When our friend Natalie Slater, asked us if we'd like to try a recipe from her new cook book and then blog about it...we couldn't possibly have said yes any faster than we did. We had been salivating over the brief descriptions of the recipes and relished the opportunity to get our hands on the book and unleash it in our very own kitchen. Instantly, me and Aar both chose the recipe you see here without a moment of hesitation. We are huge pizza fans (it's part of any New Jersey native's DNA) and Indian food just might be our all time favorite. Ok, so let's state from the outset that me and Aar both know our pizza...and we both know our way around an Indian buffet. So I'd say if anybody were to be the judge of whether this recipe is a hit or a miss...it's us. And I think you can guess where I'm going with our verdict...
AMAZING! Seeeeeriously, we could barely speak to each other while we were eating this! It was mainly grunts and groans...and I swear...the second we finished, we both started talking about how we can't wait til tomorrow night when we can eat this for dinner again! (yes, this recipe makes two pizza pies!)
So beyond this being a decadent and rewarding eating experience for us...this is a great opportunity for you guys to get an in depth, tried and true, look at some recipes from a fresh off the presses fabulous cookbook. We're just one stop along the way on this Bake and Destroy Blog Tour. It's currently in full swing, with some super fab recipes already out there in blogland, and a bunch more scheduled for the days ahead. I love the whole idea of this tour...all different blogger types picking a recipe, making it at home, and telling us all about it. What a gift!!
Ok, I don't want to talk too much...it's best if I just get right down to the recipe. But there's one thing I wanted to make clear...the title of Natalie's book is:
So from the get go, lets clear something up...me and Aar are not vegans or vegetarians...but that does not stop us for even one second from absolutely drooling over all of the deeelish recipes on offer between these pages. Because I think what Natalie means by "Bad" Vegans, is that sure, they're people who don't eat animal products...but more importantly, they're people who live to indulge in over-the-top amazing food. And that's what you get on every page of this book...meat or no meat...cheese or no cheese...these are just some darn good eats!
What's great about this recipe is that you're getting a two for the price of one deal. Not only are you making a pizza with all the tasty goodness of your favorite Indian Buffet...you're also making the dough from scratch. And this is THE perfect, all around, classic homemade dough. Besides all of the super creative mind blowing food adventures that you'll find in the pages of Bake and Destroy...you'll also come across so many subtle classics. Natalie will ply you with your everyday, go-to, fool proof, dinner table champs. So, lets begin with this perfect pizza dough. Any recipe that starts with this golden disc of deliciousness is gonna be a winner for sure!
I Love the Dough
1 (2 1/4 teaspoon) package active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (no more than 115 degrees)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup cornmeal
In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the yeast, sugar, and a 1/2 cup of the flour with warm water. Keep this bowl of yeast mixture close at hand because it's going to be added to the very next step.
Then, using a food processor or stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together 2 cups of the flour, your olive oil and salt. Gradually add the yeast mixture and mix until it forms a ball. Check out our short Instavid below!
Turn out your dough ball on a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 2 minutes.
Roll it into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled large bowl, then give it a light brushing of olive oil to keep it from drying out.
Cover the bowl with a dampened towel, set aside in a cool place and let the dough rise for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. During this time you can prepare your super delicious pizza toppings!
Indian Buffet Pizza
1 pizza crust, prepared, (see above)
1/2 cup dried red lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 teaspoons tomato paste
1/3 cup water
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup packed fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 cup vegan sour cream
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened vegan soy yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1 head cauliflower
oil, for frying
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
For the two of us, one of the more enjoyable aspects of the cooking experience is in the preparation and portioning of the ingredients. We spend the entire day usually working in the studio with paints, papers, and endless art supplies. When we take our midday break to make food in the kitchen we like to employ preparation methods that are similar to our artistic process...just like pouring our paints, mediums, and laying out our brushes, we love setting up our Mise En Place in the kitchen.
Before cooking the lentils, first sift through them to look for any hard bits. Then thoroughly rinse your lentils with cold water.
To prepare, boil the lentils in a few cups of water until they soften, about 10 minutes, drain and set aside.
