Friday, August 19, 2011

Pizza Dough, with love

Portobello, field and white button mushrooms in garlic, plenty of mozzarella, simple bechamel sauce base and sprinkled with alfalfa sprouts

Sorry for being stupendously late, yet again. I don't know why but I can't seem to arrange a time to just sit down and write an entry. I'd like to think that I have too many social activities on my hand that distracts me from cyber world. But alas, I was just procrastinating and reading recipes online, one after another, and another, and another.

As usual, I was trawling about my favorite food websites Tastespotting and Foodgawker when I saw a deluge of peanut butter pies, with the captions all ending with "for Mikey". And it wasn't long before I found the root entry that resulted in all the pies being made and posted everywhere.

When I first read it, I felt a sense of helplessness for Jennie. It was flat out depressing. Then, I began reading the entries of the people who made and posted the recipe, entries of people who knew her personally, entries of people who didn't know her personally, entries of people who wanted to give her the emotional support that she needs. I want to do it too! She needs it! She deserves it. My condolences and my heart goes out to Jennie. Stay strong, live strong, love strong. I didn't make the pie, but I reckon a couple like them needs no pie. The message that she wants to share has already made it's impact. I may not have a pie for Mikey, but I have my pizzas for Mikey.

And then I felt a pang of fear in my very own heart. It was a heavy sinking feeling, from my heart, to my gut, and probably even sank to the peripheries of my toes.

I'm so far away from home, from the people whom I love dearly, and from the people who love me dearly. Too far, just too far. Whoever said Perth is near to Singapore is lying. In times like these, even an adjacent room which I can't access is too far, much less an entire Indian Ocean.

That night, I skyped my family, and I teared. I don't want to be so far away! I silently screamed. I heard their voices, and I hear familiarity, comfort, warmth, love. I want to hear their voices everyday, yelling at me, telling me what to do, nagging at me, snapping at me, with the knowledge that in an Asian culture, all these are expressions of love. I foolishly hated every moment of those situations, and I still do. But when it's no longer available, I find myself longing for it.

The line that really hit me hard was when she said "I haven't made it in a while, and I've had it on my to-do list for a while now.

I kept telling myself I would make it for him tomorrow."

It resonated with me, because my inspiration and my motivation to cook comes from the people around me. It's my personal expression. I cook, I feed, I love. It's how I love people, it's how I give my love, and it's how I want to love.

Mussels and scallops with onions, tomato base and fresh basil leaves

My family has been asking me to cook/bake many things. Many many things. My Dad's pretty chill and doesn't request, but I know he'd love a good hot piping bowl of instant noodles, can of beer, and some good ol cheddar sausages. Or for more finesse, a good roast pork with crackling. My Mom has a major sweet tooth, major pastry tooth, major laksa tooth, major bread tooth and requests for them. I probably inherited my food cravings propensity from her. My sister loves pretty and yummy and indulgent pastries, good ol Sunday brunch menu items, and requests for anything that tastes yummy. And many times, I just postponed what they craved, for what I wanted to experiment. They enjoyed it nonetheless, and I enjoyed the process of it.

Turkey ham with spinach, mozzarella and blackberry jam. My favorite. The crunchy, the chewy, the cold, the hot, the savory, the sweet

But looking back, I wished I made more of what THEY wanted.

I now want to share a recipe that I've made twice now. Jamie Oliver's Pizza Dough recipe. I'm pretty sure any pizza dough would work just as well since my untrained tongue can't really tell much difference. But I know the toppings are the ones that I can manipulate and make a world of a difference. But the reason why I want to share this recipe is because this recipe holds a special place in my heart. This really got me from enjoying cooking, straight to Loving cooking. Of the 3 meals I made in Singapore for my family in the Winter holidays of 2011, I remembered this meal the best because my family loved it to bits. BITS. Which made me love this to bits. Which made me love making this for others to bits.

The above 3 pictures were the pizza I made for my family. There was supposed to be a 4th pizza, which was Honey lemon basil cream cheese with white peach and blueberries, but I unfortunately burnt the crust. Drats. It was such a good combination!

The steps for the dough was pretty straightforward. Mix them all together and let them rise. The only trick here is to ensure that your yeast is alive and working. Just buy a new batch if you haven't used the previous batch for a long time or it wasn't stored in the freezer and has been around for a long time. The recipe itself could have made enough thin crust pizzas for 12 hungry people to eat to a comfortable satiated level.

Hawaiian pizza, with 3 slices of mushrooms experimentally placed at the side.

When I came back to Perth, we threw a pizza party for our small circle of dental classmates and their endeared ones. It was such a lovely gathering, with once again, an outpouring of love

Digging in to our first pizza of the night

Food's good, company's good, always a winning combination.

Me eating a pizza and trying to pull a very very stubborn piece of mozzarella from the pizza

We were also very fortunate to taste the cooking of a chef in training! Here's his creation, which he came up together with his loved one as well..

Salt&pepper chicken with pesto base, mozzarella and crumbled hardboiled egg. And the creators of that brilliant pizza was...

Need I even come up with a caption for this? Picture speaks a thousand words.

Whilst I try and recreate a flavor which my family loved so much.

Turkey ham with raspberry jam, rocket and mozzarella

Always a joy seeing people love the food you make, giving the most sincere smile at that moment because the reflex action simply never lies..

Richard's special. The efforts of a guy who has never cooked anything other than a tuna banana omelette. Pesto, cheese, ham, cheese, mushrooms, cheese. And it tasted so good.

And of course, snucking some dough from the pizza party and making it for our own personal meals (my housemate and I).

Frangipane pizza with strawberries, almond flakes, icing sugar and honey macadamia ice cream.

Spiced apple crumble with walnuts, raisins and mixed berries ice cream

Because we both have a sweet tooth going on.

Pumpkin, eggplant, herbed tomatoes and fetta with mozzarella. Because we both love eggplant and pumpkin.

There are so many other condiments, flavors, textures, pairings and experiments and combinations that are out there to enjoy with something as versatile as a pizza dough that I can only imagine this thread getting longer and longer, and longer, and longer.

And I look forward to seeing the joy on the person's face when I manage to come up with another good combination, because that's the joy I want to spread, the love that I want to share.

I love you, you, and you. =)

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