You wanna pizza me?!

Over the weekend, I was in Saratoga Springs, NY for the my first comic convention of the year with my group The Hero Army. That’s a link to their facebook page. You can check out some of our pictures, where we’ll be next, which charity events we’ll be popping up at, and other fun things. We were at the CT Children’s Hospital yesterday, and this coming weekend, we’ll be at the Southington Public Library for Free Comic Book Day! If you’re around, come check us out!hero armyCan you guess which CLOWN I am? That’s right. Harley Quinn. :)

Whenever we do events, we have tons of fun, but people forget that we are in fact working. e look like we’re having a blast, bouncing and bopping around (and we ARE), but we are also on the floor, entertaining, for about 6 to 8 hours at a time. And breaks are infrequent at best. And the only thing worse than a hero with sore feet is a HUNGRY hero. Think Hulk level anger. At least I know that is my part. Other people react differently–they get grumpy, or tired.

That’s where I come in. Part of my duties, in addition of being a character, is to make sure my fellow heroes are well nourished. That means snacks. And to me, snacks do NOT mean chips or cookies or ‘quick’ junk food. I like to make something that has a bit of good, a bit of bad, and a lot of fun.

Enter Pizza Bread. What can make (almost) everyone happy. Pizza. Always pizza. Cheese, and a good dough and some kind of topping. Fabulous. But not always practical. I mean, I can’t just whip out a pizza. So, I found a recipe for pizza bread. What better way to make a great snack even better? I mean, a very convenient and portable meal. Without the mess of hot cheese and drippy sauce–we do have complicated costumes to work with, you recall.

I had some left over roasted red peppers from my last recipe, and thought they would make a fabulous edition to the bread. I kept it veggie, since I wasn’t sure about the refrigeration situation at the con. But it was delicious. The bread was flavorful, the veggies perfectly cooked and dispersed. Just yum.

We ate it the day after I had baked it. It wasn’t as crispy as the day of, but that was still wonderful soft. It would make a GREAT sandwich bread. Just saying.

It is simple to make, it is tasty, and satisfying.

One small thing…after writing my entire post, I realized that I have NO pictures of the process to show you how tasty and tantalizing the bread was. However, I am still posting the recipe because it is WONDERFUL and easy and needs to be shared.

So I apologize for the lack of pictures. Instead I include a pizza pun instead. Because…pizza my heartAnd I promise pictures next post. Honest.

Veggie Pizza Bread
Adapted from Inspired by Charm

Ingredients
2 tsp yeast
1 ½ c warm water
3-4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 ½ tbsp sugar
2 ½ c favorite toppings, diced (I used jarred sun-dried tomatoes, homemade roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, and diced onion. Other options are limitless!)
2 c shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a large bowl. Let it sit for 3 minutes.
  2. Start by adding in 3 1/3 cups of flour, the salt salt, and the sugar. Mix using a spoon just until it comes together. (There’s no need for a big stand mixer here.)
  3. Add in the toppings and combine well. The dough will be tacky. Dust with a bit more flour if it feels too tacky.
  4. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour in a warm place, then put it in the refrigerator to continue rising for another hour.
  5. After that hour, take the dough out of the refrigerator. Flour your counter top, and roll the dough into a rectangle about 11×17”.
  6. Sprinkle mozzarella over top. Then, fold along the long side, like an envelope.
  7. Seal sides so cheese is not exposed. Let your loaf rest while you preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  8. Bake the bread, either on a pizza stone or baking sheet, for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. The original recipe suggests placing a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the loaf about halfway through to prevent it from getting too dark. I didn’t do this, and mine came out perfectly brown.
  9. Another option would be a about 3 minutes before taking the bread out of the oven, lightly brush the top with olive oil and let it finish baking.
  10. Once done baking, let the loaf rest on a wire rack to cool slightly before slicing.
  11. It’s delicious on it’s own, or dipped in marinara sauce.

Do you know what kind of bread you like if you like bad puns?

Corn bread.

(Ya know, ’cause they’re corny…)

I’ve just come back from a three week hiking trip in Nepal. My boyfriend and I hiked the Annapurna Circuit, reaching the highest point–the Thorong La Pass at 5,416m or 17,769ft, on February 15th. It was a proper adventure and so much fun, and terrifying, but oh-so awesome.

