Sunday, 29 December 2013

Fave Food Memories: Pizza Party

I've been thinking about writing a post after a busy fall.  I've been looking through the oodles of food photos I've taken.  And I got a bit overwhelmed with it all!  However, after making a few new file folders of ideas, I was able to make a choice.

Pizza Party With The Nephews

Last week, as I was trying to think of another non-meat dish for us to eat during our Advent Lenten time, homemade pizza came to mind.  

Growing up, my family lived 30 minutes from a town big enough to have a few pizza places.  Delivery wasn't an option and by the time we'd get one home, half-hour old pizza wasn't much of a delicious treat.  Frozen pizzas in the 80s were not something to eat on a regular basis (usually only when we were getting a babysitter) and a cardboard-like crust was to be expected. 

Next option for pizza at home: The Kraft Pizza Kit.  Anyone remember these?

I still love the sauce in it and sometimes can find it in stores.  The bad memory was of the dough mix which always seems to be too dry, then too sticky, and then would never fit the whole pan!  I don't think that we ever had packaged yeast in our home so I'm pretty sure mixing up some homemade crust never crossed our minds.

To me, making pizza dough seemed like it would be a major time-taker, akin to bread baking, waiting for the yeast to do its thing, waiting for the dough to rise, pounding it down, waiting for it to rise again...waiting, waiting, and more waiting.  Watching the Rachael Ray show yesterday, guest Giada De Laurentiis' was sharing her crust recipe.  After I heard, "...and then you let it rise for two hours..." and "...then let it rise again..." I tuned out.  Yeah...right...not for this gal and her teenagers, especially the male one who gets "hangry" at 5:30 and I'm usually not even getting home until around then! 

Anyway, at some point three years ago, I did an Internet search for a quick pizza crust and, after a bit of clicking through recipes, was elated to find a gem at - only ten minutes for the yeast to bloom and then 5 minutes for the dough to sit after a quick mix in the Kitchen-Aid.  (Envision a warm glow around my island with the angels singing, "Ahhhh!") 

One day, my nephews came to our place after school.  I like kids to know how to make food and knew that the boys sometimes helped their parents in the kitchen.  So, I had the idea that maybe they'd like to make their own pizza pies.  (People my age might recall this phrase from "The Flintstones"!)  I had to pick between a prep cook or child-amuser, so Miriam played with the boys while I got all of the ingredients washed, cut up, sautéed, shredded, etc.  

And so it began!  They were happy as clams...clams with arms covered in flour.

                    Patty-cake, patty-cake, pizza man.....roll me a crust as fast as you can. 

                                          Even the big cousin got caught up the fun.

Time for toppings!  Sir Aiden was very, um, enthusiastic with the tomato sauce despite
my, um, encouragement to use a lighter touch with it for fear of a Soggy City crust. 

As you can see, Sir A did his own thing but look at how happy and proud he was.  Whenever I've rolled out pizza dough since having my nephews over that time in March 2011, this is the image that comes into my head.  I guess you could call that a pizza pop. ;-)

After some baking time and more time with Thomas and Friends downstairs, it was time to chow down. 

Yum, yum, in their tums.

Thank you, boys, for the wonderful memory.  Auntie Jennifer loves you and I hope we'll make more food together in the future!

Pizza Info:
  1. Here is the made-me-so-happy crust recipe from  Sprinkle some cornmeal on your pizza stone or pan before putting the crust on it.  You'll get a nice crunchy crust and won't need to grease the pan.
  2. This is a pizza sauce recipe I like - I always make a double batch because although I SAY I will use the tomato paste or tomato sauce later, it usually becomes a science experiment in the fridge.  This way, I can use the whole can of sauce and two little cans of paste without finding green spots in the future.
  3. I like to sauté onions, peppers, and mushrooms before putting them on the 'za.  The onions are milder and you get less water-letting from the peppers and mushrooms.
  4. The suggested baking time from the recipe seems to be half of what works for us.  We roll our dough thinner now after waiting nearly an hour with thicker crusts!  Usually, ours end up about 1 cm thick, then we move them to the cornmealed pans, and then "decorate."  Plan for about 30-40 minutes to bake a thin crust, and about the same if you're like Miriam and don't mind a thicker but less-crunchy, less-browned crust.  Check the crust edges and underneath every five minutes or so until you get the colour and texture you prefer.

Thanks for coming by again and Happy New Year to all.  I hope you are all having good times with your family and friends.  I've been happy to be visiting at least one island this holiday, and when I turn the oven on, my toes do warm up! 


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