alternative to The New Basics Cookbook’s Portofino Pizza.  Don’t fear the dulse in this recipe, it is simply replacing anchovies for a salty taste o’ the sea.  You can substitute other types of seaweed if you can’t find dulse.  Nori would make a good choice.

Ingredients
1/2 recipe Roasted Garlic Pizza Dough
2 cups crumbled paneer or rennin-free mozzarella cheese
12 – 15 Kalamata or black olives, pitted and sliced
2 tbls fresh oregano
1 tbls fresh thyme
4 plum or Roma tomatoes, sliced in 1/4″ slices
2 green chilies, chopped finely
1/4 cup packed dulse finely chopped

Method
One hour before cooking, preheat the oven to 500F.  Lightly oil a pizza pan and sprinkle with cornmeal.  On a well-floured surface, press the dough out to form a 12″ circle.  Transfer the dough to the prepared pizza pan and cover it with the cheese, leaving a 1/2″ outer rim.  Sprinkle the dulse and olives over the cheese, place the tomato slices over this layer and sprinkle with oregano and thyme.  Bake the pizza for 15 – 18 minutes until the crust is golden brown.  Garnish with a little more oregano and some black pepper if desired and serve.

Yummy, yummy pizza.  Mmmmmmmmmmm.  We’ll have more pizza recipes in future posts but in the next East Meets West post, we’ll be talking about pasta!  Get ready for more carbs!

Until next time,
Peace & love,
Himmatpreet

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