Monday, 9 July 2012

HappyAppy Pizza and Pasta!

HappyAppy Pizza and Pasta

21 years ago, my little baby arrived in this world. The first memory I have of her is that she smiled the most beautiful smile, barely a few minutes into this world. The same beatific cherub now pokes fun at me showing off her knowledge of psychology (gained at the university whose psychology department ranks no. 8 in the world) whenever I narrate this memory. “Babies can see very clearly for a while after they are born, then their eyesight goes kaput, only to recover a little later. So they clearly see that you are smiling at them and mimic you. Their smiling doesn’t mean a thing!” she explains.

I jump to the defence of my memory of my baby. "No way! You were a gifted baby; you knew I was smiling at you!"

They say it takes a while to get emotionally attached to your new born baby as an individual, although instinctively a mother will most certainly feel some kind of love for her baby far earlier than the point at which the bonding as two humans happens. In my little baby’s case, the bonding was instantaneous. The baby had the most angelic smile, the most serene demeanour, hardly cried, slept well, fed well and burped rather too well- what more could a second time and working mother living as an expatriate in an alien country without a family support system ask for?

The baby grew like a reed, but was soft and cuddly enough for me to squeeze tightly and bite lightly. Hugging her was a very calming experience, sleeping with her head resting in the crook of my arm was the sure shot recipe for a good night’s sleep. (No, we do not believe in separate rooms for babies and toddlers.)

I have always felt much chuffed while watching The Super Nanny show. Both my girls never dug their heels into a supermarket floor, clutching the floor tiles, little chests heaving with dry retching and snorty snotty or dry sobs and bawling their heads off! Nor did I have to shoo and shush while evading the pitying eyes, the shaking heads and smug smirks on the faces of busybodies and supercilious supermoms!

Good girl, funny, witty, mischievous, but obedient to a fault - would follow teacher's instructions in word and spirit, much to my exasperation when helping her with school projects!

She was called Happy Appy, Junglee toofan tyre puncture' and a myriad names including ‘bhutya’, our ode to her almost superhuman ability to tackle a task at the first attempt- whether it is riding a bicycle, roller skating/roller blading ice skating/ riding a motorcycle and to our greatest surprise reversing a 4WD into its parking spot the first time she ever sat behind a wheel! The only person in the family to bring home sports trophies and ribbons, she got teased that she was a foundling as none of the three of us have this kind of sporty dexterity!

This darling of ours turned 21 today, poised on the threshold of adulthood. I somehow still don’t believe 18 should be the age to vote, marry, drive, drink- in any sequence. How about 21? Whatever! But it certainly should not be the cut off age for not being called your mum’s baby.

One of her most attractive attributes is her exceptional musical ability and perseverance – a human metronome. Drums, tabla, Punjabi dhol, Indian halgi, glockenspiel, congas, and a clang of other known and unknown instruments and side rhythms from her school band ensemble- it’s a thrilling experience to sit in the audience - eyes and ears only for her -watching and listening to this magnificent creature almost in a rhythmic trance. To me the comments, the thundering applause, the wonderment of the audience seem only for her! Little wonder then she is the darling of all.

A surprise gift of a statuesque African djembe has enthralled her. The house is agog with the sounds of her fingers expertly dancing on the perfectly tuned drum.

Everyone is happy. There are half a dozen parties and celebrations in the offing. Her older sister, who has always had her under her wing like a little mother, has made the tastiest, reddest and brightest red velvet cake for her. Her much loved friends have set the mood by coming over at midnight last night to wish her. I have to be a tad rueful, for she is no longer my small baby... but that’s ok...

So we turn to the indulgent task of cooking her dream birthday dinner- pizza and pasta tonight –with just the four of us.

HappyAppy Pizza and Pasta

Ladenia (Greek  pizza) for my ladli... this is a yeast free pizza- good for the times when you have a craving for pizza and can’t wait for the dough to rise! Comes out very crisp and light!


For the dough

2 cups of self-rising flour

2 tbsp softened butter

½ cup milk

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

For the sauce

1 can (375gm) chopped tomato

2 tbsp tomato sauce

½ small onion, chopped

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp oregano (dried)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tbsp olive oil

For the toppings

Roasted vegetables- eggplant, zucchini, green/red peppers, caramelised onions, kalamatta olives

(I didn’t have them in stock)

½ cup grated Gruyere cheese

½ cup grated mozzarella cheese (you can also use some bits of feta cheese- I didn’t have any)

A sprinkle of red chilli flakes


Combine all dough ingredients. Oil your hands and knead for at least 10 minutes and keep covered.
Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for a minute and add the can of tomato. Allow it to boil for a few minutes. Add all the seasoning and the tomato sauce.  Let it cook for a while until it thickens and looks glazed.
Roll out the dough about 2 cm thick. The dough will make one 18 inch pizza or two 9 inch pizzas. Pre-bake the pizza crust for 10 minutes. Top the base/s with the sauce, toppings and the cheeses. Bake for another 10-12 minutes at 210 c or until the top is evenly browned.

Creamy mushroom pasta

375 gms penne pasta cooked according to packet instructions and drained (reserve 1 cup of the salted water in which the pasta has been boiled)
200 gms sliced button mushrooms
1 tbsp crushed garlic
200 gms light cream
50 gms Gruyere cheese, grated

75 gms cream cheese

50 ml sour cream or yogurt or buttermilk

1 cup milk+1 cup of the salted starchy water from boiling the pasta. You cal also use vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp oregano
A generous pinch of grated nutmeg
White pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Sliced green onions and chilli flakes to garnish


In a heavy bottomed pan heat the olive oil and throw the sliced mushrooms in. Add the butter to the sautéing mushrooms. Add the salted water(or veg/chicken stock). Add the cheeses, butter cream cheese, sour cream or butter milk or beaten yogurt. Let the broth boil a bit. Add the cooked pasta and the seasonings. Add the garlic- yes it does not need to be sautéed!

Allow the pasta to settle in nicely with the sauce coating it and seeping in. Adjust the consistency with the milk. Adjust the salt and other condiments to taste.

Serve hot with a garnish of sliced green onions and chilli flakes. 


  1. Welcome to Kuch khata kuch meetha!! Lovely blog

    1. Thank you so much! I enjoy being in the group- it's so lively and interesting! :)

  2. Hello! I am one of the "others" in "BG" Dr. Gajjala mentioned about on fb earlier...:) I tried the creamy mushroom pasta recipe and it was DELICIOUS!
    I really enjoy reading your blog:)

    1. Hello Anca! Happy to know your dish turned out to your satisfaction! Sharing my blog with my readers is very gratifying. Thank you. :)


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