We saw monkeys and jungle, mountains and rushing streams; we battled some of the worst weather (snow, wind, cold, ice) on the Pass that our guide has seen in his 20+ years of doing this job; we overcame illness; ate some delicious food, learned to cook the Nepali staple Dal Bhaat,  and came out definitely changed. What can we not overcome now that we’ve ascended over 17,000 feet, in snow, ice, and wind?

There were so many parts of the trip that were phenomenal that it’s almost a shame that I’ll really only be talking about the food aspects…since this is my food blog, after all.

I figured that I would do a series of posts, instead of one crazy long one. That way I have the opportunity to pass along more stories, to share more recipes, to give you, my dear readers, more of a glimpse into the amazing place that is Nepal. I don’t know how many of you have been there, or will get there, but if I can share even a small part of it with you, then that is what I will endeavor to do.

Where do I start with Nepali food? Nepal is nestled between India and China. Nepali food draws upon many Asian themes: primarily Thai, Tibetan, and Indian. It is simple and it is delicious. The staple, one that is near and dear to the Nepali heart (and now ours), is Dal bhaat. They have a saying, “Dal Bhaat power, 24-hour.”

Before I go off on a tangent about the wonderful powers of Dal Bhaat, let me stop. I am not ready for Dal Bhaat. I need a bhaat break. What I really wanted to start with was the first food I had that made me sit up and go, “oh wow.” Something that I fell in love with and kept ordering at every lodge we went to, trying to experience the awesome power of that First Bite.

You’re going to laugh at me when I tell you this, but, that first food was corn bread.

You are probably having the same reaction reading that statement as I had when I asked our hostess for the recipe; that of disbelief and amusement.

Let me tell you about his bread. It was delicious, first of all. Second, it was unlike any corn bread I have ever had in the US. It is cooked on the stove top, usually over a flame, since many Nepali people use gas or propane stoves to do their cooking.

This bread is light, airy, and full of this wonderful roasted corn flavor. It is cooked in ghee (or clarified butter) at least enough to coat the pan, and really takes on the flavor of warm butter.  In short, it is everything you think a corn bread should be.

When I asked for the recipe, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure if she would give it to me. I should preface this by saying that this bread was advertized on the sign of the lodge we were staying at. It was her Special. It was what she was known for. You could tell. It was that good.

I knew this would be a delicate operation, this obtaining The Corn Bread recipe. I felt a bit like a spy as I went about it. I got my guide, Padam, and had him act as translator for me, since my Nepali is almost nonexistent.

We walked up to our host after breakfast and I thanked her for a wonderful few meals.

She smiled and said she was glad I enjoyed them. She asked if I slept well. I said I did. She said good.

I knew it was now or never and said, “I don’t know how to go about asking this, but the corn bread you made for dinner was delicious. I was hoping that you would share the recipe with me, if it’s not too much trouble.” Padam translated for me.

There was silence. Three other people in the kitchen stopped talking and poked their head into the room we were all standing in and stared at me, smiles starting on their faces. What happened next I can only assume was their laughing at how woefully inadequate my culinary education is, since I am asking for a corn bread recipe. Poor little white girl.

There was a lot of fast talking, much of which I didn’t understand; but there were 2 words I did catch (over and over again). Those words were “corn bread.” This is because it is the same in English as Nepali.

After a good ten minute discussion, the note pad was brought out, and the ‘recipe’ was written down:

corn bread

Nepali Corn Bread

75% corn flour
25% wheat, buckwheat, or white flour
Sugar, to taste
3 grams baking powder
Water until a dough is formed

Mix all ingredients together. Form into a ball. Cook over slow heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

That was it. That’s all they gave me.

I thanked her profusely. I was so excited. Just the fact that she shared it with me was something. Boyfriend had to go being realistic and said, “You know it won’t taste as good as here. Our water’s different, the flours are different….conditions are different.” Grrr, I know, but I am always optimistic when it comes to food! Conditions, water, and flour be damned!

Of course, he was right. After trying the recipe a few times since I’ve been home, I am fairly certain that something was left out. I’ve been experimenting and am getting close to  it being as I remember it, but it isn’t quite there yet. When it reaches the PNCBS (perfect Nepali corn bread state) I will update the recipe and let you know.

But, this is my first Nepali food love. Something simple, something clean, something plain.

Never underestimate the power of bread.