This book makes me cook!

So remember that wonderful book club I was telling you about? Yes, this marks my first of many official posts for them and I’m super excited to begin! Anyway, ‘The Moveable Feast’ is a wonderful book – something you should read even if you’re not hunting for dinner inspiration. Its full of tales of travel laced with food, culture, interesting people and if you’re super imaginative then perhaps even smells and sounds.
I loved reading it and in a way, it reminded why I loved reading in the first place – it sets your imagination on fire. You could travel the world and back in a few pages. Of course I had to kick myself for not taking more advantage of visiting some countries earlier – there’s only so much a good book can do!
With so many interesting food anecdotes on the menu, I was so confused over picking one I really, really, really felt inspired by and when I finally had it narrowed it down to two (Moroccan and Italian), I couldn’t decide between them! Thankfully, food, especially feasts are very forgiving and they don’t crinkle their nose over cultures seamlessly blending on your plate. After much agony, Eureka struck and I decided to combine the two, hoping it would culminate into a perfect marriage – harmonious and satisfactory.
    Za’atar Chicken Pizza
    Yields: Enough for 4 Pizza Bases
    For Za’atar Chicken:
    250gms chicken, cubed into tiny pieces
    2 tbs Za’atar, plus extra for sprinkling
    1 tsp Sumac Powder
    1 tsp Paprika Powder
    1/2 tsp cumin powder
    1 tsp garlic, chopped (or ground up in a mortar and pestle)
    4 – 5 tbs olive oil
    Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a large bowl, add oil, seasoning and garlic. (I usually do a little taste test for my marinade at this point to ensure there is enough flavor.)
  2. Add chicken and coat evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 to 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Just before assembling pizza, sauté chicken in a large pan till cooked. For a smoky flavor, add very little oil.  
  4. For Pizza and its assembly:
    4 ready Pizza Bases
    1 whole block GO Cheese, grated
    1 – 2  tbs Maggi Pizza Sauce per pizza base
    6 – 8 Mushrooms, diced
    1/2 white onion, cut into rings
  5. Pre-heat oven to 250oC.
  6. On each pizza base, add 1 to 2 tbs of pizza sauce and sprinkle very little cheese around the base.
  7. Next, add the cooked chicken pieces and mushrooms. Cover this with as much cheese as you are comfortable with. I usually add up to a point where my chicken and mushrooms are nicely hidden with some peeking out.
  8. Arrange onion rings over cheese and bake in a hot oven till cheese begins to melt. It took me 10 to 12 minutes. But I know there are some of you who love them slightly burnt so go ahead, bake for a while longer but make sure you monitor it closely.
  9. Arborio Rice Vanilla Pudding
    Yields: 4 to 6 servings
    Adapted from: Joythebaker
    1 cup arborio rice
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    4 cups milk
    1 whole vanilla bean, slit and scraped or alternatively, a large tablespoon of good quality vanilla extract
    1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
    2 tbs butter
    Note: As a rule with all puddings, I set everything out within arms reach. Puddings and custards tend to burn easily and really need your undivided attention, these babies. So turn off the phone, turn down the music and start your mis-en-place to make sure you really enjoy the pudding later on.
  10. In a large saucepan, add 4 cups of milk and monitor closely – you want to turn off the heat just before it begins to boil. It took me about 6 – 8 minutes and I stopped when the cream settled on top. Pour the milk in a measuring jug if you have one, or into anything that makes it easier for you to pour out of.
  11. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add butter and rice. Stir till its evenly coated. Turn down the heat. 
  12. From the large measuring jug, pour enough milk to just coat the rice. Then stir, stir and stir a little more. The rice drinks up all the milk and that’s really all there is to it. You just need to keep feeding the rice some milk when it gets thirsty. You’ll know when all the milk has been drunk because the mixture will reduce. However, make sure your focus is on the pudding because they have a tendency to burn easily.
  13. Watch the consistency of the pudding and answer yourself the vital question – Do you like your pudding gummy or a bit loose? I like mine swimming in some reserve liquid. So if you like the consistency at 3 1/2 cups, stop there. Either way, in the last bit of milk that you’re adding in, add vanilla innards, cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir to combine. The pudding keeps for 4 days in the refrigerator but it also starts to thicken so if you heat it, add very little milk to loosen it. Also, make sure you taste it after adding the sugar, I found it alright but some complained it wasn’t sweet enough.


2 responses to “This book makes me cook!

  1. Real nice one and two recipes ! Wow..I read half the book but somehow the lack of continuity in it not being a single story got to me and could never completed. Still have the e-book with me. Loved the olive oil-olive tree one-bull one and the couscous one. Great work and welcome to the club !

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