And since this recipe calls for minced jalapeno, we wanted to give you a very important caution. We've cut and minced jalapenos about a million times without a problem but for some reason, a couple weeks ago I had handled a raw chopped pepper and my hand felt as if it had actually burned in a fire. I was surprised by this...since jalapenos aren't even very hot to taste, in fact in this recipe the jalapeno simply adds great flavor...barely any heat. But sometimes, if you mishandle a raw one...ouch! Anyway, that night I found out on the internet that putting your hand in a tub of Greek yogurt helps to relieve the pain...yes, it really worked! So anyway, helpful hint, it's best to use a knife and fork when chopping, and try to avoid touching the raw pepper with your hands.
Heat your oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion, ginger, jalapeno, and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
Then add coriander, curry, cumin, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.
Now add the 1/3 cup of water, the lentils, and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the lentils become soft. Add salt to taste.
All of the above...mint leaves, cilantro, lemon juice, ginger, vegan sour cream, soy yogurt, and salt...place all of these in your food processor and blend until smooth. That my friends, is the entirety of your Cilantro-Mint Chutney preparation experience! We then popped ours in the fridge until we were ready to serve.
Break your cauliflower into small florets. Heat your oil in a skillet or deep pan and fry the florets until they are golden brown and tender. It doesn't call for it in the book but we added a light sprinkling of cumin and curry powder to the florets. Takes about 7-8 minutes.
Ok, now that your toppings are all cooked up and ready to go, let's get back to that dough that's been busy doubling in size.
Presto change-o, ta-daah! Your little dough ball is now a big dough ball.
Now is a great time to preheat your oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees.
Divide dough into 2 balls and knead a few times each. These will make 2 crusts that are 12 inches in diameter.
Sprinkle your countertop with a generous amount of a 50/50 mix of cornmeal and flour. Push the dough down in the middle to begin forming a raised crust around the edges. Sprinkle the dough with cornmeal and flour mixture and then flip over. To form a 12 inch circle, pull the dough in opposite directions while rotating. Make sure to keep an even thickness except for getting slightly thicker along the edges for the crust. This is a great dough recipe and very easy to work with your hands, so don't sweat it whatsoever.
Then carefully place your 12 inch circle of dough upon your preheated pizza stone and bake for about 5 minutes. This is a pre-bake...to firm it up prior to adding your heavy toppings. We do this all the time and we were glad to see that Natalie does the same. It just makes thing so much easier.
This is a good time to get your toppings all set and ready to land upon your pre-baked crust.
Carefully take your crust, pizza stone and all, out of the oven so that you can lay on your toppings. Make the first layer your lentils and tomato mixture. Just spread evenly like sauce with a wooden spoon. Then add your cauliflower and roasted peppers.
Put your pizza and stone back in the 450 oven for another 12-15 minutes.
When it's done the crust will be golden brown and the toppings will no longer look like mere toppings...they will now look like a team of angels that are dedicated to bestowing heavenly miracles upon your tastebuds.
We were so impressed with the perfection of the crust and the way the toppings held up. Look how cleanly it cut! So many times with topping heavy pizzas you can have a disastrous experience with the pizza cutter, wherein you roll the cutter and pretty much just push all of the ingredients into a messy pile. Well this DID NOT occur with this fab recipe! Perfect, clean cut...everything intact and pretty!
As you can see on Aaron's slice, we did not go lightly when drizzling on the Cilantro-Mint Chutney! Nope...we POURED it on...and jeeez, it couldn't be more delicious. Aar even spooned out a little pool of it on his plate so that he could dip his crust in.
We simply can't say enough good things about the book. Besides the recipes, you will also be wholly entertained by Natalie's razor sharp wit and wisdom...for reals, there are so many laugh out loud moments!
You gotta give this recipe a try...we absolutely swear by it...we're counting down the hours til our next grocery shopping trip when we can buy the ingredients for about three or four more gems from B&D. Thanks so much for checking this out and be sure to follow the rest of the the virtual book/blog tour.
xo, Jenny & Aaron