Sunday, May 31, 2015

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

The way this pizza comes together astonishes me. I think about it and an hour later we are holding crisp wedges of grilled bread. Well ... If you use ready to prep pizza dough, store bought barbecue sauce, packaged grilled chicken and some Gouda, what you have is pizza magic. 

I find all my inspirations at Trader Joe's. This is free form operation. No real  measurements. It is to be a look and cook operation. At home I thunk the dough onto a floured surface. A rolling pin starts me off, but I stretch and pull the dough with my knuckles. The dough takes on an angular shape. Hey!! As long as it tastes good, who cares about the shape!! Grilled chicken, moist and lemony, is slivered. How easy is it to open a bottle of barbecue sauce?!!!!! I work the hardest at cutting thin slivers of red onion!!! 

The grill is flaming hot, along with my pizza stone on the rack. I shake and slide the pizza off the peel, onto the blazing hot stone. It starts to bubble and crust immediately. The lid gets closed as the pizza cooks. Five minutes later..voilĂ ....we have a crisp, chewy round, begging to be eaten!

Make 2 small rounds

1 package store bought Pizza dough
A handful of Semolina or Cream of Wheat
A bottle of Barbecue sauce
2 large Grilled Chicken breasts or thighs
A large wedge of Gouda
2 tablespoons thinly slivered Red Onion
Cilantro sprigs

Start gas grill and lay a pizza stone on rack. Let the stone heat up for 10-15 minutes as you assemble the pizza.

Remove pizza dough from package onto a lightly floured surface.

Divide dough in half. 

Roll out one half with rolling pin.  Then place your knuckles under the dough and gently stretch the dough till you have a 8-9 inch circle. Or rectangle. Or whatever shape the dough decides to take. 

Dust a wooden pizza peel with at least a tablespoon of semolina or cream of wheat. This allows the pizza to slide off easily onto the hot stone. 

Place the stretched dough onto the peel. Shake the peel to see if the dough slides. If not, lift dough and scatter semolina underneath. Shake again to test dough.

Drop blobs of barbecue sauce over the dough. Spread sauce with a spoon. You should have thick layer of sauce. Leave an inch gap along the edges.

Chop chicken into bite size pieces and arrange over sauce.

Grate Gouda over chicken.

Scatter onion slices over cheese. Use about a tablespoon per pizza.

Slide pizza by shaking it in a back and forth motion onto hot stone. If you have used a generous tablespoon of semolina it will side off easily.

Close grill over and cook pizza for 8-10 minutes. Watch the pizza as it cook. Once the crust has brown spots it should be done.

Repeat the above procedure for the second pizza.

Garnish pizza with cilantro sprigs, cut into wedges and eat!!!


You can make the pizza in a 500F oven in the above manner. Heat the oven and place the pizza stone in the hot oven for 10-15 minutes before baking pizza. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

We relish every bite as both pizzas are demolished. The free form base stays crisp and crunchy. The crust is soft and chewy. Zesty sauce, grilled chicken and Gouda is a combination perfected by California Pizza Kitchen and is much loved by this family. Imitation is the best form of flattery!!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Herbed Clam Chowder

The ensuing cold front begs for a bowl of steaming soup. My palate says clam chowder, in spite of not having briny mollusks. The craving persists, so I cheat. Most often I use fresh clams, opened up in some water, over a medium flame. I like that this way gives me clams and broth. Do use this method if you have the right stuff.  This time a small can of minced clams has to suffice. I love that fresh from the sea taste, so these turn out to be a not so right substitute. And yet I do not demur. Resolutely, I open the can and I am accosted by a hint of the sea. 

Onions saute in olive oil. A fistful of frozen corn hangs out happily with the onions. A small diced potato gives the soup body. Milk and clam juice froth and bubble. Sprigs of thyme, parsley leaves and lot of chives comprise my herb mixture. The just snipped herbs add another layer of freshness to the soup. The kitchen windows fog up and the watched pot boils steadily.

