Cooking with kids is fun. Period. They are willing little chefs, eager to participate in the preparation of items that they like. It’s a good way to show them where their food comes from, they learn how to follow directions and safely use basic culinary gadgets and if your kitchen contains more than one apprentice, they learn how to take turns. If not, at least you’ll get them to wash their hands.
Speaking of gadgets, I’m a sucker for infomercials and frequently wonder how I ever lived this long without whatever is being promoted. Fortunately, my frugal nature kicks in before I reach for the plastic, but this Christmas I succumbed to the charms of Cathy Mitchell and her X-press Red-Set-Go grill. (www.RediSetGo.com) My reasoning was sound: I have a busy household with people coming and going at all hours. They are also dedicated snackers. I figured this handsome, little red deal would be right at home on the kitchen counter, cozied up next to the Jack LaLanne juicer. Plus I had a gift certificate, so my miserliness remained intact.
And I wasn’t disappointed. It does all Cathy claims it will, but the brightest feature is the way it turns out personal pan pizzas. This weekend I enjoyed making pizzas with my grandkids (they love gadgets as much as I do). If you’re feeling really adventurous, bring the kids shopping with you and head for the salad bar (Manchester-area Stop&Shops, Shaw’s and Hannafords all have excellent ones, displaying colorful, fresh items with loads to choose from). Shopping the salad bar will eliminate the need for washing and chopping toppings. Kids are eager participants, but their attention spans require lightning speed from the head chef. Also, cooking with a tribe of three or more can be exhausting, so, as Rachael Ray says, “Take the help where you can get it.”
Store-made pizza dough is excellent, and one package will make four 6” pizzas. Any jarred or canned pasta sauce will do, and this week Manchester-area Shaw’s is offering 15oz. Classico sauces @ buy-1-get-1. Over at Hannafords you can pick up a 26oz. can of Hunt’s sauce for .99.
Whatever cheese you use is a personal call, with mozzarella being most popular. But provolone is wonderful, feta is terrific with spinach and mushrooms and soft herbed cheeses are great for white pizzas. When my daughter worked in a popular local pizzeria, she confided that they used a 50/50 blend of mozzarella and cheddar.
If you’re not using a grill-type gadget, kid-style pizzas will bake in a 400 degree oven in about 15 minutes (advantage: they’ll all be done at the same time.)
PERSONAL PIZZAS, KID STYLE
Prepared pizza dough
Pizza sauce, jarred, canned or homemade
Toppings: onion, peppers, pineapple, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, meatballs, etc.
Lightly grease cooking pan with oil. Divide dough into 4 even parts. Using oiled hands, shape dough into flat 6” rounds. Let rest and rise a bit (there’s no time limit on this, but the pizzas will be better if you repeat this process a few times. Pop in a movie while you wait.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pizzas on sheet. Spread with sauce, add toppings and cheese. Bake 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is melted.
Cool a few minutes before cutting into serving pieces.