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Tiffin moments*

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sweet potato-onion pizza
Raja Zarida was my best friend in Standard One. She used to bring a meal to school every day and her mother was a fantastic cook. I remember sitting under a table during one recess, sharing her nasi goreng with her, and it was good ­­– both the fried rice and the time we spent together. (Raja Zarida moved away to Kuala Lumpur after Standard One. I only saw her once more after that a few years later when my family visited hers during Hari Raya, and until today, I can still remember the delicious chicken rendang her mother served us.)

I never really had the chance to take packed meals to school when I was growing up. In primary school, I lived in the school compound so I used to go home for a snack during recess. Then I attended a fully residential school in my secondary years, so again, I had all meals at the dining hall.

Nowadays, I tote a packed lunch to work almost every day, but I'm not a three- or four-tier tiffin person. It takes too much effort to cook rice and side dishes to go with it. And that kind of meal would just slow me down in the afternoons, anyway. Most days, it's one-dish meals ­­– a hearty serving of salad with a few pieces of leftover meat or a few strands of pasta; very often, it's soup; and stuffed bread rolls are a favourite too.

I have two bread dishes here and they both start with sweet potato pâté ­­– I know, fancy name for mash potatoes, but what the hey? Chefs give fancy names to common dishes all the time and hike the price up 150%; at least we're not fooling anyone. I did say in my last post that I would be making something with sweet potato and here are two.

The pizza is inspired by a recipe from an old Australian Women's Weekly Potato Cookbook, and the mushroom braid is just something I thought up because I had some nice portobello mushrooms and a little bag of dried porcini. (I should have taken pictures of the braiding process but only remembered after the fact.) Pack either of these breads, along with a leafy salad and maybe some pieces of fruit, and you're good to go.

I am submitting this to YeastSpotting.

* December's Don't Call Me Chef (out in print today; a link will be provided soon here's the link) is about memorable tiffin moments. The theme is in conjunction with a contest we ran with Tupperware. We co-producers of the monthly column (Veggie Chick, Hungry Caterpillar and I) decided to give up our space in the newspaper so we could publish the stories of the three contest winners.

180g sweet potatoes (any colour), peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic, crushed
125ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • Cut potatoes into 1cm cubes. Heat oil in a pan, add potatoes, onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add stock, simmer, covered, over low heat, 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are very soft. Blend or process potato mixture until smooth; cool.
Serves 2-3

1 quantity sweet potato pâté
1 small onion, sliced thinly
50g grated Parmesan cheese

Pizza dough
150g all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon dried yeast
90ml warm water
  • Combine all the dry ingredients for the pizza dough in a large bowl. Add water and mix to a firm dough. Turn into a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Set aside to proof until doubled in size.
  • Grease a medium pizza pan or two small ones. Preheat oven to 200°C. Knock down dough and roll out to fit prepared pan(s).
  • To make pizza, spread sweet potato pâté onto dough. Sprinkle evenly with the onion slices and then with Parmesan. Bake until edges are brown and onion is golden.

Lunch is up
Makes 2 rolls

1 quantity pizza dough (from recipe above)
1 quantity sweet potato pâté
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
100g mixed mushrooms, sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste
50g grated Parmesan cheese
  • In a large skillet over medium, heat the oil. Add the shallots and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and keep on cooking until the mushrooms are soft and any liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C. Divide the pizza dough into two. Roll out each one to a rough 15cm square. Make cuts into the sides of the square about 3cm long and at a diagonal.
  • Divide the sweet potato into two portions and spread in the centre of the dough between the cuts. Place half the mushrooms on the potato layer. Sprinkle with the Parmesan.
  • Alternating between the left and right, fold the cuts over each other so they overlap in the centre. Press the ends into the sides. Brush with water and sprinkle with seeds. Place rolls on a greased baking sheet and leave to rise, about 10 minutes.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until tops are golden.

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