Serves 2 big soup bowls or 4 small cups

1 small Onion
1/2 cup frozen Corn
1 small Potato
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 small can minced Clams
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
4 sprigs Thyme
1/4 cup Parsley
3 tablespoons chopped Chives

Peel and chop onion into small dice.

Wash and cut potato into 1/4 inch cubes.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven.

Add onions and corn and let then saute for 3-4 minutes.

Add potatoes.

Open can of clams and add contents to veggies.

Add milk to soup along with salt and pepper. Stir well and let soup come to a slow simmer.

Simmer soup for 10-15 minutes till potatoes are done.

Strip thyme leaves off stalks and add to soup.

Roughly chop parsley and add to soup.

Chives go into soup too.

Let soup bubble for a few minutes,stir well, then serve steaming hot.

My mouths salivates as I ladle a bowlful of soup, flecked with green. I think shortcut style clam chowder isn't so bad. I can taste the sea, chewy clams, creamy potatoes, crunchy corn and fresh bite of herbs. Satisfaction is bowl of hot soup and a rather large spoon! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

I want to make chicken wings for Prassy's birthday. I'm not sure if I can buy them in Pune. We discuss and disagree on the wings. In the end we compromise and agree on chicken....ground chicken. I plan to convert them into appetizers or rather teasers. 

This is a biggie birthday for my sis. She turns golden this May. An event worthy of a week long celebration. We start her birthday week in Goa at a boutique hotel hidden away in a sylvan garden. It's all about the secluded pool, the pristine beach and the food. Oh the food! We sample and savor all kinds of seafood. Goan fish thali in Panjim is an epicurean delight. Unexpected gems like Mustard gives us a glimpse into French and Bengali foods. We traipse to Assagaon to eat yeasty appams and fiery pork curry al fresco style. Weaving through the countryside rewards us with an exquisite meal of sushi, sashimi and wasabi vodka shots at Sakana. We assiduously hunt for serradura, a local Goan dessert, with success. We drink wine, beer and lots of water, as the heat scorches and burns. Did I mention the Goa sojourn is solely a girlfriends road trip? 

Back in Pune we are up to the task of cooking for her friends...all thirty of her close ones! Quattro Leche is the first to be baked. Then comes the pork stew. Jerk chicken is an easy fry-up.  I make cabbage okonomiyaki. And soba noodle salad chockful of fresh peppers and raw mango. A pear and Gorgonzola salad is refreshingly cool. I may have cooked my way through my blog!

We make bacon wrapped prunes for appetizers. Along with these chicken balls. On Prassy's suggestion I flavor the meat with ginger garlic paste and green chiles. We finish the balls assembly style. As I roll, Prassy and Nihal fry. The hot sauce bubbles, incendiary notes lurking within!! 

Makes about 80 balls

2 pounds ground Chicken 
3 Green Chiles, sliced fine
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Garlic Paste
2 teaspoons Ginger Paste
2-3 teaspoons Kosher Salt
4 teaspoons Ground Black Pepper 
6-7 tablespoons Cornstarch 
1/2 cup Canola Oil (use as needed)
4 tablespoons Butter
1 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce

Mix ground chicken with chile slices, eggs, breadcrumbs, ginger and garlic paste, salt and pepper. 

Form chicken into one inch balls.

Start by heating 2 tablespoons oil in a nonstick pan. Add more oil as needed.

Put cornstarch on to a plate.

Coat each meatball with cornstarch and place in hot oil. 

Brown meatballs over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally till cooked through.

Drain on paper towels.

Melt butter in a saucepan.

Add Franks hot sauce to butter and whisk well. 

Toss meatballs in hot sauce and serve them with toothpicks on the side.


Franks Red Hot Sauce is the way to go. Any other hot sauce should be an adequate substitute.

Nihal is my taste tester. His first mouthful takes his breath away as his tongue is assaulted by the taste. He assures me that they are good in spite of his coughing fit! The party rocks and swings! Literally!! Music and drinks abound. The food is appreciated by all. These bite size balls make perfect skewered morsels. A few leftovers remain. They are polished off by the taste tester.