We’ve talked about sprinkling your homemade pizzas with the heaven we call beef before. But here’s Sandy’s take on doing it at home with the kids.
What could be more fun than creating a meal this summer with the kids that the whole family will love?
Here’s her story — and her photo (you may drool now) . . .
Pizza with the Kids
So school’s out for summer where we are, and after a week at Nana’s house, my kids are back in town, and I am back in charge of their fun. The first “official” day of summer was Monday, and I had great intentions of having my five and nine year olds make Objectives and Goals for the summer. So it went great….
Surprisingly, nothing got resolved, so I have made my own projections of summer ideas and decided that one of the things we can do is work together to make some of our meals. Somehow, even though it is often more work that way, at least I feel like they are a part of it and we are doing something useful and educational. Plus I feel a little less like a servant to their needs and more like a developer of their potential as humans.
Although they both like to cook, I am sure that oftentimes they would like to just play with their new videogame system, and the big one can certainly entertain himself in his room with a stack of new books from the library. But this is my plan!
One of the books I checked out is a giant cookbook, and we have made chocolate chip cookies and pizza together from this book. I must say that the cookies were extraordinarily good, despite the fact that the only chips I had were the swirled white chocolate/ semi sweet chocolate ones (and I think they’re too sweet). I even snuck a little healthiness into the cookies (which I am wont to do), by substituting King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour for part of the all purpose flour called for in the recipe. The book we got was Baking Illustrated, The Practical Kitchen Companion for the Home Baker by the editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine and the recipe was for Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip cookies. The interesting thing about the book is that it has a little essay, for want of a better word, before each recipe, detailing how it is they came to it. What they started with, how they tweaked the recipe, what each small change did to the final outcome.
So my nine year old read the essay, which is kind of a description of the scientific method, when I think of it. It explained why they used melted butter instead of whole butter, the ratio of brown to white sugar they used, and so forth. The same basic ingredients as the standard back of the package recipe, but the ratios were tweaked a little, and I must say that they were some tasty, good looking cookies. So I can call this a science lesson, too, right?
Then last night, we made pizza together. My big boy helped me make the dough, measuring ingredients and turning on the standing mixer. He also shaped the finished dough into a ball and helped make the pizza crust. I taught him how to dice an onion, which he then sautéed with the sausage and ground beef topping. The five year old helped us top the pizza and made sure we made one with her favorite toppings (olives!). They were some gorgeous looking pizzas, despite the fact that I do not have a pizza stone in my oven and I do have the worlds’ worst oven to work with. It is totally unreliable, as far as temperature goes, and has no insulation, which means that in the Houston summer, it is insane to make pizza. Insane but good. It must have been 125° in the kitchen by the time we were done – the oven was preheated to 500° for 30 minutes, and I am telling you our oven has no insulation on it – you could fry an egg on the top of it. So my new plan for pizza making in the summer is to get another pizza stone (I had one for years and just haven’t replaced it after it cracked) and put it on the grill, where I will get it fiery hot, by preheating, then put the pizza on top and let it cook with the top on the grill for 6-10 minutes. I have tried doing pizza right on the grill grate, but I am yet to end up with a satisfactory product. The bottom crust gets too burned for my taste, and I end up cutting it off, which is not easy, nor pretty.
The picture of the pizza in the cookbook (which has gorgeous illustrations and pictures) was of a much thinner crust than we were able to accomplish. This is something we’ll have to practice technique on, but this is definitely the best pizza we have ever made at home. It was tasty, the crust was delicious if not perfectly round. Thinner crust is more popular with my family, particularly my husband, so we will have to get our crust shaping technique down to more of a science. The one thing I really noticed besides its yumminess is that I did not notice all of the salt that I get from takeout pizza. Ever notice that an hour or so after takeout pizza, you are so thirsty you can hardly stand it? Our pizza had kind of the opposite issue. I almost wish it had a little more salt – I will probably add a titch more to the dough recipe next time, and maybe go with a non-organic mozzarella which may have made it a little bland. All said, a pretty good week in cooking school ala Mom.