My Sisters Cook: “Pizza”, Too

Theron Hopkins | Local Columnist

Have I mentioned that I like pizza?

So imagine my good fortune that I can show up at either sister’s house, and it will, more than likely, appear on the menu at least one evening during the visit. Both Tricia and Beth make their own dough.

Tricia found her recipe in a 2004 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and Beth uses one from Bobby Flay at The Food Network website. They insist on dough from scratch because they are cooks, and also because it heightens the entertainment value of making pizza at home.

To raise the bar another few notches, Beth makes her dough with her young daughters, and with her really young son in tow and ready to pitch in when his number is called. If you have never made pizza with little kids, now is the time to get started. Life got you down? Make pizza with kids. Fantasy football team not performing as you had envisioned on “Draft Day”? Make pizza with kids. Considering an extra visit to the therapist this week? Forget it. Make pizza with kids. I have. It’s fun.

I have stood at Beth’s kitchen counter with my pre-school-aged nieces—both of them on dining room chairs; both of them bedecked in their Eataly chef’s aprons and chef’s toques; and both of them grinning and giggling—as we mixed flour and kneaded dough and, later, after the requisite hour or so for the rise, rolled that dough into flat sheets (but not too flat; remember we’re leaving some air in there as we go in search of the elusive “chew,” for all of you gourmands out there), and then started layering toppings onto the pies. And what toppings got to go on these pies?

Whatever you want, because this was BUILD YOUR OWN PIZZA NIGHT (the fun quotient has just been ratcheted up another couple of notches). Audrey’s pizza: red sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, sausage, and pepperoni.

Paige’s pizza: home-made pesto (prepared with basil picked by Paige from clay pots in the front yard), the same shredded cheeses, and pepperoni. And now was Cole’s time to climb the chair—attired in his chef’s outfit of shorts and no shirt—to dust the wood board with flour, to roll out his dough, and to top it with red sauce, white cheese, and pepperoni. All this while, their dad, Beau (whose Fantasy Football team might have him feeling down right about now), has been heating up the family pizza stone to REALLY HOT out on the backyard propane grill, and he is ready to—one at a time—get the pizzas on and the lid closed for ten minutes, with a half turn of the stone midway through.

This is “Beau’s Time”, when he can open a can of beer, stand in the shade of the backyard ash tree, and watch the NFL Red Zone on the back patio big-screen TV, all the while thinking, “I want these pizzas to come out ‘just right,’ or at least very nearly ‘just right.’” And they did, one after the other, including the adults’ shared pies of 1) red sauce, shredded cheese, salami, sausage, caramelized onion, and sweet peppers, and 2) pesto, goat cheese, and shredded white cheese.

Enough so, so that the kids could sit at the table with their personal pizzas with the slightly blistered crust, and “indulge,” and the adults could stand back—drinks in hand and football on the living room television set—every so often stepping over to the kitchen cutting board to secure another slice of the “green” or the “red.” And the kids could think, in their innocence and youthful enthusiasm,

“I love pizza,” and the adults — sophisticated and world weary — could think, “I love pizza.”

Next week: “Thanksgiving Dinner”■

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