Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Kids Make Pizza

April 2010 544 Have you ever known a family whose kids were perfect angels, and never bickered with each other growing up? (hmm, thinking, thinking). …………………… OK well then I’m guessing for most of you the answer is no, and I would have to agree with you. I mean anything longer than a 10 minute ride with our two little ones in the backseat was an ordeal (Mom, he touched my knee. Dad, she’s looking at me funny). I think we were tempted to put a plastic barrier in the middle of the backseat at one point or other to keep them from strangling each other.

April 2010 548 All kidding aside, Michael and Christina were typical, normal kids who over the many decades we’ve been married have been the source of our greatest joy. I’m happy to report that they’ve grown up to be wonderful adults and great friends to each other. They love to come home and help out in the kitchen when we’re preparing family meals, but we seldom get a chance to eat a meal cooked by them in their kitchens. They each live in small apartments about an hour away and are so busy with their careers that it’s an option that doesn’t happen often.

So when they decided to have a pizza festa for us a couple of months ago at our son’s apartment, we were delighted to sit back and let them do the cooking. They made three pizzas – the classic one above with tomato sauce and mozzarella, the one below with broccoli rape and sausage:

April 2010 549 And this beauty with potatoes, fontina and caramelized onions

April 2010 560

I may have mentioned to you in a prior post that my husband’s father was a bread baker in Italy, and set up shop in the U.S. after he emigrated here. My husband still has cousins in Italy who bake bread daily and occasionally use the bread ovens to make pizza for special occasions too. I’m happy to see the family tradition carrying forth with our kids too, even if it’s just for family consumption.

I’ll let our son Michael tell you about his recipe and technique:

A few years ago, I got a pizza stone as a Christmas present, and found a restaurant supply store near me that sold pizza peels--those long, flat, oversized wooden spatulas you see at pizzerias--for about $10 each. Great investment.

Ever since then, whenever the mood strikes, I fire up the oven and make a few pies for me and my friends.
If you want to make your own dough, you have to plan things out a few hours beforehand.

Michael and Christina’s pizza:

Printer Friendly recipe here

You can also follow this recipe:
Pizza dough (enough for about two 14-inch pies)
1/2 cup warm water plus 1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 package dry yeast
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. coarse salt
5+ cups flour

Dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast, and let stand until foamy. Stir in oil and salt. Add most of the rest of the water, plus about 5 cups of flour to make a firm, soft dough. Depending on the heat and humidity, you'll have to add more flour, or more water.  After dough is mixed, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes. Its texture should be almost silky by this time. Shape it into a ball, put it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for a few hours, until doubled in size.

April 2010 529

When you're ready to make the pizza, punch down the dough, then divide in half. Shape the dough into a disk, make your hands into fists, and drape the dough over your knuckles. Using your knuckles, work your way around the dough by pushing upwards and slightly opening your fingers. Keep repeating until the dough has been stretched a bit.

April 2010 534Then, put the dough on a lightly floured surface and finish flattening it with a rolling pin. (Or try spinning it in the air.)


You can either leave a bit of a crust around the edges, or roll the dough evenly right to the end. I prefer the latter.
Place the pizza stone on one of the lower racks in the oven, and crank it all the way - 500 degrees or hotter - and let it heat up for at least 1/2 an hour. If you have a pizza peel, spread some cornmeal evenly on it, an place
the dough on that before loading it up with toppings. It will slide into the oven much more smoothly.
When putting the pizza in the oven, place the peel over top of the stone. Then, jerk your hands back slightly to release the pizza from the peel.

April 2010 547 

For toppings:

Broccoli rape and sausage
1 bunch of broccoli rabe
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 sausage links
Trim stems of broccoli rape. Get a large saucepan, and heat about 1/4 inch of water with a little salt until it's boiling. Add broccoli rape, and cover with lid. It may not fit easily at first, but will shrink in size as it's steamed. Let it go for about 5 minutes, occasionally turning it so that every piece gets a turn in the water. Drain broccoli rape, and roughly chop into 1-inch pieces.
While it's draining, remove the casing from the sausage. In the same pan, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and let it heat. Add sausage to pan, and using two spatulas, break it up into pieces as it cooks.
When nearly finished cooking, add garlic. After a minute or two, add in broccoli rabe, and mix everything together well. Set aside and add to top of pizza.

Caramelized Onion and Fontina Cheese topping
1 large onion (you may need more depending on size of pizza)
1/2 pound of fontina cheese
Slice onion into 1/8th inch slices. Saute in pan with olive oil until onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Slice or shred fontina cheese.
Spread onions, then cheese over pizza and bake. For an extra treat, follow directions for potato pizza, and put onions and cheese on top of it.

Tomato and Mozzarella topping:

Spread your favorite tomato sauce over the dough, then top with grated mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven as directed above.


  1. I think as you get older, you start to have a selective memory about your children. My gramma thinks my mom and uncles were flawless wonder children. My mom has not quite reached that point with us, although I'm sure it will happen soon. Maybe when the grandchildren start to arrive.
    These pizzas sound wonderful! I'm always eyeing pizza stones at the store. I'll have to get one soon!

  2. It is great to see them get along in that way. Lucky them.

    awesome pizzas, yummy!



  3. Oh bookmarking this - for the dough and the broccoli rape and sausage. Mmmmm. The loveliest memories, "Mom, he's looking outside my window!" If we didn't have all those lovely memories, we could never properly play "Remember when?" at the dinner table. All siblings should make piza together - your photos have dictated that.

  4. You must have raised those kids right, that's all I can say!

  5. You must have raised those kids right, that's all I can say!

  6. What a great fun post. Looks like your kids get along splendidly and have fun together :o)
    Fantastic pizza combos as well!

  7. What a fun post! They look like they're having a blast. LOVE the potato & fontina cheese. I'd eat several slices of that. MMMmmmm

  8. What a fun post, Linda! Michael and Christina's pizzas look so gourmet!
    I'm also fortunate to have an adult son and daughter, and I have to admit they were the best kids growing up and good friends now. My son loves to cook while my daughter does not. We kid her that her type of cookbook is a folder of take out menus :)

  9. What fun, Linda! It tastes better when the kids make it for you, doesn't it? I especially like the potato and fontina one. You know what they say, the family that flips pizza together, stays together - che belissimo!

  10. I LOVE this post! So much fun to see all those different pizzas! Tell them I said Bravo!

  11. I love reading how you speak of your children. You talk with such kindness. The pizzas look amazing.

  12. anche io sai ogni tanto , quando sono in macchina con le mie figlie, sogno una di quelle belle mauto di una volta dove c'era un bel divisorio tra chi stava davanti e chi dietro!!!!!!!!
    Belli però i tuoi figli, bellissimi sorrisi, bello il tuo post e ...belle anche le pizze! Un bacione

  13. Your kids are the cutest Linda, and they cook like pros,no pepperoni and cheese family here! I so want that potato, fontina and caramalized onion pizza, and Michael I loved your demo on the knuckle technique, I needed to learn that! You taught them well, proud mama.

  14. Pizza is my weakness! The potato and fontina....mmmmmmm! I use my pizza stones in the kettle BBQ but not the oven. I'm not confident I get the pizza on the stone! Maybe I should try!

  15. What a fun day with the grown up kids! That broccoli rabe and sausage pie looks delish!

  16. Dinner is always special when your kids make it for you. The pizzas look terrific.

  17. Ciao Linda felice di fare la conoscenza dei tuoi figli; belli e bravi i tuoi ragazzi. Fa loro i complimenti da parte mia per queste pizze favolose. Un abbraccio a tutti voi Daniela.

  18. Looks delicious, especially the potato, fontina, and caramelized onion pizza! Now I wish I had a pizza stone :)

  19. Your kids are too cute making pizza together! Their relationship sounds exactly like my relationship with my brother growing up. We get along great as adults but unfortunately I only cook for him, not with him! You have some fantastic talent in your family - the pizzas all look delicious!

  20. How fun that the family tradition is being carried on! Those pizzas look fantastic.

  21. You are truly blessed Linda. Your kids are wonderful, great to hear that they love being in the kitchen as well.

  22. Your kids look like they're having fun! I love it that my kids are old enough to cook and they enjoy it so much. Those pizzas look amazing!

  23. That is some good looking pizza! I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

  24. This was a super recipe! I love the crispiness of the bottom against with the doughiness of the center. Thank you for another scrumptious meal!