Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feeding Teenagers

Add Artichokes to the List

Today begins week 11 on my 12-week quest for control in the kitchen. I sat down this morning to make out the grocery list, reviewing the planned dinners for the week. Adjustments needed to be made – two of the recipes contain artichoke hearts.

I swear sometimes I think my three teenagers have joined in a conspiracy to make me mental (or perhaps that would be more mental). Just days after my last post with the family favorite of the Tomato Artichoke Pasta Sauce my daughter declares she no longer likes artichoke hearts. Arggggghhh!

“What do you mean you don’t like artichoke hearts?” I queried. “Since when?”

“Like, since forever.” she responded.

How could this be, I thought to myself. Surely she’s kidding with me, sensing my kitchen desperation she’s just yanking my chain. Apparently not.

One more thing has been added to the increasingly long list of items my kids will not all eat together (her brothers will still eat artichokes). Instead of an expanding culinary palate theirs appears to be funneling into a vortex centered around pizza (homemade of course). My toddlers who ate just about everything I put in front of them have become teenagers with sophisticated but limited taste buds.

Even with this latest revelation there was a homerun last week when I made the Curried Cauliflower and Chickpea dish from the Moosewood Collection, Simple Suppers. I’ve put the link up for those of you who may want to purchase the cookbook. I have a several of their cookbooks and all should be on the shelf of those trying to eat less meat or join in on Meatless Mondays. http://www.moosewoodcooks.com/products-page/cookbooks/moosewood-restaurant-simple-suppers-fresh-ideas-for-the-weeknight-table/

While the addition of yet another item to the “untouchable” list in the kitchen is a setback, I refuse to give up. If anything I am getting annoyed, which makes me mad, which in turn makes me stubborn (ask my mom), which in a weird and twisted mom-way of not giving up once you’ve set a goal, makes me … inspired.

Pizza Dough Recipe
This is EASY, do not let the steps dissuade you. Once you have made homemade pizza dough you will not go back to store bought again. My kids love this, to the point that they don’t like store-bought boxed pizza anymore (yes, they are spoiled and just don’t know it yet). It’s easy to freeze the dough for later use.

1 Tbsp sugar or honey
1 cup warm water (not too hot, or it will kill the yeast)
1 envelope active dry yeast
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl dissolve the sugar or honey (which feeds the yeast) in warm tap water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and gently stir until it dissolves, about one minute. Let stand in a warm spot until a thin layer of foam covers the surface, about five minutes (this indicates the yeast is effective).

Using a heavy-duty food processor, add 3 cups of flour and the salt to the beaker fitted with the dough blade. Turn the machine on for a few seconds to mix. Slowly add the yeast mixture and oil and process continuously until the dough forms a single ball. Pinch of a piece of the dough, if it is sticky, continue processing adding remaining ¼ cup of flour until the dough loses its stickiness. Conversely if the dough is dry and crumbly, add warm water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough is smooth.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (I prefer to use cornmeal) and knead by hand for about 2 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat completely on all sides with oil Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss and set to rise in a draft-free warm place until doubled in bulk for about 45 minutes for quick-rising yeast.

With your fist punch down the dough until it has doubled in bulk to prevent over-rising. Shape it into a ball, pressing out all the air bubbles.

If you cannot use the dough within 2 hours of rising, punch the dough down, turn to coat in olive oil, cover and place in refrigerator. Let chilled dough come to room temperature before proceeding.

To make two 12-inch flat round pizzas, divide dough into 2 equal-sized balls. I press out as much as I can by hand on a surface sprinkled with cornmeal (I find this grips better than flour, it does leave a bit of the cornmeal texture in the dough) and then roll the rest out using a rolling pin to reach the desired size.

Top with your favorite toppings. Adults in the house like fresh spinach with minced garlic, olive oil and chopped sun dried tomatoes topped with mozzarella cheese; or olive oil, garlic and dried basil on the base with artichoke hearts and mozzarella. The kids like pepperoni with tomato sauce; or just plain cheese; or olive oil, garlic, basil and shrimp topped with mozzarella. Serve up with your favorite salad for a great dinner.

I know this sounds like a lot of work but it’s really not. Probably the worst part of the process for me is cleaning the food processor. Our kids, when they were younger loved getting in there and helping to knead the dough and of course add toppings to the pizza. Enjoy.

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