Then, I got incentivized. Two things happened. First was a resolution to go closer to my cultural roots when it came to eating. Thus began Saturday morning breakfasts of idlis and dosas and adais and now, pesarattu. Since I just had to soak all the ingredients and the bai did the necessary grinding, chopping up onions etc, this was a breeze. After the first few times, we have even learnt how to make a dosa in less than 5 minutes. (The good cooks can refrain from laughing at this point…)
Second was sheer boredom from eating plain old dal and sabzi that the bai churns out on a daily basis. A mid-week non-roti routine is now beginning to take shape. Most times the bai makes pav bhaji or paratha or some such non-roti food. Once in a while, I have wielded the spoon myself (largely caused by useless programming on Star World on weeknights. Bring back How I met your Mother to the 8 p.m. slot, I say)
This week, finally one of those experiments met with great success and after the stories of my non-cooking, this deserves some recording.
It all began with seeing an episode of Castle which had the lead character eat a sausage and fresh basil pizza that looked yummy enough to be grabbed out of the TV screen. There was some basil and cheddar cheese leftover in the fridge after the previous week’s experiment with pasta (which we will avoid discussing). I had got whole wheat pizza bases and now we had found the exact thing we wanted to eat. D promptly picked up the other ingredients in between rushing around to office and other places. I trawled online, did not find the exact recipe I wanted and decided to strike out on my own with a combination of recipes (Feeling exactly like how Columbus must have felt back then, navigating strange territory with primitive tools)
For the pizza (serves 2)
2 whole wheat pizza bases (ours were a bit larger than quarter plates)
Tomato sauce (recipe follows)
Sausages (we picked up smoked pork sausages that were pre-cooked) – to the amount of topping you would like. ½ packet should be more than enough
Fresh basil leaves – ¼ cup
Cheese – 1 cup (we used Cheddar but I presume Mozarella is standard)
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the tomato sauce
½ kg tomatoes
1 onion – chopped
5 garlic – chopped
1 tsp chilli power
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Tomato Sauce –
Boil the tomatoes in water for 10 minutes.
Remove from stove, cool and take off skin, deseed and grind coarsely
Fry chopped onion in olive oil till light brown
Add chopped garlic and fry for a half a minute more
Add chilli power, oregano and salt
Finally add the tomatoes
Now comes the part I picked up from enthusiastic cook HaAThi. I covered the frying pan and let the sauce simmer till the water had evaporated. This took about 20 – 25 minutes.
It is useful to let all the water boil away since a watery sauce makes the pizza base soggy.
Step 1 – Remove sausages from casing and cut the sausages into circular pieces. Shallow fry in some olive oil till it gets brown.
If you have got pre-cooked sausages, then you can skip the shallow-frying
Step 2 –
Chop the basil leaves into long shreds. I found an easy way to do this online but unfortunately lost the link. Anyhow – you arrange the basil leaves one on top of another and then roll up from stem part to tip. You have something that looks like a cigar now. Chop breadth wise. When the basil unfurls, it is automatically in long pieces
Step 3 -
Coat the pizza bases with 1 tsp olive oil each.
Divide the tomato sauce into two portions and apply to each pizza base on the oiled side
Strew half a cup of cheese over the sauce (I actually grated directly onto the base instead of grating separately into a cup and then transferring. Much quicker this way).
Arrange the sausages on top of the pizza.
Sprinkle the basil leaves
Add the rest of the cheese on top
Step 4 –
I have a microwave cum oven. So just followed the directions to use it as per the oven’s guide book. Which was 600 MW + 220 degrees.
If you have a normal oven, apparently the way to do it is to pre-heat to 400 degrees and then put the pizza in and bake for 7 – 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
In my case, I kept the first pizza for 7 minutes and it was a bit overcooked.
So I kept the second one for 5 minutes, with the intention of increasing the time if needed but it turned out just fine and yummy.
Step 5 –
Do the victory dance. Proclaim that perhaps the time has come to sign up for Masterchef. Disregard all previous evidence (here, here, here and here) and say that you are an intelligent cook who can synthesize various recipes and tips and come up with the perfect pizza. But secretly thank god for smoked sausages since it tastes good on practically